Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tattooed Angels by Valerie Willis with Giveaway





REBIRTH
Tattooed Angels Trilogy Book 1
By Valerie Willis

Urban Fantasy

High school life is almost over, but Hotan's life as an immortal has only just started...
Already struggling with a mountain of hardships, Hotan is just trying to get his diploma as his mother had always insisted. Friends know if he's not at home or at the club playing in his band, you can always find him thinking at the old broken down church. Basking in the moonlight, Hotan finds himself under attack by an immortal named Geliah, the element of Fear. Talib, the element of Judgment, interrupts the fight, furious that Geliah would force Hotan to awaken his own abilities and immortality. Normally when pulled out of the reincarnation spell, an immortal would remember whom and what they were, but he is not the Hotan from the Past. Walk beside him as he struggles to keep his chaotic life in order as he tries to break the secrets of his own element, Rebirth.

JUDGMENT

Tattooed Angels Trilogy Book 2
Talib and Hotan find themselves facing off with the element of Death, Iapetos. Failing to take him out, Talib's life starts flashing before him. As he experiences thousands of years, things that were once forgotten begin to emerge. Will he find the answer in his past in time to aid Hotan?




Valerie Willis, a sixth generation Floridian, launched her first book, Cedric the Demonic Knight, at the start of 2014 on Amazon.com. Since then, she has continued to add to The Cedric Series, a high-rated Paranormal Fantasy Romance Series. This series features an anti-hero who finds himself dragged away from his revenge on his maker by both love and the onset of a larger threat. She pulls in a melting pot of mythology, folklore, history and more into her work with a remarkable amount of foreshadowing that makes reading her books a second time exciting. Rebirth is the first book in her Teen Urban Fantasy, the Tattooed Angels Trilogy, where the main character struggles with social issues with the complications of turning immortal. And if fantasy isn't your cup of tea, head over to her Blog for some "Val, Tell me a Story" posts featuring true, hilarious, and sometimes bizarre, life events from recent to old.




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: Jorie and the Gold Key by A. H. Richardson

Jorie and the Magic Stones is the first book in a new chapter book series, by A. H. Richardson, that follows one heroic nine-year-old girl on an unforgettable adventure. Children everywhere are loving this adventurous tale of Jorie and Rufus, two orphans from very different walks of life, who meet by chance and discover a mystic book about dragons, that soon leads them on a quest through a magical world unlike anything either of them have ever experienced…



JORIE AND THE GOLD KEY
by A.H. Richardson
Middle Grade Fantasy
254 pages





When Marjorie went to live with her frosty maiden aunt, she couldn’t imagine the adventures she would have with dragons — good and bad — and all the strange creatures that live in a mysterious land beneath the Tarn. The spunky 9-year-old redhead forges an unlikely friendship with an insecure young boy named Rufus who lives with his crusty grandfather next door. When Jorie — for that is what she prefers to be called — finds a dusty ancient book about dragons, she learns four strange words that will send the two of them into a mysterious land beneath the Tarn, riddled with enchantment and danger. Hungry for adventure, the children take the plunge, quite literally, and find themselves in the magic land of Cabrynthius. 

Upon meeting the good dragon, the Great Grootmonya, Jorie and Rufus are given a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog — stones of enormous power — and return them to their rightful place in Cabrynthius. Their mission is neither easy nor safe, and is peppered with perils in the form of the evil black half-dragon who rules the shadowy side of the land. They have to deal with a wicked and greedy professor, the tragic daughter of the bad dragon, caves of fire, rocky mountainous climbs, and a deadly poisonous butterfly.

Jorie must rely on her wits and courage to win the day? Can she do this? Can she find all three Stones? Can she save Rufus when disaster befalls him? Can she emerge victorious? She and Rufus have some hair-raising challenges, in which they learn valuable lessons about loyalty, bravery, and friendship.


MY TIDBITS

Packed with adventure and imagination, this chapter book takes off into a rich world where friendship, loyalty and trust are key.

Jorie and Rufus are off to Cabrynthius again, and this time, they have a stuck-up Nigel in tow. In attempt to save the fantastical world, the threesome land in one adventure after another. . .and Nigel soon finds himself in a whole lot more trouble than he ever bargained for.

This is a wonderful adventure, which stretches the imagination and then some. The chapters are easy to read and flow seamlessly as Jorie and her friends head from one tense situation into the next. But this isn't only about dangerous scenes; there's a lovely amount of humor dabbled in, which makes this simply a joy to read.

Friendship is key in this book, especially when one of the three isn't exactly wanted at first. The message of getting along and learning to trust others shines through, as Nigel learns to work alongside Jorie and Rufus. Friendships can form even when no one believes they ever could.

The characters in this book are simply fun. Each has their very own personality, and each has a bit of bite which rounds off great with their hearts of gold. It's fun to root for them as they enter the colorful world, one where kids' imaginations can really take flight.

