Wednesday, September 2, 2015

7 Mini Picture Book Reviews

I have seven mini Picture Book Reviews from various pubs to share with y'all today...

My Leaf Book
story and illustrations by Monica Wellington
September 1, 2015
Dial Books
The brilliant colors of fall foliage take center stage in this picture book perfect for fans of the classic Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf.

With her trademark bold, graphic style Monica Wellington has created a picture book about autumn, trees, and leaves.  When the seasons change, a young girl visits the arboretum to collect fallen leaves and make a book with them. Brilliant illustrations show each variety of tree the girl encounters, from the common oak to the lesser known gingko.  Spreads silhouetting leaves up-close help young children learn to identify them. Like the girl in the book, young readers will be eager to make their very own leaf books. 


“There’s no doubt it will capture children’s attention and hopefully have them searching for their own specimens and creating leaf books of their own.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Along with dispensing plenty of informational tidbits…[My Leaf Book] celebrates the gorgeous colors and the great variety of trees around us.”—Booklist

Monica Wellington's My Leaf Book is a charming and captivating book that follows a little girl's hunt for gorgeous Fall leaves. Told through simple text from the POV of the little girl, My Leaf Book is engaging, informative, and fun. Little readers will learn all about the many Fall leaves as the main character collects them. But the real star of this book are all the stunning illustrations! Wellington's illustrations feature bold, lovely Fall colors and fun shapes, and are whimsical, eye-catching, and irresistible. 

My Leaf Book is a wonderful exploration an celebration of Fall!


Lizard from the Park
story and illustrations by Mark Pett
September 8, 2015
Simon & Schuster BFYR

A lonely boy's new pet grows into a rather large dilemma and a Thanksgiving parade offers an uplifting solution in this charming tale from the author of The Boy and the Airplane and The Girl and the Bicycle.

When Leonard takes a shortcut through the park, he finds an egg and takes it home, where it hatches into a lizard (or so Leonard thinks). Leonard names his new pet Buster and takes him all around the city: on the subway, to the library, to a baseball game, and more.

But Buster keeps growing and growing and Leonard gets the sense that Buster is longing for something Leonard cannot provide.

Before long, Buster becomes too big to keep, and Leonard realizes he needs to set Buster free. So Leonard comes up with an inventive plan, one that involves all the balloons Leonard can find and the annual Thanksgiving parade, in an imaginative plot twist that will spark readers' imaginations and touch their hearts.


"As independent as Max and Ruby, as creative as purple-crayon-wielding Harold, and as dedicated a friend as Charlotte's Wilbur, Leonard will delight kids of all ages, regardless of habitat." (Kirkus Reviews [STARRED REVIEW])

"A sweet and subtle offering that lets readers discover new things about the story on each rereading." (School Library Journal)

“A sweet story of friendship and life’s hidden wonders.” (Booklist)

When a little boy named Leonard finds a lizard egg at the park and brings it home, he gets a huge surprise...the tiny lizard is actually a dinosaur he names Buster! And Buster quickly grows and grows. Leonard soon realizes that Buster needs a much bigger home and with the help of giant Thanksgiving parade balloons, he sets out to set Buster free.

Mark Pett's Lizard From The Park is a super sweet story that will make little readers laugh and engage their imaginations. The story of Leonard an Buster is both very touching and highly amusing. Pett's soft colored illustrations are fun to explore and perfectly capture the enchanting story.

Both little readers and parents will love Lizard From The Park!


All The Lost Things
story and illustrations by Kelly Canby
April 20, 2015
Peter Pauper Press
Olive is not your ordinary girl. And one day when this spunky young lady decides to go for a walk in her grumpy, too-busy city, she finds some extraordinary things. What Olive does with them will delight and inspire. This lively picture book is filled with the author's exuberant collage artwork and playfully hand-lettered words.

Kelly Canby's All The Lost Things is a wonderful explosion of color, whimsy, and charm! A little girl named Olive takes a walk around the city and finds extraordinary lost things when she climbs a ladder down a manhole. Down there, Olive collects jars of memory, sense of humor, eyesight, the way, and hope, then spreads that colorful hope EVERYWHERE.

All The Lost Things is such a bubbly, fun story that little readers will fall in love with. Olive's spectacular journey is told through funny and clever text. Canby combines hand-drawn different fonts, collage style artwork, and splashes of color to create the enthralling and wondrous illustrations.

Readers of all ages will want to read All The Lost Things over and over again!


No Yeti Yet
story and illustrations by Mary Ann Fraser
September 2015
Peter Pauper Press
It's a snowy, blowy wintry day--perfect for a yeti hunt. 
Or so thinks big brother. His younger brother is not convinced. 
Questions abound: Have you ever seen a yeti? Is a yeti strong? 
How fast is a yeti? 
And who exactly is following whom?

Mary Ann Fraser's delightful No Yeti Yet tells the tale of two brothers on the search for a Yeti! When Big Brother wants to find a Yeti, little brother tags along and asks question after question about the elusive Yeti. And, of course, his big brother is happy to share his Yeti wisdom.

No Yeti Yet is a simply endearing and fun story from beginning to end! Little readers will have a blast learning all about the wild Yeti and joining the two lovable brothers on their big adventure. With sparse, yet witty, text, Fraser conveys so much humor and excitement. And Fraser's gorgeous illustrations are full of wintry colors and charming scenes. Readers will love spying the hidden Yeti in each scene.

No Yeti Yet has a wonderful surprise ending that readers will love!


Mina's White Canvas
story and illustrations by Hyeon-Ju Lee
July 29, 2015
Peter Pauper Press
When young artist Mina looks up at the cold winter sky, she is struck with an idea. And as she draws with her crayon, something magical begins. Her canvas expands to the snowy world beyond -- a world in which Mina uses her creativity to help others, forge new friendships, and make memories to warm the heart for seasons to come.

Hyeon-Ju Lee's Mina's White Canvas is a sweet story about a little girl named Mina and her magical crayon. Mina sets out on an adventure in the woods one cold, gloomy day and makes friends with some surprising critters. Using her magic crayon, Mina helps her new friends out of some peculiar predicaments.

Mina's White Canvas is such a heart-warming, tender story full of friendship, imagination, and lovable characters. Little readers will adore endearing Mina and her fun new companions. Lee's soft, lovely illustrations bring her wintry scenes to life so vividly. Mina and her new friends have a super fun day full of surprises.

Mina's White Canvas will be enjoyed by readers of all ages!


Seriously, You Have To Eat
by Adam Mansbach
illustrations by Owen Brozman
October 6, 2015
Akashic Books
On the heels of the New York Times best seller You Have to F**king Eat (a sequel to the worldwide mega-best seller Go the F**k to Sleep), now comes the version that is entirely appropriate to read to--and with--children. While the message and humor will be similar to the adult version, there will, of course, be no profanity whatsoever.

Step aside Green Eggs and Ham, there's a new, 21st-century book in town that will compel all finicky children to eat!

Adam Mansbach made waves with his not-kid-friendly, but hilarious Go The F**ck To Sleep and follows it up with You Have To F**cking Eat...Seriously, You Have To Eat is the very toned down, very kid friendly version of that book. 

Told through sing-song rhymes, Seriously, You Have To Eat is a super fun book that will have readers laughing out loud. Mansbach's quirky, clever humor is unforgettable and absolutely addicting! While Seriously, You Have To Eat is totally kid appropriate, adults will seriously chuckle too. Brozman's bright, silly pictures perfectly capture the story and bring all the animals, foods, and kid characters to life wonderfully.

Both parents and little readers will greatly enjoy this very amusing and entertaining book!


What Is Punk?
by Eric Morse
illustrations by Anny Yi
October 6, 2015
Akashic Books
What Is Punk? is a must-read pop-culture primer for children--an introduction to the punk revolution, recreated in vivid 3-D clay illustrations and told through rhyming couplets.

From London's Clash and Sex Pistols to the Ramones' NYC protopunk, from Iggy Pop to the Misfits, this volume depicts some of our culture's seminal moments and iconic characters. A delightful read for kids and parents alike, illustrated in a truly unique visual style, What Is Punk? lays the groundwork for the next generation of little punks.

"A punk primer for the youngest set....Yi's incredibly detailed clay figures are a kinetic and inspired art choice. Their crazy creativity matches the expressive spirit of punk....As [Morse] points out, the best way to learn about punk it just to listen....If invested adults love the topic, a shared reading experience can't be beat."
-- Kirkus Reviews 

"Think Wallace and Grommet with liberty spikes and anarchy patches...While [Anny Yi's] images of Johnny Rotten and Henry Rollins are cute, they're presented as live action dioramas that are adorable, accurate and engaging."
-- San Diego City Beat 

Eric Morse's What Is Punk? is a totally awesome journey through the world of Punk music! This captivating and informative little book will teach little readers all about the rise of Punk music and introduce them to some of the most famous and important Punk bands.

Morse's clever rhyming couplets will delight little readers and amuse parents. Anny Yi's phenomenal 3D-clay illustrations are pure perfection and bring the stellar Pun world to life. Readers of all ages will have so much fun exploring each wild 3D scene.

Charming, smart, and a lot of fun, What Is Punk? is the perfect read for the music lovers in your life!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Girl At The Center Of The World Blog Tour {review}

I'm excited to have The Girl At The Center Of The World Blog Tour stopping by today with my review...

The Girl At The Center Of The World
(Islands at the End of the World #2)
by Austin Aslan
August 14, 2015
Random House
As sixteen-year-old Leilani and her family learn to live without electronics, farming the land as her ancestors did, she finds strength in her relatives, her friendships, and her strange connection to the Emerald Orchid--the force whose presence caused global devastation--but suffers regret over what she must do to survive.

An exciting and satisfying sequel that continues the thrilling ideas and adventure of THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

Native Hawaiian mythology and history is beautifully intertwined in the story.

An eco-thriller by an expert: great choice for dystopian fans who want a new spin. The author has a masters in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii-Hilo.

The Islands at the End of the World
by Austin Aslan
Wendy Lamb Books
Right before my eyes, my beautiful islands are changing forever. And so am I...
Sixteen-year-old Leilani loves surfing and her home in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. But she's an outsider - half white, half Hawaiian, and an epileptic.
While Lei and her father are on a visit to Oahu, a global disaster strikes. Technology and power fail, Hawaii is cut off from the world, and the islands revert to traditional ways of survival. As Lei and her dad embark on a nightmarish journey across islands to reach home and family, she learns that her epilepsy and her deep connection to Hawaii could be keys to ending the crisis before it becomes worse than anyone can imagine.
A powerful story enriched by fascinating elements of Hawaiian ecology, culture, and warfare, this captivating and dramatic debut from Austin Aslan is the first of two novels. The author has a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Praise for the series

Kirkus starred review, May 15, 2014:
“A suspenseful and engaging series opener made all the more distinctive through its careful realization of setting.”

School Library Journal starred review, June 2014:
“Aslan’s debut is a riveting tale of belonging, family, overcoming perceived limitations, and finding a home.”

Publishers Weekly starred review, August 15, 2014:“Debut author Aslan shows off his promise as a writer, delivering a fresh, of-the-moment take on apocalyptic fiction […] it’s an exceptional adventure and survival story that’s intimately tied to its setting.”

Picking up a few months after the events in book one, The Girl At The Center of the World finds Leilani and her family struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii. Without electricity, people are forced to revert to a simpler way of living: farming, foraging, and hunting. Tucked away in the hills, Leilani, her family, and neighbors have formed a tight community and work together to survive. But dangerous gangs roam the island and meteors fall from the sky. Leilani’s mysterious connection to the Emerald Orchid in the sky prevents the total destruction of the world, but there are those who would stop at nothing to control that connection.

Last year, Austin Aslan enthralled and greatly impressed me with The Islands At The End Of The World, and this sequel proves to be just as smart, thrilling, and entertaining. Aslan continues to combine fresh, complex sci-fi, dystopian, and very real scientific elements to create a captivating and thought-provoking world, and he effortlessly intertwines exciting fiction with his fascinating knowledge and expertise. This sometimes violent, harsh, backbreaking post-apocalyptic Hawaii is wonderfully and believably portrayed and laid out. But amidst all the darkness in this world, Aslan once again paints a stunning, lush, and vivid portrait of Hawaii.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Leilani, her family, and friends. Aslan does a great job of making these characters feel very real and relatable. Readers will root for these characters, celebrating in their triumphs and mourning their losses and feeling their pain. And I found the Emerald Orchid and her baby to be such complex, unforgettable characters in their own right. Some of my favorite moments in the book, are those between Leilani and the beautiful creatures in the sky, which Aslan describes with breathtaking prose.

New and old, dangerous foes arrive, sending Leilani and readers on an edge-of-your seat thrill ride, full of twists and turns, shocking revelations, and heartbreaking losses.

my final thoughts: With its smart plotting, complex world-building, engaging characters, and thought-provoking premise, The Girl At The Center of the World is a satisfying and excellent sequel.

4/5 yummy cupcakes

Austin Aslan was inspired to write his debut novel, The Islands at the End of the World, while living on the Big Island of Hawaii. He earned a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. His research on rare Hawaiian plants located on the high slopes of Mauna Loa won him a pair of destroyed hiking boots, a tattered rain jacket, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He lives outside Tucson, Arizona, deep in the Sonoran Desert, where he pets scorpions and hugs saguaro cacti with his high-school-sweetheart wife and their two young children. Austin is pursuing a PhD in geography at the University of Arizona and thinking up new stories while conducting ecosystem resilience research atop the Peruvian Andes. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Interview and Giveaway: author K.C. Simos

I'm delighted to have author K.C. Simos stopping by today to chat about her YA series, Ambrosia Chronicles! Plus, you can win all three books...

Book 1: Ambrosia Chronicles: The Discovery
When Alex is reunited with her high school crush, Ian, she discovers that he is part of a suspicious organisation that she herself becomes involved with. Suddenly entrusted with a heavily sought-after little pouch, she must go on the run. Alex must let go of the frustrations of ignorance at her new circumstances with the knowledge that the less she knows the safer she'll be, while she relies on the protection of her arrogant and mysterious rescuer in order to reach the organisation's headquarters in one piece.

Book 2: Ambrosia Chronicles: The Initiation
Now that Alex is officially the Protector, she embarks on a road trip through Europe together with Ian. But will Ian ever be able to get past Alex’s assent up the Muse ladder? What will happen when the two of them run into mysterious Lucas again? And what role does Emma’s Sight have in all of this? 

Join Alex and Emma as they start to untangle the web of secrets that revolve around Muse… 

Book 3 Ambrosia Chronicles: The Curse
The thrilling conclusion of the Ambrosia Chronicles trilogy. Alex and Emma prepare for the inevitable face-off with the Rogue Queen Regina, after uncovering some truly shocking secrets...

find the books: goodreads/amazon/b&n/itunes/kobo

What three words best describe your Ambrosia Chronicles series?
Fantasy, road-trip, adventure

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give the Ambrosia Chronicles a try?
“Percy Jackson” meets “Twilight” or “Vampire Diaries” - the main characters are thrust into a modern day plot that has mythology weaved into it…

Grab a copy of book one in your series, The Discovery, and answer the following:
-favorite chapter? Chapter 23: Light in the Dark

-favorite page? Since it’s an e-book, I can’t really provide a page – it’s the first section of Chapter 25, I guess it would be the second or third page of that chapter, just towards the end of the first section…

-favorite place/setting? Alex’s garden in Athens, Greece

-flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
“Lucas is the only one whose Powers were not granted by the Guardian,” Sarah explained.
Alex slowed down, confused. “Then how did he get them?”
“The question you should be asking is who granted Lucas his Powers, if not the Guardian.”

What inspired the Ambrosia Chronicles? How did the story come to be?
I think I just got a little fed up with all the Hollywood films based on Greek mythology – there was a trend a few years back – where everything was altered so much that you could only tell it was based on a Greek myth because of the characters’ names and nothing else. I started toying with the idea of a world where these myths actually took place once as that world’s history, and what it would be like to discover something like that – my version of incorporating life in the world we live in today with fantasy elements from the world’s myths.

Can you tell us a bit about your heroine, Alex? What makes her special and sets her apart from other YA heroines?
Alex is nineteen when the story takes place. She’s at that age where she’s supposedly already meant to behave as though she’s an adult, but she has no idea what she wants to do with her life, and she’s unsure of who she really is. I believe what sets Alex apart from other YA heroines is that she’s more realistic. She’s dealing with what many go through at that age, but few talk about. When she’s thrust into a dangerous situation that she doesn’t understand and requires rescuing from, she’s not the damsel in distress type by nature; despite having a desire to be rescued she nevertheless adopts a DIY approach. She’s self-conscious but strong-minded, shy but will stand up for herself and others. She enjoys a constant stream of sarcastic commentary in her head that she rarely voices. She’s practical and intelligent, and a realist who hopes the unreal exists so as to change her mundane life.

What kinds of cool mythology and lore can readers expect to find in the Ambrosia Chronicles?
The wickedest mythological names make an appearance; names I myself only learned about during my research so a couple are obscure but pretty darn intriguing. My aim was to breathe modern life into ancient individuals. There are loads of characters from Ancient Greek & Norse mythology who either make a small appearance or play a role in Alex’s adventures, as well as references to the scariest, creepiest stories I encountered during my research.

The mythological elements serve more as a backdrop while Alex’s struggles are at the forefront. Because I nevertheless did a lot of research on mythology, I decided to create a blog called “The Mytholian Corner” where there are entry posts that provide a little info about each character whose roots are from mythology; I describe this person as in my trilogy, but then also share some of my research and provide info on his/her mythological background in a little more detail for anyone who might be interested in knowing a little more.

What is the best thing about being an author? The hardest thing?
The best thing is that this is my story, my own. I work as a freelancer in film & TV production, which involves working on other people’s ideas and manuscripts. The best thing about being an author is that I can create something myself.

The hardest thing is the practical knowledge that, since I’m not making a living from my books, I need to also work in a different field. It’s hard to do when you know that what you love to do can’t be your full time job. I’m happy that the other work I do is also story-related. It’s why I chose it – I can’t get enough of stories in every shape and form.

Let’s play This OR That:
-morning OR night Night
I am NOT a morning person.

-the hero OR the villain 
The hero as long as he isn’t a goodie-two-shoes; the dark hero

-stay in OR go out 
Go out… I stay in way too much.

-switch places with your favorite fictional character OR switch places with your favorite celebrity? 
Definitely picking the favourite fictional character. It means I can take part in a world of dragons and magic! Who’d pick dodging paparazzi over that?

Fill in the blanks
I’m really awesome at sarcasm.
I’m really embarrassed to admit when I’m wrong. I’ll do it, but I’ll feel my cheeks get hot.
The last great book I read was “Harry Potter” – I recently reread the whole series ☺

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by the Ambrosia Chronicles, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
Since this is a trilogy, I’m allowing myself 3 cupcakes (any excuse for more dessert with me):
“Fresh Discovery” –dark chocolate cupcake with a green mint icing & white choc shavings on top
“Bittersweet Initiation” – blueberry cupcake with buttercream icing and blueberries on top
“Cursed Temptation” – red velvet cupcake with buttercream icing (not the biggest fan of cream cheese icing) & dark choc shavings on top
My mouth is watering now…

Thanks so much for stopping by! Those cupcakes sound AMAZING and YUMMY!

K. C. Simos was born and raised in Athens, Greece. She studied law and marketing before pursuing her passion for film. She works as a freelancer in film & TV production. The "Ambrosia Chronicles" trilogy surfaced through her fascination with fantasy and mythology, and her desire to incorporate them into a world of her own.                                                                        website * author facebook * series facebook blog

Win an 
Ambrosia Chronicles ebook bundle!
K.C. Simos has generously offered one ebook bundle, which includes all three books in her series, for one winner.
-open to anyone who can read Amazon ebooks
-ends 9/7
please read full rules below rafflecopter form

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