Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

(Nightmares #1)
by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
September 9, 2014
Random House Children's Books
The hilariously frightening, middle-grade novel Nightmares! is the first book in a trilogy about a boy named Charlie and a group of kids who must face their fears to save their town. 

Sleeping has never been so scary. And now waking up is even worse!

Charlie Laird has several problems. 
1. His dad married a woman he is sure moonlights as a witch.
2. He had to move into her purple mansion, which is NOT a place you want to find yourself after dark.
3.He can’t remember the last time sleeping wasn’t a nightmarish prospect. Like even a nap. 
What Charlie doesn’t know is that his problems are about to get a whole lot more real. Nightmares can ruin a good night’s sleep, but when they start slipping out of your dreams and into the waking world—that’s a line that should never be crossed.
And when your worst nightmares start to come true . . . well, that’s something only Charlie can face. And he’s going to need all the help he can get, or it might just be lights-out for Charlie Laird. For good.

Praise for Nightmares! 
New York Times Bestseller! 
"Charlie Laird, who learns fear will eat you alive if you feed it, makes an impression, and...readers will want to accompany him again."— The New York Times Book Review 

"A touching comical saga...about facing things that go bump in the night."— US Weekly"Coraline meets Monsters, Inc. in this delightfully entertaining offering from actor [Jason] Segel and co-author [Kirsten] Miller."— Publishers Weekly 

"[Nightmares!] succeeds at scaring and amusing in equal measure...[It's] sweet, charming, and imaginative."— Kirkus Reviews 

"Segel...and Miller build an entertaining, cartoony world full of scary (but not too scary) monsters, silly jokes, plucky kid heroes...with a promise of adventures to come."— Booklist 

"An engaging and creative story...woven with a generous amount [of] humor."— VOYA 

"There's humor and a fairly high ick-factor."— School Library Journal 

"Cleverly crafted...This novel presents just the right mix of 'scary and humorous.'"— ILA Literacy Daily

Charlie Laird’s life is a nightmare...literally. Three years after his beloved mother’s death, Charlie’s father has remarried weird Charlotte DeChant and moved Charlie and his little brother into Charlotte’s creepy purple mansion. Charlie’s nightmares of a wicked witch start off normal then he quickly realizes that his nightmares are real, the witch is real. And when the world of Nightmares tries to invade the Waking World, Charlie and his friends find themselves on a scary, crazy adventure.

With NIghtmares!, authors Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller create a spooktacular middle-grade read full of epic adventure, captivating imagination, and charming characters! NIghtmares! is delightfully whimsical, laugh out loud funny, and entertaining from beginning to end.

Segel and Miller take readers on a wild romp through a world of very real Nightmares and provide plenty of thrills, chills, and surprises. The fascinating world of Nightmares is bursting with all kinds of nightmares, ranging from the wacky, the silly, the legendary, the deliciously scary, and everything in between. From Charlie's new home (the mysterious purple mansion) to the twists-and-turns-surprises-around-every-corner world of Nightmares, the authors craft a wonderful and wondrous setting that finds the perfect balance between spooky and fun. The stellar scares are accompanied by a great deal of comical, clever humor that will have young readers in fits of giggles.

The awesome world of Nightmares! is full of equally awesome characters. Segel and Miller offer four plucky and relatable young heroes in Charlie and his friends Paige, Alfie, and Rocco. And the Nightmares themselves- from a sassy gorgon, brave clown, nasty goblins, and every other kind of creepy, icky, eerie, bizarre thing you can imagine- are especially fun and irresistible.

Young readers will have a blast joining Charlie and his friends on their epic adventure through the world of Nightmares and the exciting twists and turns are guaranteed to keep the pages turning.

my final thoughts: Oozing with creativity, sparkling storytelling, an unforgettable world, and engaging characters, Nightmares! charmed me completely! Perfect for readers that like their scares to come with laughs. I’ll definitely be back for more of this series!

5/5 yummy cupcakes

Jason Segel
New York Times bestselling author Jason Segel used to have nightmares just like Charlie, and just like Charlie, he’s learned that the things we’re most afraid of are the things that can make us strong…if we’re brave enough to face them. Jason likes acting, writing, making music, and hanging out with his friends. Sometimes he writes movies. Sometimes he writes songs for movies. Sometimes he stars in those movies and sings those songs. You might know him from The Muppets and Despicable Me. Your parents might know him from other stuff. Nightmares! is his first novel.

Kirsten Miller
Kirsten Miller grew up in a small town just like Cypress Creek, minus the purple mansion. She lives and writes in New York City. Kirsten is the New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Kiki Strike books, the Eternal Ones series, and How to Lead a Life of Crime. You can visit her at

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Voyagers Series Launch Blog Tour {review and giveaway}

I'm out-of-this-world excited to have the Voyagers Series Launch Blog Tour stopping by today! Voyagers is a thrilling new multi-platform series that will consist of six epic books penned by six awesome authors...

Project Alpha
(Voyagers #1)
by D.J. MacHale
September 1, 2015
Random House Children's Books
The action is on the page, on your device, and out of this world! This multiplatform series is part sci-fi, part eco-mystery, all action-adventure. And you don't have long to wait -- 6 books are coming all in one year! 

Earth is about to go dark. Without a new power source, life as we know it will be toast. A global competition is under way to determine who will join the secret mission that might just save us all. Project Alpha is a contest of physical challenges, mental puzzles, and political alliances. The battle is fierce, and only four kids will make the cut. The Voyagers will journey to the far reaches of space, collecting unique elements and facing unbelievable dangers. The future of our planet is in the hands of four kids. Sure, they’ll be the best in the world . . . but can they save the world?

To learn all bout the series, to watch the trailer, and more visit VoyagersHQ

Earth is running out of resources and in a hundred years the planet will go permanently Project Alpha is born. A world wide competition is created to find eight young exemplary individuals. These eight 12 year olds will then participate in a rigorous competition and be dwindled down to just four. Four winners. And the prize? A place on a spaceship headed to deep space in search of elements needed to create a new power source, world-wide fame, a chance to save the planet, and ten million dollars. The competition is the fierce, the contestants are all worthy, and the whole world is counting on the outcome...can four kids really save the planet?

Voyagers is a new multi-platform series that will span six books with six different authors, and can be experienced both on the page and on the internet, with each book containing interactive puzzles. Voyagers: Project Alpha is book one in the series and is penned by author D.J. MacHale.

Voyagers: Project Alpha is a cinematic, action-adventure packed thrill ride that sets up the series and introduces its characters. MacHale does a great job of creating an exciting and entertaining series opener that will captivate and engage young readers. The story is wickedly fast paced, with no room for slow, boring bits, which is perfect for middle-grade readers. And the world within the Voyagers, with its out of this world high-tech gadgets; inventive ideas; and unbelievable places, is extra super cool! Voyagers: Project Alpha is definitely bursting with imagination, thought-provoking sci-fi elements, and plain fun action.

And although the story moves fast, MacHale makes sure each vital character is properly introduced and explored. The series gives readers eight very different, yet completely engaging characters, to like and connect with. I think middle-grade readers will especially love the fact that the heroes of the story are young characters that they can totally relate to.

Fascinating new worlds, awesome gizmos and tech, giant dinosaurs, heart-pounding adventures...Voyagers: Project Alpha has all this and more.

my final thoughts: I had a lot of fun reading this book and was easily swept away by its out of this world premise that promises big thrills. Voyagers: Project Alpha is an awesome first book in what is sure to be a blockbuster series. I definitely can’t wait for book two!

4/5 yummy cupcakes

D. J. MacHale is the author of the bestselling book series Pendragon: Journal of an Adventure Through Time and Space, the spooky Morpheus Road trilogy, and the sci-fi thriller trilogy the SYLO Chronicles. In addition to his published works, he has written, directed, and produced numerous award-winning television series and movies for young people including Are You Afraid of the Dark?Flight 29 Down,and Tower of Terror. D. J. lives with his family in Southern California. 

Win 1 of 3 hardcover copies of
Voyagers: Project Alpha
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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

7 Mini Picture Book Reviews

I have seven mini Picture Book Reviews from various pubs to share with y'all today...

My Leaf Book
story and illustrations by Monica Wellington
September 1, 2015
Dial Books
The brilliant colors of fall foliage take center stage in this picture book perfect for fans of the classic Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf.

With her trademark bold, graphic style Monica Wellington has created a picture book about autumn, trees, and leaves.  When the seasons change, a young girl visits the arboretum to collect fallen leaves and make a book with them. Brilliant illustrations show each variety of tree the girl encounters, from the common oak to the lesser known gingko.  Spreads silhouetting leaves up-close help young children learn to identify them. Like the girl in the book, young readers will be eager to make their very own leaf books. 


“There’s no doubt it will capture children’s attention and hopefully have them searching for their own specimens and creating leaf books of their own.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Along with dispensing plenty of informational tidbits…[My Leaf Book] celebrates the gorgeous colors and the great variety of trees around us.”—Booklist

Monica Wellington's My Leaf Book is a charming and captivating book that follows a little girl's hunt for gorgeous Fall leaves. Told through simple text from the POV of the little girl, My Leaf Book is engaging, informative, and fun. Little readers will learn all about the many Fall leaves as the main character collects them. But the real star of this book are all the stunning illustrations! Wellington's illustrations feature bold, lovely Fall colors and fun shapes, and are whimsical, eye-catching, and irresistible. 

My Leaf Book is a wonderful exploration an celebration of Fall!


Lizard from the Park
story and illustrations by Mark Pett
September 8, 2015
Simon & Schuster BFYR

A lonely boy's new pet grows into a rather large dilemma and a Thanksgiving parade offers an uplifting solution in this charming tale from the author of The Boy and the Airplane and The Girl and the Bicycle.

When Leonard takes a shortcut through the park, he finds an egg and takes it home, where it hatches into a lizard (or so Leonard thinks). Leonard names his new pet Buster and takes him all around the city: on the subway, to the library, to a baseball game, and more.

But Buster keeps growing and growing and Leonard gets the sense that Buster is longing for something Leonard cannot provide.

Before long, Buster becomes too big to keep, and Leonard realizes he needs to set Buster free. So Leonard comes up with an inventive plan, one that involves all the balloons Leonard can find and the annual Thanksgiving parade, in an imaginative plot twist that will spark readers' imaginations and touch their hearts.


"As independent as Max and Ruby, as creative as purple-crayon-wielding Harold, and as dedicated a friend as Charlotte's Wilbur, Leonard will delight kids of all ages, regardless of habitat." (Kirkus Reviews [STARRED REVIEW])

"A sweet and subtle offering that lets readers discover new things about the story on each rereading." (School Library Journal)

“A sweet story of friendship and life’s hidden wonders.” (Booklist)

When a little boy named Leonard finds a lizard egg at the park and brings it home, he gets a huge surprise...the tiny lizard is actually a dinosaur he names Buster! And Buster quickly grows and grows. Leonard soon realizes that Buster needs a much bigger home and with the help of giant Thanksgiving parade balloons, he sets out to set Buster free.

Mark Pett's Lizard From The Park is a super sweet story that will make little readers laugh and engage their imaginations. The story of Leonard an Buster is both very touching and highly amusing. Pett's soft colored illustrations are fun to explore and perfectly capture the enchanting story.

Both little readers and parents will love Lizard From The Park!


All The Lost Things
story and illustrations by Kelly Canby
April 20, 2015
Peter Pauper Press
Olive is not your ordinary girl. And one day when this spunky young lady decides to go for a walk in her grumpy, too-busy city, she finds some extraordinary things. What Olive does with them will delight and inspire. This lively picture book is filled with the author's exuberant collage artwork and playfully hand-lettered words.

Kelly Canby's All The Lost Things is a wonderful explosion of color, whimsy, and charm! A little girl named Olive takes a walk around the city and finds extraordinary lost things when she climbs a ladder down a manhole. Down there, Olive collects jars of memory, sense of humor, eyesight, the way, and hope, then spreads that colorful hope EVERYWHERE.

All The Lost Things is such a bubbly, fun story that little readers will fall in love with. Olive's spectacular journey is told through funny and clever text. Canby combines hand-drawn different fonts, collage style artwork, and splashes of color to create the enthralling and wondrous illustrations.

Readers of all ages will want to read All The Lost Things over and over again!


No Yeti Yet
story and illustrations by Mary Ann Fraser
September 2015
Peter Pauper Press
It's a snowy, blowy wintry day--perfect for a yeti hunt. 
Or so thinks big brother. His younger brother is not convinced. 
Questions abound: Have you ever seen a yeti? Is a yeti strong? 
How fast is a yeti? 
And who exactly is following whom?

Mary Ann Fraser's delightful No Yeti Yet tells the tale of two brothers on the search for a Yeti! When Big Brother wants to find a Yeti, little brother tags along and asks question after question about the elusive Yeti. And, of course, his big brother is happy to share his Yeti wisdom.

No Yeti Yet is a simply endearing and fun story from beginning to end! Little readers will have a blast learning all about the wild Yeti and joining the two lovable brothers on their big adventure. With sparse, yet witty, text, Fraser conveys so much humor and excitement. And Fraser's gorgeous illustrations are full of wintry colors and charming scenes. Readers will love spying the hidden Yeti in each scene.

No Yeti Yet has a wonderful surprise ending that readers will love!


Mina's White Canvas
story and illustrations by Hyeon-Ju Lee
July 29, 2015
Peter Pauper Press
When young artist Mina looks up at the cold winter sky, she is struck with an idea. And as she draws with her crayon, something magical begins. Her canvas expands to the snowy world beyond -- a world in which Mina uses her creativity to help others, forge new friendships, and make memories to warm the heart for seasons to come.

Hyeon-Ju Lee's Mina's White Canvas is a sweet story about a little girl named Mina and her magical crayon. Mina sets out on an adventure in the woods one cold, gloomy day and makes friends with some surprising critters. Using her magic crayon, Mina helps her new friends out of some peculiar predicaments.

Mina's White Canvas is such a heart-warming, tender story full of friendship, imagination, and lovable characters. Little readers will adore endearing Mina and her fun new companions. Lee's soft, lovely illustrations bring her wintry scenes to life so vividly. Mina and her new friends have a super fun day full of surprises.

Mina's White Canvas will be enjoyed by readers of all ages!


Seriously, You Have To Eat
by Adam Mansbach
illustrations by Owen Brozman
October 6, 2015
Akashic Books
On the heels of the New York Times best seller You Have to F**king Eat (a sequel to the worldwide mega-best seller Go the F**k to Sleep), now comes the version that is entirely appropriate to read to--and with--children. While the message and humor will be similar to the adult version, there will, of course, be no profanity whatsoever.

Step aside Green Eggs and Ham, there's a new, 21st-century book in town that will compel all finicky children to eat!

Adam Mansbach made waves with his not-kid-friendly, but hilarious Go The F**ck To Sleep and follows it up with You Have To F**cking Eat...Seriously, You Have To Eat is the very toned down, very kid friendly version of that book. 

Told through sing-song rhymes, Seriously, You Have To Eat is a super fun book that will have readers laughing out loud. Mansbach's quirky, clever humor is unforgettable and absolutely addicting! While Seriously, You Have To Eat is totally kid appropriate, adults will seriously chuckle too. Brozman's bright, silly pictures perfectly capture the story and bring all the animals, foods, and kid characters to life wonderfully.

Both parents and little readers will greatly enjoy this very amusing and entertaining book!


What Is Punk?
by Eric Morse
illustrations by Anny Yi
October 6, 2015
Akashic Books
What Is Punk? is a must-read pop-culture primer for children--an introduction to the punk revolution, recreated in vivid 3-D clay illustrations and told through rhyming couplets.

From London's Clash and Sex Pistols to the Ramones' NYC protopunk, from Iggy Pop to the Misfits, this volume depicts some of our culture's seminal moments and iconic characters. A delightful read for kids and parents alike, illustrated in a truly unique visual style, What Is Punk? lays the groundwork for the next generation of little punks.

"A punk primer for the youngest set....Yi's incredibly detailed clay figures are a kinetic and inspired art choice. Their crazy creativity matches the expressive spirit of punk....As [Morse] points out, the best way to learn about punk it just to listen....If invested adults love the topic, a shared reading experience can't be beat."
-- Kirkus Reviews 

"Think Wallace and Grommet with liberty spikes and anarchy patches...While [Anny Yi's] images of Johnny Rotten and Henry Rollins are cute, they're presented as live action dioramas that are adorable, accurate and engaging."
-- San Diego City Beat 

Eric Morse's What Is Punk? is a totally awesome journey through the world of Punk music! This captivating and informative little book will teach little readers all about the rise of Punk music and introduce them to some of the most famous and important Punk bands.

Morse's clever rhyming couplets will delight little readers and amuse parents. Anny Yi's phenomenal 3D-clay illustrations are pure perfection and bring the stellar Pun world to life. Readers of all ages will have so much fun exploring each wild 3D scene.

Charming, smart, and a lot of fun, What Is Punk? is the perfect read for the music lovers in your life!