Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Happy Book Birthday, Moonlight Blade by Tessa Barbosa

It's time to celebrate another book release! This time, I have a young adult fantasy read, which centers around magic, violent battles, and...well, the blurb reminded me a bit of Hunger Games but with spells and set in a fantasy realm. I was intrigued and was excited to give it a go.

So, let's pick up this shiny new book and see what it has to offer! 

by Tessa Barbosa
Entangled Teen
YA Fantasy
338 pages

I promised my mother I would never come to Bato-Ko…and yet here I am.

Narra Jal is one of the cursed, cast aside her whole life, considered unlucky. But with her mother’s life on the line, she will return to the city where she was born to face the trials: a grueling, bloodthirsty series of challenges designed to weed out the weak, the greedy, and the foolish. Trials to select the next ruler of Tigang.

Narra has nothing. No weapons. No training. No magic. No real chance of leaving with her life. Just her fierce grit and a refusal to accept the destiny she’s been handed. Even the intense, dark-eyed Guardian she feels a strangely electric connection with cannot help her. Narra is on her own. But she’ll show everyone what the unlucky can do.

Let the bloodbath begin.

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60827560-the-moonlight-blade
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09ZSVQKCJ/
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-moonlight-blade-tessa-barbosa/1141363829
PANDEMONIUM: https://pandemoniumbooks.com/products/the-moonlight-blade-barbosa-tessa


An original world comes to life in this exciting adventure, which holds tension and tons of magic.

Narra is cursed and stays fairly isolated from society until her mother disappears. With her sister, she heads to the main city despite her mother's insistence that she never step foot there. While Narra does her best to stay hidden, she's determined to discover her mother's fate, which brings more trouble than she needs. When things unravel, she finds herself in the dangerous position and must fight in the deadly trials. But without any training or weapons, her chances to survive are slim.

This is an exotic world with magic, religious sects, governmental power, and a society full of dangers. Starting with the disappearance of Narra's mother, the story catapults head-first into the streets of the city, where every corner holds a threat. It's a wonderful setting, which gives the perfect backdrop to the bloody trials Narra will find herself in. From the very first page, I wanted to love this novel and get lost in Narra's world.

There is a lot to take in during the first chapters. Not only does Narra start in the heart of the dangerous streets, but she's immediately drawn into problems. This does make the tale grabbing, but with so many unique aspects, thanks to the rich world, it was also a little confusing. The government and society is quite complex and very different from many tales in this genre, especially since it weaves around a religious direction. It is so intriguing but, unfortunately, never built out enough to gain clarity of how it really works. The same can be said for the magic. There are original wonders about it, and yet, it's usage is also left a little foggy. Both of these deserved to unfold so much more than they did.

The characters are what makes this read. Each one is unique, has sympathetic goals, and is easy to root for or hate. A little background is missing on this end, too, but it's forgivable as they face all sorts of complications and situations. So, there is quite a bit to enjoy about this read and just wish to get lost in it even more.

And here she is...

Tessa Barbosa is a Filipina-Canadian author who writes fantasy novels by night, and software help by day. She studied computer science and the fine arts in university, but stories were her first love, and she’s thrilled she gets to write them now. Tessa currently lives in Vancouver with her family and when she’s not at the keyboard, you can find her reading, making messes in the kitchen, or sewing things. Find out more at tessabarbosa.com

Monday, March 20, 2023

Today's read... Taos Pueblo Winter illustrated by Leonard Archuleta

Today's read is one of four books aimed for the youngest readers out there. These come with the special purpose to help continue and revitalize the language of the Tiwa culture. I'm not going to say much more and just head right in.

The Taos Pueblo Tiwa Language Program
Illustrated by Leonard Archuleta
7th Generation
Board Book

MAY 30th!!!

The delightful board books, written without text, were created by the Taos Pueblo's Tiwa Language Program to preserve the Tiwa culture and revitalize the unwritten Tiwa language by teaching it to younger generations. Many other Indigenous languages also need to be revitalized, so it is the hope of the Taos Pueblo's Tiwa Language Program that other American Indian nations will find the books useful to teach their languages to their children. The beautiful, hand-drawn illustrations will also educate young children about the four seasons of the year. All proceeds of the book support the Taos Pueblo's Tiwa Language Program.

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63247273-taos-pueblo-winter
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Taos-Pueblo-Winter-Four-Seasons/dp/1570673454


This is one of four board books in a series, which is aimed at beginner readers out there. These books were created with the hope to assist young children as they learn the Tiwa language from their parents/guardians/teachers/elders. Each book centers around one season of the year, this one being winter.

