2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Jem’s Clifftop Adventure: Jennifer Bell

SYNOPSIS:Jem, the original Fowey Pirate, is in Cornwall again. A bird spotting adventure unexpectedly becomes a matter of life or death as he tumbles into trouble on a cliff face and once again, it’s Jem to the rescue. He might not be the best bird spotter in Cornwall but he definitely keeps a cool head in tricky situations.
This is a charming tale of one boy’s love of adventure, Cornwall and birds, ideal for readers aged 6-7 and an entertaining picture book for younger children to enjoy at storytime.
Jem’s Clifftop Adventure follows the very successful Jem the Fowey Pirate – a best-selling children’s book in Fowey. Author Jennifer Bell takes the reader on a fun-packed escapade that is as much about the attractions of one of Cornwall’s most famous towns as it is about one boy’s resilience and curiosity. From Readymoney Cove and St Catherine’s Castle to choughs, cormorants and jackdaws, the author shares both her love of the area and her local knowledge through Jem’s journey. Holiday visitors can even take their children on their very own ‘Jem’s Adventure’ in the town of Fowey, including a ferry-boat trip to Polruan and a visit to the Coastwatch Lookout.

MY THOUGHTS: What struck me as both wonderful and refreshing is Jem’s relationship with his Grandfather. Although his main ‘goal’ is to explore, he still knows that when he gets into a pickle, he can rely on his Grandfather for help. Too often, Grandparents are a secondary character, an afterthought, in kid’s books. It was nice to see Grandfather as a heroic man.

While Jem does get into a bit of mischief when he knows he shouldn’t, he redeems himself with a selfless act of helping others. Again, a fabulous and timeless message for any age. Our author also includes ornithology. Three very distinct birds are mentioned. Jem searches for each, finds, then identifies them. Young readers who may not be familiar with Europe will be introduced to the town of Cornwall. This allows for a teachable moment if adults point out Cornwall on a map and discuss where Jem lives. Reading time can extend indefinitely as children and guardians explore Jem’s home.


Jennifer and her husband came to live in Cornwall in the early days of their marriage and set up a pottery. Her first book – ‘Pot Luck – living the dream in the West Country’ describes this adventure. She has written for most of her life, starting with making up stories at bedtime for her little sister. Now with a cupboard full of writing, mainly for children, her retirement project is to sort through this pile of stories and find one or two to publish

With great, colorful illustrations and easy-to-follow format, ‘Jem’s Clifftop Adventure’ is a solid, three-star book.

*Pic & synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.
**I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.


2017 Holiday Guft Guide: Everybody’s Somewhere: Cornelia Maude Spelman

SYNOPSIS: ‘With bold artwork and playful, bouncy rhymes, Everybody’s Somewhere asks children to expand their perspective.

In its simplest reading, Everybody’s Somewhere is a book about perspective — Everybody—moms, dads, grandpas, grandmas, friends, and people you’ve never met—is somewhere in the world, doing something right now, even if you can’t see them. And this is a very important lesson for kids to learn.

The book also includes people from all over the world with difference interests, cultures, and abilities. People you know and people you don’t. In current times, it is very important for children — indeed, for everyone — to understand that people next door or around the globe are just like us. Kids need to feel connected to others in our diverse but increasingly interconnected world. To quote the book “Everywhere there’s someone underneath a star,” and there’s room for everyone, including them.

There’s also a nod to military families when talking about seeing a loved one after a long separation.’

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Everybody’s Somewhere’ is a great gift idea for the holidays. With so many families having to be apart, children need affirmation they they are loved. I loved seeing the illustration of the reunited military family. If you are a military family or know of one, this book will be great to share. That way both the child and loved one will each have a copy to relate to. Perhaps it could be read to the child by the service member.

I was also very pleased to see the depiction of a child in a wheelchair participating in a race. She was competing alongside everyone else instead of being on the sidelines. Fantastic! Young readers need to see more of that kind of inclusion and acceptance.

Our author follows an easy-to-read rhyme format that will keep kids’ attention. We all know how they love to rhyme! I would rank the book for ages up to 3rd grade. I love the thought of helping kids feel connected to those who can’t be with them for various reasons. Hopefully, it will help young readers ease their anxiety and calm their worries. A huge plus for the book is the illustrations. They are beautiful, colorful and definitely will have children pausing on each page to view all the incredible details included by Alea Marley.

All-in-all, I give ‘Everybody’s Somewhere’ three stars.
*Pic and synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher
**We received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Book Spotlight With #Giveaway: A Marchioness Below Stairs: Alissa Baxter

A Marchioness Below Stairs
By Alissa Baxter
Genre: Regency Romance

Escaping from Bath and the news that her former love is about to marry another, Isabel, the young widowed Marchioness of Axbridge, accepts an invitation to her cousin’s house party. Yet, instead of finding respite, she stumbles into a domestic crisis of majestic proportions: The kitchen staff has succumbed to the influenza.
If that weren’t bad enough, her former sweetheart arrives with his fiancée, seeking shelter from the increasingly hazardous snow storm. Trapped inside Chernock Hall with a volatile mix of house guests, including abolitionists and slave owners, Isabel wishes she could hide below stairs for the duration. But, alas, she cannot. While helping in the kitchen, Isabel is cornered by her cousin’s disreputable friend, Marcus Bateman, who challenges and provokes her at every turn.
At last, the storm subsides. However, the avalanche of repercussions cannot be undone. Caught in the grip of the terrible winter of 1813, will Isabel’s greatest threat come from the weather, her abolitionist views, or from falling in love again?
If you love traditional Regency romances, you’ll adore A Marchioness Below Stairs.

About the Author
Alissa Baxter wrote her first Regency romance, The Dashing Debutante, during her long university holidays. After travelling the world, she settled down to write her second Regency romance, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which was inspired by her time living on a country estate in England. Also the author of two contemporary romances, Send and Receive and The Blog Affair, Alissa currently lives in Johannesburg with her husband and two sons.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/alissa.baxter.writer
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alissa_baxter
On Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mh7NxQ

The author is giving away TWO Regency Romance Ebooks; Lord Fenmore’s Wager & A Marchioness Below Stairs & a $15 Amazon GC!
Code to Embed in blog post:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/70954c79163/?

2017 Holiday Gift Guide: The Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mystery Series: Charles Veley and Anna Elliott

SERIES SYNOPSIS: Introducing to Lucy James — an independent, modern-minded young woman who inherited her father’s intelligence and detective skills – and a Sherlock Holmes who must contend with the mysteries and challenges of being a parent, the 2017 releases in Sherlock & Lucy series include Remember, Remember, The Crown Jewel Mystery, The Jubilee Problem, and the forthcoming Death at the Diogenes Club.

SYNOPSIS:Book 5: A young American actress arrives in London hoping to learn her identity, just as Sherlock Holmes is closing in on a master criminal. Their worlds collide, and not even Holmes could have foreseen the impact!
This novella is the prequel to The Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery series.

SYNOPSIS:Book 4:The year is 1897. Sherlock Holmes and his lovely young American daughter Lucy James must defeat a well-orchestrated conspiracy to destroy Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Celebration. If they fail, the Queen and thousands of innocent people will die, and the British Empire will fall into chaos.

Book 3: A lovely American actress awakens in London on a cold morning in 1897 – lying face down on the concrete pavement outside the British Museum. She has no memories. She does not even know who she is, although she has a vague recollection of the name Sherlock Holmes. What she believes is that she has may have just killed someone, and that someone is definitely trying to kill her. As she searches for clues to her true identity, she will learn that she is not the only target. Unless she can defeat her evil adversaries, the people most dear to her will die.

MY THOUGHTS: What a fantastic series! First foremost: It involves Sherlock Holmes! As fabulous a literary icon as he is, the addition of Lucy makes him better. She flows beautifully into his established storyline without changing his personality, skill set or other character traits. Altering such a famous character is risky. However, father-daughter duo Anna Elliott & Charles Veley, have found the right formula with their series.

Additionally, I love, love, love the fact that these are clean, family friendly books. I cannot think of a single instance in any of these titles that gave me pause. They are action-packed and full of all the mystery & intrigue Sherlock has always brought along in his books. I was happily able to recommend them (highly) to our local Christian school’s librarian.

As a father-daughter team, Lucy & Sherlock provide a hero and heroine for every fan. Readers will find Lucy a strong, capable woman with a fearless streak. She isn’t a damsel in distress. Instead, she’s a competent and intelligent role model. Sherlock has always been a favorite for mystery buffs. He won’t disappoint in his new role. Just as wiry and smart as he’s always been, no criminal can hide from Holmes.


With the holidays coming, considering giving the series or individual books as gifts. Your recipients will be thrilled!

Bottom line: It’s elementary my dear friends! The Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mysteries Series gets 5 stars!





*Pics & Synopsis belong to the author/publisher only.
**I received the aforementioned titles in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Book Spotlight: The Electric Pickle: Joey Green

If your kid’s eyes glaze over when you mean the Periodic Table of Elements, I’ve got the perfect book for you! No longer will parents have to agonize over Science Projects that have been forgotten until the night before they’re due. In fact, science will be FUN again.
Let me introduce you to ‘The Electric Pickle’!
“The Electric Pickle: 50 Experiments from the Periodic Table, from Aluminum to Zinc
By Joey Green
(Chicago Review Press; October 1, 2017)

It’s a strange and fascinating DIY guide for the chemistry-curious, featuring an activity for every single element of the periodic table. Activities include:
–          For Lithium: “Horrible Hot Dog”
Insert a lithium battery into an uncooked hot dog and watch it sizzle and bubble
–          For Boron: “Green Tornado Fire”
Use boric acid and antifreeze to create a green glowing flame
–          For Oxygen: “Freaky Soap Soufflé”
Microwave a regular bar of soap to turn it into a large, lava-like cloud formation
–          For Sodium: “Electric Pickle”
Conduct electricity through a pickle to watch it glow bright yellow
Projects range from relatively quick with very few simple ingredients to more exciting and complex experiments that lead to booming or glowing results.

MY THOUGHTS: Trust me: Good, quality STEM books are few and far between. It just seems that its same-old same-old. ‘The Electric Pickle’ is entirely original and quite honestly, fun. Today’s students need to think outside the box. If you’re a homeschooler, you know exactly what I mean. Not everyone has a lab in their basement and sometimes those experiments become monotonous or don’t turn out properly at all.

This book gives you 50 different experiments that are easy, basic, and most of all, unique! Entering a Science Fair this year can be a thrilling experience instead of a poster board full of mediocrity. If you have multiple students needing multiple projects, 50 experiments can go a long, long way. As a parent, I’m all in for anything that makes a child’s eyes light up. Just hearing the words ‘The Electric Pickle’ grabs ahold of their ever-waning attention span and doesn’t let go. As soon as my 9th grader saw the cover, he sat down and immediately began looking through. It was a few minutes later that he began asking if we had some of the components on-hand.

I have to give Joey Greene and his out-of-the-box thinking a full 5 stars! If you don’t have a copy, GET A COPY! You won’t be sorry.

*Pic & synopsis belong solely to the author & publisher.

**I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Book Spotlight #Giveaway: Last Class Citizen By Lex Ramsay

Last Class Citizen
By Lex Ramsay
Genre: Alternative history

They’ve gained their freedom from the South. But what if their new freedom is all a lie?
Patrick Edgerton, leader of the Railway Association, has succeeded in the monumental task of freeing slaves from the once mighty Southern Republic. Following the fall of the South, the UN has decreed that the South must pay for the care of any former slaves. With hope finally on the horizon, Patrick and those he helped free begin what will be a long journey towards equality and rehabilitation.
But the wheels of power are turning in the US capitol. With the UN’s proclamation against the South, the President of the US sees a way to bleed the South economically dry: by keeping the former slaves under a new, more subtle form of oppression, it will force the South to continue to pay for them until they have nothing left. This conspiracy sets off a deceitful chain reaction to construct a system of ghettos that keeps former slaves in a cycle of destitution and despair, ultimately creating second class citizens.
With everything they’d worked so hard to achieve on the line, Patrick and a handful of others set out to ensure that the former slaves don’t become entrapped in this new kind of slavery; a slavery as bad as what they’d left behind.
Full of powerful themes still prevalent in society today, Lex Ramsay weaves an eerily realistic story of race manipulation and marginalization, and those brave and willing enough to continue the fight.

About the Author
Lex Ramsay is the author of Serial Misogyny, a gripping literary suspense, and the alternative history Southern Republic. She is a recovering lawyer, an avid but not terribly talented pianist, a student of Portuguese, and escapee from Corporate America where she cleaned up after other peoples’ messes and generally sold her soul. Now, she’s buying it back, one word at a time, while making plans to move to Brazil with her 1 husband, 2 dogs, 2 horses and 2 cats (last count), once the Portuguese lessons kick in. To learn more about Lex and her books, visit https://www.lexramsayauthor.com/. 

On Amazon: http://amzn.to/2h1hTkM
The author is giving away an ebook copy of Last Class Citizen!
a Rafflecopter giveaway