Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: The Bot That Scott Built by Kim Norman

by Kim Norman
Illustrated by Agnese Baruzzi
Sterling Children's Books
Picture Book 
ages 3 to 7
32 pages

When Scott builds a bot, a bippity-bot, sparks fly . . . and his entire classroom goes wild. Before long, fiery ants and carnivorous plants, a freaky frog, a big-bellied boa, and an exploding "volcano" have wreaked total havoc. Can Scott's bot, which started it all, manage the mess? Cheers for the handy hero! A cumulative story with fun that grows and grows and GROWS.

This funny and tongue-twisting story is a great read-aloud book for the whole family.


Full of gizmos, gadgetry and whimsical rhyme, this science fair adventure places inventions in a whole new light. . .and little constructors will love it.

The book starts before the story really even gets underway. Hammers, nuts, bolts, propellers and many other parts and do-dads, which bring small inventor's imaginations into swing, decorate the inside of both covers. When the title page appears, Scott is already drilling and building, caught up in his own construction world. And the scene is set.

It's the day of the science fair, and the kids have set up experiments through-out the room, things young scientists might even recognize. On center stage, taking his turn in the spotlight, is Scott and his bippity bot--and saying that already brings a smile to the face. A short explanation through rhyme soon turns into disaster. And it mounts and mounts into humorous chaos pure. These rhymes never skip a beat and dance around wonderful word combinations like 'the freaky frog from the bathtub bog...'. By the end, it's a hilarious mouthful.

It's easy for young listeners to understand, and fun to follow the silly phrases, while the illustrations offer the perfect backdrop. They are colorful, hold lovely details, which call for attention again and again, and incorporate the emotions and situations well enough that just flipping through the pages will tell a story all on its own. 

Young listeners and readers discover science from a whole new angle, which is sure to inspire the creator in them with all of its fun. And if nothing else, it's simply a joy to read, and not just for the kids. 

All about. . .

Kim Norman is  the author of several books for young readers, including This Old Van; Ten on the Sled; If It’s Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws!; Puddle Pug; and Crocodaddy (all Sterling). Kim lives in Smithfield, VA and is available for interview. Visit her at and follower her on twitter at @KimNormanAuthor.

Agnese Baruzzi works as a book illustrator and graphic designer and has illustrated several picture books for publishers in Italy, the UK, Japan, Portugal, the US, and South Korea. Agnese lives and works in a little wooden cottage nestled in the hills near Bologna, Italy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: Me, Jill Robinson! The Christmas Pantomime by Anne Digby

Jill Robinson Series, Book Three
by Anne Digby
Strawhat Publishing
Upper Middle Grade/Lower YA Contemporary
131 pages

We're back in Haven after solving that seaside mystery - but there's no chance of a quiet life for us Robinsons, nor for my best friend Lindy. When a local gang leader starts making trouble at the Youth Club, it could mean curtains for our Christmas show - not to mention my dreams of stardom...

As told to ANNE DIGBY, bestselling author of the Trebizon series and the Further Adventures of Enid Blyton's Naughtiest Girl.


I have already read other books in the Jill Robinson series and was eager to dig into this one.

Jill and her friends at the youth group are getting ready to put on a pantomime, one that has the entire town eager to see the show. Meanwhile, a new gang of local teens has been causing trouble. When they make an appearance at the youth group meeting, things get heated.

Jill is an average, every day teenage girl who comes from a wonderful, wholesome family. In other words, this is a character with absolutely no extra baggage, and that alone is refreshing. She's on her toes, uses her head, and usually makes pretty thought out decisions. The support of family and friends plays a big role, as do topics such as trust. All characters, including Jill, are easy to sympathize with and cheer for.

The writing and story telling, in general, has a more traditional, clean, healthy feel than many modern YA books even though topics such as vandalism, teenage heart break and gang problems are touched upon.  This is a pure contemporary tale which hits upon true to life situations and real problems which teens might face, giving a great basis to take and relate to real life. But it's not the messages which stand on center stage. The story grabs, pulls into a understandably difficult situation, and has the reader wondering how things will work out. There's never a boring moment as the troubles mount, and Jill no longer is sure how to help those involved or even if she can. The ending leaves one caring for the characters and thinking about them after the book is closed.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: The Silver Chains by L.J. Clarkson

Mastermind Academy, Book 2
by L.J. Clarkson
Illustrated by Denis Martynets
Middle Grade Fantasy
238 pages

Isabelle’s first year at Mastermind Academy starts with a bang, broken bones and her magic going wild. What a way to make new friends! To top it off, her enemies threaten to kill her family if she doesn’t help free them from prison. Left with only one option, Isabelle sets out to reign in her magic, secure a place in the advanced class and learn to fly a Mesura. But trouble is brewing and things are taking a very different turn.

Boldrick Cavendar hides a murky past. His actions are why Agartha is under threat from Terran invasion, why they stole and duplicate Agarthan technology for military purposes. A chance at redemption surfaces to stop these scoundrels declaring war on his home. But for some reason he cannot put his claws on, someone keeps stopping him at every turn, and that someone might be Lady Isabelle.


Packed full of fantasy, this book dives off into adventure with cute characters and a quick plot.

First, I didn't read book one in the series, which was a mistake on my part. Book two seems to start off where the first one left off. Although it wasn't too hard to get the general jest of things and dive into the adventure, there were big holes in the characters and background which I really should have filled in first. In other words, this is not recommended as a stand alone and should be read as a series.

Excitement finds Isabelle even before she hits the Mastermind Academy with a thrilling air-surf, which not only shows off some of her talents but introduces the lovely Boldrick (a cat who's not just that). Once at school, Isabelle is thrilled to learn more about her magic, but soon finds herself in a sticky situation. Boldrick isn't any better off as both land in a messes that might be over their heads.

There's a lot of good stuff packed in these pages, and the main characters, Isabelle and Boldrick, count to that group. Their reactions and personalities are simply wonderful, and although they lack a bit of depth, it's still fun to follow and cheer for them as they fight their way through. Fantasy thrives in this story and the pacing doesn't fall back into boredom even once. The writing could be a bit smoother, but in general, it's an easy world to fall into. 

Kids who love magic, fun and adventure are sure to enjoy this. 

All about. . .
LJ Clarkson!!!

LJ ‘fibber’ Clarkson tells everyone she gave up her Environmental Engineering career to write full time. But that's not entirely true. Ten percent of the time she sleeps in. Playing spider solitaire consumes 5% (bad, bad habit). Running Indicated-a promotional and support site for authors-steals another 18.75%. In her remaining waking hours, she writes, laughs at her own jokes, reads and falls asleep whenever her boyfriend reels off geeky computer lingo (zzzzz). If she were a Mastermind, she’d uninvent early mornings, grammar, broccoli, cleaning and her dog’s fussy eating habits.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cover Reveal and Sale: The Neverland Wars Series by Audrey Greathouse

The Neverland Wars Sale

In celebration of the cover reveal for the second book in THE NEVERLAND WARS SERIES, the first book will be on sale for 5 days only! This sale is being ran during an exciting BookBub promotion that will showcase THE NEVERLAND WARS at an all-time low price of $.99 for the digital book! This title is typically $5.99. We highly recommend you take advantage of this $5 reduction in price by purchasing THE NEVERLAND WARS between 8/21/16-8/25/16 as the book will go back up when the sale is over.


We'd love to hear your thoughts on this new cover in THE NEVERLAND WARS SERIES. Please leave us a comment or two. Then head on over to our Clean Teen Publishing website to read an exclusive excerpt from THE PIPER'S PRICE.
Ebook - Pipers Price

THE PIPER'S PRICE (February 21, 2017)

Peter is plotting his retaliation against the latest bombing. Neverland needs an army, and Peter Pan is certain children will join him once they know what is at stake. The lost boys and girls are planning an invasion in suburbia to recruit, but in order to deliver their message, they will need the help of an old and dangerous associate—the infamous Pied Piper.
Hunting him down will require a spy in in the real world, and Gwen soon finds herself in charge of locating the Piper and cutting an uncertain deal with him. She isn’t sure if Peter trusts her that much, or if he’s just trying to keep her away from him in Neverland. Are they friends, or just allies? But Peter might not even matter now that she’s nearly home and meeting with Jay again.
The Piper isn’t the only one hiding from the adults’ war on magic though, and when Gwen goes back to reality, she’ll have to confront one of Peter’s oldest friends… and one of his earliest enemies.


Audrey Profile Pic
Audrey Greathouse is a lost child in a perpetual and footloose quest for her own post-adolescent Neverland. Originally from Seattle, she earned her English B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University's online program while backpacking around the west coast and pretending to be a student at Stanford. A pianist, circus artist, fire-eater, street mime, swing dancer, and novelist, Audrey wears many hats wherever she is. She has grand hopes for the future which include publishing more books and owning a crockpot. You can find her at


Twitter Handle: @missaudreyjoy

Review: It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

by Christina June
YA Romance
272 pages

MAY 2017!!!

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

A modern play on the Cinderella story arc, Christina June’s IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE shows us that sometimes going after what you want means breaking the rules.


This is a sweet coming of age story with characters you want to hug and never let go of again.

Tatum is a sixteen-year-old girl, who thanks to her strong sense of loyalty and desire to watch over her friends, gets herself wrapped up in a criminally sticky situation. Now, she has to pay the consequences no matter how unfair they might seem. Life as she knew it ends when her stepmother places her under summer long house arrest. 

According to the blurb, this is a Cinderella retelling of sorts, and although there are perhaps a couple of similarities between the two, they are far and few between. In other words, if it really can be considered a play on the fairy tale, it is a very light one.

That said, the book is wonderfully sweet and well done. Tatum is a normal teenager in every way and could be the girl next door. Her problems are very realistic--friends, parents, being misunderstood. It's something readers of the intended audience will relate to without any problem. Nothing goes smoothly in Tatum's life, but then she does have a slightly rebellious side. Her decisions aren't always the best ones, but coming of age and learning to prove yourself isn't an easy process.

The story line is one full of feelings and emotions, nothing over the top but just enough to grab and not let go. It's all familiar, which makes it that much more engaging. This isn't a 'packed full of adventure' kind of book, but the pace still keeps up nicely, and it's easy to get lost in the pages. There's a perfect amount of descriptions, bringing the world and characters to life. It's not dull. . .and I'm saying that as an action fan who steers clear of heart-filled novels. . .but simply grabs with a wonderfully, warming story.

There's a little romance, a light sort of thing which glides as gently as snowflakes. There's tons of friendship--new ones, old ones and ones which are in need of repair. There's family, forgiveness, learning to give, understanding and tons of other messages all rolled into a lovely, woven flow. It's the type of book to be read and thought of long after the last page is done.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sneak Peek: Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith with Giveaway

Children of Icarus
 by Caighlan Smith
  Switch Press
  August 1, 2016
 Young Adult Fantasy
 312 pages

It's Clara who's desperate to enter the labyrinth and its Clara who's bright, strong, and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It's no surprise when she's chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her shadow. Together they enter. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now the girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn with who to trust means a certain dead end.

History and Inspiration Behind the Book

Since I was a wee kidlit, I’ve loved Greek Mythology. That love has only grown and nowadays heavily influences my writing, some more than others. Children of Icarus, my new novel, is counted among the “some”. The inspiration for this book was, of course, drawn from the myth of Icarus—the boy who flew into the sun. But a lot of the setting of the book comes from the myths about Icarus’ father, Daedalus, who built the labyrinth. Children of Icarus takes place within a labyrinth, which the main character has been chosen to enter. She was promised paradise should she find her way out of the labyrinth, but paradise seems more unlikely than ever as she’s forced to confront one horror after another. Many of said horrors have been inspired by Greek mythology, mainly the adorable monsters that populate every great hero’s tale.

The thing is, I had the idea for Children of Icarus back in junior high. The plot was different in every way back then, aside from the setting of the labyrinth. Even the protagonist was an older, altered version of the way she is now. I actually started writing the story back then, but barely got a page in before giving up and moving on to something else. Fast-forward many a year, and I’m studying Greek mythology for my Classics minor at university. It reminds me of that old idea I had, so I revisit it and decide to tell the story of how my protagonist ended up in the labyrinth. I started writing from there, and everything about the story changed. For the better. And now we have a book. Ta-da!


I count every ping in the lift on the way up. Fifteen. Sixteen. I don’t look at the number Clara pressed. I don’t listen to her or the others now as they chatter about the parade. I just keep counting and praying to Icarus it’s not twenty-three, not the balcony floor.


The lift doors open with a final ping. The others spill out into the hall. I linger, wondering if I could get away with waiting in the lift. Then Clara comes back for me. She grins and, despite her split lip, it’s so pretty. I follow her after the others.

At the end of the hall the door is already propped open, spilling sunlight and a cool breeze inside. Tanner and two of the other boys from my class are already outside, peering off the balcony to the street below.

“Parade started yet?” Clara calls.

Tanner shakes his head. When he looks at Clara, his mouth twists. “What in Alyssia happened to you? Try and rob the bakery again?”

Clara doesn’t waste her breath on him. She goes right to the balcony, shoving herself up on the stone ledge. A few of the other girls shriek at her and one of the guys tells her to get down, but Tanner and a few of the others laugh. I wish they wouldn’t. It encourages her.

About the Author

Caighlan Smith was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador on June 1st, 1994. She grew up in the scenic coastal community of St. Philip’s, overlooking the dramatic north-west Atlantic. As a kid, she loved to play in the woods around her house, loved to tell stories and believed in magic.

Caighlan, who is studying English, Classics and Creative Writing at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, is a supporter of universal girl-child education and has been involved with the Teachers Action for Girls campaign in Uganda.

Her great loves are reading, gaming and, of course, writing. The “C” in her name is hard, the “gh” is silent.

Blog Tour Giveaway

Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize, winner's choice Giveaway ends: August 24, 11:59 pm, 2016
Open to: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Caighlan Smith and is hosted and managed by Stacie from BeachBoundBooks. If you have any additional questions feel free to send an email to

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, August 19, 2016

Midnight Sky by Amy Braun with Giveaway

Dark Sky, Book Two
by Amy Braun
Published on August 2nd, 2016
YA Dystopian, Fantasy

There are secrets, there are betrayals, and there are sacrifices…
The Behemoth has been destroyed, and the bloodthirsty Hellions seem to have left Westraven. But Claire Abernathy’s mind is not at ease. A terrible disease plagues her sister, appearing to have been brought on the Vesper, the leader of the Hellions beyond the tear between worlds– the Breach.
To save Abby and stop the Hellions for good, Claire must find the machine her parents built before the attacks, and fix it before the monsters return. To do so, she needs the help of her crew, and must ignore the secrets and rivalries between her captain and the man she saved.
Because the Hellions are not the only dangers following Claire. Twisted humans and old enemies surface to stop her and destroy all she loves. While she is determined to endure the trials, a single betrayal could shatter the hope of a better world, and force Claire to make a choice that will cost her dearly…

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And here she is. . .

Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. She is the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for "author voice, world-building and general bad-assery," and the One Book Two Standout Award in 2015 for her Cursed trilogy. She has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, and is an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When she isn't writing, she's reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction.