Thursday, April 19, 2018

Review: First Words - Mandarin by Lonely Planet Kids

First Words
by Lonely Planet Kids
Illustrated by Andy Mansfield and Sebastian Iwohn
Children's Non-Fiction / Children's Language / Travel
208 pages
ages 6 to 8

Bring the Mandarin language to life with this beautifully illustrated children's book from Lonely Planet Kids, an imprint of Lonely Planet, the world's leading travel guide and phrasebook publisher. Perfect for the whole family, First Words Mandarin features 100 words to use while travelling, from food and transport, to animals and weather.
Each word is accompanied with a bold illustration and a simple pronunciation guide to make the vocabulary fun and easy to learn. Plus, its small size makes it a handy addition to any trip to China or Taiwan.
Also included is a free audio pronunciation guide. Scan the QR code on the back cover or visit our First Words website to hear each word spoken by a native child.
Also available:
First Words French First Words Spanish First Words English First Words Italian First Words Japanese
About Lonely Planet Kids: Come explore! Let's start an adventure. Lonely Planet Kids excites and educates children about the amazing world around them. Combining astonishing facts, quirky humour and eye-catching imagery, we ignite their curiosity and encourage them to discover more about our planet. Every book draws on our huge team of global experts to help share our continual fascination with what makes the world such a diverse and magnificent place - inspiring children at home and in school.
Note: The digital edition of this book is missing some of the images found in the physical edition

Or get this one directly from Lonely Planet Kids here
which. . .btw. . .
is currently running a buy 2 get 1 free sale!


With 100 different words, this is a great way for kids to get a first glimpse into this Asian language.

With a sturdy and easy to clean cover, this is a book ready to travel the world and beyond. There are 100 words to learn, starting on the first page with a hello and ending with goodbye. In between, there is everything from chopsticks to map to cat and so much more.

Each word is presented on a two-page spread. First, comes the word in bold type in English, under it the word written in Mandarin, next the Mandarin word written with English characters, and last but not least, a pronunciation. The other side of the spread offers a simple, unmistakable, and very brightly colored illustration of the word. In some illustrations, there's even another term in Mandarin which might be closely related to the main word. For example, the main word is computer and on the illustration the term for mouse is added.

My daughter dove onto this book the second in was brought into the house and ran away with it into her bedroom to immediately learn a few words. The easy read print and simple layout keep it inviting and make it look simple. And it is. She's been throwing the words into our daily conversations ever since. As an extra bonus, there's a website where kids can hear the audio version of each word and work on their pronunciations. The only thing missing from this book is an index, something which the intended age group (8 to 12) could easily use.

This is a wonderful, easy way for kids to pick up a few words in Mandarin and get a first feel for the language, while keeping it light and easy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Interview with Andrea Yerramilli author of Ralphie, Always Loved with Giveaway

Ralphie, Always Loved
by Andrea Yerramilli
Illustrated by Samantha Van Riet
About Something Good, LLC
October 28, 2017
Picture Book
32 pages

Tour dates: April 9 to May 4, 2018
Content Rating: G

This is the story of the life, love, and adventures of a beloved family dog, and how he delighted and touched his family and everyone he met.

Ralphie was born with a heart on his belly.
He loves food, his family, his friends, his neighbors.
He loves pretty much everything and everyone.
And they love him back.
And that's how it is all through his life.
Read the book and fall in love with him too.

Rambunctious and hyperactive, Ralphie had already been returned to the animal shelter three times, but when Andrea and her husband adopted him and gave him a loving home where he was understood, accepted, and taught, he learned fast. As Ralphie's human family grew, so did his capacity for love and the ways he could express it. He remained a loving and beloved family member who touched the hearts of the whole neighborhood until he was ready to say goodbye at the grand-old age of sixteen. Ralphie, Always Loved will remind you of all that is good, and reaffirm your belief in love's power to uplift and transform.

Follow the tour by visiting Andrea Yerramilli's page on iRead Book Tours.

Interview with Andrea Yerramilli!

Q: Your book Ralphie, Always Loved takes us through the life of a real dog. How did
you get Ralphie?
A: We rescued Ralphie from Animal Rescue Force, a dog shelter in New Jersey, in
October 2000. He was four months old and had already been returned to the shelter
for the third time. My husband had just become a dog person after having been
converted by our dog Skipper (also a rescue). We saw Ralphie sitting in his kennel
and knew we couldn’t leave him there. Although we weren’t looking for another dog,
my husband insisted that we take him home with us. I have always been a dog person,
so he did not have to work very hard to convince me!

