‘Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow’ by Jessica Townsend is a suspenseful sequel in middle grade series


“Wundersmith: The Calling of Morigan Crow” is the sequel to the first book in the “Nevermoor” series, “Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow,” about a young girl who was whisked to Nevermoor just before she had been doomed to die on her 11th birthday. As an illegal immigrant in Nevermoor, the only way she can stay in Nevermoor is to pass rigorous trials to earn a place in the illustrious Wundrous Society — which she does in the first book.

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‘The Widows’ by Jess Montgomery is a gripping historical fiction set in turbulent coal mining Appalachia


In “The Widows,” author Jess Montgomery visits a time and place that is not often memorialized in fiction. In a corner of rural Ohio, where coal mines control the lives of the residents and the immigrants who come to America to work in the mines, the lives of the miners and those who live in town intersect through the relationship of two women, both widows, who fight for justice.

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‘An Easy Death’ by Charlaine Harris is the first in a new exciting paranormal series

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“An Easy Death” is by acclaimed author Charlaine Harris, who wrote the fabulous Sookie Stackhouse series. It’s the first in a new series featuring Lizbeth Rose, a 19-year-old, determined, talented gun for hire.

The setting is an alternate United States which was forever altered when Franklin Roosevelt was assassinated before he could be sworn in. Texas has been reclaimed by Mexico, Russia (the Holy Russian Empire) has grabbed California, and Canada has taken over many of the northern states. Native Americans have claimed their ancestral land which had been stolen from them. The only part of the actual United States that’s left is really poor, and those who live there have a hard life. Farmers hoping to get to a safer and better place to live must hire gunslingers to ensure their safety as they journey to a different place.

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‘The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise’ by Dan Gemeinhart surprises, touches, and grabs readers

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With “The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise,” Dan Gemeinhart once again shows his writing super-power ability to simultaneously amuse, touch, fascinate, and grab readers by the heartstrings as they race through this story of a girl and her father who live a peripatetic life, traveling from place to place in their rehabbed school bus.

Coyote and her father, Rodeo, have lived on Yager, their converted school bus, and traveled wherever their whims have taken them. Want to walk on the beach? They’d head for the coast. Pulled pork sandwich? The best one is at Pork Chop John’s Sandwich Shop, in Butte, Montana.

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Children’s chapter book round up: From graphic novels to roadkill – a year in review


Start the new year right — get some of 2018’s (and one 2019 new release) middle grade books for the young reader in your life. There is a wide range of titles that will appeal to many different readers.

Graphic novels are high in interest and many children who aren’t interested in reading text-only chapter books love the illustrations and fast-moving pace of these books. There are several 2018 releases that include graphic novels and books with many illustrations along with text, mimicking the feel of a graphic novel. Continue reading

‘Outfoxed’ by David Rosenfelt continues the fabulous Andy Carpenter/dog-filled mystery series


From the fertile, facile, and unfailingly funny imagination of author David Rosenfelt comes “Outfoxed,” the fourteenth installment of the Andy Carpenter mystery series. But don’t let the fact that it’s the fourteenth installment deter you from picking it up — Rosenfelt cleverly manages to make each book a stand-alone that can be enjoyed by either new readers or Andy Carpenter “veterans.”

Actually, there are no foxes in the novel, but, as always there are plenty of dogs, and one in particular — a fox terrier — plays an important role in the unfolding of the plot. Here’s the scenario: Lawyer Carpenter is representing a wealthy client, one Brian Atkins, who is doing time in prison for alleged embezzlement of funds from his own company, a software firm. The firm is at the vanguard of new technologies.

Andy is running a special program at the prison, a program which partners prisoners with dogs (from Andy’s own rescue) in order to provide some very productive time for those inmates. Atkins is about to be paroled, but he mysteriously escapes and heads directly to the home of his ex-partner. A short time later, he’s spotted running in panic from the house, and inside the house, his wife and ex-partner are found stabbed to death.

Atkins, of course, is not only the main suspect, he is the only suspect — a typical Andy Carpenter client — but Andy is not so sure he should try to defend Atkins on the murder charges; that is, until he sees Atkins risk his own life to save his prison “partner” dog from an onrushing police car. Carpenter says, in effect, a guy who would do that cannot be a murderer.

Carpenter is a fascinating main character. His love of animals has caused him to start a dog rescue (much like real-life Rosenfelt and his wife). Also like the author, the love of his life is his golden retriever, Tara. Like all Rosenfelt plots, this one is filled with not only dogs, but also surprises, suspense, danger, wonderful banter among virtually all the characters, and laugh-out-loud insult humor and self-deprecating humor from Andy, the first-person narrator.

Mystery lovers, dog lovers, and anybody who loves to laugh should not miss “Outfoxed” or any of the earlier thirteen Andy Carpenter novels. David Rosenfelt never lets you down.

Please note: This review was first published at ShelterMe.tv. This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher for review purposes.

‘Pets on the Couch’ Explores Animal Psychiatry and the Treatment of Emotional Disorders


“Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry” is written by veterinarian Nicholas Dodman, who also wrote bestsellers, “The Dog Who Loved Too Much” and “The Cat Who Cried for Help.”

Dodman breaks new ground with this book; he details how animals and humans share many of the same emotions and emotional disorders. He writes that animals can be depressed and feel grief and loss. It’s now known that pets can have post-traumatic stress disorder, and Dodman has asserted that this affects dogs who have served in the military in combat zones. Dogs can also have other “human” emotional disorders like anxiety and compulsive disorders.

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‘Fire & Heist’ by Sarah Beth Durst is a perfect young adult fantasy/action/scifi thriller


“Fire & Heist” by Sarah Beth Durst is a wonderful young adult fantasy. Long-time fans of this author will not be surprised that it’s engaging and boasts a fabulous plot. While she has included a lot in the story — there is some “Ocean’s Eleven” mixed up with a bit of “Wrinkle in Time” and every book with a wonderfully evil villain (think Michael Grant’s newest book, appropriately titled “Villain”) — it just boils down to a book that ends up being a quick read because the action simply doesn’t stop.

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’50 First Words – Primeras palabras’ in English and Spanish by Scholastic Early Learners

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“50 Primeras palabras- First Words” is a well thought-out set of flash cards that is bilingual for children who speak both English and Spanish, or those that speak only one language but might like learning a second language for enrichment. The cards themselves are large and laminated with pictures and words on each side in both languages.

Some of the images are photographs and some are drawings. For example, one card features a photo of a yummy chocolate chip cookie on a white background, while on the reverse side of the card is a bright yellow image of a banana (plátano) on a bright yellow background. One toddler was fascinated by the yes/no card showing a drawing of a boy refusing an apple (no) and on the reverse the same boy eagerly holding his hands out for the apple (yes). Each card has one side that is white and the other a bright color.

The words are written in large letters that have dots inside of the lines for the kids to trace with the dry erase pen that is included. The cards wipe clean easily, and even for kids who are too young to begin tracing the letters, they like drawing on the cards, and it helps hold their interest while learning new vocabulary.  There are two cards that show the alphabet, one with capital letters and the other with lower case letters. On both cards the “ñ” is included. On the backs of those two cards are different lines for kids to trace — some are zig zag, some are curved or with loops, but kids can trace and then erase for a lot of fun.

Included with the cards is a booklet with ideas about how to use the cards. The booklet is in both languages and includes auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning activities. The booklet also has a few pages that kids can do with a pencil, but because the booklet is not laminated, once a child has drawn in it, that use is finished. It’s a shame that the pages in the booklet were not also laminated so that it could be used over and over again, erasing between uses.

Please note: This review is based on the set of flashcards sent by Scholastic for review purposes.

‘The Curious Cats Spy Club’ Super Sleuth Set by Linda Joy Singleton is a lovely middle grade mystery series

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Middle grade readers will adore “The Curious Cat Spy Club” series by Linda Joy Singleton. It’s a series about three middle school kids, two girls and a boy, who get together in the first book to rescue three kittens they accidentally find abandoned in a plastic bag in a dumpster. These three kids happen to be especially talented, each in a different way, and each of their talents is needed in order to solve the mystery of who abandoned the kittens, and where they came from.

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‘Caught in Time’ by Julie McElwain is the third novel in the Kendra Donovan mystery series

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“Caught in Time” by Julie McElwain is a thrilling action mystery featuring Kendra Donovan, an FBI agent who was thrown into the past, to 1815 Regency England. It’s a far cry from the 21st century and her life as a profiler for the FBI, but in each of the three Kendra Donovan mystery novels, Donovan manages to get embroiled in a murder, and she’s the best chance at getting the real culprit found.

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