Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Review: ABC, Can You Find Me? by Jakki Tauer

by Jakki Tauer
MCP Books
Picture Book
ages 1 and up

Find one or find them all! Search for the 7 hidden letters on each page. A great book for letter recognition and hand eye coordination. Read the engaging rhyme on each page--then let the hunt begin! It's never too early to introduce the Alphabet to growing, curious minds: let's get started!


There are so many good things about this book, and every time I picked it up, I couldn't help but smiling.

The concept is simple—letting young children get their first impression of the abcs. This isn't about teaching kids the sounds which correlate with the letters, or how the letters relate to any thing. Rather, this book gives kids the chance to see letters and familiarize themselves with them in a fun way.

The illustrations are photos of felt pictures (sometimes with other objects mixed in). Not only are these cute, but it gives a warmth and depth to the pictures. They are simple, yet express all that is needed as the letters are mixed in with the objects. It's a lovely seek-and-find, which young listeners are sure to love and feel an accomplishment when they discover all of the letters. The 'hiding places' are not difficult, making this perfect for those beginning preschoolers.

Each picture has a theme, which threads into a little rhyme. The text is short, sweet and encourages the search for the letters. Young listeners are drawn into very familiar moments with positive objects from daily life. It makes learning to recognize the letters easy and fun.

You can learn more about Jakki Tauer and her books...

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Review: Even Superheroes Make Mistakes by Shelly Becker

by Shelly Becker
Illustrated by Eda Kaban
Sterling Children's Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

What do young superheroes do when they’ve blundered and bungled? They don’t get mad; they get SMART! This fun follow-up to Even Superheroes Have Bad Days teaches kids another humorous lesson in overcoming adversity.

Even superheroes sometimes slip up and err. And when that happens, do they say, “It’s not FAIR?” or give up in despair? NO! “Ashamed Superheroes who goofed up somehow . . . First STOP . . . then CONSIDER what’s best to do now.”  Whether they’ve nabbed the wrong guy by mistake or bashed into a planet while zooming through space, all superheroes ‘fess up their mess-up, get on with their day, and keep on saving the world in the most super way!


These superheroes try their best and usually live up to their name, but sometimes mistakes—silly and clumsy—can be harder to handle then the most evil villain.

Superheroes are expected, and often do, save the day, but despite the most awesome super powers, superheroes are not perfect. A plan gone wrong, a misstep disaster or simply something left in the oven too long...these make the superheroes wonder how super they really are and leave their fans wondering too. But what does a true superhero do when they make the biggest mess in history? The only thing a true hero can do.

This is the second book about superheroes from author Shelly Becker, and it is as quicky and super as the first. Everyone makes mistakes—this is an important message everyone needs to hear again and again. But the message doesn't stop there. The true mastery isn't in only realizing the mistakes, it's in how the mistake is handled afterwards. These heroes make silly mistakes, super mistakes and simply everyday mistakes. Readers will giggle, gasp and even see themselves in these amazing fighters.

The illustrations are bold, action-packed and invite to glancing through again and again. The superheroes vary in every possible way, and there's a list on the front and back jacket which portrays each hero. In other words, listeners can find their favorites.

The text fits the intended age group nicely and keeps the scenes and mistakes as fast-paced as anything which involves superheroes should be. Some of the rhymes don't flow quite as well as they could and other times, we had to go back and read a section twice to keep pace with what was happening. Still, the book is a treat and sure to make superhero fan hearts beat at super sonic speed.

And here they are...

The Author...
Sherry Becker is the author of Sterling's Even Superheroes Have Bad Days, which Kirkus called "an action-packed romp," and Mine! Mine! Mine! which has been included in many top 5 and top 10 lists of books to teach the concept of sharing. In addition, Shelly is the author of more than 15 children's novelty books She lives in Toronoto, Canada and is available for interview. You can follow her on Twitter at @shellybeckerbooks

The Illustrator...
Eda Kaban was raised in Turkey and studied illustration in the US. Her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications and her illustrations have been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, Creative Quarterly, American Illustration, and 3X3. She lives in Oakland, CA. Follow her on Twitter at @petiteturk

Sneak Peek: Jaws of the Wolf by Charlotte Jardine with Giveaway!