Q: Why was Ralphie returned to the shelter three times before you got him?  And what
did you do differently from those other homes that made it possible to keep him?
A: I don’t really know why Ralphie was returned three times. He was quite a hyper
puppy who ate everything from the rosebush to tea bags and toys, and he turned our
home upside down, so I’m guessing that was the reason. On the other hand, he was
completely loving and not malicious in any way. Consistency, patience, and redirecting
his energy helped. Skipper helped too. She was an amazing, very intelligent dog. She
also was the alpha dog, and in time Ralphie mimicked her behavior. Plus we did not
give up on him, which was key!

Q: When you had your children, were you worried about how Ralphie—and the other
dog in the book, Skipper—would react?
A: We had the dogs before we had a baby, and our home was the dogs’ home first.
Dogs are pack animals and are territorial, so it is important to introduce new members
carefully. We let our dogs smell an item of the baby’s clothing first, and then the baby.
We knew our dogs and knew that they were loving and not aggressive, but we were
with them for all the early interactions. We reinforced gentleness, not just on the dogs’
part, but on the babies’ parts as well—and kept doing that as they grew.

Q: The book is also about a dog’s life cycle. Ralphie is born, and at the end there’s the
suggestion that he’s going to die. When he did, how did you mourn?
A: It’s hard to put into words how empty my life felt right after Ralphie passed. It was
as if my entire world was in disarray. On the day we got his ashes back, our family
made a memory box filled with things that reminded us of him. We told Ralphie stories
and laughed and cried. We made donations to dog charities. And the kids still look for
signs in the clouds. The book has a fictional explanation for why Ralphie had white
markings on all four paws, and the tip of his nose as well as his tail. We liked to think
he was experimenting with painting clouds up in heaven before he began his journey
with us on earth. We just know he’s painting away and sending us signs to let us know
he is with us always.

Q: Where did you get the idea to use clouds the way you did?
A: Ralphie had a streak of white on his nose. All four paws had tips of white in various
degrees. The tip of his tail was white, and he had a heart-shaped white mark on his belly.
I often marveled at those markings and wondered what could have been the reason for
them. Ralphie was also curious and always getting into things and into trouble. Painting
clouds and spilling paint seemed the most logical explanation to me. :)

Q: Do you have any dogs or puppies now?

A: Yes, I do. I have a rescue dog named Lennon. She is a border collie and Labrador
retriever mix, one and a half years old. Skipper, our first dog, was a border collie mix,
and Ralphie was a Labrador retriever mix. So when we saw Lennon’s picture and breed,
we felt that she was meant to be ours. She reminds me of both my other puppies every
day—and then in some ways she is just Lennon. She’s building her own legacy and
giving us reasons to love and imagine a world filled with love.

And here she is. . .

Andrea has always been an avid reader and that jumpstarted her imagination at a very early age. In fact she escaped to the Land of Make Believe more often than her mother liked.

She is a former marketing professional who is a mom to kids both with and without fur. Andrea says that it helps to have one foot planted firmly in reality while the other is foot loose and fancy-free in Imagination Land. She enjoys the best of both worlds.

In 2013, Andrea and her husband started About Something Good (ASG) as a vehicle to curate, inspire and share goodness in the world. In a world where negative images flood the media, and words like “hate” get tossed around so easily, Andrea felt she needed a space that encouraged and focused on the words like “love” and the beauty that is life.

Andrea is committed to finding the good in everything and believes: that a sense of belonging to someone's heart is what makes us feel complete, that kindness goes a long way, and that keeping your mind and heart open can help when things happen that you don't understand.

Andrea lives in New Jersey with her husband and children.

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

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Ends May 12, 2018

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: Grandma's Special Birthday Party by Sue Kim and Veronica Yang

by Sue Kim & Veronica Yang
Second Avenue Publishing
Picture Book 
ages 3 and up
36 pages

Sue Kim is a sewing pattern designer and author. Sue runs the website; selling her popular bags, shoes, and clothing in PDF format for sewers to enjoy it around the world. She is currently working on another book with C&T and on another edition of One Yard Wonders.
Veronica is Sue’s daughter. She is the best partner for Sue even when she was 7-years old and she became a sewing book author too.
After we're finished with the dolls we wanted to share stories and our experiences through them. My daughter and I got started to work on this story book.



There are those books which just have an extra special flair, and this is one of them.

Abby and Ally are twins, curious ones who discover a chest in the attic. Inside, they find all sorts of beautiful dresses from several different countries. When their aunt comes to visit, she explains the dresses were made for her and their mother's International Days at school when they were younger. The idea of wearing dresses from all over the world is exciting and leads to a huge surprise.

The story is sweet and wholesome with a lovely international flare. The girls, their friends and family all share a wonderful relationship which is wholesome and warming as they come up with the ideas together. The text is great as a read-aloud and wonderful for more secure readers, who want to tackle the book on their own. The vocabulary works well for ages four and up, and invites to conversation along the way. At the end of the book is a fabulous glossary, where dresses from various countries are presented as if in a fashion display.

It's the illustrations, or in this case, pictures, which make this book. The authors display their talent and creation with these self-made characters and scenes. The love and time put into each page more than pays off. It gives the entire book a feel of higher quality, and even the younger listeners immediately value the effort. Each page invites to gazing, and the small details insure there are new surprises even when flipping through the book time and again. As a special bonus, the puppets even carry the wide span of diversity, which is embraced today.

This is a lovely read. The story is straight forward and the international side is educational as well as fun. The care and warm put into this book radiates from every page and makes it something special.

Sue Authored Books
Bags - The Modern Classics” (C&T, 2011/NOV)- C&T Best Seller
Baby Boutique (C&T, 2013/FALL)
Boutique casual for little ones (C&T, 2014/Spring)
Boutique Bags (C&T, 2015/Spring)
The Perfect Quilt Bags (C&T, 2016/Spring)
Misses’ Shoes and Baby Shoes (Simplicity, 2278)
Taschen Moderne Klassiker nahen (Michael Fisher, 2012, The Modern Classics/ German)
Taschen Noch mehr modern Klassiker nahen (EMF, 2015, Boutique Bags/ German)
Grandma’s Special Birthday Party (Second Avenue Pub, 2017)

Veronica Yang Authored Books
The Perfect Quilt Bags (C&T, 2016/Spring)
Seamless Sewing Projects- Veronica Yang Capstone
Grandma’s Special Birthday Party (Second Avenue Pub, 2017)

My website

My Instagram

Instagram ID: suekimdesigns 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: Shade by Mere Joyce

by Mere Joyce
Genre: YA Paranormal
Cover Designer: Molly Phipps of We Got You Covered Book Design
7 Sisters Publishing, LLC
 April 10th, 2018
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Fourteen-year-old Callum Silver sees dead people. It’s not a gift. His family thinks he’s crazy. Sometimes he thinks he’s crazy. He has no friends. He’s forced to live his life surrounded by nothing but the searing pain, sickening smells and desperate moans that accompany the murdered ghosts who seek him out.
When he’s offered a place at Camp Wanagi, the ten weeks in the French countryside isn’t a vacation, it’s a lifeline. A way to meet others like himself and prove his ability can offer more than years of loneliness and expensive therapy bills.
Run by a mysterious group known as the Oracle of Senders, Camp Wanagi brings together teens from around the globe who all possess the unique ability to see the dead. While Cal is relieved to find others like him, he learns quickly that not everybody experiences the spirits as he does. Some of the campers revere their abilities and don’t understand his hesitation, while others—like quiet bookworm Meander Rhoades—have good reason for wishing they could get rid of their ‘gifts’.
While researching their final project, Cal and Meander find an unmarked grave which reveals aspects of their abilities neither knew existed, forcing Cal to decide if the torture of seeing ghosts is worthwhile and, more importantly, if being a part of the Oracle of Senders is necessary, dangerous…or both. 

A haunting read packed with mystery, uncertainty, action and facing unexpected decisions.

Callum, aka Cal, sees ghosts of those who have been murdered since he was a little child. His parents have thrust him in therapy for years, but now, he finds himself invited to a camp in France, where supposedly people with his abilities learn not only to work with them, but hopefully, join a force of specialists who help spirits find a release to the other side. But the camp holds many more surprises, especially when he discovers another with similar abilities. And these abilities hold more than either of the two might be willing or able to handle.

What a creepy and enticing read! Cal is a wonderful character. A little sarcastic, not Mr. Sunshine, but ready to bend and very down to Earth. He acts older than fourteen (most of the characters do) but otherwise, he is very easy to connect to and empathize with. The others around him are intriguing and add the right amount of personality and bite. The entire group comes across very natural and believable, even when they each have their own paranormal abilities. 

The paranormal abilities aren't played up as in many pieces of literature in so far that the characters deal with them on a very natural level. Some of the abilities are stronger than others, but never do they come across as a super power. Instead, the powers mold perfectly in with a modern world. And they keep the creepy factor high. 

This is about ghosts, and they come in all shapes and sizes. The author does a great job at keeping even this aspect fairly grounded, letting the haunting atmosphere ease in. It's spooky, but not a horror. Creepy but more of a mystery. In other words, it's a wonderful mixture with a taste of teen camp as these kids learn to deal with who they are and try to find their place in the world—or even if they want to face it. And all of this in a nice paced read with surprises around every corner. . .most of them being of the very chilling sort.

