Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review of 'Jellybean Tiaras' by Sharon Penn


Little princesses will adore the delicious products of this how-to book, which features 24 jewelry-making projects. Easy instructions and dozens of illustrations show how to transform pretzels, gumdrops, and other candies into radical rings and wonderful wands, princess pins and heavenly headbands, knockout necklaces and excellent earrings, and beautiful bracelets and glamorous glasses.

**My thoughts**

This is the kind of book that I would have eaten up as an elementary-aged girl. Candy necklaces were a rare treat and I was always creating with my arts and crafts supplies. Putting the two together would have been an ultimate combination of fun.

Sharon's instructions are broken down step-by-step with plenty of photographs to help illustrate her directions. Some of the steps will require adult assistance, but most of the projects can be done independently. Most of the materials are edible; however, on occasion you will need to use string, foam, and other inedible items in the creation process. I would recommend that children be six and older when undertaking these projects, and to fully understand what can and cannot be ingested.

The finished projects are worthy of Pinterest and the young models are absolutely adorable as they show off their bling. Remind crafters that it is okay for their project to not turn out as perfectly as the ones in this book. (Just like we have to remind our grown-up selves the same as we find new projects on Pinterest.) The important part is having fun while making these!

I will admit that the thought of putting candy in a child's hair or on her face makes me a bit squeamish, as I think of the potential for a sticky mess and extra germs. Be sure to set some ground rules about the consumption of the jewelry. Also, find a safe way to store it, so that little critters aren't attracted to a sweet snack when the jewelry isn't being worn.

I can see this as being a great way to bond with your kids during a special mother-daughter day, or some great entertainment during a sleepover or playdate.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which was originally published on Examiner.

Buy links

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Review of 'The Purple Girl' by Audrey Kane

The Purple Girl

by Audrey Kane and illustrated by Tory and Norman Tabor



CAUTION! Violet lives within the pages of this book. And her purple spreads to everything she touches…

Violet lives behind garden walls. Is she magical? Is she the devil’s child—or simply cursed? When the lonely thirteen-year-old embarks on a dangerous journey to find the one boy that dared to befriend her, she travels at the keep people from seeing her purple skin. But no one is more surprised than Violet when she unlocks her mysterious gift.

Read an excerpt:
This is how the story was told to me.

When the midwife brought me into the world, she let out a scream. Hands trembling, she swaddled me in a white blanket, leaving only a small opening so I could breathe. She refused to let my mother see me until my father appeared and stood by her side. Purple mist seeped through the white blanket, staining the midwife’s fingers.

“God help us all. This baby is cursed!” the midwife cried, thrusting me into my father’s arms. She grabbed a rag and tried to scrub the stains off her hands.

As my father unwrapped me, the color drained from his face. My mother, weak from the delivery, reached toward him...or perhaps to me.

“What’s wrong?” After a moment, he held me up.

My mother wailed when she saw her purple baby.

My father turned away from her and laid me in the cradle, far from my mother, his fingers shaking as he bundled me in the plum-colored blanket. He remained silent, wiping his purple stained palms on his pants. The stains wouldn’t stay on him forever... only a few moments...but he didn’t know that then.

“Oh, Samuel,” my mother sobbed. “How did this happen?”

My father gazed into my eyes, and when he finally spoke, his voice broke.

“We’ll call her Violet.” He stroked a tuft of my lavender hair and sank to his knees.

**My thoughts**

I admit that I was drawn to this book tour because I am a big fan of the color purple. The idea of a girl who turned everything purple just by touching it seemed very intriguing to me and I was curious to see about her adventures.

Violet is feared by the townspeople because of her gift. They ridicule her and shun her and her family. She has no friends. Until she meets a young man who seems intrigued by her and accepts her for who she is. When he has to leave, she is devastated and goes on an adventure to find him again. His unconditional acceptance helps her to learn to accept herself.

I liked the message of the story about accepting yourself for who you are. I liked the relationship between Violet and Frankie. I did want more out of it and felt like some parts of the storyline should have been further developed. While this story did come to an end and was an appropriate length for the intended audience, it needs more. Perhaps the author will go back to some of those bits and create more stories. Violet is a great character who deserves more attention!

Available on Amazon

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

As a writer, and also a designer of tapestries with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia, it is only natural for Audrey to weave visual stories. When she is not designing tapestries, she is busy conjuring up characters that find themselves in extraordinary situations. Between carpools and design work, she is plotting, scheming, writing, and revising. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, their three children, and her unruly dog, Rascals. Audrey's favorite time to write is in the early morning while her family sleeps. With Rascals sprawled out snoring beside her, it only takes one oversized cup of coffee to get her mind moving.

Audrey is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. She loves traveling, museums, and blackberry-apple pie. Actually, she loves all kinds of pie. And she especially loves her family. They have put up with Violet and Waxy for a long time. You can visit her at:



Audrey will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $10 Starbucks gift card to two randomly drawn hosts. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

'Boredom Busters: Stuff for Kids to Do When There's Nothing to Do!' by Eileen Mc Aree

Book description:

Turn off the TV and turn on the fun! 

Entertain your kids without plugging in! Boredom Busters is chock full of ideas for entertaining children of multiple ages. All activities are child tested and parent approved! This book is the perfect guide for when you are:

• Sitting in traffic on a family vacation
• Stuck in the house on a rainy day
• Working from home with a houseful of kids
• Trying to tackle your weekend To Do list
• Making dinner, packing lunches or doing the laundry
• Any situation that calls for entertaining kids while you are otherwise occupied!
Child directed play is good for kids. Let the kids indulge in some old fashioned fun while you get your grownup work done! 


• Backyard Games
• Sidewalk Games
• Simple Crafts
• Travel Games
• Rainy Day Games
• Ball Games
Teach your children to unplug and still have fun!

Available on Amazon

Eileen Mc Aree is a teacher, writer and mother of four. She lives in New York. Eileen has been designing educational materials since her early days of teaching in the New York City Public School System. Since then, she has worked as a Special Education teacher in Middle and Elementary Grades, and a Preschool teacher of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She began taking Spanish classes as a way to better communicate with the families of some of her students and fell in love with language learning. Currently, Eileen is teaching Middle School Resource Room as well as a Spanish Preschool program.She hopes to encourage other parents to give learning a foreign language a try!

Visit her Amazon author page!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Meet Powers Molinar, author of 'Spartanica (The Survivors of Sapertys)'


What was the inspiration for this book?
Kids inspire me to write because becoming a strong reader is such an important skill to have throughout life. I see a direct relationship with my kids’ friends between enthusiasm for reading and success in school. My hope is that young readers will find Spartanica engaging enough to make them want to read more and, in the process, develop skills needed to accomplish their goals later in life.
What is one of your favorite things about it?
I really like how the characters interact. They act and sound like real kids. Readers have told me they especially enjoy the dialogue because it makes the story feel more real.
Will we see these characters again?
Definitely. Spartanica is book 1 of The Survivors of Sapertys Series. There will be a book 2 and book 3. Many (but not all!) of the Spartanica characters will live on.
How did your family assist in the creation process?
They were a huge help. My wife and middle school son were beta readers and read groups of chapters as I completed them. My grade school daughter read the finished product and pointed out my text justification was wrong just before I published. That was a huge save!
On what other projects are you currently working?
Spartanica fans are clamoring for book two of the series. I get asked about it every day so that's what I'm working on.
What do you find fulfilling about writing science fiction?
Science fiction is about driving the reader's imagination. I find it most fulfilling when a reader comes up to me and enthusiastically talks about a scene from my book like he/she actually witnessed it happening. That is ultimate. That's when, as an author, you know you've hit the target and truly entertained your reader.
You say that you think that "being a solid reader is a foundational piece of leading an exceptional life." I agree. Would you care to expand on this thought?
There's so much potential in every kid. It genuinely pains me to see kids underachieve. Being a strong reader is a cornerstone for creating a wide array of options for oneself later in life. I'd love to see every kid have the head start that being a strong reader offers.
What can we do to help children become better readers?
Beyond just encouraging and rewarding kids for reading and, in general, doing well in school, it's crucial we provide them with books that are 1) interesting and 2) push their reading skills. Spartanica, for instance, occasionally has words beyond the typical middle or even high school vernacular. That's done on purpose in the hope the reader will ask or look it up.
What are some of your recommended reads for the middle grades?
Other than Spartanica? Hmmmm.... let me see. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan is terrific. The Beyonders series by Brandon Mull is fantastic, as well.
What is something that readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I'm a huge Taylor Swift fan! The way this little blonde girl from small town Pennsylvania learned guitar and wrote songs to create an exceptional life for herself is inspiring. She came from nowhere to be a huge star. Whether you like her music or not, you have to be amazed by her story.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I'd like to thank my readers. They really are the best. I've had so many tell me that they are my "biggest fan", and I totally believe every one of them. Thank you!
Thank you so much for your time!

Book Tour

Ty and Marcus Mitchell are average middle school brothers growing up north of Chicago until one night when they’re hurtled through an inter-dimensional gateway to a parallel world defined by its multiple moons and planet-wide apocalypse. As they struggle to figure out where they are and how to get home, the boys encounter refugees of “the last day” from the distant city of Atlantis and a mysterious girl called Bellana, the sole survivor and resident of the devastated city of Spartanica. Ty and Marcus soon learn they only have seven days to get home. But before they can leave, they must battle through long-extinct predators, track down the elusive Professor Otherblood, and rescue a new friend from certain death. Is all of this insanity just Ty’s overactive imagination or are the brothers truly on the brink of being stranded on the brutal wasteland known as Spartanica?


Amazon | B&N | Smashwords | Kobo | Sony Books | CreateSpace

Author Bio:

Powers Molinar grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago and earned engineering and business degrees at the University of Iowa. While he works as a process engineer and project manager during the day, his passion is writing science fiction. His first novel, Spartanica, is the culmination of several year's of part-time effort mostly late at night and on weekends when he wasn't enjoying time with his wife and kids, all of whom were big helpers getting Spartanica written.

Powers believes every kid has the potential to become exceptional. In addition to being a blast to read, he truly hopes his books spark kids' imaginations and inspire them to read more and maybe even become writers. Being a solid reader is a foundational piece of leading an exceptional life. Powers hopes his books can be part of that foundation for as many kids as possible.

Follow Powers: Twitter | Facebook

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Monday, March 3, 2014

'Hero Dog Stories 2: 18 True Dog Stories' by Jennifer Ogden


Looking for a great dog story? How would you like 18 great dog stories!

Jennifer Ogden's 2nd book of heroic dog stories is filled with 18 remarkable true stories of ordinary dogs that performed extraordinary, heroic acts.

* Find out what a German shepherd named Shelby does when her family's house fills with carbon monoxide

* Discover what Blue, an Australian blue heeler, does when his elderly owner falls at night in an area filled with alligators

* Learn what happens when a man crashes his car in a remote part of Australian and the only one who knows he is there is his English sheepdog named Boydy.

* Find out what a great dane named Juliana does to stop a bomb from exploding during the London blitz when a bomb falls into her home.

* Discover what happens when a sweet border collie mix named Vicious does when a cougar walks into her home and leaps on her owner.

These are just a few of the great dog stories in the book Hero Dog Stories 2: 18 True Stories of Amazing Dogs. There are many more!

The book is appropriate for ages 7 and up. Although written in a simple style as a children's book, adults will enjoy the stories as well. The book contains 132 pages.

Like a good dog story? This book of 18 dog stories is perfect for you!


Visit Jennifer Ogden's Amazon author page to learn more about her and to check out her other books!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

'Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek' by Jill Osborne


If you’re gonna run for your life, you gotta wear the right shoes. Riley Mae Hart loves sports and action---so when the Swiftriver Shoe Company offers her a contract to be the spokesperson for their new outdoor sport collection, she jumps at the chance. Soon she’s appearing in commercials and magazine ads, and every girl in town wants to wear Riley Mae shoes. Well, except for Riley. Because walking in those shoes means missing out on softball season, making her best friend TJ mad, and embarrassing her new friend, Rusty. It also means sneaking around, hiding, and keeping secrets---because suddenly something isn’t quite right at Swiftriver. But a contract’s a contract, so Riley laces up her “Rock Shocker” hiking boots for a climb up Half-Dome in Yosemite. Will they be the right shoes to get her back on solid ground?

Buy links

~~An average of 4.8 *s for this first book in a new series for girls from Zonderkidz~~