Friday, December 22, 2017

Picture Book Review: Wild Zoo Train by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

I received a free ecopy of this picture book from Netgalley and Muddy Boots in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: Wild Zoo Train
Author: Carmela LaVigna Coyle
Illustrator: Steve Gray
Publisher: MuddyBoots
Publication Date: November 1, 2017

The next classic for your adventurous child's library! A zoo train full of children takes a mysterious turn into the wilds. As each train trip becomes more and more wild, curious children observe the whimsical world around them! Written by Carmela LaVigna Coyle, the bestselling author of the Do Princesses... series, and illustrated by Steve Gray, of There Was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea fame, Wild Zoo Train takes readers on a wild, animal-filled adventure through canyons, jungles, the arctic poles, and more! 

My Thoughts: 
This train will take you on the journey of your lives. It is no ordinary zoo train! This train will take you all over the world and to the moon and back! Wild Zoo Train is a fun and adventurous romp through several different biomes all across the world, from the jungle to the Antarctic and highlighting animals from each. 

This is perfect for beginner readers with it's repetitive phrases, rhymes, and onomatopoeia. 
The full color spreads and fun illustrations will keep your little ones entranced and entertained!

My little one adored all the animals and the wonderful train sounds!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Picture Book Review: I Love a Book by Joe Rhatigan

I received a free temporary ecopy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: I Love A Book
Author: Joe Rhatigan
Illustrators: Olga & Aleksey Ivanov
Publisher: Quarto Publishing Group - MoonDance
Publication Date: November 1, 2017
Length: 28 pages

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

This is a celebration of books, reading, and our imaginations. I Love A Book opens with a list of types of books and where to find them. The simple, lyrical prose then becomes more frantic as a young reader encounters pirates sailing the sea, a classroom of monsters "learning math with their paws", and even an animal doctor making house calls in a helicopter. 

With lavish illustrations nearly spilling off the page, the young reader finally reaches the end of an exhausting day, ready for bed... and more books. This book is for anyone who loves books and wants to instill this passion in the next generation. 

My Thoughts:
This is a cute little story about a boy who loves books. He loves to discover all the secrets they hold and would rather read than fall asleep at night. A narrator lets us know where he finds books to read any why he likes to read them. 

I love that this is really about enjoying books in general. It highlights some of the wondrous things that you can learn and discover from books as well as the tales you might find yourself thrust into while reading. From pirates to monsters to animal rescues, there's really no end to what you may come across, and that's the true wonder of books! 

The illustrations in this book are gorgeous and fun and I love that there seems to be a mixture of styles. These illustrations are simply magical and really captures the magic of stories and imagination. 

This is the perfect picture book for book lovers to read to their little ones or pass on to others to help instill a love of literature in all. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Picture Book Review: Shelter by Celine Claire

I received a free ecopy of this picture book from Netgalley and Kids Can Press in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Shelter
Author: Celine Claire
Illustrator: Qin Lang
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Length: 42 pages
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

As a big storm approaches, two strangers arrive in the forest. All the animal families, safe in their homes, are worried. They wonder, "What are they doing there?" "What do they want?" So, as the pair knocks at the door of one home after another asking for shelter, all the animals turn them away, leaving them to fend for themselves. But then an accident suddenly forces the fox family out into the snow and the wind, and the foxes find they must ask these outsiders for help. Will they find it in their hearts to give it? 

My Thoughts: 
The creatures of the forest know there is a big storm on its way so they gather wood for their fires, food for their larders, and they bundle up inside in the warmth and safety of their homes. When two strangers show up in the thick of the winter storm, none of the families are willing to share their homes and the bears end up stuck out in the snow. But then the roof of the fox den collapses from the heavy snow and they are all forced out into storm. Thankfully, the bears have created their own shelter and are willing to share. 

This was such a heartwarming little story with a great lesson on sharing and being compassionate to others; especially in times of need. You never know when it will be you that is in trouble and needs a helping hand. 

The watercolor illustrations are fantastic. The warm, muted colors really help build the scene of each comfy little den during a winter storm. I absolutely adore this illustrator's style. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Picture Book Review: Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin

I received a free ecopy of this book from Netgalley and Peachtree Publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: Rapunzel
Author: Bethan Woollvin
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Publication Date: October 1, 2017
Length: 32 pages
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

The wicked witch has Rapunzel trapped - but not for long!
Rapunzel lives all alone in a tall, dark tower. Under the threat of a witch's fearsome curse, the poor girl seems doomed to a life in captivity. But is Rapunzel frightened? Oh no, not she! 

My Thoughts:
This well-known story is given new life with Bethan Woollvin's wonderfully simple but playful illustrations. Woollvin's Repunzel is not satisfied with being locked in a tower all day so she climbs down her hair to explore, not heeding the witch's threat to curse her if she tries to leave. And when the witch does find out, well, she already has a plan for that, too. 

This brave Rapunzel will delight little girls with it's slightly skewed story and awesome ending. Want a story where the girl saves herself instead of waiting for a prince to come along? Bethan Woollvin's Rapunzel is perfect for anyone looking for empowered female characters for their daughter's shelves! 

Be sure to check out Bethan Woollvin's retelling of Little Red as well! 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Blog Tour & Giveaway - The Pursuit of Lady Harriet by Rachael Anderson

The Pursuit of Lady Harriett by Rachael Anderson 
When wills clash and hearts collide, who will reign victorious?
Termed an Incomparable during her first London season, Lady Harriett Cavendish is beautiful, spirited, and confident, capturing the attention of a great many suitors. Unfortunately, they all failed to capture her attention, and she concluded the season as unattached as she’d begun it. 
 Only weeks prior to her second season, Harriett encounters Lieutenant Christopher Jamison while visiting Tanglewood Manor. Recently returned from war, the lieutenant is everything that Harriett's previous suitors were not. He’s arrogant, ungentlemanly, irritating, and challenges her at every opportunity. When he goes too far, Harriett decides that it’s time to turn the tables on him. But as she sets out to put the lieutenant in his place once and for all, she discovers there is more to him than meets the eye, and when it comes to matters of the heart, she has no control whatsoever.
Harriett looked at what remained of the cake. Apparently, he didn’t intend to finish it off after all, so she collected their forks and stood. “Forgive me for saying so, but you look quite done in, Chris. If you do not go up to bed now, you will probably fall asleep here. Only imagine what Mrs. Caddy might say if she discovers you here with the mostly-eaten cake. For your own sake, you ought to retire. I will do my best to tidy things up.” 
Before she could move away from him, he grabbed her hand and guided her to sit back down, keeping hold of her fingers. “Not so fast, my lady. I meant it when I said that I’m in desperate need of the distraction that only you can provide. Thus far, all I have done is burden you with my troubles.” 
“I do not feel at all burdened, sir.” Indeed, Harriett suddenly felt breathless and somewhat giddy. The effect this man had on her was something of a wonder. 
“Sir?” he asked. “I thought we were beyond that.” 
“I thought so as well, but you only just called me ‘my lady.’” 
He frowned and blinked as though he hadn’t realized he had.
“Forgive me, Harry. I fear my exhaustion has muddled my thinking.” This time, she did not let the name slide. She snatched her hand free and frowned at him. “Obviously it has.” 
He laughed—not a tired attempt at a laugh, but a real one filled with the richness that warmed her straight through. Only this time, it did not bother her at all. In fact, it felt wonderful, almost like a compliment. 
“I knew you’d come through for me,” he said, leaning close enough to touch shoulders with her. “You have no idea how much I needed to laugh or how good that felt. I could honestly kiss you right now.” 
Harriett tried her best not to blush or appear astonished by the suggestion—he had obviously made the comment in jest—but when his smile widened into a devilish grin, she knew she’d failed. He leaned in closer, and his gaze wandered briefly to her mouth before returning to her eyes. She could smell vanilla and lemon and a hint of something else—leather perhaps? A delightful pulse whipped down her arm, and she was hard-pressed not to shiver. 
“Admit it,” he said. “You have missed me.”

Author Rachael Anderson 
 A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway 
Ends 10/1/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin

Title: The Ice Dragon
Author: George R.R. Martin
Illustrated by: Luis Royo
Publisher: Tor Forge
Publication Date: first published in 1980
Genre: Children's, Fantasy
Length: 121 pages
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Seven-year-old Adara was born during the coldest chill of the coldest year ever, a chill that killed her mother during the girl's birth. Ever since then, she has been a remote and chilly child, living for winter when the ice lizards come out and forming a bond with a mysterious ice dragon. When war comes and dragon-riding invaders threaten her home and family, the ice dragon helps her to thwart them, leading to it's own demise.
Filled with illustrations of swooping dragons and folks in medieval-type garb, this fantasy is a slim but rich introduction to the genre, one that should appeal to both boys and girls. 

My Thoughts:
This book is so gorgeous! The illustrations! Gah!
Ok, so the most disappointing thing about this book is that my Scratch & Dent copy from BookOutlet didn't come with a dust jacket. Supposedly the inside of the dust jacket was a bonus poster so somewhere out there a very lucky wall has a gorgeous Luis Royo artwork on it that I can't enjoy. To be fair, though, I didn't even know that this book was illustrated. It was just super cheap and I love dragons. The illustrations were a most wonderful surprise.

The story was a little bit odd to me. It's about a chil
d born in the winter who has an ice cold heart and cannot accept or return her family's love. She wants nothing more than for winter to arrive and the dreaded ice dragon with it. The ending was a little confusing but I can't really say why without spoiling some things. 

I honestly enjoyed the illustrations more than the story itself. It wasn't a very memorable story, perhaps because it is so short. I also wish I had waited and read it in the winter months. 

I'd still recommend this to anyone who loves fantasy, dragons, or Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire!

My Rating: 3.75 - 4 stars

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Picture Book Review: The Tiny Tale of Little Pea by Davide Cali & Sebastien Mourrain

I received a free ecopy of this picture book from Netgalley and Kids Can Press in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The Tiny Tale of Little Pea
Authors/Illustrators: Davide Cali & Sebastien Mourrain
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Length: 36 pages
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

When he was born, Little Pea was tiny. Teeny-tiny. 

His clothes were hand sewn by his mother and his shoes were hand-me-down doll shoes. As he grew older, Little Pea enjoyed climbing tomato plants, driving around in his wind-up car and riding on the backs of grasshoppers. But then Little Pea started school. And he suddenly realized just how small he was. Too small for his chair. Too small to play the flute. Too small for gym class. What would become of wee Little Pea?

My Thoughts: 
Little Pea was born teeny tiny. So tiny he could sleep in a match box. He had grand adventures and never even realized how small he really was until he started school. His desk was too big and he was too small to play with the other children so he spent his recess drawing. His teacher wondered what would become of him. He didn't grow much bigger as he got older, but he did build himself a cozy little home and even found the perfect job! 

The illustrations in this are very cute. I especially loved the full spread pages. There's a good lesson or two as well; that not everyone is the same, and that you can find your place in the purpose in the world no matter who you are, what you look like, or how big (or little) you are. Also that you can find something you love and make a living from it! 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hurricane Irma Hiatus

 (Image by the NOAA)

Hey there, Readers! 

Most of you may know that Hurricane Irma is ripping through the Caribbean right now and headed straight for Florida. It is now a Category 5 with winds up to 180 mph and is being called the the largest Atlantic storm in recorded history. 

This hurricane has me really worried. I'm in central Florida on the West coast and will be taking in family members from further south. Water, gas, and other supplies ran out just about everywhere yesterday so evacuating is up in the air at this point. Luckily, we prepared quite a bit for the season beforehand so we are hoping to ride it out. (I know. This may be the stupidest thing I've ever done.)

There's still a chance that it might veer back to the East but either way, this does not bode well for anyone. This storm is currently over 400 miles wide and will affect all of Florida. We can only hope it loses some of it's strength as it progresses. 

Depending on how long it takes to get the power back on and many other factors, I will be on hiatus here for the next week or so. 

I will try to update you all as soon as possible.
The best place to contact me would be on Facebook. I am Stacy Renee and my profile picture is a drawing of a girl with her face in a book, just in case anyone is worried and wants to check in. 

Please keep us all in your thoughts! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Picture Book Review: How To Make Friends With A Ghost by Rebecca Green

I received a free ecopy of this book from Netgalley and Tundra Books in exchange for an honest review.

Title: How To Make Friends With A Ghost
Author: Rebecca Green
Publisher: Tundra Books
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Length: 40 pages
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N 

What do you do when you meet a ghost? One: Provide the ghost with some its favorite snacks, like mud tarts and earwax truffles. Two: Tell your ghost bedtime stories (ghosts love to be read to). Three: Make sure no mistakes your ghost for whipped cream or a marshmallow when you aren't looking! If you follow these few simple steps and the rest of the essential tips in How to Make Friends with a Ghost, you'll see how a ghost friend will lovingly grow up and grow old with you. 

A whimsical story about ghost care, Rebecca Green's debut picture book is a perfect combination of offbeat humor, quirky and sweet illustrations, and the timeless theme of friendship. 

My Thoughts: 
Have you ever wanted to make friends with a ghost? If so, this is the perfect book for you! How To Make Friends With A Ghost is an adorable instruction manual that shows you how to befriend a ghost, what to feed them, how to keep them entertained, and more.
Ghosts are forever friends so be prepared to give them a lifetime of love and care! 

This is seriously the cutest book ever! It's silly, fun, and has one of the most adorable ghosts I've ever seen. I want to go out and find a ghost of my own now, except I may have to wait for one to find me first! Definitely give this picture book a chance. You'll love the illustrations and the fun instructions. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

2017 Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon!!!

The Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon is hosted by Wishful Endings.

This read-a-thon begins Monday, September 11 and ends Sunday, September 24. The wrap up is on the 25th and includes a giveaway! 
You can find out more and sign up HERE!

Anyone can participate in this read-a-thon and there are no restrictions on what you can read! 
Basically, it's a Motivation to Read (a-thon) and that's what I love about these! 

Must link to sign-up post and post a wrap up to be eligible for the giveaway! (There will also be kick off giveaways!)

Twitter Chat: September 17 at 8-9 PM (EDT)

Tag Tressa on Twitter @TresSherm
Tag Tressa on Instagram @WishfulEndings
I'm hoping to finish at least 2 books, if not more. Hopefully more but 2 is my usual amount for a week. 
I can't be sure what books I'll be reading for this giveaway but here are a few that I'm hoping to get to in September! 

Good luck if you're participating! 

Friday, September 1, 2017

September 2017 TBR

I made some progress with my reading last month but considering that I participated in ARC August, Bout of Books 20, and COYER is almost over, it probably could have been better.
But I did make progress on the blog. This month I am joining in on the Tackle Your TBR challenge so I plan on knocking some more off of my list!
This month I have plenty of review book and library books to get to so hopefully it's a good month for reading! 

For Review:
The Eye of the North by Sinead O'Hart

2. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
3. Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
4. The Wonderling by Mira Bartok
5. The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen

For Fun:
1. The Ersatz Elevator (#6) by Lemony Snicket
2. The Vile Village (#7) by Lemony Snicket


Borrowed/On Hold: (subject to change)
1. Shadows of the Lost Sun
2. The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May
3. Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Hurst

Have you read any of these? What are you planning on reading in September? 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 2017 Wrap Up

August was a pretty good month but I focused less on reading and blogging and more on my family and artistic hobbies. I liked the balance. Sometimes I forget to give myself the freedom to do other things and then this becomes a bit of a chore. Nonetheless, taking any time away from the blog means I need to catch up with reviews, memes, etc. so hopefully I can find that balance in September as well! 
I also attempted to return more comments and visit more blogs this month (though I flopped during this last week) and I hope I can fit more of that in because I miss the community. 

I read 5 Books In August!

Books Finished:
Total Pages: 1531

Started But Didn't Finish:

Audiobooks I Listened To:
(Didn't finish either of these)

Reviews & More
August TBR
August Wrap Up

Bout of Books Sign Up & Goals
Book Blast & $50 Giveaway: Perfectly You by Robin Daniels

Book Reviews
The Dragons of Nova by Elise Kova
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Princess and the Page by Christina Farley
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Picture Book Reviews
National Geographic Kids 2018 Atlas
National Geographic Kids Back to School Titles
Tidy by Emily Gravett 
Walter and the Wallet by Billy Bloom

Sunday Posts
Already August?
August Blues
Watercolor Spacescapes

Top Ten Tuesdays
Books With School Settings

Can't Wait Wednesdays
Odd & True by Cat Winters
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris
Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi

Challenge Updates

1. The Handmaid's Tale
2. Age of Swords
3. The Red Sun

1. The Princess and the Page
2. Age of Swords
(Not very many.)  :(

I didn't read any books from my shelves that I purchased or were published before 2017. :(

1. The Princess and the Page
2. The Ice Dragon
3. Age of Swords
4. The Red Sun


1. The Princess and the Page
2. The Ice Dragon
3. Age of Swords


2017 ABC Challenge

I hope you all had an amazing month!