Coming Up: Blog Tour for Leila Sales’ latest YA & more!

The blog tour for Leila Sales’ latest young adult title, If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, begins on April 29th and it will be stopping here on May 2nd! Do stop by and check out my thoughts on Sales’ contemporary, timely story.

I have had such a string of wonderful- truly excellent- reads lately: P.S. I Miss You; Be Prepared; Speak: The Graphic Novel; the picture book Petra. It’s looking like the streak might just be continuing! I recently finished reading K.A. Holt’s terrifically moving House Arrest, and am diving into the follow-up Knockout. Look forward to a new great picture books round-up post, as well as review posts talking about the latest books from Kate Messner & Matthew Forsythe, David Wiesner, Kyo Maclear & Julie Morstad, and more!

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#PlayTestShare Giveaway: Spring Break 2018!

I am delighted to be hosting a Spring Break 2018 round of #PlayTestShare, courtesy of the lovely and generous folks at Raincoast Books!

Open to Canadian residents, ages 18 and up, one lucky person will have the chance to win one of the amazing #PlayTestShare items below! I had the chance to play and test out Llamanoes
 as well as After Dinner Amusements: Which Would You Choose?
, so you will see some photos and get my thoughts on those two items. Read on for even more information about all the #PlayTestShare items on offer and how to enter the giveaway!

 

Llamanoes: Dominoes . . . with Llamas! by Chronicle Books, illustrated by Shyama Golden
 A hilarious herd of llamas star in this laugh-out-loud twist on the game of dominoes. From Llama-nardo da Vinci to Super Llama (it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s . . . a llama?), kids, families, and llama enthusiasts will have a blast matching heads to tails to complete the chain and win! It’s a goofy gift, a boredom-busting game, and a great way to develop matching and fine motor skills, all in one appealing and colorful package.

Readers, what a fantastic batch of games! First up we have Llamanoes: Dominoes…with Llamas! which is exactly as it is described! I cannot do justice to describing the awesomely vibrant llama illustrations by Shyama Golden, so hopefully the pictures entice you. Llamanoes is terrific fun with easy-to-follow instructions; it’s perfect for a family game night and good for kids ages 3 and up. My daughter- preschool age- loves the pieces (I mean, how could one not? The llama pieces are bright, funny and eye-catching!), and it’s not complicated for us to play together. This is a good one, folks- especially for those with younger kids who love to get involved in family games!

 

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After Dinner Amusements: Which Would You Choose? by Chronicle Books

With 50 hilarious and thought-provoking questions asking players to choose between two equally good, unpleasant, or absurd scenarios, this revealing party game leads to interesting conversations and good fun for all ages!

If you ever played ‘Would you rather…’ or any similar version of that growing up, then you know what you’re getting in to with After Dinner Amusements: Which One Would You Choose?! This wonderfully compact game (keeps nicely tidy in a tin), contains fifty questions meant to get conversation started. I really like the assortment of questions in this Chronicle Books version- you can take a look at some of the pictures to get a sense of the types of questions there are. You can see it’s not only choosing between all weird or gross scenarios (which ARE fun, sure!), but also choosing between okay and/or interesting scenarios. My husband and I are both games people, though I tend to lean toward the more straightforward, streamlined games that get people active or talking. This one hits all the marks for me!

 

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The rest of the terrific #PlayTestShare items:

 

Pass the Parcel: A Party Game by Louise Lockhart
Everyone wins in this modern take on a classic British party game! Players take turns unwrapping the parcel to uncover cheeky dares that will soon have the whole group beaming. Under the last layer, there’s an envelope containing a special surprise!

 

 

Draw Like An Artist: Pop Art by Patricia Geis
A collection of eighteen fun and colorful activities for aspiring Warhols, Hockneys, and Lichtensteins ages ten and up, or anyone who enjoys working with color, pattern, and pop-culture imagery, and gaining a better understanding of the 20th century’s most popular art movement. Sixteen perforated pages provide plenty of raw material for collage, drawing backgrounds, and inspiration.

 

The Mystery Mansion Storytelling Card Game illustrated by Lucille Clerc
Reviving the Victorian craze for ‘myrioramas’, the 20 picture cards can be placed in any order to create seamless scenes. Almost infinite combinations of cards provide endless storyscaping possibilities. Find sinister suits of armour and the aftermaths of strange accidents, butlers with a grudge and glamorous couples where revenge is never far from the surface. With many games to play and millions of stories to tell, each turn of the card is a new adventure. Where will the story take you?

 

Crocodile and Friends: Animal Memory Game by Natacha Andriamirado, illustrated by Delphine Renon
Fossil, a good-natured crocodile who just wants some peace and quiet, quickly won the hearts of children everywhere in the delightful picture book The Quiet Crocodile. Now Fossil and his friends are back, ready to play, in this fun memory game. The fifty-two cards feature twenty-six charming illustrations of Fossil and his many friends, nested in a handsome keepsake box. An added bonus is a folded poster showing all of the animal friends together, from Fippo the Hippo and Ryan the Lion to Pat the Cat.

 

In the Ocean: My Nature Sticker Activity Book by Olivia Cosneau
The world’s oceans are home to many different species and plants, from tiny organisms like plankton to the world’s largest animal, the blue whale. Deep down in the seas’ depth, you will even find some monstrous-looking creatures that seem to have come straight out of a fairy tale. Vivid digital illustrations help introduce a variety of aquatic creatures in this addition to the My Nature Sticker Activity Book series.

 

Alpha Shapes by Chronicle Books
This modern twist on alphabet blocks offers a new way to see the beauty of letterforms. Adults and children alike can build letters and words out of the 39 colorful wooden pieces, spelling out names or creating personalized messages for display.

 

Bob the Artist: Dominoes illustrated by Marion Deuchars 
Bob the Artist, first introduced in the quirky Bob the Artist picture book, loves to paint with brightly colored splashes, but he has got into a bit of a mess. Help Bob clear up his paints by matching the colors and numbers in this fun game of dominoes. A wonderful concept game for toddlers!

 

Giveaway Info:

The contest is open to Canadian residents only, and entrants must be aged 18 and up. The contest will run from March 5, 2018 to March 12, 2018. One winner will be randomly selected at the end of giveaway via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond by emailing me at fabbookreviews[at]gmail[dot]com, confirming their name, their mailing address, and their ONE (1) giveaway prize pick. The winner has 48 hours to email me with their prize pick and Canadian mailing address, or another winner will be chosen.

Contest is now closed.

The winner is: LINDA! The winner has 48 hours to confirm their mailing address and prize pick or another winner will be drawn.

Thank you to all who participated!

Click here to enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter!

 

I received copies of Llamanoes and After Dinner Amusements: Which Would You Choose? from Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews and for the purposes of this giveaway. Thank you! Opinions and comments regarding the items are my own. Prizes provided by Raincoast Books.

Calvin Shares His Learning…

Oof. It’s been a while since last post! Still waiting on the arrival of baby, and life is nuts! Look forward to a special Valentine’s Day giveaway post coming up and more reviews of beautiful titles… In the meantime, though, please enjoy this Calvin & Hobbes comic. I just love it. The power of learning (and just the right level of learning PLUS grossness) to be had from library books, as demonstrated by the one and only Calvin:

Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Hello, 2018…

Whew! Made it to 2018!

I managed to get my Best of 2017 posts under the wire- hope all of you lovely readers have been enjoying my vast array of picks! Looking back at the reading year, 2017 really was picture book and children’s lit (middle grade) intensive, with a small but very, very strong assortment of young adult titles.

So, what’s in store for 2018? On the personal side of things, Mr. Fab and I are awaiting the arrival of our second child!…Towards the end of the month!! So, as I noted in the updated About page, things might get a little bit wonky in terms of posting, depending on when baby decides to make an appearance! So, if I suddenly disappear for a bit (which, to be fair, I have done before without reasons of New Baby…), you will know it’s due to giving birth and having a newborn baby in the house!

On the non-baby, crazy household side of things, I do sincerely hope 2018 is as wonderful as 2017 was in terms of reading and reviewing. I hope to keep expanding what I read- not necessarily genres, but in terms of variety and challenge. The focus of reviews will likely stay more on the side of picture books, non-fiction children’s, middle grade, with a good mixture of YA and some adult fiction and mysteries.

Here’s to a good and awesomely bookish 2018! Thanks to all of your support, likes, comments, and giveaway participation the last year- it really means so much!

And Now For Something Completely Different: Tea Time with Adagio Teas!

As the title of the post suggests (thank you, Monty Python!), this post does indeed feature something a little bit different for this site. I was recently contacted by the very kind and generous folks at Adagio Teas, asking if I was interested in sampling, trying, and putting something together about TEA!

As someone who drinks tea daily (at home, while reading, while writing, while working at the library, the list goes on…), I was delighted to have the chance to try out a brand of teas all new to me… from a company, I should add, that features some very cool literary and fandom blends! So stay along for a picture-heavy post all about some truly unique- and delicious- teas. Lovers of reading and lovers of tea, this just might be a perfect mix for you…

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I had the great chance to get to pick a variety of teas of my choosing. Those totally new to tea might be overwhelmed by the scope of selection online; but as someone who has been picking and choosing teas for years (from multiple brands and stores), I was in a bit of a heaven here. I decided to try a little bit from personal tea favourites and personal literary favourites…and one astrological-sign tea for good measure! I ended up choosing a sampler of Earl Grey loose teas; two Pride & Prejudice-inspired teas (Lizzy Bennett and Mr. Darcy!); a Gemini tea blend; and last but definitely not least, Harry Potter-inspired teas including BeerButter Tea, and three different blends from Riddle’s Tea ShoppeSherbet Lemon, Cauldron Cakes, and For the Wise Wisdom House Blend.

Let’s take a closer look!

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Any readers here interested in exploring unique gift ideas for the tea (and/or literary/fandom) aficionado in their life? Or if you’re looking for a new brand of teas to try out for yourself, Adagio Teas stocks everything from English Breakfast, Matcha, Jasmine Phoenix Pearls, to Peppermint and much, much more (loose leaf, tea bags, collections, accessories, etc.). I personally adore Earl Grey teas and have been enjoying every one of the loose teas in the Earl Grey Gift Sampler. I am still working my way through the Harry Potter fandom teas, though the ones I’ve tried so far (mmm, BeerButter and For the Wise Wisdom House Blend…) are unique and tasty. I’ve had a tough time cracking into the Lizzy Bennett and Mr. Darcy teas from this Pride and Prejudice collection – the tins and teas are so pretty!– but the Mr. Darcy blend (highly caffeinated with Earl Grey Bravo, Cream & Chestnut) is delicious and strong (can you tell I am kind of obsessed with anything Earl Grey?). Everything I have have received from Adagio Teas is- as you can see- beautifully presented and packaged so nicely; how could you not be delighted by such lovely treats?

 

I received a gift voucher courtesy of Adagio Teas in exchange for honest reviews and a post about the items. All opinions and comments regarding the items are my own. The Harry Potter books featured in the photo were gifted courtesy of Raincoast Books and are in no way affiliated with Adagio Teas. I received no monetary compensation for this post.

Spotlight & Giveaway for Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes!

Be An Upside Down Thinker!

Welcome to a special post featuring Shelley Johannes’s debut children’s title Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker! Disney-Hyperion has very kindly sent me a copy of the book to check out and is partnering with me for a great giveaway.

Shelley Johannes’s debut is an early children’s fiction title with lots of zest and heart. Beatrice Zinker is one of three Zinker children, and she’s never felt like she’s quite fit in with her family- most especially with her older sister Kate, the spit of her very organized, right-side up mom. From an early age, Beatrice has been most fascinated by the ‘maybe’s’ of life, of adventure, of not quite doing the expected…and of doing her best thinking upside down (or hanging out in trees). When Beatrice is surprised with a special award for ‘Best Upside Down Thinker’ at the end of first grade- and makes a wonderful friend in classmate Lenny- Beatrice thinks things might actually be turning perfectly upside down in her favour. But then third grade starts and things start to go more than awry for Beatrice. With a stricter, unbending new teacher, and a best friend who seems to be drifting away from adventure and ‘what-ifs’, Beatrice finds herself in a terrible bind. With it looking like a disastrous, lonely year ahead, Beatrice decides to charge ahead with her top secret Operation Upside. Beatrice is an unusual, brave character who will likely find lots of young readers able to empathize with her and her growing pains. Tackling broader yet understandable issues like sibling drama, changing friendships and staying true to one’s self, Johannes creates something unique and winningly kooky with Beatrice and the Zinker family. While some of Beatrice’s motivations and actions through the middle of novel come off as a little haphazard or unexplored (well, kind like Beatrice herself, at times!), the story swirls beautifully towards a lovely ending. Readers who are enjoying series like Dory Fantasmagory, Mercy Watson, Princess Pistachio, Judy Moody, or Clementine, might especially adore Beatrice (and her family!) and look forward to more of her upside down adventures.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes, with illus. by the author
Release date: September 19, 2017
Recommended for ages 9-12

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Beatrice does her best thinking upside down.

Hanging from trees by her knees, doing handstands . . . for Beatrice Zinker, upside down works every time. She was definitely upside down when she and her best friend, Lenny, agreed to wear matching ninja suits on the first day of third grade. But when Beatrice shows up at school dressed in black, Lenny arrives with a cool new outfit and a cool new friend. Even worse, she seems to have forgotten all about the top-secret operation they planned!

Can Beatrice use her topsy-turvy way of thinking to save the mission, mend their friendship, and flip things sunny-side up?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shelley Johannes previously spent ten years in architecture—where she fell in love with felt-tip pens, tracing paper, and the greatness of black turtlenecks. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two sons. Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker is the first book she’s written. Find her online at shelleyjohannes.com.

LEARN MORE

Visit the Official Site
Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter and Instagram
Like Disney Books on Facebook
Hashtags #BeatriceZinker #UpsideDownThinker

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

One (1) winner will receive:

-Copy of Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker
-“Upside Down Thinker” beanie
-Branded pencil case and notepad!

Open to US addresses only. Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion.

Update: GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED- Thank you to everyone who entered!

The winning name is: KELLY T.! Congratulations! Please confirm your win within 24 hours of notification to claim your prize.

The giveaway will run from October 6, 2017 to October 13, 2017, and is open to US residents. The winning entry will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter. Winner has 48 hours to respond to me via email at fabbookreviews[at]gmail[dot]com with their mailing address or a new entry will be drawn. Enter by clicking on the following link to Rafflecopter and follow the instructions to enter:

Click here to enter the giveaway!

Here’s our family guinea pig Wilbur hanging out with Beatrice, showing off his favourite way to read. He’s always been an awesome, unexpected kind of piggie…

 

A copy of this title was sent courtesy of Disney-Hyperion for the purposes of this post and giveaway. Disney-Hyperion is also providing a prize pack for one winner from my site. Review opinions and comments are my own.

New #PlayTestShare Giveaway!

I am delighted to be hosting another round of #PlayTestShare, courtesy of the lovely and generous folks at Raincoast Books!

Open to Canadian residents, ages 18 and up, one lucky person will have the chance to win one of the amazing #PlayTestShare items below! I had the chance to play and test out the Ghost Story Box
 book as well as pore over the Star Wars Super Graphic
, so you will see some photos and get my thoughts on those two items. Read on for even more information about all the #PlayTestShare items on offer and how to enter the giveaway!

Ghost Story Box
Based on a unique and original format, this game contains 20 story-telling puzzle pieces printed on both sides. Each piece can be interchanged or flipped over to allow for all kinds of plot twists and turns, and there are even two alternative endings! When all the puzzle pieces are used, they stretch out to over 8-feet long to tell your own mega ghost story!

Perfect for Halloween- or any fans of adorably illustrated ghost stories!- the Ghost Story Box is a wonderfully unique take on a family-friendly puzzle. As per the description, the game contains twenty double-sided puzzle pieces, all of which can be used interchangeably. There are ‘start’ pieces and ‘end’ pieces, but however you put a story together is totally up to the player! This game is like a wordless picture book come to life in a fragmented puzzle format: there are multiple stories, multiple directions and so many intriguing, funny, or peculiar ways you can piece together a story! You can see from one of the images in the slideshow below how I started piecing together one storyline involving a young girl who accidentally sits on a ghost! This game makes for enjoyable family time, and if you have a child who likes creative, inventive play (and making up stories!), this is an awesome game to share and have fun with.

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Star Wars Super Graphic
Graphic-design guru Tim Leong presents STAR WARS trivia via playful pie charts, bar graphs, