Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: Where Did My Friend Go? Helping Children Cope with a Traumatic Death by Azmaira E. Maker, Ph. D.

by Azmaira E. Maker, Ph. D.
Aspiring Families Press
30 pages

The world can be a violent place. Although you try to shelter your children, terrible things can happen at any moment. As a parent, you want to protect them, but this isn't always possible. The best thing you can do for your children is make sure you are prepared to help them after a sudden death or other traumatic experience.

Where Did My Friend Go? was written by clinical psychologist and child-development specialist Azmaira H. Maker, PhD, to help adults discuss a traumatic death and bereavement with children ages three to eight years old. Children will read along as the protagonist talks about the sudden loss of a friend and asks adults important questions about dying, grief, and safety.

Dr. Maker has spent her career working with children and families. She understands how witnessing-or even simply hearing about-a violent and sudden death can leave children traumatized, frightened, and confused. Dr. Maker's new picture book allows children to cope with their feelings and questions in a calm and nurturing context.

The book includes a guide for adults and a list of discussion questions to help children and adults talk honestly about the difficult emotions that arise after the sudden loss of a loved one. Through conversations, pictures, sculpture, playacting, and more, children can share their fears, learn how to cope, and receive appropriate reassurance about their own safety.


This is a gentle guide to assist parents, teachers and care takers help children who are close to the victim or have witnessed a traumatic death.

Starting with a personal note to the child, the author directly heads into a few words for the parent or adult using this book. This section is probably the most important and should be read through with care, since it isn't a book or its pictures which help children, but the personal interaction and ability to deal with the issue on an individual level. The author simply entitles these two pages 'Note To Adults' but I think it would have be beneficial to add a little more urgency to make sure these leading two pages aren't ignored or shoved aside because this is what determines how well the rest of the text and photos come across.

This isn't a book full of text, but rather harbors a lovely presentation of what a child might be thinking, questions it might have, and/or fears it might be hiding. Each two-page spread contains a big photograph of everyday children doing everyday things but slightly blurred with a dreamy effect. A few short, easy and direct phrases accompany each photo, which bring up simple starting points in thoughts and questions from which kids can open up or consider how they might respond. It's simple enough for even younger children to understand.

The wording and pictures are well done, and the book offers a wonderful basis for opening up to otherwise difficult but necessary discussion. But while the formatting is smooth, the set-up doesn't really invite to pause and discussions. Instead, the book lures to be read through like a normal picture book. But if done in this manner, it looses its value and doesn't offer much help or comfort. When my kids picked this up on their own, they were quite upset, which surprised me but also emphasized how important the notes to the adults are in the beginning.

As with all self-help and assistance books, this isn't one to be used without careful consideration of the child and the circumstances first. It is very focused on a certain target audience: young children who have witnessed a traumatic death of one of their friends or stand extremely close to such an experience. And even then, not all children have the same needs. Still, in the right circumstances and with proper use, this can be a helpful book.

And here she is. . .

Dr. Azmaira H. Maker, Ph.D, licensed clinical psychologist, author, speaker and expert in child development, parenting, and psychotherapy, has twenty years experience and has taught graduate and undergraduate students, published several articles in professional psychology journals, and is the author of Family Changes, which will educate, enlighten, and empower families going through divorce. (from Goodreads)

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tribal Affairs by Matt Dallmann with Giveaway

Tribal Affairs
Matt Dallmann
 YA Fantasy
277 pages

Tour dates: Feb 5 to 23, 2018
Content Rating: G (No bad language or sex)

Dahlia, a centuries-old genie, lies hopelessly trapped in a damaged golden locket charm attached to an ankle bracelet. Its owner, sixteen-year-old Liana, wears it for the first time during her father Jamison’s opening night illusion spectacular. Not only does its presence cause Jamison to folly his performance, but it also starts a chain of bizarre events that lead to a showdown with Dahlia’s mortal enemy, Stefan, and an unsuspecting romance between Liana and his son.

And here he is. . .

Matt Dallmann has a background in acting and holds a BFA from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. His films and screenplays have been featured at film festivals across the United States including Cinequest, Big Apple Film Festival, Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival, DragonCon and Zero Independent Film Festival. His piano compositions have been published for commercial use and he is a member of ASCAP. Matt is also the Co-Founder and Vice President of the boutique medical billing firm VGA Billing Services, Inc. in New York City. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Pinerest

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Happy Book Birthday, Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon By M.R. Anglin with Giveaway!

Prince of the Sun, 
Princess of the Moon

By M.R. Anglin
YA Fantasy/Adventure 
Published by Clean Reads

For years the Moon Palace in the Valley of Aijalon and the Sun Tower in the Plains of Jashar has stood as testaments to the power of the sun and the graciousness of the moon. Helio and Lumina, Guardians of the sun and moon, kept watch over them and the Prince and the Princess who ruled them. But the Prince and Princess are missing, and the sun is exhibiting strange behavior. Now Joshua and his younger sister, Deborah, must untangle a web of lies and deceit to uncover the secret of who they really are and save their world from an imminent disaster brewing in the heavens. And they must hurry. Between the earthquakes, the sun and moon standing still in the sky, and the planet Jants hovering closer than it’s ever been, the planet could be torn apart before they have a chance to do something about it.



“Mr. Delango.” Mrs. Blaine’s voice sliced through the air, jarring Joshua out of his thoughts.
He jumped to his feet. “Yes, ma’am.” All around him snickers erupted as each of his classmates stared at him. Joshua stifled a groan. Judging by their reaction, he had missed something important.
“Perhaps you would like to elaborate on our topic?” Mrs. Blaine motioned to the blackboard.
Joshua winced. He had been staring out of the window and had no idea what she had been talking about.
His best friend, Neil, shrugged. With his skin the complexion of milk and Joshua’s the complexion of chocolate, Neil always said together they were two halves of the best drink ever to have been invented.
But now he shook his head at Joshua. “I tried to warn you,” he mouthed.
Joshua cleared his throat. “You are doing such a fantastic job at explaining this, Mrs. Blaine, I can’t elaborate.” He punctuated the remark with a smile meant to charm her.
“I think you can.” Mrs. Blaine pointed to the board. “Why don’t you come up and fill out this diagram?”
Joshua bit back a comment and made his way to the front of the classroom. The walls were white, and though Mrs. Blaine had set a plastic, potted tree in the corner, there were no posters or papers on the walls . . . just a blackboard where Mrs. Blaine wrote her lessons . . . not at all like the other teachers’ classes with their motivational posters and charts plastered all over the walls.
“No distractions for wayward thinking children,” Mrs. Blaine had said the first time someone remarked on the lack of decoration.
Joshua took the chalk from her and approached the blackboard. Empty spaces in the diagram she had written mocked him, but the words, “Planet/Celestial Body” and “Guardian” were written in separate columns at the top. At least Joshua knew what she was talking about now—the solar system and its Guardians.
“Fill it out.” Mrs. Blaine smirked. “Unless you aren’t smart enough to goof off in class and still retain the information.”
Again his classmates snickered.
Joshua took a deep breath and studied the diagram. Then he raised his chalk and wrote:
Planet/Celestial Body
Geon’s moon

Once finished, he faced Mrs. Blaine. “Is that correct?” He held out the chalk to her.
No one snickered now . . . well, except Neil. His face had surged red with the effort of stifling his laughter. To date, no one had bested Mrs. Blaine at her game to humiliate students who weren’t paying attention. In fact, Mrs. Blaine herself stared at the diagram Joshua had written with her mouth set.
Her eyes narrowed. “Go sit down.”
Joshua shot a smile at her as he went.
“See me after class,” Mrs. Blaine said.
Joshua winced. One smart gesture too far.
“The rest of you, commit this chart to memory.” Mrs. Blaine tapped the blackboard. “It will be on the test next week.”
“Dude, are you crazy?” Neil leaned over to him as Joshua sat. Joshua had to bite back a smile. His friend acted like he had been the one called in after class. “She’s going to hate you now.”
Joshua shrugged. “I’ve got more important things to worry about.”
“Like what?” Neil whispered, copying the diagram.
“Like . . .” Joshua stared full into the sun. “I think the sun is off by two minutes.”
Neil paused in his writing. “What?”
“The sun.” Joshua glanced at Mrs. Blaine to make sure she wasn’t watching. “It should be a little to the right. It’s in the wrong place.”
“Have you been moon-bathing or something? You’re as batty as a night-person.”
Joshua scowled at his friend. “Don’t say that.”
But Neil went on, ignoring Joshua’s annoyance, or . . . more likely . . . not noticing it at all. “The sun can’t be in the wrong place. It’s impossible.”
“Maybe.” Joshua could overlook his friend’s oversight. After all, he didn’t know how offensive the saying was. “But I’ve done the calculations over and over—”
“Done the calculations?” Neil snickered. “What do you know about calculations like those? There are smart people in the capital whose job it is to watch the sun. Don’t you think they would have said something if the sun was in the wrong place?”
“I guess . . .” Joshua faced the front of the class where Mrs. Blaine continued her lesson. He wrote the diagram down, more to get his mind off of the nagging feeling in the back of his mind than because he needed to remember it. Neil was right; Joshua had to be wrong. After all, Helio, the Guardian of the sun, was the epitome of precision. The sun would never drift out of position on his watch.
Still . . . a feeling, like a stone sitting in his stomach, told Joshua something was amiss. He had seen the sun doing strange things before. The other day he thought he saw it flickering, and the day before he was certain its rays were less intense than they should have been.
Joshua swallowed the knot rising in his throat and resisted the urge to fiddle with the gold necklace he wore hidden under his shirt. If something was wrong with the sun, he had more than filling out diagrams and studying for tests to worry about.
They all did.


And here she is. . .

M.R. Anglin has always had a fascination with space—particularly the moon and stars. She also has three amazing nephews, two adorable “near-nephews,” and one brilliant niece, so it’s no wonder she eventually wrote a story that combines these loves into one. You can often find her gazing up at the Florida sky at night or hunching over her notebook/computer by day. She is the author of the Middle Grade novel, Lucas, Guardian of Truth, the self-published Silver Foxes series. She has also been included in the Coyotl Award winning anthology, Gods With Fur (FurPlanet 2016) and Extinct? (Wolfsinger 2017).

Twitter: @authoranglin 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: The Royal Rabbits of London by Santa Montefiore & Simon Sebag Montefiore

by Santa Montefiore & Simon Sebag Montefiore
Illustrated by Kate Hindley
Simon & Schuster Children's UK
Middle Grade Fiction
195 pages
ages 8 and up

Life is an adventure. Anything in the world is possible – by will and by luck, with a moist carrot, a wet nose and a slice of mad courage

Shylo has always been the runt of the litter, the weakest and quietest of all of his family, his siblings spend their days making fun of him for not being like the rest of them. But when Shylo stumbles across a band of ratzis and overhears their evil plan to take a photo of the Queen in her nightie, it's up to this unlikely hero to travel to London and inform the Royal Rabbits of London about the diabolical plot! The Royal Rabbits of London have a proud history of protecting the royal family and now the secret society need to leap into action to stop the ratzis... But can a rabbit as feeble and shy as Shylo convince them that Queen is in danger?
The Hobbit meets Fantastic Mr Fox meets Watership Down in this charming novel from bestselling authors Santa and Sebag Montefiore, which proves even the smallest rabbit can be the biggest hero.


Size doesn't determine worth in this hopping adventure, which packs tension in a fun and exciting tale.

Shylo is the runt of his family—something his siblings refuse to let him forget. But none of them know of his secret, forbidden friendship with an old rabbit on the edge of the forest. When Shylo overhears rats plotting against the Queen of England, he informs the old rabbit, who sends little Shylo on the adventure of his life.

This is a tale with a bit of a quirky mixture. There's a more serious, traditional feel with the burrow life, where Shylo is constantly being picked on; there's a touch of modern day as rats run around with tablets and cameras; there's poking humor as the dangerous rats, aka Ratzis, want to publish pictures in the tabloids; and there's the palace in London with it's royal life and dangers. Parts of this hang on modern whimsical, while others have a more traditional atmosphere like Watership Down. It's odd, lifts eyebrows at times. . .and it works. Splendidly.

Shylo is the perfect, tiny hero. He's shunned by his siblings but still has the never-dying love of his mother. He's brave and kind, which is clear from the first pages. It's easy to like him and root for him until the very end. And he does get into some pretty sticky situations, which are sure to leave readers on the edge of their seats. Still, the authors manage to keep even the most tense moments very age appropriate with a slight sense of humor wiggled in.  The ending wraps everything into a nice, inspiring package yet leaves the door open to many more adventures to come.

As an extra bonus, there are ample illustrations sprinkled between the pages. These slide right along with the fitting scenes and help bring the very colorful characters to life. Not only these illustrations, but the text itself keeps a lightness to the story which is perfect for even more reluctant readers. To top it off, the book holds a more elegant, high-quality feel. It's compact, shines with golden trim, opens to display bindings worthy of the Queen, and ends with a sweet, entertaining recap of the characters. 

This is a tale I can highly recommend and will be grabbing up the next books in the series myself.

And here they are. . .

Santa Montefiore's books have been translated into twenty languages and have sold more than four million copies in England and Europe. She is married to writer Simon Sebag Montefiore. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha, in London. Visit her at

Simon Sebag Montefiore's bestselling and prize-winning books are now published in over foty-five languages. His new book The Romanovs: 1613-1918 has been universally acclaimed and is already a bestseller in the UK, Australia, and the USA where it was on the New York Times bestseller list for eight weeks. Montefiore has won literary prizes for both fiction and nonfiction. His latest novel, One Night in Winter won the Best Political Novel of the Year Prize and was long-listed for the Orwell Prize. He is now writing the third novel iin his trilogy. Follow Simon on Twitter at @SimonMontefiore. For more information visit

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Review: Ten Little Night Stars by Deb Gruelle Illustrated by Gabi Murphy

by Deb Gruelle 
Illustrated by Gabi Murphy
Board Book/ Religious
20 pages


One little night star,

Twinkling in deep blue.

I run inside to take my bath,

Then there are…


Ten Little Night Stars is a sweet bedtime counting book perfect for the youngest readers. One by one the stars come out in the night sky as cute and cuddly animals go through their bedtime routines. This board book will encourage children to turn the page with interactive and engaging rhyme, and will take them through bath time, story time, and sleep. Written by Deb Gruelle, great-great-grand-niece of Johnny Gruelle, the creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy, Ten Little Night Stars is the perfect bedtime story for parents and children alike.


This book screams cute, while offering a lovely read to help those sleepy eyes close and drift into dreamland.

Through simple counting and flowing rhyme, young animals head to bed and cuddle in for a good night's sleep. The board book is sturdy with a slightly fluffy cover to make it perfect for small hands. The book will withstand some abuse and is easy to wipe off from minor messes. But it's the cover which catches attention. The glistening, golden stars catch the eye, while the big elephant supporting the smaller one sets the perfect, warm mood.

With a loud one, the first page starts off the counting. Each spread has the number and a cute four-line poem, which lead various, young animals from a bath all the way to falling asleep. The style is calming and repetitive, perfect for little eyes to start drooping. Following familiar activities, it's a gentle read which suggests caring, support and love the whole way through. This is a religious read but it's kept subtle and flows into an everyday setting.

The illustrations are bright and carry enough detail to allow young listeners room to make discoveries of their own and point them out. The text is simple enough for even little ears and packs enough emotion to make it fun to read-aloud. While the rhyming glides along smoothly, there a couple spots which caught off guard and broke pace.

This is a wonderful book for a last read before heading off to bed and is sure to become a favorite.

I received a complimentary copy from Booklook Bloggers.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Almana by Julayn Adams with Giveaway

Almana Book 1
by Julayn Adams
YA Fantasy, Post, Apocalyptic
293 pages

Hidden deep inside the forest, a community of people have created a safe haven despite the terror that lies not far from their border walls. World War III has destroyed most of the world population, and the ruthless dictator, Equis, is quickly gaining control over the majority of the U.S. population. Heaven has turned its back on humanity; the angels have deserted their posts and are awaiting the end - all but one. Through visions, Almana comes to believe that one last chance for the world’s redemption lies in a girl who lives in this small community. The only problem is the future of seventeen-year-old Alexa is grim, but without her, the end is imminent. Though Almana will be banished from her home until the world’s last day, she chooses to join Alexa in hopes of not only saving humanity, but heaven as well. Bound by a supernatural connection with Alexa and her family, Almana is gifted a new home. And despite the inability of angels being able to fall in love, Almana finds herself in a dilemma she hadn’t expected. 

A story of friendship, romance, love, betrayal, hate, hope, and despair, Almana is the first of a three-part series.

What people are saying:

"Wow! This story hooked me from page one! A heavenly, heartbreaking and heartwarming tale full of believable characters you'll love, and love to hate. I literally could not put it down! I believe I have found my next "must read" author!"
-Regina O'Connell “Wren”

"I think that writing good quality fiction for this audience is one of hardest genres a writer can enter and of the many books I have read, few do it well enough to have broader appeal. Almana does. It is a beautifully crafted story which employs none of the more obvious routes generally taken by post-apocalyptic fiction. Although the main character, Almana, is an angel, the story deals with her as an ordinary teenager coming to terms with a new life. The world created by Julayn Adams skillfully combines fantasy, the challenges and adventures of creating a future, adding elements of danger and violence without ever becoming predictable. In short this is a very entertaining tale for any age."

"A beautiful story of a very human angel on a mission and a girl who is destined to save the world. It is a story of love and duty, of good and evil, of war and the battle for peace. Beautifully written, this story is addictive and compelling."
-Renita D'Silva “A Sister's Promise” 

"Julayn writes eloquently and her descriptions are so visual that you can picture them in your mind. I particularly love the parts of the novel when it focuses on Almana's inner thoughts and loneliness…The author makes these aspects of Almana's loneliness so real that I wonder if she knows something about the unseen world that we don't. What a great surprising read."
-Sherry Mayes “Stop the World”

**On Sale for .99 cents!**

Almana Book 2
295 pages

Book II of Amazon's International Best Seller, "Almana"*

In a world full of violence and hatred, Alexa still believes in hope. She is the reason Almana left heaven to risk everything, including her own immortal soul. But when Almana returns from the abyss with visions of an impending attack on their community, Alexa’s plans to unite with neighboring camps must be expedited. As racism and the brutal effects of the war live on, threatening to infiltrate their newly merged faction, Almana fights the demons plaguing her mind and her heart.


"I read and loved Almana, the first book in this series and was waiting eagerly for the sequel. And this book, wow! Beautifully written, thrilling, heart-breaking and heart warming, this is a brilliant story. One that makes you think. This series is one everyone needs to read as it tackles sensitively and with heart some of the issues tearing the world apart today. A timely and though-provoking book. An amazing story, masterfully told. LOVE this amazing series and very highly recommend it."
Renita D'Silva "A Mother's Secret"

"I found myself turning page after page, desperate to know how Ali would handle things and what would happen next. 
Congratulations to the author. This is a story for teens or adults that will take you into a war-torn world where the battle for good must always prevail. Or does it"
Sherry Mayes "Stop the World"

*Ranked in top 100 in its genre on Amazon in two or more countries

**On Sale for .99 cents!**

With four fabulous children and two equally fabulous step-daughters, Julayn Adams has been likened to the little old lady who lives in a shoe, minus the old part, of course. She and her husband, along with their kids and the laziest cat in the world, Triscuit, reside in Melbourne, Australia after having moved from the United States. Julayn has enjoyed working in a variety of professions including sonography, preschool teaching, and professional princess (true story). Having now turned her passion for writing into a career, she enjoys her days reading and writing in the Australian sun. Julayn’s first published work is a picture book illustrated by her son, Gavin, entitled "My Brother’s Name is Masen": a true story about Gavin’s relationship with his autistic brother. Now, with books I and II of the Almana Series published, she looks forward to the release of Almana’s final chapter, "Insurgence", in late 2018. 

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!