In the soon to be released ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE, Anne Nesbet has beautifully mixed music with history, family and a morality tale of doing what is right, no matter how difficult that may be. 5 STARS




Length: 448 PAGES



Received From: THE PUBLISHER

Release Date: APRIL 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8804-2

Price: $17.99 USD / $23.99 CDN

** Also Available as an e-book and in audiobook from Candlewick on Brilliance Audio **

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


When eleven-year-old Augusta Neubronner arrives at her grandmother’s orphanage in Maine with little more than her French horn and all that’s left of a broken wish, she steps right into what her German-born papa (now a fugitive from the law) likes to call “the clear light of trouble.”

With World War II on the horizon, Gusta has to confront classmates’ suspicions and the local mill owner’s greed. And when she blunders into family secrets, Gusta must try her best to put things right. Sometimes it takes a whole Orphan Band to help a girl find her place and her voice.

Acclaimed author Anne Nesbet deftly combines music, family, history, and a hint of magic in this unforgettable read.


THE ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE by Anne Nesbet is a work of Historical fiction written with middle-grade as the intended readership. It is “… nightingale sweet and honey-smooth.”

Anne Nesbet has beautifully mixed music with history, family and a morality tale of doing what is right, no matter how difficult that may be.

Eleven year old Augusta Neubronner Hoopes is sent from her home in New York City to stay at her grandmother’s house deep in central Maine.

From the very first chapter we learn that Augusta (who prefers to be called “Gusta”) has a very heavy load on her shoulders.

Halfway through the trip from New York to Maine, her father disappears. It turns out that he escaped just before authorities searched the bus looking for him. Gusta’s father was born in Germany and has been involved with the labor movement ever since arriving in the United States. Now, he is a fugitive from the law.

When Gusta arrives at her grandmother’s house, all she has to her name is a small bag of clothes and her most prized possession – a French horn. That horn is not just decorative. Gusta can play it, and play it well.

Hearing a family legend that somewhere there is a magic wish “…in a box on a shelf…” Gusta would dearly love to find that wish and sets out to ferret out its location.

The longer she lives in the small town, the more problems she sees that need to be set right. Her father always told her that people needed to help each other whenever they could, and Gusta intends to honor his teaching – no matter how much it will hurt her to do so.

I love this. It is so refreshing to read a story in which solidarity is celebrated and where selfishness is discouraged. In today’s world, it is all about “ME”. Too many people worry only about themselves and ignore the consequences to others of their actions. In this regard, going back in time would be wonderful.

Sometimes it is necessary to look at the world through the eyes of a child who has not yet been beaten down by life. It is through Gusta’s wonderfully flawed eyes that adult readers of this novel discover that everything can be boiled down to one of two choices … Right or Wrong. This lesson may be a simple one, but it is one that is often forgotten. I am happy to say that “The Orphan Band of Springdale” has reminded me of that oh-so-true reality.

Anne Nesbet has touched on so many issues worthy of discussion in this book that it is easy to see this book in a middle grade classroom and a lively discussion taking place. I highly recommend this book to teachers of those grades (as well as to everyone else.)

Here is a partial list of some of the discussion worthy topics include:

* Work ethic in the past vs. work ethic in present day
* Hardscrabble lives
* Unions
* Injured Workers
* Patriotism
* Prejudice
* Government & health
* Music
* Money and lack of it
* Airplanes
* Bullying
* Glasses
* German in the USA
* Dairy Wars
* Purity – of milk and of birth
* Orphans
* Family loyalty
* The value of historic writings – such as the sketchbook and journal from the sea captain found in the attic by Gusta
* Selflessness
* Changes in technology from 1941 to present day

* Unplanned Pregnancies
* And much more…

I sped through the reading of this book because I did not want to put it down. In fact, I spent two very sleepless nights devouring the pages and fully immersing myself in Gusta’s world. Author Anne Nesbet has crafted Gusta’s world with beautifully detailed descriptions and characters with such depth that they seem 100% real. It is patently obvious that the author has a distinct love of small-town Maine, and that love has seeped through onto every page of this delectable book.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and am planning to check out previous novels written by Anne Nesbet.

I predict that THE ORPHAN BAND OF SPRINGDALE will find its way onto the Bestseller list shortly after its official release date.

* I would like to thank GOODREADS as well as CANDLEWICK PRESS for providing me with an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of this book.


Anne Nesbet is the author of the novels The Cabinet of Earths, A Box of Gargoyles, and The Wrinkled Crown.

Her books have received starred reviews and have been selected for the Kids’ Indie Next List, Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best list, and the Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year list.

An associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Anne Nesbet lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:










Other Books by Anne Nesbet:

This book is one of my contributions to the #2018AtoZChallenge being hosted by GINGERMOMREADS


The idea of the challenge is to read at least one book whose title starts with each letter of the alphabet, so that by the end of 2018 (at the latest) I will have read at least one book for every letter of the alphabet.

#orphanband #theorphanbandofspringdale #annenesbet #arc #readandreview #middlegrade #middlegradebooks #Maine #frenchhorn #music #historicalfiction #candlewickpress #tbr #booknerd #booknerdigans #WWII #unions #labor #labormovement #labourmovement #music #bibliophile #Amiesbookreviews #book #bookblog #bookblogger #bookreview #bookreviewer #2018AtoZChallenge #2018books #newrelease #comingsoon #April2018 #Goodreads


THE BATTLE OF JUNK MOUNTAIN by Lauren Abbey Greenberg is the perfect summer read for lovers of middle-grade fiction.




Length: 256 PAGES


Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 17, 2018

ISBN: 9780762462957

Price: $16.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Twelve-year-old Shayne Whittaker has always spent summers on the Maine coast, visiting her grandmother Bea and playing with her BFF Poppy. Both Shayne and Bea are collectors, in their own ways: Shayne revels in golden memories of searching for sea glass and weaving friendship bracelets with Poppy, while Bea scours flea markets for valuable finds, much of which she adds to a growing pile in her house that Shayne jokingly calls Junk Mountain.

This summer, though, everything has changed. Poppy would rather talk about boys than bracelets, and Bea’s collecting mania has morphed into hoarding. Only Linc, the weird Civil War-obsessed kid next door, pays attention to her. Turns out Linc’s collected a secret of his own, one that could enrage the meanest lobsterman on the planet, his grandpa. What begins as the worst summer of Shayne’s life becomes the most meaningful, as she wages an all-out battle to save her friendships, rescue her grandmother, and protect the memories she loves the most.


Are you looking for a great book for your middle-grade reader to read during summer vacation? Look no further. THE BATTLE OF JUNK MOUNTAIN is the absolutely perfect read for summer (and for any other time of year).

HINT — You might want to buy two copies because you will enjoy this book just as much as your child!!!

Twelve year old Shayne (yes, it sounds like a boy’s name, but it’s not) is spending the summer in her favorite place on the planet … on the coast of Maine at her grandmother’s house, which sits directly on the water.

She had been looking forward to spending time with her “Summer-Sister” Poppy, making friendship bracelets, collecting sea glass and hanging out at the beach.

But, from the moment Shayne arrives, things start going wrong. Poppy has a job at her family’s grocery store and can spend barely any time with her. And, when they finally do get a chance to hang out, all Poppy wants to talk about is boys. YUCK!

Shayne’s grandmother, Bea, is a compulsive garage sale shopper and her house is full of knick knacks and signs and just about anything you can imagine. Shayne has been sent by her mother to help Grandma Bea get organized to sell it all at the local flea market.

To make matters even more complicated, Bea has a new next door neighbor; one who never smiles and always seems to be angry at something or someone – Shayne secretly nicknames him “Cranky.”

To add to this bizarre, but somehow perfect, mix of people, Cranky’s grandson, Linc, arrives. Linc is around the same age as Shayne and is a bit … Odd. He is obsessed with the Civil War and in reenactments. He even wears a Civil War outfit and cap EVERY SINGLE DAY.

He may dress a little strangely (ok, well, it’s actually A LOT strange, especially for at the beach) but he has a great heart and Linc and Shayne become something similar to friends.

The story has multiple twists and turns and has more than one mystery, all of which Shayne somehow ends up in the middle of each one.

A tale of growing up and of beginning to learn there is more to a person than meets the eye and that judging someone by what they look like, or the clothes they wear is NOT right, and usually ends up being inaccurate.

Shayne also learns about friendship and what makes a true friend. Hoarding is also discussed, as is aging, financial hardships, and the lives and livelihoods of fishermen. It is incredible how much knowledge this book contains. The middle grade reader will not realize it, but as they read, they are learning many valuable lessons. Actually, these lessons are also great for older readers to take in as well. They may already know many of the facts, but it is never a bad thing to remind adult readers of the morals this story imparts.

Highly readable, incredibly fun, with compelling characters, THE BATTLE OF JUNK MOUNTAIN is a middle grade Must Read. For that reason I have to rate this superb book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

* Thank you to NETGALLEY for providing me with a free copy of this book.


Photograph by David Baratz

Lauren Abbey Greenberg is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and has been published in Highlights for Children and Knowonder! magazine. She has also written and produced TV spots for Discovery Kids, educational videos for National Geographic, and a film for Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

She lives in Maryland with her family and has spent summers in Maine for the past twenty years.

This is her debut novel.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:









AUMA’S LONG RUN by Debut Author EUCABETH ODHIAMBO is a fascinating look at the African AIDS epidemic from the point of view of a pre-teen girl. 

Title: AUMA’S LONG RUN     



Length: 293 PAGES

Type of Book: HARDCOVER    

Received From: GOODREADS GIVEAWAY     

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5124-2784-4   

Price: $17.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS                          🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟    


Auma loves to run. In her small Kenyan village, she’s a track star with big dreams. A track scholarship could allow her to attend high school and maybe even become a doctor. But a strange new sickness called AIDS is ravaging the village, and when her father becomes ill, Auma’s family needs her help at home.

Soon more people are getting sick—even dying—and no one knows why.

Now Auma faces a difficult choice. Should she stay to support her struggling family or leave to pursue her own future? Auma knows her family is depending on her, but leaving might be the only way to find the answers to questions about this new disease.  



This novel is targeted at young adults and middle-grade readers, however it will also appeal to adults.

It is author Eucabeth Odhiambo’s debut novel and was released less than two months ago.

It tells the tale of 12 year old Auma who lives with her family in a small village in Kenya. It is set in the 1980s when AIDS was first rearing its ugly head in Africa and when very little information was known about the disease.

People are dying every week in Auma’s small village and noone really knows why. They nicknamed the disease “Slim,” probably because patients wasted away before they died.

People didn’t understand why only adults were dying. The young and the elderly seemed to be spared. However, the young were often left as orphans and had to struggle to earn enough money so they wouldn’t starve. Unfortunately, many of these “AIDS Orphans” did end up starving to death.

Auma wants to get educated. She wants to become a doctor But, to do that she must first attend high school. How can she attend school even if she does receive a scholarship when her family needs her to either marry or work to keep her siblings alive?

This tale is not the story of any specific individual or family. Instead, it is the story of what many in Kenya endured before proper information was learned about this heinous disease.

AUMA’S LONG RUN contains wonderfully evocative writing that brings the setting to life for readers. This is demonstrated even in the simplest of sentences, such as: “The rays of the setting sun felt like tongues of fire upon my back.”

The characters are heart-breakingly believable and it is impossible for readers not to feel empathy for Auma and her family. The fact that author Eucabeth Odhiambo grew up in Kenya explains why the setting feels so authentic.

Part of why I like this book so much is that the author does not shy away from the horror of the AIDS victims that Auma encounters. The author wrote this book with the education of readers in mind, and educate she does. Auma sees the lesions and sores appear on her mother’s skin and takes care of her as she wastes away.
This is important. Readers need to know that AIDS is a horrific disease. As Auma learns more about the disease ravaging her village, the reader also learns. Eucabeth Odhiambo has written a story that both entertains and educates her readers and for that, she should be applauded.

I highly recommend this book and rate it as 5 out of 5 Stars for Middle-grade readers. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

To hear the author read an excerpt from Auma’s Long Run click HERE.


Eucabeth Odhiambo is a professor of teacher education at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

As a classroom teacher she has taught all grades between kindergarten and middle school.

Eucabeth grew up in Kenya in the 80’s and 90’s and saw her friends and relatives directly impacted by the disease. “There were so many deaths,  [Eucabeth], like Auma, had many unanswered questions – partly because information simply wasn’t available, and partly because [her] society did not encourage open conversation about the disease.”

After moving to the United States in the early 2000s, Eucabeth obtained her doctoral degree and while studying AIDS education in Kenyan schools,      she returned to Kenya to interview both children and teachers. She spoke to many AIDS orphans and “…was amazed at how strong these children were. Of course they struggled under the weight of depression and desperation – not to mention threat of starvation – but life had to go on.”

To learn more about this author visit the following links:









Committed to Education Since 1959

Lerner Publishing Group is one of the nation’s largest independently owned children’s publishers with more than 5,000 books in print. For more than 50 years, they’ve created nonfiction and fiction books for pre-school to young adult readers and for libraries, classrooms, and homes across the country.

They bring together authors, illustrators, photographers, and educators to ensure that each book is age-appropriate and meets curriculum standards. Lerner books are thoroughly researched and exceptionally written with amazing illustrations and captivating photography that hold readers’ attention. And because each year brings a new class of students, we use our proprietary Muscle Bound®hardcover library binding so our books last a lifetime in the classroom and library. We guarantee it.

Learn more about this Publisher by clicking on the links below:






NEW RELEASE – “CROSSING THE LINE” by Bibi Belford is Historical Middle-grade Fiction at its finest. A 5 Star Read recommended for ages 10 to 110. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 


Author: BIBI BELFORD    


Length: 287 PAGES


Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Received From: PUBLISHER

Release Date: AUGUST 22, 2017  

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0800-6 

Price:  $15.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  


“I’m excited about my new historical fiction,CROSSING THE LINE, a middle grade novel to be published in 2017 by Sky Pony Press.

It’s set in Bridgeport, Chicago in 1919, and told through the eyes of eleven-year-old Billy McDermott.

Billy is pretty sure skin color doesn’t matter. Not when you and Foster, your fifth grade buddy and his brothers, Odelle and Emmett, are just horsing around, building a raft.

But in the Red Summer of 1919, it does matter, and Billy’s misguided innocence causes Odelle’s murder, igniting Chicago’s bloodiest race riot.”

Bibi Belford, Author of Crossing the Line, Canned and Crushed, and other middle grade fiction.


 is a brand new middle-grade fiction novel released August 22nd, 2017. The timing of this book’s release could not be better.

With racial tensions currently  rising across the United States, it is time to remind adults that those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it. Even though this book is targeted at children between the ages of 10-14, it is written in such a way that adults will enjoy reading it as well.

Set in the year 1919, this is a fictional story told around actual historic events. CROSSING THE LINE would be perfect for book reports and/or book clubs. I believe that after reading this book, children will be interested in digging deeper and learning more about their nation’s history. Even if that does not happen, readers will find themselves with a much better understanding of the role of race in American history. 

I love the fact that author Bibi Belford chose 1919 as the time period for this book. The events in the book occur after the soldiers who survived have returned from World War One. In fact, the main character, Billy, is dealing with his father’s return from the war. Instead of returning as a celebrated, conquering hero, Billy’s Dad is confined to the Veterans Hospital with a severe case of Shell Shock. This leaves Billy as the “Man of the House” and leaves his mother struggling to provide her family with a roof over their heads and to put food on their table.

To help reduce household expenses, Billy leaves the Catholic school he has always attended and in which he was just another Irish Catholic kid, like all the other students. There was zero diversity among the students and their families.

Now attending Public School, Billy befriends a student in his class named Foster. Both boys love baseball and bond over that as well as the fact that both their fathers fought in the war.

The author took this picture of CERMAK BRIDGE which is where one of the scenes in the book takes place.

Foster is black and even though the two boys see nothing wrong with being friends, but when the city’s residents find out about it, a series of events take place that culminates in murder and citywide mayhem.

five policemen and one soldier with a rifle standing on a street corner during a race riot in the Douglas community areaof Chicago, Illinois

A white gang looking for Black victims

An African American being stoned during the race riots

With perfection in character building, and a plot that will have readers riveted, CROSSING THE LINE is a 5 Star Read. It will remind people of one of the darkest periods in Chicago’s history and remind us that small actions matter. The time to stand up against racism is now. We cannot allow history to repeat itself.

I highly recommend this book and I would like to thank the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.




|  Literacy Advocate  |  

Educational Consultant

 Gardening Enthusiast 

 |  Writer-Mentor  

|  Admirer of Lighthouses

 | Kid’s-Fiction Writer

Bibi Belford is the author of books for middle grade readers: CROSSING THE LINE, CANNED AND CRUSHED, THE GIFT, and ANOTHER D FOR DEEDEE (coming 2018). 

She lives in the South Loop neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois with her husband. She enjoys books, gardening, beaches, and spending time with her grandchildren. 

Belford also works as an educational consultant and volunteers in public schools. She is a member of CWA – Chicago Writers Association, SCBWI-Illinois, and has served as a panelist for author Success Stories at the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute.

To learn more about this author visit the following links: 











Launched in fall 2011, Sky Pony Press is the children’s book imprint of Skyhorse Publishing. Following in the footsteps of our parent company, our goal is to provide books for readers with a wide variety of interests. Our continually growing list includes fiction, picture books, educational books, novelty books, and midgrade, and we even reissue some well-loved classics. Since we do not view our potential readers as generic age groups, but rather as individual children, each with specific talents and needs, we publish in a broad range of subject matter to celebrate their diverse interests.

To learn more about Sky Pony Press click on the logo above, or click HERE.

*** Thank you to the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of CROSSING THE LINE. 


LOVE, ISH by Karen Rivers is a unique and engaging middle-grade novel that should be read by all ages. 

Title: LOVE-ISH    

Author: KAREN RIVERS     


Length: 236 PAGES


Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: THE AUTHOR  

Release Date: APRIL 22, 2017 

ISBN: 978-1-77086-492-4   

Price: $12.95 CDN    

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

Mischa “Ish” Love knows she’ll be one of the first settlers on Mars. She’s applied to – and been rejected from – the Mars Now project forty-seven times, but the mission won’t leave for ten years, and Ish hasn’t given up hope. She also hasn’t given up hope that Tig will be her best friend again. 

When Ish collapses on the first day of seventh grade, she gets a diagnosis that threatens all her future plans. As Ish fights cancer, she dreams in vivid detail about the Martian adventures she’s always known she’d have – and makes unexpected discoveries about love, fate, and her place in the world. 


Most Middle-grade books, especially those targeted at female readers, seem to contain little more than what I call “fluff.”

From their stereotypical pink covers to the oh so dreamy boy the main character has a crush on, Middle-Grade books for girls SUCK!!!

I LOVE that LOVE, ISH is different from any other book targeted at Middle-grade readers.

The cover of this book is awesome. It shows off Ish’s long red hair, and the artist’s decision to have her standing on the globe of Earth and looking towards Mars is 100% perfection.

I was not as happy with the description on the back of the book as I was with it’s cover. It does not really do this book justice, but I have the feeling that this was done on purpose to grab the interest of the target age group. Once they begin reading and are pulled into the story, they will realize that this book is truly one of a kind. Readers will discover that even though there are some very serious issues discussed in this book, they will want to keep reading despite the fact that they will be learning in the process.

Parents who do not try to keep their middle-grade children in a bubble and who realize that kids are a lot smarter than most people give them credit for, will want to buy this book for their sons and their daughters. Just because the protagonist is female, does not mean that this is a girl’s book. In fact, both boys and girls will be able to relate to Ish and to her struggle to find her place in the world [or, maybe on Mars instead.]

The writing style of author KAREN RIVERS draws middle-grade readers into the story instantaneously. Her knowledge of what clothing and footwear appeal to this age group is an example of her attention to detail, sibling rivalry and the jealousies that seem petty to adults but feel so very important to tweens and teens are another example.

Ish’s dream is to be the first woman/girl to live on Mars. In pursuit of this goal, she has read anything and everything that she could get her hands on that has to do with Mars and about the difficulties of colonizing a new planet.

I love that this book encourages readers to dream big. Ish found a website where people can apply to be part of the first Mars colony expedition. She is only twelve years old and has already applied more than 40 times. She has received a rejection every time so far, but she will not give up hope. She plans to keep applying until they finally accept her. The message implied by Ish’s actions is twofold. First, young people have dreams and aspirations and should be encouraged to follow those dreams, no matter how unlikely they seem. Secondly, the message to others is to be tenacious, and to not allow setbacks (or the opinions of others) to stop you from pursuing your dreams.

This book deserves a very high rating. There is so much contained in it’s pages that is unlike any other middle-grade book on the market. In fact, even though the target readership is ages 10 through 15, I believe that readers of all ages will fall ìn love with LOVE, ISH and that upon completion, they will recommend it to their friends and families. 

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars in the Middle-grade Fiction category.    🌟🌟🌟🌟


“Living with Elliott is sort of like coexisting with a talking, breathing shard of broken glass. You never know when it’s going to poke you in the foot and leave you bleeding all over the clean floor.”

“My brain is basically a salad spinner, whirling unrelated ideas.”

“The thing with chemo is that it is the worst and also, it sucks all the energy out of me, leaving me as floppy as a piece of paper. I feel like I’m constantly carrying something heavy, but that heavy thing is me.” 

***** CAUTION *****


So, if you are reading this, you have decided that you want to know. Good for you! I would have made the same choice.

Some very important social issues are discussed in LOVE, ISH. Some of these are discussed below: 

Ish lives on the shores of a lake in California and, just like in real life, the lake is getting smaller and smaller. 

In fact, the lake pictured below is called Lake Cachuma which is Santa Barbara’s primary water source. According to the New York Times, it is currently only at 7% capacity and is expected to dry up completely by the end of 2017. 

– Above is a picture of Lake Cachuma as it is today.

– Below is a picture of that same lake when it was full of water. The difference is staggering. 

[To learn more about California’s very real and extremely terrifying present-day water crisis, click 

Not only is the lake water disappearing, but before that started happening, a large chemical company located on the opposite side of the lake from Ish’s home, spilled a large amount of toxic waste into the lake. 

Ish even mentions the fact that the water changed to a bright blue color for several weeks after the incident.
Unfortunately, this type of corporate negligence happens way too often in our world today. 

It is an issue that our children will be left to try to remedy when they grow up. Not only that, but the polluted water can (and often does) end up entering into the water that comes from the taps in our homes. Recent news stories regarding the tainted water supply in Michigan prove that this is very much a relevant and legitimate problem. 

This will not only affect our children in the future, but it can cause very real, and very scary health problems, right now. 

What happens to Ish (being diagnosed with a brain tumor) could, in fact, have been due to the toxic spillage into the lake behind her house. This possibility is not explicitly mentioned  in the book, but astute readers will pick up on it anyway. 

[To learn more about recent toxic spills into lakes, rivers and oceans click 

Ish passes out on her first day of middle-school and it is discovered that she has a brain tumor. She undergoes chemotherapy and radiation treatments and the author does not shy away from writing about the aftereffects of those treatments.

“The thing with chemo is that it is the worst and also, it sucks all the energy out of me, leaving me as floppy as a piece of paper. I feel like I’m constantly carrying something heavy, but that heavy thing is me.”

I cannot think of any other middle-grade book that writes so openly and honestly about this topic. In other middle-grade books, if cancer is mentioned at all, the authors usually gloss over the details, and, almost always, the cancer sufferer is an adult, not a child. It is my opinion that by doing this, we are doing a disservice to our children. With the prevalence of cancer in today’s society, it is likely that most children will experience cancer in some way; whether it is a friend, or a family member, or even just the old lady who lives down the street.

[To learn more about childhood cancers click 

I give HUGE Kudos to Author KAREN RIVERS for writing such an important and yet entertaining novel. I hope everyone who reads this review runs out and buys her book immediately. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Information was taken directly from the author’s website. 

Q & A About Karen Rivers

Where were you born?

I was born in Nanaimo, BC, on June 12, 1970.  

Where do you live?

I live in a little green house in Victoria, BC with two kids, two dogs, and two birds.  

Where did you go to school?

I did most of my schooling in Victoria.  After I graduated, I went to UVic for a couple of years, then I went to UBC and ended up with a degree in International Relations (‘91) and most of a degree in Physiology, that I never quite finished.  

Why did you become a writer?

I became a writer because I didn’t have any other choice. Every time I tried to stop writing, a new idea would pop into my head.  Sometimes I wish I had a job with regular hours (and a regular paycheque!) but mostly I feel incredibly lucky to be able to tell my stories for a living.

Where do you get your titles?

I don’t know!  Much like writing the books, I think a lot of it is magic.  And sometimes, my editor comes up with a much better title, so we use that one instead!   Writing a book is like being part of a big team.

What were you like when you were a kid?

Karen at age 10

I was a bookworm. I read so many books, it was ridiculous. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of books. I was also really skinny. When I was nine, I got glasses. Big glasses. It was the 1970s and/or 1980s, so that’s what glasses looked like. I had a lot of bad haircuts. I blushed a lot. I never knew how to do a cartwheel. I thought they’d teach us at school but it turned out everyone else knew how to do one before they even got there! I was pretty quiet and very shy. I think I was sometimes funny, too. I was always competitive so I got good grades. I think at different stages of my life, I was a lot like some of my characters.  I still am.  I think we are all always every age that we’ve ever been, like the layers of an onion. 

What’s your favourite book for kids?

For a long time, I avoided reading kids’ books or YA at all because I thought if I read someone else’s book, I might think my own books didn’t measure up and I would be filled with self-doubt.  I hate to think about all the great books that I missed by worrying about that.  Now I read a lot of YA and Middle Grade, so much that I have a hard time picking a favourite, but today I”m going to say that Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME is topping the list.     

Are you married?


Do you have any pets?

Yes.  I have a dog named Happy and a dog named Augie.  They are rescue dogs.  And I have two birds, named Herbert and Feisty.   

Do you write every day?

Yes.  Even if I don’t actually write it down, I’m always thinking about the book that I’m working on, and trying to unravel all the tangly bits.  

Writing every day is necessary to keep me from panicking.  It makes me feel more sane than when I don’t write every day. But I do take some days off.  That’s life!  You can say, “Oh, every day I will drink 8 glasses of water!”  But the truth is, some days you just aren’t that thirsty.  The same is true for writing. 

What’s your favourite of your books?

I’m so proud of all of them for different reasons, I could never pick a favourite.  Usually my most favourite is the one I’m working on right now.

What’s your favourite colour?


Lucky numbers?

3. And 14.  And, of course, 42.

Favourite ice cream?


To learn more about this amazing Canadian author visit the following links: 










A New MUST READ Young Adult novel that will have adult readers fondly thinking about growing up in the 80s. THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is available now!


Author: JASON REKULAK     


Length: 285 PAGES


Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: SIMON AND SCHUSTER through the Goodreads Giveaway program

Cover Design: WILL STAHLE

Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

ISBN: 9781501166839

Rating:   5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟     


I LOVED THIS BOOK. Although THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is targeted at young adult readers, anyone who, like me, grew up in the 1980s will find this book a trip down memory lane.

Jason Rekulak may be a debut author, but it is obvious that his years working as an editor for Quark Books embued him with an excellent sense of the proper balance between the plot and character development.

Will Marvin and his two best friends are the ultimate underdogs. It’s 1986 and Vanna White is the ultimate girl next door. When the boys learn that she is featured in Playboy magazine, they are determined to get copies.

Will is a nerd. I can relate. I remember taking classes in Basic Code and doing anything on a computer took hours and hours of entering programming code. But, Will loves it. Hos ultimate life goal is to design video games for a living.

Then he meets Mary Zelinsky. She is a computer nerd too. Will is stunned. He had no idea that there were girls who liked computers. Remember – this was the 80s and women were still battling the secretary stereotype.

Can Will get the girl, perfect his video game called The Impossible Fortress, and get his hands on the dirty pictures of Vanna White?

This novel will have adult readers waxing nostalgic for the less complicated days of their youth and both adults and young adults alike will be able to relate to the terror and elation of discovering the opposite sex for the first time.

THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is liberally sprinkled with pop culture references and readers will find themselves digging out their old mixed-tapes.

I absolutely loved this book and I will be recommending it to all my friends. I doubt this is the last we have heard from debut author Jason Rekulak and I, for one, can’t wait to read whatever he comes up with next.

I rate this book with an enthusiastic 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Now, I’m off to my basement to try to find my old Atari system. I can’t wait to play Space Invaders – old school style.



JASON REKULAK was born and raised in New Jersey. He has worked for many years at Quirk Books, where he edits a variety of fiction and non-fiction.

He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children. THE IMPOSSIBLE FORTRESS is his first novel.

To learn more and to play a version of The Impossible Fortress game, visit his website.










TRAPPED IN ICE by Canadian Author Eric Walters – A 5 Star YA Historical Fiction Thriller based on a true story. A MUST READ.




Length: 225 PAGES


Release Date: 1997

ISBN: 978-1-77049-994-2 (Softcover)

Price: $12.99 CDN ($8.91 on the website)   

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I sometimes wonder why we don’t learn more Canadian history in high school. I am 100% sure that if TRAPPED IN ICE was read in history class, not one student would complain of boredom.

ERIC WALTERS has taken the tale of the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition and fictionalized it into a tale that everyone should read.

It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of historical fiction or not, this book will draw you in and you will find it nearly impossible to put down.

Thirteen year old Helen lost her father and her home all within the span of a single year. Her mother accepted a job as a seamstress on the Canadian Arctic Expedition and arranged for Helen and her younger brother to join the expedition as well.

Up until this trip, Helen has only ever experienced adventure through the many books she has read. What should have been a moderately scary trip becomes a nightmare when the ocean unexpectedly freezes over early. This catches everyone on board The Karluk by surprise, even the experienced and tough Captain Robert Bartlett. The ship becomes locked in the ice with no chance of a thaw for many months.

Actual photo of the Karluk stuck in the ice in 1913

In fact, it is likely that the ship will sink before the ice thaws enough for it to be released. What follows is a true tale of the ship’s Captain, crew and passengers and their terrifying trek across the ice flow to try to reach land.

Photo of Captain Robert Bartlett at home in Newfoundland before leaving for the 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition

Readers will find themselves drawn into this harrowing tale of how Helen and the others push themselves beyond human endurance based solely on their will to survive.

This book is not very long, it consists of only 225 pages and readers will become so swept up in the story that they will want to read it in a single day.

I love the fact that author Eric Walters has chosen to bring to light a part of Canadian history that is largely unknown and I hope that he continues to write more books like this one.

I rate TRAPPED IN ICE as 5 out of 5 Stars and I highly recommend this book to all readers aged ten and older. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

To learn more about The 1913 Canadian Arctic Expedition and it’s true story click here

TRAPPED IN ICE won the 1999 Silver Birch Award. 


It all began in 1993 when Eric was teaching a Grade 5 class.  His students were reluctant readers and writers and Eric began to write to encourage them to become more involved in literature.  His first novel, Stand Your Ground, was created for this class.  It is set in the school where Eric was teaching, Vista Heights Public School, and some of the features of the community of Streetsville and many of the names of his students were incorporated into the story.


Since his first novel Eric has exploded on the children’s and young adult scene.  Over the following years he has published over 94 more novels and picture books with more than ten scheduled for the coming years.

These novels have been enthusiastically received by children and young adults and critically acclaimed by teachers, reviewers and parents.  Eric’s novels have won more than 100 awards including eleven separate children’s choice awards. 

He is the only three time winner of both the Ontario Library Association Silver Birch and Red Maple Awards – in which over 250,000 students participate and vote the winner.  In November 2013 he received the prestigious Children’s Africana Book Award – Best Book for young children – for his book The Matatu.  This American award was presented to Eric in a ceremony at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.   

Eric’s novels are now available in places as far award as New Zealand, Australia, India and Nepal and have been translated into more than a dozen languages including French, German, Japanese, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish and Portuguese.

Eric has presented to more than 1,500,000 students across North America and internationally in Japan and Germany.  His presentations blend drama, storytelling, audience participation and interaction.  He presents to students from K – Grade 12 as well as adult groups and keynote speeches.

 June 2013 Eric became ‘Dr. Walters’ when he was granted the honorary degree of Literarum Doctorem by Wilfred Laurier University.  He gave the address to graduating  B.Ed., B.A. students in the spring convocation.

Eric, along with his wife Anita, and Ruth and Henry Kyatha, are the co-founders of The Creation of Hope which provides for over 400 orphans and disadvantaged children throughout the Mbooni District of Kenya.

100% of money donated by schools goes directly to serve and through the website these schools are shown – school by school, dollar by dollar, item by item – how their donations are spent.

Eric is the father of three (Christina – born 1985, Nicholas – born 1988, and Julia – born 1992) and he and his wife live in Mississauga with their two dogs – Lola and Winnie the Poodle.  In his free time (what little of it he has) he walks, hikes, and plans his next adventure.  He spends time every summer in Kenya at his orphanage.

To learn more about Eric and his phenomenal books visit the following links:








A GIRL CALLED OWL by Amy Wilson releases on Thursday – A magical read for ages 8 and up


Author: AMY WILSON     



Length: 336 PAGES


Release Date: JANUARY 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5098-3246-0

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS🌟🌟🌟🌟

“When you have a kid, don’t call it something stupid. Don’t call it Apple, or Pear, or Mung Bean. Don’t call it Owl. This advice is a bit late for me. Because she did. She did call me Owl. Thirteen years ago she looked down at a tiny little baby – me – and decided that Owl would be a good way to go.”   

This Middle-grade novel contains  everything that kids aged 8 to 12 want in a story.

Owl may be an unusual name, but it fits since her life is anything but ordinary.  Living in a single parent household, Owl has always been curious about her father. Throughout her childhood, she repeatedly asked her Mom for information about him and was told fairy tales about how wonderful he is and how he cannot leave his kingdom.

 Unfortunately, now that Owl is older, she doesn’t believe the crazy stories her Mom tells to explain his absence from their lives, she wants to know the truth.

But, when frost starts appearing on her skin and other strange things start happening, she begins to wonder if maybe her Mom was telling the truth when she said that her father was JACK FROST.

Readers will join Owl on a quest to find out more about her father which ultimately leads her to find out more about herself as well.

Releasing this book in January was a brilliant move on the part of the Publisher. This book is set in winter and filled with images of both the beauty and the wildness that the season can bring.

Kids who love books about magic, winter, fitting in, feeling different and books about family will love this book.

Not only is this is a wonderful quest-type story, it is also a book that proves that family doesn’t always look the way you think it should, and that ultimately it is love that matters.

I rate A GIRL CALLED OWL as 4 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 

I highly recommend it to children ages 9 to 13.

❄Readers will never look at a snowstorm the same way again! ❄

* Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.



Amy Wilson has a background in journalism and lives in Bristol with her young family.

She is a graduate of the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing and has many owls in her house, from drawer handles to cushions.

She is still waiting for them to speak to her…  

To learn more about this author visit the following links:






Living and working by the sea, she brings projects to life for a range of clients and industries. From publishing to branding, websites to illustration and everything in between.

Originally a graduate of Brighton University, she worked at the wonderful Crush Design for many years as an art director before setting up her own shop. Now with a small studio she is attempting to take over the world and over deliver on every project she gets her hands on.

To learn more about this amazing illustrator visit the following links:








MY LIFE HEREAFTER by Lynette Ferreira is a Young Adult book with an interesting take on what the afterlife looks like. 4 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟 




Length: 252 PAGES


Release Date: NOVEMBER 7, 2016

ISBN: 9781326846404

Price: PAPERBACK  $10.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟


EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME EVEN THOUGH IT SHOULDN’T. Everything is exactly the same as before that day which she can now only vaguely remember. The day her school bus ran over the cliff. The day she and most of her fellow students ended up here. The twins, Mark and David, were also on the bus, but David did not come here with them. David was sent across the valley to the other side. Mark convinces Sunel to help him find his brother, no matter what the dangers might be. Fiction: Supernatural Thriller


This is a Young Adult / Middle-grade fiction novel that imagines a possible scenario of just what is waiting for us in the afterlife.

When young teenager Sunel finds herself and sixty of her former classmates have died, she is initially in a state of shock. 

To make matters worse, she is the reason the bus crashed. This means she is the reason everyone is dead. 

As the shock wears off she finds herself in a world that is very similar and yet very different from the one she left behind.

My favorite scene is when the teens are led into the Hall of Judgment and are told they will be called in one at at a time. Upon entering the testing room Sunel sees three doors.

 “The first door says Recycle. Next to Recycle, there is Rehabilitation. And next to Rehabilitation, there is Rapture.” I thought this was very clever.

This book touches on many interesting and important topics. It is not often that you find a YA book that openly discusses the afterlife. It seems to be a topic that Young Adult authors do not embrace for some reason, and the few authors who do write about the topic choose ghost story-type tales. 

Kudos to Author Lynette Ferreira for tackling such a controversial topic.

This book also has elements of other issues important to today’s youth such as bullying and peer pressure as well as taking responsibility for one’s actions.

With the variety of characters, readers should be able to find at least one that they identify with. I think that young teens and middle grade readers will enjoy this book and hopefully it will open up dialogue about the issues detailed in it’s pages.

*Thank you to 
Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.



Lynette Ferreira is the author of more than twenty fiction novels.

She writes stories about first love, really cute boys, kissing and all the drama.

Her stories always address social issues and are most times set in a supernatural world.

She does not really like the cold, is afraid of the dark, and loves anything in, on or smothered with chocolate.

She lives in Northern Ireland with her family.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:







4 Stars for the unique middle-grade novel BRAINWALKER – Ever wondered what it would be like inside your father’s brain? Now you can find out. 🌟🌟🌟🌟




Length: 260 PAGES


Release Date: OCTOBER 1, 2016

ISBN: 9780997652505   

Price:  $9.99

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟


One teen’s incredible journey may just blow his father’s mind…

Fourteen-year-old Bernard thinks outside the box. The only problem is that neither his school nor his ultra-rational physicist father appreciate his unique ideas. When he reacts to a stressful situation at school by mooning the class, his suspension sends him straight to his father’s workplace. After his frustrated father leaves him unattended, Bernard does what any teen would do: wander into the particle accelerator and accidentally get transported through a wormhole! 

Edit It doesn’t take long for Bernard to realize he’s in deep trouble. Not only did the wormhole drop him in the middle of a civil war over a depleted resource, but the battle is actually taking place inside his father’s brain. Bernard has one chance to save the dying side of his father’s creative brain from the tyrannical left side. Can he use his outside-the-box thinking to save his father’s life?

Brainwalker is a young adult sci-fi fantasy novel that turns the world of neuroscience on its head. If you like incredible fantasy worlds, fast-paced entertainment, and the human mind, then you’ll love Robyn Mundell and Stephan Lacast’s amazing journey inside the brain. 


 This middle grade novel is wonderfully written and readers from ages 8 – 12 will love this book.

The author has imagined an entire world inside the brain of a boy’s father.

I loved the fact that the boy and his father were very different and that they had trouble communicating and understanding each other.

When the boy is sucked through a wormhole and ends up inside his father’s brain, he finds himself on a mission to save his father’s life.

During his quest he ends up learning more about his father and more about himself in the process.

A great read with a terrific message.

I rate this as 4 out of 5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟



“Blind faith is stronger than truth. Far stronger.”

“Remember, what you call luck is the meeting of opportunity and flexibility.”



Robyn Mundell is an award winning playwright. A graduate of New York University, she performed in dozens of plays in New York. She studied with such theater legends as Uta Hagen, Lee Strasberg, and Stella Adler.

Robyn wrote and performed in several of her own plays including Pieces of Oand Traveling Bowls of Soup, produced by Pulitzer-prize winner Beth Henley.Traveling Bowls of Soup opened at the Met theater to rave reviews and received several Drama-Logue awards. Robyn has since been selling original screenplays and TV pilots to major film companies and networks. She is the daughter of Canadian Nobel laureate Robert A. Mundell, and is married to actor-playwright Raymond J. Barry. Together, they have four children.


French-Born Stephan Lacast likes to think of himself as a geek, which depending on your  dictionary means either “knowledgeable about computers”, or “boring social misfit.” At the age of twelve his idea of fun was building computers and programming, and by fifteen he was a contributor to a computer magazine. A graduate of Paris-Dauphine University, he holds a Bachelor in Economics, a Master in Business Administration, and a Master of Advanced Studies in Information Systems.

After teaching at Dauphine University, Stephan went on to work as a consultant and engineer for one of the top ten Information Technology services companies in Europe, before deciding to leave Paris and move to the United States.

To learn more about BRAINWALKER visit the following links:





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