Book Review: One Small Donkey

Christmas is coming slightly early with this week’s Christian book review.

I received a new book from Tommy Nelson publishing and I’m happy to welcome Christmas a little early to share it with you. 🙂

One Small Donkey

one-small-donkey

Written by Dandi Daley Mackall

Illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens

One small donkey dreams of being big and important. But one small event is much bigger than a small donkey could have ever dreamed. When one small donkey plays a part in the first Christmas, he gets to be part of something that will change the whole world.

I love Christmas and I love Christmas stories, so I just had to review this book when I saw the chance. The cover is precious and the illustrations continue to enchant the reader throughout this charming book.

Christmas always strikes me as a magical season when it feels like anything can happen. In a way, this book captured that feeling with the small donkey getting his chance to do something big. And the illustrations capture the wonder of the first Christmas with Mary and Joseph surrounded by sweet animals.

The text is written in a rhyming scheme that sometimes feels a bit off, but overall the story is cute and fun for kids. The message is clear, that being little doesn’t mean you can’t do big things, and it gives parents a chance to talk to kids about big or little things they can do to help others.

Some readers may not enjoy this book as much as I did, but if you love Christmas stories you’ll likely enjoy this lovely tale.

4 stars that won’t shine nearly as brightly as the Christmas star.


Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishing and BookLook Bloggers for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Blog Tour! The Storybook Knight: Interview and Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Storybook Knight

Welcome to another fun blog tour!

Today I’m sharing my review of The Storybook Knight and some fun bonus book content. Plus, I had a chance to interview the author/illustrator team behind this fun book!

storybook knight

The Storybook Knight (2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Picture Book)

Leo is a knight, but he doesn’t like to fight. He would rather read than seek out danger. His parents have a different view of how a knight should behave so they send Leo away on a quest to fight a dragon. Leo embarks upon his quest with his faithful horse, saddlebags full of books, and a story in his heart.

The Storybook Knight, written and illustrated by Helen and Thomas Docherty, is a tale of following one’s heart and believing in oneself. Children will love the clever rhyme and adorable illustrations as they root for Leo and his books. The concept of Leo knowing his heart, but being forced to try something different by his parents will resonate with young readers. Leo carries his love of books with him on his quest and it serves him well. He goes on a great adventure as his parents wished, but he always stays true to himself. A beautiful and subtle lesson of trying new things, but maintaining one’s integrity at all costs. Especially relevant in this age of social networking when children are bombarded with messages from all sides and face more peer pressure than ever.

Wonderful read! A book for children to carry in their hearts, or saddlebags, when facing life’s obstacles.


Interview With Helen and Thomas Docherty

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Thomas and Helen Docherty are the husband and wife team behind The Storybook Knight. They were kind enough to answer a few questions about their newest book, the creative process, and working together as a team.

Where did you get your inspiration for THE STORYBOOK KNIGHT?

HD:  It was Tom who came up with the idea of a knight who didn’t want to fight, but he wasn’t sure how to develop the story, so he passed it on to me.  I decided to give our knight a passion for reading and some pushy parents who send him off on a quest to ‘prove’ himself… but of course, he ends up proving that the word is mightier than the sword. I think that’s an important message for us all!

How many books have you published together? 

HD:  Four, so far: The Snatchabook, Abracazebra, The Storybook Knight and an earlier book which we co-wrote (and Tom illustrated), Ruby Nettleship and the Ice Lolly Adventure.

What is the creative process like working as a team? Do you develop the story together or does one part develop more fully before the other (writing before illustrations or vice versa)?

HD:  When we work together on a book, the writing always comes first, as a story has to be commissioned by a publisher before Tom can start work on the illustrations. In some cases, as with the Storybook Knight, we work on the initial story idea together before I start writing.

TD:  By the time I come to illustrating Helen’s stories, I’ve had a long time to watch Helen develop the text, so I often have quite a few ideas in my head of how the characters and scenes might look. And as the illustrations progress I’m always showing the rough drafts to Helen and getting her feedback and advice – I really appreciate her input.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

HD:  An author! I spent most of my childhood writing stories and making them into little books, which I also illustrated. But I put that ambition aside for a long time; I was a language teacher (French, Spanish and English) for many years before I finally started writing again and became a published author.

