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Review! Alistair Grim’s Odditorium by Gregory Funaro AND GIVEAWAY WINNER!!!

29 Jun

The winner of the Vanishing Island Giveaway is:



Congratulations! I will be emailing you to get your info to send you the book!

odditoriumAlistair Grim’s Odditorium
By Gregory Funaro
432 pages – ages 9+
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 6, 2015

Synopsis- Grubb (spelled like the insect, but with an extra ‘B’, and no last name) is an orphan. He was taken in as a babe by the kindly but elderly Mrs. Smears. Sadly, Mrs. Smears dies when he was just six. Mr. Smears, angry and in grief, turns out to be a not-so-nice man. When Grubb runs away to get rid of bullies (and Mr. Smears), he accidentally hitches a ride with a mysterious “Mr. G”. It turns out that Alistair Grim (Mr. G) is a collector of magical items (he collects them in the Odditorium), and he needs help that Grubb can give. Grubb becomes Mr. G’s apprentice and soon finds himself in a life and death battle to keep the magic out of evil hands.

What I Thought- This was a really good book! Grubb is a great character! You really feel for him, and hope that his life turns out for the better. Alistair Grim is also a cool character. He seems like that interesting, distant uncle that everyone likes. The Odditorium is a fascinating building that I would love to check out. The Odditoria of the Odditorium is also awesome. If you don’t know what I mean, read the book! You’ll love it! I really like Mr. Funaro’s writing style. There is a ton of description, without it ever bogging the story down. It really made me feel like I was in London during the 1800’s. At 432 pages it is a story that a reader can really sink into and enjoy. The non-stop action will keep readers interested in the story and the characters keep you wanting to learn more.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Review and Giveaway! The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton #PonyTime

25 Jun


Princess and the Pony FINAL TEXT.pdfThe Princess and the Pony

By Kate Beaton

40 pages – ages 4+

Will be published by Arthur A. Levine Books on June 30, 2015

Synopsis- From the Publisher: “Princess Pinecone knows exactly what she wants for her birthday this year. A BIG horse. A STRONG horse. A horse fit for a WARRIOR PRINCESS! But when the day arrives, she doesn’t quite get the horse of her dreams…


From the artist behind the comic phenomenon Hark! A Vagrant, The Princess and the Pony is a laugh-out-loud story of brave warriors, big surprises, and falling in love with one unforgettable little pony.

What I Thought- This was a cute picture book set in viking times. Princess Pinecone is a young princess whose parents don’t seem to understand that she’s a warrior princess. They give her cozy sweaters instead of armor and warrior stuff.


I like how this book is about being yourself, and not what society says you are. It also shows that you can make the best out of any situation… and it has farting ponies ha ha ha. The illustrations have just the right amount of detail and they add to the humor in the story. The story isn’t about girls not being able to be warriors – there are plenty pictures in the illustrations. It’s just that Princess Pinecone’s seems to have been labeled more princess than warrior. The twist in the story (at the battle scene) was unexpected, and made me laugh. The book reminds me of one of those fractured fairy tale cartoons. Overall very cute story with a nice message.


I give this book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

About the Author

Photo credit: Notker Mahr.

Photo credit: Notker Mahr.

Kate Beaton is the author of Hark! A Vagrant, her #1 New York Times bestselling collection of comics which began as a webcomic in 2007. The Princess and the Pony is her first picture book. She is the recipient of multiple Harvey awards, andher work has been featured in the New Yorker, Harper’s, and The Best American Comics Anthology. Kate lives in Toronto,and you can find her online at and on Twitter as @beatonna.


Learn more at

Visit the author at

Follow Kate Beaton on Twitter

NOT YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS prize pack!!!!!!! Thanks to the great people at Scholastic, I get to give away TWO copies of THE PRINCESS AND THE PONY !!!

Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing provided by Scholastic.

All you have to do is comment and next week on July second, I will pick two winners out of all the comments – pretty easy peasy huh? :) Good Luck!

Deployed dads deliver #FathersDay message w/ @UTR4Military & #GuessHowMuchILoveYou

21 Jun

Happy Father’s Day to the best dad around – my dad (of course I am bias) :)


I am lucky that I get to spend father’s day with my dad. There are many kids out there who aren’t so lucky. Their dad’s are far away serving our country. I was invited to share this special dad’s day post and am happy to do it because I think it is awesome.


Bestselling storybook Guess How Much I Love You and nonprofit United Through Reading help deployed military dads deliver a special message to their kids, perfect for Father’s Day

While millions of children will be celebrating Father’s Day with their dads on June 21, for many children whose fathers are serving in the military, dad won’t be at home. But thanks to nonprofit United Through Reading and a very special storybook, there’s a way for every dad to tell his kids he loves them this Father’s Day – however far away he might be.

