Sleeping Spells and Dragon Scales Book Review

Monday, April 29, 2024

Something is wrong with Liam. He collapses during soccer practice, he can't stay awake in class, and he's starting to see a ghostly white fox that disappears into smoke. His parents and teachers accuse him of being lazy and staying up too late, but he knows it's something worse. He feels like he's disappearing bit by bit: his strength, his skills, his mind.

No one believes him except for Alaina, a friend and self-proclaimed expert in fantasy and fairy tales. She's seen this sort of thing before and believes Liam has been cursed with a powerful sleeping spell. Her journal is full of possible ways to break a curse—stand in a circle of salt, trick a troll, or wish on a falling star. Liam is skeptical, but with his normal life slipping farther away, he agrees to try her potential cures.

As they search for answers in stories, Alaina shares that she also is dealing with something no one else can see: type 1 diabetes. It rears its head like an invisible dragon, and she carries her medical equipment as a knight's lance and dragon-scale shield to battle it.

As Liam's mystery illness worsens, he will need Alaina's friendship—and perhaps a bit of fairy magic—to find a way to understand the truth of what is happening and regain the pieces of himself that are lost.

Sleeping Spells and Dragon Scales is a story about finding courage in friendship with empathy, and how a powerful imagination can help someone get through hard times.

Wendy S. Swore farms on the Sho-Ban reservation with a corn maze and pumpkin patch that is home to her five kids, two dogs, seven peacocks, eleven ducks, nineteen cats, and two hundred thirty seven chickens. She farms in the summers & writes in the winters.

Kids can write Wendy via the contact form at or via social media:
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

Liam and Alaina were friends when they were small, but they hadn't spent much time together since. A school project pulls them together as Liam battles with a mysterious illness and Alaina opens up to him about her love of fairy tales and her struggles in dealing with diabetes.

Sleeping Scales and Dragon Scales shares fairy tale elements within a real-world setting. It explores the frustration of not understanding something new that's out of your control and figuring out how to deal with the misunderstandings and misconceptions that come with it. I love that this book explores the attitudes and frustrations that come with a new illness and teaches kids to be patient and have empathy for others. It explores not judging others when you don't know the full scope of what they're going through. It's also a great book for parents and explores themes of communication and really delving into a child's feelings to figure out what is going on. The children in this book also have to learn to communicate their thoughts with their parents. The themes in this book cover a wide range of areas to really help understand the emotions and feelings of going through some pretty tough situations from many different sides. The characters really come alive in this book as you see their struggles and how they try to navigate them. Overall, this is book was really well-written. The author takes her time to really share different perspectives and cover some serious topics in a thoughtful and inciteful way. I would recommend this book for kids, parents, and teachers to read. I learned a lot from this book, and I am sure you will too. To learn more about this amazing book, click here.

Please note that I received a free copy of this book from Shadow Mountain Publishing, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

Jo's Special Gifts Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Friday, April 26, 2024


Jo’s Special Gifts
Written by Mariam Shapera
Illustrated by Lorna Humphreys
Ages 4+ | 39 Pages
Publisher: Mariam Shapera | ISBN-13: 979-8-9896337-0-8

Publisher’s Book Summary: Join Jo, an enthusiastic, curious and sensitive boy, as he shares his autistic joys and challenges with you. This is an emotional journey that celebrates neurodiversity and embracing one’s own gifts. This heartwarming rhyming story celebrates the unique gifts that each person can bring to the world. You will love entering this amazing autistic brain as we celebrate Jo’s special gifts.

Available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and


Mariam Shapera who is a family doctor and Autism advocate, was raised in the United Kingdom but now lives in California with her husband and three children. ‘Having to learn to advocate for my autistic son, Jo, I wanted to combine my love for writing children’s books with my goal of increasing autism acceptance. I have observed countless times the way Jo pursues his interests and passions and the autistic joy they bring him. So this book was born.’

For more information, visit the author's website, Facebook, and Instagram


Lorna Humphreys lives in the United Kingdom with her partner, her two daughters and her cat. She works with authors all over the world and, through her illustrations, helps bring many wonderful stories to life. ‘My eldest daughter, Olivia, is autistic and struggles with social interaction and emotional regulation. When Mariam asked if I would collaborate with her, I was delighted to have the opportunity to illustrate a book that would mean so much to children like Jo and Olivia, to remind them of how special and gifted they are!’ Follow the illustrator on Instagram, here.


Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write Jo’s Special Gifts?

Mariam Shapera - My inspiration behind this book is my 7-year-old autistic son, Jo. I wrote this book three years ago at the same time as my first one. It was put on hold as my first book was being released. I continued with it a couple of years ago and completed it. My autistic son has an amazing neurodivergent brain. He pursues his passions and interests, and I see how much joy they bring him. His enthusiasm for these interests inspired me. I am writing from his perspective. I also wanted to raise awareness of other aspects of autism, including autistic play, gestalt cognitive processing, and sensory processing differences. These were all things I saw in my son.

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

Mariam Shapera -I am a family physician, so my career did not directly help me with writing this book. Writing children’s books has always been something I have wanted to do since I was a young teenager. It got put on hold as I went into medical school and started working. I was then inspired to write during the Covid pandemic when I also had a stillbirth and was in the midst of my son receiving an autism diagnosis.

Life Is What It's Called - What will readers like most about reading Jo’s Special Gifts?

Mariam Shapera -I believe the readers will enjoy this book as a joyful expression of life from the perspective of a main character who is autistic. Over the years, autism has been largely viewed as negative and deficit-based. We are just now starting to see how amazing the autistic brain can be and its many potentials—given the right accommodations and understanding. They will love Jo’s enthusiasm!

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

Mariam Shapera -Firstly, this book has a main character who is autistic, and there are not many children’s books out there that have a main character who identifies as neurodivergent. Secondly, it represents autism positively and enthusiastically. This is how autism awareness and acceptance are shown in this book. Thirdly, there are even fewer children’s books in the market that normalize accommodations, such as the use of a wheelchair and noise- canceling headphones. Fourthly, the book highlights the use of the AAC device as a valid alternative form of communication for these individuals. Not many autism books illustrate the use of the AAC device.

Life Is What It's Called - Why is it important to you to celebrate neurodiversity and everyone's unique gifts?

Mariam Shapera -It is so important to celebrate neurodiversity because it is so misunderstood in the community. It is not a disease that needs curing. It is a different way of thinking, seeing, and feeling the world around us. Neurodivergent individuals can contribute SO much to society if they are given the right communication tools and accommodations. This is not just for children but also for autistic adults. Everyone, whether neurodivergent or not, has something to contribute to society. This message needs to go to the homes of non- autistic individuals and schools and libraries.

Life Is What It's Called - Do you have any tips for how parents can help children celebrate neurodiversity and be accepting of it?

Mariam Shapera -It all starts at home. Parents need to educate their children if they see another child, for example, flapping his hands, scripting loudly, or clapping excitedly to be accepting of them. They should be educated to realize these autistic children can show joy and excitement this way- which is the ‘not so typical behavior’.

Parents can read books on autism to their children, such as this one and others. They can watch documentaries on autism and read books written by autistic adults to better understand their perspective. We are getting better at spreading autism awareness and acceptance, but we still have a long way to go.


Enter for your chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Jo’s Special Gifts, a signed copy of Mariam’s first book, Up Up You Go, Jo!, and a $25 Starbucks gift card.

Jo's Special Gifts: Book Giveaway 

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

Play With Me Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Wednesday, April 17, 2024


Play with Me 
Written by Kat Chen 
Illustrated by Lorraine Nam 
Ages 1+ | 24 Pages 
Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop | ISBN-13: 9780593659717 

Publisher’s Book Summary: This board book series invites young readers to take part in a playdate activity of their choice, thereby empowering them with autonomy and validation. The picnic playdate models balanced and shared play, creating a positive experience that will provide readers with a reference for what caring and considered friendship looks like. Many toddlers and preschoolers consistently ask for someone to play with them, and this book provides just that for the quieter moments of the day. Simple language and gentle questions will help children develop their social skills by practicing conversations, all while engaging them in fun and familiar topics. 