TD:  I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. I think I was too busy climbing trees and playing ball with my brothers to give it much thought. Having said that, I always liked drawing and as I got older it became clear that I was going to end up doing something creative. But it wasn’t until after I had graduated from Art College (where I studied sculpture) that I thought back to all the amazing illustrated books I had enjoyed as a child and begun to think that I might like to do something like that myself.

As a child, what was your favorite book? 

HD:  I had so many favorites! But some of the books that I loved and re-read the most were Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr, Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce and a series of books about a girl called Aurora by the Norwegian author Anne-Cath. Vestly.

TD:  I am dyslexic and really struggled with my reading when I was young, so picture books and comics were very important to me because I could ‘read’ the pictures, instead of the words. My favorite books were the Asterix comics, and I spent hours looking at and often copying the pictures. It was Asterix books that eventually got me reading, and I’ve never looked back since!

Which part of the writing or illustrating process do you enjoy the most? 

HD:  The part I enjoy most is when I’ve got a really exciting, complete story idea and have worked out the rhyme scheme I’m going to use. Usually I’ll start with a sentence – not necessarily the first one – which establishes the rhythm of the story in my head. Then I’m ready to start writing… the fun bit!

TD:  I love the start of a project when I’m doing lots of quick sketches and you can see the characters and the world around them grow. I also love thinking about the colors that I will use to add drama and atmosphere to the story.

What struggles have you faced as a writer or illustrator? 

HD:  The hardest part is coming up with a watertight idea for a story. The best stories have their own internal logic; you may not see the end coming when you’re reading the story, but when it does, it all makes complete sense. But of course, those brilliant ideas don’t come every day. The other challenging aspect of being an author is that not every story you write ends up being commissioned – I’ve had plenty turned down by my publishers. You have to learn to get over the disappointment and keep going!

TD:  I have good and bad days, just like everyone else. I still do most of my work by hand, using paper and inks and watercolor. A large page can take me a couple of days to paint, and sometimes I mess up and have to start all over again. This can be quite stressful!

Anything else you’d like to add about your work or THE STORYBOOK KNIGHT?

HD:  A little known fact is that the original storybook knight was called Gareth, after my dad (and also after one of the Knights of the Round Table). However, our UK publishers wanted a more universal name, so I chose Leo instead – which is our nephew’s name, and works well in lots of languages. The Storybook Knight has been translated into Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Italian and Slovenian so far.

TD:  My favorite character in the story is Ned, Leo’s faithful horse. He doesn’t say anything, so I had lots of fun giving him a personality of his own: loyal, brave, and always on the lookout for a tasty snack.


Bonus Book Content and Giveaway

Storybook Knight landing page

Join Leo’s Storybook Knights, plus pledge your allegiance and receive a certificate of membership!

Download an educator or activity kit

Are you sharing The Storybook Knight in your classroom or looking for more ways to engage your child? Download an educator or activity kit for even more adventures with Leo and Ned.

Rafflecopter: Enter for a chance to win an original sketch of Leo and Ned by illustrator Thomas Docherty! Comment on this blog post plus tweet about the giveaway for two chances to win!

Click on the link below to go to the rafflecopter entry page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have trouble entering or have any questions please comment below or contact me.

Learn more about the author and illustrator by visiting their pages or following them on Twitter!

Thomas Docherty on Twitter: @TDIllustration

Helen Docherty on Twitter: @docherty_helen


Thank you to Thomas and Helen Docherty for taking the time to answer all my questions and to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for letting me be a part of the blog tour and providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reading!

You’re My Boo and Author Interview with Kate Dopirak

Book Review: You’re My Boo

I am so, so excited to share this book with you all!

I met Kate at an SCBWI Conference in Pittsburgh and have been anticipating the release of this book since the moment I knew she would be published.

Now that her book is here, I get to rave about how wonderful Kate and her book are! 🙂

I’m really not surprised that You’re My Boo is quite possibly the most adorable and sweet book I have read in a very long time. Between Kate’s make-your-heart-melt writing and Lesley Breen Withrow’s so-cute-it-hurts illustrations, this book will be cherished for years and years.

youre my boo

You’re My Boo (2016, Beach Lane Books/Simon and Schuster, Picture Book)

“You’re my peek-a-boo, my sneak-a-boo, my laughing-till-you-squeak-a-boo.”

Mama fox loves her Boo, whether he is building or breaking, laughing or crying. Every day, in every way, she loves him just the way he is.

You’re My Boo, written by Kate Dopirak and illustrated by Lesley Breen Withrow, is begging to be read again and again. With ridiculously adorable text, and absolutely precious pictures, children will want to read this story with their parents over and over. Written in a fun rhyming scheme, with short catchy phrases, kids will love to hear this read aloud. This is a fantastic story of unconditional love for adults to share with their children or grandchildren.

Take your read-a-book-boo to the store and get this melt-your-heart-boo(k) today! 🙂

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Interview With Author Kate Dopirak

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Photo credit: Family Art Photography

I feel so blessed to have met Kate at the Pittsburgh SCBWI conference in 2014. One of the many blessings of having worked for the circus 🙂 Through that meeting we have kept in touch and she has been a fantastic resource and inspiration as I continue my own writing journey.

Kate is beautiful inside and out, and I am so excited for her, and the release of her debut picture book, You’re My Boo.

Kate was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new book and her life as an author.

How long have you been writing and when did you publish your first book?

I’ve been writing for kids for ten years. My work has been purchased by newspapers, magazines, and educational publishers. YOU’RE MY BOO (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster) is my first book.

Where do you find your writing inspiration?

My sons inspire most of what I write. My nieces, nephews, and neighbors get in on the action sometimes, too. I watch them do something or hear them say something and – BOOM! – a story idea starts.

For example, my son didn’t want to get out of bed one morning. I got the idea to write SNUGGLE BUNNY, a story about a young bunny who doesn’t want to get out of bed and soon finds himself with a lot of company. It’s available now for pre-order from Cartwheel/Scholastic.

Another time, I tucked my nephew into bed, and he wanted me to tuck in his toy car, too. Because of that, I wrote TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE CAR, which will be published by Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster in 2018.

Philip Stead’s picture book speaks truth: IDEAS ARE ALL AROUND.

What inspired you to write YOU’RE MY BOO? 

YOU’RE MY BOO is a love letter to my boys – a silly goose love letter.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Oh, wow – what didn’t I want to be? A gymnast, a ballerina, a Pitt cheerleader, an artist, a photographer, an ambulance driver, a vet, a pediatrician, a librarian, a teacher . . . but most of all, I always knew I wanted to be a mom.  

What was your favorite book as a child?

I still remember where I was when I read William Golding’s LORD OF THE FLIES for the first time. That book made me want to write. I keep a conch shell in my office because of it.

Who has most inspired you in your writing career?

The list is long. I’ve been blessed with a super supportive family, inspiring teachers, and talented, honest critique partners. And I can never thank SCBWI (www.scbwi.org) enough.

What do you feel is the most rewarding aspect of writing? 

I love sharing this writing journey with my husband and sons. Brainstorming new story ideas, reading drafts of manuscripts, discussing revisions, commiserating about rejections, celebrating sales – it’s all the better thanks to them.

What advice would you give to young writers?

Read what you love, and read a lot of it. Write what you love, and write a lot of it.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?

I love visiting new places with my family, even if it’s just a trail down the road where we’ve never hiked before.

What is the most interesting place you have visited? 

We took our boys to New Orleans last winter. Everything about that place interested us – the food, the music, the people, the art, the Mardi Gras parades, the street performers, the Pelicans game, and The National World War II Museum.

Name one interesting fact about yourself unrelated to writing 🙂

I spent a great deal of time trying to fly when I was little. I would run and jump from the top of our stairs or from our raised patio. I even tried using an umbrella, Mary Poppins-style, but never experienced much success. I did end up in a cast, though, which was the end of my flying attempts.

Where can readers learn more about you and your books? 

My website is katedopirak.com, and I’m @katedopirak on Twitter.

Anything else you’d like to mention about YOU’RE MY BOO or your writing career? 

I’d like to thank Lesley Breen Withrow for illustrating YOU’RE MY BOO. She and Beach Lane’s Lauren Rille made magic as far as I’m concerned. You can find Lesley at lesleybreenwithrow.com, and she’s @lesleybreenwithrow on Instagram.


Thank you again to Kate Dopirak for taking time to answer all my questions 🙂 and thank you to Simon & Schuster for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reading!

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Max At Night

Max at Night by Ed Vere

It’s Blog Tour (and Giveaway) day!

I’m so excited to share Max at Night with you all.

Following Ed Vere’s Max the Brave and Max and Bird, comes an all new Max the cat story in Max at Night.

max at night

Max at Night (2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Picture Book)

Max is sleepy. He has drunk his milk, brushed his teeth, washed his ears, Now he needs to say good night to everything before he can go to bed. But where is the moon? Max can’t go to bed without saying good night to the moon. So begins Max’s midnight journey to bid the moon good night.

Max at Night written and illustrated by Ed Vere follows the nighttime routine of a little black cat named Max. The book starts off with simple sentences and a gentle, poetic, sleepy feel as Max prepares for bed and bids things good night. Then Max goes on a bit of an adventure as he tries to find the moon and the tempo picks up taking away from the sleepy feel. The sentences become longer and more complex and the book might make kids wake up a bit as opposed to making them ready to fall asleep. Wonderful illustrations and a cute story that will be enjoyed by many children, but maybe not the most sleep inducing bedtime book. This book would be great when paired with another quiet bedtime book such as Goodnight Moon. 

Max is an endearing and brave character, perfect for bedtime or anytime. Children will love to read about Max and his sweet determination in Max at Night.

Four bright shiny stars for Max to hang in the night sky.


Blog Tour Bonus Time!

Check out these links for bonus book content.

Max at Night landing page: A whole page for Max! See page excerpts, order the book or request a free storytime activity kit (while supplies last)

Download the activity kit: Great for teachers or parents, download this activity kit full of printable activity pages.

Rafflecopter: Enter for a chance to win an original sketch by author and illustrator Ed Vere and a copy of Max at Night! Usually a fancy rafflecopter box would appear here, but WordPress doesn’t allow such things 😦 So just click the link below and follow the rafflecopter instructions.

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway!

If you are new to Rafflecopter giveaways or have any questions about how to enter, please email me or leave a comment below.

For more information about Author/Illustrator Ed Vere, check out his website, or follow him on Twitter (@ed_vere) and Instagram


Thanks for stopping by and I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review and for letting Three Show Saturday participate in this great blog tour!

Happy Reading! ❤

 

A Song in the Shadows

A Song in the Shadows

A Tiny Tale by Kizzi

“She was Ren, a note dancing on the air.”


“Almost there. Try again.” Her grandmother was being exceptionally patient, but Ren knew she wasn’t almost there. Still, her grandmother looked so hopeful, she couldn’t help but try again.

She pursed her lips and placed her tongue just behind her teeth as her grandmother had taught her. Clearing her mind, she inhaled deeply only to exhale soft and slow letting the air pass through the small gap between teeth and tongue.

Her grandmother tilted her head, eyes sparkling as she strained to hear anything that would indicate Ren had learned to whistle. The faintest pitch would have been celebrated, but no, there was nothing.

Ren sighed and rubbed at her jaw. She was tired from so many hours spent with her lips taut and head lifted.

Her grandmother smiled gently and patted her hand. “Don’t worry dear, it will come in time.” Ren’s shoulders slumped as her grandmother pushed her toward the door. “Play for a while, I’ll call you when dinner is ready.”

She knew her grandmother would first pick up the phone to report on her progress. Despite her grandmother’s unwavering support and continued hope, Ren knew it was far past time that she should have been able to whistle.

She didn’t know about her father, but her mother had had the most beautiful whistle in all the land. Ren could remember few things of her mother, but her whistle would ring in her memories forever.

The high whistle of morning. The fast whistle of play. The soft whistle of night.

To whistle was to be part of everything. To communicate in a way beyond words, in a way that so far had eluded Ren.

The haunting whistles of her people filled the woods each dawn and dusk. It was tradition. It was necessary. It was protection.

Most children whistled as easily as they babbled as babies. Others when they formed their first words. Ren had to be taught such things. How to place her lips. How to hold her tongue. And still, she had never uttered anything near to a whistle.

Ren kicked at some rocks sending them scattering into the woods. Dusk was approaching. She would hear the night whistles any time now. Despite the ache in her jaw, she pursed her lips once more and attempted some slight sound.

Air passed soundlessly between her lips.

She watched the woods, so much darker here than nearer the town. Shadows danced along the ground beneath the trees where light played tricks on the eyes. She had always felt drawn to the woods, but without her whistle to protect her, she had always kept her distance.

Once, she had ventured in with her grandmother.

Their people avoided the woods at all cost, but once her grandmother had dared to walk the narrow path, Ren naught more than a toddler. Ren remembered clinging to her grandmother’s hand, stumbling along the dirt path, her face buried in her grandmother’s full skirts.

Ren also remembered a great sadness. The weight of the trees bore down on them. Their shadows leaping and twisting along the path. Her grandmother was frightened and such fear confused young Ren. She remembered even then, being fascinated with the gnarled branches, the mysteries of the dark woods. But their pace had been swift and Ren was a child, she was nothing more than a spectator in her grandmother’s frantic wake.

Her grandmother had whistled nearly the entire journey. Ren had thought her whistling beautiful, but so different from her own mother’s. Where her mother had rejoiced at whistling in the woods, her grandmother’s whistle faltered and trilled.

The woods were dangerous that is what their people said. Only a whistle, pure and clear and strong could keep the darkness away.

Or so their people said.

The sky was turning brilliant shades of orange and pink and purple as the sun dipped low beyond the woods. Ren listened for the first low note of the night whistle. Her grandmother would be calling her in soon, but she loved to watch the woods at dusk.

The gray light of coming night, softened the sharp edges of the trees. The shadows stretched and faded as if preparing for sleep. And then along the narrow path, that she had never dared to walk again, the Night Shade would open.

Delicate flowers in all shades of night dotted the edges of the winding trail. With leaves of deepest green, they only showed their true beauty at night.

Tonight as Ren waited for her grandmother’s call to dinner, she watched the Night Shade open and at last heard the first low note of the night whistle. The flowers seemed to sway with the notes, opening in time. Without realizing what she was doing, Ren had walked toward the edge of the woods. She only wanted to see the Night Shade up close. Curious if they smelled as wondrous as they looked.

Her foot touched the path and the woods seemed to hum around her.

“I should go back,”she whispered, but her feet moved from memory and the heady smell of Night Shade calmed her thoughts. The smell she remembered from that first journey years ago, but something felt different this time. Not just that she was older and alone, without her grandmother’s whistle to protect her, no it was something else.

She moved along the path that seemed oddly familiar for one she had only traversed once before.

But no, she had not made this journey into the woods, it had been a journey out of the woods with her grandmother. She gasped at the memory.

She walked for a long while, the woods now dark and still. The Night Shade glowing faintly along the path, lighting her way. At last, just as the last of the night whistles faded, she heard something new. A soft humming wove through the trees, teasing the edges of her senses. Stronger the sound came, dark and low and smooth. The deep notes thrumming in her chest so as to make her heart flutter.

The sound pulsed through the woods, until every tree, flower and leaf seemed to throb with it. She swayed and stepped in time, drawn ever deeper along the path.

At last when the hum had reached a point when she could scarcely remember a time before it began, it stopped. She felt the loss in her whole being as her body buzzed with the last vibrations of the sound. She stood before a great wall of rock. The cliff face stretched high above her, the peak lost to the night.

Shadows moved along the rocks. As spiders on a wall. She might have been frightened but the buzzing sound had left her empty and the Night Shade’s scent had filled her. A shell of a girl, without thought of the dangers of the wood.

Whispers echoed along the rock face, buzzed in her ears. The humming almost began again, but more muted this time. A different song, played with the same notes.

A shadow moved away from the wall, gaining size and substance as it moved toward her.

“Why have you come?” The figure stood before her, tall and broad of chest. A man, not so different from the men of her village, though larger. He towered over her, his face hidden in shadow. His voice was low and thick, and hoarse as if from disuse.

Ren didn’t know why she had come. She felt as though she were only now awakening from a dream. Mentioning the pretty Night Shade seemed a childish venture now, and the memory of her toddler self seemed fleeting. In the moonlit shadow of this man, she could think of no reason to be here.

More shadows moved behind him. Fluid figures, that pulsed in and out of the darkness.

The man hummed deep in his chest at her continued silence.

Without thought, Ren found herself responding in kind.

A hum built deep in her belly and worked its way out, sounding clear and soft and pure. A high sweet note of longing. A longing for the woods, the Night Shade, for her whistle that could never be.

The man stood still in the night. The figures behind him frozen at the sound of her song.

When her note faded away, Ren could scarcely believe such a sound had come from her. She clutched at her throat, wanting to feel the vibrations again.

The man stepped toward her and grasped her chin firmly. His hands were coarse, callused, and his fingers spanned her entire jaw. She trembled under his sharp gaze as he leaned in to peer into her eyes.

“Who are you?” He whispered and she felt his breath upon her face. Behind him the other figures shifted nervously, excited whispers running through them.

She was many things. A girl of eight. A Myra that could not whistle. An orphan. A child too deep in the woods. A trespasser.

“Ren.” She whispered, and found that her voice hummed high and fast as a bird in flight. She was Ren, a note dancing on the air. The excitement of a fawn’s first leap, a squirrel at play, a humming song more joyful than her whistle could ever have been.

“Ren.” He said and she recognized the sound. The hum of a song long forgotten. Deep and low and strong as a buck leaping through the woods. Warm as a wolf with his pack. Loving as a father with his child.

He hummed again and it was a song of loss and love. Of one who had been taken and thought never to return. A song of a forbidden love and wife lost years ago. The low sweet hum of a child born and the high cry of a child gone.

Ren did not need to ask him anything, she closed her eyes and listened. The song wove around and through her, telling of her mother, a whistling sprite dancing at the woods’ edge. And of the young man, strong and stubborn and brave, that matched his song with hers. A man of the woods, deep and dark and forbidden. Her mother, of the light, young and sweet and fair. With a lilting whistle that was the promise of her people, and he with a song so very different.

Now only half the song remained.

The woods had called to her mother as they had called to Ren.

His song faded and Ren regarded the man before her. Her father.

In the distance she heard the faintest of whistles. A long, high whistle calling her name. She felt a pull toward her grandmother, soft and warm and familiar, but then her father hummed and his sound was all she’d ever known.

“Welcome home.” He said and she took his hand as he led her into the shadows.

Book Review: Kingdom of Ash and Briars

Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

Let me open with, I LOVED this book.

If you would like more details, please see below:

kingdom-of-ash-and-briar

Kingdom of Ash and Briars (2016, Holiday House, Young Adult Fantasy)

Sixteen-year-old Bristal is a perfectly average orphan, until she discovers she’s one of only three remaining elicromancers. Ancient, immortal beings, elicromancers were nearly wiped from existence after centuries of warring in the realm. Now Bristal in one of them, and an exceptionally powerful one at that. With the rare gift of shape-shifting, she can become anything or anyone she chooses. In an ancient battle of good versus evil, Bristal finds herself torn between two paths. As power builds within her she must decide to help the mortals of the realm, or release her power and face unknown terrors. Relying on her shape-shifting abilities, Bristal works toward the good of the realm, protecting princesses, disguising herself as a man, gaining the confidence of kings, and always working from the shadows. But war, and an army of darkness approaches, and Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Kingdom of Ash and Briars, written by Hannah West, is an incredible and engrossing new fantasy. Drawing inspiration from traditional fairy tales such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Mulan, the story weaves these tales together in an exciting and new way. Bristal is a likable and clever main character, and readers will appreciate both her strengths and her weaknesses. Though she is a powerful elicromancer, she is so well-written as to still have many human qualities, making her both believable and relatable. The world-building is quite good, though it’s a bit limited in scope. However, it is not difficult to envision Bristal’s world or feel a part of it.

This is a sweeping, epic fantasy, and it’s surprising that it was not written as a trilogy. The world, characters and plot are exceptionally well-crafted, and there is so much happening in the plot that the book could easily have been extended. For the most part, the pacing is well done, and it’s impressive the amount of information and plot twists that occur within 355 pages, but there were points in the story when the passing of time was unclear. The first part of the book also felt a bit rushed, and the villain was established somewhat hastily. The villain is perfectly terrifying and believable, but she only begins to feel really real toward the middle of the book.

Kingdom of Ash and Briars is a brilliant retelling of traditional tales. With exceptional creativity, swoon-worthy love interests, and sweeping scenes, this is one of the best new young adult fantasy books I have read in quite a while.

A beautifully told fantasy with strong female and male characters, fairy tale romance, action, and adventure. Highly recommended for teens and adults who enjoy fantasies and fairy tales.

Five stars for Bristal, may they each shine as bright as her elicrin stone.


Bonus Book Content

Check out the book on the publisher’s website with bonus questions for classroom discussions.

Learn more about author, Hannah West, at her website.

The Kingdom of Ash and Briars hits shelves September 15, 2016


Thank you to Holiday House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reading!


Quick Note:

Somehow I got all my dates completely wrong for upcoming blog tours and such. Probably because I had to rearrange my newspaper review schedule and I was looking at that old schedule when I posted. So…here is the updated (and correct) schedule for upcoming tours, reviews, interviews and such

September 15: Max at Night Blog Tour

September 20: You’re My Boo Book Review and Author Interview

September 22: The Storybook Knight Blog Tour and Author Interview

September 29: Guest Book Review by a young reader of Mysterium Book #1: The Black Dragon

I have also updated the original post 🙂

Book Review: Time for Bed, Sleepyhead

Time for Bed, Sleepyhead: The Falling Asleep Book

time for bed

Written by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. and illustrated by Gail Yerrill

In this hypnotic book written by renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel G. Amen, children are encouraged to fall asleep through visualization techniques and calming words. As the Little Bear in the story snuggles into bed, Mama Bear explains why sleep is so important and then tells him a story. With an emphasis on imagination, the book’s storytelling style encourages children to close their eyes and imagine that what is happening to Little Bear, is actually happening to them.

I found this book quite intriguing but I’m a bit torn on how to review it.

First the things I loved:

The illustrations are darling and definitely help move the story along. All the little animals are lovingly made and give the book a soft, sweet feel, perfect for a quiet bedtime book.

I also love the idea of this book. The style of writing makes the reader feel like Mama Bear is talking directly to you. This is fun and I think children will feel very engaged in the story. I love that the book encourages children to visualize what is happening and close their eyes and relax. I think this technique would be fun and effective for getting children to quiet down and prepare for sleep.

It’s not that I didn’t love other parts of the book, I just found it to feel a bit clinical. The doctor is using techniques he has applied in his own practice in the way he tells this story. For some reason this felt a bit weird to me. The story isn’t bad and the technique isn’t bad, it’s just when the two combine in a children’s story, it didn’t completely work for me.

The book is trying to do two things. Be a lovely, sweet bedtime story, and also a step-by-step, hypnotic, persuasive tool.

I believe the joining of these two concepts leads to the awkward feeling I had while reading it. The warning at the beginning of the book also seemed a bit strange. The book warns to not read aloud in a car as it may cause the driver to become drowsy.

I recognized the techniques used in the book from some relaxation exercises I did in a class at school once. I think these techniques are fun and effective, and if the book is looked at as only a tool for these techniques, then I think it is excellent.

If you are looking for a fun, quiet story that can be enjoyed anytime, then this is not the book you are looking for.

For what this book is doing, by combining a form of visualization similar to hypnosis and still providing a fairly decent story, I think it does the best it can.

I would recommend this book as long as you purchase it knowing, it really is “The Falling Asleep Book” and is not just a cute bedtime story.