This is a wordless book, since the language from this culture does not have a written form. Instead, this book acts as a support to those learning the language by providing illustrations of familiar scenes, activities, animals, and items found within the Tiwa culture. The older reader uses these as a guide to help young listeners recognize the word the reader gives them. A general scene is first presented with all details to let the young listener view the people/creatures in the natural setting. Then, a second illustration pin-points one specific item/animal, which the older reader can use as a clear reference. For example, there's the scene of a Tiwa dwelling after a snow, and then, just an image of snow is displayed.
These images are done with love and offer many things to view.

These books are directed to a very specific audience, in so far, that the reader does need to already know the language. However, this also can be used to learn other languages because of this. For those outside of this small circle, however, I do find another valuable aspect in these pages. The illustrations show the traditional settings and lifestyles. Everything from clothing to the important aspects of the life and meanings are portrayed. This makes these books a nice edition to those wanting to learn more about the culture or as extra material when dealing with the subject.

I'm not going to really rate these books, since I don't feel that I'm knowledgeable enough in the area to do so. But for the right reasons, I do find that they can be a valuable resource.

The other books in this series are:

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Today's read... The Easter Surprise! from Cocomelon adapted by Tina Gallo

by Tina Gallo
Simon Spotlight
Board Book
14 pages
ages 2 to 5

Join JJ and his friends as they celebrate Easter at preschool as they make crafts, look for Easter eggs, and do the bunny hop!

is the #1 kids show on YouTube (over 135 million subscribers)!

CoComelon™ © 2023 Moonbug Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61272137-the-easter-surprise
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-easter-surprise-tina-gallo/1141651920
WALMART: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Cocomelon-The-Easter-Surprise-Board-book-9781665925341/1245903592
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B3Y8MQZC


Fans of  Cocomelon can join their favorite characters as they get ready to discover an Easter surprise.

JJ is very excited about Easter. At school, his class creates bunny masks to prepare for the celebration. JJ takes care to do a good job and creates a cute mask. But there's still a big surprise waiting for him.

This is a board book, created for small hands and made to take a little wear and tear. To fit the Easter theme, it has a lovely egg shape, which also keeps corners away. The length is nice and short, as board books tend to be, and each page is bright and colorful. It focuses on the fun surrounding the preparations for a big event and demonstrates how putting in effort and care increases the joy.

The tale comes from the very popular series, Cocomelon, and portrays the scenes from one of their shows. While there's a short sentence or two on each two-page spread to help listeners follow the story...and this in a personal and cute way...the text to the song from the show flows along the bottom. The illustrations are taken directly from the video scenes, which will delight young fans as they will immediately recognize the characters. These are well placed and let the story shine. I was surprised that the story is more about creating a bunny mask than the end surprise as the title suggests, but this will definitely have listeners ready to dive into their own craft project (so be ready for that!)

The text is a little on the heavier side but easy to understand. So, I do see that part more for the upper age end of the intended audience level. But since this follows something readers will already recognize, little ones will enjoy that aspect. It's a cute book with tons of positivity and is definitely more geared to readers, who know the show. But those readers will enjoy this quite a bit, too.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Today's read... Mouse and Majesty by Emma Hutchinson

Today's read is a lovely mix of music, reading and illustration. While I haven't had a chance to read/listen to it outside of what's on the video below...and I don't need to comment on that, since you should watch it yourself...I definitely wanted to give this one a shout-out because it does look so cute and amazing!

by Emma Hutchinson
Illustrated by Charlotte Cleveland
Picture Book with Music

Mouse and Majesty with downloadable songs


Mouse and Majesty follows a country mouse who travels across England to meet The Queen and invite her over for a cup of tea. Against all odds, he pushes through challenges involving a horse, a train, a bicycle, a boat and a dangerous cat. After gaining the favour of The Queen, the pair fly back to Mouse's home in a hot air balloon to enjoy a well-deserved cuppa.

Buy links:

Friday, March 17, 2023

Today's read... Lily Upshire is Winning by John Holmes

The cover on today's read had me dreaming of ocean-sides and peaceful moments...which I think is due to the cold nights we've been suddenly having again and more running around the usual. But it was the blurb which really caught my interest. I'm expecting this one to be a fun read with clever twists and some realistic moments, which show how ridiculous life truly is. Or maybe, it doesn't hold any of these things and will be completely different than what I expect.

Shall we head on in and find out?

by John Holmes
YA Satirical Fiction
376 pages

A young teenager without parents or siblings, Lily Upshire takes the world on her own terms. When she finds something wrong with her favorite drink, she just wants the big company that made it to say sorry to her. But the adults in her life have other ideas, seeing everything in terms of money. As the company makes ever more extravagant overtures to avoid apologizing to her, she remains unmoved. She’s more concerned with what makes her life miserable: the school bullies, most of her teachers, and the scammers and catfish online. To gain self-confidence she begins boxing lessons. When she realizes her name is more important to the world than she is, she hits upon an idea that changes everything. The once-solid walls of the behemoth corporation slowly begin to melt.

