Saturday, March 25, 2017

Review: The List by Patricia Forde

by Patricia Forde
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Upper Middle Grade/Tween Dystopian
336 pages
ages 10 (12) +

AUGUST 1, 2017!!!

Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver for tweens in this gripping story about the power of words and the dangers of censorship.

In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world. 

On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.


With a wave of greeting to The Giver, this story tackles the power of language, emotion, imagination and bravery in a controlled world which is trying to strangle all four.

Letta lives on a future Earth, where the big 'melting' has left only a few survivors in a place called the Arc. Here, language is controlled and only 500 words are allowed. Speaking any other word is punished by banishment and certain death. Letta holds a rare and important position; she's the Word Smith's apprentice. Not only does she distribute the allowed list, but categorizes no longer used words  and files them away in case they might someday be necessary again. When her master goes missing and a wounded traitor of the Arc shows up at her door, her world is turned upside down.

Language is key in this tale, or rather, the attempt to abolish it. The idea is that language enabled unnecessary/useless thoughts, which hindered people to listen and act accordingly in the past. The result was the Melting and almost extinction of mankind. By limiting language to 500 words, needless things such as emotions and imagination no longer get in the way of practicality. It's an interesting premise, but don't think it through too much because it'll hit logic's Swiss cheese. That, however, isn't necessarily important. The theory behind this thought is interesting and worth a couple tumbles through the head. It definitely gets the intended audience (kids 10 and up) to put on those thinking caps and dig a little deeper.

Letta is easy to sympathize with--an average girl (orphan), who has a good life thanks to her master's important position. She supports the odd language laws in the town, but as a person who knows about all of the wonderful words which really exist, questions things at times. Her beginning stand point, the changes she goes through and her later decisions are all understandable and believable. In other words, she's an easy character to like and cheer for the entire way through.

The world comes to life in all of it's hardships, grime and small town quirks. It's not a happy place, throwing this into a definite darker read. The various characters add a lot of flavor and spice, making the every day life colorful and realistic. The descriptions add just the right amount of explanation without weighing down, so that the plot can roll along.

There are many familiar elements from other dystopian works reflected in the plot, but it still carries enough new aspects to make for an interesting read. The plot holds at a quick pace the entire way through and has multi-layers of secrets and intrigue. There are unexpected twists and turns, especially in the way the characters relate to each other. The tension stays high, but then, Letta is up against some pretty gruesome odds. Luckily, she has a good head on her shoulders and isn't overly emotional, but handles things in a fairly believable way.

Although this book is supposedly intended for a middle grade audience, I'd recommend it more for the tweens (ages twelve and up). Some scenes are fairly graphic on the violence and torture side, and not all kids under twelve are ready to digest this type of material.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sneak Peek and in Paperback: The Piper's Price by Audrey Greathouse


We're pleased to announce that The Piper's Price by Audrey Greathouse is finally available in print! Grab your copy today at the online Barnes and Noble store, and on Amazon. In addition, The Piper's Price will be hitting your local Barnes and Noble retail store shelves in the next 1-2 weeks. Don't miss this exciting sequel to The Neverland Wars!

The Piper’s Price
by Audrey Greathouse
(The Neverland Wars #2)
YA Fairy Tales, Retelling

MY TIDBITS: I reviewed this one
here and recommend it to Peter Pan Fans. 

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.


They found the forest’s hiking trail moments before breaking the tree line. “Where are we going, Peter?” He was heading toward a mobile home community next to the state park. He continued to walk with confidence. His usual cocky stride looked surprisingly like the swagger of an ordinary teenage boy. “My friend lives here. Don’t worry. Don’t look like such a stranger here.” She didn’t want to appear conspicuous, but Gwen was too baffled to help it. The unkempt lawns were boxed in by chain-link fences covered in varying degrees of rust. They passed a lawn littered with bicycles; on the other side of the gravel street, two different cars were parked on the lawn, clearly non-functional. Satellite dishes were on every trailer home. Despite all being painted differently, the track housing still managed to present a uniformity of depressing color. Multiple houses had motorcycles out front or a dog milling around their yard. When she and Peter passed a pack of Rottweilers, the dogs ran up to the fence and began snarling until all the other dogs in the neighborhood were barking too. “Ignore it,” Peter advised her. She was scared. This was not the sort of place she ever expected to visit with Peter. She didn’t trust his ability to protect her here. This wasn’t his world, but it wasn’t hers either. They were both out of their element. Peter just didn’t have the sense to realize it. Winding down the gravel road, Gwen matched Peter’s pace almost step for step. They approached a blue-and-grey house. Like the others, it had wooden latticework around the bottom to help obscure the fact it didn’t have a foundation in the ground. The square house reminded Gwen of how she would take shoeboxes and try to turn them into homes for her dolls by decorating them. It was hard to fathom that she was walking up the plastic steps of the porch to knock on the door. She waited, feeling her heartbeat in her throat, her toes, and everywhere besides her chest. Even the predictable noise of the door opening startled her. A woman with a long, black braid and beige cardigan stood in the doorway. Gwen looked up at her, and then watched as the sharp features of her dark face dissolved into unadulterated shock. “Peter?” The startled woman ushered them in. She was just as uncomfortable with their presence in the trailer park as Gwen. Once inside, they stood in a living room full of old furniture, facing a kitchen with old electric appliances. There was no unity or romance to the orange recliner, chipped mixing bowl, off-white blender, dull toaster, and sunken couch. It was a bunch of old stuff that looked like it represented several decades of objects abandoned at Goodwill. The chingadera and bric-a-brac wasn’t any more cohesive: porcelain angles, an antique pot, a vase full of bird feathers, and a stopped clock made the place confusing and strange in the same way her grandmother’s house had been. “What are you doing here?” she hissed, pulling her cardigan close and tossing her thick braid over her shoulder and out of her way. She had a shapeless housedress underneath the beige sweater, and a pair of black leggings insulating her legs as she stomped around, heavy-footed in her leather slippers. She looked comfortable, except for the unexpected guests who were putting her so ill at ease. “You shouldn’t be here.” “I need your help,” Peter said. “They’re still keeping tabs on me.” “That’s why I came in disguise.” “You’re being irresponsible. You’re jeopardizing us both, and Neverland to boot.” “I took all the right precautions. This is important.” Hollyhock and Foxglove wrestled their way out of the pixie purse and came twinkling out now that they knew they were safely inside. “You brought fairies here?” she exclaimed. She leaned down and grabbed a hold of his arm, forcing him to look her dead in her dark eyes. Gwen wanted to leave. This wasn’t a friend, not anymore. This was a grown-up, and unlike Antoine the aviator, she was not amused with Peter’s wartime antics. “What happens if they figure it out and come to question me?” Peter scoffed. “You won’t tell them.” “What if they threaten to arrest me? They could put me away forever until I told them what they needed to know, and nobody here would stop them.” Peter broke free of her hold with ease; she wasn’t actually trying to restrain him. “Preposterous,” he declared. “If they did that, you would sit, stone-faced and silent in your cell until they all died.” “What if they beat me?” “You’d take the blows as though you were made of rock, and you would not speak.” Peter seemed to disregard the question. “What if they tortured me and stuck blades under my nails?” she demanded. “Then you would not even scream, but stay silent as a stone!” Peter insisted, hopping up onto a wooden kitchen chair at her dining table, looking down at the woman. “What if they bring knives and cut off my fingers, one at a time, until I told them how to find you?” Peter yelled right back, “Then you would steal their knives and scalp them all like the redskin princess you are!” Her anger slunk off her face and out of her shoulders. She shook her head, frowning as a sad laugh escaped her. She clung to her sweater, blinking back tears, until, at last, she flung her arms around Peter. Still on the chair, he had to bend down to return the embrace. “Oh, Peter,” she muttered, unaware of the tears slipping off her smiling face. “Oh, Peter.” “It’s good to see you, Tiger Lily.”

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

Happy Book Bday, Retribution by Cameo Renae!

 (The After Light Saga, #5)
by Cameo Renae
YA Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Publisher: CHBB
Cover Designer: Stephanie Hobbs of Steph's Cover Design
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR

 War is coming between humans and Arvies, leaving me trapped between two enemies. This time, I don’t think I’ll survive. The government will stop at nothing to get me back in their clutches. They want what’s inside me—a power I call Venge—and will use my greatest weakness to bring me to my knees. The Arvies know of my gift, and use my telepathy and their numbers, in an effort to take me out. My name is Abigail Park, and I promise retribution against those who’ve wronged me, even if it’s the last thing I do.

Facebook Release Party:

2016 Young Adult Author of the Year - Penned Con
2013 Break Out Author by Young Adult & Teen Readers
2013 Book of the Year (Hidden Wings) Cameo Renae was born in San Francisco, raised in Maui, Hawaii, and recently moved with her husband and children to Alaska. She's a daydreamer and a caffeine and peppermint addict who loves to laugh, loves to read, and loves to escape reality. One of her greatest joys is creating fantasy worlds filled with adventure and romance and sharing it with others. One day she hopes to find her own magic wardrobe and ride away on her magical unicorn. Until then...she'll keep writing! HAPPY READING!

For updates on Cameo you can visit:
Buy Links: #Free with #KindleUnlimited ARV-3 (Book #1): Sanctum (Book #2): Intransigent (Book #3): Hostile (Book #4):
Retribution (Book #5):

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review: Hoot & Honk Just Can't Sleep by Leslie Helakoski

by Leslie Helakoski
Sterling Children's Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 2 to 5

Dark sky. Wake or doze? 
Some eyes open. Some eyes close. 

Some chicks like day, others like night. Some sleep in the dark, and some in the light. Hoot, an adorable owlet, and Honk, a fuzzy gosling, have just hatched—but their eggs got switched and now they’re in the wrong nests. Will they find their way home? Leslie Helakoski’s gentle, lilting verse and irresistible illustrations make the perfect bedtime story as they capture two adorable babies exploring the world for the first time.  


Words and illustrations weave together seamlessly to create a heart-warming tale and perfect, bedtime read.

A storm causes a mix-up right before two eggs hatch. No matter how warm the nest and accepting the new families are, something isn't quite right. Sleep doesn't come for either new born bird.

The text in this book is kept at a minimum, making every word sit like a piece of poetry. The rest is carried in the cute illustrations, creating a perfect balance between picture and story. The characters are sweet but kept simple, while the colors are bright but never too sunny. It's a warm, gentle scenery, great for helping young eyes to glide into a calmer mode.

Two little baby birds tug at the heart strings as they try to figure out why their new families aren't quite the right fit. A little explanation might be necessary to help listeners understand exactly what's going on. My son did understand the main jest of the story but couldn't identify the one as an owl (although my daughter had no trouble with this). After the bird's identity was explained, both loved the story and flipped through the pictures again and again.

The ending is like wrapping up in a warm blanket of comfort, ideal for drifting off to sleep.

Summed up, this is a lovely picture book with a wonderful bedtime flow. The birds are sweet as can be and kids will immediately feel for them. However, some explanation might be required.

And here she is. . .

Leslie Helakoski is the author of Big Chickens (Puffin Books; the Michigan Reads picture book for 2007, Great Lakes Great Books Award and a GLBA finalist) and Woolbur (HarperCollins; a Book Sense pick for 2008, Florida Reading association Honor Book and nominee for state book awards in nine states.) Her other books include Big Chickens Fly the Coop (Puffin Books), Doggone Feet! (Boyds Mills Press), and Fair Cow (Two Lions).

Tattooed Angels by Valerie Willis with Giveaway

Tattooed Angels Trilogy Book 1
By Valerie Willis

Urban Fantasy

High school life is almost over, but Hotan's life as an immortal has only just started...
Already struggling with a mountain of hardships, Hotan is just trying to get his diploma as his mother had always insisted. Friends know if he's not at home or at the club playing in his band, you can always find him thinking at the old broken down church. Basking in the moonlight, Hotan finds himself under attack by an immortal named Geliah, the element of Fear. Talib, the element of Judgment, interrupts the fight, furious that Geliah would force Hotan to awaken his own abilities and immortality. Normally when pulled out of the reincarnation spell, an immortal would remember whom and what they were, but he is not the Hotan from the Past. Walk beside him as he struggles to keep his chaotic life in order as he tries to break the secrets of his own element, Rebirth.


Tattooed Angels Trilogy Book 2
Talib and Hotan find themselves facing off with the element of Death, Iapetos. Failing to take him out, Talib's life starts flashing before him. As he experiences thousands of years, things that were once forgotten begin to emerge. Will he find the answer in his past in time to aid Hotan?

Valerie Willis, a sixth generation Floridian, launched her first book, Cedric the Demonic Knight, at the start of 2014 on Since then, she has continued to add to The Cedric Series, a high-rated Paranormal Fantasy Romance Series. This series features an anti-hero who finds himself dragged away from his revenge on his maker by both love and the onset of a larger threat. She pulls in a melting pot of mythology, folklore, history and more into her work with a remarkable amount of foreshadowing that makes reading her books a second time exciting. Rebirth is the first book in her Teen Urban Fantasy, the Tattooed Angels Trilogy, where the main character struggles with social issues with the complications of turning immortal. And if fantasy isn't your cup of tea, head over to her Blog for some "Val, Tell me a Story" posts featuring true, hilarious, and sometimes bizarre, life events from recent to old.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: Jorie and the Gold Key by A. H. Richardson

Jorie and the Magic Stones is the first book in a new chapter book series, by A. H. Richardson, that follows one heroic nine-year-old girl on an unforgettable adventure. Children everywhere are loving this adventurous tale of Jorie and Rufus, two orphans from very different walks of life, who meet by chance and discover a mystic book about dragons, that soon leads them on a quest through a magical world unlike anything either of them have ever experienced…

by A.H. Richardson
Middle Grade Fantasy
254 pages

When Marjorie went to live with her frosty maiden aunt, she couldn’t imagine the adventures she would have with dragons — good and bad — and all the strange creatures that live in a mysterious land beneath the Tarn. The spunky 9-year-old redhead forges an unlikely friendship with an insecure young boy named Rufus who lives with his crusty grandfather next door. When Jorie — for that is what she prefers to be called — finds a dusty ancient book about dragons, she learns four strange words that will send the two of them into a mysterious land beneath the Tarn, riddled with enchantment and danger. Hungry for adventure, the children take the plunge, quite literally, and find themselves in the magic land of Cabrynthius. 

Upon meeting the good dragon, the Great Grootmonya, Jorie and Rufus are given a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog — stones of enormous power — and return them to their rightful place in Cabrynthius. Their mission is neither easy nor safe, and is peppered with perils in the form of the evil black half-dragon who rules the shadowy side of the land. They have to deal with a wicked and greedy professor, the tragic daughter of the bad dragon, caves of fire, rocky mountainous climbs, and a deadly poisonous butterfly.

Jorie must rely on her wits and courage to win the day? Can she do this? Can she find all three Stones? Can she save Rufus when disaster befalls him? Can she emerge victorious? She and Rufus have some hair-raising challenges, in which they learn valuable lessons about loyalty, bravery, and friendship.


Packed with adventure and imagination, this chapter book takes off into a rich world where friendship, loyalty and trust are key.

Jorie and Rufus are off to Cabrynthius again, and this time, they have a stuck-up Nigel in tow. In attempt to save the fantastical world, the threesome land in one adventure after another. . .and Nigel soon finds himself in a whole lot more trouble than he ever bargained for.

This is a wonderful adventure, which stretches the imagination and then some. The chapters are easy to read and flow seamlessly as Jorie and her friends head from one tense situation into the next. But this isn't only about dangerous scenes; there's a lovely amount of humor dabbled in, which makes this simply a joy to read.

Friendship is key in this book, especially when one of the three isn't exactly wanted at first. The message of getting along and learning to trust others shines through, as Nigel learns to work alongside Jorie and Rufus. Friendships can form even when no one believes they ever could.

The characters in this book are simply fun. Each has their very own personality, and each has a bit of bite which rounds off great with their hearts of gold. It's fun to root for them as they enter the colorful world, one where kids' imaginations can really take flight.

Summed up, this is a fun adventure with magic, fantasy and kids which are easy to relate to and a ton of fun.

Book Buzz!!!

“An easy to read chapter book that can be enjoyed of children of all ages, Jorie and the Magic Stones succeeds at creating an extraordinary world full of memorable characters and dangerous villains. In Jorie and Rufus, the narrative follows the blossoming of a friendship, while exploring the strengths of each of these two main protagonists. Weaving in morales about important ideals like loyalty, bravery, and what it means to be a good friend, the story shows younger readers how important it is to do the right thing, no matter the costs. With rich descriptions, realistic dialogue, and settings you feel as if you are truly immersed within, this is the start to a promising new fantasy series...” - Red City Review

“Jorie is inquisitive, brave, and wise beyond her years, and yet still a child at heart… she is everything a heroine should be... All this, coupled with a one of a kind plot and an exceptional setting, brought to life an amazing fantasy tale.” - 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite

“If ever there was a children's book that was meant for children of all ages, this would be that book. From page 1, you instantly fall in love with the Jorie, the heroine. The storyline flows wonderfully. It makes you feel as if you're there with the characters feeling the excitement, fears, and joy that they feel as they go on an incredible adventure.” - 5 Stars, Matthew and Alicia Lucy

“I absolutely love this story! It just carried me away and I couldn't put the book down!! I loved all the different characters... The author did a wonderful job describing all of them and my imagination kept on going!” – 5 Stars, Amazon Review

All about the author. . .

A. H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an Author.

She published her debut novel Jorie and the Magic Stones in December 2014. At the request of those who loved the first ‘Jorie’ story, Richardson has written a sequel titled Jorie and the Gold Key, and she is currently working on the third book in the series.

She is also the author of Murder in Little Shendon, a thriller murder mystery which takes place in a quaint little village in England after World War Two, and introduces two sleuths, Sir Victor Hazlitt and his sidekick,  Beresford Brandon, a noted Shakespearian actor. She has more ‘who-dun-its’ planned for this clever and interesting duo… watch for them!

A. H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.

To learn more, go to

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: We Are The Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner

by Laurie Berkner
Illustrated by Ben Clanton
Simon&Schuster for Young Readers
Picture Book
ages 2+
40 pages

MARCH 21, 2017!!!

Laurie Berkner, “the queen of children’s music,” (People) pairs the lyrics of her beloved hit with Ben Clanton’s whimsical illustrations in this winning, adorable picture book—a must-have for fans of Laurie, dinosaurs, and all things cute.

We are the dinosaurs
Marching, marching
We are the dinosaurs 

Laurie Berkner’s chart-topping, beloved hit “We Are the Dinosaurs” is now a picture book! Featuring an adorable cast of characters and vibrant, playful art by Ben Clanton, We Are the Dinosaurs transports readers back in time to when the dinosaurs roamed the earth.



Taking off on a friend-packed adventure, these dinosaurs march over, on and beyond with thrills and fun.

This book is based on a song from Laurie Berkner, and although I haven't had the chance to hear it, this book is a fun filled adventure all of its own. The dinosaurs are friendly, ready to explore and have a good time. The friendship between them resonates off every pages as they go out into the world, explore and simply have a great time.

Younger listeners up to 3 or 4 years old will especially enjoy this prehistoric gang. There isn't much of a message behind it, outside of friendship and having a good time together, but its a  sunny attitude which comes across loud and clear. It's sure to leave a grin and happy giggles time and again.

The illustrations are bright, fairly simple and colorful. The dinosaurs are a cute group and worthy of several smiles. The adventures are simple and invite for page turning and exploring again and again. Especially dinosaur fans will enjoy this one and wish they could romp around and enjoy life with this bunch too.

Laurie Berkner

Recognized as "the queen of children's music" (People magazine), Laurie Berkner is a singer, songwriter, lyricist, author, and founder of Two Tomatoes Records.  She has released eleven bestselling, award-winning albums, was the first recording artist ever to perform in music videos on Nick Jr., and appeared regularly on the network’s Jack’s Big Music Show.  Laurie's music has graced the short-form animated series Sing It, Laurie! on 24-hour preschool television channel Sprout, and she has been a frequent  guest on Sprout's Sunny Side Up morning show.  Venturing into the theater world, Laurie has written music and lyrics for two Off-Broadway children’s musicals produced by New York City Children’s Theatre:  The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess and Wanda’s Monster.  A third NYCCT show featuring Laurie’s music and lyrics, Interstellar Cinderella, will open Off-Broadway in November 2017. What sets Laurie apart?  Her music speaks to kids without talking down to them, charming youngsters without boring grownups.  Laurie finds inspiration in her audience.  “I want to create songs that matter for children,” she says.  “I was singing once and saw a four-year-old girl shut her eyes and start swaying to the music.  I thought, ‘That’s the reason I got into music.’  It keeps me wanting to do more.”