Monday, September 28, 2015

I've Moved!

Hi Everyone! This is a quick note to let you know that I've moved over to Wordpress. Come follow me over there via email, newsletter or on Bloglovin.

Here's the link to my new blog:

Monday, September 14, 2015

All the Lost Things by Kelly Canby (Picture Book)

All the Lost Things by Kelly Canby

Age range: 4-8

Grade level: Pre-K - 2

Genre: picture book

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Peter Pauper Press (June 1, 2015)

Source: from publisher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Olive is not your ordinary girl. And one day when this spunky young lady decides to go for a walk in her grumpy, too-busy city, she finds some extraordinary things. What Olive does with them will delight and inspire. This lively picture book is filled with the author's exuberant collage artwork and playfully hand-lettered words.
  • Ages 4 to 8.
  • Hardcover picture book with dust jacket.
  • Full color throughout.
  • 10-1/2 inches wide by 10-5/8 inches high (26.67 cm wide by 26.99 cm high).
  • 32 pages.

About the Author:

Kelly Canby was born in London, England, but has lived in Australia since the grand old age of three, which is probably about the same age she started playing with pencils and crayons. And it was probably only a few years after that when she decided that playing with pencils and crayons was something she wanted to do for the rest of her life! This is Kelly's debut children's picture book.

Find the Book:

My Thoughts:

An absolutely beautiful picture book!  The book starts with a black and white world -- the only bit of color is a small girl.  She follows a strange sound down a manhole where she finds something that changes her world.

The hand drawn illustrations lend a charming feel to this book, and the message of the story is beautiful.  I love the idea that through a selfless act, one little girl can change the world she lives in.  It's a good message for everyone, and a good way to encourage children to look on the bright side.


Disclaimer: I received a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Chapter Book Review: Wild Water Magic by Lynne Jonell

Wild Water Magic by Lynne Jonell, illustrated by Brandon Dorman

Age Range: 6 - 9 years

Grade Level: 1 - 4

Series: A Stepping Stone Book(TM) (Book 4)

Hardcover: 112 pages

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (July 22, 2014)

Source: Library

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

The reviews are in! Magical Mix-Ups is a high-quality, standout early chapter book series.

Tate Willow is pretty and nice, and most people think she’s smart. But Tate doesn’t feel smart . . . until she falls into an old well in the backyard and her mind starts working double-time. She sails through her homework and can read a book in minutes. But keeping Tate in line is becoming a full-time job for her brothers and sister. She’s strangely attracted to water of all sorts—streams, sprinklers, waterfalls. Can they get herwild water magic under control?

Lynne Jonell follows up her Minnesota Book Award finalist, Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List Title, and Junior Library Guild selection, Hamster Magic, with a fourth story of the Willow family’s rowdy run-ins with mixed-up magic.

Find the Book:

My Thoughts:

This is the fourth book in Lynne Jonell's magic series but it can be read as a stand alone book. Tate is a young girl that feels like she isn't good at anything, but when she falls down a forgotten well and drinks the water at the bottom, she is suddenly good at everything. The only problem is that she can't stay away from water -  even the dangerously high river with the waterfall.

I was really happy to find this book. So many chapter books for this age group are exactly the same, but this was something different. It's a fun adventure with light suspense that's perfect for fans of magic.

Content: clean


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Chapter Book Reivew: Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat by Anna Branford

Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat by Anna Branford, illustrated by Elanna Allen

Age Range: 6 - 10 years

Grade Level: 1 - 5

Series: Violet Mackerel

Paperback: 112 pages

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (May 21, 2013)

Genre: Contemporary

Source: Library

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Violet is back with a little bit of helpfulness and a whole lot of heart in this third book of the effervescent Violet Mackerel series.

Violet is the smallest in her family, and has a special affinity for Small Things everywhere. So when she finds a tiny ladybug in the garden, she expects she knows how it feels. It probably has to go to bed before all the others, and whenever it finds out something interesting (like that your ears keep growing all your life even when you are old), the bigger ladybugs probably say they already knew.

Violet wants to help the ladybug, so she names her Small Gloria, puts her in a jar, and feeds her cheese toast. And then Violet wakes up to a horrible surprise. But thankfully, even as Violet learns a hard lesson about natural habitats, she realizes how nice it is to share her own habitat with a big sister.

Find the Book:

My Thoughts:

My daughter found this book just browsing through the library.  We read it together and really enjoyed the story of Violet and her attempt at helping a ladybug.  Of course, her help turned out to be more of a hindrance, but it was a good chance for my kids to learn about pets, nature, and leaving creatures in their natural environments.

I liked the chapter where Violet helps her sister come up with a display for the Natural Science Fair.  Besides being educational, it shows that science and creativity can go together beautifully.  I also liked the way the two sisters worked together to achieve something better than either one could come up with on their own.

This is a sweet chapter book about a girl learning about the natural world.  It will appeal most strongly to girls, but boys will like it too. 


