Book Review: The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems is the newest addition to the Pigeon collection from Willems, and it meets all the exceptions of this fan. In this adventure the intrepid pigeon really needs a bath. However, you know the pigeon is not going to make this easy. Pigeon is sure the bath he took last month, he thinks, has him covered. But when even  the flies start telling him he needs a bath, pigeon still is not sure. It's going to take some serious convincing to try and get the Pigeon to take the plunge.

Mo Willem rocks, I love his books and was thrilled to see this on my cart to catalog! In The Pigeon Needs a Bath readers see the pigeon fight against a bath with as much effort as he has previously fought against bedtime, and for driving a bus, having a hot dog party, and so on. Pigeon's tenacity is something I can recognize in both my kids, and honestly myself at times. Also, I know there are parents out there that have battles about getting the kids in the bath. (I am fortunate in that my biggest problem is getting them out of the tub, and limiting the baths to once a day.) So this book is something so many kids and parents can relate to and find entertainment in that I think everyone should read it. Yup everyone, kids that love the bath, kids that hate the bath, and parents that just hose the kids off in the summer or let them play in the rain to avoid the fight.

The Pigeon Needs a Bath is another home run by Mo Willems. It is a great read aloud book to share, and a book young readers can enjoy alone. I think the book, the ending in particular, is something all caregivers can relate to, and will make kids smile too!

Book Review: Good Crooks Book One: Missing Monkey! (Good Crooks #1) by Mary Amato, Ward Jenkins

Good Crooks Book One: Missing Monkey! is the first book in the Good Crooks series written by Mary Amato and illustrated by Ward Jenkins. This early chapter book is about Billy and Jillian Crook. These twins are tired of having to wear disguises every time they leave the house and helping their parents lead a life of crime. These feisty youngsters want to do some good deeds, but have to be even sneakier while doing good than while breaking the law. When their parents steal a monkey to help them steal, the twins rush into action. Not only do they learn just how much a monkey can do in eleven minutes, they also learn what it feels like to do good.

Missing Monkey! is a fun and fast paced story that will capture the attention quickly. Billy and Jillian are well done characters, each with a very distinct personality. I loved some of Billy's asides and lists that more often than not made me laugh. The interaction between the tech genius Jillian, impulsive Billy, and their parents are highly entertaining. Adding and intelligent monkey to the mix just makes everything that much more entertaining. I think the strive to do a good deed in secret, and the humor ingrained in the entire book, make for a combination that will entertain most readers.

I recommend Missing Monkey for readers just making the transition to chapter books, and for those that like the silly humor so often involved in a story involving hum,ans and monkeys. The story is a fun read, with humor and a good lesson about not having to be what others expect you to be firmly woven into the book. I look forward to reading the second book in the series, Dog Gone!, which is waiting for my attention on my Kindle.

Blog Tour Review: Wonder Light (Unicorns of the Mist #1) by R.R. Russell

Wonder Light is the first book in the middle grade series, Unicorns of the Mist, by R.R. Russell. Twig is resigned to living on a pony farm for troubled girls, despite the spooky stories she has read about the island. Soon Twig discovers someone that needs her, mysterious filly that has claimed her as her own. Then there is the mysterious of the wild boy in the misty woods and the terrifying screams from something that is not quite a horse. Twig discovers that the island's secret is the last free unicorn herd, but not all unicorns are good.

Wonder Light is a fantastic series starter. The world and character building are very well done, with little bits of Twig slowly being revealed to the reader. I found her personality and trials to be touching and something most middle grade and even older readers can relate to. I particularly liked that even with the fantastic elements, the real life troubles of Twig are not simply swept under the carpet- instead the two come together in order to help her come to terms with her life and the world in general. Ben is a complicated character, with many mysteries that still need to be revealed but still makes the reader feel for him and root for him. The other characters were less developed, but they did not feel neglected, rather I felt like I knew what I needed to in order to keep the story and personal connections intact but without a massive information dump that might overwhelm the heart of the story.

I highly recommend Wonder Light to readers that enjoy coming of age stories, mystery, adventure, and fantasy. There is a good balance of emotional and physical struggles to keep most readers turning pages and eager to see what happens next. I am looking forward to seeing where this series goes from here.

Writing as R.R. Russell for kids and R.H. Russell for teens and adults. She grew up traveling the world as an army brat and now travels the country as a coach with a non-profit judo club. She loves to read and draw, and like Twig, once spent a lot of time sketching unicorns. Visit her at

Book Review: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes #1) by Christopher Healy, Bronson Pinchot

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom is the first book in The League of Princes series
by Christopher Healy. I listened to the audiobook, which was read by Bronson Pinchot. The story is that of four Princes Charming. Prince Liam, Prince Frederic, Prince Duncan and Prince Gustav are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively. Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it's up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

So there is the plot and the main characters, which are all very well fleshed out and grow considerably as the story progresses. they all are stereotypes that grow far beyond what we expect, and what they are prepared for. The lovely princesses are also very strong characters that defy the roles that they are thrust into. I loved that characters we all thought we knew are cast into new light and given further adventures. BUT, what really made this book for me is the narrator. I do not know if I would have enjoyed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom to the extent I did if it were not for the voice talents of Bronson Pinchot. Oh my, he gave each of the characters such distinct voices, enhancing the images I had for each and giving them different accents to boot. The phrasing, inflections, and accents of each character just brought them to life for me. I am currently listening to the second book in the series- and he is even more impressive there.

I highly recommend The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom to readers that love twists of fairy tales, action, adventure, and humor (there is tons of humor here!). I even more highly suggest listening to the book, just be aware that you might catch yourself laughing out loud, which might inspire strange looks from those nearby.

Book Review: Red Hot Dragon (Dragon Heat #2) by Lolita Lopez

Red Hot Dragon is the second novella in the Dragon Heat series by Lolita Lopez. In this installment we see Griffin Cadogan is shocked to see Avani Monroe, sworn enemy of his dragon family, walk into his gym. With his mating phase soon approaching, Griffin is curious as to why she has to come enemy territory knowing the risks. Not only does she surprise Griffin and his cousin, Mad, by coming to enemy territory, but what she wants is borderline insane. She wants Griffin to help her have a baby.

Red Hot Dragon is a novella with plenty of steamy sex scenes, but very little character and greater plot development for the larger story arc. Griffin is a mega alpha male, that is entering his mating phase and while more than willing to make a baby, is not willing to walk away from any child that might result. Avani is the last of her line, and desperate to be everything to a child that her parents were not. the pair start off all about the sex, but almost instantly feel more for each other. The hunters play their part, and there is a tantalizing glimpse at who best be the staring couple of the next book. when I finished the book I was more interested in the characters for the next book, than in Griffin and Avani.

If you are looking for a short read with lots of sex, then Red Hot Dragon is for you. If you expect a little more character and plot development, yes it can be done in a novella, then you might be disappointed with this offering. it was not a bad read, it just did not live up to my expectations. that being said, I do think I will read the next book, if only because I have had my interest peaked in the characters and due to the length of the stories I will not be sacrificing much of my time if it does disappoint.

Fire of the Sea by Lyndsay Johnson: Blog Tour including Interview and Exerpt

A New Young Adult Book, Fire of the Sea by Lyndsay Johnson

Sharp, sleek, and golden. Like the dagger she has worn since childhood, eighteen-year-old Aeva is all three of these things. But there is something else that this mermaid and her prized weapon share – they are both hunted.

Hidden within the caves off Iceland’s dark shore, Aeva waits to take her place as the next ruler of the Meriads. But when Aeva uses her potent and alluring song to save a drowning human, she disrupts a delicate balance. Realizing she has unexpectedly bound herself to Gunnar, Aeva is torn between duty and love.

Aeva severs one life to begin another, and soon finds herself not only rejected by the sea, but also stalked by an old enemy. As the worlds of myth and man intertwine, Aeva will challenge fate to protect her own sacred relic and the man she loves.

But legends and lies cast an intricate net. With time and safety quickly unraveling for Aeva and Gunnar, there is only one clear course: Find and defeat Delphine before she can shift again.

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1. Was there a specific moment or idea that inspired writing Fire of the Sea?
 I had a dream, actually. I’ve always had really vivid, detailed dreams. One morning I woke up after dreaming that I was a mermaid. I had rescued a pilot who had fallen from his plane (he was being dragged under by his parachute). I was swimming through all of this billowing, white fabric. It was amazing. I woke up and had to type a rough draft of what would eventually become the second chapter in my book. (*for an excerpt from this chapter, see below)

 2. Do you see bits of yourself, your family, your friends, or your life in your characters that surprise you?
 I can definitely see some of my flaws in Aeva. She worries a lot about what her course in life should be. I think that’s something inherent in all of us at some point. But I can look back at myself at 18 and see how I shared a lot of the same anxiety about life and love and which direction to take. (Granted, I wasn’t a daughter of a sea king with a heavy mantle weighing on me…)

 3. Did you always want to write. or were you brought to writing by a completely different path?
I have always loved to write. For me, there is a constant creative drive, whether it’s writing, illustrating, painting, or designing. I have degrees in graphic design and creative writing. When I was younger I wrote and illustrated a lot of stories and poetry. Once I was older, I focused on graphic design for more than ten years. But over time the desire to write began to resurface again. So I decided to just go for it! Writing offers different fulfillment creatively. I love being able to still take part in the visual arts while exploring what stories are floating around in my head, as well.

 4. Do you have any set writing routine or rituals, or do you work as inspiration strikes?
I think it’s a bit of both. Sometimes I have a day where I feel like I HAVE to sit down and just write as much as possible. Those days I feel like I am hard-wired into a steady flow of inspiration. Other days I have to set goals. When I am writing I definitely have my playlists that I listen to on repeat. And I like to have a box of Junior Mints on hand to keep up the writing energy, of course!

 5. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Oh gosh. I have to admit I loved writing so many scenes in this book. My main character, Aeva goes on quite a journey throughout the story. So there are a lot of beautiful Icelandic settings that I was able to delve into. The underwater caves were wonderful to write. I also really enjoyed the shift in the book when Aeva makes her way to land, and I could describe what that would be like for the first time. Iceland is a raw and wild place. It is just being born compared to the rest of the Earth. So to have Aeva’s first encounter with the Earth as a human happen in Iceland seemed magical to me. I had to experience what it was like for Aeva to wake up for the first time as a human. Learning the words of objects, the feel of wood and grass beneath her feet, the way that saltwater now burned her body. I had to discover it as I went along, which was really thrilling.

6. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a different theme or idea you’d love to work with? 
 Definitely Aeva’s best friend Sissel. Sissel is a unique mermaid because she is a “Seer,” and has special abilities to see things in her mind’s eye. Sissel has a complicated and detailed back-story that was originally included in the novel. But it was adding unnecessary distraction to my plot, and seemed to slow things down. But it would make a great prequel or novella!

7. What do you do when you are not writing?
I have three children (my youngest is just over a month old). So I am very busy staying at home with my spirited kiddos every day. I am also a graphic designer, which means I have to balance all of my motherly and creative pursuits. In my pockets of spare time, I like to watch movies (I could watch the new version of Pride and Prejudice on repeat forever), go exploring in our small mountain town, and of course I love to read!

8. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I am so happy to share Fire of the Sea with you! I’ve been swimming through Aeva’s world now for almost three years before the dream became a reality. One of my favorite aspects of writing is sharing the final experience of the story. So thank you for taking part in that!

Excerpt from Fire of the Sea by Lyndsay Johnson Chapter Two: The Call:

  In the deepening blue, what appeared to be an enormous jellyfish was descending slowly and steadily. A white plume the size of a ship’s sail, with long trailing tentacles, hung in the agitated water. Part of it still clung to the surface.
  I moved closer. Reaching out, my fingers felt the edges of the ghostly form. Fabric. I’d read of its tight weave used in human clothing. I’d never seen so much of it, much less touched it.
White strings were attached to the fabric, tangling down into the depths. My gold hair whirled in front of my face as I paused to make sense of what hovered before me. As I whipped my head around for clarity, I saw him.
  Snared at the center of the mass was a young man. A human. What I had first thought to be a jellyfish was something else entirely. The human was attached to the now collapsing net of fabric and rope by a bundle strapped to his back and shoulders. He sank deeper and deeper in a slow-motion descent, as the last of the fabric slipped below the surface. His head was bowed, but his body wasn’t completely limp. He struggled sluggishly. Was he giving up? Why didn’t he remove the pack?
  It took me a moment to tear myself away from my fascination. I managed to remember that humans couldn’t hold air in their lungs underwater for very long. They would lose strength in the sea, not gain it. He was drowning.

About the Author:
Lyndsay grew up in the wide expanses of Texas, where the only thing stronger than the accents was the state pride. An over-active imagination, tale-telling father, and encouraging librarian mother lead to her love of all things creative.

When it comes to books on her bedside table, young adult lit has always been a favorite (Blue Balliett, Libba Bray, and Stephenie Meyer, to name a few.) But it was actually an old, yellowing copy of Scandinavian Folk and Fairy Tales that planted a particularly relentless seed. Shapeshifters and sea nymphs began forming the seed of an idea that would eventually grow into Lyndsay’s debut novel, Fire of the Sea.

When she is not writing, you can find Lyndsay spending time with her family in the Rocky Mountains of Utah. She enjoys sitting in dark theaters, trying new gluten-free recipes, watching breaking storms over the peaks out her window, and secret naps.

Book Review: Me and My Ghoulfriends (Larue Donavan #1) by Rose Pressey

Me and My Ghoulfriends is the first book in the Larue Donavan series by Rose Pressey. Larue Donavan is a bookstore owner with a secret. On her nights and weekends she often moolights as a ghost hunter, and more often than not she brings her work home with her. Dead people just won't leave her alone and Abraham Lincoln thinks he's in charge of her lovelife. Larue can handle ghosts and undead presidents, it's dealing with the living that is driving her crazy. The handsome Callahan Weiss moves to town and opens a coffee shop right next door. While Larue is smitten from the start, she is not the only one. Another shop owner has her eye on Callahan too, but she is not fighting fair. Unexplained accidents and some odd behavior from Callahan arouse suspicion, and Larue might have to deal with more than unruly spirits to get her man.

Me and My Ghoulfriends is a good start to a series. I liked the character of Larue for the most part, but was annoyed at her for trying to hide her ghost friendly side from Callahan. I like strong minded characters that are aware of what makes them different and own it, rather than try to keep it under wraps. Really, if things worked out with a gut they would not start wondering where you run off to most weekends? Aside from that, I loved the interaction with Larue and the ghosts and the humor that threads through the book. I was hoping for a better relationship between Larue and her best friend, which seemed a to waver between intensely loyal and an afterthought as I read the book. I think there is a great deal of potential in the series, and it might be great, but that greatness is not fully realizxed in the first book.

I did enjoy the read, and for a free Amazon download I cannot regret having spent the time. Me and My Ghoulfriends was fun, entertaining, and a decent set up for more development in later books of the series. I do think that I will follow up and read the second book, Ghouls Night Out, to see if the potential of the series pans out.

Book Review: Buddy and the Bunnies In Don't Play with Your Food by Bob Shea

Buddy and the Bunnies In Don't Play with Your Food is the latest picturebook from Bob Shea. My disclaimer, I am a huge Bob Shea fan. He is one of a handful of picturebook authors that I love beyond reason, but believe that he has more than earned my devotion.

Now, Buddy and the Bunnies In Don't Play with Your Food is all about a monster named Buddy and the bunnies he has deemed to be his next meal. However, when he told the bunnies to hop into his mouth and be eaten they distract him instead. They ask him to join them in baking cupcakes, going for a swim, playing at the carnival, or starting up a Buddy fan club. Before long, after having great fun with the bunnies, buddy is confused about whether the bunnies are really his lunch, or some new friends.

Buddy and the Bunnies In Don't Play with Your Food has all the fabulous artwork that Shea fans expect. There are bold lines, bright colors, and great humor on each page. the story, like the artwork, seems simple, but has tremendous humor and depth woven in. The flow and rhythm of the words combined with the bright artwork fairly beg to be read aloud and shared with a family, storytime crowd or classroom.

Book Review: Kibble Talk by Cynthia Port

Kibble Talk by Cynthia Port is a children's chapter book about nine-year-old Tawny who just cannot turn down a dare or crazy plan. Because of this weakness she gags down a piece of dog kibble. afterwards she can hear and talk to dogs. This includes her enormous Great Dane named Dinky, who fondest wish is to be a tiny lap dog. Tawny promises to help him become one. Tawny soon finds out what it means to make, and keep, a promise to a friend. while she does her best to help Dinky, her parents begin to question her sanity and her best friend Jenny becomes her worst enemy. Can Tawny keep her own thoughts straight and still manage make things right in her family, get her best friend back, and figure out how to handle such a special gift.

Kibble Talk is the first book in the Kibble Talk series. It is funny, sweet, and fast moving. I loved the character of Tawny, who is adventurous and willing to try anything once. She is also willing to put her own friendships and social standing on the line to keep a promise and her ability a secret. I really liked that while tawny was not a perfect kid, and had all the fears of looking foolish that are pretty much universal, she still stood out as a smart and unique character. I also loved the concept of the book, and its execution. talking to animals is not a new idea, but the way it was done here and the humor involved just made the story great fun to read. I love forward to seeing what kind of trouble Tawny and Dinky find themselves in as the series continues.

I would recommend Kibble Talk to readers around 7 to 12 years old. I think it is also well suited for reading aloud in a classroom or as a family. Animal lovers, readers that enjoy a good laugh, and those just getting into reading for fun will all enjoy the story. just keep an eye on any pet food in the house, because I can imagine that some enthusiastic readers might be tempted to give it a try in hopes of being able to hear your animals like Tawny. Kibble Talk: Dog Gone Dinky, book 2 in the series, should be available by the end of February, 2014.

Blog Tour Book Review and Giveaway: Rose and the Lost Princess by Holly Webb

Rose and the Lost Princess is the second book in a children's series by Holly Webb. The first book was Rose, and while I did not read the first book I feel like I was able to catch up and enjoy this book even while missing some of the back story.  Rose can’t believe how much her life has changed. She was a poor orphan, and has become a housemaid and apprentice to the King’s chief magician! But when a bizarre cold covers the country and the country’s beloved Princess vanishes, everything changes. Rumors about dark magic fly and fear of all magic, as well as those who use it, begins to rise. Rose must solve the mysteries and find the princess before it is too late.

Rose and the Lost Princess is a fantasy novel for middle grade readers, and while it holds o many of the standard conventions of the genre, it is well written with solid characters and a good story. Rose is an orphan with a special affinity for magic, and while that might sound a little too familiar she wants to be independent and work for her own future rather than relying on others or good luck. I think her intelligence and work ethic make Rose a strong role model to all readers. I think the inclusion of the fear of just about everyone towards magic, and things they do not understand in general, also speaks to all readers and makes the story stand out. The people being mean and doing bad things, aside from the larger plot that includes kidnapping the princess, are not characterize as bad people, just scared. I think that distinction is important for everyone to be able to understand and see in the real world, since it is something that still happens every day.

I think Rose and the Lost Princess is a smart and enjoyable read for the middle grade set. The characters and world are very well done, and while the set up is a bit familiar, the execution and quality of the writing make that familiarity unimportant. In fact, because of that familiarity settling into the story felt like putting on my favorite cozy sweatshirt and finding it to be even better than I remembered.

Holly Webb is the author of Dog Magic, Cat Magic, and Lost in the Snow. She has always loved animals and owns two very spoiled cats. They haven't said a word to her yet, but she's always listening, just in case! She lives in England.

Now for the giveaway! Do you want a copy of this book for yourself, a great child in your life, your school or local library, or all of the above? Well, one lucky winner (U.S. and Canada only- Sorry!) will have a copy mailed to them directly from the publisher! Just enter below via Rafflecopter.

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