Monday, December 21, 2015

In the Spotlight: Mimi's Adventures in Baking, by Alyssa Gangeri





SYNOPSIS

Embark on a baking adventure with Mimi where she will measure, mix, and bake her way to the perfect batch of gingerbread men. If Mimi can do it, so can you!

Mimi's Adventures in Baking Gingerbread Men is the third book in the Mimis Adventures in Baking series.









PURCHASE



THE AUTHOR

Picture
Alyssa’s Website / Twitter / Facebook

Chef Alyssa has been baking since she was a little girl in her grandmother's kitchen. Since graduating from the Culinary Institute of America she has worked for famous chefs and elite companies such as the Ritz Carlton, Tom Colicchio, Norman Van Aken and Gray Kunz. She currently is the Executive Chef at Riverwalk Bar and Grill on the Historic nook of New York City, Roosevelt Island. She also has a boutique custom cake company called AllyCakesNYC where she creates cakes to appease the imagination. Through her journey of baking she developed Mimi, her very own miniature version of herself.
  
As a child she loved baking and everything that came with it. As an adult and food lover she realized there was something missing when she frequented bookstores. A interactive children's cookbook. And we are not talking about a boring old cookbook for kids with lots and lots of recipes, and some pictures. Children these days have just as much interest in the kitchen as there parents do, but the ordinary cookbook is just not going to cut it. She created Mimi's Adventures in Baking  to give children and adults a way to get into the kitchen and allow the child to become the chef and the adult the assistant. With each book has one recipe and an interactive storyline the child can read, and at the end go into the kitchen and do what Mimi did!  And for the "non-baking" parent, these elite pastry chef recipes are tested and ready for even the most inexperienced baker! Impress other moms with Mimi's creations!
    
Mimi's Adventures in Baking 
will also teach children how to measure, mix and bake their way through the kitchen while also giving safety tips along the way. No more boring cookbooks! Now there is a fun, exciting and educational way to learn how to bake!

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Review: 'Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters' by Donna McDine


Title: Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters
Genre: children’s
Author: Donna McDine
Websitewww.donnamcdine.com 
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Purchase linkwww.donnamcdine.com and Guardian Angel Publishing and Amazon 

About the Book: The anxiety of finding one’s own place and friends in kindergarten without the comfort of having her fraternal twin sister nearby at first overwhelms Dee until she realizes even without her fraternal twin sister, Dee and her classmates for the most part are in the same boat.

My thoughts:

This is a super cute picture book about two twin sisters, Dee and Deb, who go to kindergarden for the very first time. The story focuses on Dee. She's anxious about being separated from Deb, as they go on their separate classrooms. However, Dee soon finds out that mostly all of the other kids in her class have the same worries she has, and she ends up making a very good friend, soon realizing that she can have other friends besides her twin sister Deb. The little girls are adorable. This is a very simple story written for ages 3-6. If you have twins in your family who are soon attending school, this is the perfect book to read to them and discuss first day jitters and separating issues. Recommended!


About the Author:



About the Author: Multi award-winning children’s author, Donna McDine’s creative side laid dormant for many years until her desire to write sparked in 2007. Her latest release Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters joins the four early reader children’s picture books, A Sandy Grave(January 2014), Powder Monkey (May 2013), Hockey Agony (January 2013) and The Golden Pathway (August 2010) all with Guardian Angel Publishing. Join McDine as her adventures continue as she ignites the curiosity of children through reading. She writes and moms from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI.

Connect with Donna on the Web!
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Friday, December 4, 2015

Review: A Christmas Kindness, by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Eight-year-old Robert is eager to share his wish list with Santa at the mall on Christmas Eve. When he meets Glenn, who has only one request for Santa, Robert is confused over what he should do. Can he cast aside what he wants and ask Santa to bring his new friend a special gift?

Excerpt:
Inside the mall, Christmas music and the tinkling of jingle bells tickled Robert’s ears. With his mother, Robert weaved through the crowd of shoppers. He smelled fried food from Burger Mart. The sweet scent of warm chocolate chip cookies from the bakery made his mouth water.

My review:

This sweet, heartwarming story was a delight to read. It is the perfect book to read by the fire with your kids during the holidays.

A Christmas Kindness is the story of a little boy who learns the true meaning of Christmas by doing a selfless act for another child who is less fortunate than him. Even though it is a short book, I found myself drawn into the world of the characters and feeling their emotions. The language flows beautifully and the illustrations have a soft, sweet quality to them that nicely complement the tale.
Recommended!

Purchase information:

About the author:
Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a children’s author from Western Massachusetts. A Christmas Kindness is her first book with 4RV Publishing. She is also a member of the SCBWI. Ms. Gevry is married with two young children and a son who is married. 


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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Review of Little Shepherd, by Cheryl G. Malandrinos


I love reviewing Christmas children's books during this time of year, and it is my great pleasure to showcase Little Shepherd on my blog today.

My review

On a cold night outside of Bethlehem, a little shepherd named Obed watches over his sheep. Now five, Obed has his own flock to guard. He's proud that his father has entrusted him with such responsibility. After all, his family depends on the sheep for food and clothing. But little Obed is also worried about the wolves and so he keeps a sharp eye on his flock.

Then one night, a bright light shimmers in the star-filled night. Angels come with a message, a message of good things to come for everyone on earth.

“Do not be afraid,” the angel said, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Obed's father decides they must go to Bethlehem to find this newborn babe. Obed, however, is terrified. How can they even consider leaving the flock alone at the mercy of the starving wolves? His father tells him not to be afraid, but Obed is doubtful. Will his flock be safe in his absence? That will require a miracle!

The Little Shepherd is a 'cozy' picture book to read by the fire with the family this holiday season, especially on Christmas night. The author's prose flows beautifully, with just the right balance of narration, description and dialogue. It is a sweet tale about the power of faith and the good things that come with it. The story has a quiet, magical, slightly suspenseful tone and looks at the birth of Jesus from a different angle. I also enjoyed the colorful illustrations by Eugene E. Ruble. They do have a distinctive style and add a splash of color on the pages and help transport the reader to a different time and place. In short, Little Shepherd will make a lovely gift to any child this Christmas. It will also be a worthy addition to any library or classroom shelf. I look forward to this talented author's next book.


Little Shepherd is available from:
Barnes and Noble
Guardian Angel Publishing
Indiebound.org


About the author

Little Shepherd is Cheryl Malandrino’s first children’s book. In addition to being an author, she's also a publicist, freelance writer, founding member of Musing Our Children, Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, and book reviewer. She lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters.

Connect with the author via Twitter and Facebook.

About the illustrator

Eugene E. Ruble’s 40 years of art encompasses: graphic art and design, freelance illustration, and cartooning, working with publishers, corporations and individual clients. Ruble teaches caricature art, cartooning, painting and basic drawing classes at St. Louis community centers, public schools, YMCAs and colleges. He also illustrates children’s books. Look for his books at Guardian Angel Publishing. Eugene is a 30-year Distinguished Member of the St. Louis Artists’ Guild.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

On the Spotlight: 'Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters' by Donna McDine




Donna McDine's latest children's picture book is a charming, fun tale about first day jitters. Be sure to check it out for the kids in your family who will be going to school soon!

Title: Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters
Genre: children’s
Author: Donna McDine
Websitewww.donnamcdine.com 
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Purchase linkwww.donnamcdine.com and Guardian Angel Publishing and Amazon 



About the Book: The anxiety of finding one’s own place and friends in kindergarten without the comfort of having her fraternal twin sister nearby at first overwhelms Dee until she realizes even without her fraternal twin sister, Dee and her classmates for the most part are in the same boat.


About the Author: Multi award-winning children’s author, Donna McDine’s creative side laid dormant for many years until her desire to write sparked in 2007. Her latest release Dee and Deb Off They Go Kindergarten First Day Jitters joins the four early reader children’s picture books, A Sandy Grave(January 2014), Powder Monkey (May 2013), Hockey Agony (January 2013) and The Golden Pathway (August 2010) all with Guardian Angel Publishing. Join McDine as her adventures continue as she ignites the curiosity of children through reading. She writes and moms from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI.

Connect with Donna on the Web!


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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Interview with Jen K. Blom, author of 'New Pony Day!'


Jen K Blom is an international award-winning author living in Berlin, Germany with her daughter, husband and hairless cat Yoda. Visit www.pony101.de to get all sorts of great updates and activity sheets featuring Josie, Floki and Pasta!

Her latest book is the children’s picture book, New Pony Day!

For More Information
Welcome to Mayra's Secret Bookcase, Jen! Did you always want to be a writer?

Always did! Wrote my first poem at 5, and carried on from there. Took a long time to get to this point but definitely, definitely worth it!

Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

My recent release is NEW PONY DAY, a picture book about a little girl and her quest to find the perfect pony – who was there all along * spoiler!

My daughter is the inspiration for this series.

The process began over two years ago with a glimmer of an idea for my daughter (who was then 3). She adores horses, but had problems understanding certain things about them. Josie (then Heba) and her pony Floki (then Nosy) popped in my head, but it took a visit to the Sharjah Children’s Book Festival as a featured author to make me realize: I could make this book myself. Now, for her. While she was young. And so it happened!

It took awhile to decide on the format, whether I would submit to trad pubs or not, but in the end I had a shiny new book. It was definitely one of the more satisfying experiences of my life – and not only because I recently read her the final version with pics and she loved it.


Tell us about your children's books.

The PONY101 series is my first picture book series, and is targeted towards horse-crazy kids that also want to learn great facts about horses. It fills a great gaping hole in the marketplace, as well: there is no real series about a horse and a kid out there – especially not one that covers the theatrical (ALIEN VS PONY) as well as the more mundane (IT’S GROOMING DAY – coming soon).

I am a hybrid author, which means I have been published traditionally (POSSUM SUMMER and OUT OF THE WILD, with an agent for my middle grade books) as well as indie for the picture books. So far, I’m really enjoying my indie experience.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

I do! www.pony101.de is a combined blog/website with lots of interesting facts, a blog, and activity sheets. I’m working on a special site there just for kids that read the books, but that might take a bit to finish. J

What are you working on now?

I am presently working on the second book’s illustrations in the series, ALIEN VS PONY. We had a vote to see which would come first (I was all for the grooming one, but was overruled. Because aliens!)

/////////////////////////////


 About the Book:

Title: New Pony Day!
Author: Jen K. Blom
Publisher: Jen K. Blom
Pages: 28
Genre: Children’s Picture Book


Today’s the day Josie gets her new pony – if she can find him, that is! Her cat Pasta’s along for the ride, too, but there’s no telling if he’ll help or not – he’s a cat!

For More Information

Book Excerpt:

My name is Josie and I'm happy as I can be. 


My kitty Pasta and I have a job just our size, you see. 


Today’s the day I choose my pony.

All mine. Only for me me ME!

I’ll know him when I see him! 

I KNOW I will. Only…
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

On the Spotlight: 'The Secret Lives of Animals,' by Stacy Tornio

The Secret Lives of Animals



SYNOPSIS

The Secret Lives of Animals is the perfect mix of field guide know-how and armchair entertainment. In addition to the standard field guide notes and range maps, the meat of the book will offer up “spark moments” in nature—something fascinating or memorable that catches your attention and sets you on a path of lifelong learning. The Secret Lives of Animals will feature more than 100 North American animals and over 1,000 tidbits in a fun, colorful, illustrated format.











PURCHASE



GIVEAWAY


WIN A FREE BOOK AND A PAIR OF KEEN SHOES




ABOUT THE AUTHORS


Website  /  Facebook  /  Twitter  /  Pinterest  /  YouTube

Stacy Tornio is an Oklahoma girl at heart, though she’s lived in Wisconsin for the last 10 years. As editor of Birds & Blooms Magazine, Stacy is able to share her love of backyard nature. Her first book, Cathy’s Animal Garden, takes readers on a picture journey into the neighbor’s scary backyard in search of a homerun baseball. Project Garden, her recent book, is a monthly guide filled with activities to keep the whole family gardening all year long. Along with her husband, Steve, Stacy enjoys watching her two children explore nature in their Milwaukee backyard and on trips up north.

Ken Keffer was born and raised in Wyoming.  A vagabond naturalist, he’s done a little bit of everything, from monitoring mice and vole populations and picking up carnivore scat in Grand Teton National Park to researching flying squirrels in the Tongass National Forest of southeast Alaska, and monitoring Bactrian camels in Mongolia’s Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area. He’s also worked as an environmental educator in Wyoming, northern New Mexico, coastal Maryland, and along the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio. Ken enjoys birding, floating on lazy rivers, and fly fishing in the mountains out west.



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Friday, September 18, 2015

Interview with Christopher Nuttall, YA Fantasy Author of ‘Trial By Fire’


nuttall_pix_med (1)Christopher Nuttall was born in Edinburgh, studied in Manchester, married in Malaysia and currently living in Scotland, United Kingdom, with his wife and baby son. He is the author of 20 novels from various publishers and thirty-nine self-published novels. More than 100,000 ebooks in the Schooled in Magic series have sold since March 2014.
Sample Chapter HERE.
Purchase on Amazon / OmniLit
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Trial By Fire, Book 7 in your Schooled in Magic series. When did you start writing and what got you into fantasy? 
Well, I started writing seriously around 2004-2005 and … well, I write the sort of books I like to read. I began with a military thriller, then went through alternate history and alien invasion before starting to experiment with fantasy. Frankly, I’m still fond of all four genres, although military science-fiction is probably my favorite. 
What is your book about? 
Oh, a hard question.
The Schooled in Magic series follows the adventures of Emily, a teenage girl from our world who is accidentally kidnapped by a necromancer and swept into an alternate world where magic is real, dragons fly through the sky and young magicians are sent to boarding schools to learn magic. But it’s also a series about the introduction of new ideas into a static society and just what happens when those ideas are developed, then start to mutate.
Trial By Fire follows Emily as the repercussions of her actions in earlier books finally come back to haunt her, putting her at the center of a deadly plot that will force her to fight for her life – or die at the hands of a relentless enemy.
What type of challenges did you face while writing this book? 
Making it convincing, alas.
Ok, that sounds absurd; fantasy is not, by definition, convincing. A world where someone can be turned into a toad with a snap of a witch’s fingers isn’t our world. However, it does have to follow its own logic – and, if that logic is violated, people tend to protest. (They also protest if humans don’t act like humans, although creatures like Elves get a free pass – they’re not human.)
TrialByFire_med1One very notable example comes from Harry Potter (I use this because most of my readers will probably be familiar with the series.) In Goblet of Fire, Harry is forced to compete in a deadly contest that could easily leave him dead … apparently because having his name put in the titular Goblet creates a magically-binding contract that enforces participation. But we know Harrydidn’t put his name in the Goblet … which raises questions about how the contract was binding in the first place. (And why, if you can create a contract binding someone, they don’t use it on the Dark Lord.)
(Personally, I tend to think that Dumbledore was the one under contract; he’d sworn to make sure anyone whose name came out of the Goblet had to compete, which would have included Harry as well as the other guy. And it would be perfectly in character for Dumbledore to keep mum about this and push Harry forward.)
In Trial By Fire, I worked hard to put together a trap for Emily that wouldn’thave a thinking fan banging his head off the wall. I hope I succeeded. 
What do you hope readers will get from your book? 
Well, I hope they will have an enjoyable story.
Let’s be honest here. I’m not trying to write something that will echo down the ages, something with the staying power of the Foundation series. I’m writing so my readers will have fun reading the books. If they learn something about the importance of technology, the spread of ideas and just what can happen when whole new approaches are explored … well, that’s a bonus. 
Did your book require a lot of research? 
The series absorbed a great deal of research . I actually spent years reading about the Middle Ages, just to flavor my work. The Allied Lands themselves have a great deal in common with Europe, particularly in the Reformation era. I studied how those societies worked, what drove them, how their people thought and what weakened them in the face of stronger enemies.
Of course, there are differences – the presence of functional magic, for a start. 
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this? 
Sometimes. Oddly, I feel it while crafting the next installment in a successful series.
Trial By Fire was originally intended to serve as the end of the first arc of novels set within the Schooled in Magicuniverse. I knew it had to be spectacular, the moment when Emily steps up and takes firm control of her life, and so I was nervous about actually having her do it. I hope it lives up to its purpose. 
Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined? 
Very disciplined. Truthfully, you don’t get anywhere in writing unless you’re disciplined.
I get up, eat breakfast and drink coffee, then get to work. I set myself a goal of three chapters a day, except for the first day; that generally takes around five hours. Then there’s the task of checking the beta reader comments and editing the manuscript. Between drafts, I generally try to move to something different or edit completed manuscripts. 
How do you define success? 
Success comes in the form of people buying my books and writing good (and thoughtful reviews). I know; I probably won’t win any major awards. (I did win the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards for Bookworm.) However, I’m happy with being paid and being told I did a good job. 
What do you love most about the writer’s life? 
I get to work from home, set my own hours and generally be my own boss. And then there’s the fact I get to meet fans, even if I am a little shy. 
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work? 
I have a website, a blog, a mailing list and a Facebook fan page.
The website contains free samples – I try to give away at least a couple of chapters, sometimes as many as ten – and a number of older books that are completely free. They’re really ones I wrote during my first period as a writer; not good enough to be published, perhaps, but people liked them. A couple have even been rewritten for later publication.
The blog and Facebook page cover everything from my musings to fan comments and suchlike, allowing a degree of fan participation. All are welcome. The mailing list, however, is only for new releases – I believe in trying to avoid spamming people where possible.
Where is your book available?
The ebook version of Trial By Fire is available for purchase from Amazon Kindle, Apple iBookstore, BN Nook, Kobo Books, OmniLit, etc.
The print version of Trial By Fire will be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble Bookstores, Brodart, Coutts, Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Emery-Pratt, Follett, Ingram, The Book Despository, The Book House, etc.
Purchase links will be available on the chapter excerpt page:
What is your advice for aspiring authors? 
I think I’ve said this before, time and time again, but the best advice I can give is work hard, work hard and work hard. Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% hard work. It is very rare to get a first novel published, unless you have VERY strong connections with the publishing industry or a name you can exploit (and those books tend to be terrible). Eric Flint said you really need to write at least a million words before you have something worth reading and I tend to think he was right.
Once you have a manuscript, get a few readers to look at it and give you honest feedback. If they said “this sucks, because [insert reason here]” listen to them. They may be wrong, which is possible, or you may have failed to explain something properly. Either way, they should make you think about it … which is better than having a review that boils down to “this author is an idiot.”
And grow a thick skin. You’ll need it. 
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers? 
I offer cameos for anyone who reads a book and reports an error to me. All (again) welcome.
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