Tuesday, May 31, 2022

What's Coming in June?

It's summer!!! Okay, not officially, but with school out, I'm just declaring it so (persumptive, aren't I?). That means a new type of busy during the next months...the type I prefer, since it means that we don't have to get up every weekday at 5:45am to get my son on the bus. Yep, early morning risers in this house!

What does that mean on the reading end? Well, tons of great reads, of course. I'm actually hitting a more serious note on the young adult end of things this month, which surprised even me. But the blurbs were just so intriguing that I found myself lured in. To make up for this heavier look at life, I've got quite the mix of adventure, fantasy and excitement in the middle grade and picture book realms. I've changed this post dozens and dozens of times, not sure which books to give you guys a glimpse at, since I really have some amazing reads this month. So, keep stopping by to see what's up because tons and tons of goodness is on its way. 


I love getting my hands on non-fiction for younger readers, and this one cozies up with the ancient Olmecs, who once lived in a part of Mexico. The culture, life style, and other facts are supposed to be brought across in an easy-to-understand manner for beginning readers...which sounds great. Find out more with me on the 1st.

Picture Book Non-Fiction


This is the first book in a series and takes a look at an odd pair: a fox and a boar. That alone sparked my curiosity. I'm not sure what to expect, except that it circles around the forming of the odd friendship. It's also one of several books and has been doing rather well. We'll find out more on the 5th.

Picture Book


I must be feeling 'deep' this month because this is the first of a few serious reads. Unlike some of the others, though, this one has an interesting twist. It takes a peek at a teen with autism, who dreams of manning a mission to Mars. I believe there's a touch of scifi , but it still clings toward a contemporary direction...I think??? Find out more with me on the 6th!

Young Adult Science Fiction


I've been seeing quite a bit of buzz about this one, which releases a couple of days after I'll be putting up my thoughts. It's sold as a Black Panther meets X-Men and should be action packed...just my kind of thing. I do love the cover with all of that wonderful hair (and assume that has something to do with her superpower). Join me on the 9th to take a peek.

Middle Grade Fantasy and Myth


A magical, hidden circus? A girl, who's trying to save the city? Add that this one is staged on Venice Beach, and there was no way I could pass up on the chance to take a peek. Tight-rope-walkers and clowns beware because we're coming on the 13th!

Middle Grade Fantasy


Ready to dance between dimensions? This is the 3rd in the Keeper of the Watch series...and no, I have not read the first two books, yet. But when has that ever stopped me? I found the cover intriguing and the blurb promises an easy, exciting read. Zip through time with me on the 16th.

Young Adult Science Fiction


I'm stepping into my usual habit of starting a series with book two and taking a peek at this 'sci-fi, kung-fu, and hip-hop goodness'. Sounds exciting, right? I'm expecting adventure, action, spies and some humor, too. Oh, and this kid is supposedly a king of a science fiction somewhere as well. So, there should be a ton going on. I'm diving in on the 20th.

Middle Grade Science Fiction


This is the 2nd book in a series and deals with... well, it's obvious. I really needed a bit of humor added in this month and figure this one adds a different twist, which I know several kids will giggle about. Hold your noses and join me on the 26th!

Picture Book


This one waves from South Africa and takes a look into history, while weaving a tale of three very different teens from very different situations, who come together. This promises tons of heart, grit, and is sure to make those thought gears churn. I'll be taking a peek at it on the 27th.

Young Adult Historical


Not only do the illustrations promise to be gorgeous, but this tale slides into the haunting and packs determination. A girl makes a pact to save her siblings, which leads her to a world of ghosts and more. The rhyming promises to be a treat, too. I can't wait to find out if it holds everything I hope it will on the 28th.

Picture Book

Every month, I have a monstrous stack of books to be reviewed, and this stack holds more than I can schedule in. So, each month, I choose one, which I'm determined to squeeze in somehow....somewhere...sometime. 


Diving into the world of high-tech and coding, this one promises an exciting ride as a girl is thrown into the middle of a high-stakes conspiracy. I'm expecting a thrilling read with quick paced scenes, high tension, and more than a few secrets. I can't wait to dig into these pages and see if the story is as intriguing as the blurb promises it will be. When will we find out? Well, that's the question, now, isn't it?

Middle Grade Action-Thriller

Monday, May 30, 2022

Review: The Omen of Crows Nest by Cathrina Constantine

Happy Memorial Day! We decided to keep it simple this weekend and spend time with family around the area. That also gave me a few minutes to finally pick up a read, which I've had on my list for awhile. It released earlier this month and is written by a very talented author friend. Her tales tend to slide in darker directions...not always but often. I love her covers, and the original blurb pulled me in. Still, I was not prepared for this very unique story.

Ready to dive into a darker spin, where crows spy from every corner? 

by Cathrina Constantine
Young Adult Paranormal

No blood. No body. No murder.

That’s what the police found after Penelope spun her bizarre tale. In a hysterical state, she said her father was butchered and eaten by a mob of birds ~ in her bedroom.

They claim she’s crazy.
That she suffers from delusions.
Penelope is dead set on proving them wrong.

After being institutionalized for eight months, Penelope is out and more determined than ever to find answers to her so-called hallucinations. With her father’s untimely disappearance, she’s convinced her family is hiding something sinister.

THE OMEN OF CROWS NEST is the latest masterpiece by the award-winning author Cathrina Constantine, and is sure to leave fans of fantasy gasping!



Eerie whispers and dark secrets haunt from every page in an original tale, which is hard to put down.

Penelope witnessed her father torn to death and eaten by giant, black birds in her own bedroom as a young teen. Everyone says she's crazy, and her psychiatrists even try to convince her she killed her own father...although there is not murder scene, no body, and her father is even overseas, according to her mother and grandma. Penelope is doing her best to follow her family's advice and shove the unrealistic nightmare from her head, but it won't disappear, especially when the ghosts and birds begin to haunt her more and more.

Gothic fans will adore this read, especially since it's well-written and hard to put down. This is a dark tale with a main character, who dances on the edge of insanity. It taunts at ghosts, plays with magic, harbors more than a few dark secrets, and sings with murder. And all of this in a deliciously twisted manner, which still builds in first-love, inspiring sibling bonds, and teen troubles. 

Penelope is an interesting character, who thinks little about her own future or aspirations, since she is tightly captured by a disturbing past. She wants to fight and break-free but is limited on what she can do. Her concern for her siblings is heart-warming and inspiring, as she never looses their well-being from her focus. So, while some of her decisions aren't the wisest, it's more than understandable and makes her a character to root for until the end...and what an ending it is.

Rounded up, this was an uniquely, twisted tale, which flows in a direction of its own. Some things were easy to see coming, but it's exactly this balance between predictable and hard-to-guess, which made it hard to put the book down. Romance is also there but falls subtle against the darker plot, leaving secrets and a dark agenda as the driving force. It's a gripping tale, which has been tightly woven, and takes the reader on a very different ride.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Review: Lettuce Get In Trouble by Linda Kuo, Cynthia Benjamin, and Paula Reese

Today's read flows more in a non-fiction direction without really being non-fiction. This picture book for elementary aged readers introduces a well-known designer, Sara Little, but adds a tale along the way. Plus, I was curious about the lettuce. Add the well-done artwork, and I was curious to see what these pages hold. 

Let's just say that knowing all of this, I was still surprised. Ready to find out why? 

Sara Little Trouble Maker
by Linda Kuo, Cynthia Benjamin, and Paula Reese
Illustrated by Mariana Rio
Center For Design Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

Sara Little Turnbull was a designer, an observer, a mentor, and not afraid to cause a little trouble while making the world a better place. As a global traveler, she made connections between people and found wonder in the everyday objects they hold dear.
As a very petite female designer in the world of large men, Sara used her unique perspective and curiosity to design a wide range of revolutionary products–from facemasks to cookware to astronaut suits–and to encourage others to see the world through new eyes. Sara was a mentor to designers of all ages and in Lettuce Get in Trouble, she helps children understand the basics of design: observing the world around them, asking questions, and trying out new things. One day, the Ministry of Food asks Sara Little to convince the children to eat more vegetables. Instead of offering a stern lecture, however, Sara Little brings her young friends to her Little Lab in New York City to explore the colors and shapes of food and why we eat anything at all. Together they design a grand event, inviting children to gather, play, and design tasty new creations.


In a playful manner with a touch of quirkiness, these pages dive into the well-known designer, Sara Little, while also encouraging a love for food.

Sara Little was a small woman, who was packed with curiosity and a love for design. She enjoyed asking questions and coming up with things to make life better. When she is invited by the Ministry of Food to solve the problem of kids refusing to eat vegetables, she takes on the task and asks the kids what they think. With a bit of ingenuity and tons of creativity, the kids and here come up with an interesting solution.

I hadn't heard of Sara Little before and was thrilled to learn something about her. Unlike non-fiction books, this is a tale with a bit of imagination. Sara Little is introduced as a designer with ideas, but her 'true' accomplishments and facts are offered in a more detailed fashion on the last two pages. The story is just that—a fun story with meaning and not centered around her and her life. This made the approach to learning more about her entertaining and never feeling like a history lesson...because it isn't.

The illustrations are simple and, yet, carry an interesting flair, which fits the playfulness of the story. The text flows along in rhyme with a meandered meaning and thought flow. At times, it seems a bit confusing, but not really...so an interesting mix. The atmosphere remains light but with enough tension to keep the read interesting. It's different and makes this read unique, which will capture listeners interest.

The idea of experimenting with foods and letting the creativity flow does invite for some do-it-yourself fun. The characterization of Sara Little lands as the sub-theme. The listener/reader learns ways to appreciate vegetables from a different viewpoint, and that in designing style like Sara might have. These two takes make it a book for a couple of possible themes, and it does fit well into a group setting for either one.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Review: Katy on Broadway by Ella English


Kitty in the City
by Ella English
Crimson Dragon Press
Chapter Book
44 pages
ages 6 to 9

I’m a Superstar!

Katy loves to sing and practices every day. Gerry says she can’t, and Lilian says New York is too dangerous for such a small kitty. But now she’s ready to try! She escapes her yard and makes it to the city. But it IS a big scary place! Now she’s all alone and lost. How will she find her way? Can she really become a superstar?

This is the first of the Kitty in the City series! Be on the lookout for more adventures as Katy explores New York!



Dreams of being on Broadway and singing take an unexpected twist with a kitty, who is adorable in so many ways.

Katy loves to sing and gets lost in her own songs, whenever she sings from the branches of a neighborhood tree. Unfortunately, the squirrel and birds don't agree, but Katy isn't going to let their nut throwing and insults kill her dreams. When she unexpectedly arrives in a city, she's more than a little lost and wants to go home. But adventure is awaiting, and it might just give her a surprise.

Katy is a very cute character, who's easy to cheer for as she sings her lungs out and gets lost in her own world. When the others insult her, it's hard not to feel upset and hope Katy doesn't give up. Readers will sympathize with her and find themselves hoping she makes it through.

The illustrations are bright and accompany the text here and there. It adds just enough for readers to enjoy, while still allowing the text to carry the tale. 

The writing flows well enough and keeps the pacing steady the whole way through. It is appropriate for those readers, who have a pretty good grip on their words but aren't quite sure enough to attack middle grade novels, yet.

This is an enjoyable read, and I have no doubt that Katy is in for some exciting adventures in the books to come.

And here she is...

Ella English has been passionate about art since the age of three. Her family has encouraged her to pursue art ever since. Today, as the mother of two grown daughters she loves books, ballet, singing—and cats!

She started writing and illustrating children's books because she realized the importance of encouraging creativity in children.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Review: The Girl and the Glim by India Swift

It's graphic novel time! I haven't been doing as many as these lately as I'd hoped to...too many other good reads to tackle...but when I saw the cover and read the title, I knew this one had to be squeezed in. The surmise rounds it off with a touch of eerie dark vibes, and I wondered if it might slide a bit into the Japanese direction with myths tying into yokai demons.  Add that it's for the middle grade audience, and...well... aren't you curious, too?

This one comes out in just over a week, so you can pick it up yourself soon.

by India Swift
Illustrated by Michael Doig
IDW Publishing
Middle Grade Fantasy / Graphic Novel
128 pages
ages 8 to 12

JUNE 7th!!!

An original graphic novel about being the new kid in a different school, getting picked on by the class bullies, and what happens when a magical presence takes notice. Like, can things get any worse?

Starting out at a new school is tough, and Bridgette isn't having much luck, seeing as, well, she's not great at making a first impression. Or, maybe, any impression. Ugh, all these nervous feelings!

Will she fit in? Will she make new friends? Will they still like her once they get to know her better?

Nope. For now the best she can manage is... awkward. This is not going great.

That's when she sees it. Something dark and scary... something only she can see. And she should be scared. But she isn't. Maybe scary things just need friends, too. Maybe The Glim isn't so bad after all.

The Girl and The Glim is about accepting the fact that fear is okay, and that while letting other people see your vulnerabilities can be scary, it can also lead to closer friendships in the end.



The problem of fitting in jolts into high-gear and takes an unexpected twist, sending the tale into fast-paced action and high-tension, which leaves the usual emotional direction twirling in surprise.

Bridgette is extremely nervous about her family's move, since she had to leave her super-close friends behind. She's a bit short for her age and knows that she might have some issues when heading to the new school. An accidental meeting with a guy, who attends the school as well, offers a bit of hope, but this goes down the drain as her fears come true already on the first day of classes. But that suddenly slides into the background when strange creatures pop-up. The first seems kind, but the rest are throwing her into a dangerous world, which only she can see and fight.

I had high expectations, when picking this one up, and with the first pages, I wondered if I'd ruined an otherwise good read by doing that. It does start a bit slow as Bridgette and her parents settle a bit into the house, and the reader learns about her hesitation to go to school. The guy she meets passes by without too much adieu and the first day or so of school also runs with the usual bullying scenes. So, the reader gets a 'normal' grip on Bridgette's life, which felt cliche...but it had to because it created the perfect base to contrast with the rest.

It was a tiny bit confusing when Bridgette suddenly saw dark creatures. I wasn't sure if they were really there or in her scared imagination, but even this fit wonderfully, since her nerves were a flurry from escaping an extreme bullying situation in a neighborhood she didn't know. So, the reader molds right with her confusion, since she can't be sure herself. When she gets home and meets the first little creature, all the rest becomes more clear. There's a sense of cuteness mixed with uncertainty to draw in (who doesn't want a cute little creature with them?) before the dark and high-tension completely takes over.

The illustrations are very well done and accompany the moods of the first scenes with the same sense of normal before going full swing into action pure. When that starts (about 1/3 to 1/2 through book), each and every moment holds the tension high with adventure, one boom to the next. And it manages it without growing redundant or confusing...and even works in more plot, character understanding and message with it.

While all of the battles are going on...and all of it appropriate for the age group, btw...the author and illustrator still inject heart and show how Bridgette protects others without a moments pause for her own safety, and that despite their cruelty. It's a heroine attitude to inspire. Add a last twist at the end to guarantee much more to come, and I'm excited to see where this series goes because it promises to be tons of fun for action and fantasy fans.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Review: Alycat and the Cattywampus Wednesday by Alysson Foti Bourque with Giveaway!

 Today's read comes from an author I've been following for a few years now from her very first Alycat book onwards. It's exciting to watch a fellow author work their way up with so much success...plus, her character and tales are adorable. She's won more than a few prizes and is extremely hard working. So, when the next book came out, there was no way I was going to pass up on the chance to take a peek.

Join us for this tour from May 23  to June 17, 2022!

by Alysson Foti Bourque
Pelican Publishing
Picture Book
ages 3 to 7

Alycat wakes up to seafood gumbo for breakfast, and even though her house is the first stop for the school bus, the bus is already full when she boards. Alycat’s whole day is turning topsy-turvy. What is happening? Young readers will tag along on Alycat’s adventures during her very “cattywampus” Wednesday and learn that a little help from some friends and a good attitude can make your day!

​The themes of the books in the Alycat Series all reflect a reliance on friendships, imagination, and creativity towards problem solving. The character traits of Alycat and her friends inspire and encourage young readers to find their own special gifts. After enduring a cattywampus world pursuant to an unexpected pandemic, this book will resonate with readers to persevere through the wackiest and toughest of times.

Alycat website
Amazon ~ B&N

Walmart ~ Bookshop



Strange events meet with a touch of humor and a cute character's attempt to adapt in a tale, which leaves a smile on the face.

Alycat isn't sure why her mom serves her dinner food for breakfast, but she doesn't have too much time to ask since the school bus is already there and the strangeness continues. Nothing is happening like it should, but rather, everything seems a bit flip-flopped. Alycat has no idea what's happening but decides to go with the flow as best she can until she can figure things out.

These pages twirl a little confusion fun as a usual day's events take odd twists. This alone will have listeners/readers smirking and smiling as well as forming their own opinions as to what might really be going on. It's a usual day in the sense that many listeners/readers with be familiar with the situations...or at least, until these are turned on their head.

Alycat is as energetic and positive as ever. While she is curious and wonders about the situations, there's never a glimpse of negative thoughts or emotions. A bit of hesitation and uncomfortableness is there, but she manages to find her way through. 

While the main flow does stay with the humor and fun at facing the odd situations, there is a gentle, underlying message of staying calm even when things aren't what is to be expected. Alycat never stops wondering at the cause but doesn't act-out, either, until she figures things out. The solution does come and it's simple as well as sweet.

At the end of the book, there's a suggestion for fitting activities as well as a definition of cattywampus. These help to lead to discussions and do make it appropriate in group settings. It works very well as a read-aloud and can be used by more beginning readers, who are pretty sure of their words. 

Meet the Author:

Alysson Foti Bourque is the author of the award-winning Alycat series. Alysson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a Juris Doctor degree from the Southern University Law Center.

After practicing law for six years, she traded in writing trial briefs for writing children’s books. Alysson enjoys public speaking opportunities at schools, conferences, and festivals nationwide. She hopes to inspire people of all ages to follow their dreams and believe in themselves wholeheartedly.


The Alycat Series has won several prestigious awards including:
Three Mom’s Choice Awards®
Benjamin Franklin Digital Award, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)
Best Book Award Finalist
NY Big Book Award
Reviewed by Midwest Book Review
Southern Festival of Books Panelist
Louisiana Book Festival Featured Author

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter   Facebook  ~  Instagram ~ Pinterest
Tour Schedule: 
May 23 – Working Mommy Journal – book review / giveaway
May 23 - Cover Lover Book Review – book review / giveaway
May 24 - Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
May 24 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book review / guest post / giveaway
May 25 – Chit Chat with Charity – book review / author interview / giveaway
May 25 - Bound 4 Escape – book review / giveaway
May 26 – Bookworm for Kid – book review / giveaway
May 26 - Library Lady's Kid Lit – book review / giveaway
May 27 – A Mama's Corner Of the World – book review / giveaway
May 31 – Baroness' Book Trove – book spotlight / giveaway
May 31 - Splashes of Joy - book review / giveaway
June 1 – Sandra's Book Club – book review / giveaway
June 2 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
June 3 – fundinmental – book spotlight / giveaway
June 6 – Literary Flits – book spotlight / giveaway
June 7 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
June 7 - The Phantom Paragrapher – book review / giveaway
June 8 – Pause for Tales – book review / giveaway
June 8 - Older & Smarter? – book review / author interview / giveaway
June 9 – Bigreadersite – book review / giveaway
June 9 - Ravenz Reviewz – book review / giveaway
June 10 – Leels Loves Books – book review / giveaway
June 13 – Westveil Publishing – book review / guest post / giveaway
June 14 – 100 Pages A Day – book review / giveaway
June 14 - @twilight_reader – book review / giveaway
June 15 – Fur Everywhere – book review / giveaway
June 15 - Lisa's Reading – book review / giveaway
June 16 – My Reading Getaway – book review / author interview / giveaway
June 17 – Amy's Bookshelf Reviews – book review / giveaway
June 17 - Faith And Books - book review / giveaway


Alycat and the Cattywampus Wednesday Book Tour Giveaway



Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Sneak Peek: All-Star Love by Stephanie J. Scott with Giveaway!

by Stephanie J. Scott
A Six Lakes Tennis Academy Novel
YA Contemporary, Romance, Sports

An enemies-to-more fake dating romance set in the world of competitive tennis
Maisie Maxwell planned for a senior year of dazzling college scouts by playing her best tennis. Instead, her beloved tennis training academy is thrown into scandal when the academy founder and head coach, who happens to be her uncle, takes off to Tahiti with the school’s tuition money. Her classmates label her a traitor, but she commits to graduate from the school she loves.

Only her aim to lay low is thwarted by the school’s last-ditch hope to stay open, a new partnership with reality show The Academy.

Also not helping her stay-under-the-radar plan? A wayward forehand shot that nails transfer student Shane Wagner in the face on day one. Shane, obnoxiously gorgeous for starters, is the current number one nationally seeded player in junior boys’ tennis. Oops.

Everyone at school sees Shane as an outsider and fame-seeker. He’s just as much an outcast as Maisie. While reality show producers push for chaos, Shane and Maisie band together with their own idea: pretend to be together and control the narrative.

But the savvy head producer has her own agenda, and it’s not collegiate tennis scholarships. Shane and Maisie need to play hard to save the school before they’re outmatched.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play


I put all my strength into my next forehand. The ball torpedoed over the net, not even bothering to bounce within the court. Nope, that sucker was headed for the fences. If this was baseball, it’d be time to break out the peanuts and Cracker Jack.

Too bad this wasn’t baseball.


A figure in the distance went down, knees to the court. A crowd of students suddenly appeared, gasping and rushing over.

“You hit him!” someone shrieked.

My breath lodged in my throat. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I jogged over, terrified to breathe until I knew my accidental victim was okay.

Caleb directed a dirty scowl at me. “You really are the worst, Maxwell.”

I angled to see the fallen student. “I’m so sorry!”

“Oh, Maisie.” Nia mumbled, now beside me.

“I’m okay,” the guy on the ground said, attempting to stand despite the crowd. His head emerged, sun-bleached brown hair unkempt and curling over a tanned forehead. That perfectly shaggy hair some guys could get away with. He wasn’t a returning student. The face turning toward me could easily belong on a clothing website, the kind with ninety-dollar T-shirts with holes in them for a distressed look. Basically, he was very attractive.

A swath of blood streaked across that very attractive face.

That part was definitely my fault.

Sorry floated across my tongue, but my lips couldn’t form the word under the pressure of so many glaring classmates. Any hope of being an admired senior this year shriveled and burned like a tissue set aflame.

He accepted a clean towel and pressed it to his nose. “I expected I might not be welcome here, but your forehand really confirmed it.”

“Way to go, Maxwell,” Caleb said with a sneer. “You just nailed Shane Wagner in the face.”

Oh. Wait, what? “You’re … you’re—”

“Shane Wagner,” the bloody-faced model boy said through the towel.

Shane Wagner. The Shane Wagner. I just nailed the face of the number one-seeded player in junior boys’ tennis.

And here she is...

Stephanie J. Scott writes young adult and romance about characters who put their passions first. Her debut ALTERATIONS about a fashion-obsessed loner who reinvents herself was a Romance Writers of America RITA® award finalist. She enjoys dance fitness, everything cats, and has a slight obsession with Instagram. A Midwest girl at heart, she resides outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband and fuzzy furbabies.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter / Instagram / TikTok / Bookbub

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Happy Book Birthday, Spark of Ash by Molly Lee!

Today's read gives way to a strong heroine and a mission to save life. I did read the first book in the series but skipped over the second, which probably means I'm going to have a few holes when tackling this last book in the series. It should hold quite a bit of action, tons of snark, demons, angels, magic, and...well, romance, I guess. It definitely should be a lot of fun if it's anything like book one was.

Ember of Night, #3
by Molly Lee
Entangled Teen
Young Adult Fantasy
400 pages

The Seven―the Divine beings meant to protect the world―just declared war. On me. They took Ray, my baby sister, and now they’re using my boyfriend to do their dirty work.

Well, screw that.

I may not be able to wipe them off the face of the earth now, but I know what can.

Thanks to an Ather connection, I know about the Seven Scrolls. An ancient incantation made by the Creator to counteract the Seven’s great power, scattered into pieces across the world.

With the help of my new crew, we’re on the hunt. And with each located scroll, I face new battles, bloodier and harder than I’ve ever known before. But now the stakes are even higher, because Ray has always been my bright light in the darkness, and Draven is my hope when all seems lost, and if I don’t get them back?

Well, then I might just become the scariest legend the world has ever known.



This book takes off where book two left off. While I did read book one of the series, I didn't read the second one, and that did cause more than a few holes when I picked up book three. So, these do need to be read in order.

Harley is just enjoying a few days calm with her soul mate, when he's suddenly pulled away by the Seven. With his memories removed, he kidnaps her younger sister to train her as a seer to serve the most powerful of the Seven. Harley is given a chance to save her sister, but must find the seven scrolls and give them to head of the Seven. But Harley has already accepted her destiny, unleashing not only her own unknown powers, but reviving her father's, the Devil's as well. Together with her friends, she mush find a way to stop the Seven, figure out if she can trust her father, and discover what her place in destiny truly is.

This is a quick-paced and easy read, which has something happening on every page. There is action, fight scenes, secrets, betrayal, family issues, romance, and much more. Harley is a no-nonsense character with amazing powers, who has grown into her position and is ready to take anyone on...even if it means she'll die trying. She protects those she loves fiercely and is holds life of anyone and anything dearly. She's a character to root for...may not have tons of depth, but she doesn't need it.

Romance is present but only in the beginning and grows again toward the end. This leaves Harley more than enough space to tackle the evil and learn to find her own place in things. So, action fans will enjoy this one as well as those who like a golden-romance, which by no means overpowers the tale. 

Friendship is golden as is family. Despite Harley's immense powers, she can't go it alone and does incorporate the help of those around her. The relationships are inspiring and make the entire time fun to follow. But then, there is always a wonderful back and forth in the dialogue to keep humor and snark as high as the action and tension. Even when a couple holes appear in the plot or something comes across as a bit to easily solved, the read is simply enjoyable and entertaining. And that's more than enough.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Review: The Adventures of Rumi and Bixby Bear by J.R. Rothstein

Today's read isn't a new or up-coming release, but rather one which has already been enjoyed by many a reader. Circling around friendship, this is the imaginative tale of a girl and her teddy bear as she travels to amazing places and the things she discovers. Doesn't that sound promising? (I thought so.) Plus, the artwork on the front cover drew me in with its sense of dreams and artistic flair. 

In other words, it's time to head off into adventure! 

by J.R. Rothstein
Illustrated by Nasim Jenabi
Redstone Publishing 
Picture Book
ages 4 to 8

The Adventures of Rumi and Bixby Bear is a fun and contemplative story about a child in search of friendship. With her friend, Bixby Bear, at her side, Rumi undertakes a great journey and discovers depth and wisdom within herself.



With a heart-felt tone and the longing of a child to understand more, these pages glide on a deeper discovery of friendship, the world around us, and the direction of life.

Rumi is hesitant to go to school, afraid that the other children might tease her, but when she gets there, she opens up with questions for her teacher, ones he can't completely answer. At home, her grandfather  gives her words of advice, and although loving, she's not sure she understands them, either. So, with her imaginative friend, she goes on a dreamful journey to discover what answers she can find.

This book is based on the poetry of the famous Persian poet, Rumi, and weaves into a tale about a young girl. That said, this tale follows along a deeper type of journey and incorporates more than a little food for thought. Younger audiences will have difficulty grasping what's going on, but slightly more mature readers (6+) will be able to pick up some of the meanings, and if nothing else, find a string to lead into discussions. The text is also more geared to this age group, due not only to the larger amount of words on each page (which do work well as a read-aloud) but the vocabulary also leans in this direction.

Bright illustrations break up the deeper flow of the words and help sink into the situations. When Rumi's imaginative journey begins later on, these balance with the text to create the experiences and moments, which broaden Rumi's horizons. It makes it clear what is happening and gives the listeners focus while the words flow by.

Love, warmth, hope, and exploration ring high on every page. While there are whimsical tones, these are light, but they are enough to keep the meaningful words from weighing down too much. I believe that the adults reading this one to the kids will have even more to think about than the listeners and, obviously, have a better grasp as to what's going on. But this is definitely a lovely way to introduce young listeners to this more poetic and meaning-of-life thought process and words. 

More about the book...

The Adventures of Rumi and Bixby Bear is a contemplative and educational picture book that takes the poetry of Rumi, the famous Persian poet, and turns it into a book on friendship and self-development that children and parents can understand. The story is a journey of discovering wisdom and depth within oneself that even adult readers would love. I have also developed a curriculum for teachers and parents to encourage conversations and discussions with children about the book (which includes games and coloring books). More details can be found on our website: http://www.rumiandbixbybear.com/

Here are also some thoughts from the Huffington Post:  https://thriveglobal.com/stories/1940902/

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Review: Gugulu, Little Bear Dares by Srividhya Lakshamanan

Today's read embraces so many fun things that I couldn't turn down taking a peek. Plus, isn't that animal on the front so adorable? And what a name! While this one does address kids' desires to become more independent and head out into the world a little bit more on their own, it also takes a look at lesser known animals and introduces young readers to them. 

In other words, it's time to head into the wild and see what we can find! 

by Srividhya Laksmanan
Illustrated by Akansha Krishnan
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

Go on a wild adventure with Gugulu, the sloth bear, as he takes on a journey deep inside the western ghats of India.

Gugulu's parents won't allow him to go to school alone. But he can't wait to explore the forest on his own. So one day, he runs ahead of his parents. And before he knows it, he ends up in a river filled with danger - first a roaring leopard, then a gang of gaurs, but soon he shrinks in fear. Will naughty Gugulu be able to reunite with his parents?

Gugulu, The Little Bear Dares, is a quirky, funny, beautifully illustrated story about new experiences and courageously facing challenges when encountered.



Animal fun swings high as a cute, little bear tries to prove himself independent and runs into more than a couple surprises on the way.

Gugulu has decided that it's time for him to head to school on his own...without his parents. After all, he's big, now, and doesn't need the help. All runs well enough until he comes to the river.

This is a cute tale about a sweet bear, and his desire to 'grow up'. Young readers/listeners will identify with his desire to prove that he can do some things on his own, even if his parents don't think he's ready. While some moments run smoothly, troubles do come, and the meeting with the parents is heart-warming as well as offers a sense of security and safety.

The illustrations are bright and bring across and animals with a sense of joy and energy. They are easy to identify, which is a must, since this book also introduces young readers to animals, they may not have run across before. While Gugulu has his adventures, he meets other animals along the way...many of them. At the end of the book, each one is again illustrated and shortly explained, so readers learn more about them.

This is a book written in rhyme, which flows well for the most part. There are also three word sounds or actions tossed in, which listeners can repeat and 'read' along with.

And here she is...

Srividhya is an award-winning children's author, entrepreneur and writer. She always had a passion for storytelling and started to write when she was eleven. ​Her early success came when one of her dramas got selected by the 'All India Radio'. She spent years reading and writing stories, giving her characters a bright sparkle. ​She spent 15 years in corporate jobs. Later, she founded and managed a fashion e-commerce company, Pink Hippo, before venturing into publishing.

Website - https://www.andbooks.in

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Review: Swift and Hawk Cyberspies by Logan Macx

Today's read is the first...yes, you read that right, the FIRST... in a new series. See, I can start a series in the beginning! This one aims for middle graders and centers around spies and action and high tension and more action and... Well, that's what the blurb claims, and I have no reason to doubt it, yet. These teens specialize in AI and robotics, and must be pretty athletic, too, considering all of the amazing scenes they will find themselves in.  Yep, I'm expecting action pure and have the Mission Impossible theme song playing through my head non-stop.

Ready to dance on the wild side of life?

Swift and Hawk, Book 1
by Logan Macx
Walker Books 
Middle Grade Spy Fiction
352 pages
ages 8 to 12

An addictive new spy series for Alex Rider fans who love breathless plot, cutting-edge tech and action-packed adventure.

When their families mysteriously disappear, Swift and Hawk, teen experts in AI and robotics, are recruited by the secretive Möbius Programme to crack an unbreakable code. They are immediately plunged into a life-and-death rescue mission, that takes them from hidden tunnels beneath the British Museum, to the dangerous docklands of Amsterdam in search of the mysterious ship Nightfall. Caught in a treacherous world of spies and saboteurs, Swift and Hawk will be pushed to the limit as they follow a trail that leads to the remote island of Spøkelsøy, and straight into the hands of a dark and chilling enemy.




Action? Yes! High tech pure? Oh yeah! An evil villain with power and chilling goals? You bet! As spy stories go, this one packs in all of these things and more.

Caleb lives with his CIA mother and attends a school for gifted tech-kids in Britain. When informants visit their home and insist they go with them to a unknown place, Caleb's mother distracts them long enough for him to escape. After finding his best friend, Caleb learns that families of high tech talents are being kidnapped, and him and his friend are both instated into a secret organization. Their code names are Swift and Hawk, and the two of them are about to go on a dangerous mission, which chases them around the world and takes them to extremes.

This is one for spy fans who love action, action, and more action. There's never a boring moment, there's tons of intrigue, and high tension is a given. The villain fits this mix perfectly and the two main characters are definitely kept on their toes the entire way through. There is quite a bit of high-tech included, but then, Swift and Hawk both excel on this end. While this could leave the reader confused, everything is described with enough detail to make sure not to loose the reader, and yet, it never grows boring. The action scenes flow in the same way, giving detailed enough accounts to make them come to life but never going over board either. It's a quick-paced read, which doesn't loose the reader in the slightest.

There is a strong friendship between Swift and Hawk, and that is inspiring. The two have slightly different skill sets and harmonize very well. They enjoy what they do, love a challenge and will do anything to get their families back. In other words, they are easy to root for from beginning to end. The only slight thing which bothered me was that neither really gained a personal connection with the reader. The first chapter already starts with Caleb, aka Swift, watching the strangers talk to his mother, and never lets the reader really get to know him, his surroundings, or his normal life. It's about the same for his best friend Hawk. A tiny bit more character building would have really drawn in.

The ending comes as fast and hard as the rest of the tale, leaving off in an exciting cliff-hanger. Hopefully, book two will be out soon because readers are going to want to immediately grab it up and see where things go next. 

And here he is...

Logan Macx is rumoured to be an ex-spy formerly with the British Secret Intelligence Service, specialising in cyber communications and unexplained events. His whereabouts are unknown at this time but he is in periodic communication with the ghost writers of this series – Edward Docx and Matthew Plampin. He can sometimes be spotted at @LoganMacx1.