Rise of the Sea Witch: Review and Giveaway

Rating:

Rise of the Sea Witch
Stacey Rourke
Publication date: June 19th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: 3/5

Details of the sea witch’s banishment have been exaggerated. The body count that preempted it was not. Once an illustrious princess, her hands and tentacles were stained with the blood of thousands. No one could comprehend how the hooks of madness dragged her down from her life of privilege.

Born Princess Vanessa of Atlantica, the ambitious young royal was one of two children born to the great King Poseidon. She and her brother, Triton, were groomed from birth to rule. Yet only one would ascend that coveted throne. While carefree Triton flits through his training with a cavalier demeanor and beguiling charm, Vanessa’s hunger for her father’s acceptance drives her to push herself to the limits of magic, and combat to become a leader worthy of her people.

When war against the humans ravages their once regal kingdom, political sides are chosen. Factions from the seven seas challenge the existing leadership, pitting Vanessa against her brother in a vicious battle for the crown. Traitors are exposed, dark family secrets revealed, and a once strong sibling bond is strained to its breaking point.

Only when the ink black waters from the ultimate betrayal rescind, will the truth be known of how the villainous sea witch rose with one name on her vengeful lips–Triton.

Goodreads / Amazon

Review:

Rise of the Sea With is a very imaginative and captivating retelling of The Little Mermaid. The Sea Witch hadn’t always been…. well… a witch. And Rourke spins a beautiful and charming tale of how the Sea Witch grew those tentacles. Right from the beginning, Rourke pulls you in by giving us a glimpse of the villain to be. Then she pulls you back in time as she unravels the tale of how the Sea Witch goes from a mermaid that no one pays attention to, to the villain we all know and love.

One thing I felt that was truly wonderful in this tale is how much as a reader I could connect with Princess Nessa. You really feel for her, her father Poseidon ignores her. Her brother, who obviously doesn’t want the crown, is heir to the throne. No one listens to her. And simmering underneath the wave’s surface is a powerful dark magic inside Nessa.

Nessa is no innocent, and she often times makes questionable decisions concerning her morale, but isn’t that part of the point of the Sea Witch? She’s not exactly the most kosher of people. I’ve read several tales of a persons transformation into a villain, and I’ll be honest, they aren’t necessarily for me. But perhaps because I already love all there is to The Little Mermaid, and I couldn’t help but think of the Sea Witch that I love, it made me love this tale even more. Not everyone can craft a good villain story, because villains needs to have redeeming qualities. I think Rourke gives us just enough in Nessa that we truly do see and feel and understand what brings her to her ultimate demise.

If you’re a mermaid fan and enjoy dark tales from the villains point of view than be sure to check this book out! I look forward ot future reads by Stacey Rourke!

Author Bio:

RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a

Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013
Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner for Crane 2015

Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Reel Romance Series. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head.

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Swimming Hole’s of Texas: Review and Giveway

THE SWIMMING HOLES
OF TEXAS
by
Julie Wernersbach & Carolyn Tracy
  Genre: Travel / Outdoors / Swimming
Publisher: The University of Texas Press
Date of Publication: May 16, 2017
Number of Pages: 240, 100 color photos
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Nothing beats a natural swimming hole for cooling off on a scorching summer day in Texas. Cold, clear spring water, big old shade trees, and a quiet stretch of beach or lawn offer the perfect excuse to pack a cooler and head out with family and friends to the nearest natural oasis. Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or an unforgettable summer vacation, let The Swimming Holes of Texas be your guide. 


Julie Wernersbach and Carolyn Tracy highlight one hundred natural swimming spots across the entire state. The book is organized by geographic regions, so you can quickly find local places to swim—or plan a trip to a more distant spot you’d like to explore. Each swimming hole is illustrated with an inviting color photo and a description of what it’s like to swim there, as well as the site’s history, ecology, and conservation. The authors include all the pertinent info about admission fees and hours, parking, and on-site amenities such as showers and restrooms. They also offer tips for planning your trips and lists of the swimming holes that are most welcoming to families and pets.

So when the temperature tops 100 and there’s nothing but traffic in sight, take a detour down the backroads and swim, sunbathe, revel, and relax in the swimming holes of Texas.

I am not a native to Texas, so imagine my surprise when I went through this book and saw some real, beautiful gems in Texas. When I first moved to Texas, I figured all of Texas was brown unless it was Spring, then it’s this bright green color. I never really saw anything eye catching. But looking through this book, reading about these beautiful places, I’m ready to go for a trip and see these beauties first hand.
First thing I want to point out, is that I love how this book is organized. It’s organized by North, South, East, and West Texas.  There’s also a segment early on that states Planning Your Trip, followed by other helpful information such as swimming etiquette, rules for the parks, and the history behind everything. And if that wasn’t enough to convince you that you need this book, just look at all the amazing pictures taken in the different ares of Texas along with all the answers to the questions you may ask about that particular swimming hole.
Another thing I loved is the maps of each of the regions that shows you where the swimming holes are located. Then it lists the swimming holes and goes into details about them along with pictures of each of the swimming holes. It lists helpful information such as amenities, park rules, camping, the hours it’s opened, what the fees are. After reading through this book, I really want to visit Dinosaur Valley State Park. BEAUTIFUL. It’s made me realize how diverse Texas is and how much Texas has to offer concerning nature.
At the end of the book it lists Top 5, of which include Top 5 Kid Friendly places, Top 5 Dog Friendly places. Those are just a few examples, there’s quite a few more. This would be extremely helpful if you are planning a trip with a furry friend, or want to go some place that’s fun for the kids!

This book is a must guide for anyone planning to visit a Texas swimming hole. I cannot recommend it enough!



Julie Wernersbach, Austin, is the literary director of the Texas Book Festival and a former marketing director at BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore. Carolyn Tracy, Austin, is a freelance photographer who works for an animal welfare nonprofit. They are the authors of Vegan Survival Guide to Austin.

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Sir Kay: Review

THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY

Sir Kaye the Boy Knight, Book 4

By Don M. Winn

  Genre: Children’s Chapter Book / Adventure / Medieval

Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

Date of Publication: June 16, 2017

Number of Pages: 166, B&W illustrations 

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Kaye’s father is in danger! The young knight, Kaye, and his friends Reggie and Beau enter Eldridge in search of the only man who can save Kaye’s father. During their journey, they encounter and make a powerful enemy of Baron Thomas—the self-proclaimed heir to the throne of Eldridge—who also has his sights set on ruling the country of Knox.

Together, the boys dodge the baron’s henchmen and race against time to stop an assassination that would plunge the two kingdoms into war in this exciting conclusion to the series.

PRAISE FOR THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY:

“This set of books just gets better and better. Yes, it’s a non-stop adventure, packed full of nasty barons and battling knights. But it’s also a story which is strongly-themed and where the bond between the characters is highly prized.” —The Wishing Shelf Awards Book Review

“Books of adventure and challenge that still offer an emotional component are hard to come by for middle-grade readers—and even more so for middle-grade boys—yet Don M. Winn hits the mark dead center with The Eldridge Conspiracy.” —Patricia Reding, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review

“This is more than just a fictional story; it teaches children about life, about friendship, making decisions, and about not putting too much stock in pride all the time – sometimes pride gets in the way of making the right decision. Great story. I would recommend that the whole series be read in order to get the most out of it and I think all kids will enjoy this tale.” —Ann-Marie Reynolds, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review

“The Eldridge Conspiracy was a rewarding read due to a wonderful writing style of incorporating dynamic characters, humor, relevancy, and the thought that even without superpowers, children can be heroes.” —Stacey Waltzer, Urban Mommies 

PURCHASE LINKS

WEBSITE   AMAZON   B&N   PUBLISHER: SIGNED COPIES

This was my first time reading about Sir Kaye, the boy knight, and it definitely made me more intrigued to read the others. This book brings a whimsical adventure that was easy and fun to read. As Kaye and his friends set off on their quest, the pages flew as they fought to save the kingdom. This story brings inner lessons of bravery and friendship. I can easily recommend it for children and really all ages as well. I personally love to read all forms of books, including children’s books. They remind us of our childhood and simpler solutions to tough decisions we face.  They show us fantastical worlds that push the limits of our imagination.

The illustrations really caught my eye as well. I remember when I first did a promotion for the third book and impressed with the style and maturity of the content. Also, the study guide was so cute and helpful, especially since I was new to the series. I felt like I was back in school right as my love for reading started.  I look forward to sharing this and the other books with some of my younger relatives. Enter the giveaway for an amazing chance to win this great series!

Don M. Winn is a multiple award-winning children’s author of eleven picture books and four children’s novels. His Sir Kaye the Boy Knight® series of novels for independent readers include The Knighting of Sir Kaye, The Lost Castle Treasure, Legend of the Forest Beast, and The Eldridge Conspiracy. Don’s picture books include The Higgledy-Piggledy Pigeon; Superhero; Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge; Shelby the Cat; Space Cop Zack, Protector of the Galaxy; and many others. 

Don has been writing for over 20 years. After beginning with poetry, Winn moved on to writing children’s picture books. Almost immediately, his growing young readers begged for chapter books, which led to the creation of the Sir Kaye series. As a dyslexic, who well knows the challenge of learning to love to read, Winn’s goal is to write books that are so engaging they will entice even the most reluctant or struggling reader. Winn lives in Round Rock, Texas.

WEBSITE    AUTHOR FACEBOOK    SIR KAYE FACEBOOK

YOUTUBE   TWITTER    LINKEDIN    GOODREADS

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6/14 Book Trailer Chapter Break Book Blog
6/15 Review Margie’s Must Reads
6/16 Guest Post 1 Books in the Garden
6/17 Review The Page Unbound
6/18 Author Interview My Book Fix Blog
6/19 Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
6/20 Review Reading By Moonlight
6/21 Scrapbook Page 1 Syd Savvy
6/22 Guest Post 2 Forgotten Winds
6/23 Review Hall Ways Blog
6/24 Character Interview Missus Gonzo
6/25 Educators’ Special The Librarian Talks
6/26 Review CGB Blog Tours
6/27 Scrapbook Page 2 Texas Book Lover
6/28 Review Books and Broomsticks

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Breakwater: Review

Rating:

Breakwater

By Catherine Jones Payne
Genre: YA Fantasy/Mermaids
Release Date: May 30th 2017
Fathom Ink Press


Summary from Goodreads


A red tide is rising.

As the daughter of one of the mer-king’s trusted advisors, seventeen-year-old Jade has great responsibilities. When her fiancé murders a naiad, plunging the underwater city of Thessalonike into uproar, tensions surge between the mer and the naiads. Jade learns too late that the choices she makes ripple further than she’d ever imagined. And as she fights against the tide of anger in a city that lives for scandal, she discovers danger lurking in every canal, imperiling her family and shattering the ocean’s fragile peace.

Can the city’s divisions be mended before the upwelling of hate rips apart everything Jade loves?

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Author Links

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Review

Colorful haired mermaids and water manipulating naiads are a recipe of everything I wanted to read right now. Breakwater did an excellent job of bringing me an entirely different underwater world and keeping things very relatable. Tensions are high between the mers and the naiads with injustice and prejudice. It’s something we see everyday in reality. I’m sure with every story we read, the reader will always see similarities to their own world. Nothing is ever quite simple but this book brings something to light that is. Compassion.

The others characters like Pippa show that even with great loss, we can still find something for which to smile. Or Alexander who doesn’t fit in but works hard and eventually finds a home he enjoys. Even Jade’s mother shows acts of kindness despite the complicated position it would bring her. These characters and more come together in tragedy and upheaval and still persevere.

Jade’s compassion shines through a bleak and troublesome war brewing in her city and it what really drove me to loving this book. At one point, Jade describes heroic women from the past that jeopardized their lives but still persisted. This book is a great example for everyone, and especially young girls, about embracing differences and standing for what’s right. Even if you’re afraid. Well done Catherine Payne.

I enjoyed how mature this book could be while still keeping simple elements to the plot. It was an easy to read, fast paced, and thrilling story that I believe many will enjoy.

About the Author

 

Catherine Jones Payne is a Seattle native who loves the written word, international travel, crashing waves, and good coffee. Her earliest memory involves pulling up a rolling chair to her parents’ old DOS computer—while wearing a tiara, naturally—and tapping out a story of kidnapped princesses. By day she’s the managing editor of Quill Pen Editorial and the editor of Splickety Magazine. She lives in Waco, TX with her historian husband, Brendan, and their cats, Mildred and Minerva.

 

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#BabyLove My Toddler Life: Review and Giveaway

#BABYLOVE:
MY TODDLER LIFE
by
CORINE DEHGHANPISHEH
  Genre: Children’s Picture Book / Technology / Family
Publisher: My Art to Inspire
Date of Publication: September 20, 2016
Number of Pages: 40
Scroll down for Giveaway!

 


A curious toddler loves to play…especially with his mommy’s smartphone!

When Mommy finds him using her phone without permission, it’s the perfect teaching moment.  Mommy reminds her little one that what matters most in life is time together filled with love and attention.
Her simple reminder: Put down our phones.
Praise for #BabyLove: My Toddler Life:
“This poignant and entertaining tale about a playful toddler aimed at young lap readers works on a much deeper level for parents.” – Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) 
“This light-hearted reflection on social media habits is a great tool for starting discussions with young children.” — Forward Clarion Reviews (5 Stars)
“Dehghanpisheh’s illustrations and text are simple, colorful and charming, and many families will relate to the question of how, and how much, to integrate technology into their child’s day.  #BabyLove: My Toddler Life is a fun and timely picture book for 21st century preschoolers. — BlueInk Review 
 “I can’t wait to read this to my 2 year old grandson.  This book is his life curious, sweet and funny.  His mommy has a collection of his photography on her phone.  Priceless. — Kindle Verified Purchase

#BabyLove: My Toddler Life was my first children’s book I’ve written a review for. This book was light hearted and and sweet. The story follows a toddler as he sets out to do all things kids do, play. His mom takes pictures of them, and also takes pictures of the toddler as he plays. Of course, then mom has things to do, and the little boy does what toddlers do best, get into things they shouldn’t.

It’s neat to see a children’s book that incorporates technology. In fact, as a teacher, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a children’s book that was centered on a cell phone or iPad and I love seeing this used in a children’s story. Technology is such a huge part of our lives, and I think this story is something each child could relate to. I also enjoyed the rhyming quality this book had. It’s cute and the rhythm makes it catchy and easy to read.

Not only were the rhymes and story wonderful, but the illustrations were simple, yet creative and eye catching. I can see how reading this to my kids in a classroom, which are special needs students, would be a wonderful teaching tool for them to use. The illustrations have clear backgrounds, which is easier for my children to identify things if I ask them to point to something. The images are not busy, like some children’s books, which also helps my children find items I ask them too. It also clearly shows the emotions on the child’s face, another tool that would be helpful in teaching my children. There’s so many things I could use this book for in my classroom, teaching colors, emotions, and identifying objects, just to name a few targets. I don’t think I could recommend this book enough for using in the classroom, or enjoying the book at home with your child. There’s many different teaching strategies that could be used for this book, and at the same time for teaching these different targets, the book is entertaining, so while the students are learning, they are enjoying a good story in the process.

I also loved the stickers that came with the book, something else that I know children would love.

I would use this book in my classroom with my special needs students, but it’s also a book I would read with any child. The story is adorable, the illustrations are wonderful and cute, and the lyric like quality to the rhythm of the words makes this an enjoyable read for anyone. Be sure to grab a copy for your child or classroom! It’s perfect!

Corine Dehghanpisheh is an award-winning author, whose own family life serves as inspiration for her fun and engaging children’s books.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Creative Arts Therapy & Creativity Development from Pratt Institute in New York City.
Ms. Dehghanpisheh currently resides in Dallas, Texas with her family.  There she continues to write the #BabyLove series, focused on the blending of modern technologies with classically familiar child raising situations.
The 2nd book in the series, #BabyLove: My Toddler Life is now available along with #BabyLove: My Social Life, which is a Next Generation Indie Book Awards winner.
Her debut children’s book Can We Play Again? is a Mom’s Choice Awards® Silver Recipient and a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist. Corine’s inspiration for this book came from her work as a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist in NYC.
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Feel Me Fall Review

Rating:

Genre: YA, Suspense/Thriller
Publisher: Inkspot Imaginarium
Date of Publication: May 2nd, 2017
Review Rating: 5/5

Books Synopsis:

Secrets and survival in the Amazon

Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she’s the last left alive.

But can she carry the burden of the past?

Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we’ll go in order to survive.

My Review:

Emily wakes in the drowning waters of the Amazon, not able to recall what had just happened to her. Then to her surprise, she’s not alone. There’s a small band of survivors that managed to live through the horrible plane crash. They set out to find a village, desperate for help. They trek through the Amazon, unaware that the real danger isn’t what creatures are found deep inside the deadly rainforest, or the starvation that gnaws at their bellies. The real danger is much worse than that.

This book had me hooked at page one. Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash. We’re first introduced to Emily as she is healing from her encounter deep in the Amazon, a place that brought out much more than fear in Emily. James Morris tells the story through a series of flash backs, giving us bits and pieces of the story as it unfolds. Throughout the book I couldn’t help but keep asking “What happened to Emily?” “What happened to the other survivors?” Eager for the answers, I finished this book in one day. These characters literally transformed on the page, from who they were, to the survivors on the Amazon. And their transformation is truly the beauty in Feel Me Fall. Not to mention it had quite a marvelous ending.

This survival story is gripping and intense, with quite a few unexpected turns. Layer by layer, James Morris reveals to us just a little more of each of the characters that has you questioning their morality and honesty as you race to finish the ending. This book is fast paced, and places you on the edge of your seat. Each character has their own story to tell, and each of them demands to be heard. Their past, their present… They’re the kind of characters whose story seems to leap of the page.

If you like stories that are suspenseful and intense, filled with amazing characters, a captivating survival story, and a kick ass ending, then be sure to check out Feel Me Fall!

Purchase Links:
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Author Links:
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The Glitch: Review

Rating:

Author: Ramona Finn

Narrator: Genevieve Kaplan

Length: 6 hours 28 minutes

Publisher: Relay Publishing⎮2017

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: The Glitches, Book One

Book Summary

On the brink of extinction, being human means more than just surviving.
In Lib’s world, it’s dangerous to stray from the Norm. In fact, for someone who doesn’t live up to the AI’s standards, it’s practically a death sentence. Lib learns this the hard way when she wakes up with her memories erased in a barren wasteland, and only one thought lodged in her mind:


It’s all her fault.


Lib is a Glitch—an imperfect human component of the utopian Norm. Utterly alone, she’ll have to team up with her fellow Glitches Skye and Raj and the mysterious Rogue Wolf and his clan to survive. Wolf only cares about the survival of his group, but Raj thinks they can hack the AI and change the Norm for the better.


Now, Lib will have to decide which path to choose—whether to go with handsome loner Raj or stay with Wolf and his tight-knit group. Her heart is drawn to both, but she’s carrying a deadly secret that could jeopardize them all. Will she be able to save her newfound family and stop the AI before it’s too late?

Buy Links

The Glitch on Audible | Amazon

Audio Excerpt

 

 

My Review

I love audiobooks for all the benefits it has. I can listen to an entertaining story while doing other things like driving and cleaning. This book, however, floored me and I spent a good portion of the end completely involved in listening and nothing else. Despite it’s fast pace, it offers a variety of genres in action, mystery, betrayal, and love. It definitely leaves the listener, or reader, wanting more in the sequel.

Lib is an interesting character. Although she wakes with no memory of who she is, her instincts immediately help her and keep her focused. She soon finds out she is a Glitch and the brief memories of a voice tell her to find the other glitches. With this goal, she observes her new and sometimes unwelcoming surroundings and does her best to determine the person she will become. Her own reactions to the leader, Wolf, confuse her and start a chain reaction to branching off and distracting her from her mission. This book has an interesting play between human and machine. For a while, when it described the AI that controls the Norm, I believed it to be run solely by machines. Instead, it is filled with people and even families that serve the AI. Willingly or unwillingly it seems. Lib discovers there is so much more than just a war between the tyrant AI and the Clans.

Lib continues to stay with a Clan after saving a fellow Glitch and quickly shows her value to them with her efficient skill at hacking the Norm. Just when it was starting to development these characters more, the action starts. I am not kidding when I say this book is a whirlwind. When I first started listening, I thought it was actually longer and assumed where it was going. In a flash, another Glitch named Raj convinces Lib to go with him back to the Norm and fix the AI. Together they set off into the Norm and Lib discovers more about herself and her mission. Kaplan does a great job at narrating. While there are certain errors like volume changes, she continues to speak clearly and attuned to each character. I especially liked the subtle ways she brought excitement to each scene and the action as well. I only wish it had been longer so we could get more character development and backstory. I will definitely be getting the next installment!

 

About the Author

Ramona Finn

Ramona Finn writes about courageous characters who fight to live in broken, dystopian worlds. She believes a person’s true characters is often revealed in times of crisis, and there is no greater crisis than the worlds that she drops her characters into!

She grew up sitting cross-legged on her town’s library floor–completely engrossed in science fiction books. It was always the futuristic world or the universe-on-the-brink-of-extinction plotlines that drew her in, but it was the brave characters who chose to fight back that kept her turning the pages.

Her books create deep, intricate worlds with bold characters determined to fight for their survival in their dystopian worlds–with a little help from their friends. And, of course, romance is never out of the question.

Author Links

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About the Narrator

Genevieve Kaplan

For the past fifteen years I have received extensive training in lyric diction and classical voice. Various experience includes lead roles in multiple opera production through Santa Clara University with semi-professional recording obligations. For a minor in Lyric Diction at Santa Clara University I was required to take 6 units of Lyric Diction learning the correct pronunciation of languages including Italian, German and French (and of course English) as well as four years of private vocal training. Outside of musical endeavors I have experience with various characters and voices of my own creation included in my stand up comedy set.

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Almost A Minyan Review

ALMOST A MINYAN
By LORI S. KLINE

ARTWORK BY SUSAN SIMON

  Genre: Picture Book / Jewish Traditions

Publisher: Sociosights Press & Facebook

Date of Publication: April 5, 2017

Number of Pages: 40

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Will she be the one to take Grandfather’s place? 

According to Jewish tradition, a quorum of ten adults is required for public worship. Almost a Minyan traces the story of a young girl whose father and grandfather are regular participants in the town’s minyan – until her beloved Zayde passes on.

Without him, it is even harder for her father to find enough people to make a minyan. Then one day, he brings Zayde’s tefillin to his eldest daughter. A striking new addition to the diverse books movement, Almost a Minyan shares important Hebrew terms and religious concepts through a compelling and beautifully illustrated story for children.

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* * *

PRAISE FOR ALMOST A MINYAN:

 “A warmhearted introduction to coming-of-age in a worship community.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A story of inclusion, belonging and equality. I loved the modern, egalitarian, and traditional values shared in this meaningful story. This is a wonderful modern story for our children and grandchildren!”

Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray

Congregation Shir Shalom, CT

Founder of the Women Cantors’ Network

 

“A delightful read for girls and boys alike, this poetic family tale brings a wonderful sentimentality to daily Jewish prayers. Moreover, the beauty of the illustrations contributes additional warmth to this snapshot of Jewish life. A nice addition for all libraries and all ages.”

Rabbi Jimmy Kessler, DHL, DD

Congregation B’nai Israel, Galveston

 

The moment I started this book I was blown away by the art. Susan Simon has an incredible ability to bring warmth to every scene and bring a smile to my face. A beautiful symmetry and presence to every scene made this heartfelt tale a memorable one. As an amateur artist, I was really impressed by the different perspectives and subtle detail the artist included to capture the readers attention. The designs for each character and their expressions were unique and really showed their personalities. The greatest part is there is a signed giveaway for this book! I would highly recommend you enter and share this wonderful book.

The story itself is very heartfelt. In just a short amount of pages, you see the relationships of fathers, sons, daughters and people of faith. Before or after reading, there is also a helpful Glossary of words at the end for people not familiar with Jewish terms. I would actually recommend a phonetic spelling as well since this book is done in rhyme. However, it is easy to quickly get the hang of the phrases and really capture the story.

Almost a Minyan is the story of a young girl and her point of view. She looks up to her dad and his dedication, thinking of the day when she can become one of the ten adults that gather for prayer and rituals only performed in a minyan. With an unexpected loss, she struggles seeing her father become distant. That is until the day he comes to her early in the morning with a surprise. It’s through their faith, that she finds a part herself in the community and sharing a unique experience with her father. Don’t miss your opportunity to experience this book that has so much to offer.

Lori Sales Kline heralds from Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, PA, which hosts a wonderfully rich Jewish community that fueled her love for Jewish tradition, ritual and practice at home and at, “the shul.”  Following her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Texas in Austin, Lori chose to make Austin her home, largely due to the spiritual connection she felt in the close-knit Austin Jewish community.  In her spare time, Lori enjoys camping, celebrating Judaism with her husband and son, and friends. She previously authored the children’s picture book,  Josiah’s Dreams.

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Susan Simon’s illustrations feature expressive children, humor, sweetness, and imaginative whimsy. She has illustrated seventeen children’s books. Susan lives in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona, with the saguaro cactuses, the coyotes, the Catalina mountains, and her husband, D.B., a music theory professor at the University of Arizona.

As a very young child, Susan both learned from and fell in love with the goodness and beauty readable in some children’s book illustrations. Without having words for it, she understood very young the power of a picture to inform deeply. When she’s not trying to give her all to share with children that kind of quality in her own work, she enjoys walking her two beloved rescued mutts – Oatcake and Peach – riding her giant green bicycle, and playing her growly old accordion.

She is a member of the Graphic Artists Guild, and is currently active in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator, serving as Co-Illustration Representative for Arizona.

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Check out the other great blogs on this tour:

3/24 Illustration Preview 1 Country Girl Bookaholic

3/25 Review Hall Ways Blog

3/26 Author Interview 1 My Book Fix Blog

3/27 Review Momma On The Rocks

3/28 Guest Post Texas Book Lover

3/29 Promo Missus Gonzo

3/30 Review Syd Savvy

3/31 Illustration Preview 2 Reading By Moonlight

4/2 Author Interview 2 Margie’s Must Reads

4/3 Review Books and Broomsticks

4/4 Excerpt Forgotten Winds

4/5 Illustration Preview 3 Chapter Break Book Blog

4/6 Review Books in the Garden

4/7 Author Interview 3 StoreyBook Reviews

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Traveler Review

Traveler 
By L.E. DeLano 
(Traveler, #1) 
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 7th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Book Summary
A teen writer discovers that every mirror is a portal into an alternate version of her life in this romantic YA fantasy by author L.E. DeLano.Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all teacakes, pirates and fantasy lifestyles…Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it… this Jessa is going to live.

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My Review

 

Jessa spends her time dreaming of traveling the world and being a world renowned writer. She gets a taste of her wish when suddenly she’s traveling to parallel realities of her life. With some twists. Suddenly her dreams, including a green eyed boy named Finn, are her reality. After being weary of him at first, he explains that she’s in danger. As a Traveler that can go to different realities, Finn discovers the Jessa’s are being targeted and killed.

Something I immediately noticed and enjoyed is Jessa’s perceptiveness. As a writer, she’s very observant and it was very entertaining the way the book was shaped around her own observations and narrative. The pacing starts out slower and then really picks up. I liked the air of mystery at first and then the craziness that ensues.

Another aspect was Jessa’s love for her older brother who is autistic. It was handled very well from the beginning and had great variation from the main plot. Her relationships and dynamics between the people in her life were well written. Especially considering the changes with each new reality.

It was such a refreshing plot! I don’t think I’ve read anything with pirates in it since a children’s book. This had amazing fantasy elements and action to keep me turning ‘digital’ pages as fast as I could. I did want to see more on how the romance would develop between her and Finn. Finn is protective and becomes quite lovable throughout the book. I’m not a big fan of love triangles (which comes later) but the characters were compelling and I look forward to the next addition. I liked the surprises of not just one character but their parallel self as well. It made it really interesting and I became really invested in the characters. Plus, a shocking ending! As someone who loves writing cliffhangers and starling ends, I felt particularly close to L.E. Delano’s desire to make us want the sequel right away.

About the Author
L.E. DeLano is a YA novelist rep’d by Barry Goldblatt Literary agency, author of the upcoming “Traveler” (Swoon Reads/MacMillan 2017) and lifelong writer. Her work has been featured on various online outlets and she lives in Pennsylvania with two very adventurous kids and two very ridiculous cats. In her spare time, she writes (of course) and binge-watches way too much Netflix.

 

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Birthright Review

  

Birthright

By Jessica Ruddick

Genre: YA Supernatural

Release Date: March 20th 2017

Book Summary

 

How do you live with yourself when you decide who dies?

 

Ava Parks would have killed for an iPod for her sixteenth birthday. Anything would have been better than coming into her birthright of being a seeker for the Grim Reaper, an arrangement made by her fallen angel ancestor in exchange for his re-admittance to heaven. And she isn’t just any seeker — she finds souls that have the potential for becoming angels and sentences them to death. A year and two souls into her role as a seeker with her conscience overflowing with guilt, Ava comes up with a plan to thwart the system. When it goes awry, she is forced to submit the name of a classmate, Cole Fowler, an ornery, rough around the edges guy who always seems to come to her rescue, whether s he likes it or not. Her feelings for Cole prompt her to intervene, and she saves him from death, upsetting the Grim Reaper’s agenda.

 

While Ava schemes to find a way to save Cole, she learns he has some secrets of his own. She lets him believe he is protecting her, and not the other way a round, until a final showdown with the Grim Reaper forces Ava to make choices Cole may never forgive.

 

 

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My Review

Birthright is a very consistent and well-paced book. It was very easy to get lost in Ava’s struggles and bravery in her wish for freedom. She is quite literally trapped in her life but continues to stay defiant against Xavier despite the destructive power he holds. I found it very easy to instantly like Ava. She is a very self-aware character who knows her own flaws and tries to improve herself despite everything going against her.

I particularly found her relationship with her mother moving. While she is angry with her mother for keeping the Seeker secret from her for years, she stills tries to push past her anger and be close to her. Both of them are trapped as Seekers, a job that requires them to name a person of pure white aura and therefore dooming them to death. The catch is that it is for the purpose of them possibly becoming angels. Possibly. While there is no guarantee and they never find out, they both struggle with being responsible for their deaths. In many ways, I could tell the subtle examples of anxiety and PTSD that Ava experiences. Biting her nails, nightmares, and a feeling of detachment are consistently in the book. She struggles with the guilt of the past people she’s named and desperately tries to figure out how to escape Xavier’s demands.

This book balances between a darker theme and the straightforward narrative of a young adult. Ava is mature for her age and keeps to herself but is still a teenager. Ruddick does a great job of giving Ava very mature experiences and then showing her own teenage urges for a normal life and feelings towards Cole. The only critique I would give is the age difference between Ava and Cole. While Cole is only two years older and still in high school, I thought having them a closer in age or moving slower towards a relationship would have been better. At times, I wanted them to become closer in getting to know one another instead of kissing as it felt more meaningful with Ava’s actions to save him. Of course, teenagers tend to be a bit more distracted towards other things. Overall, great book! Engaging moments and dynamics between characters and the rising action to the epic climax was perfect. I look forward to reading the next one!

About the Author

Jessica lives in Virginia with her college-sweetheart husband, two rambunctious sons, and two rowdy but lovable rescue dogs. Since her house is overflowing with testosterone, it’s a good thing she has a healthy appreciation for Marvel movies, Nerf guns, and football.

 

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