Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Review: Cocomelon: The Wheels on the Bus adapted by May Nakamura

 Normally, I don't have a review on the same day as my 'What's Coming' posts, but September is going to be overly packed with all sorts of good reads. To make sure I don't miss any of them, I'm going to be scrunching and shoving and wiggling as many as I can. 

Today's review comes from a popular Youtube show and just happens to be based on a very familiar, child song. 


adapted by May Nakamura
Simon Spotlight
Board Book / Novelty
12 pages
ages 0 to 4

CoComelon, the hit kids show on YouTube and Netflix, is coming to books! This school bus–shaped novelty board book has wheels that really turn and will get readers giggling along with its fun take on the classic song.

Ride on the bus and sing along to the song lyrics with JJ and his pals as the driver opens and shuts the school bus door, the wipers swish, the lights blink, the horn beeps, and more! This shaped board book has wheels that will go round and round just like in the song and is great to play with after the story is over.

CoComelon is the #1 kids show on YouTube (over 100 million subscribers) and #1 show on Netflix!

© 2021 Moonbug™ Entertainment Limited. All Rights Reserved.



Fans of CoComelon will recognize this one right away, but even those who don't know the show will have no trouble getting involved, since it follows a very popular children's song.

Shaped like a bus, this board book caught my eye right away. It's a little more robust and will take some abuse from younger listeners. The song, The Wheels on the Bus, is one that many kids already know and this book allows them to sing each verse, while watching what happens with JJ on the bus. Of course, he has some adventures on the side, too, and this adds another level to the entire tale.

The illustrations are bright and cheerful. JJ's excitement is palpable on every page and makes it hard not to smile. The speech bubbles are in their own, colored boxes, while the verse for the son is written more into the illustrations with a musical style. 

It's a fun book and a nice way to get kids involved as the read and sing.

What's Coming in September?

Time to dig out those light sweaters! Or don't I wish...
I'm sure a cooler day will sneak in every now and then at one point this month. (With the 90's we've been having lately, I really hope they do.) 

I'm tempted to declare September 'Picture Book Month' because I have a massively-huge, super-enormous pile of lovely picture books coming your way. So, all those who have their eyes open for the younger end of the reading scale will want to pop in more than a few times this month. 

As for middle grader reads and young adult novels...well, I haven't ignored these, either. There are several chills 'n thrills planned for YA readers as well as some deeper reads. Middle graders will see a colorful mix, this month, too.

So, who's ready for a quick peek?


I read the companion book, Unicorns are the Worst!, and found it funny as well as super cute. I'm looking forward to see if this one is just as good and packed with snort-worthy wit. Explore it with me on the 6th.

Picture Book 


For those who don't know, this is the true tale of a Syrian girl, who has become a well-known advocate for refugees. I'm curious to see how this one speaks to young readers and will share my thoughts on the 7th.

Picture Book


Sometimes, I could squeal for excitement about reading a book, and this is one of them. Set in historic New York, a young girl is taken to an island, where her new step-father runs a hospital for quarantined patients of deadly and very contagious diseases. And she has reason to believe he isn't as humane as he appears. We're talking dark and creepy! I'm hitting this one on the 10th.

Middle Grade Historical


This one promises to be amazing on the illustration end. The artist has used smoke to create the pictures. I hear it's getting quite a bit of attention and am excited to explore every page. Find out more on the 13th.

Picture Book


Greeting from France, this one is one of the highly anticipated reads this year. It's a coming-of-age novel and takes on a century old 'curse'. It discloses some of the failings of modern medicine and questions modern trust on science. It's very different from the reads I usually present on here, but I'm ready for something new. Discover it with me on the 14th.

Coming of Age Contemporary


I'm going to stay in the realm of deep thoughts. This one rotates around a girl, who loves make-up, and must deal with harsh reality when her mother becomes ill. I found the cover intriguing and am curious whether I'll enjoy this one or not, since serious isn't always my thing. Find out more with me on the 17th.

Middle Grade Contemporary


It's high time for some fun! She-Ra and the Princess of Power meets Dog Man—doesn't that sound interesting? I'm betting this is a quirky, graphic novel with tons of girl power and...well, who knows what. I'm going to take a look at it on the 20th, so don't miss it because I'm sure it will be a blast.

Middle Grade Fantasy /  Graphic Novel


I've always been a bubble fan. Can you believe I'd even blow these out in front of the dorms in college? And the idea of trying to kiss a bubble has me smiling. I'm betting that this will be a wonderful read. See if I'm right on the 25th!

Picture Book


The Fan Brothers are one of my favorite picture book authors/illustrators. So, when I was offered to take a peek at this one, there was no way I would say 'no'. Join me on the 28th because this one is certain to be a winner.

Picture Book


Ballet meets graphic novel and mixes with a memoir in this tale of a girl, chasing her ballerina dreams. It hits upon the struggles a teen faces as she works toward her goal of earning a spot on the New York Ballet Company. It sounded intriguing, so I wanted to take a peek. Join me on the 29th to learn more.

Young Adult Graphic Novel / Contemporary

I am tempted to give a peek at several more YA reads, which are coming up...a little horror to get ready for October...but there have to be some surprises, right?

As always, we have this month's Joker Read! I have no clue when I'll get around to posting a review on this one, but it is coming this month. Even if I have to squeeze some picture books together, I'm definitely going to hit the following read. 


It's mystery time in this first book in a very new series for middle graders—Christie and Agatha's Detective Agency! It comes from our neighbors in Britain and holds something about a scientific discovery in a sandwich. I'm betting these two are going to make an amazing pair. Now, if I only knew when I was going to tell you all about it...but that's the mystery, isn't it?

Middle Grade Mystery

Monday, August 30, 2021

Review: Tempest by C.J. Campbell with Giveaway!


by C.J. Campbell
The Veil Chronicles, #1
]YA Fantasy, Romance

AUGUST 31st!!!

To unearth the truth, she must embrace the legend within.

For eighteen-year-old Lexi, freedom is a luxury. She’s spent her life evading capture for a genetic gift that feels more like a curse. Her bulletproof immunity and monstrous disfigurement is of great interest to a secret organization, but they aren’t the only ones. A cryptic tip alerts Lexi that something else hunts her–something darker.

Desperate to enjoy her life before it’s too late, Lexi leaves the protective cocoon her parents created for her and signs up for art classes at her local college. There she meets Conner, who is confined to a wheelchair, and they become friends who are willing to share each other’s secrets. But a chance encounter with Connor’s foster brother Killian changes everything.

Killian shares the same mysterious secret within his blood as Lexi. Their fateful meeting sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic events that exposes the terrifying truth–Lexi is a celestial queen of a bygone race. Connor is their last royal heir, and Killian is a half-breed abomination hated for his very existence. With Connor kidnapped by an ancient god determined to rid the world of the stain of humanity, Lexi and Killian find themselves under the protection of the secretive Order of Kings.

Lexi believes she’s been thrown into a world of myths and legends, but things are not as they seem. Lexi becomes convinced the Order is keeping dangerous secrets that threaten not just her but all of mankind.

Goodreads / Amazon


With a very quick pace, this read pulls into an unseen world where the aftermath of war has left intrigue and a huge battle for a young girl.

Lexi is constantly on the run with her parents thanks to a birth defect, which makes her 'bullet-proof'. The fact that her injuries heal almost immediately and her blood is strange as made her the target of more than a couple groups. Plus, her deformities never really let her fit in. When their next hiding spot gives her the chance to attend her first semester of college, she's thrilled, but then, she runs across the impossible...another person with deformities, who has the same blood as her. Realizing there's so much more to the story than her parents have been telling her, she begins to ask questions. But when her parents die in front of her eyes at the hands of monsters, she's swished away by unknown people only to discover her life isn't what it seems. Instead, she's one of the few remaining of her powerful race, and everything rests on her shoulders.

This book definitely grabs at the beginning and makes Lexi very hard not to like. She does come across as someone younger than her supposed age in these first chapters, but that changes as the tale goes on. The family love is very inspiring, and I was hooked right away. The author keeps up the pace as the story progresses  and lets unexpected twists and turns drive it forward. There's a lot of intrigue and secrets, which makes this a great beginning for a new series. 

The world of mythical creatures and an entire realm behind a hidden veil, invite to a rich surrounding. The author establishes a great base in reality before drawing into the fantastical side, which I did appreciate. There's a lot going on and most of it runs smoothly, although there were some jumps and logic hiccups at times, which did leave a tiny bit of confusion. But all in all, this is an exciting read which draws in.

Author Bio:

Clare is a successful and highly popular author of award winning Fanfiction, with thousands of online fans and over 2 million reads on her Lord of the Rings Fanfic epic. Clare has also won several writing awards within the Fantasy, Inspirational, and Short Story genres. Her story Refuge was a top prize winner and as a direct result published in Faith & Freedom anthology by EA books. She has recently been shortlisted for Writer of the Year 2019.

As well as writing, Clare is an experienced Occupational Therapist, with a passion for enabling people. She has contributed articles for online organizations aimed at highlighting disability as a positive influence in modern literature. Her love of storytelling, merged with her positive messages inspires her to create meaningful narratives that represent diversity, and promote unity.

You can learn more about Clare by visiting www.CJCampbellOfficial.com

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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Review: The Cicadas are Coming! by Doug Wechsler


Invasion of the Periodical Cicadas
by Doug Wechsler
Middle Grade Nonfiction
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

When a million bugs come out of the ground at once, children pay attention. Periodical cicadas don't disappoint. Almost every animal in the area fills its stomach. Then after a month the feast and the cacophony suddenly stops.

This book is about one of the oddest insect life cycles on the planet the periodical or 17-year cicada.

The beautiful photographs and engaging text bring to life every aspect of this insect's life from a unique view of the eggs inside a twig, to its transformation to the noisiest insect around. Author Doug Wechsler, once again, brings the natural world in focus for children.



Not only cicada fans will enjoy this lovely book because the title says it all; the cicadas are coming. 

First off, this is an amazingly, illustrated book. The photographs not only are well done, but they are spot on and coincide very nicely with the text. Not only are the cicadas shown in their natural settings with tons of details, but there's even a cross-section of one (which was found dead) to help readers see exactly the parts of the cicadas, which are being explained. I can't imagine a better way to bring across the information visually.

The text fits the age group and is easy to read, while not talking down to the reader. The facts are brought across smoothly and not overly technically. In other words, it doesn't feel too heavy while reading, and the author tries to make it seem as if he's directly explaining it to the reader. 

This isn't a book for younger, picture book fans. The book assumes that the reader has a simple knowledge on several aspects of insects, and this might go a bit over some younger reader's heads. The intended age group shouldn't have any troubles with it, though. I see this one not only great for classrooms and homeschooling but also a wonderful read for nonfiction fans to grab up. They'll definitely see cicadas in a different way after reading this one

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Review: All Pets Allowed by Adele Griffin

Living on a farm, we definitely have our fill of animals. And maybe, that's why I enjoyed the first book in this series so much that I couldn't turn down the chance to read the second, too. It's meant for those readers, who are able to conquer chapter books but aren't quite ready to dive into middle grade novels. 

Animal lovers, let's head into today's review! 

Blackberry Farm 2
by Adele Griffin
Illustrated by Le Uyen Pham
Algonquin Books
Children's Fiction
198 pages

More than anything else—even more than the best birthday party ever—Becket Branch wants a dog for her tenth birthday. But her twin brother, Nicholas, has secretly been wishing for a cat. Lucky for Becket and Nicholas, their animal-loving parents have an animal-loving surprise for them: they’re going to the local shelter and adopting both a cat and a dogIt should be the biggest BEAUTIFUL ALERT ever, but Becket’s dream dog, Dibs, turns out to be a super-shy scaredy-pooch who is going to need a lot of training. Meanwhile, Nicholas’s cat, Given, is more outgoing and attention-seeking than the just-for-him pet he was expecting.
Laugh along as Becket fishes mice out of Nicholas’s slippers, puts bullies in their place, and tries, and tries again, to train Dibs—all while learning new life lessons and keeping up with her other farm chores.
With black-and-white drawings throughout by award-winning illustrator LeUyen Pham (Real Friends), this second volume of the Blackberry Farm series offers a gentle message about embracing new friends who may not match preconceived expectations.



Every page packs energy and surprises as this character refuses to be steered away from achieving her goals.

Becket and her twin brother are about to celebrate their tenth birthdays...and it just so happens to fall on the tenth of the tenth month. Convinced this can only be the true sign of luck, Becket decides to celebrate big time no matter what her brother's wishes are. She also has decided that the two of them will make a certain, twin-birthday wish. But things don't quite go as planned...they might just turn out better, but with surprises, she might or might not be able to master.

I did read the first book in this series, but it's not necessary to read it as a series. While the first book does set the stage for the farm, characters and such, it was still no problem to dive right into this book. In other words, it can be read as a stand alone.

To say Becket is full of spunk is an understatement. She's a character, which says what she wants and doesn't let others barely get a word in edge-wise. Her determination and energy are inspirational, although this is also what causes her troubles. She's got a good heart, but sometimes, looses sight of what others might feel around her. Her over-eagerness gets her into interesting situations, and it's hard not to feel for her twin brother as he tries his best to often steer clear. Still, the sibling relationship is golden and full of ups and downs. 

The text is appropriate for the intended audience, and thanks to the lovely illustrations sprinkled everywhere, tons of fun to read. There's never a boring moment.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Review: CoComelon: Yes, Yes, Vegetables! adapted by Maggie Testa

Today's review is for those younger readers out there! Parents of this beginning book bunch might recognize Cocomelon, thanks to it's popularity on YouTube and Netflix. There are several books hitting the world soon, which have been inspired by this series. There were times, I found it helpful to get my youngest to gain more interest in reading by picking up characters they already knew from cartoons and such.  And I've always been a fan of novelty books, which carry something a little special.

So, off we go! 

adapted by Maggie Testa
Simon Spotlight
Board Book
12 pages

COMING... AUGUST 31st!!!

CoComelon, the hit kids show on YouTube and Netflix, is coming to books! This interactive novelty book with text based on a hit song will get readers laughing, singing, and eating their veggies!

It’s veggie time! Read and sing along to the lyrics with Mom and JJ as they have fun eating veggies! Readers will delight in using the cardboard utensil (with a fork on one side and a spoon on the other side) tethered to the book to feed teddy his peas, elephant his carrots, monkey his squash, and mousie his beans—based on the video with over two and a half billion views on YouTube!

CoComelon is the #1 kids show on YouTube (over 100 million subscribers) and #1 show on Netflix!

© 2021 Moonbug™ Entertainment Limited. All Rights Reserved.



With simple fun, this book does awake curiosity for eating those veggies.

This is a robust, little board book, which is great to take on a bit of abuse and fit right into younger readers' hands. The spoon on the side is a nice touch and caught my interest (yes, I'm easily intrigued). 

The illustrations follow exactly the type of scenes as seen in the CoComelon show. So, fans will have no trouble recognizing and finding familiarity with the characters and situations. These are bright and very busy illustrations, not only due to the pictures shown, but also, the words dance everywhere. I find it a bit too busy, but others might disagree.

The main text is easy to find and read, since this is placed in green text boxes. The vocabulary is great for the younger listeners. It makes for an easy read-aloud, too...which is what this book really works well as. In addition to the main text, which accompanies the mother's and child's dialogue as they eat vegetables, there are the words for the fitting song (which I'm assuming comes from the show), so this can also be sung along. This does make it easy to really get engaged in the read, when a parent/guardian/caretaker read this for the child, since it adds more interaction and variety. 

I can see this one working to encourage kids to eat their vegetables, especially when they have the exact same thing on their plate as the character in these pages. And if nothing else, it is a lot of fun to read.

Review: Cursed Beauty by Stacey O'Neale with Giveaway!


Cursed Beauty
by Stacey O’Neale
YA Fairy Tales, Retelling

AUGUST 30th!!!


From USA Today bestselling author Stacey O’Neale comes a standalone, gender-reversed YA retelling of Sleeping Beauty!

The day has come for sixteen-year-old Aurora to receive her witch mark. She should be thrilled. But unlike the rest of her coven, a centuries-old family curse has already decided her fate; the cost of her new power is her life.

After the ceremony, her grandmother offers her hope: Aurora can save herself and prevent her coven from dying by awakening a sleeping prince with the power to break her curse. Unfortunately, she must travel through the forbidden Shadowlands to reach him.

The enchanted forest is filled with magical creatures—friends and foes—including the mysterious son of a powerful wolf pack leader. Can she find the prince in time, and if she succeeds, will he choose to help despite having been placed under a sleeping spell?

Perfect for fans of Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin, House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig, and The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert.

Goodreads / Amazon

And here she is...

USA Today Bestselling YA Fantasy Author, Stacey O'Neale, lives in Annapolis, Maryland. When she's not writing, she spends her time fangirling over books, podcasting, cheering for the Baltimore Ravens, and hanging out with her husband and daughter.

Her career in publishing started as a senior publicist for Entangled Publishing. Stacey writes young adult fantasy and adult science fiction romance. Her books always include swoon-worthy heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Review: The Incredibly Busy Mind of Bowen Bartholomew Crisp by Paul Russell

 Today's review is a nod to all those kids out there, who don't think quite like everyone else.

by Paul Russell
Illustrated by Nicky Johnston
EK Books
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

Most children would say that the ocean is blue, but when Bowen looks at it he sees white where the waves crash, deep black on the ocean floor, and green when there’s a storm. He wonders whether fireflies are hot, and notices how the brushstrokes of a painting tell a story too. Bowen sees the world differently to other children and struggles to fit in. How will he find his place in the world?

The Incredibly Busy Mind of Bowen Bartholomew Crisp follows the life of Bowen through school and beyond. At every stage, he finds that he doesn’t fit in with his peers, but this eventually becomes his greatest strength. Through thinking differently, he is able to solve problems that no one else could. After all, just because something can’t be mended the same as it was, why can’t it be mended differently?

A very personal story, Bowen’s tale is sensitively written and full of colourful, lively illustrations. It aims to offer hope to children who haven’t yet found their place in life by showing them that being ‘normal’ might just be overrated, and that to find success in life we should be valuing our differences.

Children, carers, teachers and psychologists alike will find inspiration in this tale of embracing diversity and engaging our full potential. It is a vital reminder that the strength and uniqueness of every child should be encouraged to help them find their place in the world and flourish!

You can purchase it on Exisle     Here


No two people are the same or see the world in the same way. But then, there are those kids, who realize that they don't seem to think like anyone else. Bowen Bartholomew Crisp is one of these kids. In these pages, the reader follows him from his first days in school all the way until the end of his teenage years. And maybe, he'll have his own spot in life by the end, after all.

The illustrations are fun to glance through and offer a wholesome warmth and encouragement. Not only do they add to the tale and demonstrate the situations well, but the details will keep readers coming back again and again to discover something new.

This isn't a book for the youngest. There is more text and the thoughts are also a bit more advanced, making this a read more for six and up. It does work well as a read-aloud for younger ones, but be prepared to answer some questions because Bowen Bartholomew covers a lot of ground in all sorts of topics and ideas. It's fun to zip around in his head with him, and more than a couple kids will be able to identify with him.

While the message in this one is clear, it's not preachy, either. There is even a little humor built in to keep things light, and the family love is also present, making it a positive read in every way.

And here they are...

Paul Russell is a primary teacher, artist, playwright and children’s author of Grandma Forgets and My Storee, among others, with Grandma Forgets making the CBCA list of notable picture books in 2018. Having been in classrooms for over 30 years, it really isn’t surprising that all of his heroes are teachers. He is passionate about children’s literacy and building young appetites for the written word.


Nicky Johnston is an educator, speaker, and author/illustrator of children’s books. She is passionate about promoting emotional resilience in children and raising awareness of mental health issues. As well as teaching, she works from home writing and illustrating and has contributed to 16 books including The Fix-It Man and Saying Goodbye to Barkley.


Sneak Peek: Seventeen Butterflies by Anna Katmore with Giveaway!


Seventeen Butterflies
 by Anna Katmore
YA Contemporary, Romance


The embarrassment of being the only unkissed girl in high school is something Sandy Cardington refuses to accept. The first kiss project is her foolproof plan to finally get rid of the status at her 17th birthday party, while her parents are out of town.

With several kissable boys on her guest list, this should be a walk in the park. But she didn’t count on her older brother returning from college and throwing a wrench into her plans. To make matters even more complicated, he has a friend in tow, and the cute hockey player stirs unexpected butterflies in her stomach every time their paths cross.

While Sandy moves heaven and earth to make her party and project come true, it looks as if Thane Griffyn has his own plans to teach her the real meaning of a first kiss…

A compelling, sweet high school romance, perfect for fans of Kelly Oram, L A Cotton, Cassie Mae, and Erin Watt.

Goodreads / Amazon


“Who. Are. You?”

The words fly out of my mouth even before the front door falls shut behind me. There’s a stranger in my house—built like a demi-god, demonic dark hair, and with eyes like an angel. He comes out of the bathroom as if he’d just taken a break after parking himself in my home for a cozy film marathon. Hello?

The intruder with the white t-shirt wipes his still damp hands on the back of his washed-out jeans, not even half as confused as I am, obviously. “My name’s Thane,” he says. Then he smiles, and the sun is rising a second time today at half past six in the evening. What the hell?

He cocks his head. “And yours?”

My backpack slides from my right shoulder, pulling one side of my unzipped dark blue hoodie with it, and hits the tiled hallway floor with a thud so loud the neighbors could hear. That’s from the five new books I just borrowed from the library. All hardcovers. “Huh?”

Dimples and an amused look make the young man’s eyes scrunch a little tighter. “Your name?”

Jeez, burglars don’t usually smirk and engage you in conversations, do they? Then again, we’ve never been robbed before, so what do I know?

With a jerk of my shoulder, I push my hoodie back in place and then grab my brother’s old hockey stick from behind the chest in the foyer. We’ve been keeping it there since the day I watched my first murder mystery as a kid, and today I swing it for the first time.

“I’m Sandra Michelle Cardington. Cardington as in the name written on the mailbox outside this house. My house.” Need I say, “I live here!” My fingers clenching around the wood, I move one step closer to the housebreaker. “You don’t.”

“Whoa.” His chuckle runs wild into nice boyish laughter, and he lifts his hands in surrender.

Not gonna help, cutie. I’ll knock your lights out.

As I scowl like a wild dog, he keeps his body rigid, but his star-blue eyes move to the right as he shouts over his shoulder, “You didn’t say you’re living with Harley Quinn, Cam.”

The next instant, he moves forward so swiftly I totally miss the moment. With just one hand, he brings my arms down then casts a friendly look straight into my eyes. “Let me show you how this works. This isn’t a baseball bat, you know. You use it a little closer to the ground.”

And here she is...

"I'm writing stories because I can't breathe without."

Anna Katmore lives in an enchanting world of her own, which allows only those to enter who are ready to hand in logic and rationalism. But beware, if you dare to step through this door, you'll never want to leave again...

Disney is her attitude towards life, and if she could, she'd save the world from itself. Her patronus is a wolf, her wand the broken twig of an apple tree, 13 inches long with a unicorn hair core. Glitter on her shoes is a must, though she doesn't care for Cinderella's glass slippers. Too risky that something might break...

For more information, please visit www.annakatmore.com

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Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Review: The Jade Talisman by Alanna Mackenzie

Good afternoon! Yes, I'm very late, today. School started Monday, and in our house, we always need about a week or so to get back into the swing of things. While I did contemplate shoving this one back a few days, I really didn't want to do another switch-a-roo...I mean, what's the purpose of giving everyone a sneak peek, and then, changing it without notice all of the time? 

This one is book 2 of a series...one I haven't read except for this book. I would love to change that if my schedule allows soon because I did enjoy this one as much as I like the cover. It's a young adult novel placed in the future and holds tons of intrigue.

Ready to take a jump into the future? 

The Jade Chronicles #2
by Alanna Mackenzie
Willow Lane Publishing 
Young Adult Science Fiction / Fantasy / Dystopian
209 pages

A talisman. A song. A gift that bends time, and alters the course of destiny itself.

It is the year 2762 in the Empire of Khalendar, and AI Masters rule the civilized world, striving to crush all dissent. But they have not yet managed to quell the Jade Rebellion or its leader, Walter Saltanetska. The rebels have sailed beyond the Empire’s borders to the infamous isle of Vei’arash. Their mission is to find animal spirits exiled long ago by the AI Masters, and return them to the mainland. With any luck, the spirits will strengthen the fading magical powers of their allies, the Western Mages, and join the battle against their oppressive rulers.

As the rebels plunge deeper into the jungle, physical laws are upended. The plants and animals of the rainforest are inextricably linked to divine beings. An ancient shaman-god entrusts Walter with the Jade Talisman, an enchanted gemstone that warps the basic rules of time and space.

The Talisman allows Walter to gaze into a mesmerizing labyrinth of future possibilities. But the visions it offers up are troublingly dark, giving Walter insight into the potential fates of himself and his loved ones. This gift proves to be a crushing burden, and Walter desperately longs for an ordinary life. But there is no going back…

The gripping sequel to The Jade Rebellion, The Jade Talisman explores whether nature and spirituality are capable of persevering in a world dominated by the cold logic of artificial intelligence.



Future, past, magic and high-tech come together in a fast paced, futuristic novel, which grabs into a intriguing world.

Walter lives in the future, where AIs are in charge and magic is as much a part of the high-tech as circuits. Realizing that nature and the world are at stake, he seeks to find a way to rebel and save what remains. During his search in the outlaying towns and areas, nature's spirits are on his side. when he gains a talisman, which allows him to see the future, he's left with a web of visions, which he may not be able to handle, but must if he wants to succeed.

I did not read the first one in the series, and that was a mistake. While I could think my way through the beginning and figure out what was going on, reading the first book would have been helpful and definitely enriched the world. So, read this one as a series if possible.

This is a well-created world, which takes a dystopian viewpoint where AIs rule and run everything. But it's not pure science fiction, either. Rather, magic plays just as an important role and has melded seamlessly into the advancements. This alone was a treat to read, since the author does pull the elements together very nicely. But it doesn't stop there. It takes a look at the need for nature survive, and on this side, uses natural spirits, who fight to continue their existence. So, there are several layers in this plot.

Both tension and pacing remain high. Walter is determined to save what still remains of nature and Earth, and he's pitted against impossible odds. But it's about more than just this battle. Walter needs to learn to deal with his own abilities and that of the world around him. He has quite a bit to figure out and adjust to, while learning to gain a better understanding of everything involved. In other words, there are quite a few unexpected moments, situations which aren't sure victories, and plenty of times to wonder how it will work out. It's an interesting read, which grabs and holds in a unique world.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, Eyes of the Forest by April Henry with Giveaway!

 Sometimes, a reader needs a good mystery, and today's review fits that bill. The eerie title and cover caught my attention on this one. Plus, I was in the mood for a bit of a thriller

Eyes of the Forest
by April Henry
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
YA Mystery


After a bestselling fantasy writer disappears, only his biggest fan believes he’s in danger. Instead of re-reading his books, she must venture into the real world to uncover the truth in this fast-paced mystery by New York Times-bestselling author April Henry. For readers of Courtney Summers and Karen McManus.

Bridget is RM Haldon’s biggest fan. She and her mom sought refuge in Haldron’s epic fantasy series Swords and Shadows while her mom was losing her battle with cancer. When Bridget met Haldon at one of his rare book signings, she impressed the author with her encyclopedic knowledge of the fantasy world he’d created. Bridget has been working for him ever since as he attempts to write the final book in his blockbuster sword and sorcery series. But Haldon has gone missing, and Bridget is the only person who seems concerned. Can Bridget piece together Haldon’s cryptic clues and save him before it’s too late?

Master mystery-writer April Henry weaves another heart-stopping young adult thriller in this story that seamlessly blends suspense with an exploration of fan culture.

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With amazing smoothness and weaving, this tale places tension high and keeps the reader wondering how it will all work out by the end.

Bridget has been a fan of a famous author since she was eight, and by a wonderful chance, she even has become his assistant and offers advice on the details he's built into his series. Unfortunately, he's suffering from writer's block, and millions of fans have been waiting for the last novel in his series for over three years. When he suddenly goes missing, nobody seems to notice. Not even Bridget until she receives a very strange email.

Every moment and every step is very well laid out in this mystery. I'm not always a fan of those stories, where the reader already knows who the kidnapper is, what their motive is, and even where they are hiding their victim, but this author makes it work and more. Every step of the way, the characters are left open, allowing the reader to know exactly what they are thinking and why. It makes each one personal and more realistic...even when their logic is flawed. 

Bridget is a character to root for from beginning to end. She's got a very good head on her shoulders, tons of heart, and is willing to do what she needs to. She has some difficulties from her past to overcome, but it doesn't make her weak. I also appreciated the warm relationship with her father. While there is a bit of romance hinted at...maybe, it's more of a forming friendship and doesn't go anywhere from there. So, that was refreshing, too.

The tension in this one builds slowly and remains high until the end. There is a little bit of violence and a slightly gruesome accident scene, but none of this is over the top. Everything is done open for the reader to see and know, and it's the expectation of Bridget, hopefully, figuring things out, which make this one so entertaining and grabbing. I especially enjoyed the way the villains grow and change, as it adds depth and unexpected twists. 

It was no problem to read this one in a single sitting, and I, luckily, didn't have to put it down until I'd read all the way from the beginning to the end. 

And here she is...

April Henry is the New York Times bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels Girl, Stolen; The Girl I Used to Be, which was nominated for an Edgar Award; The Night She Disappeared; and Body in the Woods and Blood Will Tell, Books One and Two in the Point Last Seen series. She lives in Oregon.

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Happy Book Birthday, Seventeen Butterflies by Anna Katmore


Seventeen Butterflies

by Anna Katmore

Teen Romance/ Contemporary 

The embarrassment of being the only unkissed girl in high school is something Sandy Cardington refuses to accept. The first kiss project is her foolproof plan to finally get rid of the status at her 17th birthday party, while her parents are out of town.

With several kissable boys on her guest list, this should be a walk in the park. But she didn’t count on her older brother returning from college and throwing a wrench into her plans. To make matters even more complicated, he has a friend in tow, and the cute hockey player stirs unexpected butterflies in her stomach every time their paths cross.

While Sandy moves heaven and earth to make her party and project come true, it looks as if Thane Griffyn has his own plans to teach her the real meaning of a first kiss…

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And here she is...

The nitty-gritty:

I’ve been a storyteller all my life, building bridges into different worlds. Already in kindergarten, I’ve seen the most fantastical things and wanted to share them with everyone. My teacher called me a liar back then. Today, I call it the first real flash of my spiritual gift and the cornerstone of my writing career.

When I got older, I’ve had many visions of a perfect career, while writing has always been more of a hobby and kind of a therapy for me when the longing for more magic in this world once again caught up with me in a crushing way. When my first book was finished, I couldn’t even imagine sharing one of my stories with others, ever. In fact, I only got used to the idea while I wrote my second book and learned in a very miraculous way where the many stories in this world really come from.

It’s funny how, at that point, everyone told me I can’t possibly make a living with writing. They even warned me not to quit my job. But after my debut novella PLAY WITH ME came out and sales skyrocketed within the first week, I knew I could do anything I wanted if only I never stopped dreaming.

That’s also part of what I teach my students in writing and spiritual workshops today. Always dream big! If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.

Some personal stuff:

“I’m writing stories because I can’t breathe without.”

Disney is my attitude to life, and if I could I’d save the world from itself. My Patronus is a wolf, my wand the broken twig of an apple tree, 13 ¾ inches with a unicorn hair core. I can’t deny that on some days, I prefer my book characters over real people, but there’s not a single day going by where I wouldn’t try to find magic in reality. And when I’m alone, I love to listen to the many stories of the wind in a mystic mid-summer night.

So you see, I’m lucky enough to live in an enchanting world of my own. It’s peaceful there and full of magical things, fairies and wonders. You’re welcome to follow me there – if you’re ready to open up your mind and leave everything you learned about reality behind. But beware, if you dare to step through this door, you may never want to leave again…

Author Links




German: www.facebook.com/annakatmore

English (brand new) www.facebook.com/annakatmorebooks

Monday, August 23, 2021

Review: Dragons Walk Among Us by Dan Rice with Giveaway!

 Happy Monday! Anyone ready for some dragons? It seems like a good way to start off the week, and today's review caught my eye. This one is a young adult novel about dragons hiding in our modern world, and that with teen drama. I was sure that this one would be a dramatic mix, so let's take a look!


Dragons Walk Among Us
The Allison Lee Chronicles Book 1
by Dan Rice
YA Fantasy

At times it's hard to believe what you see.

Shutterbug Allison Lee is trying to survive high school while suffering the popular girl's abuse. Her life is often abysmal, but at least her green hair is savage. Her talent for photography is recognized by the school paper and the judges of a photo contest.

While visiting her friend Joe, a homeless vet, Allison's life irrevocably changes after an attack leaves her blind. All her dreams as a photojournalist are dashed as she realizes she'll never see again. Despair sets in until she is offered an experimental procedure to restore her vision. But there are side effects, or are they hallucinations? She now sees dragons accompanying some of the people she meets. Can she trust her eyes, or has the procedure affected her more than she can see?

Debut author Rice offers an allegorical YA fantasy novel about the transformative power of self-love.

Savvy, coffee-loving teenager Allison Lee is strong beyond her years. The biracial girl faces open discrimination and also copes with her apparent abandonment by her mother, who disappeared several years ago. She’s developed a keen sense of social justice along with a skill for photography. When a mysterious stalker hits her over the head, leaving her blind, she turns to an experimental eye-surgery procedure that forever changes her view of the world. Once, Allison saw her camera as her window to the truth; now, with her naked eye, she’s able to see mythological creatures that aren’t visible to other humans and that fight to protect their way of life. Allison’s ability results in her embarking on a dangerous adventure as she discovers her own highly unusual dragon-hunting legacy. She faces mortal peril as she protects humans and other creatures from a violent, otherworldly onslaught. Along the way, she also gets in touch with her own physical and emotional resilience. Although dragons play a central role in Rice’s work, the heart of the narrative is found in simple humanity and in a celebration of differences. Throughout, characters demonstrate emotional growth as they confront their limiting beliefs about others and embrace a sense of family. The story addresses serious, socially relevant subject matter, such as discrimination, poverty, and bullying, but it’s never preachy; indeed, it has a lighthearted tone that will resonate with adolescent readers. It concludes on an affirming, heartfelt note that will leave readers thoroughly satisfied yet also curious about the future of Rice’s magical fictional world.

An inspirational and socially relevant fantasy.”

Kirkus Reviews

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Teen drama, family struggles, and coming-of-age mix with dragons to form an intriguing read.

Allison can't believe that she actually won the photograph contest at her high school...much to the disappointment of the school's mean girl. Steaming from the girl's latest attack, Allison heads to a friend but is physically attacked from behind. After a couple weeks of coma, she wakes to find herself blind. The only way to regain her sight is to undergo a very new and not-yet-approved surgery. But her new eyes bring more back than just the ability to see again. 

I read the title and blurb on this one and knew I had to get my hands on it. The surmise already is grabbing as the idea of dragons disguised as humans wander the modern world. Now, this is a young adult novel, and the author did stick to the usual run somewhat, too. There's Allison, a misfit who doesn't really except herself, her true blue friends, the mean girl, a concerned dad, and unknown evils. High school drama plays a role as well as high school romance. Then, there's the entire ordeal of learning to feel good in your own skin...which this novel really sinks into nicely. So, with all the dragon wonderfulness, this is a young adult novel.

Allison is easy to like. She's a bit snarky, doesn't always make the best decisions, and still, means well with her heart of gold. Sometimes, she reacts a bit fast and without enough thought, but she fits her age very well. She's the kind of girl, many teens would probably want as a friend, and with her troubles, it's not hard to root for her. She has a lot to learn, and this is done well. Even her friends and her go through some rough spots, but it's also a group to cheer on and like, even when they do make mistakes. Add the good relationship Allison has with her father and grandparents, and there are many warming aspects as well. 

The dragons don't really start up until well into the novel...and that works, since Allison has to build up to that point first. The reader gets to know her and her situation well, and even this part is written well enough. It is a well-paced plot with many surprises along the way. The dragons, of course, are intriguing, and this does make for a very intriguing and grabbing plot. The author does a good job at weaving them in and letting the tension climb and hit. There are more than a few stumbling areas, though, where some logic and reactions don't quite sit as smoothly as they could. And a few spots did have me pausing to figure out if I'd understood something correctly or not. The characters did sometimes react a little off as well. But this just kept the book from be as amazing as it could have been. Even with these smaller issues, it's a fun read and easy to breeze through.

There are more than a few messages in this one. First, there's the coming-of-age end, which was well done. Allison's development and acceptance hits home. Even her care of those around her is inspiring as well as the family relations. Friendship is also golden as is dealing with peers. Some aspects were a bit tossed in with the feeling that a list was trying to be met, though, which weakened the tale more than giving it extra depth. But even, here, it wasn't enough to ruin the story, either. 

All in all, this is a fun, exciting read for young adult fans. I did enjoy reading it. 

Dan has wanted to write novels since first reading Frank Herbert's Dune at the age of eleven. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he often goes hiking with his family through mist-shrouded forests and along alpine trails with expansive views.

Dragons Walk Among Us is his debut novel. He plans to keep writing fantasy and science-fiction for many years.

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