Monday, February 19, 2018

Review: The Royal Rabbits of London by Santa Montefiore & Simon Sebag Montefiore

by Santa Montefiore & Simon Sebag Montefiore
Illustrated by Kate Hindley
Simon & Schuster Children's UK
Middle Grade Fiction
195 pages
ages 8 and up

Life is an adventure. Anything in the world is possible – by will and by luck, with a moist carrot, a wet nose and a slice of mad courage

Shylo has always been the runt of the litter, the weakest and quietest of all of his family, his siblings spend their days making fun of him for not being like the rest of them. But when Shylo stumbles across a band of ratzis and overhears their evil plan to take a photo of the Queen in her nightie, it's up to this unlikely hero to travel to London and inform the Royal Rabbits of London about the diabolical plot! The Royal Rabbits of London have a proud history of protecting the royal family and now the secret society need to leap into action to stop the ratzis... But can a rabbit as feeble and shy as Shylo convince them that Queen is in danger?
The Hobbit meets Fantastic Mr Fox meets Watership Down in this charming novel from bestselling authors Santa and Sebag Montefiore, which proves even the smallest rabbit can be the biggest hero.


Size doesn't determine worth in this hopping adventure, which packs tension in a fun and exciting tale.

Shylo is the runt of his family—something his siblings refuse to let him forget. But none of them know of his secret, forbidden friendship with an old rabbit on the edge of the forest. When Shylo overhears rats plotting against the Queen of England, he informs the old rabbit, who sends little Shylo on the adventure of his life.

This is a tale with a bit of a quirky mixture. There's a more serious, traditional feel with the burrow life, where Shylo is constantly being picked on; there's a touch of modern day as rats run around with tablets and cameras; there's poking humor as the dangerous rats, aka Ratzis, want to publish pictures in the tabloids; and there's the palace in London with it's royal life and dangers. Parts of this hang on modern whimsical, while others have a more traditional atmosphere like Watership Down. It's odd, lifts eyebrows at times. . .and it works. Splendidly.

Shylo is the perfect, tiny hero. He's shunned by his siblings but still has the never-dying love of his mother. He's brave and kind, which is clear from the first pages. It's easy to like him and root for him until the very end. And he does get into some pretty sticky situations, which are sure to leave readers on the edge of their seats. Still, the authors manage to keep even the most tense moments very age appropriate with a slight sense of humor wiggled in.  The ending wraps everything into a nice, inspiring package yet leaves the door open to many more adventures to come.

As an extra bonus, there are ample illustrations sprinkled between the pages. These slide right along with the fitting scenes and help bring the very colorful characters to life. Not only these illustrations, but the text itself keeps a lightness to the story which is perfect for even more reluctant readers. To top it off, the book holds a more elegant, high-quality feel. It's compact, shines with golden trim, opens to display bindings worthy of the Queen, and ends with a sweet, entertaining recap of the characters. 

This is a tale I can highly recommend and will be grabbing up the next books in the series myself.

And here they are. . .

Santa Montefiore's books have been translated into twenty languages and have sold more than four million copies in England and Europe. She is married to writer Simon Sebag Montefiore. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha, in London. Visit her at

Simon Sebag Montefiore's bestselling and prize-winning books are now published in over foty-five languages. His new book The Romanovs: 1613-1918 has been universally acclaimed and is already a bestseller in the UK, Australia, and the USA where it was on the New York Times bestseller list for eight weeks. Montefiore has won literary prizes for both fiction and nonfiction. His latest novel, One Night in Winter won the Best Political Novel of the Year Prize and was long-listed for the Orwell Prize. He is now writing the third novel iin his trilogy. Follow Simon on Twitter at @SimonMontefiore. For more information visit

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Review: Ten Little Night Stars by Deb Gruelle Illustrated by Gabi Murphy

by Deb Gruelle 
Illustrated by Gabi Murphy
Board Book/ Religious
20 pages


One little night star,

Twinkling in deep blue.

I run inside to take my bath,

Then there are…


Ten Little Night Stars is a sweet bedtime counting book perfect for the youngest readers. One by one the stars come out in the night sky as cute and cuddly animals go through their bedtime routines. This board book will encourage children to turn the page with interactive and engaging rhyme, and will take them through bath time, story time, and sleep. Written by Deb Gruelle, great-great-grand-niece of Johnny Gruelle, the creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy, Ten Little Night Stars is the perfect bedtime story for parents and children alike.


This book screams cute, while offering a lovely read to help those sleepy eyes close and drift into dreamland.

Through simple counting and flowing rhyme, young animals head to bed and cuddle in for a good night's sleep. The board book is sturdy with a slightly fluffy cover to make it perfect for small hands. The book will withstand some abuse and is easy to wipe off from minor messes. But it's the cover which catches attention. The glistening, golden stars catch the eye, while the big elephant supporting the smaller one sets the perfect, warm mood.

With a loud one, the first page starts off the counting. Each spread has the number and a cute four-line poem, which lead various, young animals from a bath all the way to falling asleep. The style is calming and repetitive, perfect for little eyes to start drooping. Following familiar activities, it's a gentle read which suggests caring, support and love the whole way through. This is a religious read but it's kept subtle and flows into an everyday setting.

The illustrations are bright and carry enough detail to allow young listeners room to make discoveries of their own and point them out. The text is simple enough for even little ears and packs enough emotion to make it fun to read-aloud. While the rhyming glides along smoothly, there a couple spots which caught off guard and broke pace.

This is a wonderful book for a last read before heading off to bed and is sure to become a favorite.

I received a complimentary copy from Booklook Bloggers.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Almana by Julayn Adams with Giveaway

Almana Book 1
by Julayn Adams
YA Fantasy, Post, Apocalyptic
293 pages

Hidden deep inside the forest, a community of people have created a safe haven despite the terror that lies not far from their border walls. World War III has destroyed most of the world population, and the ruthless dictator, Equis, is quickly gaining control over the majority of the U.S. population. Heaven has turned its back on humanity; the angels have deserted their posts and are awaiting the end - all but one. Through visions, Almana comes to believe that one last chance for the world’s redemption lies in a girl who lives in this small community. The only problem is the future of seventeen-year-old Alexa is grim, but without her, the end is imminent. Though Almana will be banished from her home until the world’s last day, she chooses to join Alexa in hopes of not only saving humanity, but heaven as well. Bound by a supernatural connection with Alexa and her family, Almana is gifted a new home. And despite the inability of angels being able to fall in love, Almana finds herself in a dilemma she hadn’t expected. 

A story of friendship, romance, love, betrayal, hate, hope, and despair, Almana is the first of a three-part series.

What people are saying:

"Wow! This story hooked me from page one! A heavenly, heartbreaking and heartwarming tale full of believable characters you'll love, and love to hate. I literally could not put it down! I believe I have found my next "must read" author!"
-Regina O'Connell “Wren”

"I think that writing good quality fiction for this audience is one of hardest genres a writer can enter and of the many books I have read, few do it well enough to have broader appeal. Almana does. It is a beautifully crafted story which employs none of the more obvious routes generally taken by post-apocalyptic fiction. Although the main character, Almana, is an angel, the story deals with her as an ordinary teenager coming to terms with a new life. The world created by Julayn Adams skillfully combines fantasy, the challenges and adventures of creating a future, adding elements of danger and violence without ever becoming predictable. In short this is a very entertaining tale for any age."

"A beautiful story of a very human angel on a mission and a girl who is destined to save the world. It is a story of love and duty, of good and evil, of war and the battle for peace. Beautifully written, this story is addictive and compelling."
-Renita D'Silva “A Sister's Promise” 

"Julayn writes eloquently and her descriptions are so visual that you can picture them in your mind. I particularly love the parts of the novel when it focuses on Almana's inner thoughts and loneliness…The author makes these aspects of Almana's loneliness so real that I wonder if she knows something about the unseen world that we don't. What a great surprising read."
-Sherry Mayes “Stop the World”

**On Sale for .99 cents!**

Almana Book 2
295 pages

Book II of Amazon's International Best Seller, "Almana"*

In a world full of violence and hatred, Alexa still believes in hope. She is the reason Almana left heaven to risk everything, including her own immortal soul. But when Almana returns from the abyss with visions of an impending attack on their community, Alexa’s plans to unite with neighboring camps must be expedited. As racism and the brutal effects of the war live on, threatening to infiltrate their newly merged faction, Almana fights the demons plaguing her mind and her heart.


"I read and loved Almana, the first book in this series and was waiting eagerly for the sequel. And this book, wow! Beautifully written, thrilling, heart-breaking and heart warming, this is a brilliant story. One that makes you think. This series is one everyone needs to read as it tackles sensitively and with heart some of the issues tearing the world apart today. A timely and though-provoking book. An amazing story, masterfully told. LOVE this amazing series and very highly recommend it."
Renita D'Silva "A Mother's Secret"

"I found myself turning page after page, desperate to know how Ali would handle things and what would happen next. 
Congratulations to the author. This is a story for teens or adults that will take you into a war-torn world where the battle for good must always prevail. Or does it"
Sherry Mayes "Stop the World"

*Ranked in top 100 in its genre on Amazon in two or more countries

**On Sale for .99 cents!**

With four fabulous children and two equally fabulous step-daughters, Julayn Adams has been likened to the little old lady who lives in a shoe, minus the old part, of course. She and her husband, along with their kids and the laziest cat in the world, Triscuit, reside in Melbourne, Australia after having moved from the United States. Julayn has enjoyed working in a variety of professions including sonography, preschool teaching, and professional princess (true story). Having now turned her passion for writing into a career, she enjoys her days reading and writing in the Australian sun. Julayn’s first published work is a picture book illustrated by her son, Gavin, entitled "My Brother’s Name is Masen": a true story about Gavin’s relationship with his autistic brother. Now, with books I and II of the Almana Series published, she looks forward to the release of Almana’s final chapter, "Insurgence", in late 2018. 

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway!

Mommy's Mystery Morning with 19 Souls by J.D. Allen

It's Mommy time!!!
Every so often here on Bookworm for Kids, I post a book which is NOT written for a younger audience. After all, Moms and Dads like to read too. Today, I have a crime/mystery I discovered and wanted to share. But there are several violent scenes and touches upon explicit material (although the later holds itself to a minimum).

Sin City Investigations, Book One
by J.D. Allen
Midnight Ink
Mystery, Crime
360 pages

Private Investigator Jim Bean is a straightforward, to-the-point man. When his latest client, Sophie Evers, asks him to find her brother Daniel, Jim has no idea how complicated his life is about to become.

Daniel is not Sophie's brother. He is her most coveted prey. Clinging to the belief that they belong together, Sophie kills Daniel's real sister to manipulate Jim into flushing Daniel out of hiding. She will create the "perfect life" for the only man she's ever loved, no matter how many people she must kill along the way.

When Jim discovers the truth about Sophie, he's driven to set things right before her delusional plan claims even more souls.


This isn't a genre I usually grab up, but I'd heard lots of good things about this book and was excited to get my hands on it. I was not disappointed.

Jim Bean (he changed his name at an earlier age) is a one man private investigator, who's often low on cash. When a potential client hires him to find her brother, nothing seems out of the ordinary until he catches up with the so-called brother and discovers that his client has murdered several individuals. The guy isn't her brother but her main goal, and Bean has lead her directly to him.

While the mysteries I've read up until now have followed a 'who done it' plot, this one takes a slightly different turn. It's clear from the first page who the murderer is, and Bean discovers this himself already a third way into the book. But this is where the story really kicks in. The mystery turns into a hunt as Bean tries to scrape of clues on this very slippery murderer's past. There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns, and the murderer is nothing if not clever.

Bean is fairly cliche—a solo private investigator, gruff, low on money, non-existent social life, and a bit bumbly. Or so he starts out. As soon as he figures out that he's been foooled, his character switches gears, and he's much more on top of his game. His past and personality gain more depth and even his 'love' life (nothing exaggerated by any means) starts to spark. But while his character gains momentum, the murderer's breaks apart.

Sophie is crazy, and she's complex. Her intentions, kills and goals mix together as well as vinegar and milk. There are hints at why she's turned out like this, although this is only lightly touched upon. The author sprinkles in a bit of odd humanitarian sparks into her personality, which heads in the right direction to add a little sympathy. Both of these areas, however, could have used a little more exploration. Most of the book, she's quite clever and has laid out an amazing web. It's no wonder Bean has his hands full. 

If it weren't for the ending, I would have given it 5 -stars. While everything happens with high tension and exciting last moments, her character unravels to the point of almost making all of the build-up sour. Her decisions no longer follow the same line, nor do her last set-ups. Still, it is an explosive ending and wraps things up well. There's also enough hints open to lead into another high-stakes adventure, one I'm looking forward to picking up and getting lost in again.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates

by Amy June Bates
Cowritten by Juniper Bates
Simon & Schuster 
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 and up

In the tradition of Alison McGhee’s Someday, beloved illustrator Amy June Bates makes her authorial debut alongside her eleven-year-old daughter with this timely and timeless picture book about acceptance.

By the door there is an umbrella. It is big. It is so big that when it starts to rain there is room for everyone underneath. It doesn’t matter if you are tall. Or plaid. Or hairy. It doesn’t matter how many legs you have.

Don’t worry that there won’t be enough room under the umbrella. Because there will always be room.

Lush illustrations and simple, lyrical text subtly address themes of inclusion and tolerance in this sweet story that accomplished illustrator Amy June Bates cowrote with her daughter, Juniper, while walking to school together in the rain.


Inclusion and tolerance ring loud and clear in this beautiful, touching book.

The red umbrella is a big, friendly umbrella and carries this attitude through rain and storm out into the world. While starting out simple and indoors, the umbrella is taken outside where it quickly gains more and more people to shelter from the ever dripping rain. And the umbrella is never too small. Never.

This is a book of little but powerful words. While keeping the text to a minimum, just enough comes through to build the right atmosphere and understanding. The illustrations do the rest. The mixture is sweet, encouraging, humorous at times and holds a huge message without ever becoming preachy. This is one amazing umbrella, and simply by doing its job, it spreads a warm feeling of tolerance and belonging.

Young listeners will easily fall into the pages as the umbrella is taken out into the city. It's bright color and bold, never faltering smile make it an umbrella to love. The illustrations not only do a wonderful job depicting different types of people and show how the umbrella grows and grows without any words, but little sparks of humor sprinkle in to keep the entire thing light and friendly. The growing details invite readers to flip through the pages and see what they can discover. 

This is a lovely book with a wonderful message. It makes a great read-aloud, opens to discussions and isn't easily forgotten after it is laid down.

And here they are. . .

Amy June Bates has illustrated many picture books, including, Sweet Dreams and That's What I'd Do, both by singer-songwriter Jewel; Hillary Rodham Clinton by Kathleen Krull; and The Brothers Kennedy, also by Kathleen Krull. She lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with her husband and three children.

Juniper Bates was in sixth grade when she and her mom, Amy June Bates, came up with the idea for The Big Umbrella while sharing an umbrella in a rainstorm. Juniper loves music, skiing, books and puddles she can jump in. Juniper lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with their family and dog, Rosebud.

Cover Reveal: Alive? by Melissa Woods

The Alive? Series, #1
by Melissa Woods
Clean Teen Publishing
YA Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Zombies

OCTOBER 30th, 2018!!!

Everyone knows the first rule of the zombie apocalypse: Don’t. Get. Bitten.
Too bad Violet has never been great at following the rules. Walking home after a night of partying, she manages to let one of the Dead take a chunk out of her only hours after they’ve begun walking again. Fortunately for Violet, she doesn’t die. Unfortunately for Violet—she’s not exactly alive, either.
Violet’s body is undergoing changes, and suddenly the taste of human flesh is not as revolting as it once sounded. Controlling her new urges will be hard. Living with survivors who have no idea will be even harder. And the real zombies? They still want to eat her, too…
Surviving the zompocalypse is tricky when you play for both teams.
New from author Melissa Woods, Alive? is a heart-pounding adventure with suspenseful plot twists, complex characters, and a dash of dark humor. Gritty and raw, Alive? is sure to keep you guessing, and will delight zombie apocalypse fans everywhere.

And here she is. . . 

Melissa is a Primary School teacher by day and a writer by night. She grew up in a small town in the UK, and spent of her time with her nose in a book. Her childhood was filled with R.L Stein, Jacqueline Wilson, and J.K Rowling, and they inspired her to begin creating her own worlds. Melissa has always been fascinated with stories about living through an apocalyptic event, and with characters who feel so real that they become part of the reader long after the book was put away. She wrote the first draft of Alive? at sixteen, and has been hooked on writing ever since.
When she's not writing, Melissa enjoys reading, playing video games, crocheting, and spending time with her two dogs (and occasionally her husband). 


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Review: Of Sea and Stone by Kate Avery Ellison with Giveaway

Of Sea and Stone

YA Fantasy

February 2014

Aemi lives in a village carved from stones and surrounded by sea. She wins spear-throwing competitions in disguise and earns slaps from her spoiled mistress by talking back. She hates being a slave. She survives by remembering her mother's tales of home, a paradise called Perilous.

Aemi intends to find it.

But then, black ships rise from the sea in the night. Aemi is captured and taken to Itlantis, an underwater world of cities and gardens encased in glass, dazzling technology. and a centuries-long war.

She is determined to escape, even if it means conspiring with fellow prisoner Nol, who fills her with equal parts anger and desire. Even if it means impersonating her mistress. Even if it means fleeing into the territory of the Dron, the bloodthirsty barbarians of the deep.

But when Aemi witnesses firsthand an attack by the Dron, she realizes not all is as it seems below the sea.

And Perilous might be closer than she thinks.

Book Buying Links:


Fast paced and packed with unexpected twists the whole way through, this is a tale which grabs and doesn't let go the whole way through.

Aemi is a slave in a village, which is built into the rocks along the ocean. One night, a ship rises out of the water, attacks the village and she, along with many men, is taken prisoner. Soon, her execution is ordered, but one of the attackers smuggles her off of the ship and takes her to work as an indentured servant for a wealthy man in an underwater city, which she thought only existed in myths. Her only goal is to escape, but fate isn't on her side.

This is the first book in a series and what an exciting start it is! Aemi is kind-hearted, tough in her own way, and, yet, vulnerable. It was easy to like her from the very first page and cheer for her the entire way through. Although the story starts with a simple and busy life as a slave in a small village, the world building and pacing quickly picks-up on complexity. The simple village clashes with a more modern under-sea life, which holds slight similarities with our modern world.

As soon as Aemi settles into a situation, another harsh twists comes her way. She is constantly facing new hurdles and problems. It's hard to guess what is coming next, and each new situation and trouble adds to an increasingly layered plot. Even the palette of characters is constantly changing, but the author still gives each one enough individuality and personality to keep them from coming across superficial or unnecessary. It's a rich world, and it's only the beginning, promising so much more to come in the rest of the series. After reading this first adventure, I can't wait to get my hands on the next book and see what happens to Aemi and her friends next.

And here she is. . .

 I'm the author of the Frost Chronicles, an Amazon bestselling series and source material for the adventure app game Frost by Delight Games, as well as numerous other fantasy and science fiction novels. I love putting a dash of mystery in everything I write, an ode to a childhood spent reading Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes. I can’t resist adding a good twist in the story wherever I can.

I wish I could live in a place where it’s always October, but until that’s possible, I make my home in humid Atlanta with my husband, children, and two spoiled cats.

Author Links:


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