Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Mrs. Murray's Ghost by Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Welcome to the book tour for Mrs. Murray's Ghost by Emily-Jane Hills Orford. This fantasy story is reminiscent of ones that I enjoyed as a youth, and yet different at the same time. Please read on for my thoughts about the book. You can also read an excerpt from it. Plus Emily-Jane tells us why she would choose to live in this book if she could. Please ask her more questions and leave her comments and then follow the tour for even more thoughts. There's also a giveaway for a $10 gift card!

Please note that affiliate links are present within this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. I also received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Mrs. Murray's Ghost

Mary’s family has moved into a huge Victorian mansion. She loves her gigantic new house, especially her room. But then she begins to meet the house’s other residents. Mrs. Murray was murdered in Mary’s new house. At first she tries to scare the new residents away, but there seems to be a force connecting the ghost to Mary. Even the stranded Brownies, the little people who live between the walls, feel that connection. When Mary becomes deathly ill, the Brownies and the ghost team up to try to rescue her, only to encounter a witch and her evil minions. Time is running out. They must rescue Mary from a fever-induced dream world before she is trapped there forever. As well as being a fun read for young readers, the story gives an historical perspective to childhood, as it dates to the 1960s. It also deals with some very current issues, specifically bullying.

Read an excerpt:
“Did you leave any lights on downstairs?” he asked as he seated himself at the table once again.

“No,” Mom answered. “I turned everything off.”

“She did,” Mary added. “I made sure.”

“The lights were all on in the kitchen,” Dad said. “Some of the cupboard doors were wide open. I closed them.” At that, the banging doors started up again.

“I guess it’s official,” David announced. “We have a ghost.” He made his move and passed ‘Go’. Holding out his hand to the banker (who was always Dad to ensure some modicum of fairness in the game), he demanded, “Two hundred dollars, please.”

“Sounds to me like the ghost is checking us out,” Dad said, handing over the Monopoly money. “It’s not hurting anyone, so let it be.”

“Spoooooky!” David howled, laughing.

Mary didn’t laugh. She wasn’t sure why they thought it was funny, but if no one else was afraid, maybe ghosts weren’t scary.

**My thoughts**
From a very young age, I was completely mesmerized by ghost stories. I read every middle grade ghost story I could get my hands on, and then some. So seeing a new book with ghosts in it definitely piqued my interest. Only this book goes beyond a simple ghost. It also introduces the concept of Brownies, of which I had never heard. I grew up with The Littles, who were similar to The Borrowers, but knew nothing of Brownies.

Another interesting aspect of this book is all of the Scottish folklore and history. I do have some Scottish heritage, but never much learned about it. So I felt like I was getting bits of heritage while reading about these Brownies and as they were sharing some historical tidbits. I admit that I struggled with the names of a lot of the characters, but that also gives this book more of a fantasy feel.

This book definitely has the feel of a first book in the series, like it is setting up the characters and their significance for later adventures. You get a lot of the background of the ghost Mrs. Murray, the Brownies, as well as Mary and her connection to all of them. Revelations of the past allude to there being more installments to come as past wrongs are destined to be rectified somehow some way. I think there is some potential here for a very interesting fantasy series, especially for fans of historical fiction.

Ask the author:

If you could live in one of your books, which one and why?

In many ways, I have already lived in “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” because much of the story is from my own childhood. I wouldn’t mind living it again, especially with all the adventures I have added and embellished. The only thing I really don’t like about my story is the bully, who was a real part of my childhood. All the things that Mary does in “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” to avoid the bully, I used to do as well.

I’d love to revisit the old Victorian mansion that became our family home for many years. I’d love to see it again as I did that very first day, before the movers arrived. It felt so cold and empty and unloved, something that quickly changed once we moved in. I think that’s what worried our ghost initially: that we wouldn’t love and care for the house that she had loved long before we moved in. Once she realized how much we were a vital part of the house, she seemed to settle down and the noises and light shows that kept us awake those first nights disappeared.

The ghost didn’t disappear, though. She was always there, often hovering at the foot of my bed. Especially when I was sick, which I was a lot as a child. We didn’t have all those immunizations back in the 1960s, so I had everything imaginable: scarlet fever, chicken pox, mumps. And there were times when I was so sick, I was in another realm, an alternate, out-of-body existence. Hence the dream world in the story.

I would love to go back, to be with my family as we were in the 1960s. With Mom, Dad and Gran still alive and well and my siblings, annoying as they sometimes could be.

“Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” and the rest of “The Piccadilly Street” series is a trip down memory lane for me, almost wishful on my part that I could be there once again.

About Emily-Jane

An avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, the author used this talent to create stories in her head to pass tedious hours while sick, waiting in a doctor’s office, listening to a teacher drone on about something she already knew, or enduring the long, stuffy family car rides. The author lived her stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As the author grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (Telltale Publishing 2018), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018), Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and several other books. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories. For more information on the author, check out her website at:

Author Links:

Emily-Jane Hills Orford will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 19, 2018

Review of Sophie Washington: Secret Santa by Tonya Duncan Ellis

The holiday season is upon us, so of course we have a new holiday-themed Sophie Washington book to read and enjoy! If you follow this blog at all, you know that I am a big fan of this series, and this installment is no exception. Please enjoy my review and then follow the tour to get the thoughts of others. Be sure to leave Tonya any comments or questions you may have. And of course enter the giveaway!

Please note that affiliate links are present within this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. I also received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sophie Washington: Secret Santa

Christmas is three weeks away and a mysterious "Santa" has been mailing presents to sixth grader Sophie Washington. Her friends guess that the secret Kris Kringle could be either Nathan Jones or Toby Johnson, two boys in Sophie's class who have liked her in the past, but she's not sure. Sophie uncovers clues to find her secret Santa and the final reveal is bigger than any package she's opened on Christmas morning. It's a holiday surprise she'll never forget!

Read an excerpt:
“Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg!”

“Be quiet, Cole!” I put my hands over my ears to muffle my brother’s out-of-tune singing and focus back on my laptop to finish my English essay. It’s less than three weeks until winter break and my teachers have been piling on the assignments to make sure we get our end of semester grades in.

There sure is a big change between fifth and sixth grade, workwise, at Xavier Academy, the private school my brother and I go to. Between all the essays and projects and studying for final exams, I feel I can barely take time to pat my dog, Bertram, when I get home; whereas, my eight-year-old brother Cole acts like he’s already on vacation.

Since we got home from school an hour ago, he’s been living it up, shooting hoops in the driveway, eating a snack and now playing on the handheld video game player that my mother would make him put up if she were downstairs with us. I ought to tell on him now…

Ding Dong!

The doorbell interrupts my thoughts.

“Can you get it, Sophie?” Mom yells from upstairs. “I’m putting some clothes in the closet.”

I would ask her why she wants me to answer the door, and not Cole, but I already know the answer: “Because you’re the oldest.”

Of course, that logic doesn’t hold when it comes to who gets the first dessert or who doesn’t have to do the dishes at night. As the baby of the family and favored child, my little brother has got it made.

I trudge to the front door in time to see the mail carrier heading back to his truck. He’s left a medium-sized box on the porch. Wonder what it is?

My mother sometimes has holiday packages delivered to the house, but Cole and I haven’t made our Christmas lists yet, so I doubt it’s anything for us. I open the door, pick the package up, and check out the label. It’s got my name on it in bright, red ink, “Sophie Washington.”

Who could this be from?

I never get any mail, except for birthday gifts my Granny Washington sends to our house in Houston from Corpus Christi when she can’t be here, and I don’t remember my parents ordering anything for us online. Granny is driving up to see us tomorrow, so I doubt she would mail presents here when she could just bring them with her.

“Mom, I got a package!” I call out.

“What is it?” Cole bounds from the family room to stare at the box as I set it on the kitchen counter.

“Back off, Cole, it’s mine,” I move him to the side with my hip and take a closer look at the delivery. The box is wrapped in brown paper, and there is no return address. It looks difficult to open with my fingers, so I pull a butter knife out of a drawer in the kitchen and slit through the tape on the side. A sweet, sugary scent fills the air.

“Cool!” exclaims Cole in appreciation as the brown wrapping slides off to reveal a box filled with packages of licorice, gummy bears, gum, and red and green M&Ms. I notice a typed note underneath.

Dear Sophie,
Hope your day is super sweet!
Your Secret Santa
 On sale for 99 cents during the tour!

**My thoughts**
Another wonderful Sophie Washington story! I cannot get enough of these. As in all of the other installments, I feel like these kids are real. They are dealing with real problems and stumble to find real solutions while learning all kinds of life lessons along the way. This one is a bit more fun as it revolves around a Secret Santa at Christmastime, but those lessons are still there.

In this one, we get to see Sophie really act like a protective older sister with her little brother Cole, which I love seeing. The bond between siblings is so important and definitely ebbs and flows over the years. These two kids are often bickering and picking on each other, as siblings do, but she is quick to take care of him. They learn some good lessons about bullying. Most of all, they learn the power of friendship and a kind word. In fact, you'll be surprised with the revelation of the Secret Santa at the end. I may or may not have felt a little moisture in my eyes at that point.

And finally I like that you can read this book without necessarily having read the other books in the series. Just enough background information is given so that you understand the characters and their story to make the current one make sense. But I do recommend reading them all, as they are all so good. I can't wait for the next one!

About Tonya Duncan Ellis

Tonya Duncan Ellis is the author of the award winning, Readers' Favorite "Five Star" rated, Sophie Washington children's books series, geared toward readers ages 8 to 12, and is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She has received awards for literary excellence, worked as a journalist and freelance magazine writer, and is a graduate of Centre College of Kentucky and Washington University in St. Louis.

The Sophie Washington book series recounts the adventures of a precocious African American preteen from Houston, TX and her diverse group of friends. Each funny and heartwarming story teaches lessons about friendship, responsibility, truthfulness and perseverance. Books in the series include Queen of the Bee, The Snitch, Things You Didn't Know About Sophie, The Gamer, Hurricane, and Mission: Costa Rica.

Tonya loves to travel and has visited 49 American states and three continents, but some of her best journeys have been between the pages of a novel. As a girl she could always be found with a book in her hand, and reading is still one of her favorite hobbies. When she's not reading or writing, the author likes to ride her bike, swim, and spend time with her husband and three children. She lives in Houston, TX.

Facebook: @tonyaellisbooks
Twitter: @TonyaDEllis

Tonya Duncan Ellis will be awarding $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Review of Sophie Washington: Hurricane by Tonya Duncan Ellis

She's back! There's a new Sophie Washington book out, so you just know that I had to grab it and review it. I have read several of the other Sophie Washington books and reviewed them right here, and I just love her. So please enjoy an excerpt and my review. Be sure to follow the tour for other people's opinions. Leave a comment or a question for the author. And then be sure to enter the giveaway!

Please note that affiliate links are present within this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. I also received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sophie Washington: Hurricane

#Sophie Strong

A hurricane’s coming, and eleven-year-old Sophie Washington’s typical middle school life in the Houston, Texas suburbs is about to make a major change. One day she’s teasing her little brother, Cole, dodging classmate Nathan Jones’ wayward science lab frog and complaining about “braggamuffin” cheerleader Valentina Martinez, and the next, she and her family are fleeing for their lives to avoid dangerous flood waters. Finding a place to stay isn’t easy during the disaster, and the Washington’s get some surprise visitors when they finally do locate shelter. To add to the trouble, three members of the Washington family go missing during the storm, and new friends lose their home. In the middle of it all, Sophie learns to be grateful for what she has and that she is stronger than she ever imagined.

Read an excerpt:
Ever since her BFF Maria Garcia moved a couple of weeks ago, Valentina’s been pushing her way into our friend group. Her constant adding of Spanish words to every conversation makes me gag. I’m so irritated thinking about Valentina that I don’t pay attention to where I’m going.

“Watch out!”

Nathan Jones, a boy I’ve known since fifth grade, zooms around the corner with a mason jar in his hand and clear plastic science goggles on his face. Nathan is wearing a white lab coat, and hopping in front of him is a ginormous gray-green frog.

“Eeeeek!” I scream in shock, unable to move.

“Grab him, Sophie! I need that frog to finish my science experiment!!” Nathan calls.

Water sloshes out of the jar as Nathan and the frog get closer. Then he steps in the puddle and starts sliding. He’s running so fast that he can’t slow down. 
“Oh no!” I cower to avoid him, but as he swerves, Nathan dumps the water from the jar on my head. We ram into each other, ending up in a jumbled heap on the floor then the frog leaps over us, croaks and heads down the stairway.


“That was hilarious!” laughs Valentina snapping a picture on her cellphone. “I can’t wait to post this.”

“Don’t you dare!” I struggle to my feet, and try to snag her phone, but she shuffles away.

“Look everybody!” she shrieks, skipping over to the growing group of kids.

I quickly glance at Nathan. “Are you OK?”

“Yeah, just bummed that Exhibit A of my experiment got away,” he says standing and rubbing his head. Nathan is one of the smartest kids in the sixth grade, and a good friend. He had surgery on his leg last year when a bully pushed him down in the hallway, so he is always careful not to injure it again.

**My thoughts**
Sophie Washington books makes me happy. I find the characters to be pretty relatable, and they always seem to have real-world problems that are eventually solved in appropriate ways. There's always a lesson to be learned. And at the same time, they are just a lot of fun. This book was no exception in the series.

The Sophie Washington books also incorporate real-life scenarios. For example, this one is about dealing with a hurricane in Texas. They're still not completely over the one that beat up Houston, and now there is one attacking Corpus Christi, where Grandma Washington lives. They manage to get her safely to their house to ride out the storms, but it's still nerve-wracking watching all of the storms and flooding going on. I didn't have to deal with hurricanes growing up, but I did deal with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, so I get how they're feeling. I admit to feeling quite emotional, stomach tied up in knots during certain parts of their adventure as the rains came. I also felt like it helped me to better understand what people went through during the hurricanes, including friends of mine.

Also in this story, old favorite friends reappear. And there's a new nemesis for Sophie in Valentina. I totally get dealing with the super snobby girls at school who are so fake, but everyone loves them. I appreciate how Sophie can see through the fakeness and doesn't fall for it. And yet, there is also an important lesson to be learned about those who are so fake. Usually they're hiding a deeper hurt and you have to get through that fakeness to find out the real story. As always, Sophie grows and matures a lot over the course of the story.

So another great installment in the series. And again, I can't wait until the next adventure.

Read my other Sophie Washington reviews:
Queen of the Bee
The Gamer
Things You Didn't Know About Sophie

About Tonya Duncan Ellis

Tonya Duncan Ellis was born and raised in Louisville, KY. She loves reading so much that as a child she took books with her everywhere. She knew she wanted to become a writer after an article she wrote was published in her hometown newspaper when she was a teen. Since then, Tonya has worked as a journalist and freelance magazine writer. She's an Amazon bestselling and award-winning author of the Sophie Washington children's book series, geared towards readers ages 8 to 12. The books recount adventures of Houston, TX preteen Sophie Washington and her diverse group of friends. Each funny and heartwarming story teaches lessons about friendship, responsibility, truthfulness and perseverance. Books in the series include Queen of the Bee, The Snitch, Things You Didn't Know About Sophie, The Gamer, Hurricane and Mission Costa Rica (Due to be released June 2018). When she's not writing, Tonya enjoys reading, biking, swimming, travel and spending time with her husband and three children. She lives in Houston, TX.




Tonya Duncan Ellis will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Sorceress's Apprentice by JL Lahey ~ Updated and revised!

I was compensated via Fiverr for sharing this post. I only share those books that I feel will interest my readers. Please also note that some affiliate links may be present. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to help me support my websites, at no additional cost to you.

The Sorceress's Apprentice

Badger, an eight-year-old orphan, has spent his entire life hiding in books, reading of the heroic deeds performed by valiant knights and courageous adventurers.
While attempting to save the lives of his fellow orphans he manifests a magic-like power. He soon learns that using this power comes with a great risk to his own life.
A beautiful sorceress, clad all in black, soon arrives with an offer to adopt him and teach him how to properly wield his powers.
Once they leave, he learns that the sorceress is really the leader of a group of adventurers, and they're not the type of heroes that he has ever read about in books. They’re the kind that steal, get drunk, rob graves, loot tombs, and shoot people in the back. They basically only do what they need to in order to have a really good time.
Badger is wondering what type of tale has he gotten into, because he has never read a story quite like this one!

About JL Lahey

J.L. Lahey dwells in Arizona. 

He is currently writing stories for the Elder Codex fantasy series, The Tails of The Nine fantasy series and a amnesic paranormal mystery set in Las Vegas.

When he is not writing, he enjoys obsessing over role-playing games, girls, renaissance festivals, on-line games, comics and riding his motorcycle in the rain.

He meets weekly with his gaming group to discus different facets of world domination.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Review of Sophie Washington: Things You Didn't Know About Sophie by Tonya Duncan Ellis with Giveaway

Welcome to the review tour for Sophie Washington: Things You Didn't Know About Sophie by Tonya Duncan Ellis, hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions. This is my third book in the series and it is another winner! Read my full review below as well as an excerpt from the book. Be sure to leave Tonya a question or a comment! And then follow the tour so that you have more chances to try to win the $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card giveaway. Best of luck entering and thanks for stopping by!

Things You Didn't Know About Sophie

Oh, the tangled web we weave…

Sixth grader Sophie Washington thought she had life figured out when she was younger, but this school year, everything has changed. She feels like an outsider, because she’s the only one in her class without a cell phone, and her crush, new kid Toby Johnson, has been calling her best friend, Chloe. To fit in, Sophie changes who she is. Her plan to become popular works for a while, and she and Toby start to become friends.

In between the boy drama, Sophie takes a whirlwind class field trip to Austin, TX, where she visits the state museum, eats Tex-Mex food, and rides a kayak. Back at home, Sophie fights off buzzards from her family’s roof, dissects frogs in science class, and has fun at her little brother Cole’s basketball tournament.

Things get more complicated when Sophie “borrows” a cell phone from a neighbor and gets caught. If her parents make her tell the truth, what will her friends think? Turns out Toby has also been hiding something, and Sophie discovers the best way to make true friends is to be yourself.

Read an excerpt:
He loves me. He loves me not. 
I shrug my shoulders and tug the last petal off the cream-colored daisy, watching it drift to the floor. Then I scoot the mess under my bed with my feet. I have been playing this game every morning for the past week and come out losing more often than not. 
“It’s no use,” I moan. “Toby will never like me!” Toby Johnson joined our sixth-grade class this past fall, and it’s as if I’m seeing things through 3D glasses. Mom hardly has to call me to come down for school in the morning, because I can’t wait to get there. Our boring Texas history class is exciting now that Toby sits in the seat in front of me. Even P.E., which I’ve always hated, is fun, because Toby is in the class. He tells funny jokes, is good in sports, and talks to everyone, even the shy and quiet kids. 
Toby is a good student, so the teachers like him, too. And, he has all kinds of neat stories to tell about his old school in Cleveland, Ohio, where his family moved from. Toby says that in Cleveland they have enough snow every winter to make snowmen as tall as he is. I’ve never seen snow, except once when we drove through some flurries on a road trip to New Mexico. 
Things have been great since Toby got here, except he doesn’t know I like him, and probably doesn’t care. He’s too busy making Goo Goo eyes at my best friend Chloe, the prettiest girl in the class. Not that I’m bad looking or anything, but next to her, I’m not so much. She’s tall and has long, black, curly hair, and wears cute red bows and bracelets that make her look like a movie star, even in our school uniform. I, on the other hand, wear ponytails and need glasses to see the board.

Buy links

**My thoughts**
Yet another excellent read in the Sophie Washington series. In this one, Sophie is trying to navigate those initial boy-girl feelings and relationships, especially as she isn't quite as comfortable in her own skin with her glasses and more casual look. She is trying to figure out how to fit in with her friends, even when her parents don't let her have the the things they have. She is trying to figure out how to prove she can be responsible, which isn't the easiest thing to do when you're at this preteen age. Sixth grade is a time of huge growth and confusion and again, Ellis has captured it in this book. I completely flashed back to my 6th grade year.

The growth happens. Responsibility happens. Lessons are learned. Sophie is real and not Little Miss Perfection, which makes her an even better role model. I think kids can learn a lot about life and have some great conversations about how they would handle the various situations. They've probably already witnessed some of these experiences in their own lives. If I were still teaching, I would be reading these to my students.

I've read three of these books so far and really need to get to the other ones soon!

About Tonya Duncan Ellis

Tonya Ellis loves reading so much that as a child she took books with her everywhere rather than put them down. She knew she wanted to become a writer after an article she wrote was published in her hometown newspaper when she was fourteen years old. Since then, Tonya has worked as a journalist, written for newspapers and magazines and won awards for her books. She is the mom of three spelling bee champions, and has judged several spelling bee events. SOPHIE WASHINGTON: QUEEN OF THE BEE is her debut novel in a series about Sophie and her friends. Currently, Ms. Ellis lives in Missouri City, Texas with her husband, daughter, and two sons.


Tonya Duncan Ellis will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review of Sophie Washington: The Gamer by Tonya Duncan Ellis with Giveaway

Welcome to the review tour for Sophie Washington: The Gamer by Tonya Duncan Ellis, sponsored by Goddess Fish Promotions. This is the third book in the series that I have read and the second I have toured. We have another winner here! Keep on reading for an excerpt as well as my thoughts. Leave a comment for the author, because she would love to respond. And make sure you follow the whole tour so that you can have plenty of chances to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. Best of luck entering the giveaway and thanks for stopping by!

Sophie Washington: The Gamer

Forty days without video games? Oh no!

Sixth-grader Sophie Washington and her friends are back with an interesting book about having fun with video games while keeping balance. It’s almost Easter, and Sophie and her family get ready to start fasts for Lent with their church, where they give up doing something for 40 days that may not be good for them. Her parents urge Sophie to stop tattling so much, and encourage her second-grade brother Cole to give up something he loves most, playing video games. The kids agree to the challenge, but how long can they keep it up? Soon after Lent begins, Cole starts sneaking to play his video games. Things start to get out of control when he loses a school electronic tablet he checked out without his parents’ permission, and comes to his sister for help. Should Sophie break her promise and tattle on him?

Read an excerpt:
Now that I am getting older and am in the sixth grade, I can understand more of what our pastor is saying in the sermons. Today, he was talking about how hard it can be to stay away from things we like that may be bad for us.

“Temptation is a daily struggle for all,” he preached.

“The struggle for me is staying awake for two hours,” complains Cole. “I wish I could have been with my friends in children’s church.”

Cole prefers going to the special service for kids, and was mad that Mom and Dad made us join them in the main church this morning.

“It’s getting closer to Easter, and I want you to get a better understanding of what the holiday is all about,” Dad explains. “In children’s church, all you pay attention to is the snacks.”

“Those donuts they bring in are good!” Cole exclaims.

“Maybe we can stop by the donut shop on the way home.” Mom squeezes his shoulder.
I roll my eyes. Since Cole is the youngest, he’s my mother’s pet.

“Have you kids given any thought as to what you want to give up for Lent?” Dad asks.

“What’s Lent?” questions Cole. 
“Lent represents the 40 days Jesus was in the desert and the devil tried to tempt him, or get him to do things he shouldn’t do,” Mom explains. “During the 40 days before Easter, we celebrate Lent by giving up something we like to eat or do that keeps us from thinking of more meaningful things, just like Jesus did.”

Buy links

**My review**
This is the third Sophie Washington book that I have read and I am definitely still in love with this character. Ellis has created such a real young character. I can see myself in her and relate to her so well.

In this installment, Sophie is learning what it means to give up something in order to better herself and how to stick to her word as she makes a promise to give up tattling for Lent. Her little brother is giving up gaming. Neither one of them knows how they are going to get through the next 40 days, but they have to try. Making it even harder for Sophie is how her brother is still finding ways to sneak in his gaming addiction. She's torn between sticking to her promise and making sure her brother is also following the rules and sticking to his. It's an example of a struggle that kids go through on a regular basis. 

Sophie is also dealing with new tween relationship issues. She's trying to sort out crush feelings while also acknowledging how her friends are growing, maturing, and expanding their circles. Those growing pains are always tricky to navigate while also being a learning experience. 

The kids also have a chance to really demonstrate their maturity and responsibility with a special surprise that falls into their laps. There are so many lessons in here that kids will be able to relate to. Sophie is a great role model.

About Tonya Duncan Ellis

Tonya Ellis loves reading so much that as a child she took books with her everywhere rather than put them down. She knew she wanted to become a writer after an article she wrote was published in her hometown newspaper when she was fourteen years old. Since then, Tonya has worked as a journalist, written for newspapers and magazines and won awards for her books. She is the mom of three spelling bee champions, and has judged several spelling bee events. SOPHIE WASHINGTON: QUEEN OF THE BEE is her debut novel in a series about Sophie and her friends. Currently, Ms. Ellis lives in Missouri City, Texas with her husband, daughter, and two sons.


Tonya Duncan Ellis will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Megan the Pet Whisperer by Pamela Foland Release Blitz

Middle Grade Fiction
Date Published: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Sonny’s Legacy Publishing

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Megan Thompson is surprised and happy when Dr.Newton, the Veterinarian at the Furry Friends Clinic, ask her to look after Monty, a Capuchin monkey.  Dr. Newton acquired Monty from the local zoo because he was fighting other monkeys. Despite Monty's reputation with the vet staff as being a terror, Megan knows she can win Monty over.   Megan see's the inner workings of a vet clinic, and before the three days are up she wants to help every pet she can.  Unfortunately, the vet staff sees Megan as an annoying little kid not part of the team.  Megan can't bear to hear any more talk about Cooper, a sad Shih Tzu that won't eat his meals. She knows she could help him and others at the clinic if given the chance.  How can Megan earn the staff's trust?  Will she ever be allowed to handle any other pets besides Monty?  Every kid has a summer to which they just want to go back to when they are all grown up. This is Megan's summer, this is the summer when Megan became the Pet Whisperer.

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The next morning, Megan woke to her kittens racing across the bed. Peeking at the digital clock on her nightstand, she saw it was only five-thirty. She rolled on her back and tried to go back to sleep, but somehow Petey had seen her look at the alarm clock.

With a meow, he jumped back on the bed and started purring as he walked up Megan's chest. He sat briefly on her chest, staring at her before flopping against her face still purring. With his back and head against her chin, his fur tickled her nose.

“ACHOO,” Megan said, startling all the kittens off the bed.

“Sorry, guys. Petey, your fur tickled my nose. Okay, I’m up, and I know that's what you wanted.”

Megan stretched and yawned as she walked across her bedroom. She quickly put out the kittens food and then sat on the floor near them, still trying to wake up.

By 6 a.m. Megan was excited to go see Monty. She played with her kittens until she heard her parents moving around downstairs.

“I’ll be back, babies,” Megan promised as she shut the door to her room.

”Morning,” Megan said cheerfully to her parents as she entered the kitchen.

“Morning,” her dad said.

“You are up early,” her mom commented.

“Yeah, I’m so excited to go care for Monty this morning. I will get to see how a vet clinic runs, too.”

“It's good experience for you,” her dad agreed.

After breakfast and seeing her parents off to work, Megan went back to her room and dressed in jeans and a T shirt.

“Okay, kitten cats, I’m going to go take care of Monty. I have to feed him and let him play for an hour. I’ll be home by eleven for sure, and we will spend time together since I don't have to be back at the clinic until three-thirty.”

Megan kissed each of her babies and headed for Dr. Newton's office. The morning was still cool, so Megan didn't mind jogging the quarter mile.

It was just after eight when Megan pulled the Furry Friends Clinic doors open.

“Morning, Mary,” Megan said. She was happy that she had been introduced to the staff. Now she really felt like she was part of the vet’s office.

Megan approached Monty's cage. As usual, Monty was crouched on the platform at the back of his cage.

“Morning, sleepyhead. Do you want to come out and play?” Megan cooed, unlocking the cage door.

As she knelt by his cage, Monty eyed her for a moment before hesitantly approaching the door.

A client with two vocal basset hounds came into the lobby just as Monty was about to come out.

The basset hounds baying sent Monty scurrying back to the safety of his platform with a shrill scream.

“It's okay, Monty,” Megan soothed as she watched the woman with the basset hounds be led into an exam room.

It only took a moment of the lobby being quiet for Monty to come back down to the door. He stared at Megan, his big brown eyes already showed he trusted her.

With one quick leap, Monty landed on Megan's shoulder. Grabbing her hair, he balanced himself.

“Ow,” Megan cringed as he pulled her hair again and settled on her shoulder.

Once she was sure he was seated, she slowly got to her feet. With a hand on his back as she walked, Megan headed to the kitchen.

“Morning,” Cory greeted her.

“Morning,” Megan replied with a smile.

Cory took a few steps backward as Megan approached to get the toys from the cabinet.

“Monty's food is soaking, but it has only been about fifteen minutes,” Cory explained.

“Okay, we will play for a while. Thanks for making it,” said Megan.

Cory nodded and headed out of the room as another tech called his name.

Once Cory had left the room, Monty jumped from Megan’s shoulder to the counter. He opened his toy drawer and rummaged for the toy he wanted.

He found the keyring toy that he was looking for and handed it to Megan.

Megan took the toy from Monty and shook it gently in front of him so the keys rattled together.

Monty’s eyes lit up as he watched the colored keys dance.

When Megan held the keys still again, Monty took them and repeated Megan’s action. He was able to make the keys rattle, too.

He said, “Oooh, ooh, eee, aah.”

As he continued to shake the keys, he jumped off the counter and ran around the room rattling the keys and talking to himself.

Megan giggled at his antics as she watched him circle the room for the second time. As he passed her again, Megan sat down on the floor.

The next time Monty circled around, he ran up and jumped in Megan’s lap pushing the keys up to Megan’s nose.

Megan giggled again and playfully fell over backward.

Monty walked up her chest just like her kittens and rattled the keys in her face.

Megan covered her face with her hands so the keys couldn't hit her.

This action intrigued Monty. He dropped the keys and put his hands on Megan's attempting to pull her hands from her face.

Megan let him lift her hands up briefly. She smiled and said, “Boo!”

Then she quickly covered her face again.

Monty talked, “Ooh, ooh, eee, aaa, “ as he pulled Megan's hands from her face a few more times.

After the fourth boo, Monty was bored with the game and wandered over to the cabinets.

“No, Monty, come play with your blocks,” Megan said, pulling the bucket of blocks to the middle of the room and dumping them on the floor.

Monty left the cabinets and came over to where Megan sat. He dug through the blocks and found two red ones. He put one on the ground and started hammering it using the other block.

Megan watched him work and then started building a tower. She got her tower to be a foot tall before Monty took interest and knocked it over with a quick backhanded motion.

“Monty, you knocked my tower down. I was building that,” Megan laughed.

Megan built the tower again. This time he helped her put the blocks in place. Once the tower got to be a foot tall, he knocked it over again.

Megan rolled her eyes and glanced up at the clock.

“Okay, Monty, your food should be ready. Let's give you some breakfast.”

Megan got up and opened the door to the refrigerator. As she searched the shelves for Monty's containers, he came up to her side. Grabbing a handful of her jeans and then a handful of her shirt, he climbed up to her shoulder and peered in the refrigerator too.

“Good boy,” Megan praised as she grabbed the two containers from the shelf and shut the door. Monty watched from Megan’s shoulder as she combined the vegetables and fruit together and then mixed up the pellets and canned food.

Once in the lobby, Megan poured the contents of the containers in the dishes in Monty’s cage. Monty hopped into his cage eager to check out his food dishes. Megan sat on the floor in front of his cage, watching to make sure Monty ate. He dug through both bowls. Once he had a carrot piece in one hand and a pellet in the other, Monty climbed out of his cage and onto Megan's lap. Monty chewed on his chosen pieces of food for a few minutes. Then he dropped them on the floor and went to retrieve two new pieces.

Tess came up to the front to talk to Mary. “Cooper the Shih Tzu that checked in on Saturday isn't eating. What else can I offer him?”

Mary pulled his file from the cabinet behind her. After reading it for a moment, she replied, “He has severe food allergies. You can't give him anything but what his owner brought.”

Tess sighed and returned to the back.

Megan couldn't help but ask, “What will Tess do to get Cooper to eat?”

“We do several things here. Sometimes adding hot water to their food makes them eat. I'm not sure what all she has tried already,” Mary replied.

Megan nodded. Despite not knowing Cooper, Megan felt bad for him.

It had to be so scary being boarded when you're a dog. It has to be terrible to not understand when or if your mom is coming back. I will ask Tess about Cooper this afternoon and try to help.

Monty had eaten two thirds of his food. The remains of pieces were scattered across Megan's lap, but Monty had went to his platform to rest.

Megan cleaned the floor and shut Monty's cage door.

“See you this afternoon,” Megan said to Monty and Mary.

Her mind raced as she walked home. Monty is so fun to care for. He is so easy. I don't think I could ever board my kittens. They would be so scared. I hope Tess can get Cooper to eat. I know I could help Cooper if I was allowed to spend time with him.

About the Author

Pamela Foland grew up in Plano, Texas. Her love of animals started at a very young age. As a child, she was constantly bringing home stray dogs, and injured birds. She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Business in 2005. As an adult, her love of animals has only grown stronger. Pamela has worked in numerous pet hotels as a dog trainer and is certified to teach pet first aid and CPR. All her experience with pets culminated four years ago when Pamela found and raised an abandoned litter of day-old kittens. Not able to part with any of these now-grown babies, Pamela enjoys going home to her ‘little munchkins’ every night. This experience gave Pamela the inspiration for her series debut, Megan’s Munchkins. Pamela will always have a special affinity with Megan, because of their shared experiences. There are few experiences in life more compelling than saving the life of another being.

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