Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Mosquito Creek Inn: Sherrie Todd-Beshore

I RECEIVED THE TITLE IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE. PIC & SYNOPSIS BELONG SOLELY TO AUTHOR/PUBLISHER.

SYNOPSIS: “Eleven-year-old Sonia Molosky’s quiet summer and that of her close friends begins to shift after an insurance investigator arrives in Mosquito Creek to settle the vast estate of a young heiress who disappeared seven years before. When Sonia discovers the contents of a suitcase behind a hidden door at the back of her mother’s closet, she convinces six of her pals to help her search for new clues to the unsolved mystery. Curiosity soon escalates events to an unexpected discovery that challenges their untested resourcefulness and courage in order to outwit and expose a cruel and cunning foe. While attempting to retrace the path the missing girl rode her horse the afternoon she disappeared, history begins to repeat itself…”

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Mosquito’ is Book 1 of 7 in the Mosquito Creek Detective Club series. From page 1, it was engaging and gripping. Although it is marketed as YA and rightfully so, I had great fun reading it! Good mysteries are timeless and ageless.
As a lead character, Sonia is capable and intelligent. All the children in the series are respectful to each other as well as their elders. Adults aren’t portrayed as imbeciles as is so often the case in YA fiction. It’s a clean read. I found no cursing or violence making it more than acceptable for middle school through adults. In fact, I’d recommend it to adult readers in need of a new series.
As for the plot, it is original and a good, old-fashioned whodunit. Messages throughout the book related to teamwork, having a sense of community, and the importance of family. I recommend this series and give ‘Mosquito’ 5 stars.

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Posted in Arts/Crafts/Hobbies, Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: A Colorful Tail: Finding Monet at Giverny: Joan Waites

I RECEIVED THE TITLE IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE. PIC & SYNOPSIS BELONG SOLELY TO THE AUTHOR/PUBLISHER.

SYNOPSIS: A young red fox living in Monet’s garden in Giverny, France, admires the collage of colors in the landscape that surrounds him. More than anything, he wants to make the colors last as the seasons pass and the winter turns cold and bleak. Try as he might, his creations are blown away, flooded, and even eaten by a deer, until the sight of Monet at his easel and an unexpected encounter with a bumble bee show the gentle fox how he can make the colors last all year-long. This brightly illustrated tale is a delightful introduction to Claude Monet.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘A Colorful Tail’ is a beautifully illustrated book for younger readers (say ages 2-K). I love that fact that on the opening page there is a brief Monet biography. It’s a good, first introduction to famous artists. Art is often an afterthought in education. Introducing artists’ names early on is a great idea.
We also have a message of appreciating the beauty around us. Fox is fortunate enough to have a patient, artistic friend who allows him to express himself without judgment or reprimand. By having this freedom to create, Fox is able to show his love of nature & color through painting. To parents, the message is simple: let little ones try. If their paintings aren’t Monet-quality, that’s ok. At least, they tried.

‘A Colorful Tail’ would be a good snuggling up, storytime book. Little eyes will definitely pay attention to all the details on each page. I give it a 4 star rating.

Joan Waites is an award-winning author-illustrator with more than 45 titles published for the children’s trade and educational markets. A former adjunct faculty member of the Corcoran Museum School of Art and Design, Joan now operates her own art teaching studio for children, and has been a featured speaker at schools, conferences, and artist-in-residence programs. She has served as the Mid-Atlantic SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator for the past 17 years, is a member of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC, the Picture Book Artist’s Association, and the National Association of Art Educators.

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Die Again, Mr. Holmes: Anna Elliott & Charles Veley



I RECEIVED THE MENTIONED TITLE IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE. PIC & SYNOPSIS BELONG SOLELY TO THE AUTHORS/PUBLISHER. SPECIAL THANKS TO Sarah Miniaci OF SMITH PUBLISHING FOR HER KINDNESS & UNDERSTANDING.

SYNOPSIS: Meet Lucy James, the detective partner Sherlock Holmes never expected!

The newest gripping adventure in this popular mystery series takes us from the Old Bailey courthouse and the seacoast lairs of smugglers to a grand British country estate and the iconic financial headquarters of Lloyd’s of London.

Watson, Sherlock and Lucy find themselves up against a powerful conspiracy.

Survival will require valor, sacrifice, and acts that go far, far outside the law.

As the story opens, a young woman begs Sherlock Holmes to help find her missing fiance, but the great detective makes an uncharacteristic mistake.

Then Sherlock’s daughter, Lucy James, takes on a missing person case of her own.

But Lucy must also keep a vicious criminal away from Becky, Lucy’s ten-year-old sister-in-law, and little Becky soon becomes dangerously involved in both cases.

