Review: Frankie Dupont and High Seas Heist

25820644Title: Frankie Dupont and High Seas Heist
Author: Julie Anne Grasso
Publisher: Independent
Release Date: July 2015
Length: 148 pages
Series?: Frankie Dupont Mysteries #4
Genre: Children’s, Mystery

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Frankie Dupont seems to catch odd-ball cases in the most unlikely places. You would think he would be used to it by now.  When his next case lands him on a luxury cruise liner full of devious chocolatiers with ulterior motives, Frankie will be expected to solve the crime, even before it’s committed.  Although his mind is certainly up for the challenge, Frankie realises his stomach is yet to find its sea legs.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

The Duponts are celebrating Fankie and his father’s birthdays at Enderby Manor when they open a mysterious package sent by Madame Marie Fontaine with four VIP cruise passenger tickets and four airline tickets for the entire family to come to her aid. The original plan changes change, and Mr. Dupont sets off to Antarctica with Frankie, Kat, Amy and Sherlock. When they arrive, no one is more surprised than Frankie to see Inspector Cluesome sitting on Madame Marie’s couch, let alone the tale they are about to tell of a suspected robbery about to occur. It turns out Madame Marie’s granddaughter also has her own reasons for calling Frankie and his dog to the ship.

The Players

Frankie Dupont

Sherlock – Frankie’s canine companion and investigative pal

Kat – Frankie’s cousin; friend’s with Amy; on Frankie’s investigative team

Amy – Kat’s friend; Angus & Archie’s sister; also part of Frankie’s investigative team

Mr. Dupont – Frankie’s father; a very thorough investigator

Madame Marie Fontaine – a wealthy woman who owns a cruise ship; reaches out to the Duponts for help

Madeline – Madame Marie’s granddaughter; she has a secret reason for wanting Frankie on the case

Vincent – a new employee on the cruise ship

Inspector Cluesome – an inspector from the Dupont’s hometown; involved in several of Frankie’s previous cases

Emmaline Legrand – a notorious thief and chocolatier; suspected of making a soon-to-be hit on the Fontaine family fortune

Hugh Legrand – brother of Emmaline; also a chocolatier

The Quote

“On the contrary, madam.” Cluesome stroked his mustache. ” I personally will vouch for the lad and lasses, and for what you plan for us to undertake, it’ll be a good idea to have some little eyes and ears on the ground.”

The Highs and Lows

  • + Plot. What more elaborate scheme to pull off than a high-stakes robbery on none other than a cruise ship? It’s incredibly hard to steal such a delicate item in a highly public and visible situation. And that is exactly what Frankie, his dad, and the investigative crew are there to prevent. Madeline’s story, the reason she has called Frankie, Kat, Amy and Sherlock to the ship, is also intertwined. As Inspector Cluesome and Mr. Dupont investigate the case for Madame Marie Fontaine, Frankie and his team investigate the case for Madeline.
  • + Inspector Cluesome. Inspector Cluesome has never been nice to Frankie, and yet he has an about face in this installment. While Madame Marie is dead set against something, Cluesome surprisingly swoops in support of Frankie. Perhaps the man has something to him after all.
  • + Sherlock. Sherlock steals the show in this installment. He is all over the place, and might as well be Kat’s lap dog when all is said and done, yet he saves the day!
  • – Madame Marie Fontaine. The wealthy chocolatier is very blunt, almost to the point of insulting and impolite. The way that she treats Frankie is one thing, and then the way she treats her own graddaughter is an entirely other.
  • + Vincent. Vincent, the brand new employee, is a minor character. However, he is very helpful and loyal to Madeline without question. He naturally picks up this role. He covers for her and helps her without expecting or asking anything in return.
  • + Frankie. Frankie is in his prime in this installment. His work on Madeline’s case is very heartwarming. Given the limitations they are working with on the cruise ship, it still seems that he is firing on all cylinders and going above and beyond.
  • + Madeline. Madeline is incredibly sweet, but a very pressured little girl. She is always doing “schoolwork” and has such a big responsibility on her hands. I don’t blame her for going behind her grandmother’s back.
  • + Stakeout! The stakeout cropped up naturally. The girls were talking and something clicked and the stakeout on deck was born. Who doesn’t like stakeouts?

The Take-Away

The plot of this installment was a quite elaborate, much like the first two books in the series. I was instantly drawn in. Who wouldn’t be with a high-stakes heist about to go down? And in such an isolated locale to boot. But it was when Madeline started sharing her case for Frankie and team to investigate that I knew something either amazing or disastrous was going to happen. I liked that Frankie, Kat and Amy were so willing to help Madeline solve her case and all the efforts they put into it. The fact that they were foiled over and over again just made it that much more angsty.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

If you’re not up for buying, definitely borrow. This is not one you want to skip!

***** About the Author *****

With a background in paediatric nursing, Julie Anne Grasso spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories to entertain them. A science fiction nerd (she even owns a TARDIS), cupcake enthusiast and lover of all things mystery, she lives in Melbourne with her husband Danny and their little girl Giselle. Most days she can be found sipping chai tea and dreaming up wonderful worlds that often involve consumption of cupcakes.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Frankie Dupont and The Science Fair Sabotage

Title: Frankie Dupont and The Science Fair Sabotage
Author: Julie Anne Grasso
Publisher: Independent
Release Date: May 2015
Length: 134 pages
Series?: Frankie Dupont Mysteries #3
Genre: Children’s, Mystery

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Frankie Dupont is less than impressed when he has to attend the Sustainable Science Fair with Kat and Amy. Upon his arrival, he learns that Amy’s brothers have had their robotics chip stolen. Keen to recover the chip, Frankie questions the kids in the competition, but everyone seems to have a motive. When baffling clues start rolling in via “Snap-Goss” instant messages, Frankie realises it will take all of his detective muscles to solve this case. An illustrated mystery for ages 8-12.

 

***** Review *****

The Skinny

There are a wealth of inventors and science geeks convening in town, more specifically at Enderby Manor, which Frankie is very familiar with. For the kids the prize is a whopping $300 and tickets to the science camp. For the adults, who have come from all over, the prize is a $50,000 grant to begin production on their invention. The bar is set high and the ante is up. Everyone has a motive for murder and misconduct – of a science fair project. Frankie, paired up with his dog Sherlock, cousin Kat, and friend Amy, must solve the mysterious disappearance of Angus and Archie’s robot microchip so they will not be disqualified. It’s not easy when the twins have played semi-serious pranks

The Players

Frankie Dupont

Sherlock – Frankie’s dog; his investigative pal

Kat – Frankie’s cousin; friend’s with Amy; on Frankie’s investigative team

Amy Appleby – Kat’s friend; Angus & Archie’s sister; also part of Frankie’s investigative team

Angus & Archie – Amy’s younger twin brothers who are entering their robot in the science fair; their project has been sabotaged and their microchip stolen

Colonel Forsythe – Enderby Manor concierge; retired Special Forces

Ms. Chestnut – a teacher; in charge of the science fair

Mr. Mulberry – a teacher; in charge of the science fair

The Suspects

  • Rodney Butterworth – fellow contestant with a soda can violin with a string-tuning security device; broke up the fight between Angus & Archie, who mistuned his violin at a recital
  • Heather Chapman – fellow contestant with a balloon recycling service that turns balloon remnants into Recyc-bling jewelry; had karate boards glued together by the twins at a tournament
  • Joseph Fishburne – fellow contestant with some magician’s tricks up his sleeve and a stroke-ometer for swimming ; did not make it onto the swim squad due to the twins disrupting his time clock at swim trials
  • Harrison Danbury – fellow contestant with edible “Legos” made from Stevia plants
  • Nakano Riku – fellow contestant with cloned salmon, turned blue thanks to the twins

The Quote

“You’re always going on about fashion and karate, and Jason Buber, that kid that sings as though he has two X chromosomes.” He chuckled at his own joke.

The Highs and Lows

  • + Parodies. Snap-Gross…Jason Buber…So perfectly placed. I know what Julie Ann thinks of these two things…
  • + Enderby Manor. A return to a previous case site, one that Frankie and Kat are well familiar with. This also brings back a host of characters from the first book (at least those who are still employed at the manor).
  • + Double Trouble. The twins, Angus and Archie, are not always on the same page, adding to or creating more conflict, despite their dire circumstances. They have also sprung spoofs on all of their fellow science fair competitors, making it hard to eliminate motives.
  • – Amy. Each time another of the twins’ pranks were revealed, Amy acted aghast that her younger brothers would behave so. Anyone who has siblings knows exactly how their siblings behave, both at home and in public, and this should not have been a recurring shock each time a prank was uncovered. It just didn’t ring true to the authenticity of their familial relationship.
  • – Plot Development. I feel this installment was not fully developed in terms of plot. It felt like the plot was extremely simple for a mystery, leaving very little anticipation to be built up in the story arc. Judging by the writing, I would expect this to be the first book in the series, not the third.

The Take-Away

The twins are hilarious. Each time a new “suspect” reveals how the twins have sabotaged them in some way, they always enthusiastically scream that the new suspect is the thief. At one point, one of the twins even tries to high five a competitor who said the twins’ attempt to ruin their project actually helped the project along. They think everything is fun and games until they are wronged in some way, but they are also very good-natured about things at the same time. It’s an odd mix, and since they seem so…removed (is that the right word?) it makes things even funnier.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

This installment did not have me as excited as the previous two, so for this reason I recommend borrowing.

 

***** About the Author *****

With a background in paediatric nursing, Julie Anne Grasso spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories to entertain them. A science fiction nerd (she even owns a TARDIS), cupcake enthusiast and lover of all things mystery, she lives in Melbourne with her husband Danny and their little girl Giselle. Most days she can be found sipping chai tea and dreaming up wonderful worlds that often involve consumption of cupcakes.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Mike and the Dog-Gone Labradoodle

Title: Mike and the Dog-Gone Labradoodle
Author: Emlyn Chand
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Release Date: September 2015
Length: 43 pages
Series?: The Pet Shop Society #1
Genre: MG

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Mike Adams has always been a pretty average kid. He hates homework, loves sports, and spends a lot of his day bugging his twin sister Maddie—because, after all, she deserves it.

But one day, everything changes. Nic Chang’s dog goes missing.

Mike, his sister and their two best friends join forces to search for the truth and, with it, the missing pet. Will Mike and Maddie find a way to put their differences aside and save the day? And just where did that dog-gone labradoodle go?

Put your thinking caps on and prepare to find the answers in the premier installment of The Pet Shop Society, a brand new mystery series for readers aged 7-11

***** Review *****

The Players

Mike – one of the coolest kids in 6th grade; Maddie’s twin brother

Maddie – Mike’s twin sister; Mike thinks she’s weird

Tyler – Mike’s best friend; the other coolest kid in 6th grade

Bree – Maddie’s best friend

Nic – the new girl in town

The Skinny

This is a very quick read for younger MG readers. The plot is fairly simple and predictable, designed with budding readers in mind. The classic element of friendship is present, and there is a touch of a crush going on among two characters.

Mike and Maddie’s mother owns the pet shop in town. It is Nic Chang’s first stop when looking for her lost dog, Baxter. Mike, Maddie and their two best friends resolve to help Nic unravel the mystery of her lost dog, and they start at the scene of the crime.

Mike and Maddie, being twins and all, don’t get along all that much. They are very different from one another and Mike sees Maddie as just plain weird. She doesn’t like sports or anything he likes. She won’t be friends with the girls he likes. But the one thing I appreciated in Mike’s character was that the worst he called his sister was weird, and to him she’s just Maddie.

The plot moved along quickly, and readers discover why Nic Chang’s dog went missing and what she has been up to herself. The team reassembles at the pet shop and decide they have knack for this detective business. And The Pet Shop Society is born.

***** About the Author *****

From an early age, Emlyn Chand has counted books among her best friends. She loves to hear and tell stories and emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Her affinity for the written word extends to absolutely every area of her life: she has published fiction across multiple genres, oversees and contributes as both an editor and an author to theNovel Publicity Guides for Writing & Marketing Fiction series, and loves the written word so much, she even married author Falcon Storm! Don’t forget that she is the founder and president of Novel Publicity too.

The book that changed Emlyn’s life is Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crocket Johnson. It opened her eyes to the world that could exist if only she was willing to create it—a lesson she has never forgotten. Maybe that’s why she loves writing her Bird Brain Book series for children so much!

Emlyn’s first novel, Farsighted, won the prestigious Writer’s Digest Self-Published Novel of the Year award in 2012 for the YA category. She now writes most of her fiction under her real name, Melissa Storm.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review + Giveaway: Westly

Title: Westly: A Spider’s Tale
Author: Bryan Beus
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Release Date: September 2015
Length: 176 pages
Series?: no
Genre: MG

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

This is tale of a caterpillar named Westly who is destined to be a Monarch butterfly and the next king of the butterfly kingdom. But sometimes things don’t turn out the way we plan. When Westly emerges from his cocoon he is nothing like he expected. As a spider he must rediscover who he is. Adopted by the “dirt eaters,” Westly is determined to make a difference. He is determined to belong, to be loved, and most importantly, to become who he was born to be.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Westly is a young caterpillar and the son of the king Monarch butterfly. He is intent on being the best butterfly he can be, but when he emerges from his cocoon it is not at all the transformation he wanted.  He is no butterfly, much to the shock of the butterflies in the chandelier of the menagerie. Instead of becoming the butterfly princeling, Westly is adopted down below by the “dirt eaters.” He is so unsure of himself and only wants to help, but he must learn how to use his new talents and make new friends in order to do so.

The Players

Westly – a young caterpillar-turned-spider trying to discover who he is

Sara – Westly’s closest caterpillar friend

Mr. Dragonfly – leader of the gardeners (“dirt eaters”)

Zug Zug – a fly and one of the gardeners

Mr. Raven – Westly’s raven friend who lives outside the menagerie

First Impressions

The cover and the synopsis sounded adorable. I knew to expect some type of coming-of-age story with an emphasis on differences.

Second Thoughts

The story – and Westly – are quite cute. This is definitely a story that speaks to a younger reading audience. The characters are all bugs and insects living in a menagerie.

“Dirt eater!” a classmate yelled, pointing at the empty air.

“Where?” Sara dropped her ivy and jumped to her feet. There was nothing to see, but the other caterpillars still formed a mock battalion.

Assuming it was part of a game, Sara played along. She gasped, putting her hands on her cheeks, and then called out, “Intruders! Fire the sprinklers!” And with that she ran off with the other caterpillars. 

Although the butterflies and the gardeners both live within the menagerie, there is a serious species divide. The butterflies live in the beautiful chandelier and are quite disdainful and snobbish about the creatures who live below on the ground. They refer to the gardeners as “dirt eaters,” who in turn refer to the butterflies as “fuzzheads.”

Since he had been a child, the sparkling chandelier had been the place he called home, the place where he thought he belonged. But his friends and family glaring at him in shock and disgust was more than he could bear.

After Westly’s botched transformation that lands him as an eight-legged arachnid, he traverses from the chandelier he has lived in all his life with the butterflies down to the ground floor with an eclectic group of insects.  Westly does not look like a butterfly so he no longer fits in at the chandelier. The embarrassment is enough to force him to find a home elsewhere. Westly looks like he fits in much better with the gardeners, but he struggles to actually fit into the gardener’s culture.

Living in the chandelier was the high life. When Westly first bumps into the rough-and-tumble group of gardeners, it is not what he would have expected of them. The perceptions he’s had of the “dirt eaters” all his life are nothing like the hard working gardeners he meets. As Westly struggles to find his way and find out who he is, he sets out on a little journey of his own.

Westly licked his lips and tapped his hands together. While he had always known there was a world outside the menagerie, it had never occurred to Westly that he would ever explore it. 

Westly makes all manner of new friends, including Mr. Raven who lives outside of the menagerie. The raven helps Westly understand who – or rather, what – he is; he teaches Westly how to be a spider and to use his abilities. Westly finds strength and comfort in this new friendship.

Even though Westly is settling in his role within the gardeners and continuing to learn about being a spider, there is a darkness that will strike the menagerie. Westly – the one creature who has lived in both worlds within the menagerie – is the only one who can set things right.

There is a defined lesson in Westly’s story that comes to be embodied in the creatures of the menagerie. Westly shows the “fuzzheads” and the “dirt eaters” that it is OK to be different. Sometimes it takes diversity to come together and solve problems for the good of all.

This is a great read for teaching a few life lessons to youngsters about judging others, differences, diversity and problem solving. Westly features a sense of adventure and courage, with themes that will appeal to young readers. It is a great read about diversity and differences.

***** About the Author *****

Bryan Beus – which rhymes with Zeus – is the winner of the Kirchoff/Wohlberg Award from The New York Society of Illustrators. He works full time as an illustrator for magazines, book covers, film and game conceptual art, and more. When not writing and drawing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amanda, mindful meditation, drinking root beer floats, and eating far too many Sour Patch Watermelons. Westly is his debut novel.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

$25 Amazon eGift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 10/15/15

Review + Giveaway: Miss Priss On and Off the Court

Miss Priss Blog Tour Button

Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Blog Tour for the tween chapter book “Miss Priss: On and Off the Court” by Judy Phillips and Brenda Nichols from September 15 to 21, 2015.

MISS PRISS: ON AND OFF THE COURT is book one in the new tween chapter series by Mom’s Choice Award winning writer-illustrator Team, ‘Brenjudy’. On and Off the Court introduces Priscilla Penelope Paxton (Miss Priss) in a unique coming-of-age story bound to bring giggles and enjoyment to all its readers as Miss Priss encounters and overcomes a slew of challenges, even the one that will continue to grow—self-awareness. The book features full color illustrations and is recommended for ages 8-12.

Miss Priss On and Off the CourtTitle: Miss Priss On and Off the Court
Author: Judy Phillips
Publisher: Tadpole Press…4 Kids (a division of Smooth Sailing Press)
Release Date: August 2015
Length: 230 pages
Series?: Miss Priss #1
Genre: MG

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | Smooth Sailing Press

Priscilla Penelope Paxton is a witty ten year old whose interests and curiosity land her in, sometimes, sticky situations. Dance classes, Girl Scouts, school assignments, friends and hanging out at her family’s drug store, and the local Piggly Wiggly would leave any other person with no time for any-thing else. Yet, the thrill of basketball and joining the Little Dribblers finds its way into Miss Priss’ heart. Though this interest will prove to be a dream that requires overcoming the greatest of challenges; Mom’s opposition. A task that will require ingenuity, perseverance and a little help from some loved ones.

***** Book Preview *****

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Priss is the third child in her family, boxed in by two older brothers and her younger sister Pearl. Being ten, Priss has a natural curiosity that sometimes leaves her with few options in certain situations. Her grandparents and father both own businesses in the town, which has a small-town feel, and Priss is expected to work in both. Top that with dance classes, school, family and friends, Priss doesn’t have a whole lot of extra time. Then she discovers basketball and is exhilarated in the face of possibly joining the Little Dribblers team. Basketball runs in the family. There’s just one problem: Mom stalwartly says absolutely not. Priss cannot play sports. Priss must overcome a lot of opposition on and off the court to reach her goal and her dream, but she has some help from her friends and family.

 

The Players

Priss – ten year old dancer who wants to play basketball; gets in sticky situations

Bobbie – best friends with Priss; mothers are also friends

Addison – dances at Miss Betsy’s with Priss; helps Priss out

Krash, Michelle, Shelby- on an opposing Little Dribblers team; bully and taunt Priss and her team at school

Mom – works at the pharmacy; very involved parent; refuses to allow Priss to play sports

Dad – owns the pharmacy; helps Priss with her basketball dream

Pappaw – owns the Piggly Wiggly; teaches and practices basketball with Priss at home

Priss and Bobbie had a unique friendship. Actually, Priss had great relationships with all of the characters. Even when things go awry, Priss always ends up doing the right thing and apologizing. I loved to see these positive interactions and “we’re in this together” attitude from Priss and her friends.

I did not like Mom, or her relationship with Priss. She absolutely refuses to allow Priss to play sports, especially basketball. Priss is only allowed to do dance. It felt very backwards and 1950’s to me, and she isn’t nice to Priss about it at all. Despite that, Priss still tries hard to be kind and do the right thing as a child even though it’s very difficult.

First Impressions

I thought the book was going to be solely about basketball since it is feature so prominently on the cover and in the title, but that is only one aspect of the story.

Second Thoughts

The author incorporates so many important lessons in this middle grades chapter book. I was blown away by the depth of lessons this book could be used to teach to young readers, without being preachy or over-the-top.

Priss is a unique and interesting character who does end up in some sticky situations, like being locked in the pharmacy bathroom with an overflowing toilet, but she shows great strength of character, perseverance, integrity and ingenuity throughout. Most of all – and this is why I applaud this book and Priss – she has a high sense of respect for others.

The other thing I really liked about Priss is she is a realistic character. She complains about her siblings, especially her younger sister Pearl, but she also knows how to be kind to them. Her voice is true to her age and situation.

Grrrr! Sometimes I get so tired of being Pearl’s big sister. We are at the dentist’s office just because Pearl fell out of the shopping cart that slammed into Old Lady Boyd’s Cadillac. Pearl and I were racing our older brothers, John and Jake, in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, like we always do, when we bring the carts in for our grandparents, who just so happen to own the Piggly Wiggly grocery store. 

Can I help it if she shaved her front top teeth in half? It wasn’t my fault. I told her to hang on. Once she stopped screaming bloody murder, I even showed her how to hide her broken teeth when she smiled or talked. 

During times when even I would have made a worse choice than Priss, she strives to do the right thing. There’s really only one time in the book where she is disrespectful, and it is after a big blow up with her Mom about basketball, so it was understandable. Especially when Priss knows she has not done the right thing by a friend or family member, she apologizes and tries to make things right.

Dad and Pappaw offer up all they can to help Priss with basketball. Pappaw teaches her the basics, and Priss takes off on her basketball dream. As a beginning basketball player, Priss is learning from her mistakes, but there are some bullies at school who won’t let her forget it. I was surprised by how long this went on and that nobody else did anything to help Priss, Bobbie and their teammates at school, and that they didn’t say anything to anyone either. It just shows the strength and perseverance of the girls to overcome opposition.

The setting also lent a lot to the story. Priss and Bobbie ride bikes to school together, and pretty much everywhere they can. Their friends live around, so they can walk to their houses. Mom is involved in everything; Dad owns the town pharmacy; grandparents own the Piggly Wiggly grocery store. All the grandkids work in both the pharmacy and Piggly Wiggly. It is a very small town feel that supports the tight bonds and relationships between characters in the book. The one thing I noticed was quite lacking was the character’s use of technology. The kids don’t have cellphones, iPods or iPads and it allows Priss and her friends to be kids and have fun doing their own things, like setting a booby trap for the evil squirrel who is out to get Priss and Bobbie.

My favorite scene was at the end when the girls are having a ball at their sleepover party. They do all the classics – hot dogs, every flavor chip, s’mores, dress up…and getting stuck in an elevator!

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and found myself giggling quite a bit at the things Priss did just as much as the internal commentary she had with herself. She is a hoot, knows how to be a good friend and have fun. I recommend this to anyone with upper elementary-aged kids. It shows how to work hard for something you really want and how to have fun while being unplugged from technology.

 

***** About the Author *****

Judy PhillipsJudy Phillips is an educator with over twenty years of experience and is currently a counselor at Samuel Houston Elemen-tary School in Huntsville, Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas and a Master of Education degree in Coun-seling from Sam Houston State University.

Phillips volunteers locally with university students through local ministries and mentor programs.

Find the author: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** About the Illustrator*****

Brenda NicholsBrenda Nichols was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and is an educator at university level, with over twenty years of experience. She is currently the Head Women’s Basketball Coach and Professor of Kinesiology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Nichols holds an Associate of Arts degree from Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas, a Bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and a Master’s degree from The University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida.

Nichols volunteers locally by mentoring students and through motivational speaking engagements at schools and various civic organizations.

Find the author: Facebook | Goodreads

 

Miss Priss Blog Tour Schedule (2015)

September 15

Mother Daughter Book Reviews (Launch & Author Interview)

Cherry Mischievous (Excerpt)

Blooming Brilliant (Book Review)

September 16

Girl of a 1000 Wonders (Book Review)

BeachBoundBooks (Guest Post)

Sher A Hart: Written Art (Book Review)

September 17

Don’t Judge, Read (Book Review)

Not Your Ordinary Psychic Mom (Book Review)

September 18

Rockin’ Book Reviews (Book Review)

K&A’s Children’s Book Reviews (Interview)

Icefairy’s Treasure Chest (Book Review)

September 19

Bookworm for Kids (Excerpt)

Brit Bear’s Book Reviews (Book Review)

September 20

The Blended Blog (Book Review)

Bookroom Reviews (Book Review)

September 21

Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions (Excerpt)

Tea Time and Books (Guest Post & Book Review)

Heart of Philanthropist (Book Review)

***** Giveaway *****

One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize, winner’s choice.

Giveaway ends September 28, 11:59 pm, 2015. Open internationally.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

MDBR Book Promotion ServicesTerms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher, SmoothSailing Press and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

Review: Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco

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Title: Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco
Author: Julie Anne Grasso
Release Date: March 2015
Length: 135 pages
Series?: Frankie Dupont Mysteries #2 
Genre: MG

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

Hot off cracking his first official case, Frankie Dupont is on the scene when his new teacher takes ill. The pint-sized detective suspects a classic case of sour grapes, but the evidence leads him to the one place he wouldn’t mind avoiding for the rest of his natural life.

Enderby Manor has a few more secrets up her sleeve, and as Frankie begins to unravel them, he uncovers a plot stinkier than a sardine sandwich.

In Book 2 of the Frankie Dupont Mysteries, Frankie will make some new friends, upset some old ones, and of course, there will be lemon meringue pie.

***** Review *****

First, if you are an educator or parent, there is a free book companion compiled by Carolyn at Wise Owl Factory. There is also on available for the first book as well that Carolyn created. Isn’t that nice? You can read my review of the first book in the series here.

Frankie is back at it again! This time with his cousin Kat, and classmate Amy, along with a little help from his friend Lachy from the first book.

Frankie’s class has been combined with another, and when Miss Chestnut presents head teacher Mr. Mulberry with a poisoned lemon pie, Frankie is on it! Amy provides some inside information about Miss Chestnut directly from the school office. It seems Miss Chestnut certainly had motive, but on the day that the class goes to Enderby Manor to pick lemons for the lemon festival, Frankie botches his interrogation.

He also runs into some of the Manor characters who appeared in book 1, all the while avoiding Meredith, now running Evelyn’s cupcake shop, and Madame Mecurre. Add to it that Frankie is also keeping Amy at arm’s length and out of the investigation, with Kat playing the middle man. It makes for an interesting and complex set-up in addition to the investigation itself.

Frankie and Kat manage to get quite a few clues from around Enderby Manor, with Amy helping cover them. Frankie also meets Meredith and thanks her for her generosity from book 1, which he did not want to do. However, Evan the chef and Madame Mecurre are both acting strangely. After the day of picking lemons prior, Madame Mecurre goes ape on Miss Chestnut and the students about the lemon orchard.

The next day, something disastrous has happened to the lemon orchard. Frankie is running out of time to discover who is at the bottom of this mess, and it appears that the motive is to get their hands on Enderby Manor in order to sell it. Frankie runs down his list of suspects and reveals all at the Lemon Festival which has indeed turned into a fiasco.

***** About the Author *****

With a background in paediatric nursing, Julie Anne Grasso spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed great courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories about a little girl elf just like them.

She lives in Melbourne Australia with her husband Danny and their little elf Giselle.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Review: A Scaly Tale

Title: A Scaly Tale
Author: Kara Wilkins
Publisher: Ripley Publishing
Release Date: May 2010
Length: 125 pages
Series?: Ripley Bureau of Investigation #1
Genre: MG

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

The Florida swamplands are home to hungry gators, wild electrical storms, and a most unusual creature. Sightings of a strange lizard-like animal reach Ripley High and the RBI are sent to investigate. During their search, the RBI agents find themselves in the middle of a high-speed airboat chase, a swarm of rats, a mysterious treasure hunt, and DUL agents in disguise. But then that’s nothing unusual when you’re a member of the RBI!

***** Review *****

This is the first in the Ripley Bureau of Investigation series, also known as RBI: Fact or Fiction?. The RBI team is made up of a group of teenagers with a wide range of abilities and talents that are quite extraordinary. They are members of the elite and top secret RBI team at their school, Ripley High School, which is located in the home of Robert Ripley (creator of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!) on an island off of the East Coast.

The RBI team operates in similar fashion to that of the pals of Scooby Doo, except there’s no dog and only a few investigators are sent on each mission. The selection process for each mission is grounded in the student’s talents and abilities. Those who have the best to offer for each mission are the ones who are sent. Their objective for each mission is to investigate, gather information and determine if it is fact or fiction.

In this first installment, the investigators are sent to the swamplands of Florida to uncover the mystery surrounding the strange reports of a lizard-like man.  Jack, Zia and Kobe are all assigned to comb the Everglades for another sighting of the larger-than-life lizard.

Jack is a 14 year-old from Australia. He grew up on an animal park and has an uncanny bond with animals. He can “talk” with any creature.

Zia is a 13 year-old girl who was the only survivor of a tropical storm that destroyed her village. She was a baby then, and as a result of the storm she now has a white streak of hair among her dark locks. She doesn’t fully understand her abilities, but she can predict (and sometimes control) the weather, as well as having magnetic and electrical powers.

Kobe is a 15 year-old boy who is the product of two African tribes. He has excellent tracking abilities and is an expert on native cultures around the world. His most illustrious talent, though, is his telepathic abilities: he can tell the entire history of a person or object simply by touching it!

Before setting out, the gang is briefed on some high-tech and clever devices designed by their own teacher, Dr. Maxwell, who is the only faculty member who is privy to RBI. Along the way, they run into some devious and dangerous DUL agents who pursue them on airboats through the swampland. The RBI agents get bombarded by a swarm of rats, run into a treasure hunt and at last discover the lizard man.

The book includes a breakdown of all the characters in the book, along with their skills and special notes. There is a map of Ripley High School and other cool graphics relating to the investigation throughout the book. The author has set up the book in such a way that it could easily be transitioned into a TV show, with much of the technology-based devices and messages at the ready.

The dialogue and action are what make this book! I love the team of agents sent on this mission, and how they all work together to support one another. They are fully involved in solving the mission they have been sent on. This is a great example of teamwork and covers some history, culture and geography related to the region.

Review: Friends for Life

Title: Friends for Life
Author: Billi Tiner
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: May 2012
Length: 162 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Children’s, MG

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

Bo and Rico are two puppies who meet at a pet store. The puppies are dognapped from the pet store by two goons. Realizing they are in danger, Bo and Rico must work together to escape the dognappers. After their escape, Bo and Rico find themselves scared and alone on the mean city streets. They are rescued by a streetwise stray named Tank. Tank takes the puppies under his wing and teaches them how to survive on the streets. Bo and Rico embark on several adventures including avoiding the local Animal Control officer, Jimmy; several run-ins with a pack of dogs led by a stray named Mongrel; and rescuing a beautiful lost Poodle named Pearl. Through it all, Bo and Rico form an incredible friendship that will last a lifetime. 

***** Review *****

This is a heartwarming story about friendship and loyalty, of course, from none other than man’s best friend! Bo is a purebred bulldog pup who has lived with his owners until they decide to sell him through the pet shop. After arriving, Bo is confused and Rico the Chihuahua becomes his friend. They bond and grow even closer after two goons kidnap them from the store!

Bo and Rico put their brains, brawn and paws together to escape from the dognappers, but they soon learn their fate on the street is perhaps worse that it was with their dognappers. The streets of the city are cold, hard and mean. They run into a fair share of dangerous situations, until they get rescued by a very street savvy stray. Tank has been around the block before and he knows Bo and Rico are good pups, so he takes them under his wing.

As Bo and Rico survive day by day on the streets, their friendship grows steadily. They are inseparable and always work to protect one another. They have a myriad of adventures, the scariest of which are avoiding the Animal Control officer Jimmy and some run-ins with Mongrel’s pack of strays. They also rescue a lost Poodle, Pearl, and help her find her way back home.

The book contains all the elements that are appealing and engaging to younger readers. Although it’s marketed as a children’s book, I’d really categorize it as a MG book because it is a chapter book of length, and the vocabulary is a little higher than what would be found in a children’s book.

***** About the Author *****

Dr. Billi Tiner is a veterinarian who lives with her husband and two children in Missouri. Dr. Tiner loves animals and has three dogs and three cats of her own.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Review: Karmack

Title: Karmack
Author: J.C. Whyte
Publisher:  Muse It Up Publishing
Release Date: June 2013
Length: 140 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Middle Grades, Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

Everyone knows Curtis “Sully” Sullenburg is the toughest kid at Higgins Elementary. For years, he and his gang have tormented students and teachers alike with their pranks. And for the most part, they’ve gotten away with it. But all that changes when a strange little creature appears on the scene. From that point on, pranks start coming back like boomerangs, smacking Sully’s gang right in their fifth grade butts!

Sully is the only one who can see this creature, which he names Karmack. The little guy claims to be a nature spirit whose job is to balance all the bad karma the boys have amassed over the years. Because if Karmack fails, these boys will undoubtedly suffer “dreadful, awful doom”. Just like that kid who shot at crows with his BB gun – one day he crashed his bike into a pigeon coop and emerged as the Abominable Snowman of bird poop! Yeah, that kind of doom.

Sully soon realizes he must save not only himself but his friends from Karmack’s doom, even though they have no idea why they keep getting boomeranged!

***** Review *****

Sully, Breeze and Gonzo (also known as Curtis Sullenburg, Matthew Brezinski, and Carlos Gonzalez) were the toughest dudes in fifth grade. Everyone knew these three were definitely trouble. And the worst was Sully, their leader.

Sully is the ringleader, The Big Cheese. There’s none bigger, and he has the whole fifth grade living in fear of his wrath. One wrong look, and you get clobbered.

That is, until one day Sully and his gang are chasing down the squealer. They manage to corner him in the alley at the bank, and just as one of his gang is going in for the clobber, a bunch of snow falls off the roof and hits him. HARD. Sully looks up and sees this…creature.

As the days go on, Sully continues to see this creature around town and at school. Sully isn’t sure why he is the only one who is able to see the little guy, but he is out for blood.

Sully and the creature wrestled on the ground for only a few moments. The creature seemed to realize that fighting a bigger, stronger opponent would be useless. So it shouted, “Leggo, leggo.” And Sully mostly did. Yet he kept one hand clamped around the creature’s wrist so it couldn’t run off. 

The boy sat down on a nearby log and pulled the creature before him to take a look at what he’d caught. He saw that it was exceedingly ugly, with a great bulbous nose, beady green eyes, and a very round midsection. Dark green hair sprouted like thick blades of grass from one spot on the top if its head. And its clothes, well…they were really just a bunch of leaves twisted together to form a sleeveless tunic. The creature’s brownish arms and legs poked through the tunic like tree branches. 

“You look like a little tree,” concluded Sully. “But I know you ain’t. What are you?”

As if resigning itself to the status of prisoner, the creature looked down and mumbled, “I’s be karmic balancer.”

Karmack is quite nimble and so fast most don’t see him. It’s very rare for anyone to see him, but he’s been sent to balance the karma in Sully’s life…and those of his gang. Their skyscraper of bad tricks is getting to tall and it’s about to come crashing down. That’s Karmack’s job.

Sully goes back and forth with Karmack, and tries to convince Karmack that his behaviors and actions are just practical jokes on others. That’s what Sully keeps telling himself, but Karmack is still the karmic balancer and does his job.

The dialogue between Sully and Karmack is quite humorous, and Karmack warns Sully that one of his friends’ skyscrapers is about to fall. Being a good friend, Sully does everything he can to stop his friends from doing bad things, but eventually the skyscraper comes falling down. Sully knows there is a way to cheat his own skyscraper down, and he’s trying to figure out how to do that.

Even though Sully is turning himself around, maturing, and keeping his nose clean, when a mustache appears on a sentimental photo in his teacher’s drawer and halts the fifth grade field trip, everyone thinks it’s Sully whose done it…and for revenge. Sully makes a choice that changes his fate and his karma.

Sully goes through a lot of personal growth throughout his fifth grade year. He discovers it’s not always fun and games when you’re bullying others. He also discovers the power of love and attraction. He doesn’t know why he likes this one particular girl, but she always makes him smile and do good things.

This is a great book to read for younger, elementary-aged children. It is interesting to see the turn-around in Sully throughout the year, and how he tries to help others and cheat down his own skyscraper by doing good things.

***** About the Author *****

J.C. Whyte discovered her love for writing at the age of eleven when her 6th grade teacher told the class to write a poem about a sport. She knew her classmates would probably choose a popular sport like baseball or football, so J.C. chose to write a funny poem about golf. To her surprise, the teacher really loved it and encouraged J.C. to continue writing. So she did.

Then that summer, students were told to choose 26 books from a reading list, read them and write a book report on each. BLAH! J.C. wanted to enjoy her summer, not spend it reading. Back then, she was a very slow reader and didn’t much enjoy the experience. Plus, kids didn’t have the fun books which are available today. But her wise teacher told J.C. she could write 26 stories instead of reading them. That was genius. J.C. didn’t actually write a full 26 stories, but she wrote at least one which made her teacher laugh out loud in class. And the teacher gave her an “A” on her summer reading assignment. J.C. never forgot that wise and wonderful teacher who let the budding author play to her strengths.

So as a result, J.C. knew at an early age she wanted to become a professional writer. Yet when she reached college, she also understood that writing stories seldom paid the bills. So she got her degrees in Journalism and Communications Management. Then for many years she channeled her creative energies into the field of Public Relations.

Marriage, kids, and several more degrees and occupations later (including stints as a travel agent and paralegal), J.C. entered law school – mostly because of the challenge of writing creative arguments for the court. But while in law school, she became a columnist for the student newsletter, writing humorous pieces on the strange and quirky life of a law student. She was thrilled when one of these articles was chosen for publication in The National Jurist, a magazine distributed to law students throughout the USA.

But after graduating and passing the Bar, J.C. realized within a few years that creative writing was still what made her heart sing. So now, as a grandma, she’s returned to writing for children. And with the publication of Karmack, J.C. has come full circle, back to where her writing journey truly began. .

Find the author: Website | Goodreads

Review: Maisy and the Missing Mice

Title: Maisy and the Missing Mice
Author: Elizabeth Woodrum
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: October 2013
Length: 75 pages
Series?: The Maisy Files #1
Genre: Middle Grades

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon 

Maisy Sawyer is not your average fourth grade student. She is a detective with a special skill for solving mysteries. She loves black and white mystery movies, cherry lollipops, and her dog, Reesie. When a thief known as The Black Boot steals the school’s mascots and her lollipops, Maisy sets out to solve the case. Can she help return the mice to their home in the science lab? Will she ever see her beloved lollipops again? Find out in the first book in The Maisy Files series.

***** Review *****

Maisy is one cherry lollipop-loving girl. Everyone knows it, too. That’s what made it so easy for The Black Boot to loot her stash and use it as leverage.

Maisy has a knack for detective work. She prefers cherry lollipops as payment. When she’s on a case, things fade to black and white, like in the old mystery movies. This time, someone has stolen the school’s unofficial mascots: the mice from the science room.

The only clue to go on is a black boot. When the announcement is made, Maisy is set to solve it…only The Black Boot strikes again. The cherry lollipops disappear out of her locker.

Maisy begins investigating. She records everything and creates timelines. The Black Boot must be a fourth or fifth grader, given the timeline.

Then The Black Boot strikes yet again, except this time he wants to silence Maisy and scare her off the case.

And nobody got away with stealing Maisy’s cherry lollipops.

I loved the writing of this short middle grades book. It was perfect for the Maisy, in terms of her age as a narrator and in terms of her personality. Maisy is indeed one very good detective. She’s also a really good kid, kind and generous.

I highly recommend The Maisy Files to young MG readers. It is highly engaging and relatable. It is also a great way to present problem solving skills to readers.