Saturday, April 29, 2017

Kid Konnection: Wonderful You & Giveaway

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a very special picture book about a important subject matter.

Summary: A heartwarming tale about adoption, diversity, and acceptance that’s perfect for Mother’s Day!

A lyrical adoption story that tenderly addresses a baby’s transition from the care of her birth mother to that of her adoptive parents. This lovely poem illuminates the role of an adopted child’s birth mother, respecting her choice to give her child to a loving family. We follow a mother’s journey as she carries her child, searches for deserving parents, and ultimately creates a new family. The story offers a version of the process that is full of warmth, care, and joy.

An adoptive mother herself, author Lauren McLaughlin was glad for an opportunity to memorialize her family’s own fairy tale, and Meilo So’s ethereal illustrations breathe magic into an already wondrous experience. -- Random House

WONDERFUL YOU: AN ADOPTION STORY by Lauren McLaughlin is a beautiful book about adoption and family. This picture book is the author's story about her adoptive daughter, and it truly is special. The illustrations by Meilo So are gorgeous and also add to the beauty of this book.

I thoroughly enjoyed WONDERFUL YOU, and it definitely touched me. The book is written in very lyrical prose (which also happens to rhyme!), and it almost feels like a fairy tale with the beautiful watercolor illustrations. The book definitely pays tribute to adoption and beginning of a new family; however, it also honors the child's birth mother for giving her child up to a loving family.

I think WONDERFUL YOU is great way to explain adoption to children. It shows how magical the entire adoptive process is and how grateful parents are to receive their baby. I love how the book describes the way families are formed and all of the wonderful times families share! I guarantee this book will warm your heart.

Overall, I can't recommend WONDERFUL YOU enough. It's just a gorgeous book with a powerful message. Highly recommended!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this novel.

Giveaway alert: I have a copy of WONDERFUL YOU to give away to one lucky reader. To enter, just fill out the form below before Friday, May 12th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Guest Review: Order to Kill

Summary: In the next thrilling novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling Mitch Rapp series, the anti-terrorism operative heads to Pakistan to confront a mortal threat he may not be prepared for. In fact, this time he might have met his match.

Mitch Rapp is used to winning.

But in this follow-up to #1 New York Times bestselling The Survivor, the CIA operative finds himself chasing false leads from continent to continent in an effort to keep Pakistani nukes from falling into the hands of terrorists. Together with friend and colleague Scott Coleman, Rapp struggles to prevent the loss of these lethal weapons, particularly because Russia is also interested in the nukes, though not for the same reason as Rapp and Coleman.

Soon, it becomes alarmingly clear that the forces in Moscow are bent on fomenting even more chaos and turmoil in the Middle East, and Rapp must go deep into Russian territory, posing as an American ISIS recruit. There, he uncovers a plan much more dangerous and insidious than he ever expected, one that could have far-reaching and catastrophic consequences.

Written with breathless tension and heart-pounding action, Mitch Rapp's latest adventure is as timely and provocative as ever. -- Atria/Emily Bestler

Guess who's back? Booking Pap Pap with another terrific review. This time, it's for the bestselling novel ORDER TO KILL by Vince Flynn. Here are his thoughts:

Mitch Rapp, CIA agent, is a character developed by Vince Flynn in a series that contained 13 installments. After Flynn’s death in 2013, author Kyle Mills completed the 14th installment of the series based on a few pages written by Flynn. In ORDER TO KILL, author Kyle Mills carries on the Mitch Rapp series on his own with this 15th installment.

Russian president, Maxim Krupin, knows his country is in an economic downward spiral as the price of oil declines. He sets in motion a plan to sabotage Saudi Arabian oil fields in order to reduce the supply of oil, raise oil prices and make the world more dependent on Russian crude. Krupin enlists Grisha Azarov, a younger, faster and stronger version of CIA man Mitch Rapp to carry out this plan. What results is an exciting matchup of adversaries in a dramatic and tense action thriller.

Author Kyle Mills puts the novel in a modern setting by introducing a Putin-like character, Russian mafia-like oligarchies, Pakistani nuclear weapons, Iraq and ISIS. The stage for the drama is set when a coup attempt in Pakistan puts the country’s nuclear arsenal at risk to end up in enemy hands. The CIA assigns Rupp the task of preventing that from happening. Rupp infiltrates an ISIS cell only to find that the Russians are working with ISIS to use a stolen Pakistani nuclear bomb to destroy the oil fields. This leads to the inevitable showdown with Azarov.

Other issues that keep the novel moving include Rupp and Azarov love interests, the search for a lost nuclear weapon, Rupp’s effort to escape from ISIS controlled Iraq, Rupp’s interaction with CIA director Irene Kennedy and a wild confrontation between Rupp’s team and Azarov’s terrorists.

ORDER TO KILL encompasses all the requirements of an action thriller with its non-stop action and suspense. Mills utilizes a nice twist at the end to create an unusual ending for a thriller. I have not read any prior Mitch Rapp novels but if they’re anything like ORDER TO KILL, they would make great reading.

Thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his review and thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review: The Official DC Super Hero Joke Book

Summary: How did Aquaman ask out Mera on their first date?
“Water you doing Friday night?”

Why did Superman go surfing?
To fight for truth, justice, and the American wave

What happened when Batman was late to play baseball with Robin?
There was a Wayne delay.

What is Cyborg’s favorite cookie?
Oatmeal chocolate micro-chip

Packed with more than 600 puns, knock-knocks, one-liners, riddles, gags, and tongue twisters, this book is sure to make you smile, laugh, and read jokes aloud to your friends. Illustrated with beloved classic DC comic book art, this first-of-its-kind, kid-friendly treasury is a great gift and a super-fun read. -- Downtown Bookworks

When THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK by Noah Smith, Sarah Parvis, and Michael Robin was first brought to my attention, I knew I had to see it! My son (and his dad and his uncle!) love DC superheroes, and I thought these "punny" jokes would be perfect. I swear my husband and his brother are super heroes themselves when it comes to "dad jokes."

THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK is actually better than I even expected. It's aimed at ages eight and up (although I do know a few adults that will love this book!), and it has more than 600 jokes. And by jokes, I mean all types of jokes -- puns, knock-knocks, one-liners, riddles, tongue twisters, and more. It really is pretty funny and certain to bring a smile to your face!

In addition to the jokes, there are terrific full-color illustrations of the DC super heroes. In fact, the entire book has the look and feel of the comics with the textured backgrounds and speech bubbles. Each two page spread has a few jokes, so I'm pretty sure that your kids can keep you entertained with a few jokes a day for months!

I don't know if I've done a very good in explaining how fun this book is for kids... and even adults. Here's an example of a page spread:
I can't wait to share this book with my son. I have a feeling that he's going to love these jokes, especially the puns. THE OFFICIAL DC SUPER HERO JOKE BOOK is a must-have for DC Comics fans -- kids and adults alike!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review: It Happens All the Time

Summary: From master storyteller Amy Hatvany—whose writing has been hailed as “gripping and emotionally honest” (Stephanie Evanovich, New York Times betselling author)—comes a provocative and compelling novel about two friends whose lives are changed by a drunken kiss.

I want to rewind the clock, take back the night when the world shattered. I want to erase everything that went wrong.

Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers—trusting and depending on each other through some of the darkest periods of their young lives. And while Amber has always felt that their relationship is strictly platonic, Tyler has long harbored the secret desire that they might one day become more than friends.

Returning home for the summer after her college graduation, Amber begins spending more time with Tyler than she has in years. Despite the fact that Amber is engaged to her college sweetheart, a flirtation begins to grow between them. One night, fueled by alcohol and concerns about whether she’s getting married too young, Amber kisses Tyler.

What happens next will change them forever.

In alternating points of view, It Happens All the Time examines the complexity of sexual dynamics between men and women and offers an incisive exploration of gender roles, expectations, and the ever-timely issue of consent. -- Atria

I really respect Amy Hatvany as an author. She always seems to write touching, yet thought-provoking, books; and one thing's for sure, she doesn't shy away from difficult subjects. Case in point is her latest novel IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. This book tackles a very uncomfortable issue -- rape.

IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME tells the story of Amber and Tyler, best friends since before high school. As kids, these two had been through a lot together, including a serious health issue for Amber; and Amber has always felt that she could go to him with anything. However while Tyler considers Amber his best friend, he has also been in love with her for years.

When Amber returns home after her college graduation, newly engaged to an ideal guy, Tyler isn't sure what to make of their friendship. Over the summer, Amber and Tyler begin spending quite a bit time together; and honestly, Amber begins having a few doubts about her engagement... and her feelings toward Tyler. One evening at a party, the two have too much to drink; and Amber ends up kissing Tyler.

Things escalate quickly between Tyler and Amber; however, Amber realizes that she doesn't feel right about being with Tyler... and she tells him to stop. For whatever reason, Tyler doesn't listen and Amber ends up feeling the biggest betrayal she could ever imagine -- her best friend raped her!

IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME is a well-written book, with intriguing characters, that ultimately explores male/female relationships. It also delves into the subject of rape like no other book I've ever read. While I definitely think IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME was a worthwhile read, I can't really say I "enjoyed" it because of the subject matter. At times, it was a difficult read for me.... probably because I'm the mother of a daughter heading to college in a few months.

I admit that I was impressed that Ms. Hatvany decided to write this book. It couldn't have been easy for her, especially considering her past experiences. However, I think she did the subject matter justice. Rape/sexual assault are huge issues that affects a lot of women, and I think IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME demonstrated the devastating effects they can have on a person. And for that reason, I think this book is an extremely important one to read. Amber's story made me look at a lot of things differently, and I would love for men and women to read (and talk about) this book.

One thing I found extremely interesting about how Ms. Hatvany decided to tell this story was to present both Amber and Tyler's viewpoints. The chapters alternated between the two characters, and I admit I was as intrigued by Tyler's version of events as Ambers. (That's not to say that I agreed with him -- just that I found his side of the story to be interesting.) I do think she made Tyler a complex character; and while I didn't exactly feel bad for him, I found him to be realistic... and his reaction to the events were probably pretty realistic too.

As a mom, I think IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME made me think. And it definitely made me realize that not only do I need to have a few discussions with my daughter before she heads to college in a few months, but I also need to (eventually) have a talk with my pre-teen son. Our culture makes it very hard for women to come forward when they are sexually assaulted, and I'm not sure we do a good job of assigning blame. I read MISSOULA by Jon Krakauer and few months ago, and this novel  reiterated many of the same feelings I had while reading that book.

As I mentioned earlier, IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME would make a fabulous pick for book clubs. There are so many important issues that take place in this book. Not only are Amber and Tyler's behaviors after the rape thought-provoking and worthy of discussion, but so are their family and friends' reactions. In addition, I just think there is a lot to discuss about men and women and their relationships in general. There are eleven discussion questions as well as some ideas for ways to enhance your book club meeting. Some of other points for discussion include sexual assault, the culture of rape in our society, blame, guilt, coping mechanisms, mental illness, friendship, and forgiveness.

Overall, I think IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME was a very important read, albeit uncomfortable for me as a mom. I definitely recommend it to book clubs and both men and women who want a thought-provoking read.

I received an e-copy of this novel from Netgalley.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Kid Konnection: The Kelly Twins Books & Giveaway

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you two fun books for early readers.

Summary: Second-graders Arlene and Ilene Kelly are twins — identical twins to be exact — and they love being a pair. They love to dress alike, they have identical pet ferrets, and they do everything together. But being a twin is not always easy. When a set of triplets comes to school, Arlene and Ilene wonder whether triplets are more special than twins. At Halloween, on different streets in identical witch costumes, some neighbors think that the girls are one person trying to get extra candy. And when Arlene gets sick and has to visit the hospital, the twins each find out what it’s like to be one instead of two. But whether they’re together or apart, Arlene and Ilene know they’re lucky to have each other.

Johanna Hurwitz invites readers into the world of the funny, lovable Kelly twins, who are truly two of a kind. -- Candlewick

I rarely pick up early reader books, but I thought the Kelly Twins series by Johanna Hurwitz and illustrated by Tuesday Mourning looked adorable. The first book in the series, THE TWO AND ONLY KELLY TWINS, introduces twin sisters Arlene and Ilene; and youngsters are sure to be entertained by them.

Arlene and Ilene love being twins. Unlike many sisters, they want to do everything together and they even enjoy dressing alike; however, they soon feel a little threatened by their unique twin status when triplets enroll at the school. THE TWO AND ONLY KELLY TWINS definitely demonstrates the fun in their relationship, but it also showcases that separate identities are important... especially when it comes to getting Halloween candy. In addition when Arlene has to go to the hospital for emergency surgery, the two sisters discover that their lives sometimes must follow separate paths.

Summary: Arlene and Ilene love so many things about being identical twins. They like sharing a room, sharing friends, and wearing matching outfits. But they’re in different classes at school, and one twin has a scar that the other one doesn’t. One morning, their friends Monty and Joey point out a new difference that takes the sisters by surprise and gets them thinking: if they are identical twins, why are there differences between them at all? Their tongues must be the same, so why do they like different kinds of ice cream? Why does Arlene wear pink nail polish while Ilene thinks it’s silly? Why is Ilene sleeping soundly when Arlene is awake, wondering how she can be sure that she is Arlene, not Ilene? Revisit the funny, lovable characters from The Two and Only Kelly Twins and take a peek at the wonders — and puzzles — of being an identical twin.

What’s the same about identical twins — and what’s different? Sleepovers, poetry projects, and new haircuts are in play as seven-year-old Arlene and Ilene start coming into their own. -- Candlewick

The new book in the series is DOUBLE OR NOTHING WITH THE TWO AND ONLY KELLY TWINS. Like the first book, this story provides more realistic adventures of Arlene and Ilene; however, this book really starts showing that these two girls aren't one and the same -- they definitely are starting to have their own (and often times different) opinions.

In DOUBLE OR NOTHING, Arlene and Ilene still love being identical twins, but others are starting to recognize their differences. Even though they look exactly alike to most people, they realize that they are their own person. One has a scar and one doesn't, and they like different foods and even different colors. In this second book in the series, the girls really start to come into their own as their self-awareness about what it means to be a twin becomes more apparent.

I thought THE TWO AND ONLY KELLY TWINS and DOUBLE OR NOTHING were cute books for early readers. Both books have short chapters and simple text so even the earliest of readers will have success at independent reading. In addition, there are lots of cute illustrations to break up the words for even the most reluctant of readers.

I think children will definitely like these adorable characters. Arlene and Ilene are both sweet kids and their thoughts and emotions should resonate with most youngsters, especially twins. As a mom, I appreciated that their day-to-day activities are realistic as are their interactions with others.

If you're interested in learning more about the author, check out this video interview with the NYPL.

I think the Two and Only Kelly Twins series are perfect for readers who are ready for their first chapter books. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing review copies of these books.

Giveaway alert: One lucky winner will receive both books featuring the Kelly twins -- THE TWO AND ONLY KELLY TWINS and DOUBLE OR NOTHING WITH THE TWO AND ONLY KELLY TWINS. To enter, just fill out the form below before Friday, May 5th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Friday, April 21, 2017

Guest Review: Most Dangerous Place

Summary: Defending a woman accused of murdering the man who sexually assaulted her, Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck must uncover where the truth lies between innocence, vengeance, and justice in this spellbinding tale of suspense—based on shocking true-life events—from the New York Times bestselling author of Gone Again. According to the FBI, the most dangerous place for a woman between the ages of twenty and thirty is in a relationship with a man. Those statistics become all too personal when Jack Swyteck takes on a new client tied to his past.

It begins at the airport, where Jack is waiting to meet his old high school buddy, Keith Ingraham, a high-powered banker based in Hong Kong, coming to Miami for his young daughter’s surgery. But their long-awaited reunion is abruptly derailed when the police arrest Keith’s wife, Isabelle, in the terminal, accusing her of conspiring to kill the man who raped her in college. Jack quickly agrees to represent Isa, but soon discovers that to see justice done, he must separate truth from lies—an undertaking that proves more complicated than the seasoned attorney expects.

Inspired by an actual case involving a victim of sexual assault sent to prison for the death of her attacker, James Grippando’s twisty thriller brilliantly explores the fine line between victim and perpetrator, innocence and guilt, and cold-blooded revenge and rightful retribution. -- Harper

Booking Dad is getting his groove back. He's home from his various vacations, so he's finally catching up on some reviews. The latest book he's read and enjoyed is MOST DANGEROUS PLACE by James Grippando. Here are his thoughts:

Attorney Jack Swyteck is waiting at the airport to meet an old friend, Keith Ingraham and his wife Isabelle Bornelli who arrive in Miami from Hong Kong for their daughter’s hearing surgery. Instead Jack finds himself defending Isabelle who is arrested at the airport for the murder of the man, Gabriel Sosa, who allegedly raped her 12 years ago.

From that moment on, author James Grippando’s MOST DANGEROUS PLACE, A Jack Swyteck Novel, moves at a rapid pace in sorting out the truth in this legal thriller based on a true story. The story becomes more complicated as Grippando adds more characters and more mystery to the case.

For example, Isabelle’s father Filipe interjects himself into the case for personal reasons and tries to direct the case to benefit him. Isabelle’s ex-boyfriend, David Kaval, who was involved in the murder of Sosa and is serving prison time for another crime, cuts a deal with the DA and agrees to testify against Isabella. Manual Espinosa, a slick attorney, manages to get bail for Isabelle when Jack failed to do so, and works his way onto the defense team. To complicate things further, Isabelle’s husband Keith is charged with accessory to the murder. Additionally, Isabelle seems unwilling or unable to tell the complete story about what happened 12 years ago. Only as Jack discovers new information from his own investigations can he go back to Isabelle and Keith to learn more of the full story.

Although the characters are well developed and add significant depth to the story line, the story is really about sexual assault and the way it impacts the victim, the perpetrator, their families and how the victim handles any recourse.

MOST DANGEROUR PLACE is a fast moving story where the author is continually adding new information and surprises to keep the reader guessing. I recommend MOST DANGEROUS PLACE to anyone who enjoys the legal thriller genre.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Review: A Giving Heart

Summary: A beautiful artist-drawn coloring book with Scripture created to encourage, inspire, and delight Christian mothers.

This beautifully rendered adult coloring book will offer Christian moms a perfect way to enjoy moments of peaceful creativity as they color 46 gorgeously intricate pictures and meditate upon God's word. Filled with lovely botanical scenes, charming designs, and intricate patterns, the images and words of this book will remind mothers of their special place in the hearts of their loved ones and the wonderful purpose God created in them. -- Faith Words

Mother's Day will be here before you know it, and I know the perfect gift idea. It's A GIVING HEART: A COLORING BOOK CELEBRATING MOTHERHOOD by Stephanie Corfee, and it's just a beautiful (and thoughtful) sentiment to share with moms.

There are 46 detailed pictures in A GIVING HEART to color complete with different types of flowers, vines, birds, and designs. There are even pages with adorable little houses and coffee drinks. What makes this coloring book extra special (and therefore perfect for mothers) is that there are inspirational messages throughout. Many of the pages include motivational quotations from the bible that celebrate the wonder of being a Christian mother.

A GIVING HEART is absolutely gorgeous. It really is one of the nicest coloring books I've ever seen -- so nice that I was immediately inspired to start coloring a page. I'm obviously not very good, but here's what I've done so far:
There is no doubt that A GIVING HEART would be an extremely thoughtful gift for mothers this upcoming Mother's Day. The book is a beautiful reminder to moms of how much they are valued and loved. Highly recommended!
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this coloring book.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Review: The Day I Died

Summary: From the award-winning author of Little Pretty Things comes this gripping, unforgettable tale of a mother's desperate search for a lost boy. 

Anna Winger can know people better than they know themselves with only a glance—at their handwriting. Hired out by companies wanting to land trustworthy employees and by the lovelorn hoping to find happiness, Anna likes to keep the real-life mess of other people at arm’s length and on paper. But when she is called to use her expertise on a note left behind at a murder scene in the small town she and her son have recently moved to, the crime gets under Anna’s skin and rips open her narrow life for all to see. To save her son—and herself—once and for all, Anna will face her every fear, her every mistake, and the past she thought she'd rewritten. -- William Morrow

THE DAY I DIED by Lori Rader-Day is classified as a mystery/psychological suspense novel; however, I think I'll most remember it as an in-depth look at the toll an abusive relationship can take on a person. That's not to say that the mystery aspect of this novel wasn't intriguing, because it most certainly was. I'm just saying that the strength of this story came with the character of Anna Winger and her attempts to come to terms with her past.

Anna Winger is the narrator of THE DAY I DIED. She is a handwriting expert who keeps a fairly low profile. Through the years, she and her son Joshua have moved from small town to small town trying to hide from her ex-husband who once abused her. When Anna is asked to help with a case for a missing toddler, the crime hits a little too close to home for her.

Meanwhile, Joshua, now a surly teenage, is beginning to act out. The sheriff, with whom Anna is working with on the case... and feeling quite the attraction to, notifies her about Joshua's involvement in painting graffiti around town. Things between Anna and Joshua escalate, and Joshua eventually goes missing too. Anna's involvement in both cases of the missing kids brings a lot of intense feelings to the forefront and forces her to face many of the demons from her past.

I really enjoyed THE DAY I DIED, and I can definitely see why Ms. Rader-Day is an award winning author. (In fact, I can't wait to read her earlier novels -- I think I even have an autographed one in my basement!) She definitely knows how to tell a story, and her talent in bringing to life characters is nothing to scoff at. After I finished this novel, I was extremely impressed with how real she made the fears and emotions of a battered woman; and I would say that it's definitely the strength of this book.

As far as mysteries go, I did appreciate the dual storylines of the missing kids. Since one was a toddler, I was naturally more interested in how this child just went missing. I kind of had a feeling what happened to Joshua and knew he was responsible for some of his actions. Having said that, I was curious about how both stories were going to be resolved. However, if I have one issue with this book (and it's a slight one), I thought how the two stories came together was just a little too coincidental. Don't get me wrong, the author didn't make the resolutions convenient or an easy way out. It was just a little too coincidental that both kids ended up in the same town.

I do think the author did a good job of bringing to life the character of Anna. She was a terrific narrator and I really grew to appreciate her voice. Notice I said "grew." Anna was difficult to get a grip on early in the novel. She was brusque and almost unlikable. However, I definitely warmed up to her as the story went on... and I even ended up liking her quite a bit once I got to know her. I always did enjoy her social commentary though and found her to be funny in a sarcastic way.

THE DAY I DIED actually did make me think quite a bit... and it was more than the whodunnit aspects of the novel. Anna's personality and psyche were such a result of her past, and it was so interesting to learn about her. I have to commend the author for making Anna's experiences with domestic violence so real and almost terrifying in a quiet way. (I know that doesn't make sense but you have to read the book -- Ms. Rader-Day has major skills with prose!)

Overall, I really enjoyed THE DAY I DIED. It's a terrific literary mystery that will give you something to think about for days after finishing the book. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Kid Konnection: Vampirina at the Beach & Giveaway

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you an adorable picture book in an already popular series.

Summary: When the summer moon is full, a beach trip is an epic way to spend the night.

With her signature poise, Vampirina and her clan gear up for a festive time at the beach. Keeping her ballet lessons in mind, Vampirina demi-pliĆ©s on a surfboard, leaps for a volleyball, and finishes each competition with style, even if she doesn’t always come out on top.

Readers will shout “Brava!” for this third gracefully ghoulish picturebook by duo Anne Marie Pace and LeUyen Pham. -- Disney/Hyperion

I am so excited to share with you a book that I recently received from Disney/Hyperion! It's called VAMPIRINA AT THE BEACH written by Countess Anne Marie Pace and illustrated by Mistress of the Night LeUyen Pham, and it's too darn cute! VAMPIRINA AT THE BEACH is actually the third book in the Vampirina series, so I'm a little late to the game... but better late than never!

VAMPIRINA AT THE BEACH stars none other than Vampirina. She and her friends decide to head to the beach on a summer evening when the moon is full. Once they are there, Vampirina decides to make the most of the trip; and she participates in lots of fun beach activities like surfing, playing in the waves, building sand castles, snorkeling, and more! Her skills as a ballerina shine through, and she has a great time even when she doesn't always succeed.

As a mom, I loved this book. It's very cute but it's also got some solid messages. There are some sound recommendations (including a few safety tips) for readers to heed on their next beach vacation. In addition, Vampirina remembers some good advice from her teacher and incorporates her lessons into her adventures.

I just adore Vampirina -- she makes me smile. She is too cute and that's no doubt a credit to Ms. Pham. I have always loved her illustrations, especially the Freckleface Strawberry series; and she has brought to life an adorable little vampire. Each page is full of cute color illustrations that provide plenty to look at for readers. In addition, the pictures of Vampirina's ghastly friends are hilarious.

It didn't surprise me to learn that Vampirina is coming soon to your living room. There is a little sticker on the cover of the book that says Vampirina is coming to Disney Junior. I sure wish my daughter were younger because I love this character. Highly recommended!

Giveaway alert: OK -- hold onto your hats. This is one great Vampirina giveaway!

Meet Vampirina Ballerina!

One winner receives:

  • Vampirina Ballerina 
  • Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover
  • Vampirina at the Beach
  • plus a branded beach ball and tumbler!
To enter, just fill out the form below before April 28th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!

Official Site + Social Media
Visit the Official Site
Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter and Instagram
Hashtag #VampirinaBallerina

Review copy and prizing provided by Disney-Hyperion.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Guest Review: A Second Winter

Summary: Set in Denmark in the darkest days of World War II, The Second Winter is a cinematic novel that, in its vivid portrayal of a family struggling to survive the German occupation, both captures a savage moment in history and exposes the violence and want inherent in a father’s love.

It is 1941. In occupied Denmark, an uneasy relationship between the Danish government and the Germans allows the country to function under the protection of Hitler’s army, while Danish resistance fighters wage a bloody, covert battle against the Nazis. Fredrik Gregersen, a brutish, tormented caretaker of a small farm in Jutland laboring to keep his son and daughter fed, profits from helping Jewish fugitives cross the border into Sweden. Meanwhile, in Copenhagen, Polina, a young refugee from Krakow, finds herself impressed into prostitution by Germans and Danes alike. When Fredrik steals a precious necklace from a helpless family of Jews, his own family’s fate becomes intertwined with Polina’s, triggering a ripple effect that will take decades and the fall of the Berlin Wall to culminate. -- Other Press

I picked up a copy of THE SECOND WINTER by Craig Larsen at last year's SIBA. While the book did appeal to me, I had a feeling that my dad might enjoy it (and get to reading it before I could!) Here are his thoughts:

THE SECOND WINTER by Craig Larsen is a story about how the lives of everyday people are impacted by war. The book opens in 1969 when Angela Schmidt, a concert pianist with the Munich symphony visits her aunt in East Berlin. Her aunt gives her a package from her late father, Hermann, who was a photographer with the German army. Angela was hopeful the package would tell her something about her father who never returned home from the war. She later opens the package to find a series of photographs and a sapphire necklace.

The story then flashes back to 1938 where a young Polish-Jewish girl, Polina, is trying to live a normal life in occupied Poland. Her life changes dramatically in 1940 when she witnesses her family being arrested by the by the Nazis. Polina moves in with an aunt and uncle and suffers terrible abuse. She runs away and is picked up by a group of German soldiers who use her for sex. By 1941 Polina is a teenage prostitute in Nazi occupied Copenhagen. Hermann Schmidt, a good family man before the war, is obsessed with Polina and purchases her from her pimp and sets her up in an apartment.

The reader is then introduced to Fredrik Gregerson. Fredrik is the black sheep of a respected Danish family who ekes out a living on a farm in rural Denmark. Fredrik is a cruel brutal man and the sole parent of his children, Oskar and Amalia. As a means of earning extra cash he works to smuggle Jews out of Denmark to escape the war. He shows no sympathy toward the Jews and on one such trip Fredrik steals a suitcase full of jewels from a Jewish family. When the police come to the farm to investigate Fredrik’s role in a local murder, he fears they will discover the jewels and sends Oskar off to Copenhagen to sell them. Oskar sells most of the jewels to Hermann Schmidt and leaves a sapphire necklace as “payment” for Polina who he takes back to the farm. Polina is ambivalent about Oskar’s apparent love buts holds an unusual attraction toward Fredrik. This situation cannot end well and Oskar takes Polina and leaves the farm.

Using World War II as a backdrop, THE SECOND WINTER is a story about how far people will go to survive a crisis. The author has done a very good job of describing the horrors of war through the behavior of the characters. Although Polina is the character that the reader follows from the very beginning of the book, the story is not about her but about how the war changed the character of the men who meet her.

THE SECOND WINTER tells a suspenseful story that is as depressing as war itself. It is a sad story with an unhappy ending. I would not be surprised to someday see this story made into a movie.

I should probably share that my father wasn't sure that his review of THE SECOND WINTER "gives it justice" because it's a "very deep book." As a result, I'm guessing that this novel would make a terrific book club discussion. I was thrilled to find a link to ten discussion questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include war, heroes, morality, and fatherhood.

Thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his review.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: Never Let You Go

Summary: Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.

Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

With Never Let You Go, Chevy Stevens delivers a chilling, twisting thriller that crackles with suspense as it explores the darkest heart of love and obsession. -- St. Martin's Press

I am sad to say that I wasn't an early adopter of Chevy Stevens' novels; however, once I read my first one, I was a fan. In fact, I have promised myself that I'll read anything and everything she writes -- she's that good. Her latest novel NEVER LET YOU GO didn't disappoint. It's a tightly woven, fast-paced novel that I found quite disturbing (in a good way!)

NEVER LET YOU GO tells the story of Lindsey Nash, a single mother who left her abusive husband Andrew in the middle of the night around eleven years ago. She and her daughter Sophie started a new life in a new town, while her husband went to jail for a killing a woman while driving under the influence. Sophie barely remembers her father, but now that she's a teenager, she's definitely curious about him.

Lindsey thinks she has done a pretty good job with starting over after leaving her husband. She owns her own cleaning business, which is pretty successful; and she's done a good job in bringing up her daughter. However, Andrew has been released from prison... and she kind of thinks someone might be watching her. Lindsey is pretty uncomfortable and takes a few precautions, but things really escalate when she finds out the Sophia has had contact with her father. She's even met with him a few times!

Lindsey is certain that her ex-husband is behind all of the strange things that are happening to her; however, Sophie isn't quite sure what to believe. She trusts her mom and her fears, but she also knows that her father's stories are pretty convincing and he swears he's a changed man.

In addition to her concerns about Andrew, Lindsey is also worried about her daughter. Not only is she sneaking around to meet with Andrew, she's also in a new relationship with a teen boy. Moms worry enough as it is when their daughter are dating; however, Lindsey is worried that he seems to share some traits with her ex-husband.

Tensions rise in NEVER LET YOU GO as stranger and stranger things begin to happen to Lindsey. Lindsey is certain her ex is behind these incidents; however, readers (and eventually Lindsey) will begin to question who is responsible for these acts.

I enjoyed NEVER LET YOU GO quite a bit, and I would definitely classify it as a page-turner. I loved how Ms. Stevens told this story -- going back and forth between the present and the past as well as using both Lindsey and Sophie as narrator. In addition, the tension of this novel just kept building page after page... and it ended with a pretty shocking conclusion.

I say pretty shocking because I am proud to say that I figured out where this novel was going about two thirds of the way through. I wasn't a hundred percent sure and didn't figure out all of the details, but I had a sneaking suspicion about who was behind the very strange actions. What I will say is that I absolutely loved how everything was eventually revealed. It really was a well-constructed and well-told story.

One of the things I appreciated about NEVER LET YOU GO were the characters. I thought both Lindsey and Sophie were terrific... and very realistic characters. Ms. Stevens did a great job in capturing the essence of each character and her voice in the alternating chapters, and I definitely felt an affinity towards both of them. I totally "got" Lindsey's fear and suspicion about Andrew, and I also understood Sophie's desire to get to know her dad.

Another aspect of this novel that I really enjoyed was how it toyed with me... and that does include the surprise ending. I loved following both Lindsey and Sophie's thought processes, but it was the way that the author captured the feelings of terror in Lindsey that was so well done. I honestly felt Lindsey's pain and was so uncomfortable for her. This might sound kind of strange, but this book actually scared me a bit!

Overall, I found NEVER LET YOU GO to by typical Chevy Stevens. It was a well-written thriller that definitely kept me on the edge of my seat! Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Kid Konnection: Soldier Song

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a non-fiction picture book about the Civil War.

Summary: Amid the fearsome battles of the Civil War, both Union and Confederate soldiers were urged onward by song.

There were songs to wake them up and songs to call them to bed,
Songs to ready them for battle and to signal their retreat,
Songs to tell them that their side was right, and the other wrong . . .

And there was one song that reminded them all of what they hoped to return to after the war.

Defeated in the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, the Union soldiers retreated across the river. There, a new battle emerged as both armies volleyed competing songs back and forth. With the Christmas season upon them, however, Federals and Confederates longed for the same thing. As the notes of “Home, Sweet Home” rose up from both sides, they found common ground for one night.

Interwoven with soldiers’ letters and journal entries, this is a true story of duty and heartbreak, of loyalty and enemies, and of the uniting power of music. Debbie Levy’s moving text and Gilbert Ford’s vibrant, layered illustrations come together to create an unforgettable tale of American history. -- Disney/Hyperion

I have reviewed a lot of fantastic picture books through they years, but I'm always excited when I stumble upon one that is a little different. That is definitely the case with SOLDIER SONG: A TRUE STORY OF THE CIVIL WAR by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Gilbert Ford. This picture book isn't your typical picture book. First of all, it's non-fiction; and secondly, it's 80 pages and aimed at the 9 - 12 age range.

SOLIDER SONG is book about the Civil War, admittedly a horrible time in our country's history. However, this picture book shares a different light on the war by featuring the important role that music played during the time period. In fact, I would say that this book is not only educational but also expresses a feeling of hope.

The Civil War has always been one of my favorite history subjects. As a kid, I devoured stories about the Civil War -- remember ACROSS FIVE APRILS? And as an adult, I'm still drawn to books that take place around this time period. And that was initially the appeal of SOLDIER SONG. However as I read this book, I was excited to learn that it highlights a little known story that took place during the siege of Fredericksburg.

During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate troops sang many songs. Some were to wake them up or call them to bed, some were used to signify battle or retreat, and some were moral boosters. SOLDIER SONG tells the story of when the troops shared their songs with each other... and realized that they had more in common in they first thought. The especially bonded over one song -- Home, Sweet Home.

I absolutely treasured SOLDIER SONG. For starters, it's a beautiful book with a beautiful message. However, I was truly blown away by how Ms. Levy told this story. The book provides lots of historical information about the war, and it also highlights real soldiers' letters, journal entries, and song lyrics to bring the time period to life for young readers. There are also pages at the back of the book with additional details about the Battle of Fredericksburg, famous people at the battle, and the history of Home, Sweet Home.

In addition to the wonderful story, the illustrations by Mr. Ford are absolutely stunning. You might recognize his work from THREE TIMES LUCKY and MR. LIMONCELLO'S LIBRARY; however, he's really outdone himself with SOLDIER SONG. This illustrations are absolutely beautiful and the perfect complement to the story.

I believe SOLDIER SONG should be part of every classroom library. There's an excellent educator's guide which will help teachers and librarians share this story with readers. Not only does this guide include some discussion questions, but it also shares information about the life of a soldier and some primary sources. The activities align with Common Core State standards for English Language Arts for grades 4 and 5.

I honestly can't recommend SOLDIER SONG enough. It's a truly incredible book.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review: The Fall of Lisa Bellow

Summary: The breakout novel from the critically acclaimed author of the short story collections Who I Was Supposed to Be and Why They Run the Way They Do—when a middle school girl is abducted in broad daylight, a fellow student and witness to the crime copes with the tragedy in an unforgettable way.

What happens to the girl left behind?

A masked man with a gun enters a sandwich shop in broad daylight, and Meredith Oliver suddenly finds herself ordered to the filthy floor, where she cowers face to face with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in her eighth grade class. The minutes tick inexorably by, and Meredith lurches between comforting the sobbing Lisa and imagining her own impending death. Then the man orders Lisa Bellow to stand and come with him, leaving Meredith the girl left behind.

After Lisa’s abduction, Meredith spends most days in her room. As the community stages vigils and searches, Claire, Meredith’s mother, is torn between relief that her daughter is alive, and helplessness over her inability to protect or even comfort her child. Her daughter is here, but not.

Like Everything I Never Told You and Room, The Fall of Lisa Bellow is edgy and original, a hair-raising exploration of the ripple effects of an unthinkable crime. It is a dark, beautifully rendered, and gripping novel about coping, about coming-of-age, and about forgiveness. It is also a beautiful illustration of how one family, broken by tragedy, finds healing. -- Simon & Schuster

I don't know why I was thinking that THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW by Susan Perabo was a thriller (maybe the cover?); and while it did have a bit of a mystery aspect to the story, this novel ended up being a beautiful example of literary fiction. Quite honestly, I was extremely impressed with Ms. Perabo's writing and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW tells the story of the fallout after an armed robbery at a sandwich store. Meredith Oliver is a 13 year old girl who randomly decides to stop at a neighborhood deli after school one day. When she gets there, she finds that Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in the school (and, truth be told, a bit of a mean girl) is also there. Much to her shock, a masked man enters the shop and demands for her and Lisa to drop to the floor. He then grabs Lisa and takes off in a car while leaving Meredith behind.

Meredith is, of course, deeply affected by the crime. While physically she is fine, her mental state is a bit of a mess; and she winds up spending most of her time in her room... not wanting to discuss what happened. Her parents, Mark and Claire, are relieved that their daughter is still with them; however, they struggle with trying to help their daughter heal. Meanwhile, Meredith is trying to come to terms with her own version of survivor's guilt; and she escapes to an imaginary world to help her cope.

THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW really does a wonderful job of delving into the dynamics of a family who is facing a tragedy, so it's no surprise that I adored this book. (I do love me a good story about a dysfunctional family!) I absolutely loved the characters in this novel as well as how fully developed they were. Truly, THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW is a very special and thought-provoking book.

First and foremost, I found the character of Meredith to be extremely well-written. I love the basis for this novel -- what happens to the girl who's left behind, and I thought Ms. Perabo did a stellar job in bringing Meredith's character to life. I found her to be extremely realistic and her mechanisms for coping with the tragedy almost haunted me with their desperation.

I also really liked Meredith's brother and her father Mark. As is the case in any family, when something happens to one person, it affects everyone. I found the way the author portrayed these two men to be so true, and it was very interesting to see how each one of them dealt with Meredith.

However, it was the character of Claire that really resonated with me. As a mother to two children, I found her to be so genuine... even (and maybe especially) in her weaknesses as a wife and mother. Claire only wanted what was best for Meredith, but she quickly realized that she couldn't "reach" her. Needless to say, my heart broke for both of them. I also really appreciated how the author provided so much of a backstory for Claire. You see, Meredith's trauma wasn't the first one that this family experienced. Meredith's older brother was a promising baseball star who had suffered a devastating eye injury, so Claire already had some experience in dealing with a "broken" child. I loved how she wanted to not only help them but also protect them.

You are probably reading this review and thinking that THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW is one major downer... but you'd be wrong. Somehow, Ms. Perabo managed to infuse lighter moments, and even some truly funny ones, into the story. Furthermore, she demonstrated hope and resilience for each of the characters.

THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW would make an outstanding book club selection. Seriously, you need to consider this book! There is a reading guide available with fifteen questions as well as some recommendations for enhancing your book club meeting; and many of the questions reference some of the more literary aspects of the story. Some of the themes you might want to explore include parent/child relationships, guilt, coping mechanisms, change, forgiveness, and healing.

All in all, I loved THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW. Highly recommended to fans of literary fiction!

I received a copy of this novel at last year's SIBA.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Review: The Cutaway

Summary: The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Harkening to dark thrillers such as Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Big Little Lies, The Cutaway is a striking debut that will haunt you long after you reach the last page. -- Atria 37 Ink

I love me a good psychological thriller and THE CUTAWAY by Christina Kovac sure fit the bill. THE CUTAWAY has already received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and I can certainly see why. This debut novel by a former newsroom manager is a fast-paced, tightly-woven story that definitely kept me guessing.

THE CUTAWAY tells the story of Virginia Knightly, a television producer for the number one station in Washington, DC. When she receives a missing person notice for Evelyn Carney, a beautiful young lawyer, she becomes caught up in the events surrounding her disappearance. She has a feeling that there is more to this story than the typical missing person case, and she suspects that those involved might be part of DC's powerful and elite.

Virginia basically takes on this case without the support of her television station, especially the new manager who starts firing her staff and even takes over her job. Her investigation also forces her to cross paths with a DC detective... who also happened to be her one-time ex. In the process of uncovering the truth behind Evelyn's murder, Virginia crosses paths with many of DC's elite including powerful lawyers and even an assistant U.S. attorney (who just happens to be a suspect!)

Nothing is what is seems for Virginia and she quickly realizes that her sources may not be trustful. She discovers that DC business, news, and politics can be nasty -- no real surprise there. However, as she gets closer to the truth, she realizes that her own life might now be at stake!

THE CUTAWAY is definitely an intriguing thriller, especially for fans of all things DC. Not only does the book have a suspenseful mystery surrounding the disappearance of a woman, but it also provides an inside look into DC news, business, and politics. I am a huge news junkie so I found the inner workings of the news station especially interesting. However, I will also gladly state that the mystery was a darn good one.

As is the case with any psychological thriller I read, I love the possibility for twists and turns... and THE CUTAWAY definitely had those. Virginia Knightly was a terrific narrator and I sure hope to see more of her in future books (hint... hint!) I loved her intelligence and courage, and I also appreciated that the author created an interesting (and complicated) back story for her. In addition, I admired her sense of loyalty to her staff as well as her determination to get to the bottom of who was responsible for murdering Evelyn.

If I had one small issue with THE CUTAWAY, it was that it took me a bit to get used to the author's writing style... or maybe I should say Virginia's voice. Now it's entirely possible that I was distracted while reading this book because that seems to be the case with my life right now; however, I found myself re-reading some passages a few times because I wasn't exactly sure what Virginia was saying. Usually these snippets had to do with Virginia's personal thoughts about the station or news coverage, so it's possible that that world was entirely new to me and I had to just get used to her style.

I was really happy to find a reading guide on-line for THE CUTAWAY. It actually would make for a fun book club discussion. Some of the themes you might want to discuss include DC as the setting for the story, the similarities between Virginia and Evelyn, parent/child relationship, love, journalistic ethics, career choices, and the concept of justice.

Overall, I think THE CUTAWAY is a great start to a promising career for Ms. Kovac. Recommended for fans of psychological suspense and news junkies.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Kid Konnection: Fun & Educational Books

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you two books that are both fun and educational!

Summary: Get them talking this Easter with this educational and fun book for their basket that explores essential words with colorful pictures.

Cleverly designed in a large trim size to inform and entertain, this board book is the start of your baby's learning adventure and introduces them to primary concepts like colors, animals, food, and so much more.

Crystal-clear photos show the wonder of the real world, from baby's body to baby's food, while delightful illustrations foster learning, from penguins playing in the snow to a mouse climbing a ladder. Clear word labels encourage pointing, naming, and talking, aiding in early identification and language skills.

With its sturdy board book format and 14 themed pages covering all the familiar things little ones are interested in, 100 First Words is the perfect first book for parents and babies to share. -- DK Publishing

I absolutely loved DK books! They always seem to make learning fun and 100 FIRST WORDS is no exception. 100 FIRST WORDS is an oversized picture book that teaches little ones about colors, their body, food, animals, and more. Each page spread features two different concepts with adorable illustrations and photographs. There are only a few words per page so it's ideal for the youngest of readers.
As you can see from the page spread pictured above, this book is positively adorable... and educational. 100 FIRST WORDS is exactly the type of book that both of my kids adored. It has lots of fun images to explore, and parents will appreciate the sturdy board pages. 100 FIRST WORDS is definitely durable, and that's important because I have a feeling that kiddos will want to look at this book over and over again.

100 FIRST WORDS is priced below $10 and would make a great addition to Easter baskets! Highly recommended!

Summary: Discover the world's smallest adventures with this beautifully illustrated journey around the world from the award-winning team behind Atlas of Adventures.

Explore seven continent maps and learn about the best small-scale adventures on Earth – whether you’ re taking a ride on the world's largest miniature railway, sending a letter with the world's smallest post office or cruising coral reefs with the smallest seahorse, this book brings together best miniature adventures from the four corners of the globe. -- Wide Eyed Editions

You might remember a few months ago that I reviewed a very cool (and very big) book called ATLAS OF ANIMAL ADVENTURES. Well, now I'm going to share with you a companion book called ATLAS OF MINIATURE ADVENTURES: A POCKET-SIZED COLLECTION OF SMALL-SCALE WONDERS by Lucy Letherland and written by Emily Hawkins. This small 64 page book takes readers around the world and shows them some of the smallest adventures.

ATLAS OF MINIATURE ADVENTURES is so cute because of its compact size, but it also has loads of interesting information... about "mini marvels." While there are many books that celebrate the big adventures in life, this book showcases some of life's "little wonders" including tiny animals to miniature model villages, and even small toys.

ATLAS OF MINIATURE ADVENTURES takes readers on a tour of the world by visiting different continents and different countries. For example while in Africa, readers learn about the world's smallest primate; and while in North America, kids can discover one of the world's largest model railways which resides in Flemington, New Jersey.

I think ATLAS OF MINIATURE ADVENTURES has a little something for everyone (see how I did that?) The book explores topics from a variety of fields including animals, buildings, and tourist spots. There is even an adorable dollhouse featured that has teeny tiny silver cutlery, works of art, and diamond-encrusted chandeliers.

ATLAS OF MINIATURE ADVENTURES is a very cute book that's really unlike any other children's  book I've seen. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publishers for providing a review copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!