Join us for this tour from August 3 to August 14, 2020!
Book Title: Frankie and the Gift of Fantasy by Ruthy Ballard
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 260 pages
Genre: Fantasy and Magic
Publisher: WhipSmart Books
Release date: June 16, 2020 (ebook); October 1, 2020 (print)
Tour dates: August 3 to August 14, 2020
Content Rating: G.
Frankie Russo doesn’t brood about the past or worry about the future. He lives in the present moment, frolicking in a world of make-believe that drives his high-achieving parents crazy. They have lofty ambitions for him, but Frankie has no interest. He prefers to flip helium burgers on Jupiter or rule a kingdom of mermen in the Caspian Sea, up inside his head, where all the fun is. Frankie’s parents nag him endlessly, worried he’ll come to nothing. But all that changes when he disappears through a mysterious crack in his bedroom ceiling and finds himself on a distant, two-mooned planet called Urth. Why was he drawn there? He doesn’t know, but as he embarks on a delightful, mind-blowing adventure, Frankie’s desperate parents think he’s been abducted, and an innocent man is
arrested and charged with the crime! On the surface, Frankie and the Gift of Fantasy is a lighthearted science-rich adventure story that takes its middle grade readers on an entertaining romp to the other side of the galaxy. But the undercurrent is one of discovery and redemption, where a ten-year-old boy, through an unexpected journey, finds a way to escape his parent’s stifling shadow and emerge into a future of his own choosing.
Meet the Author:Ruthy Ballard is a children’s book author, artist, and scientist who lives in Sacramento, California. By day, she’s “Dr. Ruth Ballard,” a professor and forensic DNA expert. By night, she romps in an imaginative playground of colors and words. Ruthy is the author of Frankie and the Gift of Fantasy and Tales by Moons-Light: Stories from Before the Great Melt. She is currently working on the third book in her Tales by Moons-light series: Elvia and the Gift of Passion. Her entertaining stories lure middle grade readers into science, but her creative ventures don’t stop there. She’s also a folk artist whose colorful “cartoons” delight and inspire both children and adults. Ruthy is married to a musician and is the mother of two sons, three cats, and a Samoyed dog named Mush, all of whom appear in her work, in various guises, from time to time.
Enter the Giveaway:
THERE’S A ZOO IN MY POO
By PROFESSOR FELICE JACKA
AND ROB CRAW
Genre: Children’s, Non-fiction
Publication: 28 July 2020
Publisher: PAN MACMILLAN AUSTRALIA
Source: Review copy from publisher – Thank You
Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵
World expert in the field of Nutritional Psychiatry and gut health, Professor Felice Jacka and teacher and musician Rob Craw have created one of the first gut-health picture books aimed at kids: There’s a Zoo in my Poo.
Exciting new science tells us now that an unhealthy gut can contribute to a wide range of health issues including obesity and depression. And for children, a poorly functioning gut may contribute to stomach aches, poor immunity, allergies and asthma, and mood fluctuations.
There’s a Zoo in my Poo is a funny, entertaining and informative look at gut-health, encouraging kids to become the Zookeepers to the trillions of tiny bugs that live in and on all of us. It’s designed to give kids the knowledge and power to make healthy choices for themselves.
An important, timely, and engrossing introduction to gut health for kids (and their parents), who will learn which are the good bugs and which are the bad, and what we should eat to keep our good bugs happy and our body strong.
Fun and educational, There’s a Zoo in my Poo gets to the guts of what makes a healthy, happy you!
About the author and the illustrator:
Professor Felice Jacka is an international expert in the field of Nutritional Psychiatry and gut health and leads a research field examining how individuals’ diets affect mental and brain health. Rob Craw is a teacher, musician, and illustrator, who shares Jacka’s passion for educating everyone, especially kids, about the importance of healthy eating.
I had only just finished opening the Pan Mac postal pack and placed the book on my desk when Ethan spotted it, picked it up and proclaimed “Ohhhh, can you read this to me mummy” – So that’s a win for the overall physical look of the book – it looks just like a little kids picture book with its bright glossy hardcover and full-colour pages printed on high-quality paper.
The artwork is reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, as are the chapter headings and the little poems that accompany them.
Dr. Seuss vibes! always a win in my book!
The main text of the book is interesting and informative, delving into how the gut actually works digesting food, fueling the body, the connection between mood and food and so much more. As an adult, I can appreciate the way the author has organised the data and facts into something digestible for a younger audience, and I applaud the book’s good intentions, but my two did struggle with the large info blocks. We took two breaks while reading it, poping in two just-for-fun silly picture books for a rest and that seemed to do the trick for Riley (7-yrs-old) at least, who afterward said he liked the book.
So Riley (7) and I liked it, but Ethan (3) lost interest once we got to the large chunks of text – I’d say, this is a book best suited for 6 to 10 year olds. I can see it being a classroom hit, with the teachers and primary school students, which is what I think the author was going for.
At the back of the book are some gut health recipes with fun titles! I am keen to make some of these with the boys, as I think the funny names and being apart of making the food concoctions might just get them excited enough to get the courage to try eating them – big win right there!
Physical appearance/feel – 5/5.
Dr. Seuss vibes – 5/5.
Books educational content – 5/5.
Overall reading enjoyment – 3/5.
The recipes – 5/5.
Conclusion: THERE’S A ZOO IN MY POO is a book that well worth the read with your 6-10 year old – They’ll learn something and you just might too.
This is just a little update for those you helped us or were helping us with our fundraising for the Camp Quality Fun X4.
We should have already been on the FunX4 and been back by now, but thanks to Covid19 the dates have had to be pushed back to later in the year – We (Jake, Josh, Shane & I) are now unable to attend with the new dates.
Thankfully, Shane and I managed to raise $3980.00 before Covid19 hit. And Jake and Josh managed to raise $2825.00 – and as far as I am concerned $6805.00 for such a worthwhile charity is something to be proud of!
If you have got no idea what I’m talking about, and want to, click HERE for my post when I announced Shane and I would be going on the FUNX4.
Every wallflower blooms at their own perfect time, but some like quirky Lo, take longer than others.
Lo is a sheltered 20-year-old who loves baking, manga/anime, and octopi. When she spots her college swim team’s tryout flyer sporting her favorite sea creature, an octopus she knows it’s a sign that she must join the Flying Octopi. The only things standing her way are her social awkward nature and the fact that she just learned to swim.
Will Lo find her place to shine or will her social anxiety DQ her dreams?
Late Bloomer is a new adult novel that is a cross between Bridget Jones’s Diary, Baywatch and Kuragehime.
My thoughts: The Diary of a late bloomer was a blissful slow burn of a book, that I ended up adoring. The story is told in the format of diary entries written by the POV character, each day for five months (First entry Sept 3rd, 2003, last entry Feb 29th, 2004). The diary style in which this is told felt unique and as the reader, I felt as if I was reading a personal journal and like I was looking into Lo’s mind.
The story opens with Lo running late to swim team tryouts. She taught herself to swim over the summer, with the help of books, and really isn’t that good. But the coach takes pity on her and allows her on the team, even going as far as to come up with special training routines to help her become as capable as her other teammates – it’s actually super sweet now that I look back at it, he could have just turned her down – At first, she struggles with the grueling routines of the swim team, but grows to appreciate it as her fitness level increases.
Lo comes across as a bit stilted at times, but that grows on you and ends up being kinda adorable. She’s 20, has had hardly any adult life experiences, and oh boy does she wine a lot in the beginning. But that all starts to make sense as we see how overprotective her mother is and the life she leads at home with her brother and parents.
For the most part of the story, Lo is very down on herself after years of schoolyard bullying. It is glorious to see her come out of her shell. We see her go to her first concert without parental supervision, learn how to navigate friendships and dating, have her first kiss, and *spoiler* her first boyfriend. It was enjoyable watching Lo’s character grow, to see her stop making excuses and start moving forward with her life.
I would have loved a prequel showing the swim team still kicking, (person who I’m not naming as it’s a big spoiler) and Lo awkwardly in love and (that same person) spending more time with Lo’s family.
Summary: this book is a clean slow burn romance that will warm your heart.
NOTE! You do not need to be into swimming to enjoy this book!
L.M.L. Gil is a writer, a reader, and a dreamer. When she is not writing, editing, or thinking about her next story, she is either in the kitchen testing out a new recipe or snuggling with her fur munchkins reading.
As a glutton, she equates a good novel to a scrumptious dessert, which leaves your heart a little lighter and a smile on your face. She hopes her novels provide a sweet treat without the calories
You can find her HERE.
Taste My Wrath
(The Iron Fae #1)
Publication date: June 18th 2020
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
A dead earth, a handful of survivors, and a game that could wipe out humanity.
I was one of the few humans to be saved by the shining ones. Powerful beings who came from the stars just in time to stop the annihilation of mankind.
But they’ve been here before.
Earth was once their home and humanity has another name for them. Fae.
Now we live in iron cities paying for haven as workers and conscripted warriors.
We owe them after all.
Until they ask too much.
The Regency Tournament is about to begin. A test of prowess for the shining ones to determine which House will rule their people for the next century.
And we humans? We’re the prey.
But I didn’t survive earths almost destruction to be hunted like a beast.
If I’m going to go down, then I’ll be taking these pointy eared wankers with me.
And I have an advantage. A shadow companion—protective but tough. My mentor has trained me in the art of survival. With his smooth dulcet tones in my head, and his shadowy form at my back, I’ll no longer be prey.
And when I hunt the shining ones, they won’t even see me coming.
An Urban Fantasy Romance adventure.
Experience the magic of the Fae set against a Post-Apocalyptic back drop in a dystopian world.
Debbie Cassidy lives in England, Bedfordshire, with her three kids and very supportive husband. Coffee and chocolate biscuits are her writing fuels of choice, and she is still working on getting that perfect tower of solitude built in her back garden. Obsessed with building new worlds and reading about them, she spends her spare time daydreaming and conversing with the characters in her head – in a totally non psychotic way of course. She writes Urban Fantasy, Fantasy and Reverse Harem Fantasy. All her books contain plenty of action, romance and twisty plots.
Mister Invincible: Local Hero by Pascal Jousselin
Genre: Childrens, Graphic Novel
Publication: August 4th, 2020
Publisher: Magnetic Press
Source: Review copy from Netgalley – Thank You
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵
Winner of the BEST MIDDLE GRADE COMIC Award at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair! There’s a new superhero in town — Mr. Invincible! Sure, he wears a mask and cape and helps widows and orphans as any self-respecting hero would, but he also thwarts the mad scientists and bad guys with his amazing super-power that makes him the only true comic book hero: he can reach outside the comic strip panels to affect both space and time! By breaking the boundaries of ‘comic book physics’ he and his companions are able to do amazing things that are only possible thanks to the magic of comics! A wholly unique and creative twist on conventional comic-book reading experience, this wacky Middle Grade title will put your imagination to the test!
Mister Invincible: Local Hero was a quick, fun and humours read. I quite liked the way Mister Invincible can reach through the story panels, breaking the fourth wall. Mister Invincible moves around the panels and pages grabbing things from the future and positioning himself perfectly to stop the bad guys.
Mister Invincible outsmarts evil supervillains (two reoccurring), befriends wayward teens who have their own superpowers and takes on one such teen as an apprentice, travels from France to America to help the president, saves cats stuck up trees – all sorts of things – Sometimes solo and sometimes with the aid of one of his sidekicks (one a local police officer and the other his superhero apprentice).
I do not know much about this series other than the synopsis grabbed my attention and that it has been translated from French. It reads like it was a weekly web or newspaper series that has been compiled and published together in a paperback format – it had major Sunday newspaper vibes for me. This book is filled with smaller standalone stories, which I think makes it a perfect coffee table book that you could pick up and read a few pages of here or there, as well as it also being entertaining enough to read in one sitting, cover to cover, as a whole.
I read this as an eARC from Netgalley and I am thinking that I will buy a printed edition when it comes out in August for my eldest son Riley, as I think he would find Mister Invincible rather fantastic!
All in all, Mister Invincible is a fun for all ages comic, that’d I recommend for anyone after some light-hearted reading.
Bottle Rocket (So Over the Holidays #3)
by Erin McLellan
Genre: Contemporary, 18+ Romance
Publication: June 15th 2020
Publisher: Erin McLellan
Source: Review copy from A Novel Take PR – Thank You
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Freshly single Rosie Holiday is on the hunt for passion and excitement. This leads her to Leo Whittaker—a bad boy who waltzed out of town, and her life, thirteen years ago. Leo isn’t the type to stick around, but Rosie’s not going to let a no-strings opportunity pass her by.
When a business trip sends Leo back to his hometown, the last thing he expects is for his first love to hand him a list of scorching-hot escapades and a deadline. He’s happy to help Rosie discover her bossy side in the bedroom. Or in a fireworks stand. Or at a Fourth of July barbecue.
Their chemistry burns bright and fast, but what tore them apart years ago is still between them. They are polar opposites. A reserved kindergarten teacher and an irreverent artist. A nester and a wanderer. It will take a spark of imagination and a lot of love to keep their second-chance romance from flaming out.
Bottle Rocket is a queer second chances romance that releases today (June 15, 2020). Happy book birthday Erin!!!!
WARNING: this is an adult read and there are graphic depictions of female with male and male with male sex. There is also an orgy at a sex party (m/f/f/m), but that is not delved into all that descriptively. All sexual encounters are respectful and consensual.
Bottle Rocket is the third book in the So Over the Holidays series, but each can be read as a standalone. While there are cross over characters, each book has a different main character and a different Holiday is celebrated. The first book focuses on Middle sister Sasha and Christmas, the second book being about baby brother Benji and Valentine’s day. Then this the third book focuses on the eldest sister Rosie and the fourth of July.
I enjoyed meeting Benji and William, and experiencing their romance in Candy Hearts, so I jumped at the chance to read Bottle Rocket. I went in with high expectations and I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed. Now I just need Erin McLellan to write a queer holiday romance that has some leading lesbians, or a lesbian and a bisexual, and then this series would be real winner for me.
STORY SUMMARY: Rosie divorced and down on herself, runs into ex Leo at a painting class – Leo unexpectedly is the naked male model. After 13 years the two reconnect via a six day no strings attached sex pact. Throughout their weeklong fuck fest, both keep battling their old resurfacing emotions.
Happily, by the end of the story, Rosie has found herself again – Yes, the story isn’t all about sex, there are important messages of finding fulfillment within one’s self, the importance of family and friendship and balance.
I really appreciated the Epilogue of two years later, checking in on the characters and how their relationship has progressed – it made for a happy and heart-warming ending.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is after a super cute romantic pick-me-up type read – if you can handle the heat.
All in all, Bottle Rocket is a super cute, hot, humorous, and fun second chance at love story.
A happily-ever-after read, that I thoroughly enjoyed.
About the author: Erin McLellan is the author of the Farm College, So Over the Holidays, and Storm Chasers series. She enjoys writing happily ever afters that are earthy, emotional, quirky, humorous, and very sexy. Originally from Oklahoma, she currently lives in Alaska and spends her time dreaming up queer contemporary romances set in the Great Plains. She is a lover of chocolate, college sports, antiquing, Dr Pepper, and binge-worthy TV shows.
Saga by Nikki McWatters
Genre: Historical, #LoveOzYa
Publication: November 5th 2019
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Source: Review copy from publisher – Thank You
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Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵
In the last years of the Viking Era, as the traditions and old wisdoms are being replaced by the Roman Church, Astrid, a skaldm r who is learning to write royal sagas, takes on the task of recording the True Things so that they are not forgotten. When she realises that she must protect her baby from the King and the Bishop, Astrid runs away to the Orkney Islands to hide her daughter and the book.
Mercy is taken from a Victorian orphanage in Glasgow by a dangerous man. She escapes and meets Ann Radcliffe, a successful yet reclusive author of Gothic horror novels. Mercy joins Ann’s household and is taught the art of storytelling. But she longs to discover her true identity, the answers to which may be found in a book her mother left for her at the orphanage.
Mia, who lives in the Blue Mountains, is given the ancient book Systir Saga at the funeral of her cousin. With the help of a university research assistant, she manages to decipher the early rune symbols and discovers that it points to an even more mysterious book buried somewhere in the Orkney Islands. Mia travels to an ancient rock mound on a windswept island to discover the true secret of the Systir Saga.
Saga is the story of three strong and resilient young women who share a bloodline. The first chapter opens with the POV of Astrid (Orkneyjar, Norway 1066). In the second chapter, we move on to meet 2nd POV, Mercy (Glasgow, Scotland 1813). Then in the third chapter, we meet 3rd POV, Mia (The Blue Mountains, Australia present day).
For me Saga read like three books in one, with each chapter cycling through, Astrid, Mercy & Mia, then back again. By the end of Mai’s first chapter, it was obvious what the connection between the three young women was – but I think that is possibly intentional.
I really enjoyed and apricate the way McWatters has weaved historical figures, myths, and historical events in amongst fantasy in this historical/contemporary/treasure hunt mash-up of a book.
A highlight for me was the storyline of present-day Mia traveling to the Pagan holy island of Eynhallow and seeing what she and her friend learn about and uncover on Pict culture.
Overall, I think this book is a brilliant concept and has some fantastic storylines, and the ability to make the reader remember that we women did in fact run the world once upon a time.
“Four generations of women here,” Syvia said as the wind whipped her white hair about her face. “My women. My family. And our books that tell a story of a time when we were queens and goddesses, witches, warriors and wordsmiths.”
Full discloser: I started reading this book in December 2019, super excited, expecting that I would love it and be buying my Scottish born Grandmother and Mother a copy each for Christmas. I stopped reading in January at the 50% mark as I was having trouble investing in the characters, and my reading progress had been quite slow. I would just feel I was getting into the groove of the story, only to be pulled out and dropped in another one. I was getting super frustrated as I really wanted to love this book, but the chapter swapping out each time, it really felt like I was reading three books at once – something that some people really enjoy doing! But not me in the last few years. I like to start a book then devour it in as few reading sessions as possible, that is how I find I get the most enjoyment – like binge-watching a season of something on Netflix lol. So just because it’s not my cup of tea, doesn’t mean that it’s isn’t your cup of tea – ya feel me.
I had planned on picking Saga up again earlier this year, as I still wanted to finish the book. I’ve only just got around to picking it back up in late May, but was still having the same issues, so for the last quarter I decided to just read Mia chapters, to find out how the overall story ends and follow the treasure hunt present-day storyline (as I was finding it the most interesting, but only because of the initial Astrid story set up, having known she started it all).
Dogography by Maree Coote
Genre: Children’s, Art, Non-Fiction
Publication: June 1, 2020
Publisher: (Imprint) Melbournestyle Books
Distributor: Walker Australia-HEDS
Source: Review copy from publisher – Thank You
Every part of me’s a letter Does that help you see me better? Look very closely, Can you see the hidden letters that spell me?
How do you spell DOG? In this brand new collection of typographic doggy delights this award winning illustrator show you a whole new way to spell your best friend. Each picture is created using only the letters that spell each dog’s name, and is partnered with a brief, amusing verse. The exact fonts used are provided in a key on each page to help readers find all the letter shapes and that spell each dog. Includes Teachers’ Notes.
There isn’t much I can say about this book, being that it is more of an activity book than a storybook. But it’s pages are filled with rhyming text and adorable and cleaver artwork. My boys and I found this book to be a cute and fun treat.
Ethan (3), Riley (6, almost 7) and I had great fun ‘reading’ Dogography together. I read the small text on each page to the boys, then had then find all the different letters that make up the names of the different breeds within the art.
Once we had finished ‘reading’ the book and I asked them if they liked it, they were both all big smiles and nodding heads and of course, Ethan let out his excited AGAIN cry.
This book is well worth the purchase for your kids or grandkids and makes for a fantastic activity to do together. It would even make a cute coffee table book for kid-free dog lovers. All in all, Dogography is a five-star book, that I highly recommend.
Dogography by Maree Coote – A fantastic book for parents and grandparents looking for an interactive read, or dog lovers after a cute coffee table book.