Saturday, July 30, 2016

Author Interview #4 - Claressa Swensen

I am so excited to be doing my first author interview with a Children's Book Author! Little Boy and I reviewed her books a little while back and we adored them! So here's my interview with this gorgeous lady, Claressa Swensen!


Why did you decide to write kid's books? 
Well, I've always had a passion for creating things and I also really love kids (probably because I'm a child at heart myself), so I guess it's only natural I fell into writing children's books.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?
When I was 15, I got my first job as a nanny, and have always worked as a nanny since then. I used to come up with fun stories to tell the kids that would teach little lessons, like learning to share or being kind to your siblings. So when I decided to hire an illustrator and publish my first story, there was a huge feeling of accomplishment there. And seeing the children interact and learn from my books has been the most rewarding part of it all. I guess writing has become a part of who I am, and I could never see myself quitting.

What is your favorite genre to read? Or how about a favorite author or book(s) that inspires your writing career? 
Well, I've always loved the Berenstain Bears' books. I try to incorporate the same meaningful values into my stories.

Who doesn't love the Berenstain Bears :) Okay, now for a fun little question: a favorite food? 
I enjoy ethnic foods. I love trying new things. My favorites are Curry and Italian!

Okay, how about anything else you would like to share with us? 
I actually just released the first book in a new Dinosaur rhyming series called "Dino Dino Doing Homework". The pictures are phenomenal and every one of my stories teaches a valuable lesson.
(Little Boy and I reviewed this one and loved it!)

Claressa, thank you so much for taking the time to interview with me! And if you'd like to stop by and say hi to her, you can follow Claressa on Facebook. Her books are also available on Amazon and YoungsterKids! Go check them out if you're looking for an adorable read for your little ones!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mash-Up Review #1 - Claressa Swensen

I was recently approached by children's book author, Claressa Swensen, and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a few of her books for my blog. Of course, I said yes! Little Boy and I are always looking for new books to read! Most of the time, I like to get physical copies for him but lately, he is having so much fun turning the "pages" on the Galaxy tablet that I am just as willing to review Kindle books. And that's what we have here!

I am also going to try something a bit different. If I have multiple books that I want to showcase from an author, I'm going to do these mash-up reviews. You'll still get my opinions on each book (as well as what Little Boy seemed to think of them), but it will be in one post. So let's give it a try!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Book Review #15 "To Have and To Hold" by Serena Bell

Recently, I received another amazing romance novel from NetGalley (I picked it on a whim, not really reading much about it). I was shocked by it! Well, read for yourself :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review #14 "Beyond the Rising Tide" by Sarah Beard

Beyond the Rising Tide
by Sarah Beard
Publish Date: June 14, 2016
Published by: Cedar Fort, Inc
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Buy the Book: Amazon
Source: I am a Reader tour in exchange for honest review

How Many Stars? 4

A Little Teaser:
I'm not sure if I have a heart, but something in my ribcage swells at the sight of Avery. Her hair shimmers like spun gold in the sunlight, falling over her shoulder and hiding her face. She's sitting on a sheet of black rock, head bent, and the flowery skirt of her sundress ripples in the breeze. 

If she turns around, she'll see me. If I speak, she'll hear my voice. I open my mouth to do that, but it's parched, hit with an unexpected drought of words. 

I've been walking for hours, and I still don't have a solid plan. I have an end goal, but it's like looking up at the peak of a mountain when I'm still in the valley. I want Avery to find happiness again, but I have no idea how to get her there. 

My Scribbles: This is the story of a boy, Kai, who dies saving a girl, Avery. She has a hard time coping with his death so, after watching her for six months, he "borrows" a special ring and returns to Earth with a brand spankin' new (temporary) body. He wants to help her move on with her life and go back to the happy Avery she used to be. What neither of them count on happening? Falling in love!

The only thing that kept this book from being 5 stars was the lull between about the middle of the book and 3/4 of the way through. Everything seemed to me like it had been wrapped up (a sad ending but closure, nonetheless) and the book was going to end. But it didn't. I kept expecting it to. Then, I started nearing the end and was suddenly on the edge of my seat again. My mind kept coming up with possible endings but I never saw the real ending coming. All I will say is that the ending fits. It really is a great summer read! 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Kids Book Review #6 - "Night Night, Farm" by Amy Parker

Little Boy and I received this book free from BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson in exchange for our review . . .

Night Night, Farm
by Amy Parker
Illustrated by Virginia Allyn
Published by Thomas Nelson
Publish Date: July 12, 2016

How Many Stars? 5+

My Scribbles: Little Boy spends a lot of his time on a farm so this book was perfect for him. The first thing he picked out, of course, was the tractor. But he also enjoyed looking through the book and making all the animal sounds as he picked out each new animal. What I loved most about this book was how bright and colorful it was. The illustrations are gorgeous! And the story is so simple that I could read a few words and he would repeat them back to me. It's one of the first books we have read together like that. He especially liked how all the animals had on their jammies. He had to point out each little piggy's jammies, and the moo-moo cow's jammies. Such an adorable board book that I highly recommend to any little ones who are just starting their book journey. We really enjoyed it!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Review #12 "The Secret Life of a Dream Girl" by Tracy Deebs


The Secret Life of a Dream Girl
by Tracy Deebs
(Creative HeArts #4) (Dahlia and Keegan, #1)
Genre: Contemporary YA
Release Date: June 27, 2016
Source: author in exchange for review


Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains adult language, references to drinking and drugs, and a kiss so steamy it’ll fog up your eReader. 
Hiding in plain sight is harder than it looks…

Dahlia Greene—aka international pop superstar Cherry—is undercover as a normal high school student. She just wants to experience what real life is like, so when she overhears hottie Keegan Matthews nervously talking about liking a girl, she sees the perfect opportunity to live a real life and play a little matchmaker. What was not part of the plan was falling for a guy she can never tell the truth.

Keegan Matthews has been secretly crushing on Dahlia ever since she started at his school. Sure, Dahlia thinks he’s crushing on some other girl—not realizing his Dream Girl is actually her—but he figures, play along with her tips to woo someone else, let her get to know him, and then make his move. But with so many secrets in the mix, their romance is doomed from the start…

How Many Stars? 4.5

My Scribbles: I signed up for this tour because this sounded like a novelized version of something you would see on Hannah Montana. It sounded like a fun read. A girl, hiding from her pop star life, meets a boy who is head over heels for her. The only thing I wasn't too sure about was high school kids talking about sex. It's common these days but it made the book a little less YA than I would have liked. I loved watching Dahlia and Keegan's relationship grow and thought the emoji texts were cute. It was a very entertaining read and toward the end, I found myself unable to put it down. I also really enjoyed the change in viewpoints each chapter. I like reading books from both characters' points of view. So added plus! All in all, highly recommended, as long as you understand (and there's even a disclaimer in the synopsis) that it's a little more adult than the general YA. I really enjoyed this great romance :)

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About the Author
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Tracy Deebs collects books, English degrees and lipsticks and has been known to forget where — and sometimes who — she is when immersed in a great novel. At six she wrote her first short story — something with a rainbow and a prince — and at seven she forayed into the wonderful world of girls lit with her first Judy Blume novel. By ten she’d read everything in the young adult and classics sections of her local bookstore, so in desperation her mom started her on romance novels. And from the first page of the first book, Tracy knew she’d found her life-long love. Now an English professor at her local community college, she writes young adult novels that run the gamut from dark mermaids to cyberArmegeddon stories and sexy contemporaries to superheroes.

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Giveaway

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Cover Reveal Time - "Defying Gravity" by Kendra C. Highley

Defying Gravity Cover Reveal Banner

Let us know what you think of the cover for Defying Gravity (Finding Perfect, #2) by Kendra C. Highley!

Defying Gravity releases on July 25, 2016

Before you check out the cover, why not read this swoony excerpt from Parker Madison's perspective:

The crowd at the entrance started doing strange things. For one, it parted like the sea before Moses. For another, guys stopped dead in their tracks…and those who didn’t stop ran into walls or tripped over their own feet. The women and girls around these guys started rolling their eyes, some good-natured, some not so much. Parker’s heart hammered like a drunk carpenter had taken over his pulse. Zoey was on the mountain. 
She breezed through the crowd in a lime-green ski suit, her snowboard resting against her shoulder. Blond hair streamed out behind her under the hot pink knit cap she’d been wearing since they were kids, and her cheeks were flushed with the cold. Her smile could stop traffic…no, really, it had stopped traffic. The sudden loss of coordination among the men near the entrance was proof. He could only imagine what her real smile—the one she only gave him—could do. Wait. No. He didn’t want her smiling at any other guys that way. She searched the crowd, oblivious as always to the way people stared, and Parker waved. Laughing, she barreled straight at him, tossing her snowboard to the side, before knocking him into a snow drift. They landed in a clatter of boots, boards, and limbs, with her on top. Her grin lit up the world. “Parker Madison! How the hell are you?” His entire body went supernova hot. He could feel every inch of her, despite the layers of ski clothes separating them. Jesus. He choked back a groan and tried to think of anything other than how perfectly they fit together. If she felt how his body responded to her… No, not happening. He sighed heavily and brushed melting snow from her cheek. 
“How am I? Well, Miller, I’m bored.” Lie. So much lying. Whole mountains of lie. 
“Bored?” She blinked at him. “I’m not that late.” He pretended to scowl at her, enjoying the close-up look at her baby-blues. Huh, was she wearing mascara? Since when did she wear makeup on the mountain? Not that he was complaining—she looked amazing. 
“Zoey, two ages of the universe passed by while I’ve been waiting for you. Maybe even three.” “Is that so?” She smiled again and tugged on his cap. “I missed you.” There’s the smile he’d been waiting for. His mouth went dry and he had to swallow a few times before he could speak. Maybe he should just kiss her instead. “Yeah?” “Yeah.”

And now the moment you've been waiting for...

Defying Gravity

About Defying Gravity:

Disclaimer: This book contains enough sexual tension to melt snow, the hottest near-kiss in the history of near-kisses, and a sexy snowboarder determined to win the heart of the girl he loves. Zoey Miller lives for her holidays in Aspen. Her time up on the mountain with the Madison brothers, Parker and Luke, is everything. But for the first time, it’s not enough. This time, she’s determined to win one of the brothers’ hearts. But the brother she has in mind is a renowned player, with hordes of snow-bunnies following him around Snowmass resort. And the other…well, he’s her best friend and knows she deserves better. Namely him. And he’s going to win her heart.

Kendra Pic 2010

About Kendra C. Highley:

Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to four self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job. She believes in everyday magic, extraordinary love stories, and the restorative powers of dark chocolate.

Want to Read More? Pre-order Defying Gravity Today!

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Kid's Book Review #5 - "Mophie & Picholas" book 1 & 2

Even though he's just over two, I am getting excited for Little Boy to start reading. What can I say, with a writer/book nerd for a mama, he will have plenty of books to choose from. This week, we read (well, Mommy read and Little Boy listened . . . semi-patiently) the first two books in the Mophie & Picholas series by father-son duo, Joseph and Anthony Pandolfi.

A Very Strange Trip to the Park
(The Adventures of Mophie & Picholas #1)
by Joseph & Anthony Pandolfi

Publish Date: March 20, 2016
Format Read: Kindle
Buy the Book: Amazon

How Many Stars? 4

My Scribbles: In the first book, Mophie and Picholas go to the park, only to find that Evil Queen Blunderpuss's nephew, Bratty, has turned the park to ice. So, with the help of their dragon friend, Sylvester, they save the day and take back the park. It was a cute read. The only problem I had with it was that it almost seemed like this should have been book 2 instead of book 1. Still, both Little Boy and I enjoyed this one and look forward to more in the series beyond book 2.

How the Kids Met Sylvester the Dragon
(The Adventures of Mophie & Picholas #2)
by Joseph & Anthony Pandolfi

Publish Date: March 20, 2016
Format Read: Kindle
Source: readingdeals.com in exchange for review
Buy the Book: Amazon

How Many Stars? 5

My Scribbles: I think both Little Boy and I enjoyed this one more than the first one. I mean, flying horses and dragons? Definitely our kind of book! As with the first book, I loved the illustrations. Having a two-year-old, it's funny listening to how three-year-old Picholas talks. And, for a beginning reader, the chapters are a perfect length. It was fun to immerse ourselves in the world of Mophie & Picholas again, where evil queens and flying horses are normal! Such a great early chapter book!