Available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and


Kat Chen is the author of several bestselling contemporary and historical romance books. She also serves on the advisory board for Books for Newborns.

After becoming a grandmother and spending most of her free time helping with “the fun stuff”—conversations, crayons, and crawling—she was inspired to delve into children’s books and help kids master the art of simple conversation through shared play.

Learn more about Kat and her work on her website, Facebook, Instagram.


Lorraine Nam is an illustrator based in Brooklyn, New York. She was born in Philadelphia and spent her childhood drawing pictures and folding origami to pass the time at her parents’ jewelry store. She now spends her days combining those two loves to create her illustrations.

She is the illustrator of the picture book biography on Neil deGrasse Tyson, Look Up With Me, and the upcoming Wei Skates On, by Olympic Gold Medalist Nathan Chen.

Learn more about Lorraine and her work on her website, Instagram, and Twitter


Life Is What It's Called - What inspired this story?  

Kat Chen - Do you want the official answer or the truth? Official answer: I saw a TED talk about how kids learn to talk with questions. Someone asks, what’s your name? They answer. Someone asks, What color do you like? They think about it and answer. It’s how most conversations begin—a question and an answer. So that’s what I wrote. (That’s all true, it’s just not the full truth. For that…see below.) 

 The secret, unofficial answer is that I watched a relative reading to my granddaughter and was surprised that he just read the words. There was no pausing, no interacting, no questions with the child. That’s when I realized many people don’t know how to read with a toddler. They need help learning how to engage the child with the book. So, I wrote the questions and the interactions to help the adults engage with their child and the book together. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you hope readers will learn from reading Play with Me

Kat Chen - I hope the adults learn how to read books interactively with their child. Reading should be fun play for everyone, not passive entertainment. This series helps people see how to interact with the child in a way everyone enjoys. 

Life Is What It's Called - Why do you think small learnings and tender moments are important for a child? 

Kat Chen - I think they’re important for everyone! The journey of a thousand miles begins and continues with one step. It’s the only way to make consistent progress. And if you can make those small steps fun, nurturing, and tender, then the world opens up for you. Not just for children, but for adults too. I don’t know if my three-year-old remembers how we read books together, but I certainly do. And I cherish those moments because every single one adds to a lifetime of joy. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think children will like most about this story? 

Kat Chen - That the adult reading to them asks them questions. The child gets to choose what they want, what they like, and at times, even what they see. (There’s a couple pages that look up at clouds and ask what the child sees.)  I hope they think it’s fun, fun, fun. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you like most about the story? 

Kat Chen - I love the art. I’m a wordsmith, so I can see the skill in the words. But the art blows my mind. Lorraine Nam gave perfect color and shape to my words in ways I couldn’t even imagine. Every time I see it, I’m absolutely floored by her art. 

Life Is What It's Called - Can you share your writing journey? 

Kat Chen - I started writing after college. Fantasy and romance, mostly. None of it very good. Then I decided to become the great American screenwriter and got an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) at USC (University of Southern California). Then, before I could really get going in Hollywood, we followed my husband’s job back to Illinois. Not much film work going on in central Illinois, so I turned to novels. And babies. I had my children, broke into adult romance novels, and many years later, I revisited my love of picture books. 

 I got some excellent training from my literary agent in exactly how to write these delightful short form works. And then—years later—I finally sold to RISE. I cannot tell you how much joy these books bring me. I’ve published almost 80 novels, am a USA TODAY and AMAZON bestseller, and nothing beats sitting down with my grandbabies and reading the Play With Me books.  

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

Kat Chen - I’ve got several pictures books in submission, so I’m pausing writing more until those flow through the pipeline. (Although, when inspiration strikes, I’m always ready to grab a pen!) Right now, I’m working on an adult romance under the name Jade Lee. Sometimes you have to create the loving family that will support the child. That’s what my adult books do in several hot and sexy ways!


Enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of Play with Me and a $25 Amazon gift card! 

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

Little Red Driving Hood and the Three Repairs Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Monday, April 15, 2024


Little Red Driving Hood and the Three Repairs
Written by Stacey Rayz
Illustrated by Nenad Taskov
Ages 5-10 | 32 Pages
Publisher: Two Season Press | ISBN-13: 9789769628137

Publisher’s Book Summary: In this modern mashup between Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red dares to be different and takes bold risks as she ventures into a field that is out of the norm for girls. Perfect for girls and boys ages 5 to 10 who love cars, fixing things and fairy tales.

Available for purchase on Amazon.


Stacey Rayz, hailing from the Caribbean, left her desk job to delve into the world of art and eventually to become a children’s book author. For more information, visit the author's website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter/X, Goodreads, Bookbub.


Nenad Taskov, a children’s book illustrator, and cartoonist from Serbia has professionally created cartoons and children’s book illustrations for more than 9 years. What amazes him particularly about this type of art is that it offers the opportunity to demonstrate creativity and a sense of humor and create diverse, interesting, funny characters and situations.


Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write Little Red Driving Hood and the Three Repairs?

Stacey Rayz - As a child I enjoyed reading the classic fairy tales and as an adult now, I felt that a fresh modern spin to them would have been fun. Children would be able to have a fairy tale character in a modern setting that they could identify with. So I tried many title variations until I came up with the final title then built the story around that.

Life Is What It's Called - What will readers learn from this story?

Stacey Rayz - They will learn to persevere despite setbacks. They will also learn that sometimes help comes from unexpected places and at unexpected times.

Little Red’s famous words “Don’t worry, I can fix it!” helps readers to have a positive outlook under the most challenging situations.

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think will kids like most about this retelling?

Stacey Rayz - Kids are helpful, so I think kids will like the fact that Little Red Driving Hood is trying to help others.

Life Is What It's Called - What do you feel the illustrations add to the message of the story?

Stacey Rayz - I am hoping readers realize the nod to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in both the illustrations and the story.

Life Is What It's Called - Can you share your writing experience?

Stacey Rayz - When I was in school, I enjoyed my assignments to write about what I did for my school vacation. But my children’s book writing experience came from training I received from Children’s Book Mastery. I’ve attended some of their bootcamps and that really helped me polish my story to make it shine. I have authored two previous books as well.

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

Stacey Rayz - My next book is a playful story about a young cow who is not your typical-looking calf and who learns to feel comfortable in her own skin.

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

Stacey Rayz - Not only do I write children’s stories, but I also write and perform a type of calypso music called ‘Extempo’ for fun to entertain my friends.


Enter the giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Little Red Driving Hood and the Three Repairs signed by Stacey Rayz and a $75 Amazon gift card!

Little Red Driving Hood and the Three Repairs: Book Giveaway 

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

Fairy Day Games Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Tuesday, April 9, 2024


Fairy Day Games
Written by Mari Sherkin
Illustrated by David Gnass
Ages 4+ | 38 Pages
Publisher: Mascot Kids | ISBN-13: 9781637555064

Publisher’s Book Summary: Get ready for fun at the Fairy Day Games! Join children’s author Mari Sherkin as she peeks inside a secret world, where magical creatures come together to prepare for the most festive Fairy Day of the year!!

Available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and


Raised in Toronto by an English father and Canadian mother, Mari Sherkin was always the happiest playing outdoors and using her imagination. She still is. Her first children’s book, A Fairy on My Sleeve, was an international success.

For more information, visit the author's website, Instagram, and/or Twitter.


Life Is What It's Called - What did you like most about writing this book?

Mari Sherkin - I was actually writing another fairy story at the time and one night my husband and I decided to watch an old movie. The movie was located in a very small, quaint town which was holding an old-fashioned county fair. 

My mind turned to fairies as it often does and I wondered, what if the fairies had a fair? A whole day of fun and games organized by the fairy folk and their magical friends. What would that be like? After that, the rhymes just started coming to me. 

Life Is What It's Called- What do you think readers will like most about this book?

Mari Sherkin - I love the idea that there could be wonderful, magical worlds that we don’t know exist, right in our back garden. I think it is that “What If” scenario that made Fairy Day Games so much fun to write.  What if there are fairies in the woods behind our house and what if had their own Olympic games?  What if it was only for one day? What if everyone who lived in the forest had to work together for months to get it all ready? What if I were invited?  

Yes, my favourite part of writing Fairy Day Games were definitely the “What If’s” 

Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write this story?

Mari Sherkin - In my magical fairy world, everyone is different but they all work together to make a wonderful day at the fair for everyone. It is a cheerful, safe space where there is no poverty, hate or war. 

 There are fairies, gnomes, squirrels and frogs and everyone gets along with each other. I suppose if I did have a message, it would be to put aside differences and work together for a common cause. There really aren’t that many safe spaces left these days in the real world, so I wanted to create a place that was special for children to go in their imagination.  

Life Is What It's Called - What will readers like most about this book?

Mari Sherkin - I think the best thing about this book is the artwork. David Gnass, with whom I’ve worked before, has a wonderful eye for detail. I told him that I wanted children to be able to stay on the pages even after they finished reading the words, so they could examine the artwork and find something new and exciting each time. This also helps younger children feel more included in the story, even if they don’t read quite yet. 

Life Is What It's Called - What makes your book stand apart from others on the market?

Mari Sherkin - Fairy Day Games is about friendship and joy, innocence and excitement. I didn’t write it with any sort of lesson in mind, nor is any merchandise is being marketed or sold to children, which I suppose is different. Really, Fairy Day Games is just a happy little escape from the everyday routine, a place to go for daydreams. 

Life Is What It's Called - Are you working on any other writing projects?

Mari Sherkin - Currently, I have one book ready for illustration, with two more books in progress.  I am also in the process of recording an album of children’s songs that I wrote, one of which will be filmed as a video this summer. These songs are actually part of a larger body of work - a children’s musical - that I hope to pitch within the next two years. 

Life Is What It's Called - Can you share your background in writing?
Mari Sherkin - I do not really have a professional background in writing. In high school, English and Drama were my two favourite classes - I read a lot of Shakespeare and wrote a lot of poetry - however in college, I studied Interior Design and then turned to fitness. 

I didn’t really start writing my poems down until my son was a teenager, and nothing was published until 20 years after that. They sat in a folder in the bottom of a drawer until I found them again and thought they might be nice as Picture Books for preschoolers. 

Life Is What It's Called - What else should readers know about this book?

Mari Sherkin - Fairy Day Games is a picture book about fairies, for preschoolers. It is all about an elusive, magical world, that is usually hidden from humans, making her dream of an invitation that much more exclusive.  My hope is that it will help invigorate a child’s imagination, letting them take the story further, perhaps inspiring them to make up some new games for the fairies to play. Hopefully, it will encourage and stimulate creative conversation and play, just by asking the simple question “What if?” 


Enter the giveaway for the chance to win a signed copy of the Fairy Day Games!

Fairy Day Games: Giveaway

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

The Orchids of Ashthorne Hall Book Review

Thursday, April 4, 2024


1887, the Cornwall coast

For years, rumors have flown through the village of Suttonsbury about Ashthorne Hall—that its occupants hoard pirate treasure, that a ghost walks its halls—but botanist Hyacinth Bell only cares about the estate's extensive, one-of-a-kind orchid collection. As an independent woman, she is eager to focus on her career, even if it means waiting to pursue a romantic relationship. After all, love—like an orchid—must be nurtured and tended before it can bloom.

What she doesn't expect is to be swept away by Lucas Harding, the manor's caretaker, upon their first meeting. He is handsome and charming, and the connection between the two is nearly instantaneous. Hyacinth is certain this autumn will be the season that everything good in her life takes root

But then strange things start happening in the seemingly empty halls of the estate: unexplainable noises, items appearing then disappearing from her room, threatening messages, and glimpses of a woman in white who vanishes into the dark. Lucas dismisses Hyacinth's worries, insisting that there is no ghost at Ashthorne Hall, but she suspects he is withholding information and decides to investigate the mystery herself.

Armed with little more than her instincts and her courage, Hyacinth must venture deep into the shadows of Ashthorne Hall to uncover the truth Lucas is keeping secret before she herself falls victim to the dangers hidden in the estate.


