Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: How Animals Build from Lonely Planet

by Moira Butterfield
Illustrated by Tim Hutchinson
Lonely Planet
Picture Book Non-Fiction
24 pages
ages 4 and up

The North & Latin American edition of this title is available here.
Lonely Planet Kids’ How Animals Build is a beautifully illustrated lift-the-flap hardback that explores the incredible world of animal architects. Children can open flaps and unfold spreads to discover amazing animal homes up high, underground, on land, and under the sea. From spider webs and rabbit warrens, to bird nests and ant colonies, and even coral reefs and beaver lodges, we reveal the secrets to these extraordinary structures and how they’re built.
Do bees need cement mixers to build hives? Do beavers use cranes to construct dams? No, of course not! Like many animals, they’re building geniuses who don’t need building site tools to create incredible work. Welcome to nature’s very own, super-clever world of construction.
Created in consultation with Michael Leach, wildlife author, speaker, photographer, and filmographer. Michael is the author of over 20 books on subjects ranging fromm big cats and owls to great apes and bears.

Themed topics include:
 Apartment Block with Branches
  • Dig, Diggers, Dig!
  • Number 1 Bunny Street
  • A Winning Design
  • It’s Buzzing in Here!
  • Nest Neighborhoods
  • This Way to Waterworld
  • Extreme Builders
  • Mouse House Here


Every page of this one is packed full of interesting information and guarantees to suck in information hungry, animal loving kids for hours.

Every animal needs a home, and the variety is almost as vast as the imagination. While some animals keep it simple, others are genuine architects with a touch of genius. From birds, to mice, and even underwater creatures, this book covers a vast array of examples from the animal kingdom and is sure to hold a surprise or two.

The second this book is open, it's clear that the reader is in for a treat. Not only are animals from every corner of the globe, even lesser known ones, mentioned in these pages, but each home is presented through colorful illustrations with many secret doors, which lead to even more interesting tidbits. Not only is it exciting to see what animals and homes are up next, but the various possibilities to open up some homes to large scale, while peeking in the holes of other corners and crannies, makes it a delight to visit again and again.

With all of its fun, this isn't a book for the youngest readers but more suiting ages six and up. The text, while whimsically placed and holding a vocabulary great for the age group, is something for a larger attention span. This isn't a book a reader can devour in one sitting. At least, not while absorbing all of the information. There's simply too much for that. This is the kind of book readers will visit time and again to discover new information or notice things they skimmed past before. And the information is interesting—even for adults. There are enough less known facts to guarantee that something new is to be found for almost every reader.

This is a book of pure discovery and the sheer enjoyment of finding more, and is sure to draw kids back into the pages again and again.

Cover Reveal: Alien Minds by Christina Bauer with Giveaway

Christina Bauer
Dimension Drift, #1
Monster House Books
November 27th 2018
YA Science Fiction

Meimi Archer is living the perfect life. Too bad it isn’t hers.
On my seventeenth birthday, I wake up in the hospital to find I just survived a sketchy but terrible accident. My parents stand by my bedside—both are beautiful, wealthy, and super-nice. They tell me that once I leave the hospital, I’ll attend the prestigious ECHO Academy, where I’ll churn out equations for the government along with my mega-smart peers.
So, I’m living the perfect life.
Then why does everything feel all wrong?
My parents, my house and even ECHO Academy…none of it fits. Plus, what’s up with Thorne, my brooding yet yummy classmate who keeps telling me I need to remember my true past, which seems to have included a lot of us kissing? That’s one thing I’d really like to remember, except for the fact that I’m pretty sure Thorne is hiding a ton of nasty secrets of his own, including the fact that he may not be from this world. But considering how my own past seems alien to me, it’s not like I can judge. Plus, Thorne has dimples. That’s a problem.
And worst of all, why does it feel so yucky to work on these calculations for the government? It’s all supposed to be part of ECHO, but my heart tells me that I’m helping something truly terrible come to pass. Thorne seems to think that kissing him again will release my real memories.
Maybe it’s time to pucker up.

And here she is. . .
Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers.
Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.
Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.
Stalk Christina on Social Media – She Loves It!


Review: The Unknown Crystals by Adam Monk-Daschke

The Many Journeys to Different Worlds
by Adam Monk-Daschke
Children's Fiction

The stories take place in all different worlds and planets. They all have different adventures and journeys, searching for the lost unknown crystals and trying to find out what the crystals do and understand what mystic power each crystal has. The first adventure starts in the baby panda story, where he finds his new friend in the first short story, and then they go to find the unknown crystal in the next short story. The next short story takes place in the swamp's bear planet.


This is an enjoyable collection of stories with a colorful array of characters. From pandas to zombies, each story grabs with a new direction despite the all connecting search for crystals.