Then the Baker Street team gets the devastating news that Sherlock Holmes has been murdered.

MY THOUGHTS: Absolutely fabulous! I have been blessed enough to follow this series from the beginning. Each book gets better and better (even though they were already amazing!). Being that the content is clean and action-packed, I have recommended the series to countless librarians and fans of mysteries. I never have to think twice because I know each book is a quality read, without questionable situations, and any new readers will quickly become permanent fans.

As a female lead, Lucy reigns supreme. As an intelligent problem-solver, Lucy relies on her brain to solve dilemmas and live her life honorably. She is a fabulous role model to YA readers who are too often exposed to characters who utilize their gender is a less than appropriate way. Allowing her to team up with the icon that is Sherlock proves that she can hold her own. Doyle, himself, would be quite proud of how his characters welcome her and of Lucy in general.

I loved the plot twists with Sherlock faking his death and then the elements of a good, old-fashioned mystery. This is the way mysteries are supposed to be written! I give it a full 5 stars and highly recommend the series!

ABOUT THE SHERLOCK HOLMES & LUCY JAMES MYSTERY SERIES
The Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James Mystery Series by Charles Veley and Anna Elliott to date includes The Last Moriarty (2015), The Wilhelm Conspiracy (2016), Remember, Remember (2017), The Crown Jewel Mystery: A Prequel (2017), The Jubilee Problem (2017), Death at the Diogenes Club (2017), The Return of the Ripper (2018), and Die Again, Mr. Holmes, released on January 2, 2019. All titles are available for purchase in paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats via Amazon and Audible.
Website: http://sherlockandlucy.com/

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Diversity is Key: Bryan Smith



SYNOPSIS:
It’s diversity week at Amelia’s school, and she has no clue what it means or why it matters. Every day, she’s introduced to cultures, cuisines and customs that push Amelia outside her comfort zone and test her preconceived notions about people and places. Is Mei really asking me to bow when I introduce myself? Is Rosa really celebrating toes, and how the heck do I eat something wrapped in a corn husk? And why is Malia’s mom gyrating in a grass skirt? Amelia has lots of questions (and a few concerns), but the more she experiences, the more she realizes how diversity makes life more fun. She also discovers that differences shouldn’t divide people because everyone shares something in common. Diversity is Key! was penned by Bryan Smith whose Without Limits book series celebrates children with character. 32 pgs.

MY THOUGHTS: Full disclosure: I was hesitant about this one. Many times when the word ‘diversity’ is used, the author pushes a specific narrative that may be against my own religious beliefs. I am SO relieved that Bryan Smith had more integrity than that!

In fact, he did an amazing job CELEBRATING diversity. He nailed the reasons why it’s a good thing and left out all the PC narrative nonsense too many of us have to listen to on media. It isn’t a risqué book in any way. Instead, we have 3 students who bring 3 separate identities to their classroom. Do’s and Don’ts in regards to politeness are discussed, but the children aren’t forced into participation or controversial topics. Even the mention of the Day of the Dead is handled beautifully. While it could’ve been presented in a Halloween-type way, our author takes the high road and specifies that it’s a celebration of the deceased loved one’s life. Well done!

The illustrations are spot on as are the multiple messages. Respect each other. Be polite to those who are different. Try new things. Respect those in authority and those older than you. Great messages. I enjoyed Amelia and her class. I give this one 5 stars.
https://www.boystownpress.org/

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Freddie the Fly Bee On, Buzz Off: Kimberly Delude

SYNOPSIS: Freddie, our lovable fly, is tappin’ and flappin’ his way to trouble. He whirls around to and fro, buzzing from one distraction to another. Is it any wonder he forgets his lunch, fails his spelling test and leaves the house semi-undressed? Freddie is a go-go-go kind of guy who has no time to listen, focus or pay attention. His lack of concentration causes a real fright when he finds himself lost and alone at the zoo. Will that be the scare Freddie needs to finally take action and turn his BEE on and his BUZZ off? Readers will love finding the answers in this delightfully insightful tale by speech-language pathologist and educator Kimberly Delude.

MY THOUGHTS: If there was any character I could ever relate to, it’s Freddie! Having Parkinson’s means never sitting still and having the MOST difficult time concentrating. Poor Freddie can’t keep it together, either. Although flies may not be the most popular insect, this fly will find his way into your heart.

Kimberly Delude has done a terrific job addressing a problem that many elementary school parents see daily- forgetful kids who can’t stay focused. I love Gus, the zoo guide. His gentle guidance makes all the difference. It’s definitely a hat tip to patient parents! Freddie delivers on several fronts. His story promotes teamwork when he teams up with a fellow student to help each other. He demonstrates respect for authority by heeding the instruction & advice of those in charge. He shows responsibility for his actions by admitting his inattentive nature. Plus, he provides a solution in the end.

Adorable illustrations via Brian Martin add humor and depth to the characters. I am now a ‘fly fan’. There are two previous books in the series which I’d recommend also. ‘Freddie’ gets a 5 star review from me!
https://www.instagram.com/boystownpress/
https://www.facebook.com/BoysTownPress/

I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. Pic/synopsis belongs solely to the author/publisher.

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Parker Plum and the Rotten Egg Thoughts: A Story about Learning to Look on the Bright Side: Billie Pavicic

SYNOPSIS: Parker Plum wakes up to find a little green egg filled with rotten egg thoughts on his pillow and he must learn to unscramble his self-defeating thoughts before it explodes.

MY THOUGHTS: I love this book. I combines all the best elements of children’s storytelling. First, we have a strong, relevant, moral message. ‘Be positive’. In a society bombarded by negativity, it is so easy for children to dread the start of every day. Regardless if your readers attend a brick-and-mortar school or are at home, they will no doubt face every situation Parker does. Parker himself is an easily relatable character. He isn’t too in-depth as to cause a switch in focus for younger readers. He is simply a boy, dealing with a real-world situation.
It is a completely clean book. No risky business. No violence, etc. Beginning readers will expand their vocabulary while older readers won’t be bored with overly simplistic language. Illustrator Susan Garber has nailed it with her drawings. Each one adds to the story without being overwhelming or distracting. Billie Pavicic adds humor with a young man with a flatulence issue (without it being too gross or too important to the story) and with a very wise lunch lady.
Also of note, Parker has surrounded himself with quality friends. They don’t judge. They encourage him to change his view for his own good as well as those around him. That’s a very good underlying message for today’s youth. Bottom line: ‘Parker Plum’ is a 5 star children’s book worth purchasing and adding to your classroom library.

About Boys Town Press:
Boys Town Press publishes children’s and educational books, and produces resources for educators, parents, and youth-serving professionals, all in line with Boys Town’s goal of “Saving Children, Healing Families.” Boys Town Press is a division of Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, a mission-driven organization that works in diverse communities with the highest-need kids and their families. Its publications are based on the proven techniques used in Boys Town programs.

Learn more about Boys Town Press and its titles at http://www.boystownpress.org.

https://www.facebook.com/BoysTownMission
I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. Synopsis & pic belong solely to the author/publisher.

Posted in Book Reviews, Holidays

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Love Big: Kat Kronenberg

I received the title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Pic/Synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.

SYNOPSIS: “Set in the heart of the African Savanna, Love Big follows moody Baboon as he discovers another powerful secret.

The once lush, thriving, African savanna has turned dry and desolate. Hungry, miserable, and mean animals seek only their own interests. Baboon watches as, one by one, Rhinoceros destroys Termite’s castle in his race to find food, Hare chooses not to share food with her family, and Lion steals food from his pride.

But after Baboon sees Rhinoceros give Hare his snack-on-a-stick, everything changes! Baboon realizes that a transformative power exists between the animals and the star-dust that surrounds them once they share smiles and truly believe in themselves and each other. When Baboon tries out this secret by helping Lion, they share a smile, and CATCH-M, The Magical, Mystical, Miraculous Star-dust that surrounds them, whooshes into their lives to wham! ignite the courage in their chests too. Read on to see if Baboon can save the savanna with this new secret and a very stinky, unlikely hero . . . ”

MY THOUGHTS: Today is a day to celebrate love. Unfortunately, I did not love this book. In all honesty, I didn’t like much about it. Understanding that the author is highly acclaimed, I expected a home run, out-of-the-park hit. What I got was a book I didn’t want to finish.

As always, I encourage readers to experience books for themselves. Apparently, some readers did enjoy it. I found it muddled and confusing, especially being that it is geared toward younger readers. The main character, despite those mentioned in the synopsis, is a literal piece of poop. In fact, there is a lot of talk about this poop. Termite uses it for his home and it becomes a main character.

Another issue I had with it were the ‘transformative’ powers of the star-dust. While I understood this to me a ‘mythological’ story, which is fine, this felt more new age, evolutionary to me. As a Christian parent, that’s a no-go. I hoped to find happiness in the illustrations, but found them to be a huge left-down as well.

I appreciate the message of kindness and the message of a strong community. But, the author tried to jam-pack a host of public service messages into one book. It didn’t work. I give it 2 generous stars.

Learn more about Kronenberg at http://www.katkronenberg.com