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Blog Tour! Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren with Interview and GIVEAWAY!!!

11 Apr

Prisoner of Ice and Snow
By Ruth Lauren
288 pages – ages 9+
Published by on April 4, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher-She’ll do anything to break her sister out of prison–even get arrested on purpose.

When thirteen-year-old Valor is sent to jail, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s twin sister, Sasha, is serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family, and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.

Never mind that no one has escaped the prison in centuries. Valor has a master plan and resources most people could only dream about. But she didn’t count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make some unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.”

What I Thought- This is probably one of the best debuts I’ve read in a while! The world is beautifully crafted, and there is a fascinating culture created. I am a fan of how the country appears as a nod to ancient Russian culture, and how the characters adapt to that. Which is another thing I loved – the characters are clever and they can think their way out of a problem. The ever present love for Sasha keeping Valor going is a nice touch as well – you would think it’d get annoying sometimes, but it never does. Lauren knows how to spin words in a way that keeps you on the edge of your seat – I read this entire book in one day. It’s not often that a debut author can do that. I cannot wait to see more books from Lauren!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Now for an exclusive interview with author Ruth Lauren!

1. Congratulations on your debut novel! I really enjoyed the action in it! How long have you been writing? Is this your first book ever written?

Thank you so much! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. I’ve been writing for just about seven years now. PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW wasn’t the first book I’ve ever written, or even the second, or third. But it was my first fantasy book and the first with action/adventure in it. I had more fun and did less worrying (and actually less planning) than I’d done before.

2. How did you get the unique plan to have the main character be very talented, but who wants to go to a prison no one has escaped from?

I was actually watching the TV show Prison Break (which starts with a man robbing a bank in order to get arrested) with my son and I wondered what that sort of story would be like if it was about two young sisters instead. The Russia inspired fantasy land part of the idea came soon after as I thought about where I could place the sisters to make their escape even more challenging.

3. As I was reading the book, I kept thinking of Russian traditions and aspects – or at least that is the imagery that popped into my head – even though I know the world you created is not that. I am wondering if you did any research for the fabulous world building you did in this book?  If you did,  how did you decide to differentiate between fact-based and artistic liberty when creating your setting: place, culture, etc.?

There is definitely a Russian feel to the book, although I did take a huge amount of artistic liberty. I never intended any of the aspects to be fact-based, but I did look at maps as inspiration for the made up place names I used. I also used mainly Russian names for characters—although I took liberties with changing their use of patronymics to matronymics (surnames based on the character’s mother’s name) to match with the matriarchal world where power is handed down from mother to daughter.

I imagined a very cold and unforgiving climate and terrain for the setting and when I looked at images on Pinterest, a lot of Russian landscape came up. I make boards for every idea that I have and I find it really helps me to visualize the world and individual scenes if can link them to a picture. For this book, I wanted a very cold, snowy, frozen world where the elements themselves could cause problems for the characters and bleed through into every part of the planning Valor has to do to try to break her sister out of prison.

4. One of the things I liked was that there is no magic prevalent in the story. I often think magic is an easy fall-back for authors when they get stuck. Instead you create quick thinking and daring characters that move the plot along. Did you enjoy the challenge of creating a world where magic is not a deus ex machina?

I enjoyed writing this book and figuring out a fast moving plot immensely, but I actually think including magic might have made it more difficult to write rather than easier. I find the idea of inventing a magic system that makes sense quite daunting!

5. Your heroine, Valor, is a wonderful character that I think both boys and girls will relate to.  How did you come up with Valor? Is she based on anyone?

Thank you! And I do hope so.

Valor was the first character I really thought about within the story, with her apprenticeship to her huntswoman mother as the reason she’s so adept with her bow and with so many other physical challenges. Her character built from her skills and her interest in being outdoors, reacting quickly to situations and therefore maybe not always thinking first—especially when it comes to saying the right thing. She’s fiercely loyal and determined but that sometimes prevents her from understanding other people’s points of view when she’s launching headlong into action. She’s not really based on anyone, but there are aspects of me in her (not the brave parts) and aspects of me in Sasha too.

6. Was there something I should have asked you but didn’t?

I don’t think so. But I would like to say thank you very much for having me!

7. Is there anything in the works you would like to tell the readers about?

I’m excited to say that there is! There’ll be a sequel to PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW. It’s called SEEKER OF THE CROWN, coming from Bloomsbury in April 2018. No spoilers, but I can’t wait to go back to Demidova with Valor and Sasha for more adventures. I’m also currently outlining a middle grade sci-fi standalone set on another planet, which I hope you’ll get to read one day.

You can have a chance at winning a copy of this book!

Just click HERE for the Rafflecopter. (Only open to US/CAN addresses)

Only available for four more days!!

Review! The Great Sugar War by Benjamin Ellefson

11 Apr

The Great Sugar War
Written by Benjamin Ellefson
Illustrated by Kevin Cannon
168 pages – ages 9+
Published by Beaver’s Pond Press on December 28, 2016

Synopsis- We return to the Land of Color to follow the tale of Otto, who is the grandfather of Alvin, the main character of The Land Without Color (see my review HERE)! Otto was sailing on a new boat he got for a present, but went off course and ended up rescuing up a soldier whose ship had sank. The Land of Color is at war with the Land of Shapes, and Otto has got himself into the middle of it all. Using his ingenuity, Otto and the soldier work together to stop a new menace – the evil sugar soldiers. Now that the Lands of Color and Shapes have a common enemy, can they put aside their differences to stop them from taking over?

What I Thought- This is a nice prequel to The Land Without Color, andEllefson keeps the spirit of the first true to this book as well. I like that there is a message about eating good healthy foods, but it isn’t forced upon the readers – just subtly stated as the better option. That is good, so kids won’t be turned away from eating veggies as much. Ellefson has a great writing style, where you really connect with the characters. I also like that the character of Otto inspires ingenuity, because even if a problem arises he will look around and find a creative way out of the problem. This is a really neat series; I like how there are things that occur in it that have blatant disregard for the laws of reality – that makes it more fun! I cannot wait for the last book in this series!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! Motley Education by SA Larsen

28 Mar

Motley Education
By SA Larsen
Ages 8+
Published by Leap Books, LLC on September 15, 2016

Synopsis- Ebony Charmed is a student at Motley Junior High in Peru, Maine, and she learns how to be a medium. It’s just that she isn’t that great at speaking to ghosts. So why is it that she, of all people, are suddenly in charge of saving the world? Because now she’s finding out that the Norse mythology isn’t so much myth, and that she is a descendant of some people who guard a magical bridge. Life suddenly just got more complicated. Will Ebony and her friends succeed in saving the world before all is lost?

What I Thought- Larsen has written an entertaining novel that introduces kids to the Norse myths. I like the idea of the school as well, because it’s similar to Hogwarts, without the magic per se, and also with modern assets. The book is a fun read, and I couldn’t put it down once I started. Larsen has a way of putting a lot of emotion into the story so you just get hooked into the story. The characters act like normal kids their age, and you can believe how they react to the situations that occur. At times the phrasing seemed a little too abrupt, where figurative language could’ve eased the wording a little bit, but that was a trivial thing. This is a great debut Middle Grade novel – Larsen knows how to write a story that kids will want to read! All in all, this is a really great story, and I look forward to reading the next book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! From Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle

26 Mar

From Ant to Eagle
By Alex Lyttle
256 pages – ages 9+
Will be Published by Central Avenue Publishing on April 1st, 2017

Synopsis- Calvin Sinclair has a little brother, and they do everything together. Or really, Sammy does everything Cal tells him to. They still hang out together, but it isn’t until Calvin becomes enthralled with a new girl in town that they start spending less time together. If he had realized that Sammy had cancer growing inside of him, then he would’ve acted differently. He would’ve spent quality time with Sammy. But now all Cal can do is hop on the roller coaster with him and hope for the best.

What I Thought- This book was outstanding. When I first heard about it, I was interested enough to try it, but not quite sure if I would enjoy it. I am glad to say that I loved this book! Lyttle, being a pediatrician who worked in an oncology unit, knows the details about the ravages of cancer and the toll it takes on families. Lyttle also knows how to write a poignant, thought-provoking story that has beautifully-crafted lighthearted moments. Because of the subject matter, the story does have a darker feel to it, but Lyttle does a great job with keeping a sense of redemption and hope going. I do not normally like or even read books about topics like cancer/death, but this one is such a wonderfully crafted story about siblings I loved this story. Sammy and Cal have the most realistic brother relationship I’ve read in a book in a while. Everything about it rings so true.  Cal says it, that he loved his brother, didn’t wish any harm to him, but he sure could be a pain in the rear at times. Okay – most of the time. Close to the end of the book, there are a few cuss words (s*** and d***) in an acceptable scenario, but just know that they’re there. This is a fabulous debut from Lyttle, and I really hope to read more from him. This is a definite must read.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! Isaac The Alchemist By Mary Losure

28 Feb

isaacIsaac The Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d
By Mary Losure
176 pages – ages 9+
Published by Candlewick on February 1, 2017

Synopsis From the Publisher- A surprising true story of Isaac Newton’s boyhood suggests an intellectual development owing as much to magic as science.

Before Isaac Newton became the father of physics, an accomplished mathematician, or a leader of the scientific revolution, he was a boy living in an apothecary’s house, observing and experimenting, recording his observations of the world in a tiny notebook. As a young genius living in a time before science as we know it existed, Isaac studied the few books he could get his hands on, built handmade machines, and experimented with alchemy—a process of chemical reactions that seemed, at the time, to be magical. Mary Losure’s riveting narrative nonfiction account of Isaac’s early life traces his development as a thinker from his childhood, in friendly prose that will capture the attention of today’s budding scientists—as if by magic. Back matter includes an afterword, an author’s note, source notes, a bibliography, and an index.

What I Thought- This was a neat nonfiction book. It is an in-depth look at Sir Isaac Newton’s youth and beginnings as his famous physicist/mathematician. Some of the text is challenging to read, usually being copied directly from Newton’s notebook or a book that he learned from. It makes it a great choice for young advanced readers. Losure does a good job of explaining what the text means. There are illustrations and pictures of real paintings, books, and journal entries – adding to the text. I especially enjoyed these additions. Losure has written a fascinating nonfiction novel. I like how it says that in the time “magic” was considered science, because they knew so little of the world, so Newton did magical experiments. That added a bit of flavor to the story. This is a neat biography of a time in Newton’s life that we don’t know a lot about. I really liked this book, and would recommend it to history buffs and science lovers.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Our Country’s Presidents by Ann Bausam

28 Feb

presidentOur Country’s Presidents: A Complete Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency
By Ann Bausam
224 pages – ages 9+
Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on January 10, 2017

Synopsis From the Publisher- National Geographic presents the 43 individuals who have led the U.S., plus America’s newest commander-in-chief, in this up-to-date, authoritative, and lavishly illustrated family, school, and library reference. It features comprehensive profiles of the 43 former presidents along with timelines and descriptions of crucial events during their terms. Information about the 2016 president-elect is also included.

Thematic spreads cover a variety of topics from the history of voting rights to writing a presidential letter. Full-page portraits, famous quotes, and fascinating facts help kids get to know each leader. This new volume is a fascinating read and excellent reference for students and kids of all ages.

What I Thought- This is a fabulous resource of most of what we know about the presidents of the United States. Granted, the book is not a full analysis, but a general outline of their highs, lows and accomplishments as president. Kids will be introduced to the presidents, along with information involved with the presidency; polling, the electoral college, and what first ladies do, among those mentioned. The information is presented in a clear, easy-to-understand and relatively unbiased way for the young readers. I really enjoy the layout of nonfiction books from National Geographic, with bold spreads, vivid pictures text as well as fact boxes. This book follows that format.

pres2

The publisher lists it as a middle grade book, but it could be read by a younger reader, or a teacher could read to a class/parent to a younger child as well. An up-to-date read -Bausam included some information on the background of President Trump, but seeing as the book was published when he was still President-Elect, it couldn’t have included information on what he has done as president. All in all, this book is a great resource to start kids on learning about the presidents.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

25 Feb

squirrelThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
Illustrated by Vitale Mangiatordi
336 pages – ages 9+
Published by Marvel Press on February 7, 2017

Synopsis – Doreen Green knows that she’s different. After all, there is literally a perfectly legit reason why she obsesses over squirrels. You see, Doreen Green is a fourteen-year-old with a squirrel tail. But now she’s moved across the country from sunny, brilliant, cheery California to…New Jersey. What if there are no squirrels?!

Luckily, there ARE squirrels! But Doreen’s new town is pretty messed up. There are graffiti “artists” and wild dogs running loose! So, Doreen decides to do what any good citizen should do – clean up her town. And it goes fine, until she finds out that she now has an arch-nemesis. Which stinks. Now it’s up to Squirrel Girl to stop this squirrel-hating psycho from destroying her town!

What I Thought- I knew about Squirrel Girl from reading comics. She had a brief run with her own comic but she really is a minor character so I was interested to see what the Hale’s did with her in this middle grade novel. This book is actually really funny. There is just a lot of details that make for a humorous read. One of the ones I like is that there are footnotes throughout the book from Doreen, because she is reading the book at the same time as you are! There are also text messages between Doreen and some prominent superheroes that are absolutely hilarious. Doreen is a very enjoyable character that seems a bit too naive at times. Mr. and Mrs. Hale are a great writing team, and have the voice of young teenagers down perfectly. They make the characters believable. Along with that, the setting is well-described, and doesn’t really diss New Jersey (which usually is an easy target), just her fictional, messed-up town. There are also black and white squirrel illustrations throughout the book that were a nice touch. This was an altogether enjoyable read, and a nice foray into the Marvel universe from a lesser known superhero!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

 

Creative Kid Thursday! Guest Review by Josie: Red-Tail Recovery by Emma J Homes

16 Feb

Happy Thursday!

Today my sister Josie is reviewing a book that she really enjoyed!

What is more awesome is that you can pick up a FREE copy of the kindle book on Amazon TODAY – click HERE!

redtailRed-Tail Recovery

series: Ruthie’s wildlife (Book 3)
by Emma J Homes

55 pages – ages 6+
Published by Spark Street Communications Pty Ltd on December 14, 2016

Publishers summary: Ruthie’s wildlife scientist parents are taking on a new challenge – saving the endangered red-tailed black-cockatoo. For Ruthie this means a lot of exciting firsts: living in a house, and not a bus, starting at a ‘real’ school, and the chance to make some friends. As always, Ruthie will be helping her parents with their work, but will it be enough to make a difference for these rare and beautiful birds? And what will Ruthie and her family find themselves up against this time?

What Josie Thought: I really like this book. I liked the other book in this series I read (The Vanishing Frogs of Cascade Creek) and I want to get the first book too. Ruthie is a nice character. Her parents are scientists they travel around Australia in a bus and study wildlife and figure out how to help them. Ruthie and her brother and sister get to go too. That sounds like a pretty cool life. I like science and nature and this book teaches you about the Red-Tail Cockatoo and their habitat. There is a link in the back of the book for a website where there are people actually doing the work of saving the Red-Tail talked about in the book. This is what a Red-Tail looks like –

redtail2

The chapters in the book aren’t very long so it is a great book for kids who have trouble reading or are starting out. The story is fun to read and I like Ruthie’s smart solution to help the birds when their environment is being destroyed.

I give this book five bookwormsfivebooks

Thank you Josie!

Don’t forget to grab a FREE kindle copy of this book CLICK HERE!

To learn more about Emma J Homes, go to her website – click HERE

Blog Tour! Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring by Enigma Alberti #Spyonhistory

10 Feb

mary-bowser-blog-tour-banner

Welcome to my stop on the #Spyonhistory Blog Tour! I hope you enjoy my post – I really enjoyed this book!!

9780761187394Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring
Written by Enigma Alberti
Illustrated by Tony Cliff
96 pages – ages 9+
Published by Workman Publishing Company on December 13, 2016

Synopsis from the Publisher- Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring introduces an exciting interactive series for middle grade readers—Spy on History, where the reader gets to experience history in a whole new way.

Meet Mary Bowser, an African American spy who was able to infiltrate the Confederate leadership at the highest level. Enigma Alberti dramatizes Mary Bowser’s suspenseful story—how she pretended to be illiterate, how she masterfully evaded detection, how she used her photographic memory to “copy” critical documents.

Using spycraft materials included in a sealed envelope inside the book, a canny reader will be able to discover and unravel clues embedded in the text and illustrations, and solve the book’s ultimate mystery: Where did Mary hide her secret diary?

What I Thought- This was a really cool book! It tells the story of Mary Bowser, an amazingly brave and super cunning lady who deserves to have her story told. The book is an excellent choice to highlight during Black History month here in the USA. The book has cool black-and-white (with red accents!) illustrations spread throughout it.

marybower1

I also really like how the words sometimes jump around the page. There is a folder in the front containing a shift cipher, a red plastic screen, a page from a book, and a piece of paper with holes cut into it – all supplied to help the reader solve the mystery. That’s just plain awesome! I really like how you have to find the clues in the text and illustrations. The story itself is wonderfully satisfying, and I really enjoyed learning about the history behind Ms. Bowser. It is really interesting to hear about the Civil War from the Confederate side (even if it was to help the Union) – it gives you another perspective. Enigma Alberti refers to the pen name of a group of authors who are writing this series. They promise to tell the stories of even more spies from history. I can’t wait for the rest of the books in the series to come out!

marybower

 

Want to learn more?

Author: Enigma Alberti is the nom de plume of a secret cadre of authors who are each writing a book in the Spy on History series.

Illustrator: Tony Cliff is the author and artist behind the New York Times bestselling Delilah Dirk graphic novel series. Find more on Tony at www.tonycliff.com and @TangoCharlie on Twitter.

Schedule:
Wednesday, February 1: Middle Grade Mafia
Thursday, February 2: YAYOMG
Friday, February 3: Mundie Kids
Monday, February 6: Miss Print
Tuesday, February 7: Recreational Scholar
Wednesday, February 8: The Roarbots
Thursday, February 9: Randomly Reading
Friday, February 10: A History of Books & This Kid Reviews Books
Monday, February 13: Teen Library Toolbox
Tuesday, February 14: Ex Libris Kate
Wednesday, February 15: Geo Librarian
Thursday, February 16: Kidliterati
Friday, February 17: Kristi’s Book Nook

Book Available at:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
IndieBound
Workman

Social Media:
Twitter – @workmanpub
Facebook – @workmanpublishing
Instagram – @workmanpub
Pinterest – @workmanpub
Tumblr – @workmanpublishing

Review! Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson

1 Feb

marslastdayLast Day on Mars
Series: Chronicle of the Dark Star
By Kevin Emerson
336 pages – ages 9+
Will be Published by Walden Pond Press on February 14, 2017

Synopsis- What would you feel like if you had to leave your house, your neighborhood, maybe even your country, and move to a new house? What if you didn’t know if you would be able to find that house, after you’ve moved out and can’t go back? What if you had to move to a new solar system? That’s what’s going on here – it’s the year 2213, and our sun is about to go supernova (aka, explode and burn the entire solar system). Earth is already fried; we’ve set up temporary colonies on Mars, but we know they won’t last – we’re trying to get to another solar system to a possibly hospitable planet. For the scientists and other inhabitants of was-Earth, that’s all fine – they’re finding a new-Earth. But for Liam and his friend Phoebe, all they’ve known was Mars – it’s their home. They were understandably upset about leaving, even though they understand why. As the last of the research to be taken on the last ship to the new planet is still being worked on during their last day, it’s awful when the research plant blows up. Phoebe and Liam are devastated, and even more so when they start to realize that maybe the research plant was sabotaged. But who would do such a thing?

What I Thought- This is a really neat premise. I like how it portrayed the future, with advancements, but still realistic ones (they had progressed in basic areas, but were still unable to figure out how to really get out of the solar system on a normal basis). It was also really cool to hear the “history” of how humans got to the point they had got to. The story is really good, and it takes place in the time period of roughly a day and a half or so, with the exception of the pro- and epilogues. Emerson captures the pain that Liam and Phoebe would feel as they are the last humans on their home. The setting is really rather well-described, and makes it feel like it could be truly what it is like.  Emerson’s narrative is a bonus, as it is quite matter-of-fact in an almost humorous way. The characters are realistic, and you really root for them as they try to succeed and obstacles keep popping up. Emerson ends the story with a tantalizing cliffhanger but leaves the reader satisfied with the book’s plot line. There are alien characters (they’re part of the problem!) in the book, but they are mostly only present in the pro- and epilogue, so I hope they will be expanded on in the next book. With America’s planned mission to Mars in full swing, this book is bound to catch some kids’ interest. Sci-fi fans will also seriously enjoy this!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

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