Roar-Choo Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Friday, March 29, 2024


Written by Charlotte Cheng
Illustrated by Dan Santat
Ages 4+ | 40 Pages
Publisher: Rocky Pond Books | ISBN-13: 9780593531754

Publisher’s Synopsis: Patient, peaceful Phoenix tries to take care of rambunctious and cold-ridden

Dragon, which leads to hilarious and sweet results (with vibrant illustrations by the Caldecott Medal-winning creator of Beekle).

Everyone knows that dragons are fierce, capable of taking on the world!

But this dragon can’t stop sneezing long enough to get a roar out. Even with friendly Phoenix insisting that Dragon get some rest, this powerful creature refuses to stop for any orange ginger tea or a drop of bone broth soup.

It’s only when Dragon realizes Phoenix has caught the same cold that they are both able to take the break they so badly need. This tale of helping your friends and valuing differences is a sure-thing for story time.

Available for purchase here


Charlotte Cheng’s writing credits include Night Market Rescue, Explore China: A Mulan Discovery Book and BoBo Loves Dumplings, and she has illustrated the picture books Silly McGilly and A Moment in Time. In the field of education, she has written and illustrated K-12 curriculum for a variety of companies such as LeapFrog, Disney, and Wonder Workshop. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

For more information, visit her website, twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn.


Dan Santat is the National Book Award-winning, Caldecott Medal–winning and New York Times–bestselling author and illustrator of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend and the middle grade graphic memoir A First Time for Everything. His artwork is also featured in numerous picture books, chapter books, and middle-grade novels, including Dav Pilkey’s Ricky Ricotta series. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and many, many pets.

Life is What It's Called - Why did you choose to convey the message in Roar-Choo! in a folklore style, and what significance do you believe this holds for young children?

Charlotte Cheng - I love sparking children’s imaginations while encouraging curiosity. What if a dragon gets a cold? What if each sneeze causes chaos and destruction? What would you do if you were the dragon’s friend? Through larger-than-life characters and epic settings, folktales let us explore relatable topics, such as having a cold, in ways that are both memorable and fun.

Life is What It's Called - What motivated your decision to feature a dragon and a phoenix as the central characters in the book?

Charlotte Cheng - As a kid, I grew up going to Chinese restaurants in LA. At one of these restaurants, I remember seeing a golden Dragon and Phoenix mural that took up an entire wall. It looked like they were flying and dancing together. I asked my parents about it, and they explained to me the mythic relationship of Dragon and Phoenix. Dragon is known to be strong and courageous. Phoenix is known to be graceful and generous. Their differences and strengths complement each other.

Many years later, my entire family unfortunately caught Covid at the same time. As we all tried to manage our symptoms, I noticed how differently my husband and I recovered from Covid. I, in fact, was a lot like Dragon. I had deadlines to meet, things to do, but the more I rushed trying to get back to normal, the more I would relapse and get worse. My husband, on the other hand, took it more gracefully and helped me slow down. In the end, we had to lean on each other’s strengths to get our family through Covid.

I then imagined the destruction a Dragon could cause with a cold and how a friendship with Phoenix could help repair the damage. It seemed like a relationship that both kids and parents could relate to as families tackle various illnesses and limitations in their lives. Please share your insights on your writing experiences while creating this story.

Writing Roar-Choo! was truly a collaborative process. When I wrote my first draft, I shared it with my critique group and my agent. They had vital feedback about how to improve the story. One of the key issues was that in the original draft, Phoenix felt like a secondary character and the reader didn’t get a chance to connect with how Phoenix felt.

I was able to take their advice and create a shift in the plot, where Dragon had to stop and take care of Phoenix instead. When my editor finally saw the manuscript, she pushed me to build up Phoenix’s perspective even more. I think the final result is a much more balanced story, where you truly see the push and pull of the relationship between Dragon and Phoenix!

Life is What It's Called - Could you discuss your favorite scene to write in Roar-Choo! and the inspiration behind it?

Charlotte Cheng - I love pattern and repetition in storytelling as it appeals to children (and myself). In the beginning, Dragon has the cold and is the only one who says “Roar-CHOO!” over and over again. Each time, the phrase gets louder and louder. However, halfway through the story, when Phoenix has the cold, the two characters begin to share the phrase. My favorite spread is when Dragon and Phoenix are finally able to stop and recover together. Then the phrase “roar. . choo” becomes softer and takes on a different meaning – one that speaks of self-care and tenderness towards someone you love.

Life is What It's Called - How do you believe the illustrations in Roar-Choo! contribute to bringing the narrative to life and engaging young readers?

Charlotte Cheng - Dan Santat is a Caldecott medalist and a world renown author/illustrator. I knew he would create gorgeous illustrations to pair well with the story. Each spread in Roar-Choo! is so dynamic. It feels like Dragon and Phoenix are about to burst from the page.

Dan used so many different layouts and perspectives that the book feels cinematic. Most importantly, I love how Dan managed to capture the complex relationship between Dragon and Phoenix. Even the color choices reflect this. Dragon is green and Phoenix is red. Red and green are complementary colors – which mirrors how the personalities of Dragon and Phoenix complement each other!

Life is What It's Called - Are there plans to continue the adventures of the characters from Roar-Choo! in future stories?

Charlotte Cheng - I have a few ideas of how Dragon and Phoenix could explore more adventures together. However, we need to make sure that Roar-Choo! is successful before we can develop the next story for these two characters. It helps a lot when people check out the book, write reviews, and spread the word. Then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to go on more adventures with Dragon and Phoenix!

Enter the giveaway for the chance to win a copy of Charlotte Cheng’s captivating book, Night Market Rescue, a $100 visa gift card, and a free 30-minute children’s book writing consultation.

Roar-Choo: Book Giveaway 

This post is sponsored by Charlotte Cheng. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

A Match Gone Awry Book Review and Author Interview

Thursday, March 21, 2024


She needs a match. He's here to help.

Desperate to leave Paris, Gabrielle d’Amilly has set her sights on an English diplomat who can whisk her away to a happier life. But when an attempt to catch his eye goes wrong, she enlists the British navy lieutenant Harvey Barlow to help in her scheme. Under the guise of visiting a friend, Lieutenant Barlow arrives in Paris with the task of checking France’s relations with the discontented colonies. Playing at matchmaking won't hurt his mission, especially for a good cause. But when his intentions to be helpful turn to feelings of love, he finds himself distracted from his duties. In his quest to advance in the navy, he cannot give Gabrielle the happy life she's after. With war threatening, Harvey and Gabrielle are forced to decide to hold to their previous goals or strive for an imperfectly perfect match.

A Match Gone Awry
is a clean & wholesome Georgian romance.

Other books in the Georgians in Paris Series:

Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the Western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people, and the stories they have to tell. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in communications and emphasis in print journalism, and now lives in Arizona with her husband and two children.

Life Is What It's Called - What did you like most about writing A Match Gone Awry? 

Arlem Hawks - I think my favorite part of writing this book was revisiting Paris. Paris holds a special place in my heart, and this is the first book I’ve written set there! 

Life Is What It's Called - How is this book similar to the other books that you've written? 

Arlem Hawks -This one is probably more similar to my novellas The Steadfast Heart, In Pursuit of a Gentleman, and The Diamond of Bristol (part of A Lady’s Wager anthology). It’s lighter than my full-length novels and includes lots of good food and fun historical details. 

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

Arlem Hawks - While this isn’t my first time dipping into the 18th century, my other Georgian era stories take place in the 1790s during the French Revolution. This is my first book delving into the pomp and pageantry of pre-revolutionary France, which has been really fun. 

Life Is What It's Called - How does this book stand apart from the other books in this genre?

Arlem Hawks - I think this book stands out from other books in the genre because I weave in quite a lot of insights into the time period. It talks about the French philosophers and Age of Enlightenment, with the characters interacting with several real historical figures. All of the locations are real places, even down to the characters’ residences. A lot of historical romance (most of my books included) make up exact residences. It was really fun finding which of my favorite spots were around in the 18th century and locating restaurants from the time period that are still alive and well today. 

Life Is What It's Called - What scene do you think readers will enjoy most in this book? 

Arlem Hawks - I’ve had quite a few beta readers mention they loved the dress altering scene. It was one of my favorites to write. ;)

Life Is What It's Called - What books are you writing now?

Arlem Hawks - I am currently in between projects! I just finished editing two books at the same time, so I am taking a little bit of a break before diving into another French meets English historical romance. 

Life Is What It's Called - Do you have any book signings coming up?

Arlem Hawks - I actually don’t have any book signings planned at the moment! Hopefully I will have one or two this summer. 

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

Arlem Hawks - I want readers to know that I am passionate about both romance and history, and my books usual walk the line between the two genres. I want readers to learn and experience what life was like in these time periods while also getting a swoony and wholesome romance.

In this sweet romance, Gabrielle has her heart set on winning an English diplomat's hand in marriage. Gabrielle desperately wants to leave France and step away from her stepmother's cruelty. She meets British navy lieutenant, Harvey Barlow, who agrees to help her make the match, but the match goes awry when Gabrielle and Harvey start to fall in love.

Gabrielle deals with a lot of miserable circumstances in this book. The author does a good job at exploring Gabrielle's life and character. I couldn't help but root for Gabrielle to find a happy ending and to escape France. The romance was slow-going. The reader knew the characters were in love before they realized it. The author adds a true "Parisian" vibe with historical places, figures, bakeries, debating philosophers, tours of gardens, and art museums. I loved the overall feeling of Paris of the book. The author also does a good job at intertwining the history and highlighting some of the feelings of unease during this time period. This book was an overall fun and clean read. To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post is in cooperation with the author. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Alycat and the Sunday Scaries Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Alycat and the Sunday Scaries
Written by Alysson Foti Bourque
Illustrated by Chiara Civati
Ages 4+ | 32 Pages
Publisher: Pelican Publishing | ISBN-13: 9781455627790

Publisher’s Book Summary: It’s Sunday, the day before the school week begins, and Alycat is nervous. She just knows that Monday is going to be the Mondayest Monday ever! On the playground, Alycat realizes she isn’t the only one suffering from the Sunday Scaries. It’s hard to ride a bike. What if Kit falls? The treehouse is so high. Will Spotty make it safely back down? The kittens band together to overcome their fears, but can they turn the Sunday Scaries into a Sunday Funday? The themes of the books in the Alycat Series all reflect a reliance on friendships, imagination, and creativity toward problem-solving.

Fans of Alycat and her friends will enjoy spotting references to the kittens’ daily adventures within these pages. Tips for a successful lemonade stand are included!

Available to purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble,

Alysson Bourque began her career as a teacher after graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a degree in Elementary Education and went on to earn a law degree from Southern University Law Center in 2007.

After practicing law for nearly eight years, it was time to trade in writing trial briefs for writing children’s books and collaborating with non-profits to support philanthropic initiatives such as Foster the Love with First Lady Donna Edwards, Lafayette Walk to Defeat ALS, The Family Tree, Operation Shower, Wild Cat Foundation, and Hayley’s Bracelet fundraiser to benefit Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Her series has won over 23 awards and has received glowing reviews.

Find Alyson and Alycat online at website, FacebookInstagram, Pinterest, Twitter/X, YouTube.

Life is What It's Called - What will fans of the Alycat series like about this latest book in the series?
Alysson Bourque - Fans will love the Literary Easter Eggs that are hidden throughout the book. The final pages of the book are a culmination of the lessons learned in the other books in the week-based series with spot art of the previous books so that will be fun to see.

Life is What It's Called - What inspired Alycat and the Sunday Scaries?

Alysson Bourque - Writing the last book in the week-based series made me scared that the series would end. I channeled this feeling into the context and lessons of the book, which helped give me tools to fight through the fear.

Life is What It's Called - Why is the message in this book important for kids?
Alysson Bourque - Books are a powerful resource and tool for handling life’s obstacles. In the Alycat and the Sunday Scaries, the characters each face moments where self-doubt creeps in and bravery is hard to find. Alycat’s best friend Spotty has climbed up the treehouse many times, but this time he was scared. He needed help and motivation from those who believed in him. We often forget the tools we need to conquer fear when we are clouded by anxiety, but that’s what friends and family are for. They remind us to keep our heads up, eyes forward, breathe slowly, and take it one step at a time.

Life is What It's Called - What was your favorite page to write in this book?
Alysson Bourque - I love when the kittens count back from 10 as Spotty is coached down the steps of the treehouse. The readers will love counting down on the storyboard and also Kit’s hesitation to “catch” him if he falls.

