Strong Like the Sea Review

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Publication Date: 5/25/21 
Hardcover ISBN: 9781629729022 
Retail Price: $16.99 
Page Count: 304 
Juvenile Fiction 
Cover Illustration: Mercé Lòpez 

Synopsis - Even though twelve-year-old Alexis was born in Hawaii, she won't surf or swim with her friends-not since the ocean and its hidden creatures swept her out to sea. Instead, she grabs her best detective hat and decodes her mom's latest challenge.

Alex's mom works in counterintelligence and leaves codes, ciphers, and puzzles behind for Alex to solve, always with a "treasure" at the end. It's a brilliant game between them, and Alex loves figuring out her moms puzzles-especially the tricky ones-but when an emergency at sea puts her mom in possible danger, solving the next one suddenly feels far more urgent.

Friends help as Alex races to decipher each clue before time runs out, but when the trail leads to grumpy old Uncle, his enormous dog Sarge, and a sea turtle unlike any other, the challenge changes into something bigger than any before. With storms on the horizon and lives on the line, Alex must face her fears to solve Mom's challenge and save those she loves. With her ohana to help, she must be strong like the sea.

About the Author - Wendy S. Swore and her family are farmers. She writes part-time, particularly in winter when her farming chores give her time to plant seeds in her imagination. Her debut novel, A Monster Like Me, was the 2019 Gold Winner for Juvenile Fiction from Foreword Reviews. She is a member of SCBWI.

Wendy S. Swore is the author of A Monster Like Me, nominee of the Arizona Grand Canyon Reader Award, the Oklahoma Sequoyah Award and winner of the Foreword Reviews Indie Gold Award for Juvenile Fiction.

The author is running a giveaway this week on Instagram. Check it out here.

Review - Strong Like the Sea shares a story that most kids can relate to...trying to overcome fears, learning to reach out to others, and dealing with stressful circumstances that you don't have control over. Alexis learns to grow strong through her trials. The lesson of being "strong like the sea" is a lesson that readers can apply to their own lives and take with them in their own trials and circumstances. I liked that this story has a moral and teaches lessons that kids can utilize. The story also goes above and beyond and shares a little bit in the history of ciphers during WWII, Hawaiian culture and history, and a little bit of oceanography. Strong Like the Sea's characters are likable, engaging and interesting. The story moves quickly. Kids will enjoy reading this story and it would be a fun read for the summer. This book is wholesome and clean. It would also be good for classroom use. There are many discussion points throughout the book that range from feelings to science.

Learn more about Strong Like the Sea here.

Please note that I received a free copy of the book to review, however, I shared my honest opinion. This post is in cooperation with Shadow Mountain Publishing. This post also contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Bizzy Bzzz the Bee and Grandpa's Tee Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview and Giveaway

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Bizzy Bzzz the Bee and Grandpa’s Tea 
Written by Travis Peagler Illustrated by Blueberry Illustrations 
Ages 4-8 | 32 Pages 
Publisher: Script Novel Publishing | ISBN-13: 978-1732563551 

Publisher’s Synopsis: Every morning at seven o’ three, I wake up just in time to watch Grandpa play with Bizzy Bzzz the Bee. Bizzy Bzzz the Bee and Grandpa’s Tea is reading made fun. Told through the eyes of a child, this is an entertaining story about a boy who gets a good laugh watching Grandpa’s encounter with a bee every morning while trying to enjoy his cup of tea. Teetering on the edge of frustration, Grandpa has a heightened escalation with Bizzy. The boy comes up with a quick solution that allows Grandpa to enjoy his morning tea and lets Bizzy stay. It’s safe to say, the Grandson saved the day. This story has playful rhyme, problem solving, and is sure to put a smile on faces of children every time. Bizzy Bzzz zips around Grandpa’s head three times and makes him dizzy. It’s funny when his eyes cross. He looks so silly. 

Available for purchase here or here.

Travis Peagler is an unique individual, being the youngest of seven kids, raised partially in low-income apartments on the East side of Dayton, Ohio, until the age of nine. Humble beginnings growing up in a somewhat multi-racial neighborhood gave Travis an inimitable perspective on life at an incredibly young age. His imagination has always been his outlet. Thinking back to grade-school when he was in an uncomfortable situation or when he didn’t handle conflict well, Travis would always replay the scene again in his mind where things played out the way he wished. An innate defense mechanism, he assumes, which led to the discovery of his extraordinary talent. Be sure to leave Travis a book review. 
You also can keep up with Travis for future promotions, giveaways, and etc., at the following: | Facebook @TravisWriterPeagler | Instagram @TravisWriterPeagler 

Life is What It's Called - What inspired you to write Bizzy Bzzz the Bee and Grandpa's Tea

Travis Peagler - My daughter Trinity was my inspiration. I've written a few young adult novels that she couldn't read, so she challenged my imagination and pen. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think kids will gain from this story? 

Travis Peagler - I hope that they learn how to compromise, solve problems and ask questions about God and prayer.

Life Is What It's Called - How could you see this story used at home, school, or in a library setting? 

Travis Peagler -  Bizzy Bzzz would make a great bedtime story, afternoon reading session with parents or grandparents, and snack time at school where kids can pretend to drink tea with Grandpa and Bizzy. 

Life Is What It's Called - What are your next writing projects?

Travis Peagler -  I just finished my second children's book titled "I See God in Everything." It's an adventurous tale of how a young girl sees God in the big world around her. 

Life Is What It's Called - How has your background helped you in writing this story? 

Travis Peagler -  Being the youngest of seven siblings, I learned a lot by observing all of them, the good and the bad. Also, I credit the little kid inside of me that made writing this story so much fun. 

Life Is What It's Called - What's your favorite cup of tea? 

Travis Peagler -  I laughed when I read this question for obvious reasons. Green tea and honey is my favorite cup of tea. 

Life Is What It's Called - Which character in the story are you most like? 

Travis Peagler -  This may sound a bit odd, but I'll have to say I resemble Bizzy Bzzz. I can be a bit pesky when I want something and when I'm trying to accomplish a goal, if one door closes, I'll find another. 

Life Is What It's Called - Why did you decide to write this book from the boy's perspective? 

Travis Peagler - Good question. I'm not sure. Sometimes characters take on a life of their own. 

Life Is What It's Called - What are some activities that parents/teachers could do that coincide with this story? 

Travis Peagler -  Any problem-solving activities that teach compromise. For instance, I just bought a puppy for my two kids and almost immediately, they started fussing over who would get to sleep with the puppy first. So, the first night, they both got to sleep with Ruffie and then after, we made a schedule.

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Bizzy Bzzz the Bee and Grandpa’s Tea and a $100 Visa gift card! 
 One (1) grand prize winner receives: 
  •  A copy of Bizzy Bzzz the Bee and Grandpa’s Tea 
  •  A $100 Visa gift card 
 Six (6) winners receive: A copy of Bizzy Bzzz the Bee and Grandpa’s Tea 

The giveaway begins May 24, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends June 24, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This blog post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Script Novel Publishing LLC.

The Immortals Book Spotlight and Special Event

Monday, May 24, 2021

During World War II, on January 29, 1943, the SS Dorchester and a small convoy sailed the perilous route from Newfoundland to the Army Command Base in Greenland. Four chaplains were assigned to the Dorchester with more than 900 men on board. Alexander Goode, a Jewish rabbi; John Washington, a Catholic priest; George Fox, a Methodist minister; and Clark Poling, a Baptist minister, all offered comfort, reassurances, and prayers with a warning from the captain that a German submarine was hunting their convoy. The Nazi U-boat captain, Karl-Jurg Wachter, had been stalking the Americans for days. When the weather finally gave him an opening, Wachter was in a position to strike.

Just past midnight, on February 3, just hours from their destination, the Dorchester was torpedoed and sank, throwing its passengers into the frigid waters and creating the worst single loss of an American personnel convoy during WWII. Many of the survivors credit the four chaplains with saving their lives. Those chaplains would become known as "The Immortal Chaplains" for their heroism in making the ultimate sacrifice. With no thought of themselves, they calmly helped men to safety through the chaos of their badly damaged ship, searched for spare life jackets for those without--eventually giving away their own life jackets and encouraging men in the freezing waters.

The celebrated story of the Immortal Chaplains is now joined for the first time in print by the largely untold story of another hero of the sinking of the Dorchester: Charles Walter David, Jr. was a young Black petty officer aboard a Coast Guard cutter traveling with the convoy who bravely dived into the glacial water over and over again, even with hypothermia setting in, to try to rescue the men the chaplains had first helped and inspired to never give up. Through his efforts, he joins the Chaplains as one of "The Immortals".

Thoroughly researched and told in an engrossing non-fiction narrative, the book alternates between accounts told from the perspective of the Nazi U-boat captain and his crew (as found in their journals and later interviews), and the hunted--the men of the American convoy. Using his expertise as a law professor specializing in religious freedom and constitutional law, the author, Steven T. Collis, also paints a thought-provoking portrait of religious life in America during wartime and how American views of faith affected the chaplains and the men they served.

Page-turning and inspiring, The Immortals explores the power of faith and religious conviction and powerfully narrates the lives of five heroic men who believed in something greater than themselves, living lives of service and sacrifice for their country and their fellow man.

Learn more about The Immortals here.


About the Author: Steven T. Collis is a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, founding faculty director of the school’s law and religion clinic, and founding faculty director of Texas's Bech-Loughlin First Amendment Center. He received an MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. He is also the author of Deep Conviction: True Stories of Ordinary Americans Fighting for the Freedom to Live Their Beliefs. He and his wife are parents to five children.

Virtual Book Launch Details: Join Steven T. Collis, author of THE IMMORTALS, and Bill Kaemmer, Exec. Dir. of the Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation, as well as descendants from The Dorchester, for a special event. Everyone who signs up will receive a free bookplate signed by Steven T. Collis, and there will be giveaways during the launch party. 

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that help support the maintenance of this blog.

Six Thousand Donuts Virtual Book Tour, Review and Giveaway

Friday, May 21, 2021

Six Thousand Doughnuts 
Written by Thomas Tosi 
Illustrated by Meaghan Tosi 
Ages 8-12 | 284 Pages 
Publisher: Dooney Press | ISBN-13 : 978-1954782013 

Publisher’s Synopsis: Why would anyone need six thousand doughnuts? Big family…little house… Fifth-grader Abe Mitchell is fed up with sharing. All he wants is something to call his own. And he just might get it when he finds a loophole in the fine print of a doughnut shop coupon. Abe thinks it entitles him to a fresh-baked mountain of crullers, dunkers, and chocolate-frosteds. But cashing in means war with Marlene Paczki, the daughter of the doughnut shop owner and Abe’s new crush. 

Available to purchase here or here.     

Thomas Tosi is a writer/filmmaker who, together with his wife, Heidi, has produced an award-winning children’s website, educational multimedia games, and dramatic films which have aired on national television, PBS affiliate stations, and screened in numerous film festivals. He was born and raised in New Hampshire, where he and Heidi still reside. He takes pride in the fact that they now live in a solar-powered home where they grow and can organic vegetables. For more information visit 

Meaghan Tosi, after being born on April Fools’ Day in New Hampshire, has collected a BFA from Laguna College of Art and Design. She illustrated this book and the graphic novel Squashed alongside author Thomas Tosi. She has also self-published DWEEDY: The Imagined Adventures of My Deceased Cat. She now lives in Portland, Oregon, for the art, coffee shops, vegan food, and the constantly lingering smell of rain.

As soon as I read the description of this book, I really wanted to review it and it didn't disappoint. The book was interesting, humorous and age-appropriate. I felt like this book really hit the mark. The author does a great job with the pace of the story. There was never a dull moment and the story was easy-to-read. The scenes ranged from crazy antics, drama, and heart-warming "turning points". The scenes really stood out to me in this book. The author does a good job at describing and creating scenes that stand out. It's funny, a little bit ridiculous, and yet, there's a lesson woven in about relationships with others, consequences, and sharing. This book has everything and it's a kid-friendly chapter book. Boys and girls would both enjoy this fun book. The author does a good job with developing fun characters and side-characters. The characters were unique and easily to visualize and imagine. The illustrations were attractive and fun. This book would be a fun summer read for kids, and it would also be a fun book to read out loud to kids. I would like to see more of these characters in another book. I recommend checking out this book for your kids!

Enter for a chance to win a hardcover Six Thousand Doughnuts prize pack! 

One (1) grand prize winner receives: 
  •  A hardcover copy of Six Thousand Doughnuts, autographed by Thomas Tosi 
  •  A high-quality ceramic Six Thousand Doughnuts diner mug featuring the Sweetly Crisp doughnuts logo.
Three (3) grand winners receive: 
  •  A hardcover copy of Six Thousand Doughnuts, autographed by Thomas Tosi 
 The giveaway begins May 19, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends June 19, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT. 

This post is in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Dooney Press. I received a free copy to review, however, this is my honest opinion.

May Giveaways (low to moderate entry)

Tuesday, May 11, 2021


I like entering low to moderate entry giveaways and I share each month some of the blog or social media giveaways I've entered, thought someone else might be interested in entering or that have been submitted to me through bloggers. Check back often throughout the month to see if I have posted more giveaways. If you are hosting a family-friendly giveaway on your blog and would like to see it listed here, please contact me (via email). If you have a won a giveaway that I posted, please leave a comment and share that you won.

A Proper Scoundrel Blog Tour, Author Interview, Review and Giveaway

Tuesday, May 11, 2021


His scandals were right on track until she derailed everything.

As the successful owner of multiple railroad lines, Diana Barton is all too accustomed to fending off suitors seeking to stake their claim on her wealth. In order to keep the wolves at bay, Diana has contrived the perfect plan: appeal to the most notorious rake in London, the Baron Lord Bryant, to ruin her reputation and scare off the worst of the time wasters. The ruse will be no hardship—she’s secretly been fascinated by the man for years.

Lord Bryant is well aware of his questionable reputation. Indeed, he has cultivated the image carefully, and the last thing he wants is a wife. When he’s approached by the younger sister of a business associate, he tells her in no uncertain terms that he cannot help. However, when he sees for himself what she is up against, Bryant grudgingly offers his assistance. Faced with his most complicated entanglement yet, Bryant is firm in his conditions—and Diana knows that to get romantically involved with Bryant would spell certain heartbreak. But as the counterfeit couple grows ever closer, the line between truth and lies becomes blurred, threatening both Lord Bryant’s well-laid plans and the future of Diana’s railroad business.

Author Bio

Esther Hatch grew up on a cherry orchard in rural Utah. After high school, she alternated living in Russia to teach children English and attending Brigham Young University in order to get a degree in archaeology. She began writing when one of her favorite authors invited her to join a critique group. The only catch was she had to be a writer. Not one to be left out of an opportunity to socialize and try something new; she started on her first novel that week.

Author Interview
Life Is What It's Called - If you could meet any character from A Proper Scandal series, who would it be and why (only one)? 

Esther Hatch - I would choose Lord Bryant. He has fascinated me since I first realized exactly what kind of man he was going to be in A Proper Scandal. But more important than meeting him, I would just like to give him a hug and tell him everything is going to be okay. But I wouldn’t use the word “okay,” obviously… 

Life Is What It's Called - What are your next writing projects?

Esther Hatch - I’m currently working on a novella, and after that I am very anxious to start on my next book for my publisher Covenant. There will be one more novel in the Proper Scandals series, but that may or may not be my next novel with them. Nicholas' story has been percolating, but I’m not quite sure it is ready to make it out onto the page. When I finish that novel I can’t wait to start on my next book in my new series A Romance of Rank. I wish I could write faster! 

Life Is What It's Called - How is A Proper Scoundrel different from the other books in this series? How is it the same? 

Esther Hatch - I think this one is different in that--even more than my others in the series--it is character driven. I love Lord Bryant and Diana Barton so much and they both get a chance to shine and show us who they really are in this book. But this book definitely has some of the trademark elements of the series still. Some scandalous behavior for the time (although we always keep it proper!) Hopefully, even though this book deals with some serious problems, it will also make you laugh, and of course I think I managed to get a few good kisses in. That is always important. One kiss scene took me two weeks to edit (not write, EDIT) just so I could get it right, so hopefully that worked. 

Life Is What It's Called - Why is writing important to you? 

Esther Hatch - I don’t know. It snuck up on me slowly until one day I had a strong impression that this is what I am supposed to do. I was tricked into it to start, but now I can’t imagine life without it. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you hope readers will learn from A Proper Scoundrel? 

Esther Hatch - To never give up on hope. I want them to know that no matter what disappointments you have faced in the past, there is always a chance for happy moments again. 

Life Is What It's Called - Why do you think humor should be included in fiction?

Esther Hatch - I think it should be included for those who are looking for it. I love to read books that make me laugh, it might be my highest standard of a book. So I take my humor very seriously, but it probably isn’t for everyone and I am perfectly fine with that. If you want a book that will make you cry you might need to look somewhere else. (Although, I’m pretty sure I’ve made a few people cry too.) Humor and heartfelt desires pair well together, and I hope both are always present in my stories. 

Life Is What It's Called - Who/What influences your writing?

Esther Hatch - The whole Regency genre has a huge influence on my writing even though most of what I write is set in the Victorian era. I grew up reading Jane Austen, and falling in love with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. As an adult my absolute favorite book became North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, so with Jane Eyre and Gaskell, I think I naturally made the switch to Victorian pretty quickly. My books have too much humor in them to really represent the literature of that time period though. I am no Charles Dickens, Gaskell or Bronte. So they are a bit of a mashup of the fun of a modern Regency (think Eden and Donaldson) with the technological and social advancements of the early Victorian era. 

Life Is What It's Called - What have you learned about Victorian England from writing this series? 

Esther Hatch - The Victorian era is huge and I delve mostly into the early part of it. I’ve learned a lot about the railroad boom. There is a historical crash coming for my characters that are still involved in the railroad business, and I have debated whether or not to address that. Another huge aspect of the time period was the Corn Laws which were tariffs and trade restrictions on imported food. These laws helped protect the wealthy landowners, but made food expensive and abolishing the laws took years to overcome. As someone who often writes about wealthy landowners, the Corn laws make for some very compelling storylines. 

Thank you for having me today. I'm am so excited to have Lord Bryant's story finally told. It has been a long time coming and I can't wait for my readers to get to know the real him. 

I enjoyed reading A Proper Scoundrel. It's a fun, light-hearted, comedic romance that was a little bit scandalous albeit still "proper" for modern audiences. Lord Bryant and Diana's characters were well-written and the dialogue between the two was engaging, conversational and humorous. Lord Bryant's appeared in the other books in this series and I think this book does a good job at explaining his sometimes "conflicting" dual-character ricocheting between thoughtfulness and scoundrel. I liked the humor in the book. The humor in the writing really sets this book apart from the others in this genre. Everything about this book was cleverly written. The story moved along well, and I felt like it was a quick, fun read. This would be a fun book to read during the summer or anytime really. I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series and working your way through all the books. You could read it as a stand alone, but you would miss all of the background information that was introduced in the other books of this series, A Proper Scandal and A Proper Charade. Overall, I recommend reading this fun, humorous Victorian romance. Click here to learn more about A Proper Scoundrel.

Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion. The giveaway is run by the publisher. This post contains affiliate links that help support the maintenance of this blog.

Pink Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway

Friday, May 7, 2021


Written by Kyle Little 
Illustrated by Andrés Cornejo
Ages 4-12 | 22 Pages 
Publisher: Mascot Books | ISBN-13: 978-1645435181 

Publisher’s Synopsis: Pink is the story of Arossa, a baby flamingo, and how she saved the birds and their beloved pink feathers. She’ll teach everyone how being different can be a wonderful thing! Every year, flamingos flock by the millions to the heart of Africa to feed on the algae in the fiery-red Lake Natron. The lake becomes the perfect place for the beautiful birds to hatch and raise their newborn babies, absorbing the crimson color from the water and turning their wings from grey to pink. When the river stops flowing to the lake, what will happen to the flamingos? Who will save their beautiful coats of pink? Will the flamingos ever dance again? 


Shine and wonder, coats of pink, 
Pink is best; we need not think, 
For every creature, everywhere, 
Wishes they were pink! 
Pink is great, but it s not better 
It’s not about the fur or feathers- 
We’re all just better off together. 

 Available for purchase at Amazon or Bookshop

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Kyle Little’s Pink! 

Five (5) winners receive: 
 A hardcover copy of Pink, autographed by Kyle Little 

The giveaway begins May 4, 2021, at 12:00 PM PST and ends June 4, 2021, at 11:59 PM PST. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is in partnership with Kyle Little and The Children’s Book Review.

Legend of the Dragon Slayer Review

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Legend of the Dragon Slayer by Brandon Mull 
Illustrated by Brandon Dorman 
Hardcover ISBN: 9781629728490 
Page Count: 64 
Middle Grade Fiction 

Synopsis: In ancient times, dragons posed the ultimate threat to the rest of the magical world. During the Dragon War, a group of specially trained Dragon Slayers banded together to stand against the onslaught. They called themselves Dragonwatch, and they succeeded in confining the majority of dragons to sanctuaries. Legend of the Dragon Slayer is the illustrated story of the very first Dragon Slayer who took to battle. As the legend tells it, powerful monsters terrorized the kingdom of Selona on all sides. An unlikely hero named Konrad, the cobbler's son, accepts the king's challenge to defeat the monsters: fierce yeti, a merciless vampire, a dangerous gorgon, and a deadly phoenix. But Selona's biggest threat will come from the Dragon, and it will take every ounce of wit and experience that Konrad has acquired to stand a chance against such a formidable foe. Legend of the Dragon Slayer features a never-before-published catalog of Dragon Slayers, a detailed map of the kingdom of Selona, and lavish full-color illustrations. Fantasy fans will love this stand-alone tale of valor, destiny, and magic. Learn more here.

 About the Author
BRANDON MULL is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Fablehaven, Beyonders, and Five Kingdoms series. A kinetic thinker, Brandon enjoys bouncy balls, squeezable stress toys, and popping bubble wrap. He lives in Utah in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his wife, Erlyn, their eleven children, and a dog named Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Brandon loves meeting his readers and hearing about their experiences with his books. 

About the Illustrator
BRANDON DORMAN is the illustrator of the #1 New York Times best-seller The Wizard. He graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with his wife, Emily, have three children and live in Washington. He is best known for his book cover artwork on popular series like Dragonwatch, Goosebumps, Fablehaven, and The Land of Stories. With more than twenty picture books under his belt, he is an accomplished visual storyteller. 

I enjoyed reading about the legend of the dragon slayer and seeing the illustrations that went along with the story. It was easy to read, well-written, fast-paced and enjoyable to read. The illustrations were attractive and well-done. It felt like it was preparing me for the next book of the Dragonwatch series. Middle grade readers that enjoy the Dragonwatch series will enjoy reading this book and learning more about the legend. Even if you're not familiar with the Fablehaven and Dragonwatch series, middle grade readers will enjoy the storytelling in this book and it can be read as a stand-alone. This is a perfect book to pick up for your readers for the summertime. To learn more click here.

Please note that this post is in coordination with Shadow Mountain Publishing. I received a free ebook to review, however, I provided my honest opinion. This post also contains affiliate links that support the maintenance of this blog.

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