This is a delightfully entertaining book for children of all ages! It's a fantastic story about a little groundhog who learns a valuable lesson about self-reliance and confidence. I loved the metaphor of digging to help little ones understand their power to overcome sadness.
The illustrations are super-cute and are a beautiful compliment to the story. The colors are vibrant and they dance across the page with energy and light. The author uses language young readers can clearly understand, without being condescending. I bought this book as a gift for my niece, Grace (although if her parents read this - keep it a surprise, please!), and I believe it will help her, and her older sister, Allison, to connect with their internal digger and giggle through the discovery.
If you have little ones in your life, I highly recommend this book. And if you know an adult who is struggling with digging their way out of sadness - I recommend this book even more!
Learn more about Katie Spina at her website.
Describe this book in just two words.
Hmmm.... Unexpectedly Creepy! Yup, that about covers it.
This is a tantalizing story that takes the reader into different head spaces and different emotionalities simultaneously. Andy takes full advantage of some seductive storytelling techniques to hook you into turning page after page. First, he demands that you question sanity... that of the characters', and your own, too. Then, he drops you into what should be a safe place, only to ramp up the uncomfortableness of it all. You'll learn that sometimes, safety is simply a foil to reality. Then, he engages you with an old standard, 'Children are often more insightful than the adults'... Yet, how is it that the reader can't understand what they reveal? That should be an easy one, but Andy doesn't make anything easy; and you're thrilled for it. Finally, in an environment where so much time has presented it's secrets, how is it that no one has ever listened long enough to find the alternative solution... or act on it?
This is a story that will keep you on your toes. You won't want to close your eyes, even to rest them in between chapters... don't you dare... you might miss something essential. The layers of characters that live in this book are a wonder to behold. Just when you think you understand the impetus for one's quirks and the motivation for their action... or silence... a new door opens, shoving you headlong into another Empty Hallway you weren't prepared to walk. It's a bit unsettling.... and oh, so rewarding.
Andy Lockwood traverses the edge of spooky just close enough to make you wonder if he'll pull you back to safety in time. When he doesn't, it's a delightful shock to the system. This book is a fascinating study into what might happen if, instead of ending things the way our English teachers taught us, we simply allow the characters to do what they will and take notes to share around the campfire. The comfort in this reading was not found in the delivery of expectations, but in a plot progression I could never have imagined. How nice to discover unsettling creepiness wrapped tightly inside characters I thought I knew.
This is a book I highly recommend!
Learn more about Andy Lockwood at his website.
I'm so pleased that Beth Dumity, proprietor of R&B Used Books in Grand Blanc, Michigan, introduced me to author in residence, Boyd Craven!
This title is the first in his survival and preparedness series, and it's a gripping read. I'm not generally interested in reading series' because I don't like to live inside the stress of literary anticipation. But, Boyd has a new fan in me, and now I have to buy them all.
I don't usually spoil books, but in this case, I think it's important... because, you know, since I was so broken hearted after seeing "I Am Legend" and I simply can't watch it anymore... you NEED to know this...
The Dog Doesn't Die!
Whew! Okay, that's out of the way. I feel better now.
Getting back to my experience of reading this book, I can tell you that this adventure is a nail biter. The tension is well placed, and there's just the right amount of it to keep you turning the pages. This read is a comfortable roller coaster ride... Tension, time to breathe, a few laughs, time to breathe, tension, tears, and a resolution without an ending. It's wonderful.
Stories about books, libraries, and writers are always my favorites; and this one ranks high among my top picks. When I met Boyd (he signed my book!) he admitted that this story was indeed semi-autobiographical. It stands to reason, he was able to portray all the writing scenes so authentically. He's also a survivalist, which also came out in the story. But this isn't some nut-case, off the rails macho prepper thing. This is a true-to-life tale of romance, loyalty, adventure, and intelligence where characters think ahead and plan for the worst, while hoping for the best, day by day. Boyd's dialogue sounds perfectly natural inside my head; and with the character of Opus (the dog) Boyd takes the Disney concept of animal sidekicks out of the fairy tale and drops him squarely into reality, right where he belongs.
Exciting, smart, warm, and funny... I'm writing my name on the inside cover of this book because when I loan it out (and I will, because this one needs to be shared) I want it back!
Thank you, Mr. Craven, for a tale well-told. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
I highly recommend this book.
Learn More about Boyd Craven and his books at his website.
Yet another wonderful installment of the Martin Preuss mystery series. This may be the shortest of the books, but it doesn’t skimp on story, character, or rich detail. As with Donald’s previous books, this story was engaging, vibrant, and filled with twists and turns. There were several occasions when I thought I knew where the end would take me, and I was wrong. I love being wrong. The twist presented in the final act had my head reeling and made me flip back a few chapters to find out how I had missed the clues. I didn’t mind that, though, the writing here is just that exquisite… re-reading passages was quite delightful.
I'm not normally a fan of this genre. It's not usually they type of book that I gravitate toward, but I enjoy the detective stories that Donald crafts. Each character is clearly interconnected, and in ways we don't often see right away. The plot itself is created in much the same way. Connecting pieces of a larger puzzle revealing secrets and also presenting clues that lay right before us... clues that we don't see because they hide in plain sight. When reading a Martin Pruess mystery, one gets the distinct impression that Donald has diligently done his homework. The police procedures, dialogue, jargon, and interactions between police, private investigators, and even the supporting cast are real, sincere, and cleverly presented.
Again, in this novel, we learn more about Martin through his close relationship with his son, Toby. There is a special bond between the two… but the best part about their relationship for me, is that in each instance that we see them interact, we learn about layers of Martin that we didn’t know were there before, and in each instance, it’s a beautiful surprise. On each occasion that Martin has with Toby, he invariably is led to a moment of clarity with the case he’s working on. It’s almost as if time with Toby is a meditation for Martin, to help him process the details, and perhaps a “normal” home life might not allow for this type of discovery.
I love that each of these books are microcosms unto themselves, and each is also connected to each of the other novels in the series. This means that each book is a wonderful adventure unto itself, as well as a beautifully connected adventure, one to the other.
I’m sincerely looking forward to reading the sixth installment, “Cold Dark Lies”, which will be launched on May 11, at the Color & Ink Studio in Hazel Park, Michigan.
Visit Donald Levin’s website HERE.
Highly Recommended: Five Stars
I met Ted at a recent book festival and he asked me to read his book. "It's a mid-grade," he said, "about two kids doing normal kid things in the trailer park where they live." Ted lied.
Yes, this book is indeed about two kids who live in a trailer park. But they don't do normal things. When one introduces the other to the power of books and story... well, that's when the adventures really begin.
This book is wonderment. I've always loved books about books, and this one hits the mark. It does two things that are exemplary; first, it proves to kids who may not yet have been exposed to books just how fascinating a few good pages can be. And second, it gives us two unlikely heroes in the form of these two young boys - brave enough to use their imaginations to be entertained, and to seek revenge - in a way where they rise above, and no one gets hurt.
This story has tremendous compassion and allows boys to be boys, while learning that there's a better way to enjoy life... using brain power rather than just brainless brawn.
I've given this book four and a half stars only because the publisher/printer didn't take into consideration the reader audience and formatted the book with a font size far too small for mid-grade readers.
Congratulations to Ted Lemon, he has created stories for boys! I eagerly await his next installment (I'm told it's a trilogy in progress.)
Highly recommended! Four and a half stars!
I was honored to have access to a preview copy of this wonderful children's book from Indie Author, Jordan J. Scavone. I was so utterly impressed with this book... the story, the characters, the art... it's a complete package of storytelling mastery.
Let's begin with the illustrations, masterfully drawn by C.N. Zing... they're beautiful. Gentle, simple, warm, and inviting. These are pictures of children and teachers we all know and love... easily. The color pallet compliments the story, reminding us that even difficult topics can be illuminatingly tender.
The best part about this book is Jordan's courage in storytelling. In today's society, it is often times difficult to discuss fragile topics within adult circles, let alone with children. Jordan takes the challenge head on and succeeds beyond measure. He presents the real-world reality of children who understand themselves not as others identify them, but as strong, self-aware individuals with sensitivity and celebration. The characters in this book are multi-generational, and multi-faceted. The layers of truth in the story are astoundingly beautiful precisely because there is no spotlight of "differentness". We understand through Addie, Adam, and Annie that being who we are is valuable and lovable, without limitation or expectation, and without need of emotional segregation
I hope this book finds its way onto the shelves of every reader in America, no matter their age or gender identity. It reminds us of what humanity should strive to be, and how we should emulate our children as they quickly learn to accept and understand.
Highly Recommended! Five Stars!
This is a delightful story for readers six years old to grandparents, that teaches children the value of spending real "one-on-one" time with those you love. Even though our modern technology may be sparkly and musical, there still is nothing like the time spent with a girl and her dog. This story is rich in its message and the artwork captivates the attention of young readers in a way that many children's books don't today.
At the back of this book is a wonderful index that lets the read know how the drawings were made, with supplies they can find right in their own kitchen, and the author's website offers a download of coloring pages, which make for a fun afternoon blending art and literature with kitchen chemistry. Surely, this will be a book the little ones in your life will come to cherish.
For me, one of the stand-out details about this book is that it was created by two sisters, one wrote the story, the other created the illustrations. I'm always impressed when the creativity of family comes out to support special family time; and this pair succeeds beyond expectations.
Highly Recommended! Five Stars!
If you've never read Magic Realism, I highly recommend this book as your first investigation into the genre. When asked, I describe this genre as "Twilight Zone" meets the written page. There are twists and turns that you don't see coming, and others that you do see coming, but don't fully understand until the end of the book. The end, by the way, is especially nifty... this particular book has the distinction of ending twice. Not like a "choose your own adventure" tale; but it actually ends, and then it ends again. This plot device makes you want to reread the book a second time, to see how both endings are connected to the main story. What details did you miss... What dialogue was more telling than you realized the first pass through?
Like a decadent chocolate cake, this story has two layers to it, and when you mix it with the delicious frosting of the subplots... it's story desert! The characters are rich and multi-faceted, even in their blandness. The love story that's hidden here is rich, and the psychological creepiness of the reality is enough to make you set it down, walk away, and return only to re-read a paragraph or two to find something new and unexpected.
This is a superb debut for this author, and I look forward to more from him!
Highly Recommended! Five Stars!
This is a fabulous children's book that introduces little ones to idioms and their use and meaning. Well crafted, easy to follow, and completely entertaining, author and artist Clay Boura delves deep into the imagination of children and how they might interpret the strange things that adults say. His art is wonderfully creative and if you ever have the pleasure of going to a reading event with him, be sure to take along your markers... he will teach you how to draw Beamer and his friends!
This is a truly delightful book, as are all the books in the series; The Elephant In The Room, Don't Let The Cat Out Of The Bag, and the Fun With Idioms Coloring Book! Perfect for four to twelve year old readers and their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles!
Highly Recommended! Five Stars!
This is a well-crafted, creepy ghost story. The characters draw you in... you want to be invested in their lives... love them, hate them, have sympathy, and empathy for them... those who are human and those who are not. Although the story begins slowly, it builds in intensity and creepiness as the story goes on, and it doesn't let up until the very last page; and even then, it dangles precariously the hope of a sequel. The setting, a Detroit affluent neighborhood, is expertly portrayed with all its richness, it's multiple layers of people and energies, and the secrets it almost never reveals. Grab your friends, stock up on s'mores, and read this one out loud at your next campfire.
I'm told the second book in this series will be on our shelves soon. I can't wait!
Highly Recommended! Four Stars (only because there are holes that the sequel will fill, and I dislike waiting.)
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