Posted in Book Reviews, Homeschooling

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Wilderness: Earth’s Amazing Habitats by Mia Cassany

SYNOPSIS:
This captivating book brings the natural world into sharp focus. Beautifully colored and intricately detailed illustrations depict places as exotic and wide-ranging as Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba National Park, Russia’s Sikhote-Alin mountain range, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka, Daintree National Park in Australia, the Mexican desert, and China’s bamboo forests. The animals that live in these remote places, cleverly hidden in the trees, plants, and flowers, create a marvelous challenge for young readers to find and identify. Each spread contains more than twenty different species including birds, snakes, frogs, iguanas, leopards, tigers, gorillas, pandas, and wolves. The back of the book is filled with additional information about the animals and their habitats. Young readers will find much to discover, explore, and learn in this absorbing celebration of our planet and the amazing creatures we share it with.

MY THOUGHTS: This is an absolute must-have for homeschool classrooms. Each page contains intricate detail of animals, habitats, and geography. It is one of those nonfiction books which can be used for multiple classes: geography, science, and Language Arts. It could also be utilized for an incredible book report.
I was amazed at the level of information that our author packed into each paragraph. In fact, I felt ready for Jeopardy after I finished it!

Marcus Navarro has done an exquisite job with the pictures, allowing the specific animals to ‘come to life’ from the pages. I enjoyed the little smiles on some of their faces. While showcasing nature’s beauty, the illustrations don’t distract from the point of the book. They enhance it.

I appreciate that the author took time to explain larger, more complex terms. She also was careful to explain how & why the endangered species came to be endangered while not scaring younger readers. She makes the point without being graphic. All in all, it’s a brilliantly done book. I give it 5 stars with a high recommendation.
Illustrated by Marcos Navarro (ISBN: 978-3791373720; April 2019; Ages 6-9; Hardcover $19.95; 48 pages)

MIA CASSANY is the author of numerous books for children including Atlas of Imaginary Places and Great Ports of the World (both by Prestel). She is the co-founder of Mosquito Books. She lives in Barcelona, Spain.

MARCUS NAVARRO is an illustrator living in Spain. This is his first book.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: ‘The Return of the Ripper’: Anna Elliott & Charles Veley


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

Book 7 of 8 in A Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James Mystery (8 Book Series)
SYNOPSIS: October 1897. Diamond mogul Cecil Rhodes wants Sherlock Holmes to break up a smuggling ring. Lucy James is preoccupied with her role as an actress and her upcoming wedding. And then, London’s most infamous murderer makes a most unwelcome entrance.

The Baker street team soon find themselves enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy, with tentacles that reach far beyond the shadows of Whitechapel. Lucy and Holmes will need more than their usual deductive brilliance to defeat their latest adversary, or else the case of the Ripper will be their last.

If you love a strong heroine, a touch of romance, and a classic Holmes, you’re going to love this fast-paced adventure.

MY THOUGHTS: I was thrilled to see that Holmes & Lucy were set to work on the elusive Ripper phenom. There’s been a resurgence of interest in Jack the Ripper in recent years, fueled by theory & the hunt for the ‘one who got away’. Part of the entertainment value, if one can call it that, in the Ripper’s legend is that so many people think they know who he was and there are so many suspects!

It’s timely that two of the finest detectives to ever grace the pages of a novel are now involved! Now, that alone would have made an incredible novel, but there’s more! We are also treated to Holmes taking on a smuggling ring and Lucy is getting ready for her wedding. There’s never a dull moment in their lives.

As always, our favorite father-daughter author duo has brought their ‘A’ game. There is so much to love about this book. It’s the kind of detective story that readers will want to read more than once because it’s so much fun to watch the plot unravel. Again, we have the iconic Sherlock doing what he does best while remaining true to the roots planted by Doyle in his original works. Lucy once again proves her skills at being a Renaissance woman as she solves crimes, maintains her acting career, and still has time for a productive social life. Dr. Watson is proof positive that the limelight isn’t necessary in order to make a difference or to be a great friend.

With a unique twist on all things Jack the Ripper along with the great diamond smuggling side plot, our authors hit yet another home run with this incredible, 5 star novel. I highly recommend this series and hope there are many more installments to come! Bravo!

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.

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