The writing is simple enough for younger readers to understand and fantastical enough to pull at their imaginations. Add the colorful illustrations, and it's a lovely collection especially for a bedtime read. Some of the characters' names are very similar, which does take a bit of sorting. There's a hint of mystery and a dab of adventure, nothing which will scare away more sensitive readers. The plot is simple as well, which makes it an easy read especially for more reluctant fantasy friends.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Review: Flunked by Jen Calonita

Fairy Tale Reform School, Book One
by Jen Calonita
Tween Fairy Tales/Fantasy
256 pages
ages 10 and up

Would you send a villain to do a hero's job? An exciting new twisted fairy tale series from award-winning author Jen Calonita.

Full of regret, Cinderella's wicked stepmother, Flora, has founded the Fairy Tale Reform School with the mission of turning the wicked and criminally mischievous into upstanding members of Enchantasia.

Impish, sassy 12-year-old Gilly has a history of petty theft and she's not too sorry about it. When she lifts a hair clip, she gets tossed in reform school-for at least three months. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there's more to this school than its sweet mission. There's a battle brewing and she starts to wonder: can a villain really change?


This is a fun read packed with a little bit of snarkiness, a good dose of mischief, danger, secret agendas, attitude, magic, quirkiness and tons of references to popular fairy tales along the way. In other words, it a book with punch.

The main heroine, Gilly, is one of many siblings living in the shoe maker's shoe. Since Cinderella let the Fairy Godmother simply magic up all future glass slippers instead of ordering them from the shoe maker, Gilly's family is poor and barely making it by. Gilly loves her family and helps them the only way she can: she steals from the rich to buy food for her brothers and sisters. Gilly gets caught and ends up in reform school, where Cinderella's step-mother, in attempts to redeem herself, teaches potentially 'gone astray' kids how to become heroes and heroines.

Gilly is quite the character. She's a thief, she's got attitude and she has a mouth. She isn't evil—her heart is in the right place—but she's everything but sweet. But then, nobody at reform school is extremely lovable. These flawed characters are exactly what tweens will love. This borders right along the line between childish fun and teenage drama, causing an exciting and quirky mix. Plus, there's action. Tons of it. 

With many of the 'evil' characters from fairy tales running this school, it's hard to know which ones are honestly trying to reform and which ones are acting. It makes it impossible to guess who the real bad guy is or where the danger is coming from, when the plot starts to thicken. Even Gilly's friends crowd the gray-zone, all bordering on becoming villains themselves. 

Fans of fairy tales and magic battles will love this one, especially those ages 10 to 14. It's light on the emotional end, keeping focus on the fast paced plot, and holds many problems this age group will understand and identify with.

Friday, December 8, 2017

12 Days of Clink Street with Guest Post from Author C.J. Bentley

The Finder Series, Book One
by C.J. Bentley
Middle Grade Fantasy
101 pages
 ages 9 and up

People lose their belongings. That is a fact of life. It can happen by accident, but sometimes it can happen when you put them in a very safe place and forget where that safe place is. Not many people are good at finding them again.
A young, gutsy girl with a kind heart, who's searching for her own identity growing up in the 1960s, just happens to be very good at finding things. Can she be the one to help return whatever is lost - anywhere and at any time - to its original owner?
With the help of a beautiful yet mysterious wise woman and a chivalrous knight she does just that. She finds and returns his shield, lost in battle, which unbeknown to her holds a secret that is important to his King, the safety of the Kingdom and the life of the daughter of his best friend.
The Shield is the first story in The Finder Series, taking our heroine on extraordinary journeys back in time. Her first adventure takes place in Medieval England in 1340 where she meets King Edward III, his wife Philippa and their son, who will later become the Black Prince.

I reviewed this book earlier this year and really enjoyed it. You can find my review here!

Welcome, C.J. Bentley!!!

All I want for Christmas……………………

‘What would you like for Christmas this year dear?’  I addressed my husband as I joined him at the breakfast table with the toast.
‘Hmmmm….’ Was the reply from behind his newspaper.
Undeterred I continued.
‘Would you like a ticket to fly on the Branson Virgin Galactic to view the earth from space?  I think it only costs around two hundred and fifty thousand dollars and flights are due to start in 2018.’
‘Hmmm……’ once again.
‘What about a new car?  The Volvo is showing its age now, something bright and sporty, one of those flashy Italian ones with the strange names.  No, it might be a bit tricky for you to get in and out of with your back’.
‘Hmmm….’ Once again the monotonous reply.
‘What about a holiday?   A trip to Africa.  To one of those safari camps that trick you into thinking you are camping but is in fact five star luxury under canvas’.
‘Hmmm….any more coffee dear please?’  Still from behind the paper.
I was going to have to up my game.
‘Of course dear, are you listening to me?’ as I poured him another cup and added milk.  Or is that paper more important?’
This was getting boring, always tenacious I continued.
‘What about a boat?  Something big, we could moor it on the Med’, big enough for the children to stay on with us in the school holidays, I could see you in a Captain’s hat on the poop deck, you would look quite dashing’.
‘Hmmm….’  Back came the usual reply.
Now I am an incredibly patient person, forty years married one had to be, but how much longer could I continue with this one sided conversation, my patience was beginning to wear thin.  It hadn’t always been like this.  When the children were young and at home they had probed us both with questions for requests well before the festivities.  Then came the secrets and giggles as they returned from shopping trips with Dad, who smiled at me from over their bag-laden arms.
Things change, life happens.  Children grow and have children of their own.  It is only fair to share.  This year it was the turn of the partner’s parents.  It had been my choice to have us all together so the alternative year it was to be just the two of us.
Don’t think I don’t love my husband, I do, very much but it will be a very quiet Christmas this year.  The high point would be the telephone calls from the children on Christmas morning.
I continued.
‘I know, we will donate money to a good cause, a charity, like we did for the children when they sponsored an animal each at the zoo.  You could sponsor an elephant, you’ve always liked elephants’.
‘I didn’t tell you but I give money to Save the Children, have done for the last few years in fact, my secret gift to myself’.
I was starting to get annoyed.
‘Or I could just buy you a new shirt and tie for work and golf balls like I normally do’.  I glared once again at the back of the newspaper.
‘Well that’s that then, golf balls it is’.
‘Hmmm….any more coffee in the pot?’
‘I’ll make more, this is stone cold’.

And here she is. . .

Originally heralding from the North of England, C.J Bentley has traveled extensively and enjoyed living in a variety of countries across the world from Dubai to Doha, Qatar and now the countryside in the South of France. A background in teaching and childcare she has always enjoyed creating adventure short stories. However, it was when she became a grandma and with her grandchildren growing up that she discovered that books seemed to contain only stories of vampires, zombies and farts that she decided seriously to take matters into her own hands and put pen to paper which today she calls The Finder Series.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review: Ghost Owl by Nancy Schoellkopf with Giveaway

Although I was going to suggest this one as YA appropriate like the first two books in this series, the contents were, in my opinion, no longer fitting to this age group. So I'm passing this one as a Mommy's Read on Thursday review instead.

by Nancy Schoellkopf
Contemporary Fiction
Literary / Women's Fiction with Magical Realism
Butterfly Tree Publishing
October 2017
181 pages
Tour dates: Nov 20 to Dec 8, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 (There are a few non-explicit sex scenes)

Ghost Owl is a magical story of discovery, as a young woman seeks to understand her potential and confront her own shadow. Mariah Easter wakes up in the middle of the night to discover the world is as bright as noon—but for her eyes only. Urged by her godfather, she embarks on a mission to peer into the dark spaces normally hidden from view, leading her to confront the sinister nature of power, the vulnerability of the ill, and the hidden life of a homeless man: a journey that will bring healing to herself and the man she loves.

This compelling and inspirational tale, the third installment of the Avian Series, invites the reader to ponder the extraordinary treasures hidden in the ordinary events of daily life.

To read reviews, please visit Nancy Schoellkopf's page on iRead Book Tours.


This is the third book in the series. Although it is not necessary to read the first two book before picking this one up, the other books do lay some fundamental background elements, which make it easier to understand several aspects of this novel.

With a deeper dive into magical realism and the questions surrounding death and existence, this intriguing tale weaves a journey of self-discovery and love.

Mariah Easter writes her strange dreams in a journal. When she goes missing, her best friend, Rafa, hopes the entries can trace her down. Oblivious to the search for her, Mariah is on a discovery of her own. S heads through various experiences, each of which push her to new thoughts and considerations as she unravels what life means to her.

Unlike the first two books in this series, this tale hits the realms of magical realism full swing. Mariah is pulled through many experiences and forms of reality, each one leading her to new realizations. The tone in this book is much darker than the others, and hits on harder material. The paranormal element grips tighter, and questions surrounding death, the meaning of life and spiritual realities are opened up in an entirely new way. While the writing flows smoothly, Mariah's shifting through realities requires concentration and can grow a little foggy at times.Those who indulge in spiritual meanings and searches will find much food for thought.

The story is told from different points of view, each one offering wonderful insight at the right moment. Some chapters are told through Mariah's journal entries, others through Mariah, and others through other characters in the third person. These transitions are clear, never threatening confusion.

While this tale reaches in a new level in Mariah's character development and stretches the concepts of death and life, it takes on a new direction when compared with the first books in the series. Fans of spiritual exploration and the questions surrounding death and reality will enjoy this read.

And here she is. . .

Nancy Schoellkopf is the author of the Avian Series of novels including Yellow-Billed Magpie and Red-Tailed Hawk, as well as the short story collection Rover and Other Magical Tales. She has been telling stories and writing poems for many lifetimes. It goes without saying that she’s needed a second income, so this time around she happily taught amazing children in special education classes in two urban school districts in Sacramento, California. A full time writer now, she enjoys lavishing attention on her cats, her garden and her intriguing circle of family and friends.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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Ends Dec 16 

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: Eco-Disasters Series from Bearport Publishing

This is a non-fiction, picture book series for kids ages 5 and up (and was immediately a favorite of my son.)
Black blizzards. Toxic water. Killer smog. Deadly oil spills. In this compelling new narrative nonfiction series, readers will learn about the world's worst environmental disasters. Through riveting stories and first-person accounts, each book traces an ecological catastrophe from the beginning to its aftermath. Readers will uncover the truth about what caused the tragedy, the disaster's devastating toll on people and the environment, steps taken to remedy the problem, as well as what can be done to prevent another catastrophe from happening in the future. Fascinating photos of the actual events, maps, and fact boxes enrich the compelling text. The personal, and often heart-breaking, stories will grip and inspire young readers.

Eight titles are in the series, all of which you can find here.

Here are the two titles, which I've read (after prying them out of my son's fingers....seriously.)

Libby, Montana
by Kevin Blake
Bearport Publishing
Non-Fiction Picture Book
32 pages

In 1963, Les Skramstad came home after a hard day's work at the local mill and mine in Libby, Montana. His wife kissed him at the door and his kids playfully grabbed his legs. They didn't mind that he was covered in powdery brown dust. Little did Les and his family know that the dust was deadly. Deadly Mine: Libby, Montana traces the tragic story of a small mining town that eventually became poisoned by a deadly mineral called asbestos. Fascinating photos of the actual events, maps, and fact boxes enrich the compelling text. The personal and heart-breaking story will grip and inspire young readers. 


With careful explanations and descriptions, this book gives young readers a glimpse into one of the largest environmental catastrophes in United States' history.

The first pages set the mood with the tragic story of a miner and his family, who became sick from poisonous dust in the town of Libby, Montana. Young readers are emotionally pulled into the situation, which sets a perfect seen for the more historical and factual information. The next chapters explain how the mineral was discovered, what this discovery meant at the time, and how people were able to benefit from the mining during the early years. Like a mystery, the problems unfold. The information is concise but told with enough excitement and emotion to keep younger readers engaged. Everything for the chemical aspects, the medical results to the governmental policies is covered in a way readers of this age group will understand. More difficult words are highlighted and placed again in a glossary at the end of the book.

The seriousness of the situation is ever present, but never overwhelming. Readers are not talked down to, but given solid facts and arguments, which will lead them to thought. Information concerning how the situation is being taken care of is also included, allowing the book to end on a slightly higher note without undermining the horrible aspects of the occurrence. A website address at the end leads kids to a little information concerning the catastrophe and offers a crossword puzzle as well.

The real-life photographs are bright and bring clarity to the explanations found in the text. Young readers gain a greater appreciation for the event and can easily slip into the shoes of those effected by the disaster.

Children, ages six and up, who are interested in science, nature or world happenings are sure to enjoy this book and soak up the information. My own son thoroughly enjoyed this book and is determined to read through the entire series.

London, England
by Joyce Markovics
Bearport Publishing
Non-Fiction Picture Book
ages 5 and up
32 pages

In December 1952, a thick layer of black smog blanketed London. The filthy air blinded people on the streets and brought traffic to a screeching halt. Worst of all, the pollution was deadly. It sickened 100,000 people and took the lives of 4,000. Killer Smog: London, England traces the devastating story of air pollution that took thousands of lives and brought London to a standstill. Fascinating photos of the actual events, maps, and fact boxes enrich the compelling text. The personal and heart-breaking story will grip and inspire young readers.


Natural disasters can come as unsuspecting as a fog, and this book explains how The Great Smog of 1952 occurred as well as the effects it had on all of London.

The first sentence opens like an eerie mystery and immediately draws young readers into the scene. Readers will sympathize with the little girl as she tries to make her way through the mysterious fog. The accompany photographs enrich the atmosphere, making the entire event come to life. The history behind the fog and its causes remains rooted in facts, while keeping the information from getting too dry. Quotes from people who experienced the situation as well as little bubbles of extra tidbits dabbled among the photographs make it fun to glimpse through the pages and grab up pieces of information on the way.

Although the seriousness of the catastrophe is never down-played, the ending offers a ray of hope and explains what has been done to hinder a future occurrence, and what is still being done to improve air quality in general. A glossary at the end offers definitions to the more difficult, high-lighted words in the book. There's also a link to a website, where kids can discover more about the smog and play a crossword puzzle.

You can find out more about the series as well as the rest of the books at. . .