Category Archives: book tour
Crow Made a Friend
by Margaret Peot
Try, try again is the lesson Crow teaches beginning readers in this picture book reader. Crow was all alone. But like all crows, he was very clever. Using autumn leaves for wings, sticks for the body and a crab apple for the head, Crow made a friend! But winter winds blew in, destroying his creation. Undaunted, Crow fashioned another bird friend out of snow but could not prevent it from melting in the warm spring sun. Alone again, Crow heard the caw, caw, caw of a real, live bird. Together they built a nest and by summer, Crow had a family. This warm, satisfying story, celebrates perseverance and ingenuity.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
My first grader and I read this book together! It’s the perfect length for a bedtime story, not too wordy and with only a sentence or two on each page.
This book is about a crow who’s lonely, and tries to make himself friends. The crow fails a couple of times, but he never quits. I like that the lesson of perseverance is taught in the book in a way that’s not super blatant or detracts from the story.
The reason I took away one star is that I felt the ending was a little rushed and not something kids could understand–crow meets another crow and then suddenly there is a family? As an adult, I got it I suppose, but my seven year old was like, “Mom, where did the family come from?”
My child’s favorite part was definitely the gorgeous illustrations. He loved pointing out the crows’ beautiful and shiny feathers, especially on the last page when they were all together.
Crow Made a Friend is a super book for beginning readers and one your child will be happy to share with you.
About the Author
Margaret is an artist, writer and costume painter. Margaret has two new books out in 2015, Stencil Craft (F&W) and an early reader picture book, Crow Made a Friend (Holiday House). Margaret’s book Inkblot: Drip, Splat and Squish Your Way to Creativity (Boyds Mills 2011) was awarded a Eureka! Silver Medal for non-fiction children’s books. She is also the author of The Successful Artist’s Career Guide (F&W 2012), Alternative Art Journals (F&W 2012), and Make Your Mark (Chronicle Books, 2004), voted one of Library Journal’s best how-to books of 2004.
An avid believer that art making can be for everyone, Margaret has presented art workshops with cancer survivors, elders, children, parent and teen groups, writers, nurses and caregivers, at The Creative Center at University Settlement’s Creative Aging conferences, and their Artist-in-Residence Training program, with EngAGE Utah, at Gilda’s Club, The Huntsman Cancer Institute, Operation Exodus in NYC, and at Miami University’s Scripps center with Dr. Like Lokon, and Opening Minds Through Art.
Connect with Margaret
PURCHASE THE BOOK:
One reader will receive a copy of Crow Made a Friend!
Let me know which animal is your child’s favorite in a comment below!
Everything She Forgot
by Lisa Ballantyne
They’re calling it the worst pile-up in London history. Driving home, Margaret Holloway has her mind elsewhere—on a troubled student, her daughter’s acting class, the next day’s meeting—when she’s rear-ended and trapped in the wreckage. Just as she begins to panic, a disfigured stranger pulls her from the car just seconds before it’s engulfed in flames. Then he simply disappears.
Though she escapes with minor injuries, Margaret feels that something’s wrong. She’s having trouble concentrating. Her emotions are running wild. More than that, flashbacks to the crash are also dredging up lost associations from her childhood, fragments of events that were wiped from her memory. Whatever happened, she didn’t merely forget—she chose to forget. And somehow, Margaret knows deep down that it’s got something to do with the man who saved her life.
As Margaret uncovers a mystery with chilling implications for her family and her very identity, Everything She Forgot winds through a riveting dual narrative and asks the question: How far would you go to hide the truth—from yourself…?
MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I suppose this book was marketed as a mystery/thriller, but I saw the plot coming from pretty early on. The best thing about this novel is the rich character development. The author gives you a background on almost all the major players, and it really offers a lot of insight into why these people might act the way they do.
Yes, the plot does involve a kidnapping of sorts–but in how many novels do you actually feel sorry for the kidnapper, and even see him as a kind of hero? The author crafts her characters in such a way that you can’t help but connect to (almost) all of them.
I finished the book quite quickly once I got into it, but it did take me a while to get into it because of all the time, point of view, and location switches. Once the story starts rolling nicely though, it really takes off. Sometimes, when you’re caught up in what was going on with Margaret and George in 1985, it’s a bit annoying to be thrown back into Margaret’s story in 2013.
I truly did love the way the entire novel unfolded. I don’t think there could have been a better ending. I wish I could have seen one particular character get his comeuppance, but in my opinion it was implied that shortly after the events of the book, his life begins to fall apart. My rating of 3.5 is because although I liked the book, some of it was very predictable, and also, I didn’t like being thrown back and forth between time in the way I was. It works for some novels but I found it disjointed in this one.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to root for the underdog, and loves an unconventional family story.
About the Author
Lisa Ballantyne is the author of the Edgar Award-nominated The Guilty One. She spent most of her twenties working and living in China, before returning to the UK in 2002. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland.
Animals Have Feelings, Too!: Exploring Emotions From A to Z
by Karen Lee Stevens
Filled with humor and whimsical illustrations, this enchanting and educational A to Z guide takes young readers on a journey through the alphabet with a lovable Labrador retriever named Sandy, who shows kids that animals and people share many of the same feelings. From A is for Affectionate to Z is for Zonked, Animals Have Feelings, Too! helps children to understand and express their feelings and to treat animals with kindness and respect.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I read this book along with my first grader. We have a dog and much of our family has pets too, so I believe the lessons in this book are important and will stick.
The book is laid out in an A to Z way that is very simple to understand and fun to read. My child is a beginning reader, and he could read a good part of the sentences by himself but sometimes needed help with other parts.
We loved the colorful illustrations and meeting the animals within. My son was so interested when I told him Sandy was a real dog! Sometimes I thought the story got a bit repetitive, but I believe it was OK for him.
I think every child who is ever around animals should read this book. Learning about how we can affect others’ feelings is so important!
About the Author
Karen Lee Stevens is the founder and president of All for Animals, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a compassionate world for animals and children through humane education and literacy programs that nurture the human-animal bond.
Karen is also an author and a Certified Humane Educator who, for the past 14 years, has given presentations to thousands of elementary school children and has helped them learn how to treat animals with love and respect.
In February, 2013, Karen launched ARF! (Animals + Reading = Fun!), a unique literacy program that gives children from all walks of life an opportunity to improve their reading skills and inspire them to become life-long readers by reading aloud to specially trained therapy dogs.
Her latest children’s picture book is Animals Have Feelings, Too!: Exploring Emotions From A to Z.
For More Information
- Animals Have Feelings, Too!: Exploring Emotions From A to Z is available at Amazon.
by Holly Hook
The Deathwind Trilogy, Book One
Sixteen-year-old Allie isn’t like other girls. Instead of spending her summer break sitting around on the beach, she takes the epic vacation of a lifetime.
And she’s not disappointed. Just a few miles from the town of Evansburg, Nebraska, Allie meets her dream of seeing a tornado. In person. She can’t wait to tell her friends back home. Never mind that her parents are going to kill her.
But her dream soon turns into a nightmare, and a strange event leaves her shocked. Confused. When she returns home to Wisconsin, something’s…different. Allie now bears a curse so awful, it could destroy everyone and everything she’s ever known.
With her best friend, Tommy, Allie must return to the plains to find a way to reverse it. She enters a world that she had never imagined, where she becomes a pawn in a fight to save the people of Evansburg from her fate…or to destroy them.
About the Author
The Wonder of All Things
by Jason Mott
On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators. After the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds disappear.
Ava has an unusual gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. Now the whole world knows, and suddenly people from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to catch a glimpse of The Miracle Child. But Ava’s unique ability comes at a great cost, and as she grows weaker with each healing, she soon finds herself having to decide just how much she’s willing to give up in order to save the ones she loves most.
MY THOUGHTS: 3.75 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
From the moment a plane crashes at an air show and 13 year old Ava saves her best friend from death, her life is changed. She doesn’t even understand the “powers” she has, but others seems to think they do–and that it is Ava’s responsibility to heal the world. Nevermind the fact that each time she heals, her own health deteriorates. It’s up to her father, Macon, stepmom Carmen, and best friend Wash to try to help her cope and to keep her safe from a world that would take everything from her, no matter what the cost.
Unfortunately, all the adults in both Ava’s and Wash’s lives make some terrible decisions. Both kids are mature beyond their years because of tragedies they have had to endure, but it’s sad when 13 year olds seems to know how to take better care of themselves than their guardians do. As soon as the world realizes what Ava did, they are in her face asking her to heal them and their loved ones. Even Ava’s own stepmother inevitably asks Ava for something. Macon, who is not only Ava’s dad but the town’s sheriff, does a bad job at keeping his daughter away from those who want to test and exploit her. Every person in this novel is more than a little bit lost, and every person seems to be looking out for themselves first.
This made me very angry for Ava, from the beginning. It’s very unclear to me why Macon did not take the offensive and tell the world that his daughter was slowly dying each time she performed her “miracles.” Would the people have cared? It’s hard to say, but it would have shown that Macon took a hard stance on protecting his child, which is sometimes questionable when you consider his actions.
In spite of all these frustrations, I got this book finished very quickly. The relationship between Ava and Wash was very special, and it’s obvious from the beginning that they need each other. Since both kids have one parent dead and one that’s on a weird path, they are the only constants in each others’ lives. Every moment the kids spend together is extremely touching and your heart just aches for them because you have this feeling that not everything will turn out the way it should.
By the end, events were moving very quickly and chaotically, and still not everyone had found their head. I won’t spoil it here, but the end is very emotional and moving. I don’t think it will make everyone happy, it may leave them angry (as it did for me), and still others may find it a bit ambiguous. But that goes along with the theme of the entire book and Ava’s mysterious abilities. After all, this is a story about a child, which can be forgotten as you read along. At its’ heart, this novel brings up numerous questions to which there are no right answers.
About the Author
JASON MOTT holds a BA in fiction and an MFA in poetry both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is the author of two poetry collections. His writing has appeared in numerous literary journals, and he was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize. In addition to the rare achievement of receiving starred reviews from all four of the top publishing industry magazines—Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews—The Returned was named a “People Pick” by People magazine, and was featured in Essence, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Post, among others. Mott also appeared on numerous broadcast programs including NPR’s All Things Considered and Tell Me More, The Travis Smiley Show, the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Radio Show and many local television shows across the U.S. Mott lives in North Carolina.
Connect with Jason
One reader will win a copy of The Wonder of All Things! US/CAN only please. Ends August 14, 2015.
To enter, please leave a comment telling me if you have read any of Jason Mott’s books or if you’ve seen the show based on The Returned!
Confessions of a Queen B*
by Crista McHugh
Alexis Wyndham is the other type of Queen B—the Queen Bitch.
After years of being the subject of ridicule, she revels in her ability to make the in-crowd cower via the exposés on her blog, The Eastline Spy. Now that she’s carved out her place in the high school hierarchy, she uses her position to help the unpopular kids walking the hallways.
Saving a freshman from bullies? Check.
Swapping insults with the head cheerleader? Check.
Falling for the star quarterback? So not a part of her plan.
But when Brett offers to help her solve the mystery of who’s posting X-rated videos from the girls’ locker room, she’ll have to swallow her pride and learn to see past the high school stereotypes she’s never questioned—until now.
MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
This short tale gets three stars, but just barely. To be honest, it’s full of stereotypical characters, decisions that make no sense, and predictable moments. But at its’ heart, it had a compelling theme that kept me reading until I finished it in one sitting.
Our main character is Alexis, senior and resident gossip blogger at her high school. There apparently is enough going on at this school that Alexis has gained quite the rep: if you’re trying to hide something nefarious, she will find out, and it will be posted on her blog for the entire school to see!
It should come as no shock that Alexis doesn’t have many friends. Her besties are the outliers; a flamboyantly gay Asian kid, and a sex grazed Goth girl. Other than that, everyone else in school is pretty much scared of her. Except for one boy: quarterback and student body president Brett Pederson.
It just so happens that Brett and Alexis get paired up for a school project. Though Alexis does her bitchy best to repel him, Brett is immune and instead seems to want to get to know her better. Alexis must learn to let her guard down around him, which she never does with ANYONE.
As I said, the book is full of stereotypical characters–the gay boy that can only talk about penis (wtf, I know that’s not all he thinks about), the head cheerleader with fake boobs, the quarterback that is nothing but perfect. I saw another review that said if you can remember Freddie Prinze Jr’s character in She’s All That, then you’ve got Brett–and that is a SPOT ON observation. Even when it comes to his parents putting pressure on him about college. That is literally the only problem he has in his life. He is too good to be true, and that does not make a good YA character.
Alexis does have a bit more depth, and getting peeks into her true feelings is what kept me interested. Alexis cannot let anyone see her true self; I think she does not know how. She’s also concerned about losing her status at school, though she would never admit it. If she’s not the Queen Bitch, then what is she? Her struggles with her identity are a bit buried, but there if you are looking.
Apparently this book is the first in a series, but I’m not sure if I’ll be continuing. I might though, just to see what Alexis turns into once she breaks out of her high school mold.
About the Author
Growing up in small town Alabama, Crista relied on story-telling as a natural way for her to pass the time and keep her two younger sisters entertained.
She currently lives in the Audi-filled suburbs of Seattle with her husband and two children, maintaining her alter ego of mild-mannered physician by day while she continues to pursue writing on nights and weekends.
Just for laughs, here are some of the jobs she’s had in the past to pay the bills: barista, bartender, sommelier, stagehand, actress, morgue attendant, and autopsy assistant.
And she’s also a recovering LARPer. (She blames it on her crazy college days)
For the latest updates, deleted scenes, and answers to any burning questions you have, please check out her webpage, www.CristaMcHugh.com.
by Michael Omer
Narrowdale Series, Book One
Don’t fall asleep. Don’t dream. Don’t get caught.
Amy knew she’d hate Narrowdale, a boring suburban town. How could it possibly compare to L.A., where she lived her entire life? Being a high school freshman in a new place made things even worse.
And that was before she started having the same nightmare over and over again. Before she woke up every night to a shrill whistle outside her window. Before she met a homeless man who seemed to know way too much.
Some things seem to happen only in Narrowdale, where dark secrets are hiding beneath the surface…
MY THOUGHTS: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
14 year old Amy isn’t too thrilled when she has to leave LA to move to a small town called Narrowdale right before her freshman year. Not only is it bad enough that it’s taking her a while to make friends, but she’s starting to learn that this own is hiding more than a few secrets. Like the homeless man who seems to be able to read minds and see the future. Like the terrifying dreams that are haunting Amy’s every night.
When Amy decides she can’t take any more sleepless nights, she begins to dig into the truth about what is going on in Narrowdale. And a nearly ten year old crime catches up with her in a life threatening way.
To be honest, this story starts out very very slowly, with Amy overexplaining the mundane details of her day. But the book is only 160 pages so it was a very quick read…although it took nearly to the halfway point for any action to be going on.
I guess you could say Narrowdale is a kind of supernatural town, with things going on no one can explain and that no one really tries to. The citizens just accept that the town’s “quirks” are a way of life. There’s really no explanation given about why the town is the way it is, so I suppose we are going to accept this fact as well.
Amy is just OK as a main character, though at times it seems she can’t make up her mind about what type of person she wants to be. Sometimes she’s shy, others snarky, others a class-skipping rebel. Her constant narration of every little detail became annoying quickly.
Once the story hit its’ stride about the reason Amy was having her dreams/visions, things moved very quickly. Amy and her partners investigate, pry, and just plain get lucky breaks, but they find out the truth. This truth puts them in danger, of course.
I truly appreciated that this story didn’t have some budding romance or awkward meet cutes with its characters. Amy got by with help from her friends, but she didn’t need a boyfriend, and that was great.
The end moved very, very fast in comparison to the beginning, and I wish the climactic moment had been fleshed out more. It’s also interesting to note that Sleepless is the first book in a series set in the town of Narrowdale. Maybe we’ll learn more about this place after all.
About the Author
My name is Michael Omer, and I’m a writer, journalist and game designer. I wrote and published my first novel when I was sixteen, and figured I’d keep at it. Since then, I have published two more novels, and wrote… who can even count how many? I’m happily married to a woman who keeps pushing me to write more, and have three kids who insist I should stop writing and come play with them. I also have two dogs.
by Adam Cesare
Harriet Laurel notices the odor at Mercy House as soon as she sets foot inside, brought there against her will by her son, Don, and his wife, Nikki. In the early stages of dementia, Harriet has grown resentful of Nikki, blaming her daughter-in-law for failing to supply grandchildren. Yet even Harriet must admit that her mind becomes clearer as soon as she crosses the threshold. If it wasn’t for that annoying smell.
Arnold Piper is an eighty-five-year-old ex-Marine, a proud man who has cared for himself his whole life. But no longer. Betrayed by his aging body, Arnold is learning that the trials he survived long ago in war-torn Korea pale beside the daily indignities of growing old. Little does he know that his greatest nightmares are still ahead of him.
Sarah Campbell is an idealistic nurse whose compassion has been stretched to the breaking point at the chronically understaffed facility that is Mercy House. But now Sarah’s list of unpleasant duties is about to take a terrifying turn. For something wicked is brewing in Mercy House. Something dark and rotten . . . and deadly.
MY THOUGHTS: 2.5 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
The book started out in a promising way, but quickly became a gore fest….it was gore just for the sake of having gore, in my opinion.
In this tale, some sort of change comes over the residents of a nursing home so that they’re not only growing stronger and overpowering the staff and visitors, they are in fact thirsting for their blood! I wouldn’t call this a zombie book, though.
We learn just enough about the main characters so that we care what happens to them; even though some are stereotypes, we still want them to survive. The book is pretty fast paced, with action happening within the first 20%, and ramping up quickly after that.
While I like the author’s writing style and originality, I had a hard time taking this story seriously sometimes. It’s not that the blood and gore turned my stomach, it’s that it seemed it was at times just put into the plot for shock value, not to add anything. I would recommend this book only for strict horror fans who want a different, but still familiar feeling, book about survival horror.
About the Author
Adam Cesare is a New Yorker who lives in Philadelphia. He studied English and film at Boston University. His books include Video Night, The Summer Job, Zero Lives Remaining, and Tribesmen. His nonfiction has appeared in Paracinema, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and other venues.
One reader will win a copy of MERCY HOUSE by Adam Cesare + a Hydra mug
by Heather Herrman
For fans of Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Sarah Langan comes a thrilling new vision of American horror. In Heather Herrman’s heart-pounding debut novel, evil is ready to feed—and it’s got one hell of an appetite.
In the wake of tragedy, John and Erma Scott are heading west in search of a new life. So when car trouble strands them in sleepy Cavus, Montana, they decide to stay for a while, charmed by the friendly residents and the surrounding ambiance. Here, they hope, is the healing balm that their marriage needs.
Then John and Erma find themselves in a fight not just to save their marriage, but their very lives. For this is no ordinary town. Its quiet streets conceal a dark and bloody secret that has slumbered for centuries. Now, that secret is awake . . . and it’s hungry.
Like a slow infection, evil is spreading through Cavus. Soon John and Erma—along with the local sheriff, an undocumented immigrant, a traumatized teenage girl, and an old man with terrible secrets of his own—must join together to battle an all-consuming force that has set its sights on its prey: the entire human race.
“Both the evil that suffuses the pages of Consumption and the motley gang of innocents who defend against it are much more interesting than those usually found in your average scare fare. Solid writing elevates this imaginative fright-fest from an invigorating new voice.”—Sophie Littlefield, bestselling author of the Aftertime series
About the Author
Heather Herrman explores American society through horror fiction. She holds an MFA from New Mexico State University, and her work has appeared in such publications as Alaska Quarterly Review, The South Carolina Review, and Snake Nation Review. Herrman’s fiction has also been honored with a Frank Waters Fiction Prize and a scholarship to the Prague Summer Program for Writers.
Connect with Heather
PRIZE: $25.00 eGift Card to the eBook Retailer of the Winner’s Choice + an eBook copy of CONSUMPTION by Heather Herrman
Dark Screams, Volume 3
Short Story Collection
Peter Straub, Jack Ketchum, Darynda Jones, Jacquelyn Frank, and Brian Hodge contribute five gloomy, disturbing tales of madness and horror to Dark Screams: Volume Three, edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of the celebrated Cemetery Dance Publications.
THE COLLECTED SHORT STORIES OF FREDDIE PROTHERO by Peter Straub
A mere child yet a precocious writer, young Freddie records a series of terrifying encounters with an inhuman being that haunts his life . . . and seems to predict his death.
GROUP OF THIRTY by Jack Ketchum
When an award-winning horror writer on the downward slope of a long career receives an invitation to address the Essex County Science Fiction Group, he figures he’s got nothing to lose. He couldn’t be more wrong.
NANCY by Darynda Jones
Though she’s adopted by the cool kids, the new girl at Renfield High School is most drawn to Nancy Wilhoit, who claims to be haunted. But it soon becomes apparent that poltergeists—and people—are seldom what they seem.
I LOVE YOU, CHARLIE PEARSON by Jacquelyn Frank
Charlie Pearson has a crush on Stacey Wheeler. She has no idea. Charlie will make Stacey see that he loves her, and that she loves him—even if he has to kill her to make her say it.
THE LONE AND LEVEL SANDS STRETCH FAR AWAY by Brian Hodge
When Marni moves in next door, the stale marriage of Tara and Aidan gets a jolt of adrenaline. Whether it’s tonic or toxic is another matter.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
This is a fine collection of scary short stories. While some offer more chills than others ( I wouldn’t read Nancy alone at night), they all had great twists and led to pretty cool conclusions.
My favorite story is probably Nancy by Darynda Jones. It’s the story of a high school girl who seems to be tormented by a poltergeist–but when a new girl in town tries to help her, she discovers a shocking secret. This story was rather scary…I DID read it late into the night and kept looking over my should to make sure nothing was there!
Another great one is I Love You, Charlie Pearson by Jacqueline Frank. As the story of a young boy who seems to have a very creepy crush on an older girl unfolds, you get squirmy and by the end you have your mouth open in shock…because the ending was definitely unexpected!
Dark Screams Volume 3 is a gathering of perfect little bites of fiction, and as you finish one story you’ll definitely be ready to move on to the next one. Reader beware!
The giveaway is for a $25 e-gift card to the e-retailer of your choice,
plus a copy of Dark Screams, Volume 3.