Thursday, July 20, 2017

Jack and the Beanstalk and the French Fries by Mark Teague / Book Review



Written and Illustrated By: Mark Teague
Published by: Orchard  Books / Scholastic
Released on: July 25, 2017
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase from: Scholastic Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - I LOVED It!
Thank you to Scholastic for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 


Jack and the townsfolk are tired of eating beans — bean salad, refried beans, bean ice cream, and more! So Jack climbs up the magic beanstalk to find something else to eat. Jack meets a giant who is also sick of eating beans and would rather devour Jack instead. FEE FI FO FUM Readers and bean lovers of all ages will be laughing put loud as Jack cooks up a plan with a delicious twist in this fun-filled fractured fairy tale.


This classic story has a wonderful twist, when Jack (and the villagers) no longer want to just eat beans. He decides to climb the beanstalk, only to meet a friend that no longer wants to eat beans either. Jack and the Giant grow a huge garden and they finally get their french fries! It is a fun retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk and we loved it.


The pictures are wonderful and add to this fun story. Mark Teague, as always, is entertaining and full of life and color in his illustrations. If you love his other books, then you will definitely have fun with this one. This is a great book to add to your library and one that children will want to read over and over again.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The 50 Cities Blog Extravagana: Austin, TX / Blog Tour


It's that time of year, where you don't want to believe that summer is about half over, and the new school year is just around the corner. I don't know about you, but when my kids were younger, I loved getting them a variety of educational books to read through out the summer. We still do this, but when they were younger there were a lot more fun books to pick from. One of their favorite books were ones about the US, and the world. 

Coming this September (9/7/17), from Quarto Publishing, 50 Cities of the U.S.A by Gabrielle Balkan, is one of those fun, educational books that's great for both the home, and classroom libraries. I'm so thrilled that one of the cities featured is my current city, AUSTIN, TX!



Here's a few fun facts about Austin, TX, that you'll find featured in the book:

  • AMERICAN INDIAN HERITAGE DAY 
Austin applauds the past and current contributions of American Indians with dancing by tribes such as the Comanche Nation.
  • AMY'S ICE CREAM
Amy's Ice Cream "Scoops" (aka servers) toss and juggle blackberry, lime, and coconut ice cream at an annual Trick Olympics.
  • AUSTIN CITY LIMITS 
ACL celebrates Texas standards like Tejano music, progressive country, and western swing, whose lineup often includes a steel guitar.
  • BARTON SPRING POOL 
Fed by a cool underground spring, this 3-acre pool is an ideal spot—for overheated swimmers and the endangered Barton Springs Salamander!
  • BETTY AND EDWARD MARCUS SCULPTURE PARK 
Contemporary sculptures, like John Grade's Canopy Tower, mix with the woodlands and waterfront of the historic Laguna Gloria.
  • COWBOY BOOT 
The pointy toe of the state footwear is designed to fit easily into the stirrup when riding horseback.
  • DELL CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL 
Dell Children's hosts pet therapy for patients; studies show that stroking or talking to a pet can lower heart rate and reduce anxiety.
  • NATURE & SCIENCE CENTER 
Meet the black-footed ferret, whose slender body lets it to crawl into the holes of its prey—the prairie dog.
  • TEXAS LONGHORN FOOTBALL 
Even with helmets and lots of padding, players suffer brutal injuries in this high-contact sport.
  • THE CATHEDRAL OF JUNK 
This started with a few hubcaps tethered to a fence and now includes 60 tons of donated bikes, clocks, and odd toys.
  • THE CONGRESS BRIDGE 
This is home to some 1.5 million migrating bats, who have four fingers and a thumb, just like us!
  • THE LYNDON B. JOHNSON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY 
This library includes a replica of the Oval Office at 7/8th scale, including the three TVs he used to keep up with the news.
  • THE SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 
SXSW conference invites creative people to share ideas about music, technology, and film, and injects some $315 million into local economy.
  • THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN 
The Tower here lights up in all orange to celebrate academic honors and athletic victories.
  • THE ZILKER KITE FESTIVAL
This is the U.S.'s longest running kite festival. During the Civil War, kites were used to delivering letters and newspapers.
  • TORTILLA CHIPS AND SALSA
 The first corn tortilla dates back some 10,000 years and is made by curing maize in limewater.
  • VIDEO GAMES 
Austin houses oodles of gaming production companies that hire analysts, artists, engineers, and designers.
  • WHOLE FOODS MARKET 
Started here with only 19 employees in 1980, this now-massive natural grocery store chain encourages shoppers to use reusable bags.
  • WILLIE NELSON
 Find tributes to this favorite Texan musician all over his home town, including a statue, street name, and a 60" x 20" mural. 

This is a great list, and hopefully it will get you excited for a visit to the capital of Texas. To add to this great list, here's a few more things I love about Austin:

The Austin area has a number of natural swimming areas, amazing Tex-Mex & BBQ, awesome food trailers, a variety of sports teams, and so much more. If you love the out doors, check out Lady Bird Lake for kayaking, hiking, running, biking, canoeing, and more. Or, visit a number of hiking / walking trails around the area. No matter what you enjoy, Austin, TX is a place I highly recommend visiting. 


Here's a list of all the cities featured in this book:

Anchorage • Atlanta • Austin • Baltimore • Birmingham • Boise • Boston • Burlington • Charleston Charlotte • Cheyenne • Chicago • Cleveland • Columbus • Denver • Detroit • Hartford • Honolulu • Houston Indianapolis • Jacksonville • Kansas City • Las Vegas • Little Rock • Los Angeles • Louisville • Memphis Miami • Milwaukee • Minneapolis-St. Paul Nashville • New Orleans • New York • Newark • Newport • Oklahoma City • Philadelphia • Phoenix • Pittsburgh • Portland, MA • Portland, OR • Rapid City • Salt Lake City • San Francisco • Santa Fe • Seattle • St. Louis • Tucson • Virginia Beach • Washington, D.C. 

You can learn about Austin, TX, along with 49 other cities, when you pick up your copy on September 7th, when it's out. More information, and to purchase your own copy, please visit Quarto Publishing, here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Froggy Goes To Grandma's by Jonathan London / Book Review


By: Jonathan London
Illustrated by: Frank Remkiewicz
Published by: Viking Books / Penguin Kids
Released on: April 4, 2017
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase fromPenguin Random House | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - I LOVED It!
Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

*We are a Penguin Random House Random partner.

Froggy has a ball visiting Grandma!

When Froggy and his family go to visit Grandma, they look forward to all kinds of fun: a baseball game, a trip to the amusement park, a visit to the museum to see the Frogga Lisa. 

But best of all is cooking with Grandma and learning to make her specialty, spaghetti with fly sauce.

Froggy’s antics everywhere he goes will delight his many fans.


I love the Froggy books and this is just another fun adventure with Froggy and his family. The sounds of Froggy are humorous and his antics make this a great read for young children. Bowling, baseball and museums are some of the activities that Froggy gets to do with his Grandma. Children will relate to his enthusiasm and excitement for everything, but they will also enjoy his special time with his Grandma.  After everything Froggy gets to do, cooking with his Grandma is his favorite. This is a quick read, but every page is entertaining and perfect for young readers!


Friday, July 7, 2017

SHE PERSISTED: 13 American Women Who Changed The World by Chelsea Clinton / Book Review


By: Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by: Alexandra Boiger
Published by: Philomel Books / Penguin Kids
Released on: May 30th, 2017
Ages: 4 & up
Purchase from: Penguin Random HouseAmazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - I LOVED It!
Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted.

Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what's right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren's refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted.

She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small.

With vivid, compelling art by Alexandra Boiger, this book shows readers that no matter what obstacles may be in their paths, they shouldn't give up on their dreams. Persistence is power.

This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor—and one special cameo.


Perfect for readers of all ages, this inspiring picture book is an educational, history lesson as much as it an inspiring reminder to let your voice be heard and never lose sight of your dreams. 

I've long been a fan of incredible women, like Sally Rider, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller and Ruby Bridges, all whom are featured in this book. These strong women persisted when it would have been easy to fall victim to their circumstances or listened to the voices telling them they didn't belong, or they couldn't do it. I've always admired their strength, courage and their not listening to the word no. While this book features just 13 women from history to modern day, women like them are found all through out history. 

Written with young readers in mind, I love that each page featured in this picture book includes a brief history about what each of the 13 women did, and a correlating page has a illustration to go with their story, along with a motivational quote they said. I love books like this. Not only can my daughter read about women who persisted, and made a difference, I too learned about a few women I hadn't heard about until now. 

SHE PERSISTED is a powerful reminder to young minds that they're surrounded by women today, as well as have role models of strong, courageous women throughout history, who have paved a way for them to accomplish anything they put their mind to. They persisted, and so can you! A must read for all ages, SHE PERSISTED is an inspirational, empowering read.  

"The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it's unpopular is a true test of mortal character."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

TRAINS DON'T SLEEP by Andria Rosenbaum / Book Review


By: Andria Rosenbaum 
Illustrated by: Deirdre Gill
Published by: HMH Books
Released on: May 2nd, 2017
Ages: 0+
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - We Loved It!
Thank you to HMH for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

Puffing, chuffing, never yawning 
Climbing hills as day is dawning. 
  
Trains don’t sleep, they 
CLANG and HOOT

Cross bridges and canyons, plow through snow, charge down mountains, and meander across fields filled with sheep. And when it is time to rest and dreams are just ahead, never fear—trains don’t sleep so that you can.

With the feel of a classic and vivid artwork that captures the power and majesty of trains, this is a  fast-paced rhyming ode to the locomotive.

All Aboard! Young train fans will love reading this cross country express, featuring a variety trains doing various jobs. It's no wonder trains don't sleep. From cargo trains to passenger trains, trains are always on the go. TRAINS DON'T SLEEP is perfect for train lovers young and old. Also included in the back of the book is an illustrated train glossary. With rhythm, rhyme, and beautiful illustrations, this book is sure to be a bedtime favorite. Highly recommend picking this one up!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July!


Happy 4th of July! 
We're looking forward to spending the day with family & friends to celebrate our country's birthday. We hope y'all have a wonderful day! 

Monday, July 3, 2017

HEARTWOOD HOTEL By Kallie George / Blog Tour: Book Review & Giveaway!


Welcome to the next stop for the HEARTWOOD HOTEL blog tour. I'm so thrilled to share my review for this adorable children's book. Below, you'll find more about the book, my review, and don't forget to enter to win!

ABOUT THE BOOK



By: Kallie George 
Illustrated by: Stephanie Graegin
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Released on: July 3, 2017 - TODAY!
Series: A True Home #1
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | TBD
Add it to Goodreads 

When Mona the Mouse stumbles across the wondrous world of the Heartwood Hotel in the middle of a storm, she desperately hopes they'll let her stay. As it turns out, Mona is precisely the maid they need at the grandest hotel in Fernwood Forest, where animals come from far and wide for safety, luxury, and comfort. But the Heartwood Hotel is not all acorn souffl and soft moss-lined beds. Danger lurks, and as it approaches, Mona finds that this hotel is more than a warm place to spend the night. It might also be a home.

This delightfully enticing start of a new chapter book series tells a tale of friendship, courage, and community, with exquisite black-and-white illustrations throughout.
A cute woodland story about friendship, courage, overcoming challenges, and the true meaning of home. Heartwood Hotel is an enjoyable read that takes readers into the heart of the woods, and introduces them to a variety of woodland animal (and a few insect characters too). With Graegin's illustrations (I love this cover), and George's storytelling, this story is one that will make you wish you could spend longer than the time it takes to read this book, with Mona and her woodland friends. 

One of the things I really enjoyed about this story, is that it encompasses topics that young chapter book readers can understand. Like feeling lonely, feeling like you belong, finding new friends, doing your best despite feeling you're too small to do anything, friendship, jealously, helping others, and doing your best. Mona the mouse is a character who starts off feeling scared, lonely and a little insecure, and ends up finding she's brave, courageous, a good friend, and strong in knowing who she is. 

Heartwood Hotel is a charming, enchanting woodland story. I felt like a kid again reading it. Growing up, I loved walking through the woods imagining what all the woodland animals were doing, and would often create mental stories of their adventures. This story reminded me of that. This is a great book to pick up for kids that are reading chapter books. It also makes for a great read aloud. We're looking forward to reading the next book in this adorable series. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



KALLIE GEORGE is the author of the Magical Animal Adoption Agency series. She works as an author and speaker in Vancouver, Canada, and has a master’s in children’s literature from the University of British Columbia. She also leads workshops for aspiring writers. Kallie happened across the Heartwood Hotel on a hike with her husband. Visit her online at kalliegeorge.com. Website

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR



STEPHANIE GRAEGIN received her BFA in Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She later attended Pratt Institute, obtaining a Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking. Stephanie now lives in Brooklyn. Visit her online at graegin.com or on Twitter @Steph_Graegin. Website | Twitter | Instagram

ENTER TO WIN

Thank you to Disney Hyperion, 3 winners will receive a finished copy of HEARTWOOD HOTEL, US Only.


FOLLOW THE TOUR

6/26/2017- YA Book NerdAuthor Post
6/27/2017- Seraphina ReadsReview
6/28/2017- Just CommonlyReview
6/29/2017- BookHounds YAAuthor Post
6/30/2017- Once Upon a Twilight- Review

7/3/2017- Mundie KidsReview
7/4/2017- Word SpelunkingAuthor Post
7/5/2017- Mommy RamblingsReview
7/6/2017- Batch of BooksReview
7/7/2017- Between the Cracks of Here and ThereAuthor Post

Friday, June 30, 2017

Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty / Giveaway #SerafinaBooks


Welcome to today's book spot and giveaway. I'm so thrilled to partner with Disney Hyperion to celebrate the upcoming release of the SERAFINA and the SPLINTERED HEART, the third and last installment in the Serafina Series. You can read my spoiler free review for it here. Below, you can read more about the book, the series, watch a trailer, and don't forget to enter to win!

ABOUT THE BOOK 



By: Robert Beatty
Published by: Disney Hyperion
To Be Released on: July 4th, 2017
SeriesSerfina #3
Ages: 8 - 12
Purchase fromAmazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads 

The storms are coming.... 

Something has happened to Serafina. She has awoken into a darkness she does not understand, scarred from a terrible battle, only to find that life at Biltmore Estate has changed in unimaginable ways. Old friends do unthinkable things and enemies seem all around.

A mysterious threat moves towards Biltmore, a force without a name, bringing with it violent storms and flooding that stands to uproot everything in its path. Serafina must uncover the truth about what has happened to her and find a way to harness her strange new powers before it's too late. 

With only days to achieve the impossible, Serafina fights to reclaim herself as the Guardian of Biltmore, friend of Braeden, daughter of her Pa, and heroine of the Blue Ridge Mountains and all the folk and creatures that call it home. 

In the epic third installment of Robert Beatty’s #1 bestselling series, Serafina takes her rightful place among literary champions as she battles fiercely to defend all she loves and become everything that she is meant to be.

BOOK EXTRAS

Visit the Official Site
See the cover reveal video of Serafina and the Splintered Heart
Watch the author read an excerpt at a special Serafina fan event


ABOUT THE SERIES



Set in the magical Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Robert Beatty’s #1 New York Times best-selling series stars the fierce, resilient character of Serafina, a wild girl longing for kinship and struggling to understand her place in the world. This timeless story of finding one’s true family and best self chronicles an epic battle between good and evil and rewrites the rules of who can be a hero.

Book 1: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Book 2: Serafina and the Twisted Staff
Book 3: Serafina and the Splintered Heart

Social Media

#SerafinaBooks
Follow the Serafina series on Facebook and Instagram
Follow the author on Twitter
Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter and Instagram

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Robert Beatty lives in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife and three daughters. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives he was one of the pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the CTO and chairman of Narrative magazine. Visit him online at www.robert-beatty.com.


ENTER TO WIN


Thank you to Disney Hyperion, one (1) lucky winner will receive: 
  • Serafina and the Splintered Heart;
  • plus custom Serafina and the Splintered Heart earrings!
Open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Edward Gets Messy by Rita Meade / Book Review


By: Rita Meade
Illustrated by: Olga Stern
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Released on: September 2016
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase from: PublisherAmazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - We Loved It!
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review


A very particular little pig discovers the joys that come with getting messy in this sweet and silly debut picture book. 

Edward the pig never pets friendly dogs on the street. He never, ever eats food that spills or splatters. And he never, ever, EVER uses markers or glue sticks or paint. They are just too messy. 

But what happens when—GLOOP!—a big tub of paint falls on Edward’s perfectly neat little head? Well, it might just turn out that getting messy has its upsides, too. 

After all, even particular pigs can clean up afterward.


Edward does not like messes but, he misses out on so much fun with his friends because of it. On the day he accidentally makes a big mess, he learns the fun, creativity, experimenting and joys of playful messes with this friends. Kids will love this story and seeing all of the messes that Edward gets in to. They will relate to his reluctance to new things but love when he learns that is ok, because messes can be cleaned up.


This is a wonderful story that young children can relate to and enjoy. We loved the pictures and the adorable Edward. My children enjoyed how clean he was but they also loved seeing his new adventurous and messy side. This is great read for children who are learning that making mistakes is great, trying new things is important and don't be afraid to embrace new things. You will want this book for your young readers!


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

SECRETS I KNOW by Kallie George / Book Review



By: Kallie George
Illustrated by: Paola Zakimi
Published by: Schwartz & Wade
Released on: May 23rd, 2017
Ages: 2 & up
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - WE LOVED IT
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Perfect for fans of Liz Garton Scanlon's All the World and Amy Krouse Rosenthal's I Wish You More, this charming, whimsical story about one imaginative little girl’s magical world is sure to enchant readers young and old.

Follow the girl throughout a day spent in her own backyard, and you'll discover lots of secrets only she can tell. For example, did you know that whispers hide in trees? Or that trees make great umbrellas? With a simple, poetic text from Kallie George and extraordinary illustrations from debut artist Paola Zakimi, here is a book families will read again and again and treasure for years to come.


A charming, whimsical read with beautiful illustrations that capture the heart of imagination, the wonder of nature, and the magical world of this book. The team work between George's simple, poetic words, and Zakimi's stunning illustrations, make for a timeless treasure that can be treasured for generations. This is a book worth picking up! 

What's more fun on a rainy day than allowing your imagination to sore. This young girl does this. Taking a grand adventure in her backyard, she shares secrets with readers on her discoveries outdoors. Like the trees in her backyard becoming umbrellas, which can turn into boats. Seashells in her sandbox are great for becoming sauces and tiny tea cups. There are many  more secrets this young girl shares. It's worth picking up this book to find out what they are. 

We absolutely LOVED this book, and highly recommend picking it up. It's a beautiful mix of simple, poetic storytelling, and visual stunning artwork. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

THE SILVER MASK by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black / Snippet #MagisteriumSeries


The forth installment in Cassandra Clare and Holly Black's the Magisterium series, THE SILVER MASK, is set to be released on October 10th, 2017. Today Cassandra Clare shared a snippet from the upcoming release. You can read her entire post hereRead the snippet below.


*  *  *  *  *
That night, though, Call didn’t dream, and when he woke up, there was a guard outside his cell, holding his tray of breakfast.
“You’ve got another visitor,” the guard said, looking at Call sideways. He was pretty sure all the guards were still waiting for him to slay them with that charisma.
Call sat up. “Who is it?”
The guard shrugged. “Some student from your school.”
Call’s heart began to pound. It was Tamara. It had to be Tamara. Who else would visit him?
He barely noticed the guard sliding the breakfast tray through the narrow opening at the bottom of the door. He was too busy sitting up straight and running his fingers through his tangled hair, trying to calm it and figure out what to say to Tamara when she came in.
Hey, how are you doing, sorry I let our best friend get killed …
The door opened and his visitor came through, walking between two guards. It was a Magisterium student — that was true.
But it wasn’t Tamara…

“Jasper?” Call said in disbelief.
“I know.” Jasper held up his hands as if to ward off gratitude.
“Obviously you’re overwhelmed by my kindness in coming here.”
“Uh,” Call said. Master Rufus had been right about Jasper — his hair looked like he hadn’t brushed it in years. It was sticking out all over. Call marveled at it. Had Jasper really worked to get it looking like that? On purpose? “I assume you came to tell me how much everyone at school hates me.”
“They don’t think of you all that much,” Jasper said, obviously lying. “You just didn’t make that big of an impression. Mostly, everyone’s sad about Aaron. They thought of you as his sidekick, you know? Blending into the background.”
They think of you as his murderer. That’s what Jasper meant, even if he didn’t say it.
After that, Call couldn’t bring himself to ask about Tamara. “Did you get in a lot of trouble?” he asked instead. “I mean, because of me.”
Jasper rubbed his hands against his worn designer jeans. “Mostly they wanted to know if you put spells on us to keep us in your dark thrall. I said you weren’t a good enough mage to do anything like that.”
“Thanks, Jasper,” said Call, not sure if he meant it or not.
“So what’s it like in the ole Panopticon?” Jasper asked, looking around. “It very, uh, sterile-looking in here. Have you met any real criminals? Did you get a tattoo?”
“Seriously?” Call said. “You came to ask me if I got a tattoo?”
“No,” said Jasper, abandoning all pretenses. “I actually came because — well — Celia broke up with me.”
“What?” Call was incredulous. “I can’t believe it.”
“I know!” said Jasper. “I can’t believe it either!” He flopped down in the uncomfortable visitor chair. “We were perfect together!”
Call wished he could reach Jasper so he could strangle him.
“No, I meant I can’t believe you went through six checkpoints and a potentially embarrassing full-body search just so you could come here and complain about your love life!”
“You’re the only one I can talk to, Call,” said Jasper.
“You mean because I’m chained to this floor and can’t get away?”
“Exactly.” Jasper seemed pleased. “Everyone else bolts when they see me. But they don’t understand. I have to get Celia back.”
“Jasper,” said Call. “Tell me something, and please answer honestly.”
Jasper nodded.
“Is this the Assembly’s new strategy for torturing me until I give them information?”
Just as he spoke, a thin tendril of smoke rose from the ground-floor level, followed by the flicker of flames. In the distance, an alarm started to sound.
The Panopticon was on fire.


*  *  *  *  *

We're looking forward to adding this book to the rest of the series, when it's out.  
Have you read the rest of this series yet? Did you enjoy it? 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Happy 20th Anniversary to Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling #harrypotter20


It was 20 years ago today J.K. Rowling gave us our first look into the unforgettable world Harry Potter. She introduced us to a character who reminded us that having of courage, love & friendship can get you through anything & that magic really does exist. Thank you J.K. for sharing Harry Potter with the rest of us. 

SERAFINA and the SPLINTERED HEART by Robert Beatty / Blog Tour: Book Review



Welcome to the first stop in the SERAFINA and the SPLINTERED HEART blog tour, hosted by Disney Hyperion. I'm so thrilled to be kicking off the tour with a review for Robert's upcoming release. This is the third and final book in Serafina's story, but thankfully it won't be the last we'll hear about her. When you read Robert's note at the end of this book you'll know why I said that. Before I share my review, here's a little bit about the book.

ABOUT THE BOOK


By: Robert Beatty
Published by: Disney Hyperion
To Be Released on: July 4th, 2017
Series: Serfina #3
Ages: 8 - 12
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 4 Owlets
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Something has happened to Serafina. She has awoken into darkness, scarred from a terrible battle, only to find that life at her home, the historic Biltmore Estate, has changed in unimaginable ways. Old friends do unthinkable things and enemies are all around. A mysterious threat moves towards Biltmore, bringing with it violent storms and flooding that stands to uproot everything in its path. Serafina must uncover the truth about what has happened to her, and find a way to harness her strange new powers before it's too late. 

Accessible storytelling with heart, Beatty's writing grabs the reader immediately, and the high stakes and gripping mystery will keep them hooked. With an instantly loveable heroine, Serafina’s courage, pluck, and quirk—as well as her longing for friendship—make her impossible not to root for. 

With a frightening premise and lurking danger reminiscent of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm, SERAFINA AND THE SPLINTERED HEART is just dark and scary enough to keep readers on the edge of their seats and is filled with history, mystery, and magic.

A thrilling conclusion to an epic historical fantasy series! Serafina and the Splintered Heart is the perfect ending to a series that's brimming with adventure, unforgettable characters, magic, and friendship.

It's a little bitter sweet having to say good bye to characters you've come to love. I feel like for now, Serafina and her friends's stories have come full circle. I've enjoyed watching how they've grown, what they've discovered, learned about themselves, and the characters they've come by the end of this book.

Serafina is an unforgettable, lovable heroine you can't help up root for. Her journey hasn't been easy, and this time around her struggles are ones that pulled at my heartstrings. I loved seeing how her perspective on things, and people, including those she once thought was an enemy, change as she grows and begins to understand more around her, and what she's meant to be, and do. Most importantly, she understands the importance of friendship, and all being a friend encompasses, as she fights to protect those she loves.

Like Serafina, Braeden comes full circle, as a character in this book as well. I really enjoyed that little twist where for a moment I doubted him. It's been fun watching these two characters learn to rely on, and truly trust each other. The lengths they go to, to keep their word, and protect each other is heroic. It's also what true friends do. I've always liked the friendship between Serafina, Waysa, and Braeden. I'm hoping we get more of Waysa's story. I never thought I'd say this, but I also liked the role Rowena plays in this book. It's completely unexpected, and such a welcome surprise.

I love the outdoor setting, and how the role it played in Serafina's world. It was simply magical. Beatty has created a world that effortless came to life. It is just as crucial to Serafina's story, as were the characters. In fact, the setting itself often times felt like a like a character itself, and has been just as mesmerizing as the characters. 

What an fantastic ending! This is a series I would have devoured as a kid. I've always loved the fantasy element of stories, mixed with historical references, magic, adventure and friendship. This series has all that and so much more. While we have to say good bye to Serafina and Braeden for now, I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in the next adventures that take place in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 



ROBERT BEATTY lives in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife and three daughters. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives he was one of the pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the CTO and chairman of Narrative magazine. Visit him online at www.robert-beatty.com and on Twitter @BeattyAuthor.

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Good children's literature appeals not only to
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