Summed up, this is a fun adventure with magic, fantasy and kids which are easy to relate to and a ton of fun.

Book Buzz!!!

“An easy to read chapter book that can be enjoyed of children of all ages, Jorie and the Magic Stones succeeds at creating an extraordinary world full of memorable characters and dangerous villains. In Jorie and Rufus, the narrative follows the blossoming of a friendship, while exploring the strengths of each of these two main protagonists. Weaving in morales about important ideals like loyalty, bravery, and what it means to be a good friend, the story shows younger readers how important it is to do the right thing, no matter the costs. With rich descriptions, realistic dialogue, and settings you feel as if you are truly immersed within, this is the start to a promising new fantasy series...” - Red City Review

“Jorie is inquisitive, brave, and wise beyond her years, and yet still a child at heart… she is everything a heroine should be... All this, coupled with a one of a kind plot and an exceptional setting, brought to life an amazing fantasy tale.” - 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite

“If ever there was a children's book that was meant for children of all ages, this would be that book. From page 1, you instantly fall in love with the Jorie, the heroine. The storyline flows wonderfully. It makes you feel as if you're there with the characters feeling the excitement, fears, and joy that they feel as they go on an incredible adventure.” - 5 Stars, Matthew and Alicia Lucy

“I absolutely love this story! It just carried me away and I couldn't put the book down!! I loved all the different characters... The author did a wonderful job describing all of them and my imagination kept on going!” – 5 Stars, Amazon Review



All about the author. . .

A. H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an Author.

She published her debut novel Jorie and the Magic Stones in December 2014. At the request of those who loved the first ‘Jorie’ story, Richardson has written a sequel titled Jorie and the Gold Key, and she is currently working on the third book in the series.

She is also the author of Murder in Little Shendon, a thriller murder mystery which takes place in a quaint little village in England after World War Two, and introduces two sleuths, Sir Victor Hazlitt and his sidekick,  Beresford Brandon, a noted Shakespearian actor. She has more ‘who-dun-its’ planned for this clever and interesting duo… watch for them!

A. H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.


To learn more, go to https://ahrichardson.com/

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: We Are The Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner


WE ARE THE DINOSAURS
by Laurie Berkner
Illustrated by Ben Clanton
Simon&Schuster for Young Readers
Picture Book
ages 2+
40 pages

COMING. . .
MARCH 21, 2017!!!

Laurie Berkner, “the queen of children’s music,” (People) pairs the lyrics of her beloved hit with Ben Clanton’s whimsical illustrations in this winning, adorable picture book—a must-have for fans of Laurie, dinosaurs, and all things cute.

We are the dinosaurs
Marching, marching
We are the dinosaurs 


Laurie Berkner’s chart-topping, beloved hit “We Are the Dinosaurs” is now a picture book! Featuring an adorable cast of characters and vibrant, playful art by Ben Clanton, We Are the Dinosaurs transports readers back in time to when the dinosaurs roamed the earth.

WHADDAYA THINK OF THAT?



 MY TIDBITS


Taking off on a friend-packed adventure, these dinosaurs march over, on and beyond with thrills and fun.

This book is based on a song from Laurie Berkner, and although I haven't had the chance to hear it, this book is a fun filled adventure all of its own. The dinosaurs are friendly, ready to explore and have a good time. The friendship between them resonates off every pages as they go out into the world, explore and simply have a great time.

Younger listeners up to 3 or 4 years old will especially enjoy this prehistoric gang. There isn't much of a message behind it, outside of friendship and having a good time together, but its a  sunny attitude which comes across loud and clear. It's sure to leave a grin and happy giggles time and again.

The illustrations are bright, fairly simple and colorful. The dinosaurs are a cute group and worthy of several smiles. The adventures are simple and invite for page turning and exploring again and again. Especially dinosaur fans will enjoy this one and wish they could romp around and enjoy life with this bunch too.


Laurie Berkner

Recognized as "the queen of children's music" (People magazine), Laurie Berkner is a singer, songwriter, lyricist, author, and founder of Two Tomatoes Records.  She has released eleven bestselling, award-winning albums, was the first recording artist ever to perform in music videos on Nick Jr., and appeared regularly on the network’s Jack’s Big Music Show.  Laurie's music has graced the short-form animated series Sing It, Laurie! on 24-hour preschool television channel Sprout, and she has been a frequent  guest on Sprout's Sunny Side Up morning show.  Venturing into the theater world, Laurie has written music and lyrics for two Off-Broadway children’s musicals produced by New York City Children’s Theatre:  The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess and Wanda’s Monster.  A third NYCCT show featuring Laurie’s music and lyrics, Interstellar Cinderella, will open Off-Broadway in November 2017. What sets Laurie apart?  Her music speaks to kids without talking down to them, charming youngsters without boring grownups.  Laurie finds inspiration in her audience.  “I want to create songs that matter for children,” she says.  “I was singing once and saw a four-year-old girl shut her eyes and start swaying to the music.  I thought, ‘That’s the reason I got into music.’  It keeps me wanting to do more.”











Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper by Gusto Jackson and Janet Fogg


MISFORTUNE ANNIE AND THE LOCOMOTIVE REAPER
by Gusto Dave Jackson and Janet "The Kid" Fogg
FA LLC
Middle Grade Steampunk Western
ages 8 and up
54 pages


When Annabelle Fortune, the fastest gunslinger in the wild west, inadvertently stops a stranger from attacking a train -- and he wears a suit that enables him to fly! -- the government believes she's the only one to have witnessed the Locomotive Reaper and survived to tell the tale.

Promising to find out what he can about her missing father, the Director of the Secret Service persuades Annie to swear in. Too soon, her detested nickname re-stakes its claim.

Partnered with Beau Slokam, whose penchant for gambling leads them straight to the Doom Gang, Misfortune Annie guides the smooth-talking Southerner in a chase through the Rockies, with her Cheyenne friend, Wontoa, rounding out their unlikely trio.

When Annie again meets the Locomotive Reaper, his gadgetry proves far more advanced -- and deadly -- than even top scientists could have imagined.
 



MY TIDBITS

With edge-of-the-seat adventure, this gunslinger heroine takes on all sorts of dangerous villains and shows the world just what one girl can do.

Annie was hired to lead the minister and his helpers across an Indian graveyard and help them bring desperately needed supplies to women and their children. Or so she thought. Just when she gets the group through the dangerous boobie-traps, the men show their true colors and try to get rid of Annie. But she's not an easy girl to kill. Before she knows it, she's followed them to a train and must stop them before they kill everyone aboard. Add a man who flies by with some odd gadgetry, and the adventure really gets underway.

At first, I was a little hesitant about reading this. I'm not a big fan of westerns and couldn't really see kids jumping into this genre too much either. However, this book swung my opinion around 180 degrees.

Annie is not your average gun-slinging, western girl, and this is not the normal, western world. The book starts out with an Indiana Jones feel, keeping the tension and action high right from the first page. Although familiar, the scenes come across with excitement pure and don't let go for the entire 150 pages. Annie is a fun character. She's bright, a capable fighter and knows right from wrong--a perfect heroine for girls to look up to. But she has her tender side too, and it's exactly this which makes her so easy to like.

The characters in this book come across believable, each with their very own personality. The western speech slides in smoothly, adding a nice touch to the horse and dust world. The gadgets and advanced weapons let a little steampunk drip in without every going over the top. It adds a great amount of fantastical fun, while keeping the story nicely based in the 1800's.

Summed up, this is a fun, adventurous read which will draw in both girls and boys. The action stays strong the entire way through, and at 150 pages, it's great for even more reluctant readers.




And here they are. . . 



Janet Fogg


Janet Fogg’s focus on writing began when she was CFO and Managing Principal of OZ Architecture, one of Colorado’s largest architectural firms. Fifteen writing awards later, she resigned from the firm to follow the yellow brick road. Ten months after that, she signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for her historical romance Soliloquy a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner.

With husband Richard, Janet co-wrote Fogg in the Cockpit (Casemate), one of five books nominated in 2012 by the Air Force Historical Foundation for best World War II book reviewed in Air Power History.

Keeping her historical knowledge sharp, Janet manages the 359th Fighter Group’s Facebook page, sharing WWII stories and photos about the Fighter Group.  She is also a proud member and 2015/16 Vice President of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She previously served as Published Author Liaison in 2010.




Dave Jackson

Not your typical author, Dave Jackson started writing in his constant pursuit to become a renaissance man, but later fell in love with the art form. He performs stand-up and skits regularly, as Comedy remains one of his many passions and he writes and performs skits, as well as stand-up. Also a songwriter and guitarist, Dave has composed over 300 musical titles.

A country boy, Dave was raised in Oklahoma and taught 6th grade English for two years. He enjoys sharing the tale about when he climbed high into a towering black jack tree and grabbed a dead branch. Snap! He hurtled toward his death, but he held tight to the branch and it slowed his fall, saving his life.


In 2013, Dave enjoyed the release of Tattoo Rampage by Curiosity Quills Press. The novel follows Evangelina Marquez-James, a strong female heroine, who gets her first tattoo as a symbol of courage to carry on after her police officer husband dies in the line of duty. 


Author Links below:


Q&A with Janet Fogg & Dave Jackson



Your protagonist was inspired by spitfire Annie Oakley, but what’s the full story behind your exciting middle grade adventure Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper?

Dave: To properly tell Misfortune Annie’s origin, we must first go back to the spark from a great machine. I make no bones about my awe of George Lucas and the Indiana Jones series. It’s widely known by most Lucas fans that the rugged archaeologist first showed up in spirit in old matinee serials until George tweaked him a little for a new generation of movie lovers. Indy’s trusty whip came from Zorro cliffhangers. So, hoping to scare up just anything that could give Indy a run for his money, I poked around in the same cinema of yesteryear and dug the cowboy genre. Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry—they were huge! So like Indy, my new star had to have a catchy name and signature duds. He was going to have a 10-gallon hat and Levi jacket.

I never got to name him though because fate threw in a wildcard that made me so grateful and stoked, I could never go back to the dude. On Christmas vacation one year, nearly sleeping behind the wheel through flat old Kansas, I passed a sign that boasted, “Annie Oakley Museum.” Jolted awake, I had my new hero. It would be a young lady known by a slick nickname.

Janet: We were chatting about his concept for Annie and what he wanted to accomplish with the book/series, and asked if I'd join him on that journey.  Annie appealed to me for many reasons.  First, because she was a young cowgirl struggling to excel in the man's world of the wild, Wild West.  I really liked that.  Second, because I thought we could weave subtle "lessons-learned" into the books, so that young readers, especially teen girls, would have a role model with strength, courage, determination, and strong morals.

What made you decide to co-write as a team on this series - and how is it collaborating on a book?

Dave: We didn’t collaborate. Like spoiled rich kids we fought, I tell ya. Nah, actually, the writer’s journey is very lonely and I highly recommend brewing with another author, especially someone as tenacious, gracious, and creative as Janet.

Janet: Or as funny, talented, and kind as Dave. (Can you say mutual admiration society?  It’s been a blast!)



Can you tell us more about the “Fun Facts” readers will find at the very back of the book?

Janet: We decided to incorporate some historic facts in each book, and the “Fun Facts” helps define certain facts versus fiction.  One example is the waist overalls made by Levi Strauss that Annie wears.  These were the original blue jeans, and in our Fun Facts a reader will learn that when they were first created by German-born businessman Levi Strauss and Latvian-born tailor Jacob Davis, blue jeans were actually called “waist overalls.” The duo received a patent for them on May 20, 1873, with a product that had one back pocket, a watch pocket, a cinch, and brace buttons.  When a young reader reads this Fun Fact, we hope it inspires them to pause and consider the origins of other everyday items. Perhaps there are many young inventors out there, in need of inspiration and a nudge!


What is your favorite part of being an author / or the process of writing?

Dave: Hands down, it’s when I daydream of people reading our stories. After which, my imagination blossoms more to fans tossing me the keys to their Ferrari—and not to park it for them—then they offer to buy me and Janet fried chicken dinners.

Janet: What Dave said. Plus, bending my imagination 90 degrees to somewhere. Inspiring a reader. Preserving history.

What does a typical work day of writing look like for you?

Dave: There is no typical. My days are maxed with tutoring my son in algebra, playing music gigs, performing stand up, an auditing occupation, planning a convention, exercise, my lovely girlfriend, and having a good time. I truly write due to my love for it because there’s no time otherwise. Because of odd predicaments, I’ve borrowed other folks’ computers and even typewriters to get something on the page. I’ve scrawled on napkins.

Janet: I've never been a good sleeper, so I sneak out of bed when the Great Horned Owls are still conversing.  First, I check email.  (Who doesn't?)  While I used to work on manuscript drafts during those wee hours, now I work on my 359th FG posts or answer questions about the Fighter Group.  After breakfast I write new words.  Then I'll edit (I can edit all day, but my brain begins to protest after writing three or four or pages of new words).  That's another reason I love collaborating on stories!

Have you ever had a mentor, or someone who sparked your passion for writing?

Dave: Yoda, but Janet wound up being better.

Janet: After I stop blushing, I'm going to work on growing long pointy ears.
Really though - reading, reading and more reading.

Annie is such a trailblazer and great role model for young readers. What do you hope fans of the book will take away from the story?

Janet: That girls rock!

Dave: Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper is the really good book you’ve been looking for. Also - I do want everyone to know that I learned to crack a whip just because of the Indiana Jones movies (which influenced Misfortune Annie’s creation).

What do you feel makes your book unique from other middle grade fiction out there?

Dave: The characters are peculiar, funny, and cool.

Janet: Especially Annie.

Dave: Yes, you won’t be able to wait for Book Two.

Ah! So speaking of book two, what’s next for Misfortune Annie?

Throughout the series, we will see more problems that Annie doesn’t get credit for because she’s a girl in a ‘tough guy’ world.

A long cast of colorful crooks (think James Bond’s bullies) is waiting to take on the fastest draw in the west. Book Two leads Annie to New Orleans and face-to-face with a wicked Voodoo priest. In another episode, the Dragon Warrior shall render her six shooters useless. A sinister magician will perform the ultimate trick on her and the Secret Service. Beware pirates! Look out for creatures in the woods, Annie! Not to mention cameos by historical figures like Wyatt Earp, Baby Doe Tabor, and Teddy Roosevelt—perfect walk-ons to spark curiosity about US History.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sneak Peek: Songs and Fins by B. Kristin McMichael with Giveaway




SONGS AND FINS 
by B. Kristin McMichael
The Merworld Trilogy, #2
Lexia Press
March 14th 2017
YA Paranormal





Whitney was amazed she finally had a boyfriend, and was prepared for a new life with him in the siren night human world. And the fact he was a lead singer in a rock band in his free time wasn’t bad, either. Too bad having a boyfriend didn’t mean she was going to see him, as his father’s punishment included separating them. Whitney is certain she can handle it, but sure enough, that isn’t the only wrench thrown into her new life. There’s a new threat in town, a scarier one than the backstabbing siren clan she’s part of now. They are night human hunters, and Whitney is an outlawed night human breed. Could her luck get any better? Quiet and peaceful would be ideal, but that’s not what she’s about to get.


EXCERPT

Whitney meeting a new friend

Take my friends, and I’ll take yours. Sam’s worth at least four greens. Thanks for the new servants.
Whitney wadded the note up in her hand and began to push up to go over and tell Amber what she thought, but Tina caught her eye and shook her head, which was enough to make Whitney pause. While she wanted to go over and give Amber a piece of her mind, she trusted her friend. Something in her eyes said to listen to her. Instead of going over to the table, Whitney let Amber think she had won and sat back down alone. It wasn’t like Whitney wasn’t used to being alone in a lunchroom. She had transferred schools once before coming to their school. She would be fine. Once she got to the bottom of things, she would get her friends back.
Sitting back down, Whitney checked over her math homework. It was the only distraction she had with her, and she needed a distraction to keep from blowing up at Amber. It was ridiculous. Whitney wasn’t keeping Sam from Amber. Sam wanted nothing to do with her, or the sirens in general. That wasn’t Whitney’s fault. And actually, Whitney didn’t blame him on the Amber front. Whitney’s mother had told her more than once when she was a child that if you didn’t have something nice to say, you don’t say anything at all. That definitely pertained to Amber. Whitney had nothing she could say about the girl.
“Um …” A shadow fell over Whitney’s paper as someone stood beside the table, blocking the light.
Whitney glanced up to find a girl standing there, staring down at her paper, but not her. She had never seen the girl before, and she was sure she would have remembered her. She had long black hair that was tipped pink around the edges, some tattoos, and too many piercings to count. Even with her school uniform on, the girl stood out. How could you not with a Celtic cross taking up most of your forearm? That wasn’t something you saw often in a school with teenagers. Whitney’s mother would have killed her if she got a small tattoo that could be concealed. This girl’s wasn’t hidden at all.
“Can I sit here?” the girl asked quietly, pointing to the empty table.


And here she is. . .  

B. Kristin McMichael graduated with her PhD in biology at Ohio State where she worked as a scientist before taking her passion of writing full-time. Besides writing, she enjoys chasing her kids, playing outside, and baking cookies. She lives in Ohio with her husband and three children.
B. Kristin is the author of YA and clean NA paranormal fiction. Her "Night Human World" includes the YA series "The Blue Eyes Trilogy" about a midwestern girl who comes of age in a world of battling vampire clans, the "The Day Human Trilogy" that takes place among the Appalachian Sidhe fairies, and "The Skinwalkers Witchling" trilogy that follows an apprentice witch in the Pacific Northwest. She's also the author of the NA paranormal time travel romance series "The Chalcedony Chronicles". 

The Chalcedony Chronicles: http://bkmc.me/Book1Carnelian
Night Human World Series:
-The Blue Eyes Trilogy: http://bkmc.me/LegendoftheBlueEyes
-The Day Human Trilogy: http://bkmc.me/DayHumanPrince
-The Skinwalkers Witchling: http://bkmc.me/TheWitchlingApprentice 
For more information on all of her books, visit http://www.bkristinmcmichael.com
Subscribe to her mailing list for new release notifications and deals: http://www.bkristinmcmichael.com/list 

XBTBanner1

Friday, March 17, 2017

Review: There's a Stinky Goblin in the Shed by Andrea Kaczmarek


THERE'S A STINKY GOBLIN IN THE SHED
by Andrea Kaczmarek
Illustrated by Eva K├╝nzel
Middle Grade Fantasy
88 pages
ages 8 to 12




Jerry and Jacob clean out Gran’s old garden shed to make a den, but on their first late-night walk in the woods behind it, they come across a very strange, grubby little person and their problems begin. A small pile of rags that can talk! The boys want to run away fast, but they take pity on the strange creature. They promise to try and get it back to its own world – GoblinLand.

Hiding a goblin in their den is a full time job. But in the end they find out that Hob had upset an elf, could that be the clue they need? But if the twins think that helping out their grubby goblin friend is the end of the story – they are very very wrong! Once you have let one goblin into your life…..the goblin door has opened!




MY TIDBITS

Goblins are stinky. Goblins can't be trusted. Goblins are greedy. Especially when it gets into a shed! This is a fun story which mixes reality with a tad bit of fantastical silliness to create an adorable adventure.

Jerry and Jacob have actually convinced Grandma to let them borrow her shed for the summer as a clubhouse. They clean it out - lots of work! - and are even allowed to camp in it for the night. When strange noises after dark lead them to a lost goblin, the adventures begin.

What a fun read! Jerry and Jacob are two boys who simply want a clubhouse of their own--a dream many kids can sympathize with. They are pretty level headed, nice kids who get themselves in a bit of a pickle with a creature they aren't sure how to handle. But their kindness shines through as well as a load of patience. It's hard not to like the two as they scamper with ideas and ways to handle a pesky, stinky goblin.

The goblin, Hob, is a handful and brings a smile to the face. He isn't evil but gets into trouble. The antics are funny, and it's hard to guess what will happen next. He's a character to love.

There's a nice added twist about half way through, which throws the tale in a slightly different direction and gets even the Grandma involved. I love the way she handles things, a way only loving grandmas could. The kindness, warm-heartedness and understanding shines between all of the nonsense making this a read which puts a smile on the face in so many ways.

To liven up the pages, simple but lovely illustrations add an extra douse of humor. It is fun to run across them, especially when the depicted characters hold up a sign with their own comments, ones which cause a giggle or two. Hanging around 85 pages, this isn't a heavy read and won't scare even more reluctant readers away.

Summed up, this is an enjoyable adventure with a little bit of quirky fun, which is perfect for kids ages eight and up.


All about the author!

Born in Wales. Teacher training in Weymouth - married with two grown up children - and now grandmother to three amazing and clever kids. I was a Town Councillor for many years in Hamm with a great interest in integration and education. Today I still work on the Committee for Special Needs and I am Chair of the World of Reading - Lese Welt Hamm - bringing books and stories to children! I still organise art and English projects at my old school - great fun working with children from many different backgrounds. Children who enjoy stories and reading have a good start in life!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: Jug Valley Mysteries by Anne Digby



BOYS V. GIRLS
JUG VALLEY MYSTERIES, Book 1
by Anne Digby
Straw Hat
Middle Grade Mystery
78 pages



When a bike is stolen from the school bike sheds at Jug Valley Juniors, Tim forms a secret club with his friends Ben and Ludo to try to solve the crime. They call themselves the Handles. 'This isn't girls' stuff,' he tells his twin sister Amy. 'It needs boys to handle it.' 
To get back at the boys, Amy and her best friend Mini jokingly call themselves the Spouts...but it's no longer a joke when Mum's lovely bike is stolen, too, giving the girls a serious quest of their own. And so the rival detectives go into action - mainly against each other. 
Yet they should be working together if they want to avoid danger....




MY TIDBITS

This is simply a fun mystery which takes a group of everyday kids and has them save the day through clever ideas and a bit of spunk. A great read!

Someone stole a bike! To help out, Tim and his friends get together and form a club, Handles, to figure out who did it. When Tim's mother's bike is also stolen, his twin sister, Amy decides to jump on the case with her own group of friends, the Spouts. Not realizing what the other group is up to, the girls and boys each use their own means to track down the thief, which doesn't always work as well as it could.

These sleuths could be any kids--a group down the street or a bunch of friends from school. They are as normal as normal could be, but still, they're able to embark on a mystery and catch the thief. And it's exactly this which makes this book such a delight to read. The characters are easy to sympathize with, and have concerns and reactions kids in this age group would have. It's no problem to dive into their world, especially when brother and sister would rather avoid each other. They aren't mean to each other, but rather want to have their own space and unintentionally get in the way. 

At seventy some pages, this is a perfect read for more reluctant readers. The plot holds a nice pace the entire way through, making it a smooth and easy read. There a moments which put a smile on the face, and others where it's hard not to cringe a little as the boys and girls accidentally make mistakes. A moment of danger adds the perfect amount of tension, rounding off a perfect mystery.

Summed up, this is a gentle mystery which is sure to inspire readers and make them want to hit the streets to solve mysteries of their own. The short length makes it an easy, quick read even for more reluctant readers, and boys as well as girls will relate with the characters.






HEAD MASTER'S GHOST
Jug Valley Mysteries, Book 2
by Anne Digby
Straw Hat
Middle Grade Mystery
71 pages






Twins Tim and Amy and their friends in Hands are on the case again following a strange appearance at school Parents' Evening. Several parents saw the headmaster lose his temper and throw chocolate biscuits around but Mr Morton claims he wasn't there! Surely they couldn't have seen a ghost? And now he may have to resign...




MY TIDBITS


A great mystery, which is sure to prompt kids into grounding a detective agency of their own.

It's time to show off projects at Parent's Evening, and the kids are nervous, but it's not the parents' opinion which should be making them worry. A kid's project, a mug, goes missing. And then, the Headmaster, who claimed he was coming at all, suddenly appears at the end of the evening and does the oddest things. The twins and their friends are on the case to figure out what in the world is going on now.

I did read the first book in this series before diving into this one, but that doesn't influence the story. In other words, this can be read as a stand alone.

The dispute between girls vs. guys from book one has died down as the twins combine their clubs into one and the friends start working together. The differences of personalities are still there, and the forming of new friendships and growing closer is a real treat. But friendships are key in this series as the kids work together, using very normal means to figure out what's behind the Parent Evening disaster.

In this book, the younger sibling of the twins plays a bigger role and adds a lot of life to the story. His antics come across perfectly fitting to his age and are sure to have readers giggling. But then, all of the friends are enjoyable and remind of the kids from next door.

The plot is basic, yet secret enough to hold the fun until the very last page. But with only seventy pages, this isn't a heavy read and invites even more reluctant word friends to dive in. The humor matches wonderfully with the mystery, creating a fun atmosphere. The mystery itself is solved with very real solutions, which makes it easy for kids to dream of solving mysteries on their own.

Summed up, this is a delightful, wholesome mystery for kids with a lot of fun mixed in.


For Moms and Dads: Kasper Mutzenmacher's Cursed Hat by Keith Fentonmiller


KASPER MUTZENMACHER'S CURSED HAT
(Life Indigo, Book One)
by Keith R. Fentonmiller
Curiosity Quills Press
Historical Fantasy

COMING. . .
MARCH 20, 2017!!!

Kasper MUtzenmacher keeps a divine "wishing hat"--a thought-operated teleportation device--locked in the wall safe of his Berlin hat shop.
According to an old prophecy, after Kasper's Greek ancestor stole the wishing hat from Hermes, Fate cursed his progeny to sell hats, on pain of mayhem or death. Kasper, however, doesn't mind making hats, and he loves Berlin's cabaret scene even more. But his carefree life of jazz and booze comes to a screeching halt when he must use the wishing hat to rescue his flapper girlfriend Isana from the shadowy Klaus, a veil-wearing Nazi who brainwashes his victims until they can't see their own faces.

Isana and Kasper's happiness proves fleeting. Years after her mysterious death, Kasper struggles as a lonely, single father of two until he meets Rosamund Lux, recently released from a political prison where Klaus took her face. Kasper soon suspects that Rosamund is no ordinary woman. According to the prophecy, certain Lux women descend from the water nymph Daphne, who, during Olympian times, transformed into a laurel tree to avoid Apollo's sexual advances; they, too, suffer from an intergenerational curse connected to Hermes' stolen hat. As Kasper falls deeper in love, Rosamund's mental health deteriorates. She has nightmares and delusions about Klaus, and warns that he will launch a night of terror once he's collected enough faces.

Kasper dismisses the growing Nazi threat until the government reclassifies him as a Jew in 1938. His plan to emigrate unravels when anti-Jewish riots erupt and the Nazis start loading Jews on boxcars to Dachau. Then Rosamund goes missing, and Klaus steals the wishing hat, the family's only means of escape.

Kasper, however, will face his most difficult battle in America. He must convince his wayward son and indifferent grandson to break the curse that has trapped the family in the hat business for sixteen centuries. Their lives will depend on it.

Book One of the Life Indigo series, Kasper MUtzenmacher's Cursed Hat is a fantastical family saga about tradition, faith, and identity, set during the Jazz Age, Nazi Germany, and the Detroit race riots of 1943.


Pre-order


MY TIDBITS


This is a well-woven tale, which mixes history and myth in a moving yet tension filled way.

Kasper is a hat maker living in Germany right before WWII and although he has friends opposing the building Hitler movement, he himself tries to stay out of trouble. But Kasper harbors secrets. His family is cursed thanks to a magical hat his ancestor stole from Hermes, one which teleports him to any place he wants. He refuses to use it until the Nazis arrest his girlfriend and allow a man who removes women's faces to torture her.

There are so many clashing elements in this book that it's hard to shove it into a certain genre. First, there's Nazi Germany. From the historical side, this is a moving novel, which takes a look at an every day craftsman and the challenges he faces during and after the rise of Nazi Germany. Kasper is not a brave man, but rather tries to mold into society as best he can to avoid trouble. But he doesn't side with the growing movement either, and keeps friendships and connections with Jews, communists and other 'rebellious' groups. Especially his children, who are half Jewish, enrich this historical aspect and make it clear how difficult it was for people in this situation to deal with the growing troubles. Kasper knows the world around him is falling apart, but doesn't know how to deal with it outside of fitting in as best he can.

The other aspect of this novel is the fantastical side. Greek mythology not only plays a role with the hat but peppers in with the world around Kasper. His second love interest, Rosamund, has a close connection to his family curse and ties into Daphne's (nymph) ancestral line. Her 'powers' as well as others in the story, bring the myth world to life while weaving seamlessly into the historical one.

As if solving the curse and handling life with Nazi Germany wasn't enough, the story also deals with the tough relationship between father and children. Kasper's relationship to his children is often not as close as it could be, but then he is raising them with his mother, since his wife already passed away. The different opinions between father and son, the distance that can form between them and how to patch a relationship pull at the heart strings.

Moving from one scene to the next, there's never a boring moment. The plot holds momentum the entire way through, swallowing into the world and characters. During the first part of the book, the children come across older than they really are. And there are moments where the information dumps a bit heavy, making it tempting to skip paragraphs now and then. Other elements, however, were done masterfully. There are hints of what might come--clues almost--sprinkled into the scenes. Also, a radio voice rattles off a daily program, which brings to life the atmosphere of society in a way which almost comes across light-hearted while still demonstrating the serious brain-washing and pushed ideals.

Summed up, this is an interesting read in so many way. Fans of historical fiction and light fantasy are sure to enjoy this different twist and will be left thinking long after the book is laid to the side.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review: Thousand Star Hotel by the Okee Dokee Brothers


THOUSAND STAR HOTEL
by Okee Dokee Brothers
Illustrated by Brandon Reese
Sterling Children's Books
Picture Book w/ CD
ages 4 and up
40 pages


The Grammy®-winning Okee Dokee Brothers create a fanciful story—inspired by the folktale “The Fisherman and His Wife”—about the things we wish for . . . and the things we really need. 
"I’m sleepin’ in a thousand star hotel. 
Gold leaf pillow for my head.
Feel like a king on a king-size riverbed."

Once upon a time there were two muskrats who lived in a cabin near a big old river. Mr. Muskrat dreamt of catching enough fish to make them rich; Mrs. Muskrat was happy if they caught enough for a good supper. Then, one day, they reel in a giant golden catfish who promises to grant their wish if they set him free. The two muskrats agree to let the fish off the hook and he does keep his word . . . but in a most unexpected and magical way. (from the publisher's website)

A twelve track CD is included.



MY TIDBITS

With the true feel of outdoor adventure, this delightful book brings a praised song to life in a way which is sure to wrap kids up in their own starlit dreams.

The original "The Fisherman and His Wife" folktale gains new life through Mr. and Mrs. Muskrat. This couple lives a simple life out in the woods. One night while fishing for their dinner, they catch a gigantic fish who agrees to grant them one wish in exchange for his freedom. Mr. Muskrat is determined to make this wish sit, but the results are unexpected.

Already the cover hints at a perfect bedtime read with its starlit sky and calm atmosphere. Mr. and Mrs. Muskrat are a sweet couple with gentle characters. While Mr. Muskrat doesn't radiate quite the same level of satisfaction as his wife, both come across warm-hearted and friendly. The depiction of their life style with a house missing a roof explains the situation clear without many words. Still, its never brought across as a pity party, but rather the idea of being satisfied with even the simplest things in life is a message which rings loud and clear.

The illustrations are bright and invite young listeners/readers to flip through again and again. The wish fish is huge and as golden as the opportunity he's offering. As an extra fun touch, Mr. Muskrat gets a two page spread of his funny shout whenever he suddenly stops a wish--a sure giggle inducing moment for kids.

The dialogue and wording is a treat. It brings a bit of backwoods dialect to life without over doing it The word choice brings smiles, while exposing the lovely characters of Mr. and Mrs. Muskrat. The vast world of wishes and dreams opens up, creating a perfect bedtime read, and the desire to see the stars is sure to come across as well.

With the ending comes a fun twist and an important message, which induces warm feelings of security and satisfaction. But that's not all. The book includes a CD with eleven songs, which are a treat to listen to, as well as a lovely audio version of the book.


And here they are. . .
The Okee Dokee Brothers!!!

As childhood friends growing up in Denver, CO, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing were always exploring the outdoors. Whether it was rafting down their neighborhood creek or discovering hiking trails through the Rocky Mountains, Joe and Justin were born adventurers. They started playing music together in high school, and now, as the Grammy® Award-winning Okee Dokee Brothers, they have put their passion for the outdoors at the heart of their Americana folk music.
Joe and Justin make family music and write stories with a goal to inspire families to get outside and get creative. They believe this can motivate families to gain a greater respect for the natural world, for their communities, and for themselves. Learn more about them at okeedokee.org.


Meet the Illustrator. . .

Brandon Reese created the distinctive cover artwork for The Okee Dokee Brothers’ albums, and is also the illustrator for a number of clients including Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., eeBoo, BOOM! Studios, and more. Brandon lives in NC with his wife and young son. Learn more about him online at brandonreese.com.