Fans of YA Paranormal and slightly spooky reads are sure to devour this one.

Mere Joyce is a Canadian author of books for young adults. Her writing includes contemporary tales, high-action mysteries, and her personal favourite—ghost stories. When she's not writing, Mere can be found recommending books as a librarian or spending time at home with her husband and two sons. She's also been known to be a selective, yet highly enthusiastic fangirl.

Author Links:
Buy Links:

The Banished Lands Series by Benjamin Mester with Giveaway

The Banished Lands
The Banished Lands Book 1
by Benjamin Mester
YA Epic Fantasy Romance

A kingdom in danger. A prophecy that will change everything. But will they understand it in time? The old world is gone, and barely even histories remain. But something from that time is returning. The closing lines of a farewell poem, written centuries ago by the last great king of the age to his slain wife, might be more than just a poem:

The world and all its light shall fade,
I'll stay with her beneath the shade
And wait until the world's remade...

Join us in this epic fantasy adventure as three friends plunge into the great mystery of their age, twelve centuries in the making. A mysterious fog blankets the forest just outside the sleepy town of Suriya. A dark plot unfolds as Durian and his friends discover ties between a strange wanderer and the warlike barbarian kingdom far to the north. Are the mysterious things happening in the forest a prelude to invasion? What happens next will propel Durian and his curious friends into the middle of the oldest riddle in the history of their kingdom, a dozen centuries old.

This book is safe for kids of all ages. If you're looking for something that's written in the traditional style of Lord of the Rings but set at a faster pace, then this book is for you. The Banished Lands introduces you to a brand new world of mystery and intrigue. Combining elements of fantasy romance, coming of age, and the epic struggle of good versus evil, The Banished Lands series will deliver on your expectations. Join us in this fantasy adventure quest in which three ordinary friends find themselves in the middle of extraordinary circumstances.

The Banished Lands: Alliances
The Banished Lands Book 2

Volume two to the epic Banished Lands saga. Join the continuing adventure as Durian and Pallin make the long trek toward the Banished Lands as Sheabor and the others unveil a startling plan for the survival of the Eastern Realm. But mysterious forces working in the shadows threaten to unravel everything they've accomplished.

Volume two of The Banished Lands has a lot more Fantasy Romance. I believe in writing fantasy books for kids, young adult and adults alike. This book would be rated PG-PG13. This book combines the best of high fantasy, fantasy romance, and coming of age.

The Banished Lands: Worlds Collide
The Banished Lands Book 3

Volume three of the epic saga. The alliance has won a major victory. A breath of fresh air. But things begin to unfold as Sheabor pushes to extend the alliance to Kester and the Bearoc, whose relationship has grown strained. Sheabor's plan may lead to war, not with Corcoran but against the very members he seeks to unite. Find out what happens in this fast paced installment of the Banished Lands series.

Volume three of The Banished Lands series has a lot more Fantasy Romance. I believe in writing fantasy books for kids, young adult and adults alike. This book would be rated PG-PG13. The Banished Lands series combines the best of medieval fantasy, fantasy romance, and coming of age.

The Banished Lands: End of an Age
The Banished Lands Book 4

The epic finale to The Banished Lands saga. Everything has been building to this. Corcoran has landed and all his minions with him. Will the Windbearers finally take back their powers? Has the alliance acted in time to save the free peoples of the world. Find out what happens in the thrilling close of The Banished Lands saga.

I love writing that inspires. Foundational to the human spirit is the love of a good story. A good story makes you yearn to live your best life, to fight for things worth fighting for, and be swept away in heroic events. I'm not one for shock and awe, but a story that builds slowly, using mystery, suspense and adventure to draw the reader along. I hope you'll check them out! Currently, these books are unrepresented.

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Review: But the Bear Came Back by Tammi Sauer

by Tammi Sauer
Illustrated by Dan Taylor
Sterling Publishers
April 3, 2018
Picture Book
ages 4 and up
32 pages

What happens when a bear comes knocking at your door—and won’t go away?

“And I said, ‘Go home, bear.'
And that was that.
But the bear came back.”

Knock, knock. Who’s there? A BEAR! A furry, friendly PERSISTENT bear. And no matter how many times a grouchy little boy tries to tell him that bears don’t belong in houses, he keeps coming back—until, one day, he doesn’t. Only then does the boy realize how much he cares about the bear . . . and misses him. Can he find his friend again?


With a superb balance between text and illustration, this is a humorous story which leaves off with a heart-warming sigh.

A knock at the door reveals a bear, who wants to come into the house. And this bear isn't going to take 'no' for an answer. When his persistence suddenly. . .unexpectedly comes to an end, it doesn't have the result which might be expected.

Bear is a big, furry, somewhat clumsy looking and oh-what a huggable mass. Although his persistence is ridiculous, he never comes across as creepy. It's still easy to understand the boy as he turns down the bear time and again. And when things flip-flop, it's a touching treat.

The text is simple and great for a read-aloud, and while it flows well, it's the fitting illustrations which make this such a delightful read. The two balance each other nicely, adding humor and all the other fitting emotions at just the right time. By the end, it's hard not to love both characters and feel warm and fuzzy from the happy ending. This is a lovely read and sure to be one that ends with the request to be read again. And again. And again.

And here they are. . .

The author. . .
Tammi Sauer is the author of Sterling Publishing's Chicken Dance, Bawk and Roll, Cowboy Camp, Mary Had a Little Glam, Caring For Your Lion, Your Alien Returns and Your Alien (for which she earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus). A former teacher and library specialist, Tammi is an active blogger and highly involved in the children's writer community. Her local bookstore, Bet of Books in Edmond, OK, named July 9 Tammi Sauer Day!
Follow her on Twitter at @SauerTammi. Visit her at
Tammi is available for interview.

The Illustrator. . .
Dan Taylor is a children's book illustrator from the UK. Dan has worked with a variety of publishers, including Simon & Schuster, Usborne, Campbell Books, and Scholastic.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Review: Wings of Flesh and Bone by Cathrina Constantine

by Cathrina Constantine
YA Paranormal

An Angel. A Witch. A Demon. And A Choice.

Creatures from outer realms suck, as any gatekeeper worth their salt will tell you. Welcome to Rogan’s life, an orphaned seventeen-year-old who lives and trains with other misfits under her uncle’s roof, keeping Earth safe from non-human realm jumpers. Rogan’s biggest issue concerns her uncle’s short leash with her freedom—that is of course, until she’s taken by a notorious witch, and her life begins to unravel. Soon, the supernatural beauty discovers there’s a reason her uncle kept such a tight lock on her whereabouts, and that she has more than angel blood running through her veins.

Eighteen-year-old Max is an angel, and Rogan’s mentor and guardian. He’s well aware of her tenacious inability to obey orders, though he also knows she’s a fierce fighter. When he’s involved in a scheme that ultimately gets Rogan kidnapped, he must battle his way back to her in an attempt to save her from the darkness threatening to possess her.


With a row of wonderful characters and fantastical world building, this is dramatic and engaging read with tons of delightful surprises.

Rogan is a Gatekeeper, and a 17-year-old orphan, who knows basically nothing about her past. Although curious, she keeps herself more than busy fighting dangerous creatures from the outer realms whose intentions in the human realm are anything but good. When her guardian Max sneaks her out of their home one night to visit a club, she finds herself kidnapped by her own mother—a very powerful woman she didn't know existed. And her mother doesn't only want to nurture maternal instincts—she wants to use Rogan's hidden powers from her own schemes.

After reading the blurb, I was excited to dive into this one. It has a powerful beginning, which shoots off the quick pacing that holds through the entire book. Although I did stumble a little bit during the first chapters (didn't flow as smoothly as I would have liked, which also just could have been due to my mood at the moment), it didn't take long until I was completely drawn in and couldn't put this book down.

Rogan is a character with bite. She's a teenager who wants to prove herself, keeps her emotions pretty locked down, tends to be prickly but is loyal and has a warm heart. Parts of her make her easy to like, while other characteristics make her sometimes difficult to connect with. But this is exactly what makes her easy to growth with as the story unfolds.

The other characters are simply a treat. The author not only makes a great contrast between the good and evil, but adds such funky and alluring traits sprinkle in for each one. The characters are distinct without going overboard, making them simply fun to get to know, and like or hate.

Especially the visits to the other realms draw in with their rich imagination and delightful, fantastical elements. Although this begins in a semi-normal setting (reminded me a little bit of the Mortal Instruments mansion setting) with urban alley fights and clubs. . .but with vivid demon-like monster fights. . .the other realms bring a wave of fantasy pure with pixies, living 'rocks', elves, dragons, magic and so much more. Still, there are demons and angels and witches too. It's a rich mixture, which lets the imagination soar, while offering a action packed read, where each character has their own agendas and secret plans.

In other words, it's a lovely read for YA (and adult) fans of fantasy, romance, paranormal, magic, actions scenes and, lots and lots of hidden layers.

You can find out more about Cathrina Constantine: