SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Tiago by Catia Skye

Tiago

by Cátia Skye

YA Contemporary Romance

Two shattered hearts. One unstoppable love.

Nominate Tiago, by debut YA Romance author Cátia Skye, for consideration by Kindle Scout and you could win a $25 Amazon Gift Voucher, and you could get to read the book for free! Scroll down for excerpts, blurb, author info and, of course, the giveaway!

Tiago, by Cátia Skye, Book Cover


New York, USA

Kezra, sixteen, dumped by her boyfriend of six months after he took her virginity, shocked by revelations about her father, falls into an abyss of panic and anxiety. On doctor’s orders, she is sent on a vacation to get away from pressures.

Lisbon, Portugal

Tiago, seventeen, has lost more than most lose in a lifetime, believes implicitly in the inevitable Portuguese Tragedy, has left the thug-life, has left school, is just trying to survive each new day.

Neither of them is looking for love…


Categories:

  • Teen & Young Adult > Romance > Contemporary
  • Romance > Series
  • Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Coming of Age
  • Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > Geography & Cultures > Europe

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Kezra

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

I am no looker.

I’m not a dog either. But I am no looker.

Aylin used to say I was precocious. “Precocious when it comes to boys,” she’d say.

By the time I was done dating Conor, I said I was nothing but a fool.

I started dating too early. Antoni was the first guy I ever saw. I was fourteen, close to fifteen, sporting braces on my teeth. We shared a kiss, nothing passionate, innocent.

Until he touched my breasts and I went cold.

Fourteen. Was he a freaking idiot?

Dawson happened after that. It lasted three months. I was more grown up, more developed. My breasts, especially, were more developed.

I hate my breasts.

But it was Conor who would thrust me into the black world of adulthood with an indignant slap I am certain I will never forget.

I write because I am lonely.

I write because I hurt.

I write while tears drip from my eyes, turning the screen of my tablet into splotches of pixelated rainbows.

The way I was brought into this world has nothing to do with how I feel about love.

It has everything to do with how I feel about myself.

How much horror can a mind endure?

Are the pains of a sixteen-year-old laughed at by those older then her?

What pain did my mother suffer? (“Sometimes I went without food so that I wouldn’t have to take that bastard’s money, Kez.”)

My pain is nothing compared to what hers must have been. And yet, the pain I feel is phenomenal.

Tiago

P.S. I Love You (2007)

Just before the sun rises, when the world is silent and the River Tejo laps gently at the stone steps leading to the giant Praça do Comércio square, leaves of golden sunlight shimmer above the surface of Lisbon’s great river. This is my favorite time to sit on these steps, flicking stones into the water, letting my gaze drift west toward the ocean.

And I think of her.

I do not weep anymore. My eyes are dry. I have wept this entire river twice over and still that will not bring her back.

The seagulls taunt me, cawing in accusation. I should have moved faster, they say. I should not have been so complacent with my joy.

I never deserved that joy. I know it.

Tiago

Deadly is the Female (1950)

It is the week for meeting Americans. And if I thought my encounter with Dahlia went bad, then I can only compare my meeting with the one called Kezra to something just short of a nuclear war. It’s my fault, mostly. But it’s also her fault.

I would love to say that our first encounter is quaint and sweet, that it is the type of first-meeting you expect from a Rom-Com.

It is not.

It is a disaster.

And I am nothing short of a hungover bastard.

But let’s call a spade a spade. Guilt must be placed where guilt belongs. And this chick is a real stinker of a piece of work too.

I guess you could say I started it.

I did.

But she contributes gladly to the atomic chain reaction which follows.

Dare I say, I think she even revels in it.

Copyright © 2017, Cátia Skye. All Rights Reserved.


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About Cátia

Cátia Skye Avatar

Cátia Skye is a New-York-born, Portuguese-American gal who now resides in the romantic heart of Lisbon, Portugal. She is the single mother of one rambunctious little boy, and pens romance novels between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. each night when her boy finally falls asleep.

Tiago is her first novel.

Visit Cátia’s Website

BOOK TOUR REVIEW: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls

by Amy Engel

Literary Fiction/Thriller

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Book Description

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

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MY THOUGHTS: 2 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

First off, I will say that this review will come with a serious TRIGGER WARNING for many reasons, just a few I will name here: suicide, pedophilia, incest, etc. Do not go starting this book thinking it’s a run of the mill thriller about a missing girl, because it is not.

In Kansas, there is a house where the girls born there, Roanokes, never seem to leave…or if they do, they don’t last long. Lane is the daughter of one of those Roanoke Girls, and though she was raised far away from Kansas, she is forced to go back there after her mother kills herself. Lane joins her cousin Allegra, who was raised in the house by their grandparents, and another orphan.

This book tells the story of one life changing summer in the lives of teenage Allegra and Lane, but also, the current tale of how Lane must go back to the Roanoke House after ten years because Allegra has gone missing. Secrets will be found out, and horrors hidden far too long will come to light even as Lane feels the pull of the house she thought she had escaped on her once again.

I do not want to give away the main “secret” of the plot, but I will say that it’s not really that much of a secret since it’s kind of blurted out around 20 % into the book. Once this comes out, it didn’t take much for me to imagine the rest of the storyline, and as I finished the book, I was right on nearly every prediction I made about what would happen.

Lane is not a particularly likable main character. Even she knows that she’s not a good person, but she goes out of her way to expose her flaws and make herself seem worse than she really is, even as a teenager. For someone who has so much self introspection throughout the novel, she truly does have no sense of how to make herself stop doing the self destructive things that she does.

The other characters in the book weren’t much better. Allegra strings along a guy who’s madly in love with her until she can’t have him anymore; only then does she want him. Everyone else in Roanoke House turns a blind eye to what is happening right in front of their faces, and ultimately I cannot say there was one single person in this book that I liked.

The other main issue that affected my rating of the book is that it’s beyond the scope of believable, unless there are these types of stories somewhere out there and I’ve been living under a rock and not heard them. I cannot believe that THREE different generations of women could be so deeply affected by the same man. I also cannot believe that the people who were not part of the family could accept what was going on.

I’m not sure who I would recommend this book for; but if you decide to give it a shot just know that you’re going into a novel that tries hard to be dark and twisty, but ultimately I just found gross and predictable.

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About the Author

AMY ENGEL is the author of the young adult series The Book of Ivy. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. This is her first novel for adults.

Connect with Amy

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

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COVER REVEAL & GIVEAWAY: The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson



Today Kara Swanson and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover for THE GIRL WHO COULD SEE, which releases June 1, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card and a copy of the eBook!
On to the reveal!
 
 
Title: THE GIRL WHO COULD SEE
Author: Kara Swanson
Pub. Date: June 1, 2017
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 200
Find it: Amazon | Goodreads
All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but what if she is the only one who can truly see?
Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear “normal,” she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.
Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man isn’t a hallucination after
all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.
CHAPTER ONE
Present Time
On television, they never tell you how cold it is.
 
They might show you the dimly lit room or the hard, uninviting chairs—stark reminders that you have no power here. They may depict the lonesome table separating you from the elderly agent with the stone-grey eyes. But those cop shows never depict what a chilly affair an FBI interrogation truly is. If their aim is to make this process as intimidating as possible—it’s working.
 
I wrap my hands around bare shoulders, fingertips far colder than the skin exposed by my red tank top. Brilliant move, Fern. Wear a scarf, but forget your jacket. Stifling a shudder, I try to meet the sharp gaze of Agent Barstow standing rigidly across from me.
 
“I don’t know where you’re from, miss Johnson—but in LA, state-of-the-art buildings don’t just crumble.” His voice is gravelly, matching the jagged lines of his dark skin and weathered face. “Federal buildings, no less. There one minute and the next…destroyed.”
 
His tone chills me even more, and I tug nervously on my scarf. His arms slowly unwind from his chest as he takes a
deliberate two steps toward me. “We’ve had everyone on the disaster—CIA, local police, firemen…heck, we even called NASA. No one can find a plausible reason why a skyscraper, in excellent repair, would collapse like that. No one, that is, except you.”
 
I fight the urge to bolt for the door as he leans down, palms flat on the table, so close I can make out the creases on
his dark suit. “You warned us of an attack in that area two weeks ago. How did you know?”
 
I suck in a deep breath as his voice lowers, dark fists tightening on the edge of the table. “Are you involved with
a terrorist organization?”
 
I almost laugh at his words, at how they couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m here to save LA, not destroy it. To
save everyone. And I don’t have much time—none of us do. If I can’t gain this man’s trust, a shattered building is nothing compared to what will come next.
 
“No, sir.” I shove my shaking hands beneath my legs as I glimpse a pair of lucid blue eyes over the agent’s
shoulder. They shouldn’t be there—and I know not to stare. But those eyes that only I can see are the reason I warned the FBI in the first place. Their owner the reason I’m even sitting in this room.
 
Licking my lips, I keep my attention on Barstow. I’ve wanted this for years. Someone to listen. Really listen. And it’s the FBI, no less. Be careful here.
 
When I open my mouth, the words are calm and steady. I hope they’re convincing—they have to be convincing. “I knew about the incident, Agent Barstow, because my friend warned me.” Throat suddenly dry, I look away. “My imaginary friend.
 
About Kara: 

 

As the daughter of missionaries, KARA SWANSON spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.
Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she
quickly fell in love with the speculative genre and was soon penning stories
herself.
At seventeen, she independently published a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. She has since published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine. Kara received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer Award in 2015. You can find her on Facebook as Kara Swanson, Author, or attempting to be artistic over on Instagram (@karaswanson_author). When she’s not creating new stories and placing characters in peril, she’s probably binge-watching Marvel movies, playing with her huskies, reading till two in the morning or experimenting with a dairy-free mocha Frappuccino (skills, I’m
telling you).
 
Giveaway Details:
(1) winner will receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card, US Only.
(1) will receive an Advanced eBook Copy of THE GIRL WHO COULD SEE, International.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Mermaids of Lake Michigan by Suzanne Kamata

The Mermaids of Lake Michigan

by Suzanne Kamata

Coming of Age Fiction

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Book Description

Elise Faulkner is more at home in the waters of her beloved Lake Michigan than on land where her beauty queen mom is always on her back about her lack of a social life; her sister is dating the boy of her dreams; her favorite penpal–the one who wrote about mermaids in Ghana–has gotten married and ended their correspondence; and no one’s allowed to talk about her glamorous great-grandmother, the deep-sea wreck diver. Elise is biding her time with books until she can flee. But then crazy Chiara Hanover pops into her life, as does Miguel, a mysterious carnival worker whose dark future has been predicted by a gypsy.

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MY THOUGHTS:  2 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS


The Mermaids of Lake Michigan
by Suzanne Kamata

Being honest, it took me several chapters to get into this book. For at least the first 10 chapters, time goes back and forth from the main character being a little girl, to her current age, high school senior. And by the way–this is a total guess. I never specifically read either an age for the narrator and her sister, OR a year when this story takes place. Though the few context clues lead to the late 70’s.

Our main character is Elise. Though she’s the older sister, she’s always been outshone by her little sis’s grace and beauty. So when free spirited Chiara breezes into town, bookish Elise is quickly enamored of the colorful world she experiences with her and they become best friends.

Though I thought that Elise had a good head on her shoulders, it doesn’t take her long to follow in Chiara’s not so innocent footsteps and lead her life down a spiraling path. I suppose we as readers are meant to surmise that Elise is tired of being the good girl that always comes in second best, but this just didn’t come across for me. Elise meets a guy twice and is instantly in love with him. She makes terrible decision after terrible decision, and into her life come a parade of random people that in the end, don’t mean that much to the story.

This novel was a very fast read, but I can’t say it was for me at all. The things Elise did just were not smart, even though I guess she felt she had no other choice. She’s also BEYOND naive and even seeing some of the shadier sides of the world beyond her town does nothing to make her face reality. I was glad when the ending came but it left a lot to be desired.

View all my reviews

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About the Author

Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two children. Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including Real Simple, Brain, Child, Crab Orchard Review, and The Japan Times. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/ Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival Award, and winner of the Half the World Global Literati Award for the novel.

Connect with Suzanne

Website | Twitter

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

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One commenter will have the chance to win their own copy of The Mermaids of Lake Michigan.  US and Canada only please!

Lenten Reflections and Giveaway

Today is Ash Wednesday, and I have been doing some thinking about what I would want to “give up” for Lent.  Last year, I didn’t even bother because I knew I had long days with a newborn and I was so tired I was bound to lose any willpower quickly.  But my son, in second grade and learning about the deeper meaning of Lent now that he is getting older, came home today asking, “Mom, I don’t know what I want to give up for Lent. Why do we give up things?  Can you help me think?”

After a little while, I told him that Lent was a special time for us to think about how Jesus lived his life for us, and everything he gave up for that, including his life.  I didn’t know how much detail my kid would understand.  I told him the best way to live during Lent was to maybe DO things that Jesus would like.  After all, Lent is a time to make our faith stronger, and I am a believer that any way you choose to do that is fine.

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One way you can partake in Lent is to learn more about the life of Jesus, the tales and mystery surrounding him, and how he affected others, such as the apostles.

Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery is a supremely interesting show.  Each episode explores in detail some facet related to Christ: the Shroud of Turin, Mary Magdalene, the Cross.  While the story is reenacted in the foundation of the show, you are taken on a journey around the world to hear from religious and secular experts to learn more about the episode’s subject.

Season 2 of Finding Jesus will debut on Sunday, March 5–just in time for your family to experience together during Lent.  The first episode is centered around the apostle Thomas. Known most famously by his somewhat notorious nickname, “Doubting Thomas,” this episode proves that there was so much more to his life than his momentary disbelief.  After his faith in the risen Christ was restored, he traveled and spread the word of the Lord, affecting the faith of millions today.

Doubt is such a prevailing theme in everyday modern life.  A person is always wondering if they’ve done enough; if they have said something wrong; if they are doing right by their family.  I believe Lent is the best time to realize that you should give up your doubts to the Lord, just as Thomas did.

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I am giving away a $25 gift card to Lifeway Christian Stores to one commenter.  It’s just in time for you to get a new bible, gift for upcoming confirmations and communions, and much more.

Please leave a comment letting me know if you have seen Finding Jesus, and if so, what you think about it.  I will choose a winner on March 10.

BOOK TOUR REVIEW: The Possessions by Sara Flannery Murphy

The Possessions

by Sara Flannery Murphy

Adult Fiction

Book Description

In this electrifying literary debut, a young woman who channels the dead for a living crosses a dangerous line when she falls in love with one of her clients, whose wife died under mysterious circumstances.

In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as “bodies”, wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients.

But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls.

After years of hiding beneath the lotuses’ dulling effect, Edie discovers that the lines between her own desires and those of Sylvia have begun to blur, and takes increasing risks to keep Patrick within her grasp. Suddenly, she finds her quiet life unraveling as she grapples not only with Sylvia’s growing influence and the questions surrounding her death, but with her own long-buried secrets.

A tale of desire and obsession, deceit and dark secrets that defies easy categorization, The Possessions is a seductive, absorbing page-turner that builds to a shattering, unforgettable conclusion.

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MY THOUGHTS: 

4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

I give props to the author for finding such a unique premise for a book. It’s not quite clear how things work, but suspending your disbelief ensures you will enjoy this story.

Edie is very good at her job, which entails slipping in and out of consciousness while a dead person’s (spirit? soul? it’s never really named) speaking through her. She is basically going along day after day until she finally, unexpectedly, makes a real connection with a client. Patrick Braddock is visiting Edie to contact his recently departed wife. As Edie channels Sylvia, she finds it harder and harder to separate herself from Sylvia’s former life, and Patrick as well. She soon becomes entertwined with him, and as she gets in deeper and deeper she learns that even though your body might be one with another’s, you can never truly get to know their secrets.

I found this book easy to get absorbed in. Edie is a shaky, very withholding narrator, but as she opens up and learns more about Sylvia and gets closer to Patrick, she becomes more intriguing. While I have put this book on my “thriller” shelf, there are no really scary parts or anything where you’re holding your breath waiting for something to happen. The true deliciousness in this story is watching Edie slowly start to become someone completely different from herself.

I cannot say I particularly loved the characterization. The reader learns almost nothing about Edie until the last 5 percent of the novel. And even then, the way her past is unraveled takes you a few minutes to think about.

As I have thought about this book over the last 24 hours since I’ve finished it, I’ve loved it more. I definitely read it quickly and lost track of time in its’ pages. I would recommend this novel to those who like their stories to unwind slowly…because delayed gratification is what makes this book work. I am looking forward to more from this author.

View all my reviews

About the Author

Sara Flannery Murphy grew up in Arkansas, where she divided her time between Little Rock and Eureka Springs, a small artists’ community in the Ozark Mountains. She received her MFA in creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis and studied library science in British Columbia. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and son. The Possessions is her first novel.

Find out more about Sara at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

Find Reviews for Car Seats in One Easy Spot

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As a parent, one of the most important things you can do for the health and safety of your child is purchase the best car seat you can afford.  So often, people get lost in all of the research you must do when trying to find the seat that’s best for you.  I’ve found a site that helps you compare and contrast dozens of seats, giving you the scoop in easy to understand language: Best Car Seat Hub.

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Best Car Seat Hub has all the info you need to research seats in one place.  Whether you’re looking for infant seats, convertible seats, boosters, or travel system information, you can find it there.

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Not only can you see convertible and infant car seat reviews on bestcarseathub.com, you can get information on your state’s regulations, recall updates, and tips on how to clean your seat.

Best Car Seat Hub helps you by putting the statistics and ratings found on such sites as Consumer Reports Reviews in one easy to use, simple to understand place.  I will be using the pros and cons on different convertible seats soon to find a secondary car seat for my one year old.

If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by all the car seat hubbub on the internet, visit Best Car Seat Hub and find out what you need to know, quickly.

SPOTLIGHT & INTERVIEW: Microsaurs: Follow That Tiny-Dactyl by Dustin Hansen

Microsaurs: Follow That Tiny-Dactyl

by Dustin Hansen

Children’s/Chapter Book

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Book Description

Danny and Lin never say no to adventure, so when Danny’s spy camera captures a tiny dinosaur crashing into Lin’s helmet during her skateboarding tryouts they know they have to investigate. But even they weren’t prepared for a secret laboratory filled with amazing inventions (including the Shrink-a-Fier and the Expand-o-matic 2) and astonishing discoveries (Triceratops are NOT fond of the color red!).

Who knew that tracking one tiny pterodactyl would open up such a giant world of adventure with the Microsaurs!?!

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids meets Jurassic Park in this new action-packed illustrated chapter book series from author and illustrator Dustin Hansen.

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I have to say, first off this book and the idea of tiny dinosaurs reminded me of this movie from my childhood:

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I wish it were streaming somewhere so I could show my older son!  We read Microsaurs together.  He immediately wished he could have a tiny dino as a pet and described to me all the places we could take him 😀

My son is a second grader, but a bit of an advanced reader for his age, and only had trouble with a handful of words.  We both enjoyed the silly parts and watching the little dinos be adventurous.  This is a cute, fun series that I think boys and girls will love equally. We can’t wait to read the next installment.

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1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Well, I’m a small town boy at heart. I grew up in rural Utah, where I could find adventure an hour in any direction. I spent a great deal of time in the outdoors, hiking, biking, and fishing like a Viking. (Vikings fly fished for small mountain trout, right?).

I remember many times going on ‘an adventure’ with my sisters as we explored the rattle snake infested acreage behind our home in Pigeon Hollow. The landscape was barren, yet beautiful, and while we walked and chewed on the sack lunches we always brought along, we made up fantastic tales, ranging from daring survival stories to walking with the giants of old.

This imaginative upbringing led me to a career as a visual artist in the video game industry, but my passion for telling stories was always tickling in the back of my mind.

2.  What made you want to become a writer?
A lot of road led me to this point in my life. Most of them were dirt roads full of rocks, ruts, and pot holes, but all of them wound through the same fertile grounds. Family. I remember fondly having my dad read The Secret Garden to us as children, one chapter a night until we begged him to finish the last quarter of the book as we drew closer to the end. I remember making up stories with my sisters as we played for hours with our Fischer Price Adventure Set. And as I grew older and had a family of my own, I began to understand the importance of storytelling, and how it not only provides entertainment, but how it can empower, enlighten, and strengthen us. The first book I wrote that I was willing to share I read a chapter a night to my young children. They were, and still are, my biggest supporters, and their desire to add to the story, read sections aloud to each other, and demand me to hurry as I approached then end was all the fuel a tired writer needed to continue.

So, that’s really it. I became a writer to share my dreams and weird wanderings with my family. It’s just that now, my reading family is growing.

3.  What do you need around you to write (special drink, lucky items, etc)?
I’m a pretty simple guy. I’d be lying if I said that my desk wasn’t covered in the ghostly remains of empty Diet Mt. Dew cans, but other than that, a little solitude, a warm blanket on my lap, and a bit of time is all I need to get the old words to travel from my brain to the keyboard.

4.  What are some of your favorite books?
Oh boy. This is the most difficult question you could ask. Okay. I’ll try. I’m a huge fan of all things Roald Dahl. In many ways he is my storytelling ideal. I faked sick in the 8th grade to read Robinson Crusoe in a single sitting (first time I’d ever done that with a novel). The same year I read my first Stephen King novel, It, and it rocked my 13 year old world and set me on a 15 year King obsession. Those were definitely my formative books. But today, I LOVE Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Those books just tap my funny bone. The One and Only Ivan reminded me that heart is the most underappreciated element of children’s lit. Somehow I had forgotten this over the years. And A Monster Calls reminded me that young readers are not only able to handle big topics, but in many cases they are better at it than we adults are.

5.  Are your characters based on anyone you know?
Yes, and no. My main character, Lin, is loosely based on my daughters, Malorie and Annie. She kind of pulls her snarkiness from one, and her bravery from the other. But Twoee, the lovable puppy-ish triceratops is absolutely based on my 7 year old pal, Rusty. He’s a big brown puppy and when he’s not proofreading my rough drafts, he can be found lounging under my writing desk with one of his stuffed animal toys.

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About the Author

Dustin was raised in rural Utah, where his imagination was his most constant companion. A reader, artist, and gamer from an early age, Dustin was encouraged to mine his talents, follow his passions, and find the fun in everyday life.

Dustin studied art in college, and entered the exciting world of video game development in 1994. His career has taken him and his family from coast to coast, but he always considered the small town he grew up in, Ephraim, Utah, his true home.

After spending a year as a director at Habro, Dustin, his wife, and four kids moved back to Ephraim, where he lives today in the shadows of a fine mountain, writes books about video games and dinosaurs, and takes long walks with his dog, Rusty.

Oh, and he loves the Utah Jazz, but that’s another story all together.

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Kel Mitchell and Wife Announce Pregnancy in a ‘Good Burger’ Themed Post

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Joining the bandwagon for this year’s expectant Hollywood celebrities is the lovely couple Kel Mitchell and wife Asia Lee. And by the look of it, Kel is ready to take the order! Kel took to Instagram for his pregnancy announcement as he posted a photo of him and his wife, in an iconic Good Burger theme.

The post was captioned: “We have a bun in the oven! thank you @therealasialee for being the best Wife to me the best Friend to me and now the best Mom to our blessed baby!! I love you so much! #thankyouJesus #Blessed #specialdelivery #myWiferocks photo credit: @ohmyjosephine.”

In the photo, the couple is seen wearing a Good Burger employee hat while holding a cheeseburger while Asia shows off her bare bump as she holds a bottle of orange soda – certainly in an homage to Mitchell’s character in Nick’s Kenan & Kel.

Kel Mitchell played Ed in the famous comedy Good Burger in 1997 along with Kenan Thompson. Back in 2015, he talked about a possible sequel on an interview with Us Weekly. The former child star stated: “Everybody is talking about a Good Burger 2, us doing a Bad Boys type of film. It’s just a thought, just a thought. But there’s definitely a possibility of something. So you just got to keep watching!”

Mitchell and Lee wed in 2012. Before this pregnancy, Mitchell was already a father of two young kids with ex-wife Tyisha Hampton.

Valentine’s Day Picture Book Round Up

Valentine’s Day is less than a week away!  If you are looking for a sweet read to gift your little one or budding reader, check out these offerings out recently from Macmillan Children’s Publishing.

XO, OX: A Love Story

by Adam Rex, illustrated by Scott Campbell

The hilarious tale of love between a hapless ox and a fabulous gazelle, told in correspondence.
“Dear Gazelle,
For some time now I have wanted to write a letter to say how much I admire you. You are so graceful and fine. Even when you are running from tigers you are like a ballerina who is running away from tigers.
I think that what I’m trying to say is that I love you.

XO,
OX”

And so begins an epic, if initially unrequited, love affair between a graceful gazelle and a clumsy, hapless ox. Romance will never be the same.
Adam Rex’s hilarious, sweet, and at times heartbreaking letters between a hopelessly romantic ox and a conceited, beautiful gazelle is paired perfectly with Scott Campbell’s joyful illustrations to bring you a romance for the ages.

MY THOUGHTS: A lovingly oblivious Ox has fallen for a rather conceited Gazelle who at first insists she wants nothing to do with him.  Cute, but depending on the reader could be taken in a negative light.  As for myself, I found it light hearted and kind of funny that the Ox was really in a world of his own and found every thing the Gazelle said and did a sign of her devotion.

Hug it Out!

by Louis Thomas

A fresh, funny take on sibling rivalry and conflict resolution, as two sparring siblings are forced to “hug it out.”

Mom has had enough of Woody and Annie’s incessant fighting. When her pleas for sharing and apologizing are ignored, she demands they “hug it out.” At first, the warring siblings are confused. Hugging? But after a long afternoon of forced embraces, the brother and sister decide to call a truce to avoid yet another icky hug. However it doesn’t take long for them to miss that newfound closeness. And soon they’re looking for something to fight about so they can hug it out once more!

Adults will delight in a new solution to conflict, while kids will enjoy yelling “HUG IT OUT!” at each familiar situation. With subversive humor and smart, eye-catching illustrations, Louis Thomas’s debut is a cheeky tribute to sibling rivalry and (cuddly) compromise.

MY THOUGHTS: A brother and sister who constantly fight are forced to find a way to get along when their mom decides to force them to–yuck!–HUG!!  I do have two boys but the youngest isn’t old enough to be fighting with his older brother yet.  I will keep this for of discipline in mind though!  This book is perfect for kids who are close in age or those who argue and pick.  Lessons learned include that time on your own can be OK, and that fighting with your sibling isn’t nice.

All Kinds of Kisses

by Heather Swain, illustrated by Steven Henry

A grasshopper mouth opens east-west but not south. They’re like scissors for chopping up leaves.
“Don’t try to hide from a kiss on its side,” says grandpa grasshopper to nymphs.
How would a grasshopper kiss?

Whichever it is, this much is true. When we say goodnight, I love all kinds of kisses from you!

We humans smooch with our lips. But how do giraffes, whales, hummingbirds, tree frogs, and other creatures kiss? It’s fun to wonder about and to see in the pages of this charming book, which includes facts about each animal at the end.

MY THOUGHTS: This book is perfect for a bedtime story!  It gives a look into how different animals, such as giraffes, piranhas, and even humpback whales, might give kisses to their young.  Older kids will love the scientific facts, and little ones will like trying to act out the different kinds of kisses.  I adore books that give chances for kids to interact with what they are hearing!

Hedgehugs and the Hattiepillar

by Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper

In this sequel to Hedgehugs, Horace and Hattie return for another sweet story of friendship.
It’s spring! And everything is colorful—rainbows in the sky and flowers blossoming on trees. When Horace and Hattie Hedgehog see a caterpillar become a butterfly and take flight, they decide to try a transformation of their own. When these two best friends put their minds to solving a problem, nothing can stand in their way!

MY THOUGHTS: Sweet and charming board book about a pair of hedgehog best friends who find a caterpillar.  The story moves quick and has a concise ending, which is good for storytime with wiggly toddlers.  It encourages kids to use their imagination.

Shiny Shapes: Love You Always 

by Roger Priddy, illustrated by Lucy Fleming

Cute and cuddly animals wear their hearts on their sleeves in this charming board book with Valentine’s Day rhymes. There are tactile, heart-shaped holes on every page, while glitter and foil add a sprinkle of Valentine’s Day magic to this endearing book for the little one you love.

MY THOUGHTS: Colorful illustrations and eye catching glitter on the pages will keep the attention of even the littlest ones at bedtime.  A quick, easy rhyming read about a duck and bear who are best friends.  Super sweet way to show your love this Valentine’s Day!

 

Thank you so much to Macmillan for providing these books for review!  Find more information on these titles, activity kits, and so much more at http://us.macmillan.com/mackids/.