Rebecca Anderson loves hiking, Broadway shows, rainstorms, food, books, and movies. She lives in the mountains and adores the ocean; she dreams of travel but loves staying home. Happiness is dabbling in lots of creative activities, afternoon naps, and cheese. All the cheese.


Hyacinth Bell, a botanist, plans to only tend to the prized orchids at Ashthorne Hall while the owner and his family are away in India. She delights in beauty of the orchids, but she finds Ashthorne Hall shrouded in mysteries, intrigues, and danger. As she becomes closer to unraveling the mysteries, she finds herself falling in love with the caretaker.

The Orchids of Ashthorne Hall dives into a gothic romance complete with surprising scares, secret passageways, mystery and romance. The author kept true to the genre while combining many historical references and facts about orchids to make her story come alive on the pages. I found this to be a fast and easy read. It's a page turner that will keep you up at night. The characters are interesting and captivating with their multi-layered backgrounds and will keep you guessing on what the reveal will be at the end. The romance in this story is clean and could easily be read by teens and adults. I had read the non-fiction book years earlier that the author mentioned in her acknowledgements. I do think it's worth a read after this book. It'll help you understand more of the horrors that were mentioned in this book. To learn more about The Orchids of Ashthorne Hall, click here.

I received a free ARC copy to review this story, however, this is my honest opinion. Please note this post and review is in cooperation with the publisher. This post contains affiliate links that helps support this blog.

Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Tuesday, April 2, 2024


Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time
Written by P.J. Davis
Illustrated by Thomas Peacock
Ages: 8+ | 234 Pages
Publisher: Philaments | ISBN-13: 979-8990031616

Book Summary: “…it’s hard to prove the world’s most important substance is missing when no one knows it’s gone.”

“Substance? What substance?” asks thirteen-year-old Max Kellerman. “Why time itself!” exclaims the strange professor who Max meets in the back of his uncle’s bookstore. In fact, he says, time is being sucked out of every living person by invisible thieves and stored away in a deep, dark netherworld.

Could the professor possibly be right… or just plain crazy?

It depends on whether Max can unravel the mysterious clues in the tattered manuscript the professor leaves behind. With the help of his best friends Derek and Samantha, Max begins a quest to find this dark realm and to discover its hidden secrets. But with the time clock ticking and the professor gone missing, Max uncovers a truth he never thought possible.

Max must unravel the mysteries of Nemesis to save not just his world, but the very fabric of time itself.

Available for purchase here.

"Absolutely LOVED this book. While reading I felt like I was in the story. It’s a great story for kids but also a fun read for adults as well!"
— Goodreads Review

"Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time is fun, for both kids and adults."
— Goodreads Review

"...makes for a great bedtime read-aloud for your kids while getting caught up in the adventure yourself. It’s such a fun and whimsical book that can bring the family together both young and old."
— Goodreads Review


PJ Davis lives in the tiny mountain town of Brevard, North Carolina overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. He lives there with his wife, youngest son, three sleepy cats and three noisy ducks. For his day job, he names things, such as companies, products and services. he even named the town’s annual White Squirrel Festival.

PJ is a nickname, short for Phillip John, which is the type of long, formal-sounding name that parents use when they are really mad about something you did and for which you are about to get into serious trouble. As a child PJ was a bit like his book character Max, and also suffered from ACHOO syndrome, along with bouts of intense curiosity and daydreaming. Growing up, almost all of his questions started with “what if…”, which drove his parents crazy.

For more information, visit his website, Twitter, Facebook, and/or Instagram.


Tom Peacock is an artist extraordinaire with an extensive background in illustration and graphic design. His work as an agency art director and subsequent roles in marketing and art direction make him an in-demand talent. Tom is not a native of North Carolina but got there as soon as he could. When not drawing, off roading or selling mountain real estate, Tom can be most likely be found in the woods.

Life Is What It's Called - Where did you get the inspiration for Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time?

PJ Davis - It started with a feeling of empathy for the main character Max, who’s this kid that’s sort of lost in his own thought bubble. I could relate to how that internal world can lead to isolation and misunderstanding at school and in life in general. So I started to write about him, explore the character and let it play itself out with all of his ruminations and imaginations. Then I just followed the threads of his thoughts to see where it took him, and it took him to some pretty interesting places.

Life Is What It's Called - What was your writing process like for this book?

PJ Davis - I would describe my process as inspired fits and spurts. When the ideas flow, they really flow. It’s almost like I’m a witness to the writing and there’s an internal dictation going on that I can barely keep pace with. But then the story will suddenly turn cold and just sit there for a while. So I typically let it do just that… sit. And then I come back and tinker a bit and see if I can pick up the trail again. Sometimes I ask the story what it wants to say, as if the story itself is a person. My goal is to get out of the way as much as possible and let the story tell itself. So it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Then there’s the more tedious process of synthesizing it, reviewing it, sending it to my editor for input, and doing the revisions and fine tuning. So it’s both inspiration and dedication, there’s no cutting corners.

Life Is What It's Called - What is your favorite part about writing books for kids?

PJ Davis - My favorite part of writing middle grade fiction is the anticipation that comes with knowing who I’m writing for – those bright, bubbly, and unbridled young minds. In fact, I write with a very specific mental image of my intended audience. For this book, I pictured a ten or eleven- year-old boy coming up to my table at a future book signing alongside his mother. He asks questions about my book that even I don’t have adequate answers to. Why? Because he’s so fully invested in the story that he’s made this new world his very own. And when that moment arrives, I’ll know that my goal in writing this book was absolutely accomplished. 

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

PJ Davis - I have a strong suspicion that Max, Derek and Samantha will be back. There is some unfinished business they’ll need to attend to, and the forces at work are still very much at work. For a clue, look at the last illustration in the book at the very end… and stay tuned! 

Life Is What It's Called - What is your favorite book?

PJ Davis - Tough question as probably most would agree. But in terms of impact, I would say The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois. I have a soft spot for fantastical adventures and this book about a man’s globetrotting visit to a remote island of millionaires really captured my imagination. I was in fifth grade at the time and it helped spur a love of reading and misadventure.

Enter the giveaway for the chance to win a copy of Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time autographed by P.J. Davis, a Galaxy Flying Orb Ball, and a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time: Book Giveaway

This post is sponsored by P.J. Davis. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.

The Reign of Rosemund Book Review and Author Interview

Monday, April 1, 2024

Several years after taking her place on the throne, Queen Rosemund of Anduron is still being threatened by her cousin, King Frederick, ruler of Croydon. He will do anything to take her country from her. To ensure her place on the throne Rose needs to marry her beloved Maxwell and provide an heir to the throne.

When some of her men are captured and killed by the Croydon army, Rose knows the only way to end the threat to her security and ensure peace in her country is to confront her cousin, once and for all.

With Maxwell and her dear friend Ricker by her side, Rose bravely leads her army into battle, knowing that all may not survive… The Reign of Rosemund, a story of courage, honor, and the power of love.

Life Is What It's Called - What will readers love about The Reign of Rosemund?

Michele Ashman Bell - If they read the first book, The Crown of Rosemund, they will like seeing where the last book left off and the new book begins and then they will get to read the rest of Rose's story. If they haven't read the first one, they certainly can still read this book and not feel lost. I think readers really resonate with Rose, the main character. She's relatable and her life hasn't been easy. Her struggles and fears and dreams are just like ours. I also think, like Rose, sometimes we are called upon to do things we don't want to do, things we don't feel like we are even capable of doing, but then we find out we can do hard things. I think it's in times like this that we find out our greatest strengths and talents and gifts. Is it always fun? No. Sometimes it's downright awful. But hopefully we grow and change and come out a better person in the end. And...sometimes we make a difference to someone else, or in Rose's case, her entire country. Her story reminds me of Esther in the Bible, with the phrase, "born for a time such as this," being very true.

Life Is What It's Called - Will there be other books in this series?

Michele Ashman Bell - I never say never with stories. Sometimes a secondary character emerges and needs their story told. Sometimes a reader will ask a question which begs to be answered, resulting in another book. As of right now, I don't have another story planned, but again, you never know.

Life Is What It's Called - Why is it important to have clean and uplifting books?

Michele Ashman Bell - I can't tell you how many times lately I've read a book, or more often, watched a movie, or series, where there is offensive language, or an offensive scene in it, that honestly, absolutely in no way, has any bearing on the character or plot. In fact, it is starting to feel gratuitous that certain language uses are being included in stories, shockingly, that are geared toward kids. The wonderful thing is that the demand for clean and uplifting entertainment is growing and the market is really expanding because readers and viewers are making their voices heard, through social media, through sharing their opinions, and through their spending habits. If they don't buy the book, or the movie ticket, then it hits right where it hurts, and it's hard for publishers and theater owners to ignore.

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

Michele Ashman Bell - There were a few powerful and emotional scenes that I looked forward to writing, scenes I could see in my head as clearly as if I was standing in the room. There were also a couple I dreaded. In the first book I knew that Rose needed to confront her cousin, King Frederick. He was responsible for the murder of her parents and she needed to confront him and get closure. But it couldn't happen in the first book. That's what this second book is about. There is also a scene between Rose and Max that is incredibly emotional and gut-wrenching. It was hard to go there and let the story unfold organically,and be true to the plot and the characters (I'm a control freak and I want things my way) but it is a tender scene that will always be with me in my heart. I don't know about other authors but these characters become real to me and not only take up space in my brain, but in my heart.

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

Michele Ashman Bell - SO MANY!!! I keep thinking I need to wind down and retire but I can't. There are too many stories to still tell. I have a fun contemporary Rom Com coming out in the next few months, so I'm really pumped for that. Also, I love Christmas stories and I have at least two full novels and three short stories I am working on. Plus I have a contemporary novel that is getting me so excited. Luckily I am going to NYC soon to do research for one of the Christmas short stories and then in April I'm traveling to the UK and doing research in Bath and through the Cotswolds for the novel. This for sure is the funnest part of being an author. And I have a secret project I'm working on that if it actually happens, I will feel like I've died and gone to heaven. Hopefully more about that sooner, rather than later.

Life Is What It's Called - What character are you most like in this book?

Michele Ashman Bell - Oh! It's like saying who my favorite child is. I love Rose and her struggles to be the queen she needs to be and all the complicated emotions she's sorting through. I love Max, her romantic interest. He's a Medieval hunk and heartthrob, but he's also a little more contemporary in his understanding of Rose and giving her love and tenderness when she needs it. One of my favorites though is Ricker. He's just the greatest guy ever. He's such a devoted friend to Rose and Max, he's a great military leader, and he's got such a fun and funny side to him. He is super endearing.

Life Is What It's Called - What type of readers will like this book?

Michele Ashman Bell - The setting is Medieval, early 1500's, in South Central Europe, although the countries in the book are fictitious. However, I've researched this time period and have tried to make everything authentic and accurate. People who like historical novels will enjoy this story. Also, readers who like adventure stories, and of course, romances. This story will also appeal to a wide age range of readers. Rose, at 18, is an adult, especially by Medieval standards, but she is still a teenager by our standards. Adults, young adults, and middle-grade readers will all be able to connect with the story and characters. And because of the theme of the story, that everyone has greatness inside of them, I feel like it is a message that is vital for everyone, especially youth.

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

Michele Ashman Bell - Wow, I feel like a pretty boring and ordinary person. I'm married to my college sweetheart. I have four amazing children; 1 son and 3 daughters. I have 9 grandchildren; 6 granddaughters and 3 grandsons. I've taught exercise classes for over forty years and currently teach Zumba. And I LOVE to travel, especially when I can do research for a story.

The Reign of Rosemund is the sequel to The Crown of Rosemund, but could also be read as a stand-alone. In The Reign of Rosemund, Rosemund struggles to settle any threats made against her kingdom especially from her cousin, King Fredrick. This is a clean read set in the medieval times. It would be appropriate for teenagers, young adults, adults, and upper middle-grade readers. The book deals with Medieval drama from trying to stop enemies from taking the throne, politics, stopping wars, etc. There's a lot of action and adventure in this book. The characters are interesting, and the author keeps the reader's attention with many twists in the plot. It's a fun, easy read. To learn more, click here

Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links.
Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs