Blog Tour: A Is For Ambitious by Meena Harris, Illustrated by Marissa Valdez

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the A IS FOR AMBITIOUS by Meena Harris and illustrator Marissa Valdez Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:


Author: Meena Harris and illustrator Marissa Valdez 

Paperback Pub. Date: March 14, 2023

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 40

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&

The awesome, bold, charming, and decidedly ambitious new picture book by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Ambitious Girl, Meena Harris, is also a must-have ABC book.

The #1 bestselling team behind Ambitious Girl is back to take AG on a new adventure. A is for ambitious—and so much more in this fun and empowering picture book that reclaims words often used to undermine girls and women from A to Z. When they’re ready to take on the world, ambitious readers will have the vocabulary to do so. 

This book offers ambitious children everywhere inspiration as they pursue their goals and dreams. With a powerful message for us all, this is a perfect read aloud for showing children the power of words. 


As a mom there is only so many “A is for Apple, B is for Ball” ABC books one can handle. That’s why I loved Meena Harris’ “A is for Ambitious” so much, it is a fresh take on the alphabet, while educating children on the importance of being headstrong, loud, opinionated, quirky and so much more. These aren’t necessarily every day words, and they certainly aren’t another boring take on ABCs.

The unique alphabet pairings are further brought to life by Valdez’ bright and bold illustrations. Feature individuals of all colors and abilities there is representation abound across the pages. From rallies, to gardening, science to scuba diving, the activities portrayed within further add to the fun throughout this read.

For any parent, kid, teacher, or caregiver tired of the same old ABCs, tired of not seeing their kids represented, ready to a fresh take on with an inclusive book, “A is for Ambitious” is for you. This will certainly become a staple around our own house.

About Meena Harris:

Like Ambitious Girl and Amalia the Elf, Meena Harris was born into a family of ambitious women whose legacy continues to inspire her. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Ambitious Girl, a lawyer, an entrepreneur, and the founder of Phenomenal, a values-driven, 360-degree media company that centers women and historically excluded communities. She currently resides in the Bay Area with her husband and two daughters.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok |Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

About Marissa Valdez:

Marissa is a two times #1 NY Times bestselling children’s book illustrator and author. She’s a 2016 graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where she received a BFA in Animation. She loves to illustrate stories that are overflowing with humor, wit, and totally out-there situations.

In her spare time, Marissa gets her illustration inspiration by wandering around natural science museums, watching super-cool dinosaur documentaries and playing with her two fat cats in Birmingham, UK.

Marissa is represented by Kelly Sonnack at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of A IS FOR AMBITIOUS, US Only.

Ends March 28th, midnight EST.

Emerging From the Dark by Terence Ang

Publication Date: January 1st, 2023

Rating: FIVE Stars

In 2020 author Terence Ang suffered a stroke that altered his life forever.  In his first book “A Cry in the Dark” he described his stroke and recovery in a unique and intuitive way, using both words and illustrations to portray his feelings and experiences. His second book, “Emerging From the Dark,” came about after he was invited to speak at the 2022 World Stroke Congress held in Singapore.  During this event he met with several individuals undergoing their own stroke recovery as well as caregivers and hospital staff, sparking the idea for his second book.

“Emerging From the Dark” by Terence Ang again uses his now signature illustrations and unique portrayal to tell the stories of other stroke survivors and even some of their caregivers. This book offers insights for medical workers, stroke survivors, caregivers, and even those who have never been, or not yet been, affected by stroke.

One thing was very clear throughout this read, no one ever expected they would be impacted by a stroke.  Some had symptoms come on rapidly, others just had a “weird” feeling, some lived healthy and physically fit lives, others were stressed, lacked sleep, drank, and smoked.  However, all reported similar feelings post stroke of no longer recognizing their own body, grieving what used to be simple tasks, and feeling the guilt of having to rely so heavily on others.  But they also overwhelmingly indicated that each day is a new day, not to give up, understand that there may be limitations to overcome but that life is very much still worth living.  Each individual included in this book had a positive outlook, but said it was no easy road to getting there.

The drawings, quotes, and pictures within the pages of “Emerging From the Dark” aid in letting readers see into the minds and thoughts of the individuals within.  Ang does such a great job drawing readers in and engaging them through his talented illustrations.  He’s done so much for the stroke community as he continues to share the necessary stories on the road to recovery, including two insightful, meaningful, and worthwhile books.  This second book, “Emerging From the Dark” is a phenomenal read, continuing on in his extraordinary work of bringing stroke awareness into the light!

Click to get your copy today!

The Man Without Shelter by Indrajit Garai

Author Indrajit Garai does such a great job painting Paris in such a unique and familiar way. In this, their second book I’ve read Garai uses their familiar love of Paris to draw readers in and create a setting in which the plot of the book can beautifully play out. Using the Seine as their main artery, Garai’s books create worlds and stories around this body of water that captivate the reader.

Arnault and Lucy are our two key characters in “The Man Without Shelter.” They both come from two very different worlds amd backgrounds, but the story within ties them together in intimate ways and makes for one heck of an entertaining read. Both with hearts and heads in the right place, this story is a captivating read for any and all who seek redemption, intrigue, and the love of Paris.

Blog Tour: Still Mine by Jayne Pillemer & Sheryl Murray (Illustrator)

“Still Mine” is a beautiful book. With contrasting light and dark colors, this is a story about loss, remembrance, and love. For anyone struggling with the loss of a loved one, someone important in your child’s life, or someone with children asking questions, this book is perfect. The messaging that even though someone we loved has drifted away and no longer with us here on Earth they are STILL YOURS in the rainbows, the giggles, the fun, and so much more.

Jayne Pillemer has truly crafted a delicately perfect read. Parents can use this tool to read to their kids dealing with loss. Children can be reminded of all the joy there still is to be had. “Still Mine” is the perfect book for dealing with grief, dealing with death, and healing.

Pick up a copy today!

The Bridge of Little Jeremy by Indrajit Garai

“The Bridge of Little Jeremy” is a love letter to art and Paris.

Jeremy and his mother live in an apartment overlooking the Seine. There are weasels and rats in their attic, the toliet is broken and the apartment is in other various states of disrepair. But, it’s been passed down through their family and gives them a roof over their head, an especially critical necessity given Jeremy’s bad heart. During the day Jeremy and his dog Leon paint, sketch and wonder the city while his mom works to make ends meet. But one day Jeremy stumbles on a hidden vault in their basement, he hopes that what he finds can be restored enough to pay the bills threatening to make them homeless.

This love story to Paris and art is tied amongst familial drama and a boy’s love for his dog, creating an excellent story full of engaging historical lines, beautiful scenery, and odd characters at every turn. Told from Jeremy’s point of view, the twelve year-old innocence of his narration adds to the depth and intrigue of the underlying story. With enough detail to make you feel right alongside them in Paris, and a familial history to help tie all the pieces together this is truly an emotional and heartwarming read.

Whether you’ve traveled to Paris or have a passion for art, “The Bridge of Little Jeremy” emotionally grounds readers to Jeremy’s plight and has you rooting for Leon and Jeremy as they take on the burdens of family history and financial hardship.

Blog Tour: Dressing Up The Stars: The Story of a Movie Costume Designer Edith Head by Jeanne Walker Harvey & Diana Toledano (Illustrations)

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the DRESSING UP THE STARS: THE STORY OF MOVIE COSTUME DESIGNER EDITH HEAD by Jeanne Walker Harvey & Diana Toledano (Illustrations) Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:


Author: Jeanne Walker Harvey & Diana Toledano (Illustrations)

Pub. Date: September 20, 2022

Publisher: Beach Lane Books

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 40

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD,

Discover the true story of how a shy miner’s daughter became one of the most legendary costume designers in Hollywood in this inspiring nonfiction picture book biography.

As a child in the small mining town of Searchlight, Nevada, Edith Head had few friends and spent most of her time dressing up her toys and pets and even wild animals using fabric scraps. She always knew she wanted to move somewhere full of people and excitement. She set her sights on Hollywood and talked her way into a job sketching costumes for a movie studio.

Did she know how to draw or sew costumes? No. But that didn’t stop her!

Edith taught herself and tirelessly worked her way up until she was dressing some of the biggest stars of the day, from Audrey Hepburn to Grace Kelly to Ginger Rogers. She became the first woman to head a major Hollywood movie studio costume department and went on to win eight Academy Awards for best costume design—and she defined the style of an era.

Edith Head is a Hollywood star, however her name is not well-known or recognized amongst the masses despite her star on Hollywood Blvd and eight Oscars. With an unconventional upbringing in rural mining towns with no siblings or friends nearby, all she had to entertain herself was her imagination and the scraps of fabric she sourced from houses every time she went to the local towns. Rising through the male-dominated Hollywood scene, in an unconventional manner at that, full of second chances and someone believing in her, she has certainly had a interesting life.

This fun book illustrates the life of an unknown Hollywood star. Behind the scenes Edith made a name for herself and author Jeanne Walker Harvey has done a great job bringing Edith’s life to the page. With Harvey’s words and Diana Toledano’s illustrations the pages are vibrant and the story jumps off the page. “Dressing Up The Stars” offers children a view into an otherwise unusual career path and opens their eyes to the diverse world in which to share their talents.

About Jeanne Walker Harvey:

JEANNE WALKER HARVEY studied literature and psychology at Stanford University and has worn  many job hats, ranging from being a roller coaster ride operator to an attorney, a middle school  language arts teacher, and a long-time docent for school groups at the San Francisco Museum of  Modern Art. She is the author of several books for young readers, including the picture book  biographies Dressing up the Stars: The Story of Movie Costume Designer Edith Head, Ablaze with  Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas, and Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines. Jeanne  lives in Northern California. Visit her online at

Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

About Diana Toledano:

DIANA TOLEDANO is an illustrator, writer, and educator. She is also a Pisces who loves children’s books, patterns, and dancing her heart out. Originally from Spain, Diana (pronounced the Spanish way: dee-ah-na) grew up in Madrid where she studied art history and illustration. Now she lives in San Francisco with her husband and two fluffy cats. Her mixed media art seeks to capture the magic of the ordinary. Diana’s product designs, picture books, board books, and chapter books have been published and sold all over the world. Diana also teaches workshops for kids and adults. She enjoys doing school visits and speaking at conferences. Learn more at

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of DRESSING UP THE STARS: THE STORY OF MOVIE COSTUME DESIGNER EDITH HEAD, US Only.

Ends September 24th, midnight EST.

Blog Tour: The Only Me by Marissa Bader & Arlene Soto (Illustrator)

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE ONLY ME by Marissa Bader Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:


Author: Marissa Bader & Arlene Soto (Illustrator)

Pub. Date: August 25, 2022

Publisher: Marissa Bader

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 35

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle

Be the best you!

Stella and Paige are 7-year-old fraternal twins who don’t look alike and have very different personalities and interests. Yet even so, people constantly compare them or comment about how strange it is that they’re not more similar. This has Stella feeling frustrated. They may be twins, but that doesn’t make them the same person.

Stella wishes people would see her for who she is, and not just as “Stella and Paige” or as “one of the twins.” All of the comparing and contrasting leaves Stella confused about her own identity—who is she outside of her sibling relationship? She also wonders if perhaps she doesn’t measure up to her sister, Paige.

Can Stella find a way to accept and value herself for who she is, and realize that she and Paige can each be their own, special and unique people, and still be twins?

  • Perfect for kids who are trying to find where they belong.
  • Not just for twins; The Only Me teaches the importance of honoring, accepting and celebrating our differences and unique selves in all kinds of relationships.
  • Great resource to help young readers understand their value and worth.
  • Helpful for kids struggling with identity and self-esteem challenges.
  • Ideal for ages 4-8 (or even 4-10).

“This book is so fabulous to point out that we are all unique and different in our own special way. Truly such a helpful book for young readers to understand we are all different, we all have our strengths and that our kids can shine in their own special light. I love how this book also teaches young readers of acceptance, inclusion, confidence and growth. Very well written and a positive message and reminder to all!” – Sarajane, parent of two

“The Only Me is a sweet story about a girl named Stella exploring her identity and finding her strengths. As a twin, she feels like she is constantly compared to her sister and sometimes feels less than. She realizes that she has her own identity and with that her own special gifts to offer the world. Kids of all ages will see parts of themselves in her and will love reading this story. Her voice sounds like any young child’s and will be relatable for many little ones. A great story with a great lesson.”
– Dana, parent of two and teacher

“A beautifully written, kid-friendly story that so eloquently reminds all of us of our own extraordinary uniqueness. It’s a book that I could read over and over to both my children and for myself — empowering humans of all ages to celebrate and embrace our differences.” – Michelle, parent of two and therapist

“Marissa Bader’s book is the ultimate endorsement for embracing difference and celebrating children’s unique selves.” – Kathleen West, parent and author

Reading this made me light up and smile! Being a mom of 4 girls, two different ages and then a set of identical twins, this just hits home. I love how the author gave examples of things each child succeeds at. This is such a useful book to teach my girls how they are all unique in their own way. I am so excited for bedtime with this book! – Michelle, parent of 4 (twins and two singletons)

About Marissa Bader:

Marissa Bader is a Minneapolis-based writer who loves writing about mental health and parenthood, and currently serves as the Twins Editor and mental health writer at Lucie’s List (a survival guide for new parents). Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Psychology Today, HuffPost Parents and, to name a few. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Marissa’s first children’s book, The Only Me, debuts August, 2022. When not writing, Marissa enjoys dancing, being outdoors and spending time with her husband and their three daughters, a set of twins and their singleton big sister.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

About Arlene Soto:

Arlene Soto is the owner of Intricate Designs. She is an illustrator, formatter, graphic and web designer based in Denver, CO. Her background is in Fine Art, and she has a BFA in Sustainable Interior Design. She has been happily working with children’s book authors to bring their stories to life through art and design. She aims to focus her portfolio on projects that center on diversity and inclusivity.

She is also a homeschooling mother to three girls and along with her husband they garden, have chickens, 2 dogs, and a cat to complete their wonderfully busy life.

 Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a finished copy of THE ONLY ME, US Only.

Ends September 6th, midnight EST.

Blog Tour: Sweet Little You by Joni Halabi and Lisa Wee (Illustrations)

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the SWEET LITTLE YOU by  Joni Halabi & Lisa Wee (Illustrations) Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:


Author: Joni Halabi & Lisa Wee (Illustrations)

Pub. Date: August 1, 2022

Publisher: Joni Halabi

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 28

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, B&N, TBD,

An endearing new picture book lovingly shares a unique story of a mother with a dream of having a child who makes her wish come true by having a baby on her own. Tenderly written with beautiful painterly illustrations, Sweet Little You is a loving and unique story about a different path to becoming a family.

In this tender affirmation, the story’s new mother pens a love letter to her baby of how her child came to be and how she cherishes their little family of two. A precious and rhyming text shares the mother’s promise to help them dream, explore, and find adventure in life.

Evocative of beloved classics such as Guess How Much I Love YouPat the Bunny, and Love You Forever, yet with a contemporary and diverse variation, Sweet Little You is for all of the intentional single parents who haven’t seen their own type of chosen family represented in a picture book that they can share with their child. The poignant story’s stirring and loving message is perfect as an affirming everyday read-aloud and also as a thoughtful and heartfelt gift for special occasions and milestones such as baby showers, new baby, birthdays, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s Day.


“Must read. The little bundle of joy was precious from their head down to their tippy toes.”– Reedsy Discovery

“Sweet Little You is a lovely picture book story narrated by a mother who tells her baby about how she was wanted and conceived by a single mother. The book’s lovely blend of colorful illustrations and simple love-centric story make for a winningly inviting production.”– D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

About Joni Halabi:

Children’s book author Joni Halabi first entrée into publishing was spurred by what she saw as a necessity. A single mother by choice who lovingly took a less customary path to having a child on her own, Joni was frustrated by the lack of selection for picture books that depicted families like hers. Though many “welcome baby” and storybooks addressed varying family structures, few spoke about single mothers by choice. She wanted her daughter to see her own type of family represented, so she wrote one and Sweet Little You was born.

The books that Joni writes are personal stories based on books she wishes existed about her life’s path. Sweet Little You is the book she wished she had for her daughter when she was born. She hopes that her book resonates with other families like hers who will appreciate their relatively unique family structure being portrayed in a story that their child can relate to.

Joni is a web developer at Georgetown University and conference speaker who writes technical articles as well as a blog focusing on her life and journey to becoming a mother. When she isn’t busy writing poignant stories for families and children, she enjoys running, doing yoga, reading, listening to podcasts, and seeing live music near her home in the Washington, D.C. area. A new pursuit of Joni’s is learning to play the ukulele. Sweet Little You is her debut picture book.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

About Lisa Wee:

Lisa Wee debuts as author/illustrator, “Li Na is my name, Dixi Books Publishing, UK.Dixi Books Publishing, UK.

Lisa has illustrated several picture books for prominent organisations and self-published authors. Her quaint, quirky and vibrant illustrations are inclusive, embracing diversity in celebrating the lives of children from all walks of life.

Her clients 

Celebrity Top Chef Kristen Kish in collaboration with Upwork, Babybug magazine, Ladybug magazine  World Vision International for International Day of the Girls campaign 2021.

WebsiteTwitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a finished copy of SWEET LITTLE YOU, US Only.

Blog Tour: Roto and Roy: Helicopter Heroes by Sherri Duskey Rinker & Don Tate

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the ROTO AND ROY: HELICOPTER HEROES by Sherri Duskey Rinker & Don Tate Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:


Author: Sherri Duskey Rinker & Don Tate

Pub. Date: February 1, 2022

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Formats: Hardcover

Pages: 34

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, B&N, TBD,

Meet Roto and Roy, helicopter heroes!

When a dangerous forest fire burns out of control, helicopter Roto and pilot Roy are ready to fly to the rescue! They’re braver than brave, tougher than tough, and nothing will stop this firefighting crew from completing their mission.

From Sherri Duskey Rinker, bestselling author of the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site series, and award-winning illustrator Don Tate, this action-packed series starter will have kids cheering for two awesome new heroes—and imagining how they might save the day themselves! 

Roto and Roy Thunder are a superhero duo! Roy flies Roto as they fight fire and pick up strays, saving the day and being cheered on by their fantastic crew. This fast-paced, action packed read opens kids eyes to firefighters beyond the standard urban firefighters they’ve likely been exposed to. Roy and Roto show a whole new world to saving lives and adventure. From high mountains, to forest fires, and the use of lake water to fight them, “Roto and Roy: Helicopter Heroes” provides diversity in kids’ reading repertoire.

With vibrant pictures and animation to the explanation of helicopter flight and wilderness firefighting, this read is perfect for expanding children’s thirst for learning. Not to mention “Roto and Roy: Helicopter Heroes” provides kids with a citizen hero fighting fires and protecting nature, campers and wildlife, no super powers needed other than bravery and courage.

About Sherri Duskey Rinker:

Sherri Duskey Rinker is the author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction SiteSteam Train, Dream TrainMighty, Mighty Construction Site; and Construction Site on Christmas Night. Her newest bestsellers in the Construction Site series include Construction Site Mission: Demolition! and Three Cheers for Kid McGear! Sherri lives with her husband and two sons in Illinois, and she invites you to visit her online at

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

About Don Tate:

Don Tate is an award-winning creator of William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad and the illustrator of Swish!: The Slam-Dunking, Alley-Ooping, High-Flying Harlem Globetrotters and Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, among others. Don lives with his wife and son in Austin, Texas, and he invites you to visit him online at

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of ROTO AND ROY: HELICOPTER HEROES, US Only.

Blog Tour: Ninja Nickels and the Problem with Pickles by Leah Cupps

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the NINJA NICKELS AND THE PROBLEM WITH PICKLES by Leah Cupps Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:


Author: Leah Cupps

Pub. Date: June 22, 2022

Publisher: Vision Forty Press

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 28

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&N

Read for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited Membership!

Will Ninja Nickles tell Mom the truth and admit that he’s the one who dropped the pickles?

Or will he stay and hide while Lincoln is scolded for the pickle pantry mess? Read along with Ninja Nickles and his story of the midnight pickles to find out!

In this delightful rhyming story, Ninja Nickles teaches children that there is a time for fun and games and a time for personal responsibility. In Ninja Nickles and the Problem with Pickles, Leah Cupps tells a story about friendship, loyalty, and doing the right thing that will have children laughing and learning along with their new friend, Nickles the dog!

Make reading and bedtime a treasured family experience with Ninja Nickels! Also available in paperback!

Ninja Nickels Book Series:
Book 1: Ninja Nickels and the Problem with Pickles
Book 2: Ninja Nickels and the Trouble with Tickles (Coming Soon)

“Ninja Nickels and the Problem with Pickles” is an action packed ride through Nickel’s night as he galivants as a skateboarding, ninja, pickle loving doggy. From the rhymes to the illustrations and the lessons Nickels teaches us about doing the right thing and taking responsibility there is so much to love about this book. Author Leah Cupp has transformed the nighttime antics of dogs everywhere into an imaginative and exciting thrill ride, even if we are only skateboarding to the pantry.

Our family immediately fell in love with this book (having a ninja dog as the main character certainly didn’t hurt)! The illustrations were perfectly done, fun and lively despite taking place entirely in the dark. The rhymes were catchy and made the read enjoyable and catchy, and the lessons Nickels teaches us are ones we will continue to practice time and time again. Be sure to grab a copy of this delicious bedtime read, and be prepared to suddenly be craving some pickles!

About Leah Cupps:

Leah Cupps is an entrepreneur and author. She writes Middle Grade Mystery Adventure Books as well as Thriller, Mystery, Suspense for Adults.

Leah’s novels are fast-paced mysteries that will keep you up at night as you can’t wait to see what happens in the next chapter.

Leah lives in Indiana with her husband, three young children and three dogs. When she isn’t losing sleep writing her next novel or scaling her next business, she enjoys reading, golfing working out and spending time with her family.

Connect with Leah Online:

Sign up for Leah’s VIP email list, and you’ll automatically be notified as soon as her next book is released:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of NINJA NICKELS AND THE PROBLEM WITH PICKLES, US Only.

Armadillo Antics by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, Nathalie Beauvois (Illustrations)

Publication Date: April 26th, 2022

Rating: 5 Stars

When the moon comes out the nocturnal Armadillo ventures out.  From food, to terrain, and predators, readers of all ages will learn more about the Armadillo through the creatively illustrated pages of Armadillo Antics.

This short read, blessed with lots of blues, and artfully illustrated, calms readers (or listeners) just before bedtime.  As young children wind down for the night, the Armadillo’s adventures just begin.  Wrapping up on the final page with the Armadillo facts that grace us throughout the read. 

As a mother, located outside of the Armadillo’s typical climates, I loved experiencing a book about creatures not often gracing the pages, or zoos in my area.  This book sparks excitement and provokes added learning opportunities about animals foreign to the natural climate in which we reside. Bringing vivid pictures, artistically crafted, to the eyes of young children the Armadillo is sure to be an ongoing topic of discussion in the household after reading this one.

*Disclaimer: a review copy was provided.  All opinions are my own.

Pigeon-Blood Red by Ed Duncan

Published Date: February 25th, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

A ruby necklace.  The catalyst kicking off this series debut housing a badass, but conscious driven Rico, is a ruby necklace.

Rico isn’t what you’d call an upstanding citizen, but his work is rewarding to him and he’s good at it.  He doesn’t kill women though, unless they really deserve it.  But, when he lets his showboating ways with a girl cause mistakes, he knows it’s up to him to fix it and get the necklace back, it did fall out of his pocket after all. 

With scenes from my two favorite American cities, Honolulu and Chicago, I was instantly drawn to this read.  I not only connected with the backdrops, but the high-flying action of this book was easy to escape into.  Pigeon-Blood Red sets the stage for a ravenous series following Rico and I cannot wait to read more of what Ed Duncan brings to the pages.

*Disclaimer: a review copy was provided; all opinions are my own.

The Shape of Crete by Philip T. Nemec

Published Date: September 26th, 2021

Rating: 3 Stars

Jim is an American historian.  Having lost his wife long before the cancer took her, he is looking forward to reuniting with his translator, turned lover, Steffi as they travel to the Greek island of Crete to finish working on his history book.  Steffi, a Bulgarian artist, has already had one failed relationship so her mother disapproves of her new romance.  Shortly after arriving they encounter Mr. Robinson, an older Englishman looking for the cave his brother may have died in fighting the Nazis in WWII.  As their romance ignites and Mr. Robinson gets ever closer to finding his cave, danger seems to be nipping at their heels.

Author, Philip Nemec has a hand for poetry and scenery.  Despite never having been to Greece, I felt at times I was sitting on the mountainside with the characters or eating breakfast next to Steffi as she stared out her window at the captivating Plane Tree.  His poetic touches also served to kindle the romance budding within Steffi and Jim after a long absence apart, unsure of whether they should dive in or tread lightly given their individual pasts. 

As a lover of WWII novels, The Shape of Crete was more Greek mythology and less WWII focused.  Specifically, the battle between Theseus and the Minotaur as the danger stalking Jim, Steffi and Mr. Robinson’s lives began to catch up to them.  Nemec understandably played with ribbons of Greek mythology throughout the book as he so lyrically weaved it into the storyline, which was overall fitting given the scenery and location.  From the gorgeous cover to the elegant storytelling, Nemic’s talents are on full display.

*Disclaimer: a review copy was provided; all opinions are my own.

Blog Tour: Only My Dog Knows I Pick My Nose by Lauren Tarshis, Illustrated by Lisa Bronson Mezoff

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the ONLY MY DOG KNOWS I PICK MY NOSE by Lauren Tarshis Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book:


Author: Lauren Tarshis & Lisa Bronson Mezoff (Illustrations)

Pub. Date:  October 19, 2021

Publisher: Orchard Books

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 48

Find it:  GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo,

A hilarious and tender picture book perfect for fans of No, David that insightfully explores the inner world of a child. The picture book debut from the New York Times bestselling author of I Survived, Lauren Tarshis!

To the outside world, it might look like you do everything right: eat your broccoli, share your toys, and behave in the bath. But what about the moments when no one is looking, and your messier, mushier, scared-ier self is revealed? The only one who knows is… the loyal dog friend who sees it all and still loves you just the way you are.

This celebration of friendship, loyalty, and unconditional love with man’s — and child’s — best friend is sure to delight and entertain readers of all ages. Laugh along with recognition and delight in this ode to being true to yourself. With tender, humorous text from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Tarshis, and joyful, expressive watercolors from artist Lisa Mezoff, this sweet book presents a validating message of confidence, empowerment, and unconditional love.

Only My Dog Knows I Pick My Nose is a quick read.  While marketed as being for ages 3 to 5 our infant loved following along with the story alongside her own doggy.

The main character of this short picture book is a young boy that always does the right thing.  He eats his broccoli, gets along with his sister, shares his toys and even goes right to bed.  Or does he…?  His dog is always nearby and sees the truth when no one is watching. 

Illustrated with beautiful paint strokes and detailed coloring, our young child was able to clearly follow the mischievous acts on the page through the unique artistry while I read along. 

Despite wishing the title activity of picking one’s nose was more frequently used, parents would be hard pressed to find a 3 to 5-year-old that didn’t immediately grab for the book about nose picking for story time, so it is sure to be a hit in any household.   

About Lauren Tarshis: 

Lauren Tarshis’s New York Times bestselling I Survived series tells stories of young people and their resilience and strength in the midst of unimaginable disasters and times of turmoil. Lauren has brought her signature warmth and exhaustive research to topics such as the battle of D-Day, the American Revolution, Hurricane Katrina, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and other world events. She lives in Connecticut with her family, and can be found online at

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will win a finished copy of ONLY MY DOG KNOWS I PICK MY NOSE, US Only.

Blog Tour: LALA’S WORDS: A Story of Planting Kindness by Gracey Zhang

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the LALA’S WORDS by Gracey Zhang Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About the Book:

Title: LALA’S WORDS: A Story of Planting Kindness

Author: Gracey Zhang

Pub. Date: July 6, 2021

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Pages: 48

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Goodreads,Amazon, Kindle, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD,

From debut author-illustrator Gracey Zhang comes a timeless and timely picture book that celebrates the unassuming power of kind words.

Oh, there goes Lala! She carries a pot of water around the corner, down the block, and over the fence, to a patch of dirt and concrete where tiny weeds sprout. “Hello, hello, friends!” she whispers. Lala waters the plants every day, but it is her kind words that make them sway and nod.

Lala’s wild nature and quiet compassion enchant in this evergreen story about the power of kind words and the magic of being loved for who you are.

A Junior Library Guild selection

Praise for Lala’s Words:

★ “Zhang’s powerful debut lifts up the power words have to heal and feed.” ― Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Zhang’s style, blending warmhearted mltiethnic urban caricature with a bold-lined rough-and-tumble zeal, is wholly original. And like the compliment Lala pays her soon science-fiction-size plants, this debut picture book (which also depcits a burgeoning mother-daughter relationship) is ‘magnificient.'” ― New York TimesBook Review

“This is the enchanting story about the power of words.” ― Booklist

Lala’s enthusiasm blossoms on the page.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“A verdant tale of leaves, language, and most importantly, love.” ― Molly Idle (author-illustrator of Pearl; Flora and the Flamingo)

“Much like an encouraging word, Gracey’s vibrant pictures will lift you up.” ― Christian Robinson (author of Another; illustrator of Last Stop on Market Street)

“A touching fantasy rooted in reality. Gracey’s art recalls children’s books masters . . . Ludwig Bemelmans, Roger Duvoisin, David Small. Yet it is fresh and lovely and hasn’t been seen before.” ― LeUyen Pham (illustrator of Bear Came Along; Grace for President)

Lala’s Words is really about magic; a special kind of magic called kindness. Like the sunlight and falling rain, kindness nourishes the world around us. This book, with its lovely art and whimsical story, will also nourish the reader.” ― The Fan Brothers (author-illustrators of Ocean Meets Sky; The Night Gardener)

About Gracey Zhang:

Gracey Zhang is an illustrator and animator with a love of storytelling and verse. She was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, and received her degree in Illustration from RISD. She is now based in Brooklyn, New York, where she can be found window watching from the train when she’s not scribbling away at her desk. Lala’s Words is her first picture book. You can visit her at

Website | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of LALA’S WORDS, US Only.

First Love, Take Two (The Trouble with Hating You) by Sajni Patel

Publication Date: September 21st, 2021

Rating: 4 Stars

Preeti’s dreams are all coming true, she is finishing up residency and has had several interviews for a full-time position, she even has all the cases necessary to finish her research.  But, when her roommate returns home from her honeymoon, she realizes she needs to find a new place like yesterday.  While trying to avoid moving back in with her parents, she takes her friend up on her offer to share an apartment with another mystery roommate until she decides where her full-time job will take her.  However, it turns out the mystery roommate is none other than her ex, Daniel Thompson, the one she suddenly left and never really got over. 

There is no better rom com than the throwing together of two former lovers, with unfinished business and unresolved feelings, into a small space.  Of course, sparks will fly, the feelings will get resolved (usually in the bedroom), and it will all play out in swoon worthy fashion.  But where First Love, Take Two differs from your stereotypical rom com is that it dives right into all the hard things.  From differing cultures, Indian and Black, to wealth struggles, to racism, familial drama and more, it all plays out across the pages of this far from average romance read.

This is the second book in The Trouble with Hating You series, and while I have not read the first book I followed and enjoyed this book entirely as a standalone.  Although after all the issues and themes encountered in this read it is not a stretch to say book one, The Trouble with Hating You, has certainly moved up the to-be-read list!

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Constance (Constance #1) by Matthew FitzSimmons

Publication Date: September 1st, 2021

Rating: 5 Stars

The year is 2040 and Constance is uploading her consciousness to her clone, as she does every month, when something goes terribly wrong. 

As a huge fan of author Blake Crouch (think Recursion and Dark Matter), I was immediately drawn to this book.  It’s elements of realistic science fiction taking place in the not too near future quickly draws readers into its embrace. Scary real and yet unconscionably unrealistic this tops one of my 2020 favorites as author Matthew FitzSimmons stuns with a plot too good to put down for unnecessary activities like sleep!

However, Constance also happens to be the kickoff of a new series by the same name and I am intrigued to see where FitzSimmons will take this story to next.  Constance wrapped up in what I anticipated to be a neat bow I am sure to swept away with some twisted turn for book two.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided; all opinions are my own.

Moe Fields: The Special Bond Between Fathers and Sons by Stuart Z. Goldstein

Publication Date: April 21st, 2021

Rating: 4 Stars

“If this sounds like a simple rags to riches story, it is not. His path was never easy.” – p. 328.

Moe Fields is the story of Murray “Moe Fields” Goldman, a man who didn’t live a long time by today’s standards but survived a well lived life.  From running away to join the circus, becoming a boxer under the alias of Moe Fields to marrying the girl of his dreams and fighting in WWII.  Murray’s life was inspirational, not just to his three sons, but to those reading this story. In fact, driven by a son’s love, it inspired him to put his story to the page. 

Moe Fields captures three generations, successfully making an unknown man known to many through this lovely penning of resilience, love, family, and hard work.  Detailed and yet enchanting enough to encourage readers to lead a life Murray would be proud of.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided; all opinions are my own.

The Three Princes of Serendip: New Tellings of Old Tales for Everyone by Rodaan Al Galidi, Geertje Aalders (Illustrations), Laura Watkinson (Translator)

Publication Date: November 9th, 2021

Rating: 4 Stars

Having grown up, and lived, in North America my whole life it has been important for me to expose my child to cultures and stories outside of our own.  So, when I saw this book of children’s tales from the Middle East and around the world it was the perfect catalyst to begin planting the seeds of diversity, breadth of culture, and other views of life outside of our own. 

The lessons, like those we read about in North American children’s tales, are important and just as easy to understand, but the context and scenery in which they occur open our minds to beyond one’s own everyday environment. For instance, we have no oceans or deserts nearby, we don’t know any sheiks, and we certainly don’t have scorpions or donkeys lingering around. Experiencing these elements and phenomena within our bedtime stories exposes us to a world outside our four walls.  The vivid illustrations and colorful explanations combine for a beautiful foray into old tales with new twists, characters, and settings.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided; all opinions are my own.

Picturing a Nation: The Great Depression’s Finest Photographers Introduce America to Itself by Martin W. Sandler

Publication Date: October 12th, 2021

Rating: 5 Stars

Picturing a Nation is an outstanding pictorial history of the great depression.  Sandler does a great job of setting up the background on the accumulation of this book.  For instance, he informs readers about the Resettlement Administration, created in 1935, which made the monumental decision to create a historical section, staffed with photographers, to capture ways in which the administration was directly helping the farmers and citizens in an effort to provide the government evidence of its use of funds.  However, what they didn’t anticipate was the fame, accolades, and emotions these pictures would encapsulate all these years later. 

Traversing the country, this book is split into regions such as South, Midwest and East with pictures and brief text setting the scene for the visual art on the page.  Ultimately, profiling eleven key figures involved in this project, this book documents the nation at a crucial time in history. 

Nothing like this had ever been done before, nor has anything like it been done since, as a mirror on the nation is held up for all to see.  This is a powerful and insightful reminder to where we’ve been and the history of our nation.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided; all opinions are my own.

Sex/Life: 44 Chapters About 4 Men by B.B. Easton

Publication Date: May 21st, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

I am still laughing about the absolute absurdity that is B.B. Easton’s sex life.   Not afraid to make fun of herself, and never one to shy away from, well anything, Sex/Life: 44 Chapters About 4 Men is an absolutely hilarious read.  Peppered with text conversations, real relationships and very, very steamy, open-door romance.

Easton’s Sex/Life memoir is the catalyst behind Netflix’s new series, aptly titled Sex/Life, and while there are some similarities and snippets of word-for-word phrasing from Easton’s book, the outright tears in the eye humor is missing from Netflix’s serious take on this read.  And that’s okay, because the book is ALWAYS better anyway! But seriously, I haven’t read something this funny, yet steamy, in well…forever. 

Just in case this read isn’t enough, Easton has written each of her four men a book of their own with her 44 Chapters series.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided; all opinions are my own.

Chasing The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo “High”

Since reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid I find myself perpetually chasing after that “high” from this read.  It embodied everything I love in a book, from the powerful themes, to the tabloid-esque writing, this book was instantly one of my top five favorite reads.  So, as I forever chase after another read like this, I drifted towards The View Was Exhausting and The Siren.  Both reads have strong Hollywood female protagonists, both have tabloid-esque writing peppered throughout and both house the pitfalls of fame that was so prevalent in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

And, while each was certainly a fantastic read, perhaps my comparison of them to The Seven Husbands was unfair, as I suspect nothing will ever topple its firm grasp within my favorite reads. 

The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements & Onjuli Datta

Publication Date: July 6th, 2021

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Each of these two reads takes snips, themes and intrigue found in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and adds them to their own story.  Where The Siren lacked that fully engrossing, true romance story Evelyn Hugo had for me, The View Was Exhausting wholly captured and ran with it.

Whitman “Win” Tagore and Leo Milanowski are Hollywood’s favorite on-again, off-again couple.  But behind the tabloid perfect pictures, and persona, is the truth, that Leo is her hired arm candy when she finds herself in “trouble” with her image.  How long can their relationship, and the secrets they keep, hold up?  Can Win’s career survive if this “relationship” truly crumbles?  More importantly, can Win’s heart?

The View Was Exhausting is a curated, behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood and the lengths stars will go to please the press, the public and those that hire them.  Clements and Datta bring a magnifying glass to the differences between males and females in relationships and professional spheres, both within the public’s eye and within their own heads.  Readers will ignite as the sparks fly and the publicists supervise.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided; all opinions are my own.

The Siren by Katherine St. John

Publication Date: May 4th, 2021

Rating: 4 Stars

This book will sit well with lovers of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.  It brings it’s own triggering storyline events though, so readers beware.   Author Katherine St. John commands her history in acting, screenwriting, directing and producing to the pages of her newest, The Siren

The Siren follows three distinct women, Taylor a flailing producer fresh off a scandal on her last film, Stella a failing actress quickly running out of money, and Felicity, Stella’s mysterious assistant.  These three women find themselves thrown together as they jet off to a Caribbean island to film a new movie with Stella’s ex-husband.  But, as a hurricane comes barreling toward them, these women are forced to come together in ways unimaginable. 

St. John truly brings depth and detail into this read that few other authors would be able to achieve.  With her experience and behind the scenes knowledge of filmmaking, The Siren is perfectly detailed so you feel like one of the set members as you read along, but with the benefit of the internal dialog of each of our three leading ladies.  Taylor, Stella and Felicity combine to make great characters, each giving us a unique view on the underlying story housed within, one that will rip you apart in this slow burning thriller.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided; all opinions are my own.

The Apology Project by Jeanette Escudero

Publication Date: August 1st, 2021

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

The Apology Project is a lightening quick read.  Amelia Montgomery is a nearly 40-year-old partner at a prestigious Chicago law firm when her life suddenly comes tumbling down.  After giving decades of her life to her career at JJF she is unwilling to compromise her values in a high-profile sexual assault case.  In standing up for herself she loses her job and throws some elbows (literally) in the process.  With nothing to fill her days anymore she lets her sister talk her into a 40th birthday party, inviting old friends and colleagues, but when no one shows up she begins reflecting on her decisions, starting with a drunken endeavor to apologize to the people she has wronged. 

I know what you are thinking “OMG a book where a female stands up for herself and now feels the need to apologize, a man would NEVER do that,” and yes I agree with you, but Amelia’s character was created to also be aware of this and addresses these feelings as she works through her list of apologies, crossing off a few she deems unworthy of a sorry in the process.

After recently reading another romance similarly including a strong female lawyer, I was hesitant going into this one.  Missing from my last read, I wanted a romance that had more “meat” to the story.  I wanted brains and brawn to be featured throughout rather than hidden behind steamy sex scenes, and I wanted the lead to have a life outside of the next “when will I see my man.” And, OMG did Escudero ever deliver!  The Apology Project had it all, from learning to not be defined by your career to never being too old to start over, the message throughout this book was empowering.  Escudero was not afraid to use a common female stereotype and address it head on while wrapping her lessons into a romance featuring middle-aged leads. 

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided; all opinions are my own.

Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters

Publication Date: June 1st, 2021

Rating: 3 Stars

Pride doesn’t end in June, celebrate all year long by picking up this read!  Satisfaction Guaranteed is about two VERY different women.  Cade is an accountant for her very eccentric parents’ art gallery.  Selena is a Portland nomad working to get her life together.  So, when these strangers each inherit 50% of an imploding sex toy shop, their differences are forced to come together to revive their dead aunt/friend’s legacy.  What could go wrong?  Or more importantly, what could go right?

Author Karelia Stetz-Waters has crafted a vivid portrait of Portland, from the vibrant art scene to the Midwestern raised transplants, and the fun culture.  No detail is left untouched in this not at all shy look at running a sex toy shop. This hilariously, out in the open read will have you laughing, blushing and rooting for opposites to attract.   

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Next Wife by Kaira Rouda

Publication Date: May 1st 2021

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

The Next Wife is a twisted tale of lust gone wrong.  A story of consequences for trading up for a newer model wife and the costs that can accompany it. 

Kate, Ashlyn and Tish are characters every reader can hate, each with their own unique blend of anger and greed.  Perfectly crafted by author Kaira Rouda, readers are given a firsthand look at the inner dialog of these three women as we become immersed in each of their heads.  Flipping between women, chapter by chapter, The Next Wife wraps up all too smoothly with twists you’ll never see coming, hidden behind some large and expensive sunglass shades 😉

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Blackout by Marco Carocari

Publication Date: March 30th, 2021

Rating: 3 Stars

Franco has a rag tag band of loyal friends and thank goodness for it as he stumbles onto a murder, minus the body and the crime scene.  As a high, and therefore unreliable witness, the police quickly write him off, but Franco refuses to let it go and as he continues to push and push, his familial past begins to catch up with him.  After witnessing the murder of his police officer father at a young age, and the secrets uncovered during the investigation of his death, Franco is determined to remember the killer this time and bring justice to the victim. 

Author Marco Carocari twists an intriguing murder mystery.  The “investigation” and unraveling that ensues after Franco’s fateful 911 call will keep readers at the edge of their seats as they tour NY through the lens of Franco and his many jobs to make ends meet, as well as the explosive cops that work to undermine his “eyewitness” account.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Evade and Capture: A Callahan Security Novel (Callahan Security Series Book 4) by Lori Matthews

Publication Date: April 20th, 2021

Rating: 5 Stars

After every book, I fall more and more in love with the Callahan Security Series.  While I am admittedly biased as this most recent addition to the series takes place in my favorite destination, the characters, scenery and suspense continue to sweep me off my feet. 

In books one through three, author Lori Matthews deliberately kept Jameson Drake in the shadows as we were first introduced to the team protecting Drake, each of the first three books highlighted one of the Callahan brothers.  However, in this newest penning, Drake is propelled to the forefront.  His facial recognition software is now up and running, readers dive into Evade and Capture just as the software has pinged a match for his long-lost sister off one of his hotel’s cameras.  Readers are quickly immersed in the brain of Jameson Drake, providing us a glance at what makes him tick and how he has come to create his global empire, including a brief look at his upbringing and family dynamics. 

Despite easily being read as a standalone, this fourth novel ties the pieces together as the software becomes functional, finally providing us a look at Drake’s motivations and raison d’etre.  Matthews continues to remain a powerhouse writer, and one of my favorite suspenseful romance authors, as she constructs hot, badass men and allows the incredible, independent women to take center stage.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the author.  All opinions are my own.

The Box in the Woods (Truly Devious #4) by Maureen Johnson

Publication Date: June 15th, 2021

Rating: 5 Stars

A YA murder mystery, set in the woods, with a strong female protagonist and her band of high school friends, The Box in the Woods reminded me of one of my favorite YA series, Charlotte Holmes.  Thus, it was unsurprising how much I enjoyed this book!  I was left with some serious FOMO (fear of missing out), for not having read books 1-3 of the Truly Devious series, but this read exceptionally well as a standalone, and provided enough history to feel like I wasn’t missing too much of Stevie’s back story. 

The Box in the Woods is set in a small town on the east coast, recognizable only for its unsolved murder of four teenagers, found dead at a sleepaway camp after being stabbed and shoved into a box in the woods (hints the name).  After her previous success in solving decades old murders, Stevie is propositioned to join the new owner of the summer camp in working to solve the infamous murders that still surround the town.  With a less than inviting welcome by the townspeople, Stevie sets off to do what so many others before her were unsuccessful at, finding a murderer. 

Author, Maureen Johnson, crafts a haunting tale, brilliantly woven and expertly laid out as Stevie delivers a mesmerizing finale.  With loveably unique characters, you can consider me the newest member of the Truly Devious fan club! 

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Blink of an Eye (Kendra Michaels #8) by Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen

Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021

Rating: 3 Stars

Kendra Michaels is a legend.  Her skills at deduction are unrivaled and uniquely honed from her miraculously regained sight, after a childhood in darkness.  Michaels, known for her teamwork with local authorities to solve high-profile cases, joins forces once again upon the disappearance of friend, and superstar, Delilah Winters.

Written by mother and son duo, Iris & Roy Johansen, Blink of an Eye delivers non-stop action.  Transporting readers to famous spots around L.A., those that glimpse its pages will immediately feel immersed in the action.  Despite being the eighth book in the series, Blink of an Eye successfully reads as a standalone and while there was certainly some background and character history that was unfamiliar, it wasn’t enough to detract from the conflict or storyline within this read.   

The Johansen pair do not shy away from highlighting the extraordinary talents of handicapped individuals as they weave a thrilling story full of badass females, dirty villains and the law enforcement that team up to foil them. 

*Disclaimer: a review copy was provided by the publisher; all opinions are my own.

Too Small Tola by Atinuke, Onyinye Iwu (Illustrator)

Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021

Rating: 4 Stars

“Tola lives in a run-down block of apartments in the megacity of Lagos, in the country of Nigeria.  She lives with her sister, Moji, who is very clever; her brother, Dapo, who is very fast; and Grandmommy, who is very-very bossy.  Tola is the youngest in her family.  And the smallest.  And everyone calls her Too Small Tola, which makes her feel too-too small.”

Too Small Tola consists of three wholly separate stories about Tola’s life, all of which begin similar to the opening statement above.  Tola’s stories range from her trip with Grandmommy to the market, collecting fresh water for her apartment and finally concluding with Easter and Eid celebrations.  A vibrant look into Tola’s culture, this heartwarming, exciting and informative book is perfect for little ones to learn about cultures that may differ from their own and take place in countries far, far away. Kids will enjoy the illustrations that accompany the pages of Tola’s story, giving them an animated look at Tola, her style and her city.

*Disclaimer: a review copy was provided by the publisher; all opinions are my own.

The Paris Betrayal by James R. Hannibal

Publication Date: May 4th, 2021

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

Author James R. Hannibal is no stranger to the fiction novels surrounding spies and espionage. After reading his Talia Inger series I was quickly drawn into this, his latest. The Paris Betrayal releases into the world on the heels of an actual pandemic making it easier to feel the urgency as Ben Calix works to stop a bioweapon from starting a global pandemic of its own. On the outs from “the company” Ben is on his own to stop the looming attack as readers following him through Europe in his quest to save the world.

Hannibal successfully uses his own history as an Air Force pilot and contacts with real-world spies to craft another thrilling and realistically terrifying read.  This Jason Bourne-esque read treads just a little to close to the actual Jason Bourne stories to feel wholly original, but nonetheless offers the action readers have come to love from Hannibal’s writing.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

“Just City” by Olga Tymofiyeva

Reader Views Book Reviews

Just City

Olga Tymofiyeva
Independently Published (2022)
ISBN 979-8365536807
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (1/2023)

Author Olga Tymofiyeva is a scientist by trade. Using her background, professional experience, and own hopes to create a virtual reality game such as the one portrayed in “Just City,” Tymofiyeva has instead crafted a “Ready Player One”- esque read. Admittedly taking four and a half years to draft this book, Tymofiyeva heroically wrote around becoming a new mother and working as a neuroimaging professor at UCSF, all while writing in English, her non-native tongue. All that aside, the concepts and deeper thought this book drags out of its readers are impressive in their own right.

Nathan is in need of $10,000 to enter his idea into a startup incubator competition. Alongside his friends, he agrees to be a tester for his neuroscientist grandmother’s new virtual reality game, Just City. In what he…

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“Squeeze Plays” by Jeffrey Marshall

Reader Views Book Reviews

Squeeze Plays

Jeffrey Marshall
Atmosphere Press (2022)
ISBN 978-1639883691
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (12/2022)

Winston Crumm, Corbin Van Sloot, and Maxim Ripovsky all come roaring together in this work of financial fiction. From the United States to London and Russia, the intricacies, power plays, and “squeeze plays” take front and center stage.

There are almost two simultaneous stories occurring within the pages of “Squeeze Plays.” The first story is of a bank, calling a $20 million loan to Star Enterprises, a publisher and news outlet. Star Enterprises also happens to be the primary party in the second story, revolving around how CEO Winston Crumm is going to cover the $20 million loan getting called back as Star Enterprises faces a financial downturn. While these stories ultimately tie together via the bank loan, there are some intriguing insights into the business, the process, and the journalism occurring as…

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“Amalgam-Man” by J. Matthew Neal

Reader Views Book Reviews


J. Matthew Neal
Independently Published (2022)
ISBN 9781734937282
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (12/2022)

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, amalgam is a mixture of different elements. This definition is fitting for the contents of this book, aptly titled “Amalgam-Man,” by J. Matthew Neal, as it takes readers on a whirlwind of a journey through the life of eclectic academic physician, Dr. Daniel Andrew Rudbeck.

In high school, Dr. Rudbeck created a book about the amalgam-man, a character named Dr. Barclay J. Dixon. Dr. Dixon lives in excess, with luxury unimaginable to most, various hobbies and tastes, and no family to speak of. The amalgam-man helps law enforcement in his free time, using widely expensive and extravagant means, and has been with over 25,000 women, or so the story goes. This fantasy man, crafted in high school, went on to become a TV show and earned the real…

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“Commissar: A Novel of Civil War Russia” by D.V. Chernov

Reader Views Book Reviews

Commissar: A Novel of Civil War Russia

D. V. Chernov
Troubaor Publishing Ltd (2021)
ISBN 9781800465596
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (11/2022)

“Commissar” by D.V. Chernov is a Russian historical spy thriller, taking place in 1918, as Russia is in the midst of a civil war caused by several political forces vying for power in a new Russia taking shape. The author expertly bases this story on real historical events and people, giving it an even greater air of intrigue.

Readers follow Anna Sokolova, a young Russian female in the counter-terrorism department within CHEKA, the newly formed state security agency. Along with her several colleagues, she is tasked with tracking down several high-level British intelligence agents. Anna’s own brilliance and passion for the CHEKA’s vision for Russia guides her as she leads the charge in catching British spies. William Arden, an American with the Red Cross, similarly offers…

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“Einstein: The Man and His Mind” by Gary S. Berger and Michael DiRuggiero

Reader Views Book Reviews

Einstein: The Man and His Mind

Gary S. Berger (Author), Michael DiRuggiero (Author), Hanoch Gutfreund (Foreword)
Damiani (2022)
ISBN 978-8862087841
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (12/2022)

In the first true page of this book: the dedication, the authors and contributors make it clear that this book is dedicated to the memory of Alert Einstein. Furthermore, they declare on this page that all royalties will be contributed to the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. As the authors mention, Einstein’s name is truly synonymous with genius, although not many people truly understand why.

Einstein did so much for the field of physics. However, his rise to becoming one of the most recognized mainstream icons is unexplainable as he is labeled as one of the first “stars of science” (p. 13). Interestingly, in the preface, author Gary Berger mentions he spent his teenage weekends in the home…

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“Rooted and Winged” by Luanne Castle

Reader Views Book Reviews

Rooted and Winged

Luanne Castle
Finishing Line Press (2022)
ISBN 9781646628636
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (12/2022)

I’ve found myself drawn to poetry as of late. An often-neglected form of art by mainstream readers, however mistaken that view. Poetry and its essence, importance, and meaning are all held within the eye of the beholder, the reader. Poetry offers readers an escape, it offers the ability to spin its meaning, the meaning of the words, to whatever the reader may need at that particular point in time. Regardless, each collection of poems, each book, always has an unmistakable underlying theme. In the case of “Rooted and Winged” by Luanne Castle, the underlying theme is rooted in nature, in earth, and in one’s dreams.

Broken into four parts, part one spoke to me as compiled of new life, creation, and the stories these events hold, whether stories of one’s grandparents…

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