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My Pet Chipmunk

Neil O'Donnell Author Interview

Neil O’Donnell Author Interview

Don’t Call Me Chip is the story of one determined chipmunk and his fight to save the creatures who share his yard from an illintentioned family. What was your inspiration for this fun novel?

The inspiration is my ‘pet’ chipmunk named Chip ‘Hoover’ O’Donnell – my wife gave him the middle name ‘Hoover’ because he sucks up seed like a vacuum. Chip lives under our deck and has been a welcomed friend throughout the warm months. He’s been around for three years now (he just resurfaced from hibernation 2 weeks ago). Last year I learned that chipmunks live only 3-5 years. I wanted Chip to have an adventure. This book grew out of that.

Timothy, the chipmunk, befriends an eccentric old man and they form a heart warming relationship. What was the basis for their relationship and how did it change as you were writing?

The friendship is based on my friendship with Chip. He is very comfortable around me, letting me pet him while he eats food from my hand. Chip actually suns himself at my feet while I read or write on my deck.

This is a very fun novel. What was the funnest part for you to write?

Writing Timothy’s hand jestures and sarcasm – especially his waving to the neighbors, saluting Mikey, and and the pranks played on the neighbors.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next book is the sequel to my fantasy novel, People of the Sword. Its title is Rise of the Celts. I am hoping to have the book out in early 2019.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Don't Call Me Chip by [O'Donnell, Neil]DON’T CALL ME CHIP is a tale about Timothy: a chipmunk who protects an elderly man and a host of woodland creatures from the wrath of a family of nasty neighbors, who seem determined to drive out everyone Timothy cares about.

Timothy might seem like your average chipmunk who loves seeds, sunbathing and enjoying a quiet life in the suburbs. But after the new neighbors move in and wreak havoc, they will have to come face to face with his wit and resourcefulness.

The last straw is that the new neighbors keep calling him CHIP. Convincing all manner of rodents and other small wildlife to work together, Timothy launches an assault against their invasive neighbors.

Based on a true character, this book is a clean, fun read for eight-grade reading level and over.

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We Are Only Left With Loyalty

B.C.R. Fegan Author Interview

B.C.R. Fegan Author Interview

Titch the Itch is the tale of an animated little itch who wants nothing more than to make friends. How did you come up with the idea to anthropomorphize an itch?

The idea was born when I was ‘chasing an itch’ around my wife’s back. Every time I scratched a spot, the itch seemed to move. I thought the idea of an itch playing games would make a fun concept for a children’s book so I set about to develop the story.

There are many fun and funny moments in the book. Were there any moments that made you laugh out loud while creating the book?

I’m not actually a laugh out loud kind of person. I’m one of those annoying people who internalises humour – so no one is actually sure whether I’m finding something funny. I know… I’m working on it. But yes, there were quite a few moments that I found quite fun.

There are probably two main aspects of the story that stand out to me as funny. The first is Titch’s desperate but authentic attempts to make friends, juxtaposed with the exaggerated but real-world reactions of his new acquaintances. The second is Titch’s completely innocent disregard for anyone’s personal space.

Lenny Wen, the illustrator, also did an outstanding job capturing the humour. Probably my favourite page is when Titch spots a ‘rich-looking lady with a tiny white poodle’. She has managed to illustrate someone who typifies dignity and stoic behaviour. It is the anticipation of Titch’s desire to make friends with her that I think prepares readers for a good laugh out loud moment (if that’s their thing of course).

This story of an itch looking for friendship is perfect for teaching young readers about the value of friends and loyalty. What do you hope readers take away from this story?

I tried to write something that was a little different to most books on friendship. Often we think of friendship as something that we accept based on someone’s desirable qualities. I wanted to challenge that, and ask the question, what if friendship has more to do with someone else’s acceptance of us.

Titch ends up being a really interesting case study in friendship, because he is annoying by nature. In essence, the desirable qualities that we normally associate with friendship have been stripped away. We are only left with loyalty. I also purposefully avoid concluding the book in consonance, as it transfers this question to the reader.

At the end of the day however, this question is only a subtle thread in an otherwise simple and humorous adventure of an Itch. More than anything else, I hope that readers of Titch the Itch just enjoy the imaginative qualities and have fun reading!

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next book to hit the shelves is called Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32. It is about a brother and sister who are invited to explore a mysterious hotel with some unusual guests. Readers will be able to linger on each page and count the hidden objects as they make their way towards the forbidden door. I really look forward to hearing what children (and adults) think of it.

It is currently available for pre-order, and will be available on March 14.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterWebsite

Titch the Itch by [Fegan, B.C.R.]Titch is an itch who just wants to be wanted.

When Titch discovers that no one in his family wants him, he sets off on a journey to find someone – anyone – who would be willing to live with an itch. With every step he grows less hopeful. That is, until he meets an old friend.

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Truth and Authenticity

John Castello Author Interview

John Costello Author Interview

Executive Hoodlum follows the true life story of John Costello where he uses his harsh upbringing to move up the corporate world. What inspired you to put your story into a book?

Ultimately there were three reasons I wrote the book:

1. I wanted to pass on the story to my kids so they have an appreciation of their legacy. Why they enjoy certain privileges, and to make certain they remain humble knowing the sacrifices that sometimes need to be made to succeed in life and for the next generation.

2. As a volunteer boxing trainer for under-privileges kids I was able to give something back to my community. It was personally rewarding to me so I wanted to give something back in a bigger way. That is to reach a larger audience of would be under dogs to demonstrate they have the opportunity to succeed no matter what the circumstances.

3. I wanted to relieve the burden of my own guilt pertaining to the last words I spoke to my mother before she died. Those words haunted me for decades. I never reconciled my differences with my father prior to his death either. We were at terrible odds as usual but he was alive long enough to make an attempt at reconciliation but chose not to, not with me anyway. Consequently I do not carry the same guilt as with my mother. I did write most of the book and long overseas plane trips and found myself crying writing a couple chapters. Now that the truth is out there, I somehow feel better.

A little background will put the situation into better perspective:

Best Selling author Larry Elder is the one who put the book idea in my head as he is a friend for about ten years. In fact, he was originally going to be my ghost writer. However, it was decided the book had to be in my words due to my slang and other vernacular to be authentic. With my busy work schedule, I was going to drop the whole thing. Problem being, I hate to start something and not finish. Technically Larry inspired me to write as he brought up the original deal as described in my acknowledgements. Prior to beginning the effort in earnest, I contemplated the above three reasons.

Note – I never intended on writing a book because I would have to relive things in my life I was successful in suppressing. However, age and maturity helped me become more open with my early family life.

Additionally, there are individuals in Chicago, New York and New Jersey that I did not want to have to deal with when it comes to some of the content. These are friends I have maintained and kept in contact over many years. I personally spoke to each person, mob boss, made guy, associate and the outlaw biker leaders individually to let them know my intention. To my surprise, to a person they noted they respected my street savvy enough to give the thumbs up.

The characters in this book were well developed and interesting. How close did you stay true to real events and what did you take liberties with?

Thankfully, I did not have to manufacture any drama. The one upside to being born a Costello!

I took no liberties because my street and business credibility are important to me. I played down certain events due to statute of limitation consideration. Most of what is in my book can be authenticated via documents I kept (murder investigations, police reports, death certificates, pictures,letters. newsreels and other documents I collected when fact checking. Additionally, there are third parties I contacted that were with me during certain events I consulted to make certain my recollections were as accurate as possible)

I’m not a big fan of fiction. Truth and authenticity are of utmost importance. This stems from certain things I know that have been portrayed in both books and movies about people I personally know or knew, that were embellished.

John finds himself surrounded by constant turmoil with gangs, members of the underworld, murder, suicide, and drug addiction. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The ugly truth of my own family, especially the circumstances of deaths of my mother, brother and cousin.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

There are many entertaining stories I was reminded of by friends I did not include in this book. Consequently, there may be a part two.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Facebook

Executive Hoodlum: Negotiating on the Corner of Main and Mean by [Costello, John, Elder, Larry]

Meet John Costello, Vice President of Business Development and Government Relations for Microsemi Corporation, a $6 billion leader in the advanced-semiconductor market. Well known and respected in the industry, John Costello graduated from college in 1983 with a degree in Business Administration. John’s social circle includes high-level corporate executives, politicians, military leaders and movie stars. As a young boy he played Little League baseball and Pop Warner football, and went on to become an outstanding track and cross-country runner in high school, captain of his college rowing team, and an accomplished boxer in the Golden Gloves and other tournaments. With this wholesome All-American resumé, most would think that John Costello emerged from a solid middle-class family with all the usual privileges pertaining – though nothing could be further from the truth. Costello was born into a working-class neighborhood on Chicago’s north side and grew up under quite difficult conditions. His father was a talented Italian tenor with mob connections and a proclivity for violence; his mother, the daughter of an Irish street cop, was a straight-laced Catholic girl till she took to the bottle after falling victim to that violence. Surrounded by constant turmoil and hardship involving gangs, members of the underworld, murder, suicide, drug addiction as well as physical and emotional abuse, John eventually transcended his circumstances to obtain a higher education and pursue a profitable career that entailed all the perks of an executive lifestyle inclusive of the Hollywood party circuit.

Readers who might enjoy this book are those interested in true-crime stories, mob activity, murder and mayhem, as well as anyone seeking a no-holds-barred story that describes the resilience of the human spirit. Spiced with wit and humor and distinguished by the inimitable voice of tough-talking John Costello, his story touches our hearts while keeping us on the edge of our seats.

Other comparable books include The Truthbook: A Memoir by Joy Castro, which describes a similar childhood fraught with abuse and dysfunction. The theme of destructive behavior and personal downward spiral in the fight game and mobster milieu is also taken up in Raging Bull by Jake La Motta. Then there is the true-crime and gangster activity to be found in Family Secrets: The Case That Crippled the Chicago Mob by Jeff Coen, as well as in The Neighborhood Outfit: Organized Crime in Chicago Heights by Matthew Luzi. All these works taken together give some idea of the scope of John Costello’s life as recounted in his own book.

And that is what makes our book “unique” – John Costello’s life is unique. It has been a strange blend of two distinct worlds, but with one foot firmly emplaced in each. The fact that he is comfortable meeting with Senator John McCain in the morning to discuss government business, and can then enjoy the company of old friends from the streets of Chicago in the evening, is indicative of his parallel lives and will certainly be something readers find highly intriguing. We have an extensive collection of family photos, newspaper clippings, death certificates, court papers, and other supporting documentation for all claims made, as well as music recordings and video that would introduce the amazing voice of Johnny’s father to a whole new generation.

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To Face Off Any Horror

Jesse Teller Author Interview

Jesse Teller Author Interview

Song follows Rayph Ivoryfist as he gathers his friends to return the prisoners that escaped from Mending Keep. What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?

It’s a simple idea. There’s a prison break. The worst criminals in the world are released, and one man takes it upon himself, with no funding and no support from the crown, to hunt these fugitives down and end their reign of terror. It’s an idea we’ve seen before, but I got stuck on it, and I thought, “What would make this idea different?” I realized the thing I wanted to focus on was the characters themselves, their relationships, and the relentless nature of their leader. It’s not a crime story. We’ve seen crime stories. Song is an exploration of friendship. So that’s what I focused on. I’ve always had this idea that if real trouble ever hit, I could call on a small collection of men and women who surround me to face off any horror that entered my life. And I think it’s not unique to me. I think everybody has that group of people, that if things really went bad, they could call on to help them fight their way out of it. This book is a love story to that kind of friendship. It asks the question, “If my back was against the wall, and I desperately needed help, who would I call on?”

When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?

When I started writing the story, I had the prison break. I had the characters of the Manhunters themselves, and I had the villains. But when I write all my books, I do not know exactly how it will end or how the plot will progress. All of that comes to me as I write. This book just kept surprising me. I would write a scene and see that it was going in a completely different direction. I would write something and see a twist coming down the road. I let a friend read this book before it was published. His criticism of the book was that it paid off too many times. He said it reaches one climax after the next. I think Song is unique in the fact that I spend 250 pages setting up four different climaxes. But it wasn’t planned. The book is just complex.

As always, your characters are thoroughly developed. What is your writing process like for creating characters?

When I write a character, I like to do away with all archetypes. I think they get in the way. When I meet somebody in real life, I don’t think to myself, “Oh, that person is an underdog.” or “Oh, I know people like this. This guy is a survivor.” Those aren’t the kind of things that hit me when I meet someone. So why would I think that when creating a character? A lot of people talk about knowing the motivation of your characters. But motivation is pliable. I can tell you why Rayph does a thing because I want him to do it. The traits I like to concentrate on are my characters’ hang-ups, the things that bother them, the things they cannot tolerate. I think too often writers create characters in a bubble. They try to describe their character in artificial terms. They create a character outline or a character spreadsheet. They try to create their character in a sterile environment. But that’s not how we get to know people. I like to think about character creation as going to a soup kitchen and meeting people there. Real lives, real problems.

What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?

Well it’s already written. The entire Manhunters series is completed. I will be doing some rewrites and final touch-ups of course, but the story’s already been told. The second book in the series comes out April 15th. It’s called Hemlock, named after the city that is the poison capital of my world. In this story, the main villains the Manhunters find themselves up against are vampires. These are not vampires as we know them in the modern world. I took inspiration for my vampires from the original legends. This is before Anne Rice, stories centuries older than Bram Stoker. In the original vampire legends, they were all monsters. No good, no mystery, no romance, just vicious monsters. When they were hungry, they were pale. After they fed, they took on a ruddy complexion. And when they were full, they were a close shade of purple, because their bodies were suffused with blood. My vampires are old and powerful, nearly immortal, and diabolical. Vampirism spreads like a poison, like a plaque, and the Manhunters fight to stem the tide. So look for it April 15, 2018.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

Song (The Manhunters Book 1) by [Teller, Jesse]Some of the darkest minds in Perilisc attacked Mending Keep, releasing all its prisoners. Despite his strained relationship with the crown, Rayph Ivoryfist calls old friends to his aid in a subversive attempt to protect King Nardoc and thwart terrorist plots to ruin the Festival of Blossoms. But someone else is targeting Rayph, and even his fellow Manhunters might not be enough to save him.

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Lucy Meets the Family

Lucy Meets the Family (Lucy's Tale #2)

Adjusting to change is never easy—even if you’re a cat! In Lucy Meets the Family, Rolynda Tassan’s second book in the Lucy’s Tale series, Ben brings Lucy, a little gray cat, home. Nervous, Lucy meets her new family: a cat, Addy, and two dogs, Sissy and Pippin. When Ben leaves, Lucy tries to make herself at home, but she does everything wrong! She makes a mess of the litter box, gets into food that doesn’t belong to her, and annoys Pippin by sleeping on her bed. Will Lucy ever feel like part of the family?

Dedicated to families who open their homes to animals from the shelter, Lucy Meets the Family is a great way to teach young children how to prepare to bring a new pet home, especially if they have other pets at home already. Like Lucy, a new pet will feel anxiety at her surroundings and make mistakes as she tries to find her way around her home. Readers will learn to anticipate what they can do to prepare their other pets for a new family member. Addy, Sissy, and Pippin already have their own spaces and understand the rules, so they need time to adjust to another animal. On a more practical level, Lucy Meets the Family shows readers what an owner will need to purchase before bringing home a new pet.

For young children just learning to read, Lucy Meets the Family is good practice. The words are simple, and some lines of text are repetitive. The pictures in the book are colorful and have the feel of being hand sketched with watercolor paints. However, the illustrations directly reflect the story and focus on Ben, his pets, and the purchased items for Lucy. Tassan weaves a heartwarming tale about furry friends with tails that animal lovers will enjoy.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: 0998331821

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Rich in History

S Jackson & A Raymon Author Interview

S Jackson & A Raymond Author Interview

Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS 150th Birthday is a lovely children’s story that gives the history of the town of Ellsworth Kansas. Why was this an important book for you to write?

When your town is having a 150th birthday, and your town is rich in history, then that history needs to be included your children’s picture book. The huge four day celebration also included re-enactments, 150 prime longhorns, a cattle drive, two day rodeo, and much more. An adult commemorative book was in the works, so we thought one for kids should be done as well, leaving out the blood, death, and salacious parts. The kids loved it. So did the tens of thousands of people who traveled to this town from across the USA and overseas.

What kind of research did you have to do to maintain the accuracy of the history?

I used extensive curate material from the historical society for the parts and dates I wasn’t sure of.

Do you think it’s important for children to learn the history of their city or town?

Of course it is. One’s heritage is important, and children need to know where they come from, their roots.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS 150th Birthday“Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS, 150th Birthday” is a wonderful and fun children’s book that both children and adults will enjoy. The story hits the targeted age range of 4-8. The painted illustrations provided are a delight, and my grandchildren loved them. Who would have thought to write a book using dogs and squirrels as friends, and the old west thrown in? This book is perfect for home, schools, and libraries. I highly recommend this book. Susan Vance, Author and Realtor In this children’s picture book and seventh book in our ‘Shadow and Friends Series’, Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS, 150th Birthday, two dogs and a family of squirrels decide to help Ellsworth celebrate the 150th birthday of the town’s history. This book coincides with the actual 150th birthday of Ellsworth in the summer of 2017. Illustrations are found on each page, most of them painted. Big Whitey tells the history of Ellsworth, and Fort Harker, with historical buildings, notable landmarks, and scenes painted by the author. At the end of this story, Little Whitey asks his father if they can re-enact the old west, dress like cowboys, and do a pretend cattle drive just like Ellsworth, KS. The squirrels dress in cowboy and cowgirl gear, and they even have a chuck wagon cook. They herd longhorn cattle, sing the state song of Kansas, and have lots of fun during their re-enactment. At the end of the story, they enjoyed a barn dance, celebrated the 150th birthday of Ellsworth, and Uncle Stubby took pictures and ‘selfies’. Children will love seeing the old west come alive with two dogs and a family of squirrels dressed in western attire, and using a small amount of cowboy slang. This delightful and funny book for children, targeted at ages 4-8, is easy to read and perfect for home or classroom. The story illustrates how cattle drives worked, the long dusty trails, life in the old west, and illustrations that produce pure imagination in children. Note: Actual gunfights and ‘adult type’ history were left out in this wild western history of Ellsworth, KS. 

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Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS 150th Birthday

Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS 150th Birthday (Book Seven of Shadow and Friends Series 7)“In this children’s picture book and seventh book in our ‘Shadow and Friends Series’, Shadow and Friends Celebrate Ellsworth, KS, 150th Birthday, two dogs and a family of squirrels decide to help Ellsworth celebrate the 150th birthday of the town’s history. This book coincides with the actual 150th birthday of Ellsworth in the summer of 2017. Illustrations are found on each page, most of them painted. Big Whitey tells the history of Ellsworth, and Fort Harker, with historical buildings, notable landmarks, and scenes painted by the author. At the end of this story, Little Whitey asks his father if they can re-enact the old west, dress like cowboys, and do a pretend cattle drive just like Ellsworth, KS. The squirrels dress in cowboy and cowgirl gear, and they even have a chuck wagon cook. They herd longhorn cattle, sing the state song of Kansas, and have lots of fun during their re-enactment. At the end of the story, they enjoyed a barn dance, celebrated the 150th birthday of Ellsworth, and Uncle Stubby took pictures and ‘selfies’. Children will love seeing the old west come alive with two dogs and a family of squirrels dressed in western attire, and using a small amount of cowboy slang. This delightful and funny book for children, targeted at ages 4-8, is easy to read and perfect for home or classroom. The story illustrates how cattle drives worked, the long dusty trails, life in the old west, and illustrations that produce pure imagination in children. Note: Actual gunfights and ‘adult type’ history were left out in this wild western history of Ellsworth, KS.”

Pages: 39 | ASIN: B072TPMDRH

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Woofed Cookies

Woofed Cookies

Woofed Cookies by Greg Bauder is an entertaining, but short read. The story follows Peter Moon and his dog named Cookies as they go through a whole breath of conflicts and tribulations. His best friend, Tiger Moss, pressures him into smoking, a strange man keeps appearing menacingly, and Tiger’s little sister is enamored with him. Peter confronts all of these with Cookies by his side who is gifted with a neat little trick; throwing up everywhere at any time.

The book begins with Peter being down on himself for not having a puppy and being alone most of the time, since his mother is a nurse. This situation is rectified, and the book truly begins, when he receives Cookies on his birthday. Bauder does a great job of recalling what it was like to be a preteen and getting into trouble with your best friend. The joy of having a puppy is felt here, even if I question the mother’s recommendation of “flushing the dog poop down the toilet”? I mean, what happened to the garbage can? The rest of the book precedes with what you would normally expect. The story did take some turns that I was not expecting and the point of view with Peter is arm’s length, so you are never really sure what he is going to do as the reader.

I do think that the book reads a little “simple” for the audience I believe Bauder is aiming for, but I can forgive that for the fact he has an entertaining story. To take the everyday, messy occurrence of a dog throwing up and make that the title, is rather ingenious. It also steals the show away from Peter, because I found myself reading the pages looking to see what Cookies was going to do next. The lack of agency on Peter’s part was a little of a let down, especially as a children’s book, but I believe that the escapades of Cookies makes up for it.

The actual pacing of the book is a little choppy and does include two scenes that almost entirely mirror one another, which is kind of strange for a children’s book. I would love it if Bauder could make Woofed Cookies into a series of books of Peter and Cookies and I would not mind at all. There is something timeless about a “boy and his dog” and as a reader I could not get tired of that. This story is a classic paradigm with a new spin and I want to see what else Bauder has up his sleeve.

All in all, I believe that Woofed Cookies is an excellent book to give to your child for an afternoon of adventure.

Pages: 20 | ISBN: 1683946812

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Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon

Nickerbacher by [Barto, Terry John]
4 Stars

The story of Nickerbacher takes you on a journey of mystical beings and starry-eyed dreams. It’s an adventure with a dragon and a prince and princess. Nickerbacher is a dragon destined for a life of working as a protector of princesses- a job that was proudly held by his father and his father before that. However, Nickerbacher dreams of something more and wants to perform on The Late Knight Show where he can show off his comedic value. With the help of a leprechaun, a prince and other magical beings, can Nickerbacher change the hearts and minds of all La La Land?

Nickerbacher, written by Terry John Barto, is a fun-loving children’s novel based on the story of a dragon and his friends. Nickerbacher dreams of being something more than a dragon protector of princesses and sets his sights on becoming a comedian. There is an underlying message that children will love as it promotes following your dreams even if other people may not believe that you can achieve them.

Throughout the story, the fantasy characters participate in modern-day activities, like taking selfies with mystical beings or trying to fit their feet into the prints of famous celebrities. This provides a modern twist to a classically styled fairy tale that combine beautifully in this incredible city. My favorite character is Miss Phoenix, a receptionist who rises from the ashes to greet the unlikely trio. She is dedicated to her work but has a heart of gold which sings true to the end.

Pictures are included throughout the novel which brings to life the extraordinary fun loving characters. My favorite image is one that includes ghosts and goblins at the Fairywood Forever Cemetery, royal chariots at LAX and the Medieval Tar Pits. The images are a mix of castles with high rise style buildings that replicate a similar style of what I would imagine LA would look like if it had been sprinkled with a touch of fairy dust. I love how the imagery complements the text and helps with engaging the reader in expanding their imagination.

This story will help children to learn the importance of friendship and believing in yourself. Nickerbacher also touches on issues such as family, societal expectations and breaking through the barriers of life in a fun and engaging story line. Children will relate to parts of the story and see parts of themselves in each of the magical beings. I love the relationship between Princess Gwendolyn and Nickerbacher and how they break the stereotypes of the typical dragon and Princess friendship.

I would recommend Nickerbacher to any school-aged children who wants to be lost in the magic of La La Land. This book would be perfect as a bedtime story to be read aloud as Terry John’s Barto’s wonderful way with words will delight all children and adults alike.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B00SKKX2AW

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Goo of the Gods

Goo of the Gods: Rising Saints High4 StarsP. Joynes’s novel Goo of the Gods, part of the Rising Saints High series, centers around the life of teen prodigy Jonah Polopolus and his traumatic past. Under pressure to live up to his famous father’s reputation, Jonah joins the Sci-6 team and learns that Science Club is so much more than an after-school activity. Jonah must balance his “normal” teen responsibilities (if you call dangerous science projects normal) while also befriending a beautiful ghost who haunts him and seeks his help. Once Science Club turns into a battle of good versus evil, Jonah and Sci-6 must use their unique traits and scientific prowess to defeat demons, save their school, and solve the mysteries behind their hometown’s tragic history.

There’s something suspicious about the tragic accidents and missing people in Jonah Polopolus’s hometown, and Sci-6 plans to figure it out. D. P. Joynes’s Goo of the Gods, part of the Rising Saints High series, is a suspenseful YA science fiction novel with twists that keep you on your toes. With a dynamic plot and an intriguing protagonist, I found this novel quite compelling and hard to put down.

Jonah, a brilliant science student, returns to his hometown five years after the death of his parents and begins his junior year of high school. He’s constantly reminded of his famous father, Dr. Jeremiah Polopolus, and his brilliant discoveries. I loved how the novel jumps between flashbacks to Jonah’s childhood trauma and his present reality, while also interweaving Dr. Polopolus’s journal entries. While there were a few moments that needed more development, I thought that Joynes did an excellent job with transitioning between the past and the present. I liked that this format let me piece together Jonah’s puzzling life.

Even though the novel jumped between time periods, there was a consistent motif of good versus evil throughout the novel, like when Jonah faced situations where people’s actions didn’t easily fit into one idea. Urged by the suspicious, yet charming Dr. Ug, Jonah joins Science Club and is thrown into a competition against a team whose members have a demonic appearance. Jonah and his friends call themselves Sci-6, and they bond over their project on gray “goo.” I feel like the goo becomes a metaphor for something much deeper than its modest appearance, as Jonah is constantly trying to understand the “gray” areas of life.

While working on their “goo” project, Sci-6 encounters many strange occurrences and dangerous situations at CorPP, Dr. Ug’s laboratory. Jonah also faces a unique problem: he’s haunted by a ghost, named Ambriel, who seeks his help. These supernatural situations show how Joynes masterfully blurs the lines of science and faith. Major plot events combine these two typically opposing concepts, which is quite unique for a novel in this genre.

Ultimately, the discovery of old journals inspires them to figure out what, or who, is truly behind the tragedies in their lives. Sci-6 embarks on a mission to conduct risky experiments in order to uncover the truth, help Ambriel, and defeat demons. Even though I wished that Jonah’s friends, Gia and Naomi, had more consistent character development, Jonah’s dynamic characterization made the story that much more enjoyable. It was great to see how Jonah learns to think about the world in both scientific and supernatural ways. The novel ends on a captivating note, and I can’t wait to see what Jonah and his friends do next.

Pages: 183 | ASIN: B01NCNCL4M

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