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jennifer Kleve, left, a medic with Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah, helps set up a camera for U.S. Army Capt. Jacob Estrada, right, security force commander for the PRT, prior to his participation in a United Through Reading Read-a-thon on FOB Farah, Jan. 18.  Participants in the program were encouraged to read to children in their families or to students at Birch Elementary in Idaho, to promote childhood literacy.  United Through Reading is a non-profit organization that enables deployed service members to share their love and support with their children by reading books aloud on DVD.  PRT Farah's mission is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district, and provincial levels in Farah province Afghanistan.  Their civil military team is comprised of members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup/released)

U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jennifer Kleve, left, a medic with Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Farah, helps set up a camera for U.S. Army Capt. Jacob Estrada, right, security force commander for the PRT, prior to his participation in a United Through Reading Read-a-thon on FOB Farah, Jan. 18. Participants in the program were encouraged to read to children in their families or to students at Birch Elementary in Idaho, to promote childhood literacy. United Through Reading is a non-profit organization that enables deployed service members to share their love and support with their children by reading books aloud on DVD. PRT Farah’s mission is to train, advise, and assist Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district, and provincial levels in Farah province Afghanistan. Their civil military team is comprised of members of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup/released)

Nonprofit United Through Reading keeps military families connected by offering service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to their children at home from locations worldwide. Although the story may be recorded in a tent in Afghanistan, the child sitting at home watching it can feel like daddy’s home for a few moments before they go to sleep, or whenever they need him. Guess How Much I Love You celebrates the unique bond between father and child, and has struck a chord with many military families. The story serves as a reminder to children that no matter how far away they may be from their parent, their love remains strong enough to bridge even the greatest distances.

A boy listens to a reading recorded by his grandfather, U.S. Coast Guard Chaplain Gregory N. Todd

A boy listens to a reading recorded by his grandfather, U.S. Coast Guard Chaplain Gregory N. Todd

This heartfelt video was created especially for Father’s Day and features military parents reading Guess How Much I Love You to their children back home in a United Through Reading recording. Watch the video here:

Or Right below!

This program is making a difference in people’s lives.

Here are some quotes from families who have taken part in the United Through Reading program.

​ “The one thing that the kids wanted more than anything — time with their daddy — I could not give them but United Through Reading did.  I cannot thank UTR enough for what they do.  It is truly an amazing gift that they have given to our family and words will never be enough to express our gratitude! Rex recorded Guess How Much I Love You with United Through Reading. We love it and it is one of our favorites!
Veronica Boblett, Navy Spouse 


Pearl was only 5 weeks old when her Daddy left on a 9 month deployment with the USS George H.W. Bush. It was a tough time for us all. We were understandably worried that she might not remember him by the time he got back….We really believe that the videos Austin recorded with United Through Reading helped Pearl to bond with her Daddy the most.”

Emma Kolar, Navy Spouse


GHMILY Anniversary Edition Cover ArtGuess How Much I Love You is celebrating its 20thanniversary in 2015. Now available in a deluxe anniversary edition, Guess How Much I Love You is one of the most successful children’s books of all time, selling 28 million copies and published in 53 languages. Published by Candlewick Press, Sam McBratney’s timeless, endearing story of Big and Little Nutbrown Hare, beautifully rendered in Anita Jeram’s watercolours, has charmed people of all ages. It has become one of the world’s best-loved picture books, and the phrase ‘I love you right up to the moon and back’ has come to signify a way of saying ‘I love you’ to someone special. You can find out more about this extraordinary book here



United Through Reading is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) public benefit organization that has been around for more than 25 years; it’s mission is to unite military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together.  United Through Reading offers service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to children at home which eases the stress of separation, maintains positive emotional connections, and cultivates a love of reading and early childhood literacy.  At nearly 200 recording locations worldwide, service members can read to the children who are special to them from units on ships, in tents in Afghanistan, on bases around the world, and at more than 40 USO centers worldwide.  Since its inception, nearly 2 million military parents, spouses and children have benefited from the program. Find United for reading online at


Candlewick Press is an independent publisher based in Somerville, Massachusetts. For over twenty years, Candlewick has published outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages, including books by award-winning authors and illustrators such as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Kate DiCamillo, M. T. Anderson, Jon Klassen, and Laura Amy Schlitz; the widely acclaimed Judy Moody, Mercy Watson, and ’Ology series; and favorites such as Guess How Much I Love You, Where’s Waldo?, and Maisy. Candlewick is part of the Walker Books Group, together with Walker Books UK in London and Walker Books Australia. The Walker Books Group has a unique ownership structure that includes all of its employees worldwide. Visit Candlewick online at

The Guardian Herd Book 3: Landfall by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez COVER REVEAL BLOG TOUR!!!!! AND GIVEAWAY!!!!!

17 Jun

Have I got a bunch of goodies for YOU! Literally! (more on that later) But FIRST- the COVER REVEAL of the new Guardian Herd book – Landfall!!!!

GuardianHerd_3_final coverPretty awesome cover right?

Synopsis- From the cover: “It has been many moons since Star received his starfire power. He has gone from being born a dud—unable to fly and shunned by the five herds of Anok, including his own—to becoming a strong yearling, ready to lead his own herd as an over-stallion. But now he will face his toughest challenge yet. Nightwing the Destroyer, Star’s eternal rival, is amassing an army to destroy him and all of Anok. The only way for Star to defeat him is to learn how to fight like a warrior—without using his starfire. For if he uses his power, even to heal, Nightwing will know where to find him. 

As the threat of war looms over Star’s head, he can’t help but wonder if the current peace among the united pegasi is strong enough to defeat the powerful Destroyer once and for all.

With increasingly difficult challenges and brand-new areas of Anok to explore, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez will thrill readers with this epic and exhilarating third installment of the Guardian Herd series.

Release Date: 02/02/2016 – but you can pre-order it HERE!


Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, the author of the Guardian Herd series

Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, the author of the Guardian Herd series

You asked – “Where do i find out more about Ms. Alvarez Erik?!?”

Author website:

Series website:

HarperChildrens book links,



BUT WAIT!!!!! There’s MORE!

Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, [JLA] the awesome author of the Guardian Herd series, has generously provided an interview, where she interviews the actor that read the audiobook version of the Guardian Herd, Andrew Eiden! [AE]

Andrew Eiden

Andrew Eiden

Keep reading to the end- there is an AWESOME give away!

JLA: You have a background in theater, television, and movies—how did you also become a voice actor?

AE: It’s all in the family! My mom was my drama teacher in high school. My dad directed Whittier Junior Theatre where I grew up. My grandpa was involved in the community theater and my grandma did costumes and props for all the shows. My sister is an actress as well, and a very talented voice actor, she started doing audiobooks and told me I should get into it. She introduced me to Bob and Debra Deyan, big time Audiobook producers, and I’ve been doing it ever since!

JLA: When narrating a book, what do you do, if anything, to prepare your voice?

AE: I’m actually very bad at this. I rarely do anything to prepare my voice, and there is a LOT of talking involved. Sometimes I end up regretting it because after 6hrs in the booth my voice gets a little froggy. I will give you a little insider trick that I use quite often though. Sometimes during a session, your mouth gets really noisy, and nobody wants to hear gross mouth noises, smacking lips and such. I don’t know the science behind it, but for some reason eating green apples clears up your mouth so you can speak more clearly. It’s key because the mics they use to record us hear EVERYTHING.

JLA: Once you’ve agreed to narrate a particular book, do you read the novel in full before you begin?

AE: I once directed another actor narrating a book he hadn’t read first. There was this assassin character, mean, cold-hearted killer. We played with a few voices and decided on this great low growl. He sounded like boba fett from Star Wars. Anyway, in the last chapter of the book, after having been recording for 3 days, about 500 pages later, the main character finally meets this assassin we’ve been following face-to-face, and in the narrative, the character notices that the assassin has a high-pitched feminine voice with a slight lisp…..sooooo….we had to go back and re-record every piece of dialogue the assassin had said to match the author’s intent. I ALWAYS read the book before I start recording.

JLA: How is a voice performance different than a stage or screen performance? How is it the same?

AE: When I’m on stage or TV, there’s only so many parts I can play, or that an audience will believe me as. I did a show once where I played an old man, but it was a clown show and pretty far from reality. Ultimately, I’m going to play something closer to myself, a young man. However in Audiobooks, the sky is the limit. I’ve played young men, old men, teenage girls, mothers, and 6 year olds, heck I’ve played killer robots, romantic werewolves, nasty monsters, and of course heroic young pegasi! To add to it, I’ve played all the roles in a story, usually you just play one. That’s a very fun part of what I do.

JLA: When narrating, is there a director or a producer giving you notes on the characters or your performance? What types of input do you receive regarding playing the emotions of the characters?

AE: It always depends on who’s hired me. Sometimes, I record in a studio, and sometimes I record from my home. If I’m at home then I’m on my own, and I have to direct myself. It can be a little daunting because I don’t have anyone to watch my back and give me notes on how I’m doing. In the case of The Guardian Herd books, Harper hires Deyan Audio to record for them, so I get to go to a studio where there’s an engineer/director.

One of the guys there, Sebastian Zetin, is really great. On top of making sure I sound great, audio wise, he follows along with me as I read. He’ll catch me saying the wrong words, or check me when I get all mush mouthed, but he also is pretty great at helping with tone and emotion. He might stop me after some line and say something like, “It seems like this character is pretty upset, maybe we should do that last line again with a little more emotion behind it.” He’s also really good with helping jokes land. “Hey let’s do that again but put a little beat right before the last line, I think it will help the joke be funnier.” Having a director means you have someone in your corner, helping to make the production better.

JLA: How is the book’s text displayed for you? Do you read from the physical book, off a computer screen, or do you memorize the section you’re reading?

AE: I’ve heard horror stories of the old days when people used to read from physical pages. When they’d get to the end of a page they’d have to pause their reading, turn the page, and then continue like they hadn’t just had an awkward pause. But nowadays, we read from tablets. So scrolling on the page is silent so you can just keep going and going and going.

JLA: How many hours or minutes in a row can you narrate before your voice requires a break? What does a typical day of recording look like?

AE: For me, I usually don’t take breaks for my voice. The Late Great Bob Deyan once told me that as long as you narrate with your normal speaking voice, you’ll never have to worry about it giving out on you in the middle of a book. For me, the breaks are important because your mind needs a break. When you record, its usually for about 6hrs a day. But after a couple of hours, you start to go cross-eyed. You start reading words that aren’t even there, or you start misreading words. Like the sentence will say, “Let’s have a conversation,” but what comes out of your mouth is, “Let’s have a convention,” and you just keep going as if what you said made perfect sense. That’s usually when the director says, “Hey maybe after this chapter we should take a little break.” But again that’s just me, I know some narrators who can’t go an hour without stopping for a break, and there’s this one guy PJ Ochlan who’s famous amongst narrators for being able to sit down and record for hours and hours without making any mistakes or stopping for breaks.

JLA: What happens if you make a mistake? Do you have to go back and re-record the entire chapter?

AE: That would be so horrible. If we had to go back and record the whole chapter because I screwed up, I would still be working on the first book I recorded 5 years ago. I usually screw up at least 5 times per page. When that happens, I just stop the recording, go back to the start of the sentence, start recording again and punch in from there. I directed a quasi famous person recording a book they had written, and for famous people it’s usually what they call a roll record. You just hit record and let them go, if they screw up they just go back a bit and say it right. It’s much easier on the narrator doing it like that, but it makes it horrible for the editor. So punch in recording is pretty much the standard practice.

JLA: The Guardian Herd books include a lot of horse and fantasy terms. Did you study a word list before beginning? When you’re not sure how to pronounce a word, what resource do you use to verify it?

AE: That’s a good question. I actually ran into a little trouble with The Guardian Herd. Usually Deyan audio makes a word list for their narrators, that is a combination of particularly difficult words, difficult names, or fantasy words. They have a guy named Nate who’s kind of brilliant, he either looks up the words in the dictionary, researches names on the internet or reaches out to the author to get the proper pronunciation for the fantasy names. On day one recording Guardian Herd, there was no wordlist for me, so I had to sort of guess at the pronunciation of Anok. Turns out the wordlist was filed under “THE Guardian Herd” and so we found it about halfway through the session and realized I’d been pronouncing it all wrong. I was pronouncing it like Anne-ek, so we had to go back and rerecord every instance of it. It was lame, but at least we caught it early.

JLA: Do you ever get the giggles or have an emotional response to the text you’re reading?

AE: I have been known to find myself with tears and snot streaming down my face while reading a particularly good part of a particularly good book. I actually kind of like it, because it’s usually during a time when tears are called for in the story, and so rather than stopping the recording to compose myself, I let some of my real emotion eek into my voice. I find it makes for a more authentic, from the heart, reading. I’m not, like, sobbing while I read, but a little uncontrollable quiver in my voice slips past here and there.

It’s funny, as I get older, I start to notice weird things trigger an emotional reaction from me. In Guardian Herd, I never cried at the sad moments, maybe because the circumstances are so dire for Star and the rest of the herds that the sad parts seem to be the norm. But then there will be these moments when someone shows Star kindness, or a stranger from a strange herd shows mercy, or a helpless filly does something incredibly brave. Moments like those are what hit me the hardest and got me all weepy during Guardian Herd.

JLA: Through narrating the Guardian Herd series, you’ve become the voice for many characters. Did you study them before beginning? Do you have a favorite character?

AE: I don’t really plan voices out until it’s time for them to speak. But that’s another reason why reading the book first is so important. Beyond just to check to see if you, the author, has said specifically what their voice sounds like, or if they speak with an accent, it’s also important because you get an idea of who these characters are. Are they going to be brave? Are they betrayers? Do they die? How do they react in adversity? All of these things will influence how I portray their voice. Personally, I really liked Grasswing from book 1. I liked him a lot because not only was he this gruff, old military guy, a war stallion of legendary skill, he was also this kind soul, almost like a grandpa to Star. That’s a fun voice to play with, hard and soft at the same time.

JLA: You perform the Guardian Herd chapters with heartfelt sincerity and fans of the series have fallen in love with your performances! Since your voice brings these pegasus characters to life, I’m curious—do you have any experience with horses?

AE: I rode a horse once. That’s about the extent of my experiences with pegasi. I will say, my mother is a writer, and she used to tell me bedtime stories. Sometimes with me, my sister, and my cousin, she had this ongoing story she would tell when we were all together. I don’t remember what would happen, but I remember that in the story, the three of us had magic whistles and when we would get into trouble, we would blow our whistles and three Pegasi would come to our aid. We each had our own, and they had names and various colors and such. I don’t remember much because I was very young. So while I don’t have much experience with horses, clearly telling stories about pegasi runs in my blood!

JLA: How about acting tips? Any advice about how to get into character, or how to portray emotions?

AE: There are a lot of schools of thought on how best to approach a character. For me, it’s about asking questions of what do they do and why do they do it, what type of person would I have to be to do those things for those reasons. The answers you get will always be determined by the questions you ask.

JLA: What advice would you give to kids about becoming an actor? What are the rewards of an acting career?

AE: Acting is a very rewarding gig. You’re a storyteller. We tell stories for a lot of reasons, sometimes it’s just for entertainment, to give people some relief from their stress, sometimes it’s with purpose, to shed light on some part of humanity that needs attention. As an actor, you become the vessel for those stories, you take these words on a page that were written to make other people feel something, and bring it to life. It’s a very cool job. As far as advice goes, I have no idea how to get into it or get good at it. I say just do it! Audition for a local play. Take a class. Join an improve troupe. Anything to just get up and do it. Its fun!

And there is STILL MORE!!!!

Mrs. Alvarez is offering a SWAG PRIZE GIVEAWAY!!!

Just comment on this post and you are entered to WIN this amazing prize pack! I will randomly pick a winner from all the entries on June 24th! Good luck!

Front of Tote

Front of Tote

The fabulous swag prize pack includes:

Back of Tote

Back of Tote

  • A Guardian Herd tote bag
  • A series poster for Book #3, Landfall
  • A sheet of character trading cards
  • signed paperback of Book#1, Starfire




Critical Praise for the Guardian Herd Book Series:

  • “Chock-full of adventure and twists, making it difficult to put down. Readers will be clamoring for the next book in this adventure.” School Library Journal


  • “Alvarez’s world is lush with description and atmosphere, and her premise has much to offer. Fans of animal fantasies should find it enjoyable..” Publishers Weekly


  • “Filled with fantastical action, and rich with description. A well-paced and engrossing story. Alvarez has created a series that will be beloved by readers.” Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)


  • “The clever resolution will get kids psyched for more tales from the Guardian Herd.” Booklist


  • “This epic adventure is richly developed. Compelling.” Kirkus Reviews

CIRCUS MIRANDUS Blogger Blitz and GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

2 Jun

I am so excited about today’s release of CIRCUS MIRANDUS by the fabulous Cassie Beasley! This one is one my “must read this summer” list! Thank you for stopping by for the Blogger Blitz that I and so many other wonderful blogs are participating in. Thanks so much to Word Spelunking for organizing this! Ms. Beasley has sent along a very special letter sharing her feelings about seeing her book get published and all of the amazing support she has received so far.

More details about the book are below, as well as a Rafflecopter giveaway for a bunch of cool items, courtesy of Penguin Young Readers! Enter for a chance to win at the bottom of this post.


circusAuthor: Cassie Beasley

Publisher: Dial

Release Date: June 2nd 2015

Find it on:





Micah Tuttle believes in magic, even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve. Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real—and the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for. Readers will fall in love with CIRCUS MIRANDUS, which celebrates the power of seeing magic in the world. 

A letter from Ms. Beasley-

Dear Readers,

Ages ago I hung a poster in my room with the words “The Circus Opens Summer 2015” in bold letters across the top. At the time, it seemed that Summer 2015 would never come. Now, miraculously, June 2 is here, and Circus Mirandus is springing up in bookshops all over the country.

In the story, those called to Circus Mirandus feel a change in the wind. They hear music on the air, pipes and drums leading them toward magic and hope and heart’s desires. Eventually they find themselves before the gates, standing, as I am now, on the threshold of somewhere both wonderful and unknowable.

As people read the pages into which I’ve poured so much time and self, I wonder what they’ll think of the world I’ve created. I wonder if they will love it as much as I do. It’s an exciting moment, stepping through these gates into a place I’ve imagined but never seen.

Thank you so much for making this journey with me. Thank you for supporting the book. Thank you, most of all, for believing.

Cassie Beasley

About Cassie Beasley-

CASSIE BEASLEY is from rural Georgia, where, when she’s not writing, she helps out on the family pecan farm. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. CIRCUS MIRANDUS is her first novel.

Find her on:




Giveaway information!-

There will be 5 winners, and the Giveaway will run from June 2nd until June 16th. Winners will receive:

  • Signed hardcover of CIRCUS MIRANDUS
  • Audio sampler
  • Animal crackers
  • Bookmarks (pack of 10)
  • Poster

Rafflecopter link!

Disney WINNER & Review! Cindercast: A Tale of Tides by Michael Blackbourn

12 May

Well, today is the day! The day that I announce the winner of the Disney Descendents: Isle of the Lost Prize Pack Giveaway!

See my review of Isle of the Lost HERE!

The prize pack, courtesy of Disney Publishing, includes:

Prizing and samples provided by Disney Publishing.

Prizing and samples provided by Disney Publishing.


a copy of The Isle of the Lost;

branded tank top, water bottle and temporary tattoos;

and a GadgetGrip smartphone home button sticker.

And the lucky winner is…

Jazmyn Franklin!!!!

[ Ms. Franklin, you forgot to leave your email! If I don’t hear from you in three days, I will pick another winner. ]

Now, onto the review!

cinderCindercast: A Tale of Tides

By Michael Blackbourn

162 pages – ages 8+

Published by CreateSpace  on February 6, 2015

Synopsis- Ollie is a Seelie. They are like humans (AKA UnSeelies), but really really small. They could fit on your pinkie fingernail. When Ollie got sucked in by a sea storm, she gets tossed, turned, and lost. She finds herself on an unknown beach, with only her best friend Snarz (a small crab) to help her. With spiders, seagulls, and angry crabs, including mysterious cubes called Cindercubes, will she ever make it home?

What I Thought- This was a nice book. Although the publisher says it’s Middle Grade, it could fit into Early Middle Grade/Late Early Chapter Book. A lot of obstacles pop up in the book, but there wasn’t as much plot development that I would have liked in a middle-grade book. The book doesn’t resolve the main problem – Ollie knows of a place to go, but doesn’t go there, but the story feels complete and leaves room for the second book. The book was well-written and Mr. Blackbourn has a fun writing style that is enjoyable to read. You really immerse yourself into the world of a traveling Seelie. I would be happy to read book 2.

I give this 4 out of 5 bookworms.fourbooks

Disney’s The Isle of The Lost PRIZE PACK GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!

5 May

Disney Publishing is offering a terrific prize pack to celebrate the release of their awesome new book – The Isle of The Lost (see my review HERE). The book was released today!

Isle of the lost is a prequel to the Disney original movie DESCENDANTS. Check out the Descendants website at



The prize pack courtesy of Disney Publishing includes:


Prizing and samples provided by Disney Publishing.


a copy of The Isle of the Lost;

branded tank top, water bottle and temporary tattoos;

and a GadgetGrip smartphone home button sticker.

How cool is that?!?

The giveaway is open to US residents only.

About the Book [From the Publisher]:

Evil tree. Bad Apple?

“Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon to the Isle of the Lost–a dark and dreary place protected by a force field that makes it impossible for them to leave. Stripped of their magical powers, the villains now live in total isolation, forgotten by the world.

Mal learns from her mother, Maleficent, that the key to true darkness, the Dragon’s Eye, is located inside her scepter in the forbidden fortress on the far side of the island. The eye is cursed, and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the Dragon’s Eye, these four kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

Isle of the Lost is the spell-binding prequel to Disney Descendants, A Disney Channel Original Movie Event this summer!”

About the Author [From the Publisher]:


Melissa de la Cruz is the author of many best-selling novels, including all the books in the Blue Bloods series: Blue Bloods, Masquerade, Revelations, The Van Alen Legacy, Keys to the Repository, Misguided Angel, Bloody Valentine, Lost in Time, and Gates of Paradise. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and daughter.


I will pick a winner from all the comments by random drawing on 5/11/2015. I will announce the winner on 5/12. Good luck!

You can read an excerpt of the book HERE!

Learn more at the HERE!

Visit Melissa de La Cruz at her Official Site THERE!


The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!

30 Apr

Hey! Do you guys remember when I reviewed the very fun your reader mystery – “The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake” by Robin Newman (click the title for my review)?


Find it on Amazon HERE!

Summary from Goodreads: “When food goes missing on Ed’s farm, Detectives Wilcox and Griswold do what it takes to track down the thieves. In this case, Miss Rabbit’s carrot cake has disappeared. Has it been stolen? Or eaten? Or both? Who dunnit?

Well, guess what! Today is the day it is released!

You can purchase the book on Amazon HERE!

Ms. Newman, the author, has thankfully agreed to let me give away a copy of her book.

The only qualifications that are needed are that you help spread the word about Ms. Newman’s book via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. or reblog!).

The contest is open to everyone in the US.

Just let me know you shared in the comments below and you are in for the drawing!

I will randomly choose one winner from all the entries on May 6th and the winner will be announced May 7th.

Good Luck!

You can visit Ms. Newman’s website HERE.

April 2015 UBFP Column – AND GIVEAWAY!!!

2 Apr

I write for the UBFP Newspaper!

I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the April 2015 issue! The street and online version were just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (see page 8 ) or you can read the whole story – plus some extra things I’ve thrown in – below! :D

I hope you like the article!

Meet Bucks County Author Donna Galanti

By Erik Weibel

Author Donna Galanti was raised in England but she now finds her home in Bucks County! She has just written an exciting, middle grade action-adventure story called “Joshua and The Lightning Road”. The book will be released on May 15th of this year. The story follows twelve year-old Joshua’s quest into another word to find his friend that had been kidnapped by a mystical being during a lightning storm. Joshua realizes that all the crazy stories his grandpa told him about lightning storms are terrifyingly real and he soon finds himself up against terrible creatures determined to stop him.

DGalanti_JATLR_eCover_900x1350 (1)

I was fortunate to read an advanced copy of this book and Ms. Galanti has graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions!

Erik: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Ms. Galanti! The first line on your book is awesome: “I never knew lightning could zap you without burning you to a crisp.” I love it when a book hooks you from the beginning. How important to you was this first line?

Ms. Galanti: I’m so glad I hooked you! For me, the first line or paragraph in a book must grab me in order to keep reading. I often buy the book based on that emotional connection from the first page and hope the author follows through on their promise (and hope I can too!).

Erik: Having read the whole book, I can say that yes, you did! When I was reading the story I was wondering if you were afraid of lightning storms when you were younger or maybe a huge mythology fan, or both?

Ms. Galanti: I always loved summer lightning storms as a kid and would sleep on the screened-in porch to watch the big show. On the other hand, my dad has been struck by lightning three times on the golf course (and lived to tell the tales)! I’ve always loved the stories of the Greek Olympians. They are big and scary and full of power – and that drives my imagination.

Erik: Hit three times by lightning? I think I’d give up golf! Scents and smells play a big part in your descriptions, more than I usually find in stories. I think it made your settings even more realistic. When you say “He smelled like a wet dog that had been swimming in sour milk,” I know exactly how revolting that is! Did you use scents on purpose, or is that typical of your writing style?

Ms. Galanti: Smells can hold powerful memory triggers. I wanted readers to see Joshua’s world as he experiences it. When you first smell a new scent, you link it to a person or event. Like the scent of fresh cut grass can remind you of a summer day, even if it’s the end of autumn. And when you happen upon that smell again, the link is there, ready to pop that memory open.

Erik: That is a very interesting point! Your story has just the right amount of scariness and tension for an MG book. Did you intend to write this an MG book and have to keep that in mind as you were writing?

Ms. Galanti: Thank you! This book was always intended for middle grade readers. My son (the perfect audience for this book) helped me with plot issues along the way, and that was super fun! As far as scariness and tension, I love it when an author takes my beloved characters to the edge of no return and gives me that spine-tingling rush of “oh, nooo!” This is what I aim for in my own stories.

Erik: You sure do a good job of it! Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
Ms. Galanti: Joshua and the Arrow Realm, book 2 releases December, 2015. In the book Joshua is called to free his friend, who’s been enslaved as a power pawn in a queen’s quest to rule all. But when Joshua becomes bait in her hunting game, loses his powerful lightning orb, and his friends turn on him, he wonders if he can survive on wits and instincts alone and not only save his friend—but himself.

I’m plotting out book 3, Joshua and the Fire Realm, right now! It’s more adventure set in a volcanic landscape, filled with lots of friendships, battles, and bad guys.

Erik: I am looking forward to the rest of this series!

For more information on Donna Galanti, please visit her website at

For more on books and reading, visit my blog,


About Ms. Galanti:

Galanti, Donna 2 small (1)Donna Galanti attended an English school housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). There she fell in love with the worlds of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and wrote her first fantasy about Dodo birds, wizards, and a flying ship. She’s lived in other exotic locations, including Hawaii where she served as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse, and dreams of returning one day to a castle. Donna is the author of the Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Book 1, May 2015, Month9Books) and blogs at Project Mayhem. Visit her at or on Amazon.

Praise for Joshua and The Lightning Road:
“Vividly imagined characters in a gripping action fantasy that never lets you go until the very last page.” ~Jenny Nimmo, New York Times bestselling author of the Charlie Bone series






Ms. Galanti has provided the chance for one lucky commenter to win a galley print copy of “Joshua and the Lightning Road”! (US only please)

The winner will be announced in one week’s time, on Thursday, April 9th, 2015. The winner will be randomly chosen from all entries.

And, in case if you don’t happen to win, you can pre-order the book!

Here are links to go pre-order your copy now!!!


Barnes & Noble :


Here’s my review!

DGalanti_JATLR_eCover_900x1350 (1)Joshua and the Lightning Road

By Donna Galanti

Series: Lightning Road
278 pages – ages 9+
Will Be Published by Month9Books, LLC on May 19, 2015 – you can PRE-ORDER NOW!

Summary (from GoodReads) – “Stay away from the window, don’t go outside when it’s storming and whatever you do, do not touch the orb.

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper’s grandpa has always warned him about the dangers of lightning. But Joshua never put much stock in his grandpa’s rumblings as anything more than the ravings of an old man with a vast imagination. Then one night, when Joshua and his best friend are home alone during a frightful storm, Joshua learns his grandpa was right. A bolt of lightning strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever.
To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark place that steals children for energy. But getting back home and saving his friend won’t be easy, as Joshua must face the terrifying Child Collector and fend off ferocious and unnatural beasts intent on destroying him.
In this world, Joshua possesses powers he never knew he had, and soon, Joshua’s mission becomes more than a search for his friend. He means to send all the stolen children home—and doing so becomes the battle of his life. ”

What I thought – The descriptions in this book were so vivid I could feel, smell and envision the setting. The characters were solid. Joshua was totally believable. He had all the right characteristics of a great main character – brave, smart and kind, but he also acted like the kid he is. The world Ms. Galanti created can be totally frightening at times, but it is done in a way that is kid-friendly. I personally found the whole idea of a “child collector” terrifying, but also intriguing. Ms. Galanti’s writing style pulls the reader along, answering questions about the story but then revealing new questions. It really keeps you reading. The story has a lot of action but also a great plot line that strings everything together. The ending is satisfying but leaves the reader wanting to get into the next book in the series.

Five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

I am feeling a bit purple today.

26 Mar

I am feeling a bit purple today. If you haven’t noticed, my blog is a bit purple – I am wearing purple heading off to school. Why all the purple?!?

Today is PURPLE DAY!

A day to bring awareness about epilepsy.


According to the Purple Day website “Cassidy Megan created the idea of Purple Day in 2008, motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy. Cassidy’s goal is to get people talking about epilepsy in an effort to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone.” Click HERE to learn more.

I first became aware of epilepsy through Bethany Telles and reading about her son (Master Jedi) Renn. Renn has gone through some scary things with the condition and I’ve learned a lot about epilepsy through reading about him. I am happy to say that Mrs. Telles reports Renn is doing well and (after a very scary brain surgery), has been seizure free for one year! To read more about Renn CLICK HERE. After learning about Renn and epilepsy, I learned some of the kids at school have it some of my blogger friends (their loved ones) have it – I think it is a subject that kids need to know about it even if you don’t have epilepsy. It will help you understand what is happening to people in your lives who may have it.

In my effort to spread awareness about epilepsy, I have two book recommendations for you.


Mommy, I Feel Funny!

By Danielle M. Rocheford

Illustrated by Chris Herrick 

40 pages – ages 8+
Published by Green Swing, A Wyatt-MacKenzie Imprint on March 1, 2009

GoodReads SummaryBased on a true story, Mommy, I Feel Funny! introduces the reader to Nel, a little girl who is diagnosed with epilepsy. The story takes you through the days following Nels first seizure. Suddenly, Nel and her family are faced with thoughts, fears and emotions that come with the discovery, understanding and acceptance of epilepsy. 

katethegreatThe Great Katie Kate Explains Epilepsy

by M. Maitland DeLand

Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

32 pages – ages 5+
Published by Greenleaf Book Group Press on January 7, 2014

GoodReads Summary – Jimmy and the other young patients in the neurologist’s office get a visit from the Great Katie Kate, a spunky redheaded superhero who appears when kids get worried. Katie Kate takes the children on a medical adventure to learn about the various forms of epileptic seizures and treatments. Along the way, they meet the Worry Wombat, a creature that appears when worries loom large. As Jimmy and his new friends to ask questions about their condition and its triggers, they make the Worry Wombat disappear!

This superhero saga provides an entertaining and indispensable tool for parents and medical professionals who are seeking a positive way to help young epilepsy patients understand their condition and deal with their fears. As a well-respected physician who specializes in the treatment of women and children, the author presents challenging medical concepts in clear, accurate, and understandable prose.

Do you have any book recommendations that teach about epilepsy?

Now go wear some purple!




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