Wednesday, June 26, 2024

I AM NOT WHO YOU SEE: An illustrated novel by Krishnni Khanna

I Am Not Who You See by Krishnni Khanna
Publisher:  Independently Published
Format:   Softcover Paperback 
Number of pages:  148
Source:  Author via Amazon
Published: June 12th, 2024

From Goodreads:  " Veda, a spirited nine-year-old from India, goes through a jarring shift when her parents decide to emigrate to America and build a new life there. Despite her woes about leaving India, she hopes for adventure in a new country.

Veda’s hopes are crushed, however, as her first year in an American elementary school brings prejudice and alienation from her new classmates. The second school year turns into a devastating nightmare of public shame and humiliation. Adolescent Veda must navigate the adversities of being an immigrant as she struggles to find acceptance among her peers.

Will she fit in by concealing who she is or choose to remain true to herself?"

Opening Line:  "Three months ago my parents broke the news to me — news that would completely change the course of our lives. " 

 I Am Not Who You See consists of Veda's daily journalling of her experiences after immigrating to the United States, drawing from the author's own memories.  Included are small illustrations, or black and white sketches depicting Veda's mood and feelings.  Some with dark lines and shading representing her anger and sadness, and others with smiles and stars indicative of her happiness.  The story spans from elementary school through sixth grade.  Khanna, who also moved to the United States at the age of ten, shares in her author's note that she wrote this book when she was sixteen years old.   It's a powerful story about the importance of surrounding ourselves around people who are supportive and uplifting, rather than people who want to tear us down.  It also emphasizes that happiness and acceptance need to come from within. Knowing oneself and that we hold value to others.  I'm happy that Veda found kindness in Rowan, the boy she meets in Texas, where she was finally able to be her authentic self, share common interests and she finally felt appreciated. 

**A huge thank you Author Marketing Experts and Krishnni Khanna for the paperback book which I will be donating to my local little free library**

About the author:
Krishnni Khanna was born in India in 2007 and moved to the United States with her parents in 2017. Krishnni is a high schooler, author and TEDx speaker who advocates for the inner well-being of youth. In 2022 she created Detoximind, a student-led movement through which Krishnni and her team bring peer-based support to teens and youth grappling with stress, shame, exclusion and isolation. She currently resides in Austin, Texas with her parents and their puppy Yuki.

Visit Krishnni at her website and on Instagram

You can also learn more about her by watching her Ted Talk entitled "How Does A Lie Become True?" 


Monday, June 24, 2024

BLOG TOUR for SPELLBINDERS: BREAK THE GAME by Andrew Auseon with Review and Giveaway

I'm super excited to be hosting a spot on the SPELLBINDERS: BREAK THE GAME by Andrew Auseon Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

                                                                  About The Book:

Author: Andrew Auseon
Pub. Date: June 18, 2024
Publisher: Labyrinth Road
Formats:  Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 400
Find it:  Goodreads 

It takes more than magic to make a hero, in the next installment of this hilarious and epic illustrated series. One not-so-chosen champion and his mystical friends must cross the multiverse and harness a dangerous power to defeat a mysterious new enemy.

"My favorite new fantasy series.”—Max Brallier, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Last Kids on Earth series

After leveling up from basement roleplaying games to saving an entire magical realm, 12-year-old Ben isn’t happy returning to his ordinary life of homework and chores. So, when his very un-magical LARP session is crashed by monstrous frog-men from another dimension, he can't wait to get back into hero mode.

Someone is after all the Spellbinder’s books, which grant the users — including Ben — epic reality-shifting powers. Ben, Niara, Merv, Drake, and their new friend Agnes must embark on an epic quest to save the books and their owners. But while hopping across different realms may be Ben’s idea of a totally awesome spring break, it’s tough to be an ordinary kid among extraordinary heroes. Especially when fighting for the fate of the universe seems to consist mostly of finding fun new ways to get them all killed, from zombie rats to pool noodle squids, to a mysterious Big Bad controlling everything from behind the scenes. How do you win the game when someone else is rolling the dice?


"The metafictive story structure counters predictability with a self-awareness that caters to imaginative readers....Ideal for fantasy nerds, gamers, and writers." —Kirkus Reviews

 Book Trailer:

My Review of Spellbinders: Break The Game:

Spellbinders is like visiting Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, a place full of wonder and excitement mixed with a Dungeons and Dragons quest.  You can never predict which realm the characters will venture to next
be it the House of Reflection, The Snow Globe, The Sea of Whispers, Empire of Glitz or my personal favorite The fields of Frolic.  Or the monster's they'll face, which are just as unpredictable, from Doom rats, Squidoculus or Razor Jaw.  Will they survive? It's anyone's guess. 

The book offers a bit of everything, including magic, humorous battle scenes straight out of the Streets of Struggle videogame, where they employ a butt code to defeat a shark.  There are pop culture references, which I admit were a little hard for me to follow, but sounded amusing like the Worlds of Nowhere PJ's, an extremely evil Mini Boss and even excerpts from the Path of Champion Book, which Ben uses as his manual on how to become a great hero. 

There's some weirdness like using "butternut squash" and "cargo pants" in place of curse words but it's all meant to be silly and entertaining, which it really is.  I do enjoy how the book encourages the reader to visualize the various realms, how the author presents the character cards of each person, with their class, faction, alignment, abilities and special moves.  How there's breakout boxes of additional text providing factoids about what a manifest level 1 means, or what a Pus Abomination is.  And most of all I loved the illustrations, of all the main characters, some of the realms and monsters.  Although the artwork in my copy wasn't the final version or wasn't all complete yet, the glimpses I saw were gorgeous.

Ben makes for a wonderful main character; he's always wanted to be a great warrior and go on dangerous quests to fight forces of evil, but he doesn't feel like he has as much experience as the other members of his party.  His self-doubt causes him to take great risks.  And he's really on this journey to prove to his friends that he is strong enough to wield the magic of the Spellbinder books, despite the dangers.  There are two non-binary characters including Merv, Ben's best friend who can shapeshift.  As well as Niara, Agnes and Drake, who 100% reminds me of Flynn Rider from Tangled.  At 400 pages it's a tad on the long side, but well worth the read for the worldbuilding, stunning illustrations, twists, and zany, humorous story.   I'm looking forward to seeing where this adventure takes Ben next.   

** A huge thank you to the author, publisher and Rockstar for the E-ARC.**

 About Andrew Auseon:

Andrew Auseon is the author of several books for children and young adults, and he is the writer of numerous bestselling and award-winning video games. A transplant from the Midwest, he lives in Washington, D.C. with his family and two very naughty cats. He loves breakfast cereal, the sound of the ocean, and the feeling of a brand-new book in his hands.

Website | Book Website | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | Amazon


Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a signed finished copy of SPELLBINDERS: BREAK THE GAME & a swag pack. US Only.

Ends July 16th, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


Two Chicks on Books

Excerpt/IG Post



Review or Excerpt



IG Post



IG Review



IG Review/TikTok Post



IG Review

Week Two:



IG Review/TikTok Post


Log Cabin Library



Kim's Book Reviews and Writing Aha's

Review/IG Post


Country Mamas With Kids

Review/IG Post


Edith's Little Free Library

IG Review/TikTok Post



IG Review



IG Review

I'm also including this as a part of Middle Grade Monday's hosted by Greg Pattridge at his blog, I hope you'll check it out 

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Nate the Great and the Star-Spangled Parrot by Andrew Sharmat, illustrated by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov

Nate the Great and the Star-Spangled Parrot by Andrew Sharmat illustrated by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov
Publisher:  Delacorte Press
Format:   Hardcover
Number of pages:  64
Source:  Blue Slip Media
Publishing: June 11th, 2024

Opening Line:  "I, Nate the Great, am a detective."  

The first Nate the Great book authored by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, and illustrated by Marc Simont, published on January 1st, 1972.  Since its inception, over thirty-one books have been written.  Many of the newer books were written by the author's sons, Craig and Andrew Sharmat , as well as her husband Mitchell.  My child and I have always cherished this young detective, and I'm delighted that the books continue to be published.

While on a walk in Deering Oaks Park, the young detective Nate the Great and his trusty dog, Sludge, meet Pip, who is searching for his missing Parrot, Prattles.   Pip spent the day playing in the park with Prattles and Penelope, a drone that Pip purchased as a friend for Prattles, which he adorned with feathers, wings, claws and a beak to resemble a parrot.  It seems that while they were playing, Anne's dog Fang appeared and frightened them, causing the parrots to fly away.  Now, Nate the Great is on the case interviewing Pip, searching the neighborhood, and sniffing out clues with Sludge.  Can Nate find Pip's parrots in time for them to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Independence Day picnic? 

The Nate the Great series is just as memorable as when I read it with my child.  There's something comforting and familiar in these opening lines, "I, Nate the Great, am a detective."   I love how the story structure has remained consistent after all of these years.  Nate understands the importance of starting his day off with what he refers to as "a good breakfast", which usually features pancakes and a bone for Sludge.  He wears his "detective suit" which includes a long jacket and a checkered hat, and he never forgets to leave a note for his mother before leaving the house.  His circle of friends still consists of Anne and her dog Fang, and Rosamond with her black cats.  

This series is a delightful choice for early elementary students, offering an excellent introduction to mysteries through the gathering of clues, investigating suspects, and using those logical reasoning and deduction skills to solve the case.  I'd recommend this to young readers who are just beginning to explore chapter books.

**A huge thank you to Blue Slip Media for the hardcover copy which will be donated to my local Little Free Library**

Monday, June 10, 2024

The Cookie Crumbles by Tracy Badua and Alechia Dow

The Cookie Crumbles by Tracy Badua and Alechia Dow
Publisher:  Quill Tree Books/Harper Collins
Format:  E-ARC
Number of pages:   320
Publishing:  June 11th, 2024
Source:  Books Forward 

Opening Line: "Generally speaking, cookies don't kill people." 

The Cookie Crumbles tagline is "The Great British Bake Off meets a tween-friendly Knives Out..."  Sounds intriguing, right?  Especially with that opening line.  

From the moment Laila shared a cupcake with Lucy on their second day of kindergarten, their friendship was cemented.  They've been inseparable ever since.  As their school's summer break approaches, they find out that they'll be going to different high schools.  Lucy has already been admitted at Sunderland Academy, a prestigious boarding school and Laila really wants to join her.   As it so happens Sunderland is hosting the Golden Cookie competition, with the grand prize being a full scholarship to the Academy, Laila thinks she has a good shot at winning.  She's been pretty successful in a few other competitions but without the scholarship it would be impossible for her to attend, money has been tight ever since her dad passed away from cancer.  Laila has always dreamed of becoming a cookie CEO, and she just has to win and go to Sunderland's elite culinary program.  Meanwhile, Lucy, Laila's best friend, aims to become a journalist.  She sees the cookie competition as an opportunity to write a stellar article to impress the scholarship committee at the Academy and earn money for school. 

Just as the competition gets underway, one of the celebrity judges collapses after tasting one of Laila's cookies, casting suspicion on her. Lucy, intent on clearing her friends name, starts to investigate by examining the dossiers she has on the contestants and interrogating the suspects.   Focused on finding the truth, she unintentionally hurts her best friend's feelings, leading Laila to feel targeted by Lucy's investigation and questioning.  Can the girls put their feelings aside and identify the true perpetrator before anyone else gets hurt?

The Cookie Crumbles is the collaborative work of Tracy Badua (author of Freddie vs. the Family Curse) and Alechia Dow (author of Just a Pinch of Magic).  It intertwines a whodunit mystery within a cookie baking contest during the height of a storm that shuts down all communication from the campus.   The plot thickens as numerous suspects are identified, including all the competitors, who have some prior connection to the Chef.  With speculations intensifying following the revelation that one of the judges could have possibly been involved, given that Chef Remi is notoriously rude and is thought to be disliked even by his fellow judges.

I quite enjoyed Laila and Lucy.  Sadly, there's a bit of friend drama, but they do end up making up. Both girls are goal oriented and driven to accomplish their goals.  Lucy is a meticulous note taker, chronicling all the events during the competition, including everyone's whereabouts.  And Laila is a very experienced baker with an exceptional palette.  She can identify the ingredients in a dish after only one bite.  This cookie competition is a new challenge for her as she's up against a group of competitors who've had more advantages than her.  They come from wealthy families, and they're not even as driven as she is to be a baker.  They don't appear to need the money, so why are they even competing?  It's interesting to learn their motivations and goals. 

Each chapter alternates between the two girls, written in the form of a journal recounting the events.  Providing details leading up to the attempted murder, the cooking challenges, and Lucy's observations and interactions as she works to solve the crime.    The only thing that seems to be missing is the recipes for the cookies that Laila baked, which would be a wonderful addition to the final book.   The Cookie Crumbles would captivate children who enjoy cooking and baking, and I would recommend it to fans of The Last Super Chef.  It would also be fun to pair it with my favorite foodie book, All Four Stars.  

**A huge thank you to Books Forward for the E-ARC**