Who Run the World?

Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s been far too long since I last posted. While I have been keeping up each week with my newspaper column and sharing lots of reviews there, I have not been keeping up with my blog. Sad day.

To make up for my absence, I am sharing THREE book reviews with you today!

Get excited.

And as a bonus, and in honor of International Women’s Day, these books all feature strong female protagonists!

Happy Reading and Happy International Women’s Day! 🙂


carolines comets

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story (2017, Holiday House, Picture Book Non-Fiction)

Caroline Herschel made history in 1786 when she became the first woman to discover a comet. But her journey began long before that, and it was not an easy road to becoming a highly respected scientist and astronomer. Caroline’s journey is inspiring and incredible, as she worked hard to achieve her goals at a time when women were afforded few opportunities.

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story, written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, is a fascinating account of Caroline Hershel, who not only discovered comets, but became the first female professional scientist, earning a salary from the King of England. Filled with interesting facts, detailed illustrations, and even excerpts from Caroline’s own journals, this is a beautiful book to share with young readers. Caroline’s journey is inspiring as she overcame many obstacles in her life before she even dreamed of becoming an astronomer. Young readers will look up to Caroline and all she accomplished as a woman and a scientist.

Highly recommended for ages 6 and up.

5 stars shooting across the sky!


runs with courage

Runs With Courage (2016, Sleeping Bear Press, Middle Grade Historical Fiction)

When ten-year-old Four Winds is taken from her Lakota tribe and sent to a white boarding school, she doesn’t understand the new world that surrounds her. She imagines she might be a bridge for her people and learn the ways of the white people, but as she learns more, she realizes the white ways are meant to replace all the things she’s ever known. Four Winds wants to run. She wants to run away from the white school and home to her people, but there are bigger things at stake than just what she wants.

Runs With Courage, written by Joan M. Wolf, is a touching, and heart-wrenching portrayal of life for Native Americans in the late 1800’s. This book is written with care and thoughtful consideration of all that was done during this period. Though the story is fiction, readers will gain knowledge of the how the Lakota tribes lived, as well as the actions of the U.S. Government during this time.

The story is written in first person, and delivered in a straightforward manner as fits the main character’s personality. Four Winds is strong and brave, and young readers will look up to her and root for her. The fictional life of Four Winds represents so many young girls who did face her harsh reality. While the girls might starve with their tribes, boarding schools offered food if only they would give up all they had ever known.

Thought-provoking and extraordinary, the story of Four Winds will stay with the reader long after her book has ended. Highly recommended for children ages 10 and up.

5 stars to guide Four Winds


future threat

Future Threat (2017, Albert Whitman & Company, Young Adult Science Fiction)

From the publisher:

The second book in the New York Times bestselling Future Shock trilogy!

Six months ago Aether Corporation sent Elena, Adam, and three other recruits on a trip to the future where they brought back secret information–but not everyone made it back to the present alive. Now Elena’s dealing with her survivor’s guilt and trying to make her relationship with Adam work. All she knows for sure is that she’s done with time travel and Aether Corporation.

But Aether’s not done with her–or Adam, or fellow survivor Chris. The travelers on Aether’s latest mission to the future have gone missing, and Elena and her friends are drafted into the rescue effort. They arrive in a future that’s amazingly advanced, thanks to Aether Corporation’s reverse-engineered technology. The mission has deadly consequences, though, and they return to the future to try to alter the course of events.

But the future is different yet again. Now every trip through time reveals new complications, and more lives lost–or never born. Elena and Adam must risk everything–including their relationship–to save their friends.

Review:

Future Threat, written by Elizabeth Briggs, is the second book in the Future Shock trilogy. Last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing Future Shock and so I was eager to review this book at well. As with the first book, the pace is quick and the plot moves right along as Elena and the others zip back and forth through time once more. As with the first book, the fast pace makes both character and relationship development difficult, but at the same time, the characters don’t feel exceptionally flat. Elena is still an interesting, engaging and daring main character, while other characters fill their roles and provide support to the plot.

This science fiction adventure is lots of fun to read, and once again, the time travel aspect is very well written. This is a sequel that definitely builds off the first book, and keeps the twists and energy going. I enjoyed this book just as much, if not more, than the first, and I look forward to the third installment in this trilogy.

This book is a fast read, and written in a straightforward style that will appeal to many readers. Readers who enjoyed Future Shock are likely to enjoy Future Threat, as well as fans of science fiction, action, and teenage angst. This would be a good one to add to the summer reading list!

Best for ages 13 and up due to some scenes of violence and adult situations.

4 stars for Elena traveling through time.


Thank you to Holiday House, Sleeping Bear Press, and Albert Whitman & Co. for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

You can find each of these books at your local book retailer or online.

At Amazon:

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story

Runs With Courage

Future Threat

Book Review: A Monster Calls

Oh my goodness, what to say about this book!

Firstly, I can say I loved it. And secondly, I can’t stop thinking about it.

This is actually a review of a specific edition…the newly released Special Collectors’ Edition and it is, in a word, stunning!

A Monster Calls was first published in 2011, but I only recently heard about it. I read a review on a blog I follow, and I was about to purchase a copy when the opportunity to get a review copy came up. It really seemed like it was meant to be 🙂

In anticipation of the upcoming motion picture release, the Special Collectors’ Edition combines the original novel with bonus material including interviews with Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones and Lewis MacDougall.

There is also additional material from Patrick Ness, Jim Kay and director J.A. Bayona.

The story behind the novel is as fascinating as the novel itself and I loved all the bonus material as well as learning more about Siobhan Dowd who drafted the original idea for this story but passed away before she could write it.

Drawing from Siobhan Dowd’s original idea and outline, Patrick Ness wrote A Monster Calls. Writing a book from another’s notes presented a daunting task and he worried about doing her idea justice. His goal with A Monster Calls was both to stay true to Siobhan’s original idea but not try to imitate her and instead write a story he felt she would enjoy.

I’m curious to read her books after learning more about her, and while I have no idea what type of book she would like, I feel A Monster Calls is a beautiful work and a moving tribute to her life.

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls: Special Collectors’ Edition (2016, Candlewick Press, Middle-Grade Magical Realism)

a-monster-calls

The monster arrives outside Conor’s window just after midnight. He’s just awoken from his nightmare, so he can’t possibly be dreaming, and this is definitely not the monster from his nightmares. That monster has tormented his dreams each night since his mother started her treatments, but now this new monster arrives and though it is huge and wild, Conor finds himself drawn to it. But the monster wants something from Conor. It wants something terrible and real, and Conor doesn’t want to give what the monster wants.

A Monster Calls, written by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Jim Kay, will draw the reader into Conor’s world with the very first line.

“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”

Patrick Ness writes beautifully, and every passage breathes magic. From the monster’s first words, to his last, he is a rich and developed character. This is magical realism at its best.

Conor is easy to relate to and sympathize with as he struggles with his mother’s illness. The interactions between him and the monster are moving, amusing, and at times heart breaking. Stubborn, willful, but at his core a very good child, the reader will suffer as Conor suffers.

There are not enough words to capture the magic felt while reading this book, and I think part of this feeling stems from the incredible illustrations. In this special edition, the illustrations are discussed in detail and I gained an even greater appreciation for the thought and time that went into the production of this work of art. For it truly is a masterpiece.  monster-calls-inside-page

I highly recommend reading this book, however I do not recommend reading it on an airplane, at the bus station, at work, ummm… pretty much anywhere you wouldn’t want to be observed having a good, ugly cry. Because if you read this book, that’s what will happen.

This edition would make a beautiful and treasured gift for any book lover in your life.

5 stars and more to fill the midnight sky

A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness.


The Movie

a-monster-calls-2016-trailers-posters

The movie released in Spain early in October, and in the U.S., a limited release of the movie is scheduled for sometime in December of this year.

The movie stars Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones and Lewis MacDougall. And the screenplay was written by Patrick Ness.

a-monster-calls-movie


Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Reviews! Fantastic Picture Books

Can you believe there are only 38 days until Christmas?

I love Christmas so much and this year it’s even more fun because I have a blog where I can share books that would be perfect for….GIFTS!

I might be biased, but books are the best gifts 🙂

If you want to give your child the world, give them a book.

Is that an exaggeration? I think not.

I will be sharing lots of books leading into the gift-giving season and some books in particular that make good gifts (collector’s editions, activity books, etc.)

And today I have three new picture books to share with you. They are all fun but two of them are simply outstanding!

Happy Reading!


Also An Octopus (2016, Candlewick Press, Picture Book)

also-an-octopus

Every story starts with the same thing….nothing. But a story about nothing isn’t very interesting. A story can be about anything and what happens next is up to you!

In, Also An Octopus, written by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and illustrated by Benji Davies, an Octopus plays a ukulele and attempts to build a rocket ship, but that is not really what this story is about. This story is about writing and creating tales of your own. Breaking down the mechanics of writing a story through the adventure of an octopus, is a fantastically fun way to spark imagination and creativity in children (and adults). While this is a great book to share with children who may struggle with creating stories, this is also an instructive text for older children, teens, and even adults who might overthink the writing process. This whimsical book reminds us that stories can be about anything if you follow some basic guidelines, and that every story starts from something we all have…nothing.

Highly recommended for children of all ages and others who enjoy writing.

5 stars to start your next story


We Found A Hat (2016, Candlewick Press, Picture Book)

we-found-a-hat

When two turtles find a hat they must try it on. The hat looks good on both of them, but there is only one hat. What is a turtle to do?

We Found A Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen, is the third in his trilogy of picture books about animals with hats. Having not read the others, it can only be assumed they are as fantastic and funny as this book. With sparse text and expressive illustrations, We Found A Hat tells a surprisingly powerful story of friendship and sharing. Funny and clever, this book is everything a reader wants from a picture book, and made this reviewer laugh out loud. While the comedic value may be too subtle for very young readers, older readers and adults will enjoy this tale of two turtles.

Highly recommended for children and adults of all ages.

5 stars to put on your hat…or to share with all your friends.


The Bear Who Wasn’t There (2016, Roaring Brook Press, Picture Book)

the-bear-who-wasnt-there

Bear is missing! He’s supposed to be in this book, but no one has seen him. Will he ever show up? All the animals join in to help search for Bear.

The Bear Who Wasn’t There, written and illustrated by LeUyen Pham, is a playful text about a character who is missing from the book. This book is supposed to be about a bear, but he is nowhere to be found. With a cynical duck narrator, the book proceeds to scour a new location with each page turn, as duck searches for bear but finds every other animal instead. This format of storytelling has been done before, but it is still fun and children will love the style. With comedic illustrations and lots of dialogue bubbles, children will enjoy reading through this book on their own, and it is sure to get lots of giggles.

Recommended for children ages 5 to 8.

4 stars to whoever finds the bear.


Thank you to Candlewick Press and Roaring Brook Press for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday Special: Berenstain Bears Bedtime Devotional

The Berenstain Bears Bedtime Devotional

bedtime-devotional

Once again, I get to review a fun Berenstain Bears book 🙂

Growing up with the Bear family makes me nostalgic every time I review one of these new books from Zonderkidz. I love that there is a whole new series of Bear stories that can be enjoyed by our youngest generation.

As you know from previous reviews, the new Berenstain Bears books have a Christian theme to them. The messages focus on love, kindness, working together, and solving disagreements. All the same messages the original books encouraged, but now with a Bible verse tied in.

The Bedtime Devotional book is a great compilation of 90 devotions to be shared with your child at bedtime. Each page includes a Bible verse, a short Bear family story or reflection, and a small prayer. Some pages also include a paragraph encouraging children to think about something in particular as they fall asleep. Accompanied by an illustration featuring the Berenstain Bears, this book is perfect for short attention spans and for a quick read before bed.

Bound in a small hardback format with an attached ribbon for book marking pages, the size and format is perfect for small hands.

The book opens with a longer bedtime prayer and then the book is divided into nine chapters, each with a specific focus. For example, in the “Be A Good Friend” chapter, each of the devotionals relates in some way to being a good friend to others. If your child has had a trying day, the chapters make it easy to locate a devotion that might resonate particularly well.

Overall, a beautiful book that would make a great gift for little ones.


Thank you to Book Look Bloggers and Zonderkidz for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Reviews!

I am so behind on book reviews.

I have been reviewing books for my column every week, but then the week gets away from me and those reviews don’t make it to the blog. Sad day.

Anyway, I am trying to play catch up by posting a several reviews in one post. This is like a giant food baby book review post. Your head might actually explode, or implode…I’m not really sure.

Also, I went to a writing conference last weekend and it was glorious! I met so many wonderful, wonderful people and I have been feeling INSPIRED!

That is a topic for another day. Today is about books! I did get some good books at the conference too 🙂

Mostly picture book reviews today with a chapter book thrown in. I saved my favorites for the end 🙂  I hope you find something you like or let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought.

Happy Reading!


lola-going-green

Last-But-Not-Least Lola: Going Green (2013, Boyds Mills Press, Chapter Book)

Lola Zuckerman seems to come in last at everything. Her last name does start with a “Z” after all. But Lola is tired of being last and sets out to win her classroom’s Going Green contest. There’s just one problem, Amanda Anderson, her former best friend, is first in the alphabet and first in most other things. Lola needs to win the contest but she needs to beat Amanda to do it.

Last-But-Not-Least Lola: Going Green is the first in a new chapter book series written by Christine Pakkala and illustrated by Paul Hoppe. While the story is cute, Lola’s narration feels a bit immature for her being in second grade. The classroom contest is fun and might give readers some great ideas for going green in their own lives, but Lola comes across as a poor sport and even rude at times. The dynamics with her former friend leave Lola looking like the worst friend in the world, and I don’t know that readers will have much sympathy for her at times. The story does get better toward the end, and nearly redeems itself. While adults will likely not find Lola amusing, first and second grade readers might enjoy Lola’s antics. This would be a fun read for Earth Day or to tie in with some other activity or celebration about caring for the Earth.

3 stars for Lola’s going green idea.

Look for reviews of other books in this series coming soon!


cat-knit

Cat Knit (2016, Fiewel and Friends, Picture Book)

Cat and Girl have always been friends. Then Girl brings home Yarn and Cat has a new friend! Cat and Yarn do everything together but Girl wants to play with Yarn too. Cat doesn’t like this new friendship between Girl and Yarn. He just wants his Yarn back.

Cat Knit, written and illustrated by Jacob Grant, is a cute tale of friendship and change. The crayon and charcoal illustrations are lovely and help move the story forward. The story is absolutely charming until about three quarters of the way through, then the pace suddenly picks up and the story is over just as Cat decides maybe the new Yarn is okay. While the ending is satisfying, and the plot is both slightly predictable while also being clever, the change in pacing really throws off the whole feel of the story. Children will likely enjoy this story and it’s a fun winter tale, but adults may be left feeling a bit let down.

3 stars – one each for Cat and Yarn and Girl


night-the-stars-went-out

The Night the Stars Went Out (2016, Capstone, Picture Book)

Alien has an important job. He must shine all the stars every night. His job is so important he never has time for fun, but that’s OK because Alien loves his job. Then one night, the unthinkable happens….all the stars go out! Alien tries everything he can think of but the stars stay out. How will Alien ever turn the stars back on?

The Night the Stars Went Out, written and illustrated by Suz Hughes, reiterates the message that all work and no play makes for a dull life. The tale starts out beautifully with the unique world of Alien polishing stars and hilariously trying to fix them, but then Alien leaves for Earth and the story loses a bit of its magic. The story wraps up a bit too neatly after such a brilliant set up and, while the ending is cute, the reader might feel a bit dissatisfied.

4 stars to keep Alien busy


the-quiet-book

The Quiet Book (2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Picture Book)

Whimsical animals quietly come together in this charming book as the reader learns there are many kinds of quiet.

In, The Quiet Book, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska, the reader goes on a wonderfully quiet journey through many everyday activities. With fun twists on kinds of “quiet” the reader will look at the world in a new way. From “Making a wish quiet” to “top of the roller coaster quiet”, adults and children will think of silent moments, and emotions, in new and fun descriptive terms. Brilliant and beautiful, this book is sure to be a favorite at bed time. Gorgeous illustrations add weight and charm to the clever text, creating a book that needs to be read again and again. Highly recommended for children of all ages.

5 stars hanging in the sky quiet


solutions-for-cold-feet

Solutions for Cold Feet and Other Little Problems (2016, Penguin Random House Canada, Picture Book)

A girl and her dog run into all sorts of problems as they go about their day. Luckily they have solutions too! Some solutions are better than others but as long as they are together they can handle cold feet and other little problems.

Solutions for Cold Feet and Other Little Problems, written and illustrated by Carey Sookocheff, is delivered in simple, short sentences and carried by the illustrations. The text is perfect for beginning readers to tackle alone, while the story is engaging enough for parents to enjoy reading it with their children too. This is a great read as winter approaches and the weather gets chilly. The story is soft and lovely, and will warm your heart and your feet.

5 stars to shine on a cold winter night


books-do-not-have-wings

Books Do Not Have Wings (2016, Sleeping Bear Press, Picture Book)

A book is more than just a book…because books do not have wings. Take a wild ride where anything is possible and climb ladders into the clouds. Sail a ship, see a dragon, and fly high with your imagination. Where will this book take you?

Books Do Not Have Wings, written by Brynne Barnes and illustrated by Rogerio Coelho, is simply stunning in words and in pictures. The text of the story will carry the reader away on a magical journey made even greater by the fantastic and whimsical illustrations. With bold strokes and an incredibly imaginative flair, each spread of this book is breath-taking.

The premise of this book about books, is that a book is just a book until the reader picks it up. Once a book is read, it becomes so much more than just a book. Books are flat objects of paper and ink, but the stories on their pages have wings to carry the reader anywhere. And this book fulfills that promise and will carry the reader far.

Children and adults will linger on every page taking in the elaborate and intricate illustrations or reading the poetic lines again and again.

With nods to fairy tales and traditional characters, this book touches on a multitude of children’s literary staples. If any book could inspire a child to seek out other books, this one will.

5 beautiful, brilliant stars to light the reader’s way


Thank you to all the publishers for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review. Each of these reviews also appeared within my newspaper column sometime in the past month.

Spooky Stories!

Looking for some fun Halloween stories for the whole family?

I’ve been reading spooky stories all month and some are more sweet than spooky, perfect for sharing with even the youngest book lover.


mystery-of-the-haunted-farm

The Mystery of the Haunted Farm (2016, Nosy Crow/Candlewick, Picture Book)

Something spooky is going on at Farmer Greg’s farm. Ghosts, zombies, and slimy things are everywhere! Farmer Greg calls in the Ghost-Hunters and those three pigs get to work. But when they get out their Scare-O-Meter, it doesn’t detect anything unusual at the farm. Something really scary is going on!

The Mystery of the Haunted Farm, written and illustrated by Elys Dolan, is silly, spooky fun just in time for Halloween! The layout is similar to a comic book with speech in bubbles and some illustrations framed in sequence. There is a lot going on in both the illustrations and the text, and little ones will likely want to examine each illustration closely. While this might not be the most read-aloud friendly book due to the vast number of speech bubbles on some pages, it could definitely be a fun book to enjoy with beginning and independent readers where you and the young reader take turns reading pages. The format of this book isn’t for everyone, and some may find the pages too chaotic with the number of random words and dialogue. But for those who like comics or non-traditional formats, this book is a fun and silly read, perfect for sharing with children on Halloween.

4 stars to scare away the zombie ducks!


hubble-bubble

Hubble Bubble: The Super Spooky Fright Night (2016, Nosy Crow/Candlewick, Chapter-Book)

When Pandora’s Granny tries to help, things never go as planned. And since Granny is a witch, her magic makes even the most mundane situations ridiculous. From dancing pumpkins at a party, to teddy bears coming to life, to a flat tire turning into a circus, life with Granny is always an adventure!

The Super Spooky Fright Night, written by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Joe Berger, is the first book in a fun new series for young independent readers. It’s difficult to find beginning chapter books that are both easy to read and have an engaging storyline, and this book definitely delivers. The characters are fun, and the situations are sure to get lots of giggles. Broken down by chapters and divided into three parts, this book is actually three short books in one. The format is great for those with short attention spans or as a quick story before bed. The length makes young readers feel like they are reading a book for older children, but it is still fully illustrated to keep their attention. This is a book parents will enjoy reading aloud, and can also be enjoyed by independent readers ages six to eight.

5 stars for Granny’s next magical potion!


Thank you to Net Galley and Candlewick for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

The Midnight Glass

Hello all!

I’m excited to present you with a wonderful new middle-grade dark fantasy! I had planned to do several spooky posts all month long, and while I achieved that goal in my newspaper column, I can’t say the same for the blog.

But, to make up for it….I will be posting Halloween posts every day starting today through Monday!

This might cut into my Hocus Pocus watching time, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice…only for you.

I’m kicking off this fun weekend with a big post! I have a review, a publisher interview and an author interview to share. Get excited 🙂

And now…on with the show!

The Midnight Glass

the-midnight-glass

When I first heard of this book, I was immediately intrigued by the title. And I’ll admit, I did judge it by its cover…because I loved the cover!

Then I watched the book trailer….

And I knew I had to read this book!

I love that this book is from a new publisher and they have put forth a fantastic first book. The cover design, layout and feel of the book is fantastic. I would not have known this was a publisher’s first attempt if they hadn’t told me.


The Midnight Glass (2016, Branford Books, Middle-Grade Dark Fantasy)

When Wyatt’s mom accepts a new job, their family moves to the mysterious town of Davenport. Secretive and secluded, the town exists deep in the woods locked behind a gate. Wyatt is excited for the move, until they actually arrive. He thinks he must be seeing things when his classmates have green skin, gills, fangs and more! But the residents of Davenport aren’t the only mysterious thing…Wyatt learns the greatest mystery of all is that Davenport hasn’t seen the sun in over 400 years. As he adjusts to life in eternal darkness, Wyatt learns more and more about Davenport’s deadly secrets.

The Midnight Glass, written by D.T. Vaughn, is a great dark fantasy for Middle-Grade readers. With just the right amount of creepiness, readers will be eager to learn more about Davenport without being too scared to read in the dark. Readers will identify with Wyatt as he is bullied at his school and then doesn’t quite fit in at his new school in Davenport either. As Wyatt makes friends and stands up to bullies, children will root for him. Adding in all the fantasy elements, including curses and weird creatures, plus the normalcy of middle school, moving, and fitting in, makes this a book that touches on many popular themes. Some may find the pacing a bit slow, but most will be drawn into the rich world crafted by the author. Fantasy seems to be a popular genre for Middle-Grade, and adding the darker elements will likely appeal to many readers.

This story has all the elements to make it a hit with readers ages 9 to 12. For the hard to please pre-teen boys, this is an especially good choice.

Imaginative and fun, this book will have readers imagining their own Davenport, and all the adventure they might have there.

4 stars to hang in the brilliant night sky of Davenport!

Interview with Branford Books

I’m excited to introduce you all to a new face in the publishing world. Branford Books has debuted with a strong title in The Midnight Glass, and I’m excited to help spread the word! They were also kind enough to sit down and answer some questions about their new company and the future of Branford Books.

When was Branford Books established and what is your mission? 

Branford Books began in 2016 with the idea of starting something fresh for the publishing industry. Our goal is to bring new and exciting fantasy books to readers of all ages. We started our mission with one of our favorite genres, middle-grade.

Who is the owner/founder of Branford Books?

Branford Books is comprised of editor Shawn Conley, publicist Lauren Ruggles, and D. T. Vaughn, our first author.

What kinds of books do you publish?

Fantasy is at our forefront for books we’d like to publish, and that really umbrellas all of the subgenres from urban to high-fantasy to more subtle themes. Ultimately, we love books that spark the imagination and have well-designed characters to tug at our heart strings.

Congratulations on the release of your first novel, THE MIDNIGHT GLASS! Do you have any more releases planned for the near future?

Thank you for the well wishes for THE MIDNIGHT GLASS. We really hope the book captures readers like it has captured us! We are putting a lot of our energy behind this project because we feel that it deserves it; but as soon as 2017 rolls around, expect to see some enchanting new stories.

Are you open to submissions? And if so, how can an aspiring (or established) author submit to you?

At this time, we are not taking unsolicited material. However, that may change. We invite authors to visit our website and subscribe to our mailing list for updates.

What have been the biggest struggles with starting a publishing company?

The publishing industry is constantly changing and that can be a challenge. We love this business and we’re stockpiling new and exciting ideas to spark reader interest.

What do you hope for the future of Branford Books?

We aim to establish followings of fantasy readers who are always looking for the next exhilarating read. We also intend to have some of our books shift to new media like movies and television. It’s a process we’ve already begun, and it’s more thrilling than we could have ever imagined!

Anything else you’d like to say about Branford Books or THE MIDNIGHT GLASS?

If you’re a reader who loves Roald Dahl’s Matilda, Louis Sachar’s Holes, or Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, we couldn’t recommend a better book for you than THE MIDNIGHT GLASS. It’s the dark fantasy novel about a lovable boy against the deadliest of odds. Get it in print and eBook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or our site, BranfordBooks.com.

Interview with author D.T. Vaughn

The author of The Midnight Glass was kind enough to answer a few questions about the writing process and life as an author. I’m excited to share this interview with you and hope it offers some valuable insight into the writing process.

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

I started writing when I was about eight or nine years old. I would create little short stories in class and read them aloud to the other kids during story time. The first set of little books I wrote were called The Homework Stealer series. They were about a little man who secretly crept in at night and stole kids’ homework! Come to think of it… that might make a really good series now. The Midnight Glass is my first full-length book. I’m both the writer and the illustrator.

Where do you find your writing inspiration?

I often find myself coming up with ideas while I’m on the treadmill. It’s a funny place to think of them, but I just blank out to the world and imagine characters interacting with each other. My nephews are also huge inspirations for my middle-grade ideas. They have a lot of energy and it really sticks to me when I think about kids and how they experience the world.

What inspired you to write THE MIDNIGHT GLASS?

For THE MIDNIGHT GLASS, I pulled ideas from my past and present. As a kid I was obsessed with the idea of living amongst werewolves and mermaids. So, I decided to create a world based on that. My family also gave me a lot of inspiration to write this book.

How long did it take you to write THE MIDNIGHT GLASS?

The first draft took about a month. However, there were many, many more drafts after that and the book took about nine months to complete.

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

A rock star! And I was! For years I wrote music in a band and toured the nation. It was a lot of fun and I met a lot of great people. Maybe one day I’ll write about that, too.

What was your favorite book as a child?

That’s a tough one to answer! I was a huge fan of Roald Dahl, but I also loved Louis Sachar’s Sideways Stories from Wayside School. I think I’ve read that book more times than any other. He did a fantastic job of bringing to life each student and giving them an identity, wish, and purpose.

Who has most inspired you in your writing career?

In college, I worked at an elementary school full of amazing kids. They loved my weird drawings and stories about things like gluttonous hamsters and thieving goldfish. That was about ten years ago, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I often pull inspiration from what they liked the most.

What struggles have you faced on your way to becoming an author?

At first, the hardest part was the risk. I’m a full-time writer and I freelance various projects. However, starting a business can be scary. I worked nonstop for months before taking the leap and doing it full-time. Now taking risks is just part of the job and it’s crazy to see how they can work out.

What advice would you give to young writers?

First, writing is a career. If you love doing it, then you should go for it! Second, write as much as you can to improve. Third, ask for both praise and constructive criticism from peers and professionals. The praise will help determine your strengths and the constructive criticism will help you improve the gaps.

Name one interesting fact about yourself unrelated to writing 🙂

I’m a self-described sloth enthusiast! Even just seeing a sloth makes my eyes water with joy. Okay, that makes me sound crazy, but I don’t care–I love them!

Where can readers learn more about you and your books?

I invite everyone to visit TheMidnightGlass.com to watch the stunning book trailer and to read more about me. I’m also available for readings and lectures if you want to meet me in person, just visit BranfordBooks.com for the contact.

Anything else you’d like to mention about THE MIDNIGHT GLASS or your writing career?

Thank you to everyone who has read this interview. Branford Books is a small business, which means that word of mouth means the world. If you liked THE MIDNIGHT GLASS, please tell your friends and family. Maybe even order a copy for a kid you know for the holidays. Hopefully, they’ll enjoy it, too! Again, thank you for your support. I greatly appreciate it.


Eager to experience the world of Davenport and learn about the midnight glass? Check it out for yourself! The Midnight Glass is available now!


Thank you to Branford Books and D.T. Vaughn for taking time participate in my interviews and for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Secret of Goldenrod

The Secret of Goldenrod

Written By Jane O’Reilly

 

“The littlest things make you happy.”

“As the littlest things should,” Augustine said.

I requested this book when it first became available on Net Galley, and it has been a struggle not to start reading it right away. But I have to keep to my schedule if I want to get all my reviews done, and so I had to put off reading this for months and months while it continued to taunt me from my virtual shelf.

peer

Then Lerner Publishing put out this great behind-the-scenes blog post about the editing process and they used The Secret of Goldenrod as their example.

As you can see by my comment on their post, I’ve waited since April to read this book!

I loved their post for two reasons:

1. It had an outstanding (and super short) excerpt from the book, and 2. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the publishing process.

But now, at last, I have read The Secret of Goldenrod and get to share it with you all.

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With an October 1st publishing date, this is the perfect tale to kick off Halloween season.

A lonely girl…
A mysterious old house…
An antique doll.

So many things intrigued me about this book, but the antique doll really did it. What’s not to love about a possibly haunted house and creepy antique doll?

There are many things I loved about this book, but let me start with the one thing I didn’t love. I’ll get that out of the way, and then the rest of the post will just be a profession of all the wonderful things about this book.

For a book centering around a haunted house, the story was not very scary. I realize this is a middle-grade novel, so we don’t want to terrify young children, but a few times the story had the opportunity to crank up the scariness, and it fell just short of the spine-tingling mark. As it shied away from delivering truly scary scenes, it also shied away from dealing with heavy issues faced by the main character and her father.

And that’s all I’m going to say on that note, because overall I thought the book was great, and it will be a fantastic Halloween read for many young readers. In fact, the lack of terrifying scenes probably makes it better for many readers (and their parents).

These are a few of my favorite things

This book is chock full of fantastic middle-grade themes.

  1. Loneliness
  2. Family
  3. Making Friends
  4. Fitting In

While Trina is not your average fifth grader, she is someone children will still relate to. The only daughter of a single father, she loves school but faces “new kid” challenges nearly every year as her father moves a lot to fix up old houses.

This year, her new school jitters are compounded by the fact the whole town thinks Goldenrod, the house her and her father are living and working in, is haunted. With no friends, and no desire to return to school, Trina throws herself into the work with her father and ends up finding a mysterious and beautiful antique doll.

Trina is headstrong and adventurous, but that doesn’t get her into quite as much trouble as the reader might expect. As I mentioned before, the book shies away from anything too dastardly, so Trina approaches, but always stays well away from crossing the lines of temptation and trouble making. That’s not to say she doesn’t find herself in precarious situations, its just that the situations always work out a little too perfectly.

With a small cast of main characters, Trina and her doll take the spotlight with the house also featuring as a major character in its own way. Trina’s dad is a lovable character and the changing dynamics between him and his growing daughter are amusing and sweet. While Trina is the most developed character, the other characters don’t feel flat or act as fillers. Each character serves a purpose, and ultimately plays an important part in the story arc.

Weaving in generous amounts of traditional fairy tales, the story has a magical charm about it that is reminiscent of childhood, when anything seemed possible. I left this book wanting to read old fairy tales and renovate a Victorian house….and possibly play with antique dolls.

A beautifully told tale of family and home, this story is full of thought-provoking moments and poignant quotes. While I wish heavy emotions had been dealt with more directly and openly, this book still has resounding messages of love and forgiveness, which will resonate with readers of all ages.

This is a book children will adore. Highly recommended for children 8 and up.

5 stars for the book to wear forever and ever.

“What is more special than forever and ever?”

Thank you to Net Galley and Lerner Publishing for a reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday Special

Hello to all and I hope you had a wonderful and rejuvenating weekend!

I’m bringing you a new review today thanks to Book Look Bloggers and Zonderkidz!

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I received a copy of Love Letters from God Holy Bible NIrV, and once again, I am impressed with the Bibles Zonderkidz produces for children.

This book contains the complete text of the New International Reader’s Version of the Bible alongside letters for the reader which are formatted to be “written by God”.

The idea of God writing letters directly to the child is fun and a creative way to engage young children with Biblical text. Unlike some other children’s Bibles that only have a few inserts throughout, there are 80 letters throughout the book plus other bonus content like full-color inserts and writing prompts.

The letters encourage personal reflection and offer greater understanding of selected verses. By encouraging children to write their own letter to God, children are offered a different way to connect with God and the scripture.

Something to perhaps keep in mind, is to make sure children understand the letters aren’t really from God and those aren’t his true word, but they are a lovely way to facilitate his word and interpret it for children.

This Bible would be great for church libraries, children’s church and other church lessons for younger children.


Thank you to Zonderkidz and Booklook Bloggers for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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.