With elements of satire and surrealism, Lily Upshire Is Winning is a coming-of-age novel with a difference.

MY BOOK: https://mybook.to/LilyUpshireIsWinning

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63076187-lily-upshire-is-winning


What a fun (and very British) zest of life, which weaves a coming-of-age in all the right ways.

Lily's life is filled with typical days, which include bullying, not the best grades, a wonderful best friend, active neighbors, an internet boyfriend, and a grandmother to adore. What it doesn't include is finding an odd pea-like thing in the smoothie. Everyone seems to know how to handle this best, which includes squirming in some extra cash. But all Lily wants is an apology, and that seems to be the hardest thing in the world to acquire. What happens, instead, is a small adventure she never saw coming.

Lily begins this tale at the age of twelve, and it ends around the beginning of her twenties. So, this is a coming-of-age on many levels. The author begins with a thorough run-down of how the first day (the day of finding the object in the smoothie) is an ordinary day in Lily's life...and while going through, ends up placing a solid background not only for the rest of the plot and Lily's character, but also gently hints that maybe everything isn't extremely typical, anyway. I enjoyed the repetitive phrase that the author used as each 'theme' was addressed...just a wonderful way to hit that message well.

Lily is a girl with spunk, although she isn't really....or, at least, doesn't trust herself in the beginning to let that freer side shine. This along with Lily's tendency to allow imagination to filter into reality leaves room for a full character arc, which makes Lily easy to root for from beginning to end. She's got just enough quirks to make her fun, and yet, is no problem to relate to. Her grandmother is the perfect person at Lily's side and offers wisdom and love.

Of course, this read head-butts some aspects of today's society. It does a lovely job at poking and prodding with a little sense of satirical humor against corporate attitude, greed, internet, neighbors and more. The messages are brought across clearly without feeling preached. This makes it a well-rounded read with quite a bit to enjoy, and enough depth to add for food for thought after the last page is read.

And here he is...

Honours Graduate in social sciences; former insurance claims adjuster; member of Crime Writers Association; distinction in freelance articles course with London School of Journalism. Author of 7 books: novels, non-fiction, short stories.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Today's read... This Little Engineer by Joan Holub

A Think-and-Do Primer
by Joan Holub
Illustrated by Daniel Roode
Little Simon
Board Book
26 pages
ages 3 to 5

Meet the engineers who are building our future in innovative and surprising ways in this STEM-based board book in the bestselling This Little series!

Now even the youngest readers can learn all about the amazing work engineers do every day! Highlighting ten memorable people who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this discovery primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61272097-this-little-engineer
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/this-little-engineer-joan-holub/1141651862
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/This-Little-Engineer-Think-Do/dp/1665912081


The wide variety of engineers and wonderful things they've done is celebrated in this bright and bold, little book.

This board book celebrates engineering and the vast variety of areas and things that includes. From Aerospace to computer to robotics and more, these pages show how diverse engineering is. (Nuclear Engineers were skipped over, something which sadden my own, awesome engineer). Anyway, one individual from each field is presented along with a short description of their accomplishment. Then, on the other side of the page, the accomplishment is illustrated and another short text explains a little more about it. There are several well-known ones and several lesser-known, which was also nice to see.

The illustrations are cheerful, easy to identify, bright and bold. These do offer a joyful atmosphere and keep it light. The thicker pages are also a plus, as this can be used for information again and again.

The only thing, which makes me stutter, is the age group. This is, supposedly for 3 to 5-year-olds, but very, very few will be able to keep up with this book. I see the picture book audience (ages 4 to 8) a much better target, since this will even be expanding the knowledge for them quite a bit. I do think it's great to expose the lower age group to this type of thing, though...it will just go way over their heads.

So, I do like this book quite a bit. I just recommend it for an older audience...and think they'll love to get their hands on a board book, anyway.

The Rise of the Witch by Elle Rossi


by Elle Rossi
YA Fantasy / Paranormal



Elemental witches have been oppressed and controlled for untold millennia by jealous humans who fear the power of their blood. Even those witches who believed in purity were persecuted, as mixed-element babies were killed, tested, and experimented on in a desperate attempt to keep their powers at bay.

Laws and regulations have been implemented to keep the Elementals from truly blending, to keep fire from marrying water, air from uniting with earth, but these laws cannot stop hearts from connecting. Love knows no boundaries and sometimes rules are broken for a greater purpose—to allow a being of power and chaos to be born into this world.

I am Ailynn. And I am that being—the first chaos witch. Birthed with the combined power of all five elements, I stand against those who would seek to keep us apart.

I will not be caged. I will not be silenced. I am here, and I will not be forgotten.

And here she is...

Elle J Rossi grew up in rural Indiana surrounded by great people, a huge family and more animals than she could count. But the sites and sounds of the world beckoned, so she left her small town to escape into a creative world full of music. As a full time singer she was able to lose herself in a thousand different songs in a hundred different places.

After meeting the love of her life and settling down, she yearned to find a new and fulfilling creative outlet. Overly fond of the happily ever after, she wondered what it would be like to have her own characters lead her down dark and twisted paths. The very first word on the very first page sealed her fate. She'd found a new love. She'd found her escape.

Now along with weaving haunting tales about the journey to love, she's creating cover art for authors around the world and loving every second of it. For fun, she cranks country music to take her back to her roots, and sings karaoke anytime she gets a chance. Her husband, two children, and two cats that rule the roost keep her company along the way and guarantee she doesn't get lost in the enchanted forest. She wouldn't have it any other way.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / TikTok / Instagram / Bookbub

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Today's read... Shadows of Nightshade by Lyla Owens with Giveaway!


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Shadows of Nightshade book cover

Shadows of Nightshade
The Garden of Eternal Flowers #1
By Lyla Oweds
YA Paranormal Romance/ Paranormal Horror
Release Date: 8 March 2023


I dream of a time where I was warm, safe, and loved.

But my waking reality is starkly different.

Anxiety plagues me and spirits haunt the shadows. No matter how fast I run, I can’t seem to escape my past.

The only solace and steady force in my life is my best friend, Finn.

And now… there’s a ghost haunting me. And I’m not certain if it wants help or if it wants to kill me. There’s only one person who can understand: Finn’s brother, Damen.

However, in reaching out, I’m betraying Finn and setting things into motion that cannot be undone.

But nobody ever said that doing the right thing was easy.

The Garden of Eternal Flowers is a re-envisioning of my Grimm Cases series. Eternal Flowers has taken my original vision of Bianca's story and transformed it into something new and beautiful. Some chapters are similar, and some dialogue is the same, as The Grimm Cases, Origins, but overall, about 75% of the book has been entirely revisioned with new plot points, mystery, and interpersonal relationships. Also, unlike Origins (originally a Wattpad release), there is now a clear beginning, climax, and conclusion in each individual novel, which allows them to be read alone or as part of the ongoing series.

I hope that you will enjoy Shadows of Nightshade as much as I enjoyed writing it. Truly, it is an honor to write about Bianca and her boys, and all of these characters are near and dear to my heart.

Trigger Warning: This series deals with the aftermath of severe childhood trauma.
- Goodreads
- Bookbub
- Amazon
- B&N
- Kobo
- Radish


This is a rewrite of the original book, Origins, which I did read and enjoyed. So, to say that I was curious what the author had done now is an understatement. I tread into the first pages, a little skeptical, but came out enjoying it all over again.

Bianca see ghosts, which she ignores until she agrees to housesit for her professor and is teased by a spiritual entity every night. Her best and only friend refuses to listen to her pleas for a little help, which sends her off to seek out his brother, who is supposedly into paranormal stuff. But when she arrives at the door, she's greeted by four guys, who are anything but normal, and although they might be able to help her, she's stumbled across a world that will turn everything she knows upside down.

This is a fun read, and while it does involve a freshman in college, it works fine for older YAers, too. The thing which makes this read fun is the characters. They pack tons of over-the-top personality, which borders on too much but keeps it right at the level where it's fun. Bianca, to put it mildly, is a hot mess. She's been locked out from the world around her and has the oddest way of viewing things. It's not necessarily realistic, and that's awesome. She's all over the place, but there's something endearing about it, too, which makes her addictive. The guys are a bit cliche, at times, but only at times. Each of them is a mystery for itself. Between all of them, it's a humorous back and forth in unpredictable directions.

Then, there's the dark side. The threats are deadly, and the secrets thick. Bianca is in danger and has a foggy past with uncertain players still heavily involved. The stakes are high, letting it veer into the area of horror. This thrown together with the humor above makes for an original and quirky mix...which I enjoyed completely.

There is the reverse harem romance...for all of those fans out there. But while there is tons and tons of flirting and silliness in these pages, that is not the main thrust. It's also slow burn, and considering Bianca's state, nothing else would work. 

I'm looking forward to seeing what the author does next.  

Shadows of Nightshade graphic

And here she is...

Lyla Oweds
is a paranormal / urban fantasy author who resides in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania with her husband, children, and animals. While she enjoys all genres of fiction, she has a deep appreciation for fantasy, romance, mystery, crime, and horror. Lyla has a bachelor’s in anthropology and will be completing her master’s in information technology in 2023.

Writing is her moonlighting passion, and she loves having the opportunity to share her perspective as a disabled (profoundly hard of hearing) woman. During the daylight hours, Lyla works as a principal / lead design and development specialist focusing on user experience and accessibility. When not working, Lyla is usually indulging in one of her many hobbies such as amusing her children, gardening, crocheting, interior decorating, baking, cooking, or playing video games.

- Website
- Facebook
- Instagram
- Amazon
- Goodreads

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Shadows of Nightshade. One winner wins a paperback copy of Shadows of Nightshade.

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours and the tour runs from 13 till 26 March. You can see the tour schedule here.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Happy Book Birthday, Ramen for Everyone by Pat Tanumihardja!

Today's read hits food (and I do love food). I remember eating ramen way back in my college days as a cheap way to fill the stomach. And fast. It's remained a wonderful go-to for snacks and such in my family, but it wasn't only until the last few years, which I realized that packaged ramen is only a very basic beginning to what can be so much more (sometimes, it takes me a bit to notice the obvious). Now, we make it into a healthier quick meal with ginger, leeks, carrots, spinach, cabbage, celery, green onions....basically, whatever I happen to have in my fridge at the time. But we haven't made our own noodles from scratch, yet. Have you? 

by Patricia Tanumihardja
Illustrated by Shiho Pate
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Picture Book
48 pages
ages 4 to 8

In this adorable picture book for fans of Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao and Bilal Cooks Daal, Hiro aspires to make a bowl of ramen as delicious as his dad’s—and runs into some surprises on his first attempt!

Hiro loves ramen. Every Sunday, Hiro’s dad makes delicious, perfect ramen for dinner, using a recipe passed down from his dad. There’s nori seaweed, briny like the ocean; nitamago egg, the yolk golden like the sun; and chashu pork so tender, it melts in your mouth. Yum!

Hiro’s dream is to make his own perfect bowl, and he’s sure he can do it after watching his dad and taking notes. But when he gets started, things don’t go according to plan. The seaweed crumbles! The eggs slip through his fingers! The pork falls apart! Hiro is worried he’ll never be a real ramen chef…but thanks to his father’s wise advice and his own creativity, Hiro discovers that every person’s perfect bowl of ramen is unique.

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59875642-ramen-for-everyone
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ramen-for-everyone-patricia-tanumihardja/1141651837
AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1665904356
BOOK DEPOSITORY: https://www.bookdepository.com/Ramen-for-Everyone-Patricia-Tanumihardja/9781665904353


The versatility of ramen comes to light in a fun tale, which will have readers wanting to dive into the dish themselves.

Hiro's dad is the most amazing ramen cook and is able to meet the desires of everyone in the family. When Hiro decides he wants to cook ramen, too, he takes the recipe and gives it a go...which doesn't run as well as he'd hoped. Now, Hiro's family is hungry, and their favorite ingredients are in the garbage trash. He's not sure what to do. 

Ramen takes center stage in this read as readers/listeners learn some of the various ways it can be served...and learn that there are, actually, no limits other than personal taste. It's inspiring to see how Hiro's dad flies through the kitchen with ease as Hiro watches with hunger and excitement. This alone will have readers wanting to try new combinations with the dish, but the tale doesn't stop there.

Hiro's desire to do it himself hits home, especially when his enthusiasm crumbles as things don't work out as he'd hoped...and that while he followed directions. Many listeners/readers will be able to empathize with the situation of disappointment and nervousness. It also shows there's no reason to be ashamed and that reaching out for help isn't a bad thing. There's family warmth woven in as well to make it a wholesome read. At the end, there is a recipe, which readers/listeners can use to create their own ramen dish.

The text and illustrations are both well done and fit to the intended age group. The scenes will make readers/listeners smile, while the text gives the right amount of flow without growing too heavy. It makes a nice read aloud and expands the view on how to consume ramen.

And here they are...

Patricia Tanumihardja was born in Jakarta to Chinese Indonesian parents and raised in Singapore. Ramen for Everyone is her debut picture book. She also writes cookbooks and loves to weave food-centric themes into her stories for young people. Patricia now lives in northern Virginia with her husband and son, where she enjoys drinking bubble tea, making dumplings, and hiking. Her perfect bowl of ramen is shio (salt-flavored) ramen topped with chashu, menma (fermented bamboo shoots), and corn. Visit her at EdibleWords.com or @EdibleWords on Instagram, and don’t be shy about asking for her favorite recipe!

Shiho Pate was born in Hokkaido, Japan, and raised in Aichi. She received her degree in illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design and worked for indie gaming studios before she started making children’s books. Shiho lives in Southern California, where she loves hunting with her daughter and husband for new ramen restaurants. Visit her at ShihoPate.com or @ShihoPate on Instagram.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Happy Book Birthday, A Squiggly Line by Robert Vescio!

I'm getting a little ahead of myself, since the official release day on this one is actually tomorrow. But I'm always excited about book birthdays and find that each one deserves a several-day shout-out. This cute little mouse caught my attention, and I was very curious to see what it would do with a pencil in its hands...that could lead in all sorts of directions, don't you think?

by Robert Vescio
Illustrated by Kathy Creamer
Little Pink Dog Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

A Squiggly Line is a story about the pursuit of one’s dream, similar to the rules of taming the life we live. A funny and exciting journey into the power of positive thinking and discovering your creative abilities and self confidence. A brave little mouse begins an adventure armed with just a pencil and a blank page…he doesn’t know where he’s going or what he will encounter along the way. During the process, even though his drawing may seem squiggly and messy at first, he soon develops the confidence to overcome the stumbling blocks and surprises along the way–surprises that he never thought existed. And from that moment, his creation comes to play.
Told in a unique way full of play and creativity, the story will send a powerful message about the endless possibilities of having fun with one’s imagination. It will help children to explore how they can turn a simple squiggly line into a playful idea.
A Squiggly Line is a fun and entertaining story about how life is very much the same as a squiggly line. Our squiggly line, our life, is shaped by the directions we take in our lives and how we can develop the confidence and ingenuity to overcome the problems that try to trip us up.
A Squiggly Line is a story about embracing life’s journey and creating the life you want. It shares lessons for life. It offers great advice for anyone. It’s a simple message about life and what it entails to sail on a pursuit of one’s dreams.
This story will appeal to children graduating, celebrating a milestone or mastering the first day of school. It’s a great inspirational story to motivate children.
Like the brave little mouse in the story, we all have a life that yearns to be created!

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59568394-a-squiggly-line
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0648652815/ref=x_gr_bb_amazon


With an adorable mouse and a sense of creativity, these pages lead readers into the world of imagination.

Starting with a pencil and a mouse, an adventure begins. A dot leads to a line until it meets trouble and needs to take a sharp turn. With a tiny touch of tension and the agility of a fuzzy mouse, readers see how lines and curves come together to form amazing things.

These pages hold a clever path from minimal to exciting. The simple beginnings of a mouse, a pencil, and just one little point and line lead to an adventure, step by step, and that without showing what the mouse has really formed until the very end. The illustrations stick with this basic theme by providing the lines the mouse draws, the mouse, and a dog...oh, and a ball. Everything else is blank and white. 

The mouse is very well and super cutely drawn, but then, so is the dog, and that with a fun touch. Both characters easily steal the show,  and yet, the dog never moves, and the mouse only draws. It's a subtle sense of possible danger between the two, which could happen but never does, and that adds the clever touch of excitement to keep the pages turning, while the mouse adds one line and curve after the other. 

The text is short and gives just enough to add a playful touch, while pointing out how the lines change. The illustrations add the humor as the reader sees why they change. This will have listeners giggling, while still wondering what the dog will do. The last page holds a surprise and demonstrates how amazing simple lines and curves can be. It's a cute read, which will entertain and have listeners wanting to draw, too. 

And here they are...

Robert Vescio is a published children’s author. His picture books include, Finn and Puss (EK Books), Eric Finds A Way (Wombat Books) listed on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge for 2018, Ella Saw The Tree (Big Sky Publishing), Jack and Mia (Wombat Books) listed on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge for 2017, Barnaby and the Lost Treasure of Bunnyville (Big Sky Publishing), Marlo Can Fly (Wombat Books) listed on the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge for 2015, No Matter Who We’re With (IP Kidz). He has more picture books due to be released soon.
Many of his short stories have been published in anthologies such as Packed Lunch, Short and Twisted, Charms Vol 1, The Toy Chest and The School Magazine NSW.
He has won awards for his children’s writing including First Place in the 2012 Marshall Allan Hill Children’s Writing Competition and Highly Commended in the 2011 Marshall Allan Hill Children’s Writing Competition.
Robert is a Books In Homes Role Model and enjoys visiting schools. His aim is to enthuse and inspire children to read and write and leave them bursting with imaginative ideas.
For more information visit: Robert’s Website or Facebook page.

Kathy Creamer is a children’s illustrator and writer who has been published by Oxford University Press, Reed International, Julia Gabriel Communications, September 21, Christmas Press, Second Look and other organisations.
Kathy has also run her own successful publishing company in the UK, where she published over eighteen picture books for a range of high net-worth private clients.
Having emigrated to Australia fifteen years ago, she moved to Armidale, and with her husband Peter, has set up Little Pink Dog Books Children’s Publishing.
Please visit Kathy’s Website and her Facebook page.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Today's read... Strong Baby by Robin Arzón

Today's read strikes of the tones of fitness and health with moms and babies taking center stage. This one made me smile because my own kids are all about exercise, working out, and enjoying movement. Considering my husband and I aren't the overly athletic types (not in the sense presented here), I sometimes wonder what inspired all four to turn so fitness orientated. Anyway, I was curious what this book might hold and decided to give it a peek.

by Robin Arzón
Illustrated by Addy Rivera Sonda
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

Head Peloton Instructor Robin Arzón follows up  New York Times  bestseller  Strong Mama  with  Strong   Baby,  tracking the first milestones of a baby’s life, using Robin’s signature mantras as motivation.

There's a new addition to our strong family! Now that Pequeño is born, mom and baby are ready to move together. From tummy time, to sitting up and crawling, to those exciting first steps, baby is growing stronger every day. And mom and dad are right there with her, laughing, dancing, working out, and resting. Because this family is stronger together.
Preaching progress over perfection, Robin Arzón uses her popular Peloton mantras to pair with baby’s first physical milestones, encouraging parents and baby to move together.

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61102829-strong-baby
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B8D1Z9MR
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/strong-baby-robin-arzon/1141622561
BOOK DEPOSITORY:  https://www.bookdepository.com/Strong-Baby-Robin-Arzon/9780316493826


With tons of motivational messages, this is a read to empower moms and babies to stay fit and head into life full of energy, zest, and enjoy being themselves.

This is the companion book to Strong Mama and while this read works great as a stand-alone, continues the goal of empowering and inspiring mothers to stay healthy and positive with life. Each two-page spread portrays the mother with her baby in a very positive light. Mother and child are shown while playing, stretching, giving baby a bath, and in other familiar situations, which young listeners/readers will recognize. From outdoors to indoors and from high-activity to naptime, it's displayed how every situation can be enjoyable and fun.

The text is around two to three lines and offers encouraging messages about being brave, curious, having energy or striving to dream. I see this one as especially up-lifting for the adult reading the book to the children, although listeners will pick up on the encouragement and positive attitude as well.

And here they are...

Robin Arzón is vice president of Fitness Programming and head instructor at Peloton. She believes that sweat transforms lives, and her story is living proof. Robin is the New York Times bestselling author of Strong MamaStrong Baby, and Shut Up and Run. She lives in New York City.

Addy Rivera Sonda is a Mexican illustrator, who loves color, learning, and exploring ways in which we could build a kinder and more sustainable world. Her biggest inspiration for drawing is that she knows that stories and art are slowly but surely changing the way people understand themselves and perceive others, building empathy, and a more inclusive world

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Today's read... May's Moon: Fortis Mission by S.Y. Palmer

 Today's read shoots us up into space as mystery and adventure visit a space station, international relations, and a trip to the moon. It's the 2nd in a trilogy, and nope, I did not read the first book. I'm expecting quite a bit of excitement and some true information, too. So, let's just take off and see where this one goes.

May's Moon #2
by S.Y. Palmer
Our Street Books
Young Adult Science Fiction
216 pages
ages 8 to 12

Fifteen-year-old Michael May makes history as the first child in space and part of a crew to the far side of the moon. However, from the moment he docks at the International Space Station, things change... Theft, sabotage, and a shocking discovery threaten Michael May's mission to the moon and force him to act. If he can't find the answers, the mission will fail. May's Moon: Fortis Mission is the second instalment in the May's Moon trilogy.

GOODREADS:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43275184-fortis-mission
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Fortis-Mission-Book-Mays-Moon-ebook/dp/B07WDYP6TG
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fortis-mission-s-y-palmer/1130040694


With a balanced mix of fact and fiction, this read offers tons of space excitement while weaving in mystery and tension, too.

Michael's training has come to an end, and the day of the launch has arrived. He's nervous and excited but thrown for a loop, when they reach the space station and 'orders' change. Three Chinese astronauts are on-board, and the US government doesn't want them to know about an experimental drug, which could change the world. But strange things start happening, and it becomes clear that there's more than simple politics on the line. Not only that, but Michael's own long-hoped-for experiment may not be able to be completed, either.

This is the second book in the trilogy, and while I didn't read the first one, it was no problem to dive right in and follow the adventure. So, this can be read as a stand-alone. That said, it also is advertised as a young adult read, which it isn't. While Michael is fifteen, the story flows like a very solid middle grade read and holds that maturity level on the character's end, but, perhaps, on the upper side thanks to some terms, theories,  and technical aspects.

Expect quite a bit of excitement, tension, and a trip through fact based situations when diving into this read. The author has done research and does bring across all sorts of technical details, while steering Michael through quite the adventure. Space fans will enjoy the jargon as well as detailed moments such as launch, docking, and more. It builds a solid background for the fictive plot and offers a bit of learning possibilities, too. Only a couple things didn't hit reality quite right, but it's fiction after all. I enjoyed the mix and found it well done.

The mystery end is well-laid and played. It adds quite a bit of drama and tension, and is hard to guess what is truly going on. The stakes are high, which keeps those pages turning until the very end. There are also some deeper themes and food for thought, which act as entrance doors for political, ethical, and other discussions. This makes this great for classrooms and homeschoolers, who are willing to take a more original twist into areas such as international relations, money vs. global benefit (ethics), and such. 

It's a quick read with a lot of goodness inside.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Today's read... Robot Rebellion by Rie Neal

Today's read came out only a week or two ago and is the forth in a chapter book series, which centers around science/technology and a school club. I have read one of the other books in this series and enjoyed it quite a bit. Since this one involves a robot and some mishaps, I was sure it would be entertaining, too. Let's take a peek and see if it's as fun as the cover suggests.

Astrid the Astronaut #4
by Rie Nea
Illustrated by Talitha Shipman
Chapter Book 
ages 6 to 9
109 pages

This is the fourth book in the Astrid the Astronaut chapter book series about a young girl determined to be the first hard-of-hearing astronaut in space!

When Astrid and the rest of the Shooting Stars find out that their teacher, Ms. Ruiz, is about to celebrate a big birthday, they band together to create the perfect gift. Her big day happens to be the same as the upcoming robotics competition and they decide to do something there. With the help of Astrid’s big sister, Stella, they program their robot to do a fun dance and give Ms. Ruiz a sweet surprise.

But on the day of the competition, the data for the Shooting Stars robot somehow gets mixed up with another one! Will their fun present end up being a major malfunction?

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/74822034-robot-rebellion
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/robot-rebellion-rie-neal/1141652336
BOOK DEPOSITORY: https://www.bookdepository.com/search?searchTerm=1534481583
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B3Y7MX5G


A little school drama and tons of robot fun make this an entertaining read, which is easy to enjoy.

Astrid and her friends in Shooting Stars are super excited to learn that one of the latest rages in robots has been donated to their tech-club...just in time for an upcoming competition. It so happens that their teacher also has her birthday at that time but with everything going on, has no time to celebrate. Astrid and the other come up with a way to fit all of it in with a huge surprise, but only if they can make it work.

This is the forth book in the series, but these can be read as stand-alones. Astrid is an optimistic character, who loves a tech challenge, especially if it can be connected with space. She also has a slight hearing impairment, which the author works in smoothly and doesn't allow it to define Astrid. Mostly, Astrid enjoys challenges and working with her friends. Plus, there's a nice sense of family support, especially from the older sister's side in this tale.

Readers, who have a good grip on words, won't have trouble with the vocabulary, while still being furthered in their reading skills. The font is larger for reading ease and broken up through lovely illustrations, which display the characters in a positive light. The story flows along quickly, using a nice balance between dialogue and descriptions. There's a tiny bit of imagination built in, but most of it stays pretty true to reality. There are some friendship difficulties, which reflect things readers themselves might run across, but all of these are worked out nicely. I do enjoy the mix of technology with the school life, since it does bring across the subject in a fun way, which will awake readers' interest. So, it's a nice read in many different ways.

And here they are...

Rie Neal is a children’s book author who loves all things space. Growing up, she was often dragged on her grandfather’s unauthorized tours of NASA’s Ames Research Center, which she didn’t appreciate enough at the time. Eventually, though, she became a full-blown space fan, and began to write space-related books for kids. She also has a doctor of audiology degree from the University of Iowa and is nationally certified as an audiologist through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Today, she lives in the Silicon Valley with her husband and kids, where they drag people on (authorized) tours of the NASA Ames visitor center. Learn more about her books at RieNeal.com or connect with her on Instagram (@RieNealWriter).

Talitha Shipman is a picture book illustrator from Indiana. Her favorite subjects to paint are wild kids and wild animals. Nature inspires Talitha’s painting, and she hopes her work encourages curiosity and creativity in children of all ages. Her books include the Sydney Taylor Honor recipient Everybody Says Shalom by Leslie Kimmelman, American Farm Bureau Recommended Read Applesauce Day by Lisa J. Amstutz, and 2019 IPPY Silver Medalist First Snow by Nancy Viau. Her debut author-illustrator picture book was Finding Beauty. Talitha lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her husband and their five-year-old wild child, Coral.