Thursday, October 1, 2009

Review - The 13 Days of Halloween by Carol Greene

The 13 Days of Halloween
By: Carol Greene
Illustrated by: Tim Raglin

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (September 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402230966
ISBN-13: 978-1402230967
Product Dimensions: 9 x 8.9 x 0.4 inches

The 13 Days of Halloween is a delightful and fun way to celebrate this wonderful holiday that allows a child's imagination to soar with unclipped wings! When I first saw the cover of this book, my fingers instantly wanted to reach out and grab it. The illustrations are fantastic, bright, vivid and tons of fun!

Whether you sing the words along to the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas, or just sit back and read, you and your child are in for a hauntingly fun treat! Including a vulture in a dead tree, two hissing cats, three fat toads, four giggling ghosts and five cooked worms (and this is, of course, just the beginning), your child will ask for repeat performances of this additively laugh-out-loud story. The 13 Days of Halloween is the perfect book to help celebrate Halloween and even make it a not-so-spooky time of the year for those not quite sure what to make of the entire thing. My three-year-old son and I love this book and have read it repeatedly - with many more readings on the horizon, which is just fine with me!

*overall rating 4/5


About The 13 Days of Halloween:

"On the first day of Halloween my good friend gave to me: a vulture in a dead tree."

Children will love to sing along!

Everyone knows "The Twelve Days of Christmas," but are you ready for The Thirteen Days of Halloween? In this delightfully offbeat story, a dashing ghoul tries to win his ghostly love's heart with heaps of hilarious gifts ranging from broomsticks and bats to cauldrons and cats! Carol Greene's lively verse is perfectly complemented by Tim Raglin's enchantingly erie illustrations. Children of all ages will love to sing along. The result is a frightfully funny Halloween tale you'll never forget.

Carol Greene wrote her first poem when she was six years old (it was about a spider). To date she has published over a hundred books for children. Carol also likes to read, sing, and make teddy bears. She lives in Webster Groves, Missouri, with her cat Dulcie.

Tim Raglin brings his wacky imagination and wonderfully odd cast of characters to The Thirteen Days of Halloween. His previous books include Five Funny Fights, Pecos Bill, and The Birthday ABC. He received a silver medal from the New York Society of Illustrators for his book Uncle Mugsy & the Terrible Twins of Christmas. Mr. Raglin lives in his hometown of Independence, Kansas.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kaleb Nation - Author Interview

I am so thrilled and excited to be able to provide my readers with a wonderful interview by the biggest new up-and-coming author, Kaleb Nation! If you have not heard that name before, you are sure to know it as a household name within a very short time! Mr. Nation has just recently released his first Young Adult novel titled Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse. This is a first in a series focusing on young Bran Hambric and his adventured. After having the joy of reading this myself, I can honestly say that Bran Hambric is sure to be as widely and wildly known as another young man whose world is surrounded by magic. Perhaps you have heard of him - Harry Potter? Hmmmm, ring any bells? Yes, folks, Bran Hambric is that great!

Now, I have the extreme pleasure of sharing with you a few questions that Kaleb Nation took time out to answer. I want to deeply thank Mr. Nation for taking the time to do so.

Enjoy and be sure to get out there and grab your own copy of Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse!


Can you tell us a bit about The Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse? This is the 1st in a series, correct? How many books do you see coming out of the series?

KN: Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse is, quite basically, about a boy who lives in a city where magic is illegal, and discovers that his mother was a magic criminal, whose masters are now hunting for him to complete her crimes. It is the first in a series, and I am writing on the sequel right now. I am planning six books, though I always say that if the last one is too long I'm going to split it up into two.

Who are your favorite characters in the story and why?

KN: One of my favorite characters in the book is Astara. For some reason, she seems to stand out to me in the story as the friend that I'd always want to have around: someone who is loyal and who sticks with you through everything. I'd really like to know Astara in real life.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and what writing means to you? Where do you come up with your characters, ideas, etc.?

KN: My writing process for The Farfield Curse was actually a bit odd: at first, I didn't plot much, but just wrote the whole book out on my computer. After that, I spent a long time (AKA, multiple years) writing and rewriting parts of it, until I decided that I REALLY needed to plot things out. After I plotted it, things started to go more smoothly. On the sequel, however, I have everything plotted, so I know where I'm going!

What is a “day in the life of Kaleb” like? Can you share with readers a bit of the person behind the writing?

KN: There isn't really a consistent 'day in the life of Kaleb Nation' these days! At the moment, I'm getting things set to move to another state, so every day I'm packing things. But on a NORMAL day, I usually slither out of bed around 10 AM (I'm a writer -- I sleep late!). I check my email, check Twitter, and then get to work either on my websites or answering mail. Around 2 or 3, I exercise (or pretend to at least) and usually have an energy drink (Red Bull is the drink of choice this month) and then get to writing. I write through the evenings and then wrap the day up answering more emails. That's on a good, organized day (unfortunately, very rare!).

What types of books do you like to read and who are some of your favorite authors?

KN: I love to read stories that make me feel something. I read Looking For Alaska by John Green, and it is the best book I can never force myself to read again. I read it on a train and almost started bawling. Now I'm on to If I Stay by Gayle Foreman, and at the same time I'm reading An Abundance Of Katherines by John Green (this time, not making the mistake of reading it in public places).

What books and authors did you enjoy reading as a child?

KN: I really enjoyed Lemony Snicket books. Those were my favorites growing up. I also really enjoyed the Artemis Fowl series. They're still some of my favorite novels to read even today!

Who inspires you?

KN: Stephenie Meyer has always been one of my writing idols, because we both started writing our books around the same time, and I really love the way she is to her readers. I used to think that writers had to be reclusive and rarely see the people who enjoy their books, but she has a wonderful way of connecting with readers online and at events. Also, I hope to one day become at least half the writer that John Green is.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Can you see yourself branching out into other genres?

KN: I've wanted to be a writer for most of my life, so this is certainly my dream. I know that I will branch out into other genre's eventually, because I have actually been working on a side project for quite some time now that is not a fantasy book.

Ok, here are some fun questions:

What are some of your favorite foods?

KN: I love Italian food! Especially dining in at Macaroni Grill. And everyone who reads my blog knows how much I love Reese's chocolate.

What do you enjoy doing when you have free time?

KN: I really, really enjoy doing live shows on It gives me a chance to connect with people who enjoy my writing. I also like to have fun with friends and watch movies.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

KN: If you had asked me that question five years ago, I don't think I would have said 'a published author', so it's hard to see where life will be leading me! I do hope, however, that sometime within the next five years I can see my name on the New York Times bestseller list. That has always been one of my dreams.

Do you have a favorite movie or t.v. right now?

KN: Favorite movie is definitely a tie between The Dark Knight, Pan's Labyrinth or Slumdog Millionaire. I am actually rather lame when it comes to TV though! I haven't had my own television in a year because I'm so busy, I don't have time to watch! But thanks to Hulu, I keep up with The Office because it always makes me laugh.

Is there anything that you would like to add, Kaleb? Or anything that you would like readers to know about you and/or your writing?

KN: If people want to keep up with all the stuff I'm doing, they can follow me at . I'm always on there and I post updates often!


About Kaleb Nation:

As a child, KALEB NATION had to be forced by his mother to write one page a week in creative writing. But by the time he finished his first story, no one could make him to stop. Age twelve, Kaleb promptly telephoned the senior editor of a major publisher to pitch the book…and got to talk with security instead.

But as with most writers, not even that could stifle his dream. On the third night of the third month in 2003, age 14, Kaleb had a sudden idea that began the story of Bran Hambric, a novel which would take most of his teenage years to write. In early 2007, Kaleb finished the first book in his series (Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse) and signed with Richard Curtis Associates, a leading New York literary agency. On 9/9/09, Kaleb’s debut novel was published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, one of the largest independent publishers in the nation.

Aside from writing, Kaleb hosted his first radio show in Texas at age 13, later launching his own program from 2006 – 2008 called The Top 5. Originally produced exclusively for, Kaleb’s show eventually grew to be broadcast on AM, FM, Internet and satellite radio stations across the globe.

In mid-2008, Kaleb launched a second blog at, giving chapter-by-chapter insight, from a guy and writer’s perspective, on reading the Twilight Saga, a series of popular novels. The website went on to receive over 5 million hits, and was featured in BusinessWeek and Entertainment Weekly magazines, as well as on MTV, ReelzChannel and other TV outlets. Kaleb also began posting regular videos on his Youtube channel, with a combined total of over 8 million plays.

In his free time, Kaleb enjoys photography, music and blogging at his website A homeschool graduate and a former black belt in taekwondo, he currently lives in California and turned 20 in 2008.


About Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse:

Bran Hambric was found locked in a bank vault at six years old, with no memory of his past. For years, he has lived with one of the bankers, wondering why he was left behind -- until one night, when he is fourteen, he is suddenly confronted by a maddened creature, speaking of Bran’s true past and trying to kidnap him.

Bran finds that he is at the center of a plot that started years before he was even born: the plot of a deadly curse his mother created…and one that her former masters are hunting for him to complete.

Haunted by the spirit of his mother’s master and living in a city where magic is illegal, Bran must undo the crimes of his past...before it is too late.

Who could possibly have put a six-year-old into a locked bank vault if not mages or gnomes? The answer is larger than Bran. In fact, it is larger than Dunce. It just might be larger than magic itself. It might be about as big as the universe. And Bran is the key. But what’s the lock?

Bran Hambric is as funny as it is action packed. In many ways, it reads as a Terry Pratchett for middle-grade readers. When a young boy is immediately transported to a city in which magic is banned, he is taken in by a foster family that can only be described as ludicrously strange. But, years later, Bran’s life threatens to become the strangest imaginable as he discovers that he is the heir to outlawed magical powers and that equally powerful and dark agencies seek his destruction.



My review for Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse will be coming shortly, so please be on the lookout for that!

*originally published on my blog Cafe of Dreams

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Dragon of Trelian - interview with author Michelle Knudsen!

Welcome to Day 1 of the Kidz Book Buzz tour for The Dragon of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen! Today I am thrilled and honored to post a delightful interview with Ms. Knudsen.


Welcome to Cafe of Dreams, Michelle! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions!

Can you tell us a bit about The Dragon of Trelian?

The Dragon of Trelian is a fantasy adventure about a young princess (Meg) and a mage's apprentice (Calen). Calen is struggling with his role as apprentice, and Meg has a troubling secret -- she's been raising a young dragon that she found, and now she's starting to be able to *feel* the dragon all the time, inside her mind. In the meantime, a delegation from an enemy kingdom is on its way to the castle, bringing a foreign prince to marry Meg's older sister in order to end a hundred-year war. When Meg and Calen meet by chance, Meg decides to share her secret with him and the two begin a friendship that will become more important than either of them realizes. They soon discover a traitorous plot against the kingdom, and it's up to Calen and Meg (and Meg's dragon) to find a way to stop the traitors before it's too late.

Who are your favorite characters in the story and why?

Meg and Calen are both really important to me, and I've gotten to know them pretty well, having spent a lot of time inside their heads. I like Calen's thoughtfulness and loyalty, and especially how much he cares about Meg. And I like Meg's impulsiveness and courage, and her devotion to her family and friends. As far as the secondary characters go, I especially love Serek (Calen's master) and Maurel (Meg's little sister). I'm looking forward to writing more about them in the next book.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and what writing means to you? Where do you come up with your characters, ideas, etc.?

My writing process varies all the time. I don't always write every day, although when I'm working on a novel I try not to let too many non-writing days go by. I tend to jump in with a new story and start writing before I know a lot about what's going to happen. Then at some point I need to stop and step back and figure things out. I never seem to be able to outline or plan too much ahead of time, even though I know that would make some things a lot easier! When I am trying to figure out things about plot or characters, I do a lot of free-writing, asking myself questions and then thinking on the page to discover the answers. Sometimes I also spend time thinking about the story while taking long walks, or while listening to music on the subway.

I can never really say where my characters or ideas come from. Usually I just get a glimpse of an image or person or situation, and then keep turning it over in my mind until I feel I have something to start with. With picture books and short stories, sometimes I'll just start writing with absolutely no idea of what's to come. That results in a lot of abandoned, barely begun stories, but sometimes something will spark along the way and I'll end up with a complete first draft. There's a lot of trial and error, and different stories seem to want to be written in different ways. I suspect I'll never really have one process that works all the time.

What is a “day in the life of Michelle” like? Can you share with readers a bit of the person behind the fascinating writing?

I usually spend the morning on the computer, catching up on email and reading blogs and things. I do most of my writing in the afternoons or evenings. It's easy sometimes to spend way too much time at my desk, so I try to get outside in the afternoons, either to meet up with friends or go for a walk in the park or even just to run errands around the city. Some nights I stay in working or writing, other nights I meet friends for dinner or movies or other fun things. In addition to writing my books, I also do some freelance editing and am working on my MFA in writing for children and young adults at The Vermont College of Fine Arts, so the course of any given day will depend on what deadlines are looming soonest. It can be a little hectic not having a regular schedule, but I like that my days are often different one to the next, and it's nice to have the freedom to work at night -- I often seem to do my best writing then.

What types of books do you like to read and who are some of your favorite authors?

I love to read fantasy and science fiction more than anything else. Right now my favorite authors include Lois McMaster Bujold, George R. R. Martin, and Patricia A. McKillip. I'm also a big fan of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy; Robin Hobb's Farseer, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man series; the first nine or so of Piers Anthony's Xanth books (those were some of my absolute favorite books growing up); and selected Stephen King titles (especially The Eyes of the Dragon, The Stand, The Shining, and the Gunslinger Books). There are tons more books and authors that I love, though. I'm always reading, and always coming across new books to love. It's hard to come even close to listing them all.

Who inspires you?

Other writers inspire me all the time -- the ones mentioned above and many others. I'm especially inspired by writers that I know personally. Writing can be a very solitary way to spend your days, and so it means a lot to connect with other writers and to see how they deal with their own writing challenges and struggles.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I remember wanting to write from a very early age. There was a brief period when I was little where I was certain I wanted to be an animal trainer, and then when I wanted to work at a ranch and ride horses all day, and then a few years when I thought about being an actress, but writing was always there through all of it and was the one thing I always came back to. I always loved making up stories and wanted to be able to create the kinds of worlds that I read about in the books that I loved reading.

*Ok, here are some fun questions:

What are some of your favorite foods?

I love Italian food, and could probably eat pasta every night and never get tired of it. Especially if there are meatballs involved. Or fried chicken cutlets. I also love breakfast food, especially pancakes and French toast. And Chinese take-out. And good burgers. Someone recently introduced me to the joys of Japanese Kusihyaki, which is now also among my favorites. And nothing beats late-night pulled pork BBQ sandwiches. I do try to eat healthy sometimes, but I guess a lot of my favorites are not especially good for me. :) And I haven't even mentioned chocolate chip cookies or Cherry Garcia frozen yogurt!

What do you enjoy doing when you have free time?

I love to read, and also watch a lot of movies (either in the theater or on Netflix). Lately I've been re-watching Angel on DVD (I've already re-watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer a bunch of times). On nice days I love going for walks in Prospect Park or just wandering around the city. And I love getting together with friends, either to do one of the above things or just to have dinner or hang out and talk. I used to do a lot of community theater, and would still love to be involved with that, but it's been hard to find enough time in recent years.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I don't really have a plan. I hope to have written many more books, and hopefully be in the process of writing many more. I would like to do some teaching, maybe working with beginning writers who want to write for children. I suspect I will still be living in the NYC area, because it's home and I love it here, but you never know -- life can always surprise you and take you places you never imagined.

Do you have a favorite movie or t.v. right now?

The only TV show I watch in real time these days is House. (And since that's over for the season, I guess I don't watch anything in real time at the moment!). I do watch series on DVD, though, and among those my favorites are Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Veronica Mars. I also like catching episodes of Scrubs from time to time. I have way too many favorite movies to list, but a few random favorites include The Shawshank Redemption, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Quick Change, Moonstruck, The Quick and the Dead, 12 Monkeys, and Die Hard. I'm a sucker for Bruce Willis movies in general, actually. Sin City, The Fifth Element, etc.

Is there anything that you would like to add, Michelle? Or anything that you would like readers to know about you or your writing?

Just that I hope readers enjoy The Dragon of Trelian! Anyone who is interested can stay informed about my upcoming books and events at my blog, which is For more detailed information about my published books as well as information about school visits and freelance editing services, they can visit my website at I also love to hear from readers and welcome comments on my blog or emails at


Other fabulous bloggers on this tour are:

A Christian Worldview of Fiction, Abby the Librarian, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Homeschool Book Buzz,, Novel Teen, Reading is My Superpower, Reading to Know, Small World Reads, The 160 Acrewoods, Through a Child’s Eyes, Through the Looking Glass Reviews

Be sure to stop by and show some love! Also, please be sure to pop back by tomorrow for my review of The Dragon of Trelian! Until then, go out and find a little magic of your own....

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bounding for Books Blog Tour

May 27, 2009 - In an effort to promote their books, six children’s authors published by Guardian Angel Publishing team together to tour the blogosphere in a two-week long virtual book tour.

Bounding for Books Blog Tour will last from June 1st until June 15th. Blog stops will include reviews, interviews, spotlights and inspirational articles. People who leave comments will be eligible for prizes.

Participating authors include:

Mayra Calvani, author of Crash!,

Jennifer Gladen, author of A Star in the Night,

Donna Shepherd, author of Dotty’s Topsy Tale,

Kim Chatel, author of A Talent for Quiet,

Margot Finke, author of Rattlesnake Jam,

Shari Lyle-Soffe, author of Nothing Stops Noah,

Also joining the tour is Joy Delgado, publisher and illustrator of Zooprise Party/Fiesta Zoorpresa,

Each author will be hosting another author three times a week (on Monday, Wednesday and Friday) for the duration of the two-week tour. For more information, visit

Aggressive book promotion is a must these days for all authors, but especially for small press authors whose publishers don’t have the resources for expensive advertising. It’s wonderful to see authors team together like this in order to bring visibility to their books and their publisher.

For readers and book lovers alike, this is a wonderful opportunity to check out the latest print and electronic titles for your children’s summer reading.

For more information, contact Mayra Calvani at mayra.calvani(

Visit the publisher’s website at

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Review - Magickeepers: The Eternal Hourglass Bk 1

by: Erica Kirov

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1402215010
ISBN-13: 978-1402215018
Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches

Magickeepers: The Eternal Hourglass is simply amazing. This is a story of great imagination, magic, and the power to believe in oneself. For lovers of Harry Potter, this new series by Erica Kirov is sure to be a huge hit. Geared toward middle school age children, I sincerely feel that Magickeepers will find an avid audience that far surpasses that age range.

With summer on our heels and many young voices complaining that they are bored, or have nothing to do, Magickeepers will provide that engaging entertainment that both parents and children will love. This is a story that will engulf it's reader and send them on a wondrous adventure of good vs. evil and magic galore. I dare not forget to mention the powerful yet protecting white tigers, polar bears and a rare breed of horse called Akhal-Teke.

Within this amazing story, the author brings to surface such known names as Houdini and Rasputin, powerful people of their time, and sure to pique the reader's interest to read about these people outside of the walls of Magickeepers. The delightful way that Ms. Kirov intertwines historical facets throughout Magickeepers, brings an even greater dimension to the story.

As young Nick Rostov turns thirteen, his life is suddenly twisting out of control and he wakes up to discover himself in a strange room, complete with a ceiling of clouds that actually appear to be moving before his very eyes. He is told that he is a gazer - a rare and powerful talent from a long family line of magickeepers. His mother tried to escape while she was pregnant with him, only to have her life taken away by a powerful Shadowkeeper, leaving her infant son behind to be raised by his loving yet "normal" father.

It is shortly after he awakes in this strange room that he is told of his family linage and the struggle the Magickeepers face to keep themselves and their powerful magic hidden from the Shadowkeepers. Once Nick comes to join the family, however, it is not long before Rasputin finds him and tries to strike a bargain. Nick has something powerful that Rasputin wants and he will stop at nothing to get it. However, will Nick be able to discover what that desired object is before it is too late? Can he save himself, as well as the Magickeeper family that he has come to care about?

The ability of an hourglass to turn back time is a powerful tool, though a highly dangerous one, if it is placed in the wrong hands. Magickeepers: The Eternal Hourglass is a story that transcends time and age. It is sure to become an instant hit and I, for one, anxiously await the next installment in this magical series.

Now, to give a sense of the writing talents of the author, Erica Kirov, and a peek into the story itself, I wanted to share a couple of passages from the story.

pg 15-16:

Suddenly, Nick saw a flash. He jumped, quickly moving his head from left to right as if to shake the images from his mind.

"He can see!" Madame B. whispered loudly. "Tell us, my leetle one. Tell us."

Nick blinked hard several times. The crystal ball was foggy now, but he could make out a scene. His temples pounded, and for a minute, he thought he might throw up. The room felt hot. "I see..." He squinted. "I see a desert. It must be Las Vegas."

"Never assume, zaychik," the old woman warned.

"Sand. Lots of sand. It has to be Vegas. And there's...the sphinx. It's Vegas. The Luxor Hotel."

"Do you see neon?" Grandpa asked.

"Hmm, funny." Nick looked hard. "I don't. Wait...there's a pyramid. And camels."

Grandpa leaned forward. "Go ahead, Nick, what else?"

"And...and there's a man, in robes. And around him are men with swords."

Grandpa slapped Madame B. on the arm. "I told you!" he beamed.

"He's...there are birds around him. The men are cutting the birds' heads off with swords." He pressed forward, his nose almost touching the ball. "And he's making them come alive again. The man in the robes. It's a trick - an illusion. He's a magician!"

Nick's head ached, and he fell back against the chair feeling strangely tired. The crystal ball looked like a regular glass ball again. "What happened?"

"A vonderful thing," Madame B. smiled at him. "A most miraculous thing. Our world has been waiting for you, child. You, Nicholai Rostov, have the gift."

pg 55-56:

..."Well, antiquities, my dear Kolya *(as a side note, this is Nick's nickname in the story*), have been robbed and stolen, gained by trickery and forgery, and even murder, throughout time. Magic relics are no different."

"Magic relics?"

He nodded. "Magic takes many forms. The relics can make some spells more powerful, more potent. My great-great-grandfather foolishly believed he was becoming part of modern society by trading the hourglass for the watch. But in reality, the Eternal Hourglass was far more powerful than he even realized. He never should have let Houdin get his hands on it."

"Who was Houdin?"

"An illusionist. The father of modern illusions. Trickery with ether, sleight of hand, and magnets and automatons."

"Was he related to Harry Houdini?"

"Houdini took his stage name from Houdin."

"So was the watchmaker a Magickeeper?"

"He wasn't one of us, but he bribed and traded for magic relics. After the hourglass was traded, it then switched hands many times throughout history - and has been lost to us. Like so many of our relics. We spend a great deal of time hunting for them. The lesson here, Koyla, is that we learn from the past. We must honor and treasure every bit of our magic as sacred."


I sincerely hope that you get a chance to read this wonderful and imaginative tale by Erica Kirov. What an excellent book for parents and children to share and talk about together! A great way to add a bit more fun to summer!

*overall rating 5/5


About Magickeepers: The Eternal Hourglass:

What would you do for an hourglass that stopped time?

Nick Rostov's father is the worst stage magician in Las Vegas. He can barely pull a rabbit out of a hat. So it is a strange morning indeed when Nick wakes up to find himself on the top floor of the Winter Palace Casino with a promise from the greatest magician in the world to teach him magic.

And not just stage magic. Real magic. Nick sets out to learn about his mother's family, the strange Russian clan of magicians that secretly run the Winter Palace. But there is a catch: Nick has the sight, the ability to see into the past. And so it must fall to him, with only his cousin Isabella to help, to pick up the long-buried clues and unravel the mystery of The Eternal Hourglass, the only magic artifact ever created that can actually stop time.


About Erica Kirov:

Erica Kirov is an American writer of Russian descent. Though she is not from a family of magicians, she is from a proud family of Russians, and she grew up hearing stories of their lives there.

Erica lives in Virginia with her husband, four children, three dogs, parrot, her son's snake (she really hates snakes), and a pet hedgehog. She is busy at work on the next Magickeepers novel.

You can visit Erica Kirov's
Blog here:
Magickeepers Website here:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Keoni's Big Question by Patti B. Ogden

Keoni's Big Question
by: Patti B. Ogden
illustrated by: Mary Manning

Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: BCH Fulfillment & Distribution; first edition edition (September 25, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 098167836X
ISBN-13: 978-0981678368
Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.1 x 0.3 inches

Keoni's Big Question is a delightfully written story whose words are gentle and mesmerizing. One of the big questions that many children ask is: "Why can't I see God?" and Keoni's Big Question answers that perfectly. As Keoni struggles with this bewildering question, adults and children alike will enjoy and revel in the path that Keoni takes to finally find the answer - and what a marvelous answer it is.

With beautiful illustrations to go hand in hand with this down to earth and memorable story, Keoni's Big Question is truly a treasure to grace every family's bookshelf to be read over and over again, for years to come. When difficulities strike and things in life don't always make sense, Keoni's Big Question is the perfect way to sit down and remind ourselves that God is truly all around us and that is what is the most important.

*overall rating 5/5


About Keoni's Big Question:

A young boy who seeks answers about God's presence in everyday life finds that a family friend held the key to his revelation all along. This endearing tale follows the pair on a fishing trip that turns dangerous... then miraculous... leaving Keoni with more answers then he dreamed possible! All children wonder why we can't see God. Keoni's Big Question makes the answer easy to understand! Aimed for ages 4-8 Adults will love the beautiful illustrations and heart warming story too! Great for family reading time or to give as a gift.


About Patti B. Ogden:

As an enthusiastic Sunday school teacher, there was only one thing Patti Ogden did not enjoy about the teaching experience; too often, her lessons would end with the children not grasping the concepts that they were intended to teach. With a genuine heartfelt desire to reach children’s soul realm, she unleashed her God-given creativity and began to break down her lessons into simple terms – added excitement and drama - and suddenly she saw the "lights go on!" Soon the kids were asking questions and wanting to know more!

With a background in journalism and a sincere burden to help kids seek their own spiritual growth, she is now the author of Keoni’s BIG Question and two other Christian children's books due to be released in 2009.

She was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Patti is a devoted wife to her husband Jeff, of 35 years, mother of two and grandmother to five darlings that fill her life with joy. She and her husband Jeff enjoy life on their eleven acre hobby farm in Oregon, Illinois.


2009 Nominee for the CSPA Children's Book of the year award!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Horrid Henry by Francesa Simon - a new Chapter Book Series Sensation!

What's the newest Chapter Book Sensation sweeping the US?! It's - HORRID HENRY!

Remember those long ago days when Dennis the Menace was the rebellion of childhood and youth? Well, there's a new mischief maker in town, by the name of Horrid Henry, and let me tell you, it takes a lot to out - mischief this kid! If he is not trying to outsmart the tooth fairy, he is causing havoc during his dance show recital (which he clearly hates and will do anything to get out of to take karate class instead).

With each book containing 4 stories, there is sure to be something to entertain any child - and sit their tickle bones to giggling. With delightful names such as Perfect Peter, Moody Margaret, Pimply Paul, Prissy Polly, Lazy Linda and Stuck - Up Steve, just to name a few, the Horrid Henry books use a very appealing and fun play on words to entice children to read - not to mention enable them to live out that "naughty" side that they cannot bring forth in real life.

This being said, parents who dislike any kind of negative media/literature, may have a problem with the Horrid Henry books. Horrid Henry is quite naughty and there are negative comments throughout the books, such as Henry's parents always telling him that he is indeed horrid. However, if taken lightly and in the fun that they are meant to be, this is a great series that will encourage children to read. I, myself, read them to my 6 year old daughter and we both enjoyed them, as well as enjoyed talking about the not so good things that Henry did and why they were not so good.

The Horrid Henry chapter books aim for the age range of 7 - 10, which I think is perfect. Children a bit older may find themselves reading and laughing right along with Henry's antics as well. As mentioned, the stories use a great use on word play, as well as silliness and fun pencil drawings throughout, to help along in the visual stimulation, as well as bringing imagination to life. These books enable children to have fun (perhaps thinking they are even getting away with something, by reading about such a "horrid" child), learn and grow in their love for reading. Parents and children, alike, are sure to giggle, shake there heads and enjoy the ironic twists at the end of each story.

The first 4 books in this sensational new series (please take note, they do not have to be read in any particular order) are:

Horrid Henry (978-1-4022-1775-3; Ages 7-10; April 1, 2009; $4.99 U.S./ $5.99 CAN; Trade PB; Juvenile Fiction/Chapter Book) - Henry is dragged to dancing class against his will; vies with Moody Margaret to make the yuckiest Glop; goes camping; and tries to be good like Perfect Peter —but not for long.

Horrid Henry, containing the following 4 stories:
1) Horrid Henry's Perfect Day (this was my favorite)
2) Horrid Henry's Dance Class
3) Horrid Henry and Moody Margaret
4) Horrid Henry's Holiday

Horrid Henry’s Stinkbomb (978-1-4022-1779-1; Ages 7-10; April 1, 2009; $4.99 U.S./ $5.99 CAN; Trade PB; Juvenile Fiction/Chapter Book) - Horrid Henry uses a stinkbomb as a toxic weapon in his war with Moody Margaret; uses all his tricks to win the school reading competition; goes on a sleepover; and has the joy of seeing his teacher in hot water with the principal.

Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb, containing the following 4 stories:
1) Horrid Henry Reads a Book
2) Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb
3) Horrid Henry's School Project
4) Horrid Henry's Sleepover

Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy (978-1-4022-2275-7; Ages 7-10; April 1, 2009; $4.99 U.S./ $5.99 CAN; Trade PB; Juvenile Fiction/Chapter Book) - Horrid Henry tries to trick the Tooth Fairy into giving him more money; sends Moody Margaret packing; causes his teachers to run screaming from school; and single-handedly wrecks a wedding.

Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy, containing the following 4 stories:
1) Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy (my daughter's favorite)
2) Horrid Henry's Wedding
3) Moody Margaret Moves In
4) Horrid Henry's New Teacher

Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine (978-1-4022-1780-7; Ages 7-10; April 1, 2009; $4.99 U.S./ $5.99 CAN; Trade PB; Juvenile Fiction/Chapter Book) - Horrid Henry reluctantly joins his family for a hike in the yucky countryside; builds a time machine and convinces Perfect Peter that boys wear dresses and lipstick in the future; Perfect Peter has his revenge on Henry; and Henry's aunt takes the family out for dinner at a fancy restaurant.

Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine, containing the following 4 stories:
1) Horrid Henry's Hike
2) Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine
3) Perfect Peter's Revenge
4) Horrid Henry Dines at Restaurant Le Posh


(CLICK HERE) to read Horrid Henry Tricks the Tooth Fairy


Overview about the Horrid Henry Books that have traveled from the UK, to invade the US with it's hilarity!

Horrid Henry lives in a normal house, in a normal town with his parents (Mom and Dad) and his little brother Perfect Peter. Peter is perfect. He eats his veggies, cleans his plate, loves reading, hates TV, loves tattle-telling on his brother, and pretty much anything else that a perfect child would do. Horrid Henry, on the other hand, loves any and every opportunity to create mischief for anyone who might cross his path. This series chronicles the adventures of Horrid Henry, his little brother Perfect Peter, his neighbor Moody Margaret, his school pals Rude Ralph, Lazy Linda, Aerobic Al, Brainy Brian, their teacher Miss Battle-Axe and a host of other comic foils for this young terror.


About the Author, Francesca Simon:

Francesca Simon is one of the world’s best-loved children’s authors. She is the only American to have ever won the Galaxy Book Award, and her creation, Horrid Henry, is the #1 bestselling chapter book series in the UK—with a hit TV show and over fifteen million copies sold! Each book contains four easy-to-read stories and hilarious illustrations by the one and only Tony Ross, so even the most reluctant of readers won’t be able to resist Henry’s amazing talent for trouble!

About the Illustrator, Tony Ross:

Tony Ross trained at the Liverpool School of Art and has illustrated books for many authors, including Roald Dahl, Paula Danziger and Michael Palin. Tony also writes and illustrates his own books.


To read more about these great books, see what others are saying and receive a FREE Horrid Henry Chapter book (while supplies last), click here: