Ralphy's Rules for Feelings Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Wednesday, January 24, 2024



Ralphy’s Rules for Feelings
Written by Talar Hercuilian Coursey and Riley Herculian Coursey
Illustrated by Meri Andreasyan
Ages 4+ | 36 Pages
Publisher: Purple Butterfly Press (2024) | ISBN-13: 9781955119450

Publisher’s Book Summary: We have big feelings!

Sometimes we don’t know what to do with them or how to change our thoughts that cause these feelings. The first day of school can be scary, but “Furrapist” Jackson Johnson and cute pup Ralphy of Ralphy’s Rules for the Good Life are committed to helping a busload of kids understand and manage their big feelings. During the ride to school, Furrapist Jackson Johnson teaches the children that they can choose their emotions and decide how to respond to them. Ralphy and Jackson make the complicated subject of emotional intelligence accessible for kids to understand and, more importantly, implement in their everyday lives.

So hop on the bus with us, and let’s learn about how taking charge of our feelings can change our day!

Available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org.


Talar Herculian Coursey is a lawyer by day and a children’s book author, Life Coach, and philanthropist by night (more like mornings). She has been a General Counsel since 2011 and recently joined ComplyAuto, a privacy/cybersecurity SAAS company. Before going in-house, she was a file clerk, associate, and partner at the national labor and employment law firm Fisher Phillips LLP. Talar is a co-author of both #Networked: How 20 Women Lawyers Overcame the Confines of COVID-19 Social Distancing to Create Connections, Cultivate Community, & Build Businesses in the Midst of a Global Pandemic and Women In Law: Discovering the True Meaning of Success. Her first children’s book, Ralphy’s Rules for Living the Good Life, was published in 2021.

Talar has served as the President of the Salt Lake City Chapter of the Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (“SOAR”) since 2015. SOAR, founded in 2005, supports orphanages in Syria, Lebanon and Armenia. She runs the Salt Lake City Half Marathon every year to raise money for SOAR in memory of her father. Net proceeds from her children’s books also go to SOAR. In addition to being a mother, wife, lawyer, life coach, and philanthropist, she is also a runner, yogi, and Jesus, Eckhart Tolle, Peloton, and Brandon Flowers groupie.

For more information, visit talaresq.com.


Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write Ralphy's Rules for Feelings?

Talar Herculian Coursey - I hired a life coach for the first time during the pandemic and learned concepts about our thoughts and feelings that changed my life. I asked my life coach, "why didn't someone teach me this sooner?" So, I told her that I was going to write a children's book so that I could start sharing these tools with kids at an early age. 

As for the school bus, that was my co-author and son's idea, because kids have lots of big feelings on the first day of school. 

Life Is What It's Called - How has your background helped prepare you to write this book?

Talar Herculian Coursey - I would not have had the knowledge to share had I not worked with a life coach and gotten my life coach certification. My experience with life coaching was invaluable in creating the story. 

Life Is What It's Called - Why is it important for kids to understand their big feelings and how will this book help them?

Talar Herculian Coursey - Big feelings will always be a part of our lives and the sooner kids understand how to identify them, feel them, and change them, the better equipped they will be in their little and bigger lives.

I learned through life coaching that feelings determine our actions and create our realities. We do not have feelings about a circumstance until we have thought about that circumstance. Until we have a thought about something, the circumstance is neutral - it is neither good nor bad. Our thoughts determine how we will feel about it. 

In my book, I've used emojis to illustrate to kids what feelings can look like and first, emphasized that all feelings are valid and welcome. Second, the book teaches the kids, through Furrapist Jackson Johnson (my dog), how they can intentionally decide to sit with a feeling or choose another feeling. It's a very basic illustration of these concepts but given my audience, I wanted to make it as simple as possible. 

Life Is What It's Called - In what ways is Ralphy's Rules for Feelings different from others on the market?

Talar Herculian Coursey - I believe that the use of emojis to illustrate the feelings and instruction from a "furry therapist" is unique to the book. I also strived to make the children in the story diverse so that more children could relate to it. 

Life Is What It's Called - How is this book similar and different from the other children's book that you've written?

Talar Herculian Coursey - This book is the second of the Ralphy's Rules series. It's similar insofar it involves "adult" concepts that have been simplified for children. It's different than my first book in that it is more about our feelings rather than "rules" for not taking things personally and being brave. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you want readers to know about you as an author?

Talar Herculian Coursey - I am a lawyer by day and an author by night. I have my certification as a yoga instructor and life coach. I'm an Armenian immigrant, born in Beirut, Lebanon, and lived in Saudi Arabia until I was 12. I immigrated with my family to Southern California in the 7th grade and I remember how hard it was to be different. 

I am an avid reader and invest heavily in my personal development. I didn't begin my self- development journey until I was in my 30s and wish so much that I had started it sooner.  I have always had a calling to serve children and besides writing children's books, I also support Armenian orphanages in Lebanon, where I was born. The net proceeds from all my book sales go to the orphanages in addition to the annual fundraising I do with running the Salt Lake City Half Marathon. In the last 7 years, I've raised more than $100,000 for the orphanages. 

Both Jackson Johnson and Ralphy are real dogs. I dog-walked Ralphy for two years before he moved away and got Jackson Johnson. All the kids on the school bus are real children. Riley is my son on the bus. Lakeisha is one of my mentees who is a second-year law student in Atlanta. Kairo is my other mentee's son. Indie is my stepsons' sister who has Downs Syndrome. Jaseena and Jude are my son's classmates.


Enter the giveaway for the chance to win a classroom set that includes 25 copies of Ralphy's Rules for Feelings! 

This post is sponsored by Purple Butterfly Press. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.

Bubba and Squirt's City of Bones Author Interview and Giveaway

Friday, January 19, 2024


Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones
Written by Sherry Ellis
Ages 8+ | 104 Pages
Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press | ISBN-13: 9781939844989

Publisher’s Book Summary: Bubba and Squirt are back for another rousing quest as they travel through the mysterious vortex to Paris, France. It’s another wild adventure as they track down art thieves, encounter terrifying monsters, and discover the whereabouts of their missing father. Will they make it out alive or join the rest of the skeletons in the City of Bones?

Coming Soon: The fourth book in the series, Bubba and Squirt’s Shield of Athena, will be released on May 7, 2024, and the final book, Bubba and Squirt’s Legend of the Lost Pearl, will be released in September 2024.

Available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org.


Sherry Ellis is an award-winning author and professional musician who plays and teaches the violin, viola, and piano. When she is not writing or engaged in musical activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the world. Ellis has previously published Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China; Bubba and Squirt’s Mayan Adventure; Don’t Feed the Elephant; Ten Zany Birds; That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN; and That Mama is a Grouch. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

For more information about her work, she invites you to visit her website at www.sherryellis.org.


Life is What It's Called - The cover of Bubba and Squirt's City of Bones depicts a mysterious underground tone, what is the excitement and fear level for this book?

Sherry Ellis - Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones is a bit darker than the previous two books in the Bubba and Squirt Adventures series. After Bubba and Squirt are whisked through the mysterious vortex to Paris, France, they find themselves in the city’s creepy underground catacombs—pictured on the cover. This is where they encounter the art thieves for the first time. Later, after they step through an unusual portal, they find themselves in a cave system which is the world of the gargoyle and the evil jaguar-man, Kanaima. It’s spooky and action-packed, but at a level that’s still appropriate for younger middle-grade readers.

Life is What It's Called - What age range would you recommend for this book?

Sherry Ellis - Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones is appropriate for readers in grades two through six. Readers familiar with the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne will find it’s a step up from the earlier books of the series, but not as advanced as the Harry Potter books. It’s a good bridge between the two, and perfect for reluctant readers.

Life is What It's Called - What will readers learn about while reading your story?

Sherry Ellis - Readers will learn about the history of the catacombs, the various landmarks, museums, and points of interest in Paris, the work of famous artists, and some French folklore and words.

Life is What It's Called - What was your favorite scene to write and why?

Sherry Ellis - My favorite scene is Bubba and Squirt’s arrival in the catacombs. Having visited the catacombs myself, it was fun to write about the creepiness of the place using all the senses. I also enjoyed writing the scene where the bones come crashing down, and Bubba uses is power of telekinesis to bring them back to order.

Life is What It's Called - Do you relate to any of the characters in this book?

Sherry Ellis - I can’t say I see myself in any of the characters. Simone would be the closest since she’s like a mother figure. Bubba and Squirt, on the other hand, are like my own children when they were young. Bubba is the precocious adventurer while Squirt is the older, cautious, mature sister.

Life is What It's Called - How does Bubba and Squirt's City of Bones differ from others on the market?

Sherry Ellis - Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones appeals to readers who are advancing out of early chapter books but aren’t ready for the longer books by Rick Riordan or the Harry Potter series. I like to think of the Bubba and Squirt Adventure books as a “bridge” series. I’ve been told that reluctant readers enjoy the Bubba and Squirt books because they’re action-packed, fast-paced, and not too long. The other unique thing is that all the books of the series are not only packed with adventure, but also educational. The back material for Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones includes additional information about the catacombs, the real-life art thieves, a list of books to learn more, a glossary of French words and numbers, a map of France, and a recipe for crepes.

Life is What It's Called - Can you share about your experience as a writer?

Sherry Ellis - I have been writing for almost twenty years. After this year, I will have had 4 picture books, 5 middle-grade books, and stories in 2 anthologies published. I’d have to say my favorite thing, after writing, “the end” on a manuscript, is doing school visits. I love meeting the kids and seeing their excitement about reading books!

Life is What It's Called - What writing projects are you working on next?

Sherry Ellis - I’m working on the final edits of Bubba and Squirt’s Legend of the Lost Pearls, which will be the last book of the Bubba and Squirt Adventures series. It’s scheduled to be released by Dancing Lemur Press in September 2024. (Bubba and Squirt’s Shield of Athena will be released in May 2024.) After that, who knows?

Thank you for having me as a guest


Enter the giveaway for the chance to win an autographed copy of Bubba and Squirt’s City of Bones and a $50 Amazon gift card! 

This post is sponsored by Sherry Ellis. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.

Graysen Foxx and the Curse of the Illuminerdy Book Review

Friday, January 12, 2024


Fifth-grade treasure hunter Graysen Foxx is no stranger to the mysteries hidden in Ordinary Elementary—the bat-filled tunnels, the secret passageways, the underground chambers, and the sticky spiderwebs—and he's on the hunt for a creepy, old painting that will guarantee his victory in the school's Halloween contest. But finding and claiming the painting is only the beginning of a wild adventure filled with puzzles that will put Graysen's treasure-hunting skills to the test.

When the fedora-wearing, sticky hand-wielding Graysen finds a mysterious symbol on the back of a dusty spelling bee medal, news of the discovery spreads like creamy peanut butter, and a disguised student quickly steals the medal. But who would want the medal, and why? Is it Graysen's nemesis, Raven? The Second-Grade Spy Network? Or the Doodler, the sixth-grade boss who blames a lost spelling bee for ruining his life?

While researching what the spelling bee symbol might mean, Graysen and the twins, Maya and Jack, cross paths with a secret society of supersmart kids who call themselves the Illuminerdy and have access to a treasure so powerful it could change the world of education forever. Graysen and his friends must work together to obtain the treasure, outwit the secret society, and break the bone-rattling Curse of the Illuminerdy.


J Scott Savage is the author of 19 novels including the Mysteries of Cove series, the Farworld series, the Case File 13 series, and the Lost Wonderland Diaries. His books have received various recognitions including Junior Library Selection, Starred reviews from PW and Kirkus, Amazon Book of the Month, Barnes and Noble Select book, and several state award nominations.

He has visited over 2500 schools, dozens of writers conferences, and taught many writing classes. He has four children and seven grandchildren. He lives with his wife Jennifer in a windy valley of the Rocky Mountains.


Life Is What It's Called - What do you think your fans will love about this new book?

J. Scott Savagae - I think kids will love the adventure and the humor, but the best part of Graysen Foxx and the Curse of the Illuminerdy is the message that everyone has different talents, and that they all make a difference, especially when we work together.

Life Is What It's Called - How many books in this series are you planning? 

J. Scott Savage - Right now I don't have any more books in the series under contract, but you never know! 

Life Is What It's Called - Which character in the Graysen Foxx series are you most like and why? 

J. Scott Savage - I'm most like Graysen. When I was in elementary school, there was a hill behind the school where you could dig for fossils, and I always loved the idea of finding treasure!

Life Is What It's Called - How is this book similar to your other books? 

J. Scott Savage - I think all of my books have characters that aren't perfect but try really hard to do the right thing, even when it's difficult.

Life Is What It's Called - How is this book different from your other books? 

J. Scott Savage - I think all of my series are really different from each other. I have written books with steam powered dragons, zombies, wizards, and even a series set in Wonderland. I like to make all of my book series different from each other. I think it's boring to always write the same kind of book!

Life Is What It's Called - What was your favorite scene to write in Graysen Foxx and the Curse of the Illuminerdy

J. Scott Savage - Without giving away too much, I think it was the scene with the crocodiles and the card catalog.

Life Is What It's Called - What do you want your readers to know about you? 

J. Scott Savage - I want my readers to know that I love meeting them and hearing from them, and that I believe that they are awesome in ways that they haven't even discovered yet!


Graysen Foxx and The Curse of the Illuminerdy is the second book in the Graysen Fox series. It could be read as a stand-alone, but it would be better to read the first book, Graysen Fox and the Treasure of the Principal of Redbeard, first. In Graysen Foxx and The Curse of the Illuminerdy, Graysen Foxx must work together with schoolmates to figure out the mystery symbol on an old spelling bee award and the clues in a painting to discover more about the Illuminerdy. 

I enjoy the Graysen Foxx series. My 8-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son have both read books from this series and they enjoy the adventure, characters, the mystery, the intrigue. As a parent reading the series, I felt like it was age-appropriate in characters, intrigue, and adventure. It also has a good overall message that teaches kids to work together and to look out for each other. J. Scott Savage does a good job at drawing the reader in through the dialogue, descriptions, and action in the story. Graysen Foxx and The Curse of the Illuminerdy reminded me of a mix between Indiana Jones, Recess, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, and a detective book. The dialogue is smart and witty while the adventures in this book are creative and engaging. I hope the author writes more books from this series. I would highly recommend it. It's also a great series for kids that are just starting to read middle-grade fiction in that the characters are elementary school age, and the action and adventure is very kid-friendly. To learn more about Graysen Foxx and The Curse of the Illuminerdy, click here.

Please note that I received a free copy to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post is in cooperation with Shadow Mountain Publishing. This post contains affiliate links.
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