Saturday, October 16, 2021

Review: Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior: An Ominous Threat by Cube Kid

I've had a schedule switch-a-roo and needed to shift one of my book forwards. For those who don't know, the publishing world is full of surprises!  This is fine with me, since I get to give everyone an early peek at this fun read. This is the 2nd book in a series, and yes, I did review the first one a while ago.(here's that review

Anyway, today's review is a graphic novel for Mine Craft fans...and I already know of a few who love it.




DIARY OF AN 8-BIT WARRIOR
AN OMINOUS THREAT
by Cube Kid
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Graphic Novel
96 pages
ages 8 to 12









Grab your pickaxes and jump back into the action in this second installment of the Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior graphic novel series.

The pixelated adventures continue in this graphic novel adaptation of the bestselling Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior series! Readers can reconnect with their favorite characters and the beloved Minecraft universe while enjoying a colorfully illustrated story.

In this installment, Runt and his unusual crew—a friendly zombie, a loyal wolf, and a clumsy human—embark on a quest to defeat the ender dragon . . . if they can go five minutes without getting lost, that is. But if vanquishing a legendary boss monster weren’t a big enough challenge, along the way the gang learns of an even more mysterious enemy lurking just around the corner. The second installment of this graphic novel series will knock your blocks off!


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MY TIDBITS

I read the first book in this series and would highly recommend anyone starting the series to start with that book, since the second one starts off where the first one left off. So, this isn't a stand-alone.

Runt and his new friends are off on their next quest, and, of course, things aren't going as planned. But the trio have their own way of doing things and determination pure. If  it were only this adventure, things might be somewhat simple, but their enemy is on their tail, too.

This book starts with little (no) introduction and launches from the assumption that book one was read, and while that's not really a problem for those reading the series as such, since this is aimed at kids, it would have been nice to have a re-cap or a little more lead in. I say this because my own kids often picked things like this up at the library or from other friends, and more times than not, wouldn't always get their hands on book one to begin with.  That said, Mine Craft fans are going to adore this book (and series).

Runt and his friends have just the right amount of determination, heart, and quirkiness to make the a fun bunch to follow and root for. Nothing seems to run perfectly for them, but it shouldn't. The scenes are easy for those who know the game to slide into and identify with...which makes the humor sit even better. Their dialogue is kept short, but their personalities still come through. This is a bunch, who many readers would love to go on an adventure with.

The illustrations are well done and bring every scene across well. The emotions are clear and the atmosphere comes across nicely. It was no problem to follow what was happening. But then, the text does work in a nice balance, giving just enough of the story to cover what the illustrations can't. 

It's an action-packed, humorous quest with moments of loss, triumph, and surprises. The 'enemy' is ridiculous, which he's supposed to be. This tale does center more or Maggie and the enemy's relationship, finding a very interesting and unexpected middle ground. It will be fun to see what happens with this bunch next.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, Purgatory by Dirk Stevens!

I've got a Halloween treat for the 2nd review today. This one comes from a new author and caught my attention yesterday...on release day! It's short, thrilling, and completely unexpected...everything to make an amazing Halloween tale.

But go ahead and see for yourself.


PURGATORY
by Dirk Stevens
YA/NA Paranormal
46 pages


















Lil's single mistake ends her engagement, and her life. Now forced to haunt the man she loves, Lil struggles to find a way to keep him alive




MY TIDBITS

Short, grabbing, and leaves off with a lingering impression...this is a short-tale, which fits the need for an engaging, thrilling, quick-evening read.

It was supposed to be a fun evening at a Halloween party with her finance and friends at her side, but when Lil runs into someone from her past, she makes a mistake, which ruins her life in an instant...and then, through a tragic event, death even steals that away. Left with tons of regret and the knowledge that all of this might be more than her beloved finance can take, she doesn't cross-over into the afterlife but hopes she can find a way to keep him from the decision she knows he'll make—joining her in death.

This tale takes place in early college years but is completely appropriate for the young adult audience and will even resonate with them as well as the older, new adult crowd. It starts out with older teen fun, Halloween, and a fraternity party, stringing along with usual teen drama. But the switch on this atmosphere flips when disaster hits, shifting the story onto an entirely different path. Emotions weave with secrets, spells, ghosts, and a hidden darkness in a way, which makes it easy to connect with the characters, while never knowing what will really happen next.

The author keeps the tale gripping from beginning to end, making this a story which can't be put down...nor does it need to at only forty-six pages. To say that the ending is unexpected and a treat is an understatement. It's great for a Halloween nibble or those who simply want a quick jaunt into a more gothic tale.

Review: Simon's Search for the Scary Dragon by Stephen G. Bowling

It's another packed review day with two books hitting the spotlight. With all of the holidays, I've been finding one amazing read after the other, and just couldn't turn some of them away. So, I let my review pile stack up to new heights (silly me!) and will just have to squeeze a few more in. 

Today's read caught my attention thanks to that beautiful cover. I love the dragon in the tree...or is it the tree? See? I was more than curious to see what this one would hold. 

And I'm going to keep my mouth shut, now, because everything else is in the review below.
 


SIMON'S SEARCH FOR THE SCARY DRAGON
by Stephen G. Bowling
Illustrated by Vitali Dudarenka
Valley of Mexico
Picture Book
25 pages
ages 4 to 8







Simon decides to find the Scary Dragon. What he finds may surprise you.

Simon, a young bird, has heard all the rumors about a Scary Dragon that flies around the barn. He decides to look for it and asks his barnyard friends if they have seen it. No one can help until the wise Owl tells him who might know. Will Simon find the Dragon? Will it be as scary as he has heard? Find out in Simon’s Search for the Scary Dragon, the second book in the illustrated Simon’s Tree House Adventure Series.


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MY TIDBITS

Gorgeous illustrations makes this cute adventure one to love and revisit again and again.

Simon has heard all sorts of rumors and whispers about a scary dragon as he spends his day flying around the farm. So, he's decided it's time to see it for himself. With a protective pop-bottle lid bound to his head, he heads on his quest to find the dragon, visiting the various animals along the way in hopes they may assist him. But he may not discover what he expected he would.

Can I just say I love the illustrations in this book? Honestly, these are enough (really that lovely) to gain a full five stars. These are done with love and detail and allow each scene to open up the door to Simon's world and adventure. I smiled at every one and could sink into them time and again. So, these alone would make this a book to keep on the shelves and read to each round of children which comes through.

Now, for the tale itself. It's a cute, sweet and very nice tale with traditional feel and a true story for the age group. There aren't any hidden agendas and makes a lovely read for story time. The entire thing is written in very clear rhyme. I wish it hadn't been, since this story could have worked very wonderfully without that. But for rhyme fans, it's a treat. There were one or two spots where it stumbled a tiny bit, but it was still enjoyable. 

Summed up, I'm a bit torn on this one...but just a tiny bit. The illustrations shoot this one into the 'must have' category, the tale and character go right in there with it, but the rhyming style wasn't quite my thing...although it does work and I have no doubt kids will enjoy it. So, thumbs up on this one.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Review: Stuntboy, In the Meantime by Jason Reynolds

Today's read comes from one of my more favorite authors. While I've especially enjoyed poetry from him and some young adult reads, I was surprised to find this new venture. The blurb also caught my attention on this one—a superhero, whose superpower is to keep others super.

But I won't say anything else. Let's just dive in!
 

STUNTBOY, IN THE MEANTIME
by Jason Reynolds
Illustrated by Raul the Third
Caitlyn Dloughy Books
Middle Grade Contemporary
272 pages
ages 8 to 12

COMING...
NOVEMBER 30th!!!





From Newbery Medal honoree and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds comes a hilarious, hopeful, and action-packed middle grade novel about the greatest young superhero you’ve never heard of, filled with illustrations by Raúl the Third!

Portico Reeves’s superpower is making sure all the other superheroes—like his parents and two best friends—stay super. And safe. Super safe. And he does this all in secret. No one in his civilian life knows he’s actually…Stuntboy!

But his regular Portico identity is pretty cool, too. He lives in the biggest house on the block, maybe in the whole city, which basically makes it a castle. His mom calls where they live an apartment building. But a building with fifty doors just in the hallways is definitely a castle. And behind those fifty doors live a bunch of different people who Stuntboy saves all the time. In fact, he’s the only reason the cat, New Name Every Day, has nine lives.

All this is swell except for Portico’s other secret, his not-so-super secret. His parents are fighting all the time. They’re trying to hide it by repeatedly telling Portico to go check on a neighbor “in the meantime.” But Portico knows “meantime” means his parents are heading into the Mean Time which means they’re about to get into it, and well, Portico’s superhero responsibility is to save them, too—as soon as he figures out how.

Only, all these secrets give Portico the worry wiggles, the frets, which his mom calls anxiety. Plus, like all superheroes, Portico has an arch-nemesis who is determined to prove that there is nothing super about Portico at all.


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MY TIDBITS

This author never ceases to amaze me. Now, digging into the world of middle grade graphic books, he takes an every day kid, Portico, with every day problems and forms him into the most amazing superhero of all...and that with a ton of fun, humor, and reading surprises along the way.

Portico lives in the biggest house on the block, making it almost a castle. Kind of. He has lots of neighbors with quirks, enjoys his life, but suffers from the 'frets'...not only because his parents on the verge of a divorce. When one of his friends has him turn into a pretzel, he discovers his alter-ego, Stuntboy. Stuntboy's purpose is to be super and take on things, which might make those around him less super. But being a superhero isn't always easy.

Yes, this book tackles tough themes kids can relate to—divorce, bullies, etc. But the author manages to turn everything on its head and make it a super-fun way to hit reality. And that in a kid-fashion pure. Portico and his friend have a wonderful imagination, and he allows himself to sink into this 'super' him, not only to deal with his anxiety but to help those around him...in odd ways, maybe. But it's super sweet and kind. Stuntboy is a hero to root for and cheer on the entire way through because he has determination and a true heart of gold even when problems sometimes make things hard.

The set-up of this book is a blast. It's not the usual graphic novel form, but rather, more of a picture book in the form of a middle grade read with some comic areas mixed in. The narration bounces around a bit scatter-brained at times, and then, switches gears into tale fashion. It's an entertaining mix which keeps things from getting to serious and lets the imagination of Portico shine through. The illustrations keep humor high and let Stuntboy's adventure gain goofy, heroic highlights.

Middle graders, especially the reluctant readers in this group, will enjoy this adventure and maybe discover a superhero in themselves.

The Seeker's Core by K.M Jenkins with Giveaway!

 


The Seeker's Core

Half Blood Academy Book 1

A Children of Chaos Novel

by K.M. Jenkins

YA Academy Fantasy 

In a universe governed by gods, darkness awakens and demigods are called.

Two journeys.

Two planets.

Lennox walks a path that separates her from her family. But allies along the way bring her to her destined fate.

Becca seeks to advance knowledge in the medical field. Fate has other plans in store when she stumbles upon long forgotten ruins.

Two demigods walk different paths on separate planets. Will they find each other before it’s too late or will fate change their lives forever? The journey of a universe forever changed begins right here.



K.M. Jenkins is a published best selling speculative fiction author who writes epic battles, forbidden romance, and tales of fantasy and adventure. She has a big love for the fantasy genre and loves dragons above all creatures. When she is not writing, you will find her running her business as a cover artist at ​KJ Magical Designs, LLC and chasing her twin boys around the house. Between the three she has epic battles throughout the day and nothing ever gets boring.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Review: Vampenguin by Lucy Ruth Cummins

 

VAMPENGUIN
by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Atheneum Books
Picture Book
48 pages
ages 4 to 8




From the critically acclaimed author and illustrator of A Hungry Lion and Stumpkin comes a charming, wryly humorous story of adventure, mistaken identity, and a vampire family’s day at the zoo.

On a Saturday morning, baby Dracula visits the zoo with his family, where baby Penguin lives with hers. But these intrepid young adventurers are not content with staying in their proper places.

Instead, baby Dracula slips into the Penguin House to spend the day eating, swimming, and hanging around, while baby Penguin waddles into the stroller to explore the rest of the zoo. Dracula’s family doesn’t even notice the switch—will they bring the right baby home?

Observant and adventurous young readers will love this tale of the shenanigans that happen when parents’ backs are turned.


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MY TIDBITS

With a very original twist, giggles and laughs are guaranteed in this well-illustrated book.

The vampire family is spending a day at the zoo. While visiting various animals, they don't notice that their youngest decides to switch places with a baby penguin. The change goes unnoticed to create a lovely adventure.

I love picture books which allow the illustrations to carry the story as much as the text, and this book does that masterfully. The story is simple and tells about the vampire's family's visit to the zoo and what they do there. While illustrations, though, let the reader see the switch-a-roo and the reality, which the family doesn't notice. It's these juxtapose view-points which really make the humor shine.

Not only was the story unique, but it is a nice tale. Listeners can point out things which don't necessarily agree between the illustrations and the text, which allows them to get involved and keeps boredom at bay. The text is also just right for the age group and makes for a lovely read-aloud.


And here she is...

Lucy Ruth Cummins is an author, an illustrator, and art director of children’s books. She has been happily paired with Jean Reidy for Truman, which was named a New York Times Best Children’s Book of 2019, and Sylvie. She also is the author-illustrator of A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of AnimalsStumpkin; and Vampenguin. When she was little, she had a pet spider in the shed where her dad kept the lawnmower. Every day little Lucy caught flies and placed them in her spider’s web at mealtimes. Lucy was born in Montreal, raised in upstate New York, and lives with her little family in Brooklyn, New York

Happy Book Birthday, In the Echo of this Ghost Town by C.L. Walters with Giveaway!

 


In the Echo of this Ghost Town
by C.L. Walters
YA Contemporary









 

When everything in your life unravels and the future you imagined disintegrates into dust—how do you decide which way is forward?

Griffin Nichols has lost everyone close to him. Unhealthy choices rooted in unmet expectations have him feeling like he’s failing at being a man. Everything he thought he knew about being a good son, brother, and friend has him feeling as substantive as an echo.

He’s lost.

Then Maxwell Wallace walks into his life and teaches him that sometimes in the weakness of the echo is where he can claim his strength.

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SNEAK PEEK

“Hey.”

I look up at the sound of a voice, grateful to be jerked from the train of my thoughts.

The girl. She’s standing on the other side of the table in her dark t-shirt and cutoff shorts, her back to the gas pumps and road. The light from the store illuminates her, and I think she’s cute, but obviously not all there if she’s talking to a stranger.

“Yeah?”

She sits down with a Slurpee, and I look at it longingly but also wish I had some vodka to spike it with. I conjure Danny’s words from the night before. I’d told him I’m always drunk. What had he said back? “Yeah. Maybe that’s the fucking problem. It’s time to grow up, Griff.” What if I do have a problem? Then I’m annoyed by the stupid thought—of course, I don’t. What the fuck? Can’t this weird girl tell I’m busy sulking?

My face must screw up because she says, “I’m not carrying any diseases.”

I take a sip of my water, not sure what to do about this stranger who’s sat with me at a table outside of Custer’s. I glance to check if someone is playing a joke on me, but all my friends have abandoned me. So yeah, there’s that. I look at her. She’s got a round face, but it’s smooth and pleasant looking. Brownish hair, I think, because it’s pulled back in a bun or something off her face. Black eyeliner. Black T-shirt with the words Def Leppard inside a Union Jack.

She pinches the straw and moves it around the slushy. It squeaks. “Decide I’m not a serial killer?” She smirks, and my eyes are drawn to her blunt black nails at the end of her long fingers holding the red straw.

“Jury’s out.” I look away and take a sip of my water, annoyed but kind of curious.

“Why’s that?”

I shrug. “What if I’m the serial killer?” I can’t look at her, though I’m not sure why. It isn’t like I’m nervous, even if she’s a little unnerving. Why have I said that? The idea of being compared to a killer takes me backward. Griff Nichols, son of a murderer, when I’d been alone, but I’d shed that persona with my crew. I shove the reminder aside.

“It’s a distinct possibility.”

My eyes connect with hers, the curiosity revving up a notch. “Why’s that?”

“Guy sitting outside of a convenience store on a Monday night looking all moody. Definitely sending shady vibes. You spike that unassuming water bottle? Use the innocence of water to lure in your victims but in reality, you’re just setting the trap?” She smiles, and I see that she’s joking around even though I don’t know her; it’s the squint of her eyes.

“You’re weird.”

“I get that a lot.” She pauses and leans forward to take a sip of her drink and looks over at me. Her eyes sparkle with mirth, but it’s hard to tell what color they are even in the light. Lightish. “So, what do you do in this town for fun?”

“Get drunk. You new?”

“Yes. Why aren’t you doing that?”

“It’s Monday.”

“So, a drunk six days a week? You have standards, I see. So that must be real water.” She pauses and raises a single eyebrow—which bugs me for some reason. “You don’t look much like the type with standards.”

I’m not, but I don’t say it. “Neither do you.”

“Touché, serial killer. So, you don’t drink on Monday for other reasons, then?”

“I didn’t say I don’t drink on Monday. I just said it was Monday. You made the assumption.”

She laughs, but it’s mostly air. “Fair enough.”

This conversation could die. I could stand and walk away. I don’t. I blame it on my lack of being alone, which I’m going to have to reestablish. “So, you’re new here?”

“Yep. Just moved. Only here for the summer.”

“Why’s that?”

“Why what?” She takes another sip of her slushy.

I watch her swallow it. Then I look back at my water bottle to resume plucking the plastic label. “Only for the summer?”

“The band I play with is going on tour.”

“Really?”

She laughs. “No.”

“You’re weird.”

“So you’ve said.” She stands. “Well. Thanks for sharing the table.”

“There were two other ones you could have chosen.”

She glances at the other two and then leans forward. “But then I wouldn’t have gotten to talk to a serial killer.” She smiles, offers me a nod, and with her hand wrapped around her cup, she walks away. She’s wearing jean cutoffs, tight, and the strings of the cut denim hang against her long and shapely legs.

I scoff, looking away because I don’t want to notice her. A serial killer. Stupid.

As I watch her—the nameless, weird girl—walk away, I realize I forgot what I was sulking about.

And here she is...

As a kid, my world revolved around two things: stories and make believe. I have built a real life around those two things as well: I am a teacher of stories and a writer of make believe.

While I went to high school in a small town in Oregon and college in a smaller town in Oregon - both gifted me with treasures to fill my creative reservoir and most importantly, my husband. We got married, I followed him from Oregon to Hawaii (it was that or forgo the marriage).

We have two children, and several furry kids.

I read and write everyday.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, They Stay by Claire Fraise with Giveaway!

Today's read heads into the spooky world of ghosts and disappearances. This is the first book in a new series from a fresh and very talented author. I have to admit that when I agreed to review this one, I didn't see this amazing tale coming. (Yep, I'm already going to scream out that I gave this one 5-stars).

Now, this one isn't only about ghosts. There are some very tough issues included as well...triggers. We have family/child abuse, drug abuse, death, violence, and more. But these are handled in an appropriate manner for the young adult audience. 



THEY STAY
by Claire Fraise
They Stay Series, #1
YA Supernatural, Thriller 








A suspenseful YA mystery about a missing kid, a girl who can see ghosts, and a horrifying crime only four outcasts have the power to stop.

What if the only person who could help you find your missing brother was dead?

Nothing is as important to sixteen-year-old Shiloh Oleson as her little brother Max. So when the six-year-old goes missing without a trace, a heartbroken Shiloh refuses to believe nothing can be done and sets out to find him.

When one of Shiloh’s classmates says she knows where Max is, Shiloh hesitates to believe her. Francesca is creepy. She says she can see ghosts, but everyone knows ghosts aren’t real … right?

But Francesca says that Max is going to be murdered.

And a ghost told her where he is.

As the line between the dead and living begins to blur, Shiloh starts to think Francesca might not be as crazy as she believed. One thing is becoming clear. Someone has gruesome plans for Max, and Shiloh must confront her worst nightmares to find him before it’s too late.

THEY STAY is the first book in the They Stay Series. Read on if you like ghost stories, plot twists, enemies-to-friends, creepy circuses, budding romance, and unlikely heroes.

Content Warnings: This book contains death, kidnapping, domestic abuse, references to suicide, bullying, and mild adult language.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo


MY TIDBITS

I was expecting a ghostly read with several harder themes woven in, and all that from a teen drama direction. What I didn't expect was this read.

The tale is told from two directions. First, there's Shiloh, the daughter of the town's Sheriff and an abusive father/husband, and then there's Francesca, the 'crazy', ghost-seeing misfit who lives with her brother in a trailer park. The story dances between these two characters in seemingly two different plot lines, which later somewhat converge and let everything really take off. Along the way, two other characters, Miles and Jonah, get pulled into Shiloh's attempt to find and save her little brother, and round off the group marvelously. 

I'm usually not a huge fan of novels, which head in with more character depth, since this often steers things into a slower lane. This book, however, gives the characters tons of depth, and this, in turn, builds the haunting and disturbing atmosphere up more than any action or quickened pace ever could. Both characters are in difficult positions, and the emotional connection to them allows everything else to take root. Even side characters hold vivid personality, which, mixing everything into the dynamics of a small town, allows the reader to really sink into the setting and scenes. 

The first part of the book did feel a bit disjointed as the plot constantly switched from Shiloh's difficult family life and the horrid desperation when her little brother disappears, to Francesca's paranormal tilt and the strange meeting with graveyard ghosts. It comes across as two different stories, but knowing that they'll somehow collide is part of what makes it so interesting. Plus, this isn't a young adult book in the same 'drama' sense that often hits these novels. The characters are teens and do act immature as well as hold usual teen reactions, but they come across naturally.  The author tackles the issues of abuse, death, drugs, and other harsh problems with as much realistic care as she places in the more haunting ghost aspects and kidnappings. It creates a very original tale, which is a treat to get swallowed up in. I'm looking forward to the next book and to see what the author has in store next because this was an amazing beginning to the series.


 
And here she is...

Claire Fraise earned her B.A. in English from Tufts University. She is also the author of YA dystopian novel Imperfect (winner of the San Francisco and Beverly Hills Book Festivals), which she published when she was 16. When Claire’s not writing, she likes crocheting amigurumi animals, reading, and hanging out with her dogs. Even though it goes against every introverted bone in her body, she is on social media. Connect with her on Instagram at @clairefraiseauthor, on YouTube at Write with Claire Fraise, or visit her website at clairefraise.com.

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Monday, October 11, 2021

Review: When Can We Go Back to America by Susan H. Kamei

Today's review, proves that history is not dry and boring. When I was offered to take a look at this book, I was definitely curious...and also a little unsure if it'd be something young adults might enjoy. The idea of having 130 individuals add their own personal experiences and thoughts, promised a more than interesting read. And luckily, the author did an amazing job at this one. It truly shows how personal history is.



WHEN CAN WE GO BACK TO AMERICA?
by Susan H. Kamei
Foreword by Norman Y. Mineta
Simon & Schuster
Young Adult Nonfiction / History
736 pages











In this dramatic and page-turning narrative history of Japanese Americans before, during, and after their World War II incarceration, Susan H. Kamei weaves the voices of over 130 individuals who lived through this tragic episode, most of them as young adults.

It’s difficult to believe it happened here, in the Land of the Free: After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States government forcibly removed more than 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast and imprisoned them in desolate detention camps until the end of World War II just because of their race.

In what Secretary Norman Y. Mineta describes as a “landmark book,” he and others who lived through this harrowing experience tell the story of their incarceration and the long-term impact of this dark period in American history. For the first time, why and how these tragic events took place are interwoven with more than 130 individual voices of those who were unconstitutionally incarcerated, many of them children and young adults.

Now more than ever, their words will resonate with readers who are confronting questions about racial identity, immigration, and citizenship, and what it means to be an American.


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MY TIDBITS

This is a wonderful weave of historical events and very personal experiences, which touches the heart, makes an impression, and leaves more than a little food for thought.

These pages take a look at the WWII incarceration of Japanese-Americas and cover the time before, during and after the experience. The author starts with a few notes, explaining the research and methods used as well as laying out the foundation for the basis of the read. Then, the foreword gives the personal insight from Secretary Norma Y. Mineta, before leading into the author's own background and thoughts. From there, the book takes a chronological look at the events, always sliding and staying close to those effecting the theme. The individual recounts and thoughts are then sprinkled between the facts to create a well-knit look into the entire event.

I was looking forward to reading this one, since it's always interesting to learn history from those who lived it. My only fear was that it'd be too dry, even though it is intended for the young adult audience. This fear was completely unnecessary. The author does do a masterful job at laying out the facts...and this in an easy-to-read manner...and allowing the accounts and thoughts to slide right in between. These accounts are never too long, but offer just the right glimpse into the situation. They flow right along, letting the history come to life and not stay an arm length's away.

This is a read which will pull in more than just history-buffs. It draws the reader to thought and makes it clear that history is the experience of real people, and not just notes on a page. 



And here she is...

Susan H. Kamei received her JD from the Georgetown University Law Center. She teaches at the University of Southern California on the legal ramifications of the incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II and how they apply to constitutional issues, civil liberties, and national security considerations today.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Review: Journey to Juniper Junction by Heather N. Quinn

After reading the blurb on today's review, I was excited about diving into it. This one is a wholesome story and centers around a vacation with cousins, the outdoors, and living on a type of farm.  It not only brought memories of my own childhood...and I can tell you for a fact that it's amazing how much trouble a kid can get into when their own ideas are joined with those of their cousins...but sounded like a nice, fun read.

Ready for adventure?


JOURNEY TO JUNIPER JUNCTION
My Country Cousins, Book 1
by Heather N. Quinn
Babblegarden Publishing Ltd
127 pages
ages 6 to 10












If you love fun-filled, lighthearted adventures you'll love the My Country Cousins series!

Ten-year-old Gemma Merriman longs for adventure. Leaving her home in England to spend the holidays with her Canadian cousins, she hopes she'll have the best summer ever. But will she? Right from the start Gemma faces challenges she never imagined.

Join Gemma as she explores her newfound independence in Journey to Juniper Junction. This story, the first in the My Country Cousins series, is a fun, fast-paced read. Glowing with warmth and humour, it celebrates the joys of growing up.


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MY TIDBITS

Simple fun and adventure radiate from every page in this easy to read, which centers around the wonder of cousins.

Gemma's best friend has moved far away, making the sights on summer camp more than gloomy. When her father suggests she fly to Canada and visit her cousins instead, she's more than a little nervous but also excited. Not only has she never flown by herself, but she has only very vague memories of her uncle's family. While things get off to a rocky start, she's in for an experience she'll never forget.

This is a great book for those readers, who are certain of their words but aren't quite ready to tackle longer, middle grade novels. The font has a nice sizing, making it easy to read, and the writing itself is great for the intended audience. As an extra bonus...and something I found to be a clever idea...the amount of words the reader has accomplished is placed at the end of each chapter. So, there is a sense of accomplishment along the way, too.

As for Gemma's adventure, this is a steady-paced plot, keeping something happening on every page. The characters are lively, dialogue is key, and the scenes flow from one situation right into the other. The authors also make sure to add just enough description to keep the tale grounded but don't swerve even close into going overboard on this end. The tale is wholesome and shows how exciting Gemma's discoveries are. There's also the simple fun of being with cousins, who know how to keep life on its toes. There isn't a great mystery or problem to really encounter, but rather, this one lets Gemma experience simple adventures, which are each exciting and informational, too. 

It's a lovely start to what promises to be a fun series.


And here they are...



Heather N Quinn is the pen name of the mother and daughter writing team of Heather MacDonald and Quinn Slobodin. They reside with their families in Ontario, Canada.

Heather was born in Scotland and emigrated to Canada with her family in 1963. She grew up in Ontario on a small hobby farm. In 1990, she moved to England with her husband and young daughter, Quinn. Heather worked as a magazine features writer for national magazines and had three more children while living in the UK. Returning to Canada in 1998, she was a full-time mum, during which time she published short fiction. Today, Heather once again lives in the country, where she tends a big garden filled with vegetables and flowers. She loves to cook and bake, and to spend time with her family. Writing children’s stories with Quinn brings her great joy. 

Quinn was born in Canada. She moved with her parents to England at the age of two and spent eight formative years on the Wirral Peninsula. Her childhood in England, and then her returning to Canada at the age of ten, is what helps her to understand Gemma, the protagonist in the My Country Cousins series. Growing up in a big family whose motto was the same as the Merrimans of Almosta Farm, “If you can’t behave, be funny!” Quinn has lots of funny childhood experiences to draw upon for her writing. Today, she has two little girls of her own. Their antics continue to provide lots of fun stuff to write about. 

Contact information: Heather N Quinn 
www.heathernquinn.com 
Instagram: @heathernquinn 
Facebook: /Heather N. Quinn 
Babblegarden Publishing Ltd., PO Box 58, Navan Stn. Main, Navan, ON, Canada K4B 1J3

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Review: A Duck from Oregon Tries to Fly by The Duck

 


A DUCK FROM OREGON TRIES TO FLY!
by The Duck
Translated by Nikki Navarro
Illustrated by Teigh Bowen
Picture Book
64 pages



Sometimes ducks fly, and sometimes they don’t. This is the exciting story of the day the Oregon Duck attempted to fly. A story of victory in the face of difficulty, this tale will inspire people of all ages.


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MY TIDBITS

A duck's extreme determination causes laugh-worthy moments, while teaching an important message.

Duck wants to fly. Unlike other ducks, he can't, and he'll try anything to get himself launched into the air and take flight. But one extreme attempt after the other leaves him fully planted on the ground. When no more possibilities cross his mind, he's sure everything is lost.

This is a book, which will draw laughs and giggles from young listeners. The duck has the craziest ideas to help him fly, and it's clear right away that they probably won't work and will end in disaster. Which they do, and that is when the humor really hits. It's hard not to feel for the duck as he finally wants to give up, but of course, there's a valuable lesson about friendship and helping each other to round it all off at the end.

The illustrations are bright, simple and let the humor hold front and center. The text is, for the most part, kept short. Only at the end, when things get more serious and sad, does the text get thicker, making it great for a read-aloud. The text is written in rhyme, which, honestly, wasn't quite my thing since it could have run a little more smoothly. But I highly doubt listeners will be even slightly irritated as they get lost in duck's silly attempts.

It's a cute book with a important message, and does entertain as well.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Review: Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion by Stephen W. Martin

 As promised, I have a second book today...and this one is an explosion of cuteness! The second I read the title and surmise, I had to get my hands on this one. After all, can a person ever have too much cuteness???

Read further and find out!




FLUFFY MCWHISKERS CUTENESS EXPLOSION
by Stephen W. Martin
Illustrated by Dan Tavis
Margaret K McElderry Books
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

COMING...
NOVEMBER 2nd!!!



Friendship is hard for Fluffy, a kitten so precious that anyone who looks at her explodes!

Meet Fluffy—an adorable kitten. So adorable, in fact, that anyone who sees her will spontaneously explode into balls of sparkles and fireworks. KABOOM! Poof.

Poor Fluffy doesn’t want anyone to get hurt, but everything she tries, even a bad haircut, just makes her cuter! So Fluffy runs away someplace no one can find her. Find out if there’s any hope for Fluffy in this funny and subversive story about self-acceptance and finding friendship in unlikely places.


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MY TIDBITS

I'll admit. The idea of creatures exploding does sound rather violent and dismal, but that's a concern to quickly shove aside. This is a quirky, fun, and super cute tale about friendship and learning to like ones self...it's just told in a very different an unexpected way. 

Fluffy is super, amazingly, adorably cute and has a very fitting name. She kind, sweet and friendly, but nobody ever gets that far with her, since they take one glance in her direction and explode into sparkle and fireworks. Very pretty and dynamic but horrible on the friendship end.

A fuzzy ball of fluffiness best describes Fluffy, but it's the reaction others have to her that will make younger readers surprised, giggle and smile...maybe with a bit of raised eyebrows, but laughter is hard to keep in. If Fluffy took joy in this, the tale, obviously, wouldn't work, but in this story, poor Fluffy really isn't okay with this but has no idea how to stop it. She really feels bad about it, wishes it would stop, and takes huge steps to change the situation, which make it pull at the heart strings even more.

It's easy to connect with Fluffy, especially since she really is kind and sweet. But what I really enjoy is that it shows that being marked as 'super' or 'cute' or 'great' doesn't always mean that a person will find great friends. True friendship doesn't work that way, and this tale is a clever, cute way to address that...while building in more than a few funny moments.


And here they are...

Stephen W. Martin is a writer on Frederator’s Bravest Warriors and the writer and director of many acclaimed short films. Stephen is also the author of several picture books, including Charlotte and the Rock and Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion. He currently works as a story editor in film and comic books and lives with his wife in Los Angeles. Visit him at Stephen-W-Martin.com. 

Dan Tavis is illustrator living in New Hampshire. He has been doodling ever since his first math class in elementary school! He is the illustrator of Common Critters and Fluffy McWhiskers Cuteness Explosion, among other projects. Learn more at DanTavis.com.


Mommy and Daddy's Day with Ark of the Apocalypse by Tobin Marks

Every so often on Bookworm for Kids, I present a book, which is categorized in the adult category, because parents like to read too. These books do not contain any content, which is 'worse' than the average young adult novel. In other words, these are books which don't need to be hid in the back of a closet or underneath the bed. These books can easily be read by the young adult audience and enjoyed as well.

But my readers, which love to visit because of the younger audience end...have no worries! Later today, I also have a super cute (and I mean amazingly adorable) picture book to share with you, too.

Today's read slides into a fantasy/science fiction direction and explores a world, which is coming to an end and how the race plans to continue to survive...or so, that's the gist I'm getting from the blurb. It's been getting lovely reviews, and since I haven't had a book in this direction for awhile, I wanted to give it a read.

Ready to head into an apocalypse? 



ARK OF THE APOCALYPSE
The Magellan II Chronicles
Book One 
by Tobin Marks
Boyle and Dalton
Science Fiction
300 pages












Earth is on the verge of becoming a dead planet.

The polar ice caps melted long ago, and it's been decades since the last raindrop fell. Ocean levels rise a dozen meters, and forest fires rage on a global scale. Eleven billion people dying of thirst wage water wars against each other as extinction looms.

Humanity needs a new planet. As Earth deteriorates, the nation states desperately work together to build a mechanism for recolonization. And so the Magellan II is born, the first starship capable of interstellar travel.

The future of the human race is tasked to ten thousand colonists-now homeless but for the vastness of space and the decks of Magellan II. A distant planet offers hope of survival, but it's a strange, watery world inhabited by giant reptiles.

Humanity is starting over, but survival isn't guaranteed.


GOODREADS   /    AMAZON


MY TIDBITS

With strong world-building, this book takes the Earth to meet its end and explores the struggles  survivors have to continue mankind's survival on another planet.

Unlike many dystopian books, this one starts long before the world ends and the spacecraft sets off to find a new planet for the colonists. It begins in the 1930's and works its way quickly through history to make sure the necessary background and foundation is laid. The death of Earth takes time and so do the plans of those involved in its end. Everything is carefully laid out, creating a rich plot and story line. The processes are easy to follow and understandable, giving lots of food for thought before the journey into space even begins. So, this is definitely a well-planned and well-written novel.

For my taste, though, it was a bit slow. While the general pacing is steady, the journey of the colonists doesn't really take place until about 2/3rd's through the book. But considering this is the beginning to a series, that's not necessarily a problem. It just isn't completely my type of read. The author uses various points of view from differing positions and experiences to allow the reader to gain a well-woven understanding and view of what happens and how its handled. While it was very interesting, it also made many of the characters remain at an arm length's away, since their thoughts and feelings didn't really come into play. So, while the tale was intriguing, it was hard to gain an emotional connection, at  times.

The pacing picks up when the colonists launch into space. When they arrive at the strange world, there are intriguing problems to be faced and the book seems to jump into a slightly different direction...as if two books have formed one. I enjoyed the mix of science fiction with hints of fantasy, and found the entire setting original. The basis for future books in the series is well laid during this part as well.

While this isn't completely my type of read, it's very well done and is sure to delight readers who enjoy rich worlds, well-laid out plots, and look forward to being invited to ponder situations long after the book is laid down.