Children’s Picture Book Review: Counting with Barefoot Critters by Teagan White

Children’s Picture Book Review: Counting with Barefoot Critters by Teagan WhiteCounting with Barefoot Critters by Teagan White
Published by Tundra Books on August 9th 2016
Genres: Children's Books
Pages: 32
Goodreads
five-stars

What is a day of counting with Barefoot Critters?
ReadingMaking pancakesHelping friendsExploringSwimmingPlaying piratesLearning about numbers!
Join this adorable cast of animal characters as they explore numbers and counting over the course of a day, having fun at all stops along the way.

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The cuteness of Counting with Barefoot Critters is on such a high level, you pretty much say “Awww” and “ OMG how cute” every time you turn the page. Seriously, it is jam-packed with cuteness from the critters to the many adventures and activities they participate in, you are enveloped in total adorableness and you can’t help but smile while reading it.

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Gorgeous map of the little Barefoot Critters village


I’m positive that little young ones learning their numbers will love having this little story/poem read out loud to them, and I know they will enjoy counting out all the sweet little animal friends on each exquisitely detailed page. From such activities as quiet reading, to making pancakes, eating cake (I always find cake..for real…it’s like a gift…I am a cake magnet…in real life and in books), playing pirates, swimming and hanging out in their fort, to racing (yes…there is even a super adorable triceratops dinosaur in this book) these little critters are sure to warm their way into all readers hearts.

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The illustration of the fox reading….I need that in my life…(and I’m a “grownup”. Also….I found cake….even if it is just in the book…

I think the rhymes in this book read out really well and invite the readers to guess what number comes next. The illustrations were beautifully done. I loved the illustrations of all the barefoot critters, my favorites were clearly  the fox, bunny, and the triceratops. Every single page had so many wonderful details from the actual critters to the little ants, mice, birds and lovely flowers. The colors were very pleasing to the eye and just bright enough to jump off the page. The author (Teagan White) clearly carefully every detail when making this exquisite and aesthetically pleasing counting book, like the way the numbers go from orange/red, to yellows, greens and finally blue to mimic the passing of time from morning to afternoon to evening. I definitely will be adding this charming book to future baby’s library, and also will be getting them for friends’ little ones to enjoy too.

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I mean…just look at the care and love that these illustrations were done with. So very pretty…and such a cute scene.

I’m also interesting in checking out Teagan White’s previous book Adventures with Barefoot Critters, which is all about letters and the seasons. Counting with Barefoot Critters (hardcover) goes on sale August 9th, 2016. You won’t find a cuter, sweeter, more adorable counting book anywhere (revisit the pictures on this post if you need to be reminded of the cuteness factor).

Thank you Tundra Books and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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How can you not fall in love with that little triceratops dino? I mean…LOOK AT IT….it’s so freaking cute!

Let me know what you think of Counting with Barefoot Critters. Which critter was your favorite?

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five-stars

Chidren’s Picture Book Review: Marcel by Eda Akaltun

Chidren’s Picture Book Review: Marcel by Eda AkaltunMarcel by Eda Akaltun
Published by Flying Eye Books on September 20th 2016
Genres: Children's Picture Book
Pages: 40
Goodreads
four-stars

Marcel is a New Yorker through and through--he and his human know the best spots, especially downtown. But when a new human suddenly enters their lives, they're spending all their time uptown! Everything is changing and it looks like this new human isn't going anywhere. Why couldn't everything stay as it was? Why did things have to change?
Eda Akaltun is a New York–based illustrator and printmaker from Istanbul. Prior to her work with Flying Eye, her illustrations can be found in the Nobrow magazine, of which she is a founding contributor.

Marcel is a cute little french bulldog who lives in New York City with his “human” owner. Together they have fun adventures exploring the city and going to all his favorite places. Soon a new “human” comes into their lives and starts to take time away from Marcel and his “human”.  This new human even dares to take Marcel’s favorite spot on the couch. Now they spend all their time uptown where Marcel feels cramped by all the people and not enough places that cater to Marcel’s needs. Eventually Marcel starts to see that the new human isn’t too bad after all and they form a bond.

Marcel is adorable and will win over every reader’s heart. The version I received was an early ARC from the publisher so they illustrations weren’t in color, but if they turn out anything like the cover it will be stunning. Even without the color, there was movement in the art and I liked how you got the “feel” of the hustle and bustle of NYC. I also appreciated that they gave you a little taste of what street life is like in different parts of the city. I also loved the hint of a potential second book at the end of the book too. Though this is a story about a puppy and his growing family, I think the idea/concept of the story could and will work to help explain to readers why their family dynamic might be growing or changing.

The story is simple, but really sweet and could be very helpful in explaining many scenarios be it a new baby/sibling, new parent/partner or even a new pet joining an already established family. With growth comes change and though not all things will have to be different, some things will need to change and to evolve. I think the author captures this idea in a fun, entertaining and non threatening or scary way. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys beautiful picture books, silly and adorable puppies, or who will be expanding their family dynamic and need an aide to help breach such a sensitive topic.

Thank you Tucker at Nobrow and Flying Eye Books for providing me with a copy of this wonderful book in exchange for an honest review.

four-stars

YA Book Tour and Giveaway: Gifted by H.A. Swain

three-half-stars

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Gifted by H.A. Swain

Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends

My Rating: 3.5 Starts

In Orpheus Chanson’s world, geniuses and prodigies are no longer born or honed through hard work. Instead, procedures to induce Acquired Savant Abilities (ASAs) are now purchased by the privileged. And Orpheus’s father holds the copyright to the ASA procedure.

Zimri Robinson, a natural musical prodigy, is a “plebe”–a worker at the enormous warehouse that supplies an on-line marketplace that has supplanted all commerce. Her grueling schedule and her grandmother’s illness can’t keep her from making music–even if it is illegal.

Orpheus and Zimri are not supposed to meet. He is meant for greatness; she is not. But sometimes, rules are meant to be broken. Here is a thriller, love story, and social experiment that readers will find gripping–and terrifying.

LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

ABOUT H.A. SWAIN:

H.A. Swain

Heather Swain lives in a crooked house in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, two children, a barkless dog, and two rescue cats. She is the author of four novels for young adults, two kids craft books, two novels for grown-ups, and numerous short stories, personal essays, and non-fiction articles.

LINKS:Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram

MY REVIEW:
Gifted is a science fiction thriller about a not so distant future where genius and talent can be bought by the wealthy and elite through something called ASA (Acquired Savant Abilities) surgery. In this future, hardly anyone is born with “natural” talent but there are of course exceptions. Zimri has a natural talent and passion for singing and creating music, unfortunately, she is a lowly “Plebe”. In this world, the class system is divided into two groups. “Plebes” are the poor working class, and the “Plutes” are the rich and wealthy who control everything. Zimri longs to perform and share her music with the world, but unless you have the ASA surgery performing patented music is illegal.

The first few chapters of the book dragged a bit but the story starts to get more interesting once Orpheus arrives. Zimri and Orpheus’s paths should have never crossed, but due to Orpheus (who is a Plute and the son of the creator of ASA) wanting to defy his father, he has run away to avoid getting the ASA surgery. Orpheus goes to work at the warehouse where Zimri works and the two of them start to get to know each other. Zimri shows Orpheus how hard life is for the “plebes” and they come to realize they both share a passion for music.

What I most enjoyed about this story was how deeply Zimri’s passion for music and making her art was. I really liked that she was willing to do whatever it took to be able to sing. Zimri isn’t just making music for attention and fame or for money, but because it is part of who she is deep inside. She truly is a musician/artist down to her bones. She is definitely the star of the book. Orpheus rubbed me the wrong wy at first only because he seemed frivolous and still stuck in his “old” plute-ways, but as the story went on we find out more about his story and he also grows as a character.

I liked that the romance between Zimri and Orpheus that eventually occurs isn’t what the book revolves around. I also liked that there were no love triangles (YAY!)…though I thought there could have been at a few points. Another thing I like about Gifted was that there are several nods to current pop culture that is quite funny, even to someone who is on the older side of the age spectrum compared to the teens who worship these current celebrities of our time. I think one of my favorite parts was seeing a mention of a 100-year-old Taylor Swift.

Was this the most unique dystopian/science fiction story I have read? No, it was not, but the author does a pretty good job creating a believable future and what could happen to the world of entertainment. We are left with many questions to ponder about what will happen with technology as it keeps growing and expanding and how it will affect us. Where the future of and the rights to music and entertainment is headed? Who has the right to talent? Should talent be bought or sold? How do we keep away from a future where there no longer exists a middle class? All of these and many more questions are brought forth while reading this book. It will definitely make you think and it should strike up some interesting conversations. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction and a side of thriller, and a dash of romance. I think it would be appropriate for ages 12 and up.

Thank you to Feiwel & Friends and also to Hannah from Irish Banana Book tours for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Make sure to check out the rest of the stops on the Gifted Tour! 

GIFTED TOUR SCHEDULE: 

Week 1:

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GIVEAWAY:

3 Finished Copies of GIFTED (US/Canada Only)
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three-half-stars

YA Book Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

YA Book Review: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi MeadowsMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Published by HarperTeen on June 7th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 512
Goodreads
five-stars

Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…
Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…
Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.
The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?


“For everyone who knows there was enough room for Leonardo DiCaprio on that door. And for England. We’re really sorry for what we’re about to do to your history.”

Yes…this is how My Lady Jane starts off, right from the dedication page you already know you are in for a treat. During every single moment of reading this book, I was completely and utterly in love with it. It made me snicker, giggle, laugh uncontrollably, shout, hiss, and huzzah…sometimes in public. Writing this review has been excruciatingly hard because I can’t simply just GUSH all my feelings about this witty and funny book all over the screen without giving away far more than I should. Also, mere words truly can not express how lovely and refreshing it was to read a book that I absolutely 110% loved everything about from start to finish. Thank you, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows for crafting such a perfect book.

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This is the story of Lady Jane Grey, but with a few tweaks, and some magic…because of course magic makes everything better, and potentially can alter a hum-ho tale that ends in beheadings into an epic adventure filled with hilarity, love, and absurdities (fans of the Princess Bride will most definitely approve of this book). In other words, perfection. The humor in this book is absolutely spot on as are the many puns, the quotes in this book are brilliant works of art. Yes, three authors wrote this deliciously cheeky book, but their voices are so well integrated and on point that it is a completely smooth transition from one chapter to the next which are written in the point of view of the three main characters Jane, Edward, and Gifford.

I loved how little side comments were added between the storyline to give you a little glimpse of what he authors were thinking, or intending….

You may think you know the story. It goes like this: once upon a time, there was a sixteen-year-old girl named Jane Grey, who was forced to marry a complete stranger (Lord Guildford or Gilford or Gifford-something-or-other), and shortly thereafter found herself ruler of a country. She was queen for nine days. Then she quite literally lost her head.
Yes, it’s a tragedy, if you consider the disengagement of one’s head from one’s body tragic. (We are merely narrators, and would hate to make assumptions as to what the reader would find tragic.)
We have a different tale to tell.”

(Okay, so we told you that anybody could die at any time, and you seem like you’re getting worried, but Pet’s fine. <…> Trust us: we’re not the type of narrators who would kill a dog.)”

I loved Lady Jane. She was intelligent, sassy and a bookworm. She reminded me a bit of Hermione Granger because she comes off as a “know-it-all” and is always has her nose stuck in a book with titles like “An Analysis of Edians’ Paintings and Their Impact on Society: Volume Three.”

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She is strong and determined and independent. She’s also quite good with horse jokes, and knows how to handle a pan (this will make sense if you read the book…which you should). Gifford was just as lovable as Jane. I love that he has a secret other life and how sweet he is on Jane. I also love that it wasn’t all INSTA LOVE and that this relationship took time to build and was based on more than just looks. It was such a pleasure to watch these two characters fall in love against all the odds, especially since their story started as an arranged marriage.

In their bedchamber, Jane set a pillow and blanket on the floor next to the bed.
“Jane, I cannot allow you to sleep on the floor,” G said gallantly.
She smiled. “The pillow and blanket are for you, my lord.”

This brings me to another point that I think deserves being said, though this book is empowering for women (Jane and many of the other female characters) it never talks ill or marriage or implies a negative connotation to marriage. My Lady Jane is a book for female empowerment and the empowerment of falling in love and finding someone to spend your life with. I sometimes find that many books, the media, and people can’t seem to find a good balance with empowering a female, but also being okay when she decides to fall in love with someone or have a family. I am glad that the authors of My Lady Jane not only empower the women in their book, but they also empower marriage and love too (Sorry…I don’t mean to sound preachy on this topic, but this is something that really bothers me. Just because I as a female I have chosen to get married and to one day have a family does not mean that I have given up my independence, my intelligence, or my feisty-ness….I can “have my cake and eat it too” and My Lady Jane resonates that belief to me).

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For the third POV was Edward, who starts off as a sickly teenage king, but is actually about to embark on quite the adventure of his own. I liked that he had this sort of morbid humor, making fun of his own probable impending death due to having “The affliction”. I think he showed the largest growth of character and I really enjoyed seeing him out of his element. It was awesome to see him become his own person and to see his eyes open to the fact that women weren’t there just to mend his clothes and make his supper. His respect for women grew, and as it grew, so did he. Even the minor characters like Pet, Elizabeth (yes…that Elizabeth) and Gracie were all superbly done, and they all kicked butt. You wanted to see and hear more about them, and you cared if they were in danger.

Now, I know I mentioned magic before, and yes there is plenty of magic. In this tweaked and alternative retelling of history, there are humans that can turn into animals. These people are called Edians, and they are found all over this story, even those you least suspect. I would keep an eye out for a horse, a ferret, a kestrel, a skunk, a fox and a dog to name a few (but I won’t tell you who is who) though I guess I can disclose to you that Gifford or G is one of these Edians, and he is a magnificent stallion and you will find out more about him right from the start in chapter 1. The nonmagical people are called Verities and they aren’t very fond of Edians this alternate history’s version of Catholics vs. Protestants which is one of the subplots in the book. There is also betrayal, poisonings, incarcerations, romance, war, and consummation.

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Overall, My Lady Jane a fantastical book that I loved and enjoyed from cover to cover, in all its formats (the audible version is done with a really great reader). It is on my top 5 favorite books of 2016. It is charming, hilarious and will make you laugh at the most inappropriate times (usually around 6:30am while on the treadmill in a gym full of people, or in a coffee shop filled with people…oh the strange looks I received). It was so entertaining and not to be taken seriously. It was fun and such an easy read to get through even over 500 pages. There are nods to Monty Python, The Princess Bride, Shakespeare and even Disney. There is politics but it’s kept to a minimal, and there is definitely a lot of horsing around.

Go READ it! You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

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P.S. Clearly my Edian animal form would be a bunny.

five-stars

Xpresso Book Tour and Giveaway: The V Girl by Mya Robarts

Genres: Contemporary, Dystopian, New Adult

The V Girl: Second Edition
Mya Robarts
Publication date: July 1st 2014
Genres: New Adult, Dystopian, Contemporary, Romance

In post-apocalyptic North America, sexual slavery is legal. Lila Velez desperately wants to lose her virginity before the troops visit her town and take it away by force. She makes plans to seduce her only friend. Lila does not love him, but he is the only man who has shown her true affection, an affection she is willing to take as a substitute for love.
Lila’s coping mechanism to cope with her mother’s loss is her secret. A secret that will bring her closer to Aleksey Fürst, a foreign, broody man who she distrusts because of his links to the troops and his rough, yet irresistible appearance. He offers Lila an alternative to her plans, a possibility that terrifies her…and tempts her in spite of herself.
With threats looming at every turn and no way to escape, Lila fears that falling in love will only lead to more heartache. The consequences of laying down her arms for Aleksey and welcoming hope might destroy more than her heart. They might force her to face the worst of her nightmares becoming a reality. Is love possible in a world that has forgotten what the human touch is?

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EXCERPT from the book: 

He lays me on the bed softly, checks my blood pressure and temperature, and returns to his seat. He plays a fast and furious melody, his eyes closed, completely engrossed in his music.

Disappointment curls through me. That’s it? The way he’s just treated me makes me feel as if, to him, I’m just a little girl.

I sit up and look at him. The way he skillfully works the strings makes me aware of the contrast between us. He’s older than I am in more than one sense. The man is not only the leader of his unit, but also well-traveled and skilled at music, medicine, and the art of seduction. I’m just a regular girl and hardly a leader. I have yet to seduce anyone, or even leave my hometown. For me, attending medical or music school is only a dream. In short, he has lived his life. Whether he has led a good life or a bad life, at least he has lived. My life is based on survival, which means I have yet to live at all.

But I want to.

Aleksey has offered to teach me the basics of sexuality, but at the moment, he’s ignoring me completely. I am stirred by a yearning to make him pay attention.

I rush toward the door. I don’t take two strides before my back slams against a hard surface. His palms are pressed against the wall, and my head is enclosed between them. Aleksey kneels on one knee. We’re face to face now.

Lila.”

The hoarse sound of Aleksey’s voice makes me shudder. Nobody has ever said my name like that, with that breathy, lustful quality. I don’t want to admit that I love the way my name sounds on his lips.

I close my eyes. Please say my name again. All I want is to hear him say my name.

My mind reels, and for a moment, a black haze overcomes me. I feel that I’m about to faint. The sedatives are keeping me from thinking clearly.

I try to escape, but I find myself caged in the prison of his strong arms. Eager anticipation courses through me. Something is about to happen. I want it to happen, but insecurities riddle my mind. Am I safe with him? Will he be gentle?

Let’s start your training.” The way his breath caresses my face sends sparks all over my body.

I’m trembling. “I … uh … our training?”

A half-smile appears on his face.

I realize what kind of training he’s referring to, and I shiver.

Don’t be nervous,” he says.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Mya Robarts is a bookaholic who regrets nothing.

She spent years trying to become a contemporary dance choreographer. Eventually she realized that she enjoyed writing her stories rather than dancing to them.

Robarts is obsessed with books that present damaged characters, swoon-worthy guys, controversial topics and happy endings.

http://myarobarts.tumblr.com/

 

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