Here are some of the interior pages:

Monday, September 7, 2015

Lift the Flap Fun with Can You Say it, Too? Arf! Arf! by Sebastien Braun

Can You Say it, Too? Arf! Arf! by Sebastien Braun

Age range: 0+

Series: Can You Say It, Too?

Board book: 10 pages

Publisher: Nosy Crow; Ltf Brdbk edition (May 5, 2015)

Source: Gift

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Five lavishly illustrated spreads, big, recessed flaps, and a host of animals to spot, name, and mimic combine in these delightful little board books for the very young.

Five lavishly illustrated spreads, big, recessed flaps, and a host of animals to spot, name, and mimic combine in these delightful little board books for the very young.

Find the Book:

My Thoughts:

Lift the flap books are a favorite with babies and toddlers, and my kids are no exception. This ocean themed board book features simple text, adorable illustrations, and fun sounds to make. This is a book that I have read multiple times to my baby.  She loves it!


Friday, September 4, 2015

Moving to Wordpress + Some Other Changes

Change can be a good thing, and in my case, a necessary thing.  Recently I've taken a step back from my blog and taken a long, hard look at what I'm doing -- what works, and what doesn't.  I've realized I need to change some things. Here's what you'll see different on my blog in the coming weeks and months:

1. I'm moving to Wordpress
I started on Blogger because it was free, easy, and suited my needs at the time. Since then, it's become necessary for me to have the versatility and power of Wordpress, so I'm making the switch. My domain name will stay the same ( so please follow me on Bloglovin or on social media so you can stay updated.  

2. I'm cutting WAY back on reviews
Reviews are helpful for authors, but unfortunately, they aren't cutting the mustard for me as a blogger anymore. I'll still post reviews, but not as many as before.

3. I'm adding new features
I'll be interviewing more authors and illustrators, offering advice, reading tips, and general discussion posts. I'll be incorporating more of my artwork and creativity into my blog posts as well. 

4. I'm open for guest posting
That's right!  I'll be posting a list of suggested topics and opening my blog up to submissions.

5. I'm improving my Review Service
Until my baby was born, I was offering a review campaign service to authors.  I'm improving on my system, making it easier, safer, and less complicated.  

There will be some other changes as I get the bumps and kinks worked out, but those are the main ones.

So what do you think?  Are you making any changes in the near future?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Giveaway and Review of The Secrets of Neverak: A Tale of Light and Shadow Book 2

The Secrets of Neverak: A Tale of Light and Shadow Book 2 by Jacob Gowans

Age range: 12 and up

Grade level: 7 and up

Genre: Fantasy and magic

Series: A Tale of Light and Shadow #2

Hardcover: 512 pages

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing; First Edition edition (July 7, 2015)

Source: From publisher

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Henry Vestin always believed that, despite being a carpenter with no training in swordplay or survival, he could lead Isabelle and his friends to safety. He thought he could defy an emperor and protect Isabelle from harm. He was certain that love and friendship would help them survive.

He was wrong.

The second volume in the Tale of Light and Shadow series follows Henry and his friends after the disastrous battle at the Iron Pass. Horrors await the band of travelers in strange new lands. Crippled and broken, Henry must rely on his friends more than ever. New allies and foes find them at every turn, but which are friendly and which are deadly? Isabelle, now a slave in Neverak, finds herself surrounded by enemies, uncertain about the fate of her friends, and relying on only herself to survive. The Emperor moves forward with his plans of conquest, spurred on by the Seer's dark prophecy, but he has not forgotten those who defied him.

Return to the world of Atolas, where swords and daggers extend life or end it, where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships, and where magic is feared by all but a few.

Find it:

About the Author:

Jacob Gowans is a resident of Arizona, working as a dentist for the Indian Health Services. He is husband and father to four children. When not working or writing, he enjoys watching sports, reading YA novels or the works of Stephen King, running, and chasing his kids around the house.He was raised in Papillion, Nebraska, lived for two years in Baltimore, and graduated from dental school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

My Thoughts:

I have to mention how much I love the new covers for this series. They are a MUCH better fit for the age group and the story. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here is the old and new cover images for the first book in the series:

While the illustrated cover was well done and dramatic, it gave the impression that this is a middle grade fantasy, when it's actually intended for young adults.  The new cover is a much better fit.

This is the second installment in the A Tale of Light and Shadow series, and while I liked the first book, I completely obsessed over this one. The characters are richly developed, complex individuals with believable flaws, strengths, and faults. They all have their own demons to face and challenges to deal with. Each character's story intertwines with the others, affecting them whether they know it or not.

The story is told from several third person points of view—which worked well—and the characters grow and change over the course of the book. Along with magic, suspense, and humor, this story has themes of friendship, forgiveness, and overcoming weakness.  I'm excited to see where this story will take us as it marches onward.

Content: Some violence and innuendo



What are your thoughts on the old and new covers for the first book? Do you agree with me, or do you prefer the original cover?

Giveaway Time!

Win a copy of Secrets of Neverak

Ends Sept 17, 2015

Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Entrants must be 13 or have their parent/guardian enter for them.  Winner will be chosen randomly.  Winner must respond to my email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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