Jaws of the Wolf 
by Charlotte Jardine 
The Visigoth Chronicles, #1
October 30th 2018
YA Historical, Romance

He’s her father’s slave. She’s promised to another. But war changes everything.
Tervingi Territory, 376 AD. Gelvira dreams of becoming a powerful jeweler. But the arrogant son of a tribal elder wants her for a wife instead. After a Hun raid sends her people into exile, her chance to master the ancient secrets of her craft are stripped away…
Adafuns yearns to become a great warrior and win Gelvira’s affection. But as a slave in her father’s service, he has little chance of either. Captured and carried off by the Huns, Adafuns’ dream of being a warrior could come true… at the cost of losing Gelvira forever.
With her people starving, marrying the tribal elder’s spoiled son may be Gelvira’s only hope to save her family. Will Adafuns reunite with the exiles in time to free Gelvira from her loathsome vows?
Jaws of the Wolf is the exciting first novel in the epic Visigoth Chronicles series of YA adventures. If you like strong heroines, thrilling action, and rich historical detail, you’ll love Charlotte Jardine’s page-turning saga.


After the meeting broke up, Gelvira sat by the fire, mulling over everything she’d heard. The wood creaked as someone sat beside her. Their reiks’ son, Widin. She scowled. She wasn’t in the mood to talk to him. Not after the way he’d treated Pa.
“It must be a lot to take in,” Widin said. “Most of the men will be riding to war. Sorry, not to war. To rebuild old Roman fortifications.” His face darkened and he compressed his lips.
“Did you come to Erdeu to round up warriors in Lord Angmar’s name?” Gelvira asked.
He smiled. “Also to see you.”
She glanced around. Praise the Great Mother, Ma hadn’t heard. She’d be planning their wedding feast.
Widin motioned toward her amulet. “This is new. Did you make it?”
She nodded. “After the raid. I worked on it in the evenings, to take my mind off the Huns.” There was no way she’d tell him its purpose.
He traced the outline of the wolf. “I would have thought flowers or birds more appropriate for a maiden?”
A shiver ran through her. A wrongness. Then heat flared from the metal.
Widin snatched his hand back. “It … burnt me. Was it made using the Becoming One?”
“Yes,” she replied, head spinning with excitement. Had her amulet really done that?
He scowled. “Our people are under attack. You shouldn’t be wasting your time making baubles.”
“It’s a practice piece,” she replied, biting down on her anger. “Master Raginmar used it to teach me the rudiments of the Becoming One.”
“Ah, I see.” Widin’s black look faded. “You must make me something useful, once you’ve mastered the art. I’ll need the gods’ aid far more than you, safe behind your palisade.” He wound his fingers through hers and pulled them against his chest.
Ma noticed the gesture, and beamed.
“If it wasn’t for the Huns, I’d marry you before summer’s end,” he said, leaning close so his breath brushed her skin. “My father would prefer I took a wife who brings more political advantage. He doesn’t see it, but you’ve much in your favour: you’re well born, brave, and quite lovely to look at. And your jewellery will bring me renown, now you’re learning the Becoming One.”
“You honour me,” Gelvira replied, lowering her eyes so he couldn’t see her dismay. Marry him after the way he’d behaved? She couldn’t bear the thought. “As you said, you’re a warrior. You must deal with the raiders first. At times like these, marriage must wait.”
For one terrible moment, she felt almost grateful to the Huns.

And here she is...

Charlotte Jardine writes Historical Fiction, Contemporary Romance and Romantic Adventure. Her books feature courageous heroines, big-hearted heroes, adventure and love.
Her love of history came from reading the adventures of Asterix and Tintin at a young age and continued into adult life, when she studied Classics and Roman History to postgraduate level at university.
While working as a desk slave by day, she spends her evenings escaping into other worlds via her writing. 


Monday, November 12, 2018

Review: Toxic by Lydia Kang with Giveaway!

by Lydia Kang
Entangled Teen
YA Science Fiction
368 pages

Cyclo, the first and largest biological ship of its kind, is dying. A small crew of mercenaries have handed over the rights to their life to document the death of the ship, but the abandoned ship is anything but abandoned―one girl has been left behind.

Hana has known nothing but the isolation of a single room and the secret that has kept her there for seventeen years. When she meets Fennec, the boy assigned to watch her, she realizes that there is a world she has yet to experience but she is doomed to never meet.

When crew members begin mysteriously dying, Hana and Fenn realize that they are racing against the death of the ship to find a way to survive―unless someone kills them even before Hana’s truly had a chance to live.


Emotion packed these pages as various questions surrounding life and the selfishness/selflessness of relationships are explored—and all that in an adventure in outer space.

Hana has been hidden since the moment she was born. In her own tiny space inside Cyclo, a biological spaceship, her mother has kept her existence a secret because as a genetic manufactured human, Hana is not allowed to exist. When Cyclo's lifespan reaches its end, Hana's existence is supposed to be made known. But her mother doesn't come as promised. Instead, she has deserted Cyclo along with the rest of the crew, leaving Hana utterly alone.

Fenn is part of an investigation crew, whose sole duty is to record the data concerning Cyclo's last moments. It's a one-way mission, but a better death than he deserves thanks to his troubled past. At least, through his death, he will earn enough money to save the life of his sister—a person who truly deserves to live. But when he reaches Cyclo with the rest of his crew, they are in for more than just a few surprises. He begins to question everything he believed certain before.

This was not the read I was expecting. Although set in space and having moments of tension, action, chills and those which hold the reader on the edge of the seat, this book took a deeper, more emotional path. While it's a romance which explores Fenn's and Hana's relationship as they fight past suspicions and doubts to learn more about each other, it's also a tale of motherly love, regrets, misunderstandings and the search for a place in life and the universe. By creating a living and feeling ship, Cyclo, the author has added an extra level to the plot and opened up more than a can of questions. 

Fenn and Hana both have pasts which are full of scars, doubt and dilemmas...enough for a book on its own. Cyclo's existence and how its handled leave basic moral questions open and untouched as tiny morsels of thought which float on the side, while so many other basic questions surrounding the meaning of existence and love are more than touched upon. All of this is packed into a bit of a thriller as the crew and Hana fight for their lives as an unknown murder leaves behind a brutal trail. There's mystery, high-tech and moments which near a chilling horror scene. But it's not always a fast-paced read. There are moments in between, those which dive deeper into Hana and Fenn as well as Hana's relationship with Cyclo, which slow it down. For an action fan like me, these moments moved a bit slow. Also, the romance didn't completely pull me in, but with two very difficult characters like Hana and Fenn, it couldn't follow the normal flow. 

Fans of science fiction, romance, deep characters and the exploration of several basic questions of life are sure to get lost in the pages and enjoy an adventure into they won't easily forget.

And here she is...

Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. She believes in science and knocking on wood, and currently lives in Omaha with her husband and three children.

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Happy Book Birthday, Never Touched by Laney Wylde with Giveaway!

Never Touched 
by Laney Wylde 
Crimson Tree Publishing
NA Contemporary, Romance

What if you woke up from your worst nightmare, only to find the world watching it? On repeat . With relish.
What if those viewers found you? Cornered you until you performed the nightmare live?
Would you run? Fight?
Or charge admittance?
This is Sawyer’s reality. She’s a survivor—gritty and determined—but the struggle to put it all behind her is something that’s with her every second of every day. Her abuser is in jail now, but he’ll never truly let her go. When she tries to shelter in something good, the darkness inevitably follows. The effects of the abuse flow through her life like ripples of pain in this raw, at times darkly comedic, coming-of-age saga that explores what it means to survive the unthinkable—and find the courage to rise up and keep fighting.
Sure to satisfy fans of SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and 13 REASONS WHY, Never Touched is a New Adult contemporary drama by breakout author Laney Wylde. Richly written with complex characters and a compelling storyline, it’s perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover’s HOPELESS, Rebecca Donovan’s REASON TO BREATHE, and Jessica Sorensen’s THE COINCIDENCE OF CALLIE & KAYDEN. 
Please Note: Story contains graphic sexual content, including mentions of abuse. Strong language throughout.

Are you a book reviewer?
Request a review copy here!


He shook his head. “You’re an idiot.”
I pushed his arm off my thighs. “You’re an ass.”
“Yep,” he said with a nod. I pressed my lips together to keep from smiling at the pride he found in his flawed personality. Wrapping his arms around his bent knees, he stared at me, like he was gathering information for his next move. I held my ground—no smiling—though barely. After a long minute, he finally said, “You’re cold.”
I glanced down at my hands, which were a pale shade of violet and reflexively quivering against each other to get warm. My body flinched when Jake took them between his, pressing them together and then making a hollow between his palms. He brought our hands to his lips and exhaled softly into the space between his thumbs, creating a small cave of warmth for my fingers. I swallowed past my suddenly dry throat at the cozy shivers racing up my arms.
Jake’s dark eyes raised to mine, making me suddenly aware of the terror that was probably plain on my face. Parted lips, wide eyes, and my breath that had halted some time ago. Why was he touching me? What did he want from me?
Why did I feel good when he touched me?
It wasn’t supposed to feel good, right? I shouldn’t like the feel of his skin on mine. Men only touched to hurt. I shouldn’t want that.
But when he said, “You might be warmer if we sat together,” I nodded and stood, moving so he could take my chair, so I could curl up in his lap.
Huddling my arms against my chest, I rested my head on his shoulder. My eyes shut cautiously so I could take in the scent of his skin. He wrapped his coat over my back before relaxing his cheek into my hair. I kept my eyes closed, half from fear, half from the desperate need to feel what it was like to just be held.
I had felt nothing like it before.

And here she is...
Laney Wylde is enamored with all things southern California--the traffic, smog, surprise earthquakes, and nonindigenous palm trees. Consequently, it's the landscape her strong and sometimes lovable female leads paint their stories on. Her New Adult novels Never Touched and the After Twelve series are bright with provocative themes, steamy romance, and inappropriately timed humor.
When Laney isn't writing, she's singing Taylor Swift with her little boy or asking her husband not to tell her about his work as a surgical resident while she's eating. She daydreams about using her math degree to get into law school, then realizes that would be too much work and that she should just play pretend court on paper instead. While she loves a good book, nothing beats 30 Rock with a bag of popcorn and M&Ms.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Review: This Little Scientist by Joan Holub

A Discovery Primer
by Joan Holub
Illustrated by Daniel Roode
Little Simon
Board Book
26 pages
ages 3 and up

Learn all about scientists who changed history in this engaging and colorful board book perfect for inventors-in-training!

Asking why. 
Then making a guess.
Asking how. 
Then proving with tests.

Little scientists make great big discoveries.

In this follow up to This Little President, This Little Explorer, and This Little Trailblazer now even the youngest readers can learn all about great and empowering scientists in history! Highlighting ten memorable scientists who paved the way, parents and little ones alike will love this discovery primer full of fun, age-appropriate facts and bold illustrations.

Science and those people who made the universe around us more understandable are highlighted in this book.

On every two-page spread, a famous scientist is presented. First, there's a short four line explanation (in rhyme), and then there is a sentence or two with more detailed examples of the person's discovery. The people include a range from Isaac Newton to Grace Hopper to Jane Goodall, making sure various branches of science are addressed. At the end of the book, there's a list of more famous scientists with a small illustration of them, ending with a blank portrait frame and the word 'You'.

These pages try to include a vast variety of scientists from all fields, time frames, and cultures. It's a lovely mix, which helps young listeners to see how broad science can be. The book is written not only to be informative but also inspiring, making sure that young listeners are encouraged to seek their own discoveries.

The illustrations usually fit nicely to the person being portrayed and present them in a very friendly manner. The individuals are cheerful and support the encouraging atmosphere of the book. While there is a lot of information in these pages, the vocabulary and scientific topics mentioned are not necessarily understandable for the youngest listeners- those for whom board books are normally intended. I'm not sure kids under four will get much from this book...and even at that age, only those interested in science. Still, it's a wonderful way to introduce an important topic.

And here they are...

The author...
Joan Holub has authored and/or illustrated over 140 children's books, including the Goddess Girls series, the Heroes in Training series, the New York Times bestselling picture book Might Dads (illustrated by James Dean), and Little Red Writing (illustrated by Melissa Sweet). She lives in North Carolina and is online at

The illustrator...
Daniel Roode is an illustrator and designer who draws inspiration from his French heritage, mid-century modern design, pop art, and nature. Daniel creates the bulk of his art digitally, an appropriate medium for his clean yet tactile aesthetic that has a distinct joie de vivre, He resides in Nashville, Tennessee, with his amazing wife Laura and their two funny cats.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Review: Little Brown by Marla Frazee

by Marla Frazee
Beach Lane Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 0 to 8

A grumpy and lonely little dog at the dog park decides to take matters into his own paws.

Little Brown is one cranky canine because no one ever plays with him at the dog park. Or maybe no one ever plays with him because he is cranky. Either way, Little Brown decides today is the day to take action, so he takes all of the toys and sticks and blankets from all of the dogs at the park and won’t give them back. But what will happen now?


This is the sweetest, cranky doggy with a very difficult dilemma.

Little Brown is a cranky dog and none of the other dogs want to play with him. Whether it is because he is cranky, or whether he's become cranky since none of the other dogs play with him is something none of them can remember. He watches them play and wishes he could have fun too...if they would play with him. One day, when a ball rolls by, Little Brown has an idea.

The story touches the heart. Little Brown is cranky, but the circumstances surrounding his crankiness make him easy to identify with. It's hard not to wish that he'd find a friend to play with...or that the other dogs would give him a chance. It's the kind of character which immediately draws the reader in. The text flows nicely, and although some words might be a little difficult for the intended audience, it's a great way to expand the vocabulary.

The illustrations are well done and show as much emotion as the story itself. The dark, dreary colors add the perfect atmosphere, yet still allow the sweetness of the dogs to shine through. It's fun to see each dog with their own personality and watch how they interact...something kids will enjoy flipping through on their own.

The only thing which made me hesitate on this book is the ending. It's a cliff-hanger—one without any closure. The dogs face an important dilemma, one with a very important message, and it's dropped there. While this does open up for discussion and can be seen as a great way to launch kids into an exploration of how they would handle the situation, it doesn't work as a picture book for a normal story time or bedtime read...and this is something readers/parents/guardians should be aware of before purchasing the book. If you are open to using this as a launch pad to discussion (which is also a great thing), then this is a very lovely read and wonderfully done.

And here she is...
Marla Frazee was awarded a Caldecott Honor for All the World and A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, and the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Picture Book for her wordless book The Farmer and the Clown. She is the author-illustrator of many books, including The Boss Baby, the book that inspired the DreamWorks Animation film Boss Baby. She has also illustrated many acclaimed picture books, including God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant and the New York Times bestselling Clementine chapter book series by Sara Pennypacker. She lives in Pasadena, California. Visit her at