Friday, May 25, 2018

Review: Brain Teasers by Lonely Planet Kids

by Lonely Planet Kids
Children's Non-Fiction / Riddles / Puzzles
160 pages
 ages 6 and up

Who's the smarty pants in your family? Packed with number and logic puzzles, riddles, dingbats, codes and much more, this fun and challenging travel-themed activity book is perfect for car journeys, vacations and rainy days-and provides a great test for both kids and adults.

Brain teasers include:

Scrambled Cities - anagrams of famous places
Code breaker - morse code messages to decipher
Flagtastic - match the country to its flag
World traveler, desert and jungle word searches
Say what you see - solve the visual word puzzles
Flag finder - crack a series of semaphore messages
Riddles of the Sphinx - crafty cryptic questions
Arctic explorer crossword and airport sudoku
Other Lonely Planet Kids family activity books also available:

-Boredom Buster 


These pages are packed with puzzles, riddles and games, insuring there's something for everyone.

Designed especially for traveling, this book holds 151 pages of riddles, puzzles, games, questions and all sorts of other activities. Although sold for ages six to eight, many of the activities work wonderfully for older kids and some even lure parents to get involved. Each one is different—not a collection with 10 mazes or a dozen word searches—and they vary from mind-benders to word play to comparisons and more. Some are more challenging than others, and there's definitely a huge variety.

There's no rhyme or reason for how the puzzles are arranged—each page is a surprise. The descriptions are short but enough so that the reader knows what to do. The book invites to be used and the pages are sturdy enough to handle a longer travel. The answers are in the back of the book, organized by page number.

I've had this one laying on my cabinet, and my kids keep picking it up to try some of the puzzles again and again. There's enough inside to keep it interesting even after looking at it a dozen times, and they love to try to see if I can solve the puzzles too. In other words, it's something kids can do on their own, but also something which can be used to add a little fun for the whole family.

About Lonely Planet Kids:
Lonely Planet Kids - an imprint of leading travel media authority Lonely Planet - published its first book in 2011. Over the past 45 years, parent company Lonely Planet has grown a dedicated global community of travelers, many of whom are sharing a passion for world exploration with their children, inspiring the next generation of global citizens. Lonely Planet Kids educates and encourages young readers to learn about the world around them with engaging books on culture, sociology, geography, nature, history, space and more. Find out more on, and join us on Facebook (, Twitter (@lpkids) and PopJam (@lonelyplanetkids).

Cover Reveal: Awakened by Dot Caffrey

The Power Trilogy, #1
by Dot Caffrey 
Acorn Publishing
YA Fantasy

AUGUST 31st, 2018!!!

Power and Prophecy!
Seventeen-year-old Regnaryn grew up in an idyllic land among mythical beings. She believes she is the last surviving human.
Her world begins to shatter when Evil invades her dreams, demanding she relinquish unknown powers foretold by her long-deceased mother. When Graeden, a young human male, arrives, he further disrupts her once-orderly life. Her emotions in chaos, Regnaryn flees the only home she’s ever known, only to be captured by the servants of Evil from her dreams. Now she must take a stand, confronting her late mother’s prophecy while also attempting to survive and protect those she loves.

And here she is. . .
I was born and raised in New York, mostly on Long Island not “The City”. After high school, I moved to California and then did a three-year stint in the Navy before going to college and getting a Microbiology/Medical Technologist degree.
According to my Dad, I’ve been a storyteller from the time I began talking (which was at a very young age). But, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided to take my passion for writing and my love for all things magical or mythical seriously and set out to write fantasy novels.
When I’m not at my day job or writing, I enjoy creating and wearing costumes (cosplay), playing video games (though, I’m not very good at it) and watching NHL hockey and assorted other things many of which are merely time wasters. Of course, hanging out with my friends and my cats also pleasantly fills my time. 


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Review: Earth to Dad by Krista Van Dolzer

by Krista Van Dolzer
Middle Grade Science Fiction / Dystopian
322 pages
ages 9 to 12

AUGUST 1st, 2018!!!

Eleven-year-old Jameson O'Malley's dad is on Mars. The only way to see him, other than squinting into the night sky, is through the JICC - short for Jameson's Interplanetary Communication Console. Jameson thought the JICC would help shorten the millions of miles that stretch between Base Ripley and Mars, but he's is starting to realize no transmission can replace his real, actual father. When a new family moves onto Base Ripley, Jameson makes an unlikely friend in Astra Primm, daughter of the country's leading climatologist, who died in an explosion on Mars. But as Jameson's friendship with Astra grows stronger, he begins to notice the flaws in his own family. Mom is growing distant, and something is wrong with Dad. He's not sending transmissions as frequently as he used to, and when he does there are bags under his eyes. Jameson begins to realize there's more to the story than he knows - and plenty people aren't telling him. Determined to learn the truth and discover what happened to their parents, Jameson and Astra embark on a journey exploring life, loss, and friendship that will take them to the edge of their universe.


While taking a ride to futuristic Earth, this book battles the questions surrounding a dying world, people's hopes, and, most importantly, learning to live with the loss of a loved one.

Eleven-year-old Jameson lives on an Earth, which has been forced out of its orbit and is slowly approaching the sun. While his father is one of the heroes selected to head for Mars to work on a plan to save the human race, Jameson and his mother live in a governmental supported community. Although Jameson attends a normal school, he's a bit of a loner. The most important thing in his life is his JICC, a device his father built with him shortly before he left, which allows Jameson to send and receive communications from his father on Mars. When a new girl moves into the house next door, one whose mother recently died on a similar Mars mission, Jameson decides its time to make his first friend. The results change his life, especially when his JICC breaks and she agrees to help him repair it.

This is a story which requires a box of tissues. . .maybe even two. The setting itself already sets a melancholy atmosphere; the Earth is on a crash course with the sun. Although life is fairly similar to our own modern world, there are distinct differences—dying vegetation, deadly UV rays, hoverboards, and more. The author does a fantastic job at building a realistic world, which is easy to settle into and picture the surroundings through every scene. It's futuristic but still familiar enough for readers to easily identify with.

The characters are true to life, each one taking on a distinct role and personality. They act realistically, carry their own flaws, but still, are very supportive and kind in their own way. This secure foundation lays the perfect buffer for the tough topics addressed in the book and keeps it from growing too depressing.

Jameson is a great kid. He's pretty separated from the rest of society, although he lives in the middle of the compound and attends school. At first, this appears to be a result of him trying to remain off the radar, since his father is very well known. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear that much of this has to do with his mother's over-protectiveness. While Jameson comes across very natural, at times, he behaved younger than eleven. Still, his other genius side balances it out and makes him easy to connect to.

This is not a happy story. While there are many adventurous moments, a sad tone hangs like a nearing storm. There is hope, friendship and many, many emotional moments that make a reader sigh. It's well written. Very well and, for most of the tale, flows smooth and holds the reader in the pages. But as the last chapters roll through, the pacing changes a little. Jameson is very naive when it comes to the world outside, which could be a result of his overly protective circumstances. Still, he's slow to take obvious hints. When the moment of his big action strikes, the ending is a little rushed. It also becomes clear that information surrounding the Mars project and background is still missing to make things clearer.

This is a touching read, and extremely well done. While entertaining, it's one that will make readers think and leave a touch of sadness behind. The ending wraps things up nicely, but there is still many things left open to let the mind wander with its own fantasies.

Review: Isosceles' Day by Kevin J Meehan

by Kevin J. Meehan
Isosceles' Holdings LLC
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 and up

From being awakened by friend Mole, to a breakfast of dancing eggs, howling and grunting with Moose, time spent with Frog and Platypus, lunchtime with Lizard, playing it cool with Mouse, listening to drums with Prairie Dog, riding in a wagon with Rhino, drinking from a hose with Goose, and a lullaby with Frog, come share a fun day with Isosceles, a happy rescue dog, and his animal friends! 


Jumping into a fantasy world all of it's own, this book combines ridiculousness and amazing illustrations into a dreamlike world.

Isosceles is a dog and is woken up by his friend, Mole, to experience a day like no other. Together with other friends, Mole presents everything from dancing eggs, lunch with Lizard, and so much more. By the end of the day, Isosceles has many experiences to dream about.

This book is a little more off-beat from the average picture book with its deliciously, quirky humor and twists which stray a bit out of the box. The story isn't told through a traditional plot form, but rather jumps from one moment to the next. The style hits a little peculiar but is somehow endearing at the same time. Each animal friend presents their day's spotlight of fun through a whimsical, four-lined rhyme—some flowing better than others. Each one hits with fantasy pure in its own, original way.

The illustrations are a real treat. With amazing details, they snuggle close to realistic while incorporating nonsensical silliness. For example, a very true to life frog balances along a thread while wearing a thimble on his head and wielding a sewing needle. Young listeners (and adults) will enjoy these pictures alone.

This isn't the usual picture book but invites to a different sort of fantastical journey, one which will grab readers or leave them wondering what just hit them.

And here he is. . .

As a child, the author experienced a similar life condition as Isosceles. Not having much of a home, love or sense of protection and safety, he has a very special understanding of Isosceles' early years. As a diplomat of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and an integrative health care practitioner for almost three decades, he recognizes the importance of the compassion essential in helping others; people and animals. The author's commitment to helping animals and humans, coupled with his passion for biochemistry, lead him to design a unique, patented, line of canine orthomolecular supplements to nurture dogs back to health in a natural way. One of his favorite quotes is, "With the eyes of a child we learn how to see"!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Sneak Peek: The Forest Beyond the Earth by Matthew S. Cox with Giveaway!

The Forest Beyond the Earth 
by Matthew S. Cox
February 6th 2018
YA Post-Apocalyptic

Under the watchful eye of the Mother Shrine, twelve-year-old Wisp ekes out a simple, but challenging life with Dad, foraging for food and losing herself in old books from the world that came before. She loves the Endless Forest ― except when the Tree Walkers come for her.
In ages past, the great rain of fire and ash destroyed the Earth, wiping out the ancients and everything they had made. Nature has reclaimed much since then, spreading out in a vast forest full of wonder and dread. Ever in fear of being taken away, she follows Dad’s rules without question while learning to survive off the land.
No longer a small child, she accompanies Dad on one of his treks, her first time more than a few steps away from the cabin. A day exploring with him is the happiest time of her life, but joy is short-lived.
A monster follows them home.
Safe in her Haven, she hides while Dad goes outside to confront the beast. She wakes alone the next morning, and waits. Alas, her hope of his return fades with the daylight. Desperate, she breaks his strictest rule and goes outside alone. Not far from the cabin, she discovers his rifle abandoned next to the monster’s strange footprints.
Afraid but determined, Wisp sets off on her own into the Endless Forest to find Dad ― before the Tree Walkers catch her.


Moonlight painted the landscape in a deep blue shade. The woods more than fifty yards in any direction had become a dense murk of nothingness. Wherever leaves fluttered in the moonlight, she cringed away, from the lurking Tree Walkers she expected. Wisp clung to Dad’s arm with both hands, her pale fingers all but glowing against his deep brown tan.
“It’s all right,” said Dad in a near whisper. “We don’t have far to go.”
She nodded. It hit her that acting like a little kid might cause him to leave her in the Haven next time he went out to hunt. Except for right now, the journey had been amazing and fun. Wisp straightened her posture and let go of his arm, attempting to appear brave. At least in the dark, he couldn’t see her wide eyes and shivering hands.
A rippling cascade of snapping echoed out of the forest, like a bear crushing an entire bundle of twigs at once.
Or a Tree Walker rising up from the ground.
She held back a startled yelp that echoed in her brain and snagged the pistol from the holster on Dad’s belt, clutching it in both hands. Within a second of her pointing it at the woods where the sound came from, Dad grasped her by the wrists and pushed the weapon down.
Wisp shifted her eyes to him, asking ‘why’ with a stare.
“You cannot kill the Tree Walkers with a bullet,” whispered Dad. “A gun will only make them angry… and the loudness will tell them where you are.”
“I understand.” She fidgeted her grip on the pistol. “It might not be one of them. What makes that noise?”
Dad let go of her and grabbed the front of his rifle, training it generally in that direction. “Sounded like a big person stepping on branches. Down.”
Wisp sank into a squat, staring at the forest. Her mind played evil games by making her think every shadow held a creature of living vines coming to take her away from Dad. Mother, please protect us.
Another crunch came from ahead and a little farther to the left. She shifted her facing toward it, but didn’t raise the pistol. Dad took a knee beside her, a little in front to shield her from arrows.
A chill wafted by on the early evening breeze. Leaves rustled overhead. Cricket song surrounded them and the rapid skittering of a squirrel zipped by overhead.
Her toes dug deep into the rain-damp soil. The pistol wobbled in her hands. She swallowed hard, trying to be brave, trying to show courage so Dad would take her on a hunt again. He would do anything to protect her, and he didn’t like seeing her frightened. If he thought going out scared her too much, he’d keep her safe in the Haven. She thought back to how nice it had been relaxing beside the stream, watching birds and eating fish with Dad. If every day could be like that, she’d be the happiest girl in the world.

And here he is. . .

Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.
Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour  


Castles in the Air by Sangeet Sharma

by Sangeet Sharma
Rumour Book India
234 pages

Laughter is said to be the best elixir and the book is a satire on architecture written by one who knows the bricks and concrete of the profession by heart.

The author, an architect himself, delves into the journey of a professional practice. The book is witty with acerbic humor.

Word by word, sentence by sentence, page by page, every scene unfolds like a screenplay, leaving the reader amazed with the brutalities of life in architecture, and life itself.

And here he is. . .

Sangeet Sharma is a practicing architect in Chandigarh. He is a partner in SD Sharma & Associates, a well-known firm of the region founded by his father Ar. SD Sharma, an eminent Architect. Widely acknowledged and awarded Ar. Sangeet Sharma commands an undisputed international reputation in profession. Carrying forward the legacy and vocabulary established by his father he is fascinated by geometrical forms. 
By looking at every drawn line as built spaces he follows a certain rationale to his reflective practice. His buildings are based on sustainable applications.

He is a multifaceted personality. He is a poet, Architectural critic, writer, artist and author. He has authored Architecture, Life and Me, published by Rupa and Co., a memoir that takes an all-round view of the profession.

Cover Reveal: The Aviary by Emily Shore

The Aviary 
The Aviary Series, #1
by Emily Shore 
Clean Teen Publishing
YA Dystopian, Fantasy

MARCH 5th, 2019!!!

I am nobody’s Swan.
Beauty is now a corporate commodity, bought and sold on city streets and displayed in elite Museums.
Sixteen-year-old Serenity has spent her entire life in hiding, to keep safe from this decadent world. Overnight, her parents disappear, and Serenity is kidnapped, sold at auction, and thrust into the Aviary—an illustrious Museum where girls are displayed as living art by day and at night, cater to the lascivious whims of men who bid on their exhibits. Serenity has much to learn about this enthralling but competitive world where girls go by names like Raven and Nightingale and will stop at nothing to become top Bird.
The enigmatic and deadly Aviary Director, Luc, soon idolizes Serenity’s purity and aims to turn her into his grandest exhibit of all time—The Swan. In no time, she becomes the most coveted exhibit in the Aviary’s history.
Soon, Serenity learns that Luc holds the key to finding, and freeing, her parents. To save them, she must learn to play the Swan to perfection to win Luc’s heart, earn his trust, and save her parents. She doesn’t count on the fact that she’ll develop feelings for Luc in the process. Now, she’ll have to face an impossible decision: escape The Aviary and lose her only chance at finding her parents; or become Luc’s Swan for good, and lose her identity forever.

And here she is. . .

Emily Shore is a MN author with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Metro State University and was a grand prize winner of #PitchtoPublication, which led her to working with professionals in the publishing industry. Her anti-trafficking books Ruby in the Rough and Ruby in the Ruins are her first indie-published books with proceeds benefiting trafficking rescue organizations: Breaking Free and Women at Risk, International. This summer she will be debuting her first contemporary novel as well as re-releasing her paranormal series in the fall: Roseblood
Emily lives in Saint Paul with her husband and two little girls. In her free time, she enjoys connecting with rescue organizations and survivors of sex-trafficking, hearing their stories, and injecting their truths into her books for youth. She loves motivational speaking on the issue of sex-trafficking and is lining up more schools and libraries for the fall and winter, campaigning against sex-trafficking, baking, acrylic painting, interior decorating, and spending time with all the little girls in her life.
To learn more about Emily's work and the anti-trafficking movement, see her Facebook page where she regularly blogs: and sign up for her newsletter through the Contact Me on her website: