A Starlight Trip To the Library by Andrew Katz

5 stars Children’s Picture Book

Such a sweet story.  A young girl, a forest of friends, and a trip to the library, what more do you need?  The illustrations are colorful and bright and they just pop, right off the page.  This would make an excellent bedtime story. 

As Julia settles into the forest with her friends, they’re getting cozy for the night awaiting the “night’s most eagerly awaited event.”   They love how Julia reads to them; she does such an excellent job.  Freida, the skunk enjoys how she shows them the pictures, Abigail, the   loves how softly she reads the ending and her friend Scotty Squirrel thinks she does an excellent job with all the different voices inside the books the chooses for them.  Her friends eagerly wait for Julia to take tonight’s book out of her bag.  But wait……there is no book inside the bag.  Disappointment settles in as they realize that Julia left the book at home. 

Bertrand, just so happens, to be floating down the river and is headed to the library. Julia and her friends accept Bertrand offer and join him on his journey, hoping to find a bedtime story for tonight.  It’s quite an adventure for these friends as they make their way on the water until they finally arrive at the “library rising majestically in the moonlight.”   What a beautiful sight.   Box upon box, Julia and her friends search, looking for the perfect bedtime story.  Bertrand is busy searching through the stacks also looking for his own stack of page-turners.  Will they find what they are looking for before the night is over?

I adore the relationship that Julia has with her forest friends.  They are so caring and considerate to one each other. They had such a great adventure.  What a fun book  5 stars.   


I’ve been picking up these Wonderbook’s from our library lately and I thought I’d give a shout-out to them.

These are Wonderbook’s that our library has been purchasing for the younger readers in our area. What is a Wonderbook? To me, a Wonderbook is a great resource for kids and adults alike. These books read to a child while at the same time, they allow the child to follow along with the printed text in the book. I know…….some of you might be thinking, I’ve seen books like these before, picture books or other character driven books where you’re supposed to push the colored-buttons and they’ll tell you to turn the page. Well, what I think sets these books apart is the variety and diversity that you’ll discover with these.

Not only do they cover easy picture books but you’ll find some nonfiction children books, Level books, children’s chapter books, and books for children in different languages. books. Pretty amazing, huh? Yeah, I thought so too.

These books come with easy-to-use instructions right inside the front cover and you can stop them whenever you need to and they pick right back up, where you left off. Our library charges them up when they get returned to the library to make sure they’re charged up for the next patron so we don’t have to worry about the battery dying (they can be charged with a micro-USB too). You can adjust the volume, jump forward and backward in the book using buttons also. There is a read-along mode and there is learning mode with each Wonderbook. In the read-along mode, they instruct you on how to proceed with the Wonderbook – where to start and when and what the sound will be like, when you are to turn the page. In the learning mode, they ask questions about the book: what character did you identify with the most? If you could ask the author a question, what would it be? What’s the books main idea? etc.  

These books are expensive to purchase, I’ve checked into them so I’m glad my library has this option available and I’m so excited that they brought them to my attention. 

My three-year grandson’s like to take these books and sit on our comfy furniture and listen to them on their own. I think they’re finding their independence. I like watching them as they listen as they’re scanning the pages with their eyes. It’s like their eyes are trying to follow the text and the look at the picture at the same time. The voice is slow and clear so they’re able to understand which is great. This is a good option for them and I’m glad that they’re excited to read them. They do cut into my reading time with me, as they want to do them on their own after I read through them once with them but I have plenty of other books to read with them. I find the pace rather slow but the kids like it and that’s what matters. 

 I just checked out a Wonderbook for me to listen to: Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly which is a middle school read.  This is the second book in the series and I’ve been wanting to read it.   I read a lot of middle school books and I think this will be interesting.   So, what do you think?  Have you heard of a Wonderbook? 

Here are a few links if you want further information: https://playaway.com/wonderbook/ https://www.facebook.com/playawayproducts

Fantastic Feet Up Close by Melissa Stewart

4.5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

What animal is the fastest digger on Earth?  Using its long claws, which are shaped like shovels this animal’s feet are perfect for digging up the food that it eats.  Do you know the answer?  If you guessed a camel, you are wrong.  If you guessed an aardvark, you are correct. 

Looking at this animal in this book and then, looking up close at its feet, I can see its long, sharp claws and see how it can dig up tiny ants and termites as those toes look like super long toe nails with points on the end.  What an interesting book!  

I liked how this book shows its reader a variety of animals and then, shows them a close-up view of the animal’s feet so they can actually see what the focus is all about. The author explains why that specific animal has that type of foot also.  The pictures inside this book are photographs so the reader is able to see the animals in their own environment. Easy-to-read text accompanies with this bright picture book. 

There is a list of books and a few websites listed on the back page is the reader would like additional information.  An index completes this 24-page book.   4.5 stars

Insect or Spider?: How Do You Know?

5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

I always knew that spiders had 8 legs, that’s how I knew a spider, was a spider.  Not that I would try to count a spider’s legs, if I was encountering one just to make sure it was a spider.  I just knew that fact.  After reading this fun, educational children’s book I know much more about spiders.   What about their senses?  What do they eat? What about their bodies? 

As the author compares and contrasts a spider to an insect, I learned a great deal how these two are different.   A spider seems much more aggressive to me yet after this book, he doesn’t have much of an advantage than an insect.

This was an interesting book and I would recommend it to any child.  I’m sure they’ll learn something exciting inside this book.  I think children would enjoy looking at the photographs too as they fantastic.  These pictures aren’t drawings or cartoons but they’re photographs of real spiders and insects (with their name listed beside them) in their own environments which just adds to the enjoyment of this book.  An educational book with bright, colorful pictures with easy-to-read text makes a fantastic book by my standards.  5+ stars

I Just Want To Be Super by Andrew Katz

4 stars Children’s Picture Book

The morning looked like a typical morning at Nino’s house until Jaguar the cat trotted in carrying a red mask that he had spotted in a box.   Nino decided to try the small mask on and wow, that mask transformed his whole day!  With that red mask covering his eyes, everything that Nino did was SUPER!  He had SUPER powers!  His daily tasks were done at lightning speed and when he was playing, he was outstanding and amazing!   After a while, Nino was doing activities that he typically wouldn’t and couldn’t do before but now that he was amazing, he was trying to show everyone just how SUPER he really was.  I thought Nino was showing off and was worried that he might just be taking his “Superness” too far and the individuals that Nino was showing this powers to were worried that he might get hurt but Nino just told them he wanted to be SUPER.  Nino ends up using his SUPER powers to help someone close to him and the end of the book is sweet.

There are some good lessons in the book if you want to use this book as a tool for learning or you could just use this book as a reading book.  I liked finding books that have some lessons in them that you can expand upon so kids can think about the stories rather than just say, “yup, that’s a good story.”  This is a cute story and the illustrations were very colorful and vivid.  The text was easy to read and I liked the variety of text styles and word choices (woo-hoo, shazammed, recharged, booted, wandered, snatched, bound, 4 stars

Alligator or Crocodile? : How Do You Know? by Melisssa Stewart

5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

You don’t need to love alligators or crocodiles to enjoy this educational children’s book.  I found this book fascinating as I loved how the author compared and contrasted these two different reptiles in such a easy, informative way that gives kids this information.  There is lots of different information from how and where they live, to their physical features, their babies, and then, the author wraps up the information in a few illustrations at the end. 

The author included some websites and a list of other books on this topic at the back of the book for future research, if you’d like more information.  This 24-page book wouldn’t be complete without an index and that’s in the back also.

I enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend it to any child.  I’m sure they’d learn something about these reptiles or it would refresh what they already know.  I know children would enjoy looking at the photographs inside this book as they fantastic.  The pictures inside this book aren’t drawings or cartoons but they’re photographs of real crocodiles and alligators in their environments which just adds to the enjoyment of this book.    Fantastic book!  5+ stars  

Very Good Hats by Emma Straub

4 stars Children’s Picture Book

What is a hat?   Do you typically think of a hat being something that you put on your head?  Can you think of anything that might also be labeled as a hat?  This was a fun book if you let your imagination take control and think of all the different ideas that a hat could be.  A roof could be a hat for your house.  A lid could be a hat for your cooking pot.  What about bubbles in your bathtub, if you put them on top of your head?  If that a bubble hat?  Why, yes, it is!   These are all types of hats if you think about it. 

Printed on glossy pages, this bright colorful book gives you something to think about.  A fun, entertaining book.  Very good hats by Emma Straub   4 stars

The Safe Place by Anna Downes

4 stars Drama, Fiction

Step away from the fire!  Too many red flags were being raised, all the warning signs were there, yet Emily kept on walking right where they wanted her.  When I first started to read this book, I thought that Emily had caught onto her former bosses’ shenanigans and she was just playing along it but then, the issues started to get pretty deep.  Emily soon realized she didn’t have the perfect job. 

Emily wants to be an actress but for now, she has found temporary work in an office building.    Her acting career, is going nowhere so her temporary position pays the bills, or it did.   Emily has just been fired from her temporary job which just adds to the financial frustration weighing on her shoulders.  Acting sincere, her former boss Scott, offers Emily a position overseas at his home there.  This same boss that just fired her NOW wants to hire her.  Yep, you read that right.  He wants her to work and live in his beautiful home with his wife and child and money doesn’t seem to be an issue??  Do you not see this as an issue?  Hello!  Scott will pop in once and a while but the majority of the time, he won’t be living in that home.  Emily will have a lot to do if she takes the position, as she’ll be the housekeeper, the wife’s personal assistant, and the au pair for their daughter.  How desperate is she?  Pretty desperate.  Emily takes the job and off she goes.

Scott had warned Emily how isolated this fantastic, beautiful mansion was but when she arrives, she finally realizes how remote it really is.  I’m visualizing The Overlook Hotel in Colorado from The Shining isolation and that’s exactly what Emily gets.  Sorry Emily, your cell phone and computer won’t work out here.  They have to have some kind of communication, they can’t expect Emily to be cut off from the world and they should have had that ready for her on Day #1.  Don’t unpack those bags yet Emily, this doesn’t look like paradise to me.

I had to know what the purpose was behind all this.  I felt Emily was being set up for something but why? Who was involved and how far would this go on?  I was definitely motivated by the author’s writing and had a lot of questions as I read.  I was intrigued by the isolation of home and by Emily’s isolation from others, two traits that shouldn’t be mixed together.   This was a page-turner for me: more drama and mysterious than thriller.    4 stars    #TheSafePlace!

A huge thank you goes out to Anna Downes and Minotaur Books for the copy of this book that I received in exchange for this review’s honest opinion. 

Old Country by Matt Query

5 stars Mystery

This was crazy good!  What an interesting concept of a story.  I could feel the adrenaline and fervor in the characters and I loved how the tension built.  You just never know where life will lead you but you should try to do some research before packing your bags. 

Harry was an Afghanistan marine who received an early discharge.  Back on American soil, he continues to fight his own battles.  Harry enrolls in college and he meets his future wife, Sasha.  Finding a secluded piece of land, the couple decides that this will be their new start in life.   Sasha stands beside her husband as he deals with the effects of the war as the couple tries to get used to their new surroundings, isolated from most everyone.   

Where I live, we have four seasons so when their neighbor Dan explains to them about the change of seasons in the countryside, I was prepared.  What I wasn’t prepared for, was when Dan talked about the spirit that lived in the valley with them.  Was he serious?   The more Dan talked about this spirit, the more I knew either he was either trying to scare the couple or Dan was totally serious about what was happening in their valley.  According to Dan, each season, the spirit would take on a different form and there were specific rules that needed to be followed, to get rid of it.  Dan had even written these directions down!   Like me, Harry and Sasha pondered if Dan and his wife were people they could actually trust. 

The couple start to enjoy their new private, isolated life together – learning to rely on each other (with having only one close neighbor), as they fall into a routine.  As the seasons begin to change, what Dan and his wife warned the couple about, suddenly becomes a reality.  The spirit makes his appearance, leaving Harry and Sasha wondering, “did we really just see that?”   This is just the beginning.  Hold on people as this book is just getting started!

I couldn’t stop thinking about this story after I put it down.  As the seasons changed, the anticipation as what awaited this couple kept my heart pumping.  Harry and his wife were just looking for some quiet time together.   The Afghanistan War had already left its mark on Harry and now another battle is beginning, only this time Harry has his wife beside him.  

This is one terrific book that will have you staying up late until you turn the final page!   5 stars  

All Hallows by Christopher Golden

5 stars Thriller

Now, that was creepy good!  I enjoyed the intensity of the two storylines as they slowly built-up steams and I loved the intensity that swelled within this book once the festivities began.  I fell back in time as I read this book, back to the day when everyone living on your block was on a first name basis and most neighborhoods were safe as help was just a few feet away.  As one father and his daughter finished up preparations for their annual Halloween haunted woods, the rest of the neighborhood is getting ready for the annual Halloween block party.  Candy is stocked at the door for the trick-or-treaters and it seems like everyone has their night planned out, so they won’t miss a thing. 

Enthusiasm and excitement filled the air as this was a big night.  The haunted woods grew more extravagant every year and they were eager to see what awaited them this year.  The block party was a time for the neighborhood to come together and enjoy each other’s company, or at least that’s what this party had been in the past.    As the children start the night with their trick-or-treating, they encounter some costumed children they don’t recognize.   Could it just be the costumes that throw off who these individuals are or are these children not from around there?  It’s when these children start asking the neighborhood children for help that warning flags when off in my head. 

Sorry folks, your fun evening with your neighbors just got interesting.  What a thrilling read!  I loved so much about this book –  5 stars