Life is What It's Called - What do you see next for this series?
Alysson Bourque - I plan to write books outside of the week-based series and actually have a book in the works—Alycat and the Copycat.

Life is What It's Called - Can you share your background in writing?
Alysson Bourque - As a child and teenager, I wrote a lot of poetry. Once I graduated from law school, all I had to time to write was trial briefs. When I finally took a temporary retirement from practicing law, I was able to write children’s books. I have written two children’s travel books and have written 9 Alycat books.

Life is What It's Called - What else should readers know about you?

Alysson Bourque - Books aren’t just meant to be read. They are meant to be shared, experienced, and brought to life. The Alycat Series is not only a book series, it also has videos on YouTube, songs on ITunes, and can be found on Novel Effect and Caribu apps.


Enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of the book and three adorable Alycat plush toys!

Alycat and the Sunday Scaries: Book Giveaway 

This post is sponsored by Alysson Foti Bourque. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.

100 Little Lambs Book Review and Giveaway

Friday, March 15, 2024

Join Clover the Lamb on a whimsical adventure where playful shenanigans lead to a heartwarming lesson in faith in 100 Little Lambs. Clover is the mischievous lamb, always straying from what she's supposed to be doing. While her fellow lambs dutifully feed and prepare for the day, Clover prefers to frolic and play. But when her adventurous spirit takes her farther than she's ever been, she finds herself lost and injured in the midst of a storm. Hope seems lost, but then a glimmer of light appears . . . This enchanting story helps children feel their Savior's love by bringing the parable of the Lost Sheep to life, and offering a warm, playful narrative perfect for repeated readings. Inspired by the timeless parable 100 Little Lambs is a charming and uplifting tale that will touch the hearts of children and reassure them of the boundless love of their Savior. Through Clover's journey, young readers will come to understand that no one is beyond the Good Shepherd's reach and that they are seen and loved.


Sierra started talking early and has been a storyteller ever since. She loves to teach and work with children, and this love has shaped her life from working as a high school English and history teacher and children’s art teacher to serving as a church children’s leader and a mother. Sierra is passionate about writing, art, hiking, family, and eating entirely too much chocolate. She currently lives with her husband, four kids, two cats, two fish, and a bearded dragon in Alberta, Canada. Keep in touch and learn more at or on social media.

As 99 lambs stick close together, one little lamb named Clover strays and goes off to play by himself. Clover finds himself alone, wet, and miserable. The good shepherd finds Clover and offers him comfort. In this sweet and fun story, children will learn about the parable of the Lost Sheep. I love the playfulness of this story. I could see children wanting to come back to this story and reading it again and again. I love the message of love and kindness that the Good Shepherd (Christ) shows the sheep. Kids will enjoy the playful tone and the rhymes. It also is a lesson for kids not to go off alone, but someone they love will come find them. The illustrations are attractive, eye-catching and fun. This is sure to be a family favorite. To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received a free pdf to review this book, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog. This post is in cooperation with the author.

Grimmworld: The Witch in the Woods Book Review

Wednesday, March 13, 2024


Twins Willow and Jake Grimm are not prepared for the bizarre gadgets and scary changes in their new home of New Marburg, the location of the top-secret Think Tank where their parents now have jobs as scientists. In this town, people jetpack to work, robots direct traffic, and senior citizens duel with laser swords.

Yet nothing compares to what happens the day after lightning strikes the twins’ house. Their school building transforms around them, becoming a medieval castle—complete with moat, drawbridge, and a dangerous giant who looks strangely like the school’s overly aggressive hall monitor.

Barely managing to escape before a massive beanstalk lifts the castle above the clouds, Willow and Jake learn that their ancestors, the original Brothers Grimm, were more than storytellers. They were Grimmwalkers, able to travel from our universe to Grimmworld: the universe where all fairy tales are born.

Somehow, Willow and Jake have been transported to Grimmworld as well. But before the twins can figure out how to get back to their own universe, they discover that their best friends, Hank and Pearl, have morphed into the fairy tale characters Hansel and Gretel and been captured by a candy-obsessed witch deep in the Cursed Forest.

Now, aided by a mysterious wizard with shimmering golden eyes and a befuddled, talking naked mole-rat named Chet, the twins must trust in each other, believe in themselves, and find the courage to face their darkest fears in order to save their friends, return to their family, and maybe—just maybe—save the world.

One of the most versatile writers in the world, Michaelbrent Collings has written bestsellers for adults, teens, and children in nearly every genre. Thrillers, mysteries, horror, sci-fi and fantasy titles, even humor and non-fiction--Michaelbrent has found success in each and continues to write stories that surprise and delight fans all over the world.

In addition to popular success, Michaelbrent has also received critical acclaim: he is the only person who has ever been a finalist for a Bram Stoker Award (twice), a Dragon Award (twice), and a RONE Award, and he and his work have been reviewed and/or featured on everything from Publishers Weekly to Scream Magazine to NPR.

An engaging and entertaining speaker, he is also a frequent guest at comic cons and on writing podcasts like Six Figure Authors, The Creative Penn, Writing Excuses, and others; and is a mental health advocate and TEDx speaker.

Michaelbrent is also the owner of Bestseller Life, a comprehensive writing and self-publishing course that transforms storytellers into storysellers, and teaches authors how to become their own best story.

Willow and Jake Grimm move to New Marburg with their parents. This secretive town has robots directing traffic, jetpacks as modes of transportation, and senior citizen dueling in the park. The town becomes even weirder when a mysterious lightning strikes their house and the town merges with fairy tales with beanstalks, a giant, wizard and magic. Willow and Jake race to help their new friends, Hank and Pearl, who've merged with the fairy tale versions of themselves, from the wicked witch and try to save the world.

In Grimmworld, Michaelbrent weaves a new world that's full of fairy tales, robots, magic, and multiple universes. The story starts slowly as the author describes the world that he built. The world is big and full of different possibilities for other books from Greek mythology to sci-fi to fairytales. The characters are likeable, and the author shows us their flaws, strengths, and kindness. Despite the darkness the characters face, they find new friends, try to spread light to those around them. There were some scarier scenes that I did forewarn my kids before they read the book. My 10-year-old son read it, liked it, and said it was just the right level of scary. There was also a scene where Willow examines the oven that the witches uses and that was a little too much for me, but I think it was only because I read Stiff by Mary Roach. The scariness is manageable and something that's not terribly dark. Overall, I thought it was very imaginative and creative. I would read the next book in the series.  To learn more, click here

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

Night Buddies and Evil School Bus #264

Monday, March 11, 2024


Night Buddies and Evil School Bus #264

Written by Sands Hetherington
Illustrated by Natalie Leininger
Ages 7+ | 156 Pages
Publisher: Dune Buggy Press | ISBN-13: 9780984741762

Publisher’s Book Summary: The iguanas are back to their stinky shenanigans. They’ve fitted out the flying school bus for real mischief and are marauding all over the Borough. They’ve really got it in for John and Crosley, who must sniff out their evildoings before it’s too late! Will they succeed? Join the Night Buddies in their racing blimp for this exciting new adventure!

Available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and

Sands Hetherington, creator of the Night Buddies series of chapter books, credits his son John for being his principal motivator. Sands and young John developed the Crosley crocodile character in the series during months of bedtime story give-and-take. They collaborated many nights on escapades starring John and Crosley until, eventually, it occurred to Sands why it was that Crosley was bright red. That was when the first book came together.

Sands majored in history at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and has an M.F.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in English from UNC-Greensboro. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

For more information, visit,,,

Natalie Leininger, illustrator of the 4th title in the Night Buddies series, grew up in New Jersey and has been drawing ever since she was young. She now lives in Nebraska and attends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying the fine arts. She is in her third year at the university, primarily practicing oil painting, but spends time outside of the classroom working on a variety of projects. She has always enjoyed being with children, which made illustrating and working on Night Buddies such an enjoyable project!

Natalie strives to capture our world in bloom. Whether it be through the literal sense of a blooming flower or the simple act of sketching a character’s smile spreading across their face, her art is a place for all to engage in their own way.

Life Is What It's Called -What's the overall message of Night Buddies and Evil School Bus #264?

Sands Hetherington - It’s really a kid’s story that’s pure entertainment. I just wanted to entertain young readers. If there’s any message in there, I’m not aware of it, although readers should enjoy the friendship between John and Crosley and realize the value of having a close friend. Friends teach each other social skills, provide moral support, and a host of other things. John does his best when it comes to Crosley.

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

Sands Hetherington - I think the scene with John and Crosley setting a booby trap for the iguanas who were going to spray paint John’s parents’ house. The booby trap blew up and scared the iguanas away. You’ve never seen a bunch of iguanas take off on their dirt bikes so fast!

Life Is What It's Called - Do you have a similar personality to any of the characters?

Sands Hetherington - I would say the character of John, who is fashioned after my own son John.

Life Is What It's Called - How is this book different from others on the market? 

Sands Hetherington - I don’t think there’s another book on the market that involves a red crocodile who’s allergic to water. When he gets water on him, he does the Black Bottom dance for hours. This dance became popular during 1920s amid the Jazz Age and became a national craze. The antidote that his brother, Crenwinkle, gives Crosley is what makes him turn red.

Life Is What It's Called -What did you learn from writing this book?

Sands Hetherington - This is the fourth book in the Night Buddies series, “Adventures after Lights Out.” I had to recall vividly what happened in prior books so that the storyline and characters would remain consistent. The books need to be compatible.

Life Is What It's Called -How has your life prepared you to write the Night Buddies series?

Sands Hetherington - I had always wanted to be a writer, and it occurred to me one night that I hadn’t done any writing in years. Every night I read to my son John for twenty minutes or so, and when we finished, he would continue making up this story about a red crocodile. I thought the idea was fresh and original and might be something entertaining for children.

Life Is What It's Called - What will readers enjoy most about Night Buddies and Evil School Bus #264?

Sands Hetherington - It’s a wholesome adventure. My stepfather used to read books to me when I was a kid. I still listen to books and relish the characters that the authors invent. I simply want kids to have fun with the characters I created.


Enter the giveaway for your chance to win an autographed 4-book series, including: Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare, Night Buddies and One Far-out Flying Machine, Night Buddies Go Sky High, and Night Buddies and Evil School Bus #264!

Night Buddies and Evil School Bus #264: Book Giveaway 

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

Wat Kept Playing Book Review

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

As the child of Japanese immigrants, Wataru "Wat" Misaka often felt like he didn't fully belong in either Japanese or American culture. He was sometimes excluded, treated differently, and bullied, even though he was born in the United States. As he grew up, however, Wat discovered he had a very special talent for playing basketball. Even at just five foot seven, he was unstoppable.

After leading his high school team to a state championship, Wat played for the Utah Utes and helped the team win the 1944 NCAA championship. Wat kept playing even as Japanese Americans from the West Coast were sent to incarceration camps for the duration of World War II. Then, after two years serving in the United States Army, Wat returned to basketball, leading the University of Utah to Madison Square Garden and winning another national championship. The cheering crowd recognized Wat the way he wanted to be seen—as a person who was both Japanese and American and an amazing basketball player. Talent scouts from the New York Knicks were so impressed, they drafted Wat to their team. Wat's undeniable talent changed history as he became the first person of color to play in the NBA.

Emily Inouye Huey writes historical fiction for children and teens. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and is a former teacher.

During World War II, Emily’s family was evacuated from their homes and farms in California and Washington State. Her grandparents met and married in Wyoming’s Heart Mountain Internment Camp. Her father was born in the camp hospital. When the war ended, the family was sent to Utah, where they started over and where Emily still lives, now with her husband, Robert, and their four children.

Besides books, Emily’s passions include education, the arts, the outdoors, and her family. Her latest updates can be found on Instagram @emily_inouye_huey.

Wataru "Wat" Misaka didn't feel like he fit in with the American or Japanese culture. As he struggled to find his place and deal with the effects of World War II, he kept playing basketball and reaching new heights.

The story was beautifully and masterfully written. There were many learning moments in this book from learning to be empathetic to others, learning about the unfairness of racism, the hard moments in World War II, dealing with struggles, and how to push through them. Overall, it's a book of perseverance and hope. When I read it to my son, it indirectly talked about some of our conversations. It's a book that speaks to kids in many different ways and I really hope the author writes more books like this. I love the basketball sound effects throughout the book that helps to get across the idea that even through hard times that Wat kept playing. I really encourage others to check it out and read it. To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received this book for free, however, this is my honest opinion. This review is in cooperation with Shadow Mountain Publishing. Please note that this post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

An Inconvenient Letter Book Review

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

For years, Marietta Stone has harbored a secret infatuation for the handsome Frederick Finch and has poured out her deepest feelings in a series of passionate love letters that she keeps in a locked drawer. But when Marietta's private letters are accidentally delivered to Frederick's house, she must retrieve them immediately before they fall into the wrong hands. If the letters were read by anyone else, the resulting scandal could jeopardize her reputation.

Gerard Hartwell has no time for infatuations, courtship, or even love. He must find a wife with a substantial inheritance if he wishes to save his late father's bankrupt estate. When he accidentally discovers Marietta's love letters at his cousin Frederick's estate, he strikes a bargain with her. If she helps him court her older sister, Anne, he will return the letters and help Marietta win Frederick's heart.

Marietta agrees, and the two quickly pretend to be courting in order to spend time with their individual love interests. Yet, what appeared to be a straightforward bargain becomes complicated when Gerard realizes that the more time he spends with Marietta, the more he wishes he could court her for real. But can he persuade Marietta to give him a chance when her heart might belong to another man?

Marietta's private letter accidentally gets mailed and she must stop it from getting into the wrong hands at all costs to avoid a scandal that could jeopardize her and her family's reputation. Unfortunately for Marietta, George Hartwell discovers the letter and hold it's over her head to get her help to get her older sister's attention. The more he spends time with Marietta, the more he falls for her.

In this romantic comedy, the characters come alive with unexpected twists and turns while trying to thwart scheming mothers. I loved the comedy in this book. I was shocked by some of the scenes and the comedic mayhem. Julie Wright takes the over-done trope of "pretend courtship" and makes it into something new and completely unexpected. The romance was clean, and the characters were fun and entertaining. Readers will enjoy this book and delight in the humor. It was a well-written and fast paced read. To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received this book for free, however, this is my honest opinion. This review is in cooperation with Shadow Mountain Publishing. Please note that this post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Ode to a Pug Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Tuesday, March 5, 2024


Ode to a Pug
Written by Jill Rosen
Illustrated by Stephanie Rohr
Ages 4+ | 32 Pages
Publisher: AM Ink Publishing (2024) ISBN-13: 978-1-958842-24-9

Publisher’s Book Summary: A precocious pug delights in shenanigans which drive her frazzled owner to declare she will give her pup away!

Laugh along with the snorting, snoring, and gaseous clown of the canine world as its owner struggles to reign in the messes and mayhem of a new addition. But there is nothing that a few licks and cuddles can’t fix, right?

A true delight that any family can relate to, Ode to a Pug is full of heart… and a lot of slobber.

Available for purchase on: Amazon, Barnes and Noble,


Jill Rosen is a career marketer and advertiser who lives with two kids, three dogs, two cats, one bird, and a former stand-up comic and Princeton sketch-comedy writing husband. She doesn’t need to go far for comedic inspiration or advice!

Through her brand management work, Jill’s early recognition of, and appreciation for, powerful writing and artistic design only flourished. She is a seasoned workshop facilitator and strategic healthcare consultant specializing in the areas of mental health and infertility.

Jill was inspired to begin writing her own stories by her two boys, both avid readers. Now Jill can’t wait to share them with all the young readers out there.

For more information, visit: or


Steph Rohr is a French Award-winning children’s book illustrator who earned a distinction from ECV Art School in Paris. She is fond of anything silly, funny, wacky, daft, and colorful. A freelance Illustrator & Art Director, Steph has been working in London in publishing and advertising.


Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write Ode to a Pug? And why did you choose a pug as the main character?

Jill Rosen - Anyone who has a pug understands that they are a constant source of amusement and chaos. Ode to a Pug was inspired by a true story about our own two-year-old pug, Phoebe. I came home one day to find Phoebe sitting with one of my dress shoes needed for an event that night hanging from her mouth (and the other one destroyed nearby) and I exclaimed, “That’s it! You’re going back!” What I didn't know, is that my youngest son overheard me and the next morning he asked if I really was going to give Phoebe away. I felt terrible that he thought I might have been serious. The more I reflected, I realized that this idea that parents can get frustrated or angry but still love their pups (or children) could be a very relatable book. The line “Today is the day I will give you away!” popped in my head. I liked the rhythm and rhyme of that line and built the rest of the text around it.

Visually, I felt that a pug would be a perfect muse for a funny children's picture book – cute, weird, hilarious, and a walking juxtaposition of odd habits, frustrating quirks, and lovable behaviors. The clowns of the canine world!

Life Is What It's Called - What's the overall message of this book, and why is it important?

Jill Rosen - I'd like young readers to come away with the message that no matter what happens or how upset loved ones might get, it never changes the unconditional love they have for each other. Also, that it's ok to get frustrated, even though sometimes we say things we don't mean. There’s a lesson about recovering from those mistakes and learning to manage our emotions. In the Fun, Feelings, and Rhyme workshops that I run with elementary school students using Ode to a Pug, even the youngest children enjoy talking about this topic. They all can name times when they said things they didn't mean because they were mad (like the mom in the book), or a parent or sibling has gotten angry with them for misbehaving (like the mom's little pug misbehaves). The book reinforces that difficult situations can be resolved by taking a pause to understand what you are feeling and why and gathering and preparing yourself for re-engaging and addressing the issues.

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think kids will like most about Ode to a Pug and why?

Jill Rosen - I think kids will love the silly and endearing pug antics and illustrations, complete with a sprinkling of potty humor (no pug story is complete without it!). They’ll also enjoy the arc of the story, including finding out whether the mom will really give away her pup. It's a great bedtime story that will leave both children and parents feeling good, and the rhymes will make it easier for the kids to remember and begin reading along. In the author readings and workshops I've done to-date, the children both empathize with the pug and understand and appreciate the story being told from the point of view of the frustrated pug owner. This goes against the traditional method of writing in the child's voice, but it works in this case, as the whole point is to show what the mom is really thinking.

Life Is What It's Called - What writing projects are you working on now?

Jill Rosen - I'm working on two other children’s books, and I can say that you might see our little pug again… this time with perhaps some new furry friends!

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

Jill Rosen - I have a degree in biochemistry and am a career pharmaceutical marketing executive, with over 20 years of experience in the area of Mental Health. I have a passion for helping children navigate strong emotions and impulse issues, and always will try to use my stories to foster acceptance and empower every unique little human… often using animals as the great unifiers that they are.


Enter the giveaway for the chance to win an author-signed hardcover copy of Ode to a Pug, a 4″ custom pug plush, plus a die-cut pug sticker!

Ode to Pug Book Giveaway 

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

Pretty Ugly Book Review

Friday, March 1, 2024

A hilariously quirky monster tale about appreciating beauty—in all its weird and wonderful forms!— by the creator of the iconic Olivia books and bestselling humorist David Sedaris.

Sedaris and Falconer make a spectacular splash with this tale of a monster turned ugly—stuck with a human face!

In this beautifully gross picture book, Anna Van Ogre’s lovely monster face turns into that of a sickeningly adorable, rosy-cheeked little girl—and it’s not switching back! Can she find a way to stop looking like an ugly human and regain her gorgeous monstrosity of a face?

In this incredible story about beauty standards, owning your uniquessness, and developing self-esteem, nationally acclaimed comedian and perpetual bestelling author David Sedaris and renowned creator of the Olivia picture book series Ian Falconer come together to ponder the eternally relevant question: is true beauty really on the inside?


David Sedaris is the author of Happy-Go-Lucky, Calypso, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, as well as collections of personal essays such as Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Sedaris’s pieces appear regularly in the New Yorker and have twice been included in The Best American Essays. There are more than 12 million copies of his books in print, and they have been translated into 25 languages.

Ian Falconer was an author and illustrator of children’s books, a designer of sets and costumes for the theater and creator of 30 covers for the New Yorker as well as other publications. The fine artist and designer was best known for his witty and bestselling picture books about the precocious piglet Olivia, a children’s book series with over 10 million sales worldwide.

Pretty Ugly shares the story of a monster that gets stuck with a human face and thinks of herself as pretty ugly. This story reverses what is normally thought of as beautiful and shares that beauty is based on what we think. I really loved the message of this book. It encourages kids to build their own self-esteem and realize that it's important what you think and not what others think. The family in this book are also very loving and supportive of the girl. The illustrations are unique and creative. I love Ian Falconer's creative design and style. Overall, I think it's a cute book for kids to read. To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received a free copy to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.
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