‘Giraffe Problems’ by Jory John & Illustrated by Lane Smith: A Picture Book Kids LOVE!

giraffe

Don’t just take my word for it, get a copy of “Giraffe Problems” by Jory John with chuckle-inducing illustrations by the talented Lane Smith. Read it to any child between three and thirteen. All will love it: guaranteed.

But don’t get the book only for the laughs. It’s much more than just another humorous picture book for entertaining children. The story of the giraffe with the really, really long neck, who doesn’t like his neck at all, will resonate with kids. Edward, the giraffe, laments his misfortune and wishes he had a neck like a zebra, an elephant, or a lion.

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‘The Other Woman’ by Sandie Jones: A Psychological Thriller that Will Keep You Wondering

the other woman

“The Other Woman” by Sandie Jones is the story of Emily Havistock and her new boyfriend, Adam Banks. Emily has had one devastating past relationship, and now has a small group of steadfast friends, but she wants more, and she thinks Adam might be “the one.” When he finally suggests introducing her to his mother, she’s thrilled.

But things don’t go as planned, and while his mother, Pammie, seems like a wonderful woman to the rest of the world, Emily gets the feeling that Pammie wants her gone. The clues are subtle and only noticed by Emily, but she’s positive that they are real. As her relationship with Adam grows deeper, the warning signs get stronger — Pammie does not want her in the family.

In the meantime, things are not all rosy with Adam. He doesn’t care for Emily’s close friend Seb, who happens to be gay. He likes to go out on his regular Thursday night with his chums and often comes back drunk. In fact, he drinks a lot. While the reader may notice these things, Emily does not seem to care much or be bothered by the questionable things Adam does. All of Emily’s wrath and emotion is centered on Pammie.

When Pammie reveals (thanks to Emily’s clumsy questions) that she has cancer just days before Emily and Adam are to be married, Adam calls the wedding off. Emily has her doubts about whether or not Pammie even really has cancer. Is this merely another ploy in her efforts to keep Emily out of the family?

Another complication is Adam’s brother, James, who seems to be everything Adam is, but kinder, calmer, and more sincere. Yet Emily is torn because while she is attracted to James, she also is suspicious of his attentions.

Jones keeps the focus on Emily and Pammie, and the pages keep turning as the reader endeavors to find out who will win — the evil Pammie, soon-to-be-evil-mother-in-law, or Emily. Perhaps, like this reviewer, readers will be expecting a surprise reveal about Emily. The actual ending is not easy to predict and will probably surprise most readers.

This is perfect for a quick vacation or weekend read. It’s a carefully crafted psychological thriller with a suspenseful plot and realistic characters. Enjoy.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Minotaur, the publisher, for review purposes.

‘Little Do We Know’ by Tamara Ireland Stone

little do we know

“Little Do We Know” by Tamara Ireland Stone begins as a typical young adult story about two formerly best friends who are no longer speaking to each other. Emory and Hannah have lived next door to each other practically since they were in diapers, and they have been best friends all that time.

But now, in their senior year of high school, they are not speaking. And the reader doesn’t know why. The story is told in first person narrative through Hannah and Emory’s voices, and it’s riveting. While the girls have been best friends, they are very different.

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‘The Not-So-Boring Letters of Private Nobody’ by Matthew Landis

private nobody

“The Not-So-Boring Letters of Private Nobody” by Matthew Landis is a lovely story about a seventh-grade-boy learning what is important about life, war, and love. The book might ignite a passion for history in the heart of its readers. It’s obvious that the author has that passion, and he communicates it in each and every page. It’s also obvious that Landis really “gets” middle grade students, especially those who don’t always fit in.

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Great Giveaway of Picture Book ‘Fiona the Hippo’ by Richard Cowdrey

fiona

Hey, folks! Zonderkidz is partnering with me for a fabulous giveaway!

Here’s a chance to win a copy of Richard Cowdrey’s fabulous picture book, “Fiona the Hippo,” about the plucky premature hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo. (Read my glowing review here.) In addition to the picture book, you’ll receive an adorable Fiona stuffed animal, and a Fiona sippy cup! All courtesy of partner Zonderkidz.

prize package

“Fiona the Hippo, by New York Times bestselling artist Richard Cowdrey of Bad Dog, Marley fame, tells the story of Fiona, the adorable internet sensation from the Cincinnati Zoo who captured hearts around the world with her inspiring story and plucky personality.

Born prematurely, at only 29 pounds, Fiona was not expected to live. But her spunk and determination helped her thrive and become a happy, healthy hippopotamus. With every challenge she faced, Fiona let out a snort, wiggled her ears, and said “I’ve got this.” And she did! In this delightful story, inspired by the real adventure of this heroic hippo, join Fiona and her lovable animal friends at the zoo as she is introduced to the world in this whimsical and inspiring tale of perseverance and friendship.”

During a very recent trip to Kenya, I had the opportunity to see many hippos at Masai Mara. Most were in the Masai Mara river, but we caught sight of one walking along the dirt road. She was huge and pink and grey, and we loved getting to see her!

Be sure to enter to win your own “Fiona the Hippo” book and more!

Fiona’s fabulous giveaway! 

‘Fiona the Hippo’ by Richard Cowdrey Is a Picture Book About Not Giving up (and It’s Adorable!)

fiona

In “Fiona the Hippo,” a picture book by Richard Cowdrey, readers who didn’t know about the baby hippo who was born six weeks early will get to see how the staff at the Cincinnati Zoo cared for her and helped keep her safe. The story is lovely, and Cowdrey cleverly has Fiona say, “I’ve got this!” for each new accomplishment.

That’s a great catch-phrase for kids. Fiona’s story teaches that all new skills take practice — sometimes lots of practice — but if a child is taught determination and perseverance and says, “I’ve got this!” the chances of success are multiplied tenfold.

Fiona got it, and she was reunited with her parents. Cowdrey’s story of Fiona’s start is a picture book that kids will want to read over and over. They will know when to chime in for Fiona, “I’ve got this!” and one might hope that it becomes the new mantra for a generation.

Learn more at Fiona the Hippo. Watch her adorable video on YouTube.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Big Honcho Media for review purposes.

Middle Grade Novel ‘Strays Like Us’ Lovely Story About Child and Dog in Need of Help

strays

“Strays Like Us” by Cecilia Galante is an often heart-wrenching story of a child and a dog, both in need. Fred, short for Winifred, lived with her mother who had an addiction problem. Although her mother managed to keep a job at a drug store, her behavior and financial problems meant Fred’s life was never predictable. Her mother constantly told Fred how much she needed Fred, and how she relied on Fred.

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‘The Final Six’ by Alexandra Monir Is a Too-Possibly-True to Miss Reading Dystopian Novel

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The world Alexandra Monir creates in “The Final Six” is one that is all too believable. Climate change has caused the sea levels to rise, and tsunamis have devastated coastal cities. Rome is underwater and people live on the top floors of tall buildings. Whole populations in large cities have drowned when tsunamis rushed in to engulf everything.

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‘Lifel1k3’ (Lifelike) by Jay Kristoff is the First Book in a YA Dystopia Series

lifelike

With “Lifel1k3,” author Jay Kristoff takes readers on a wild ride in a bleak (so very bleak!) dystopian future where atomic bombs have destroyed much of the Yousay (USA, get it?) and California has become a barren island because of a huge earthquake. The ocean is filled with plastic and other garbage, and animals and trees are nonexistent.

In fact, robots and humans coexist in a depressing world with gray skies and a desperate struggle for survival. In this world lives Evie, with her grandfather, her best friend Lemon, and her robot best friend Cricket. This family group is wonderful, but Grandpa is dying from cancer, so Evie fights robots in an arena to win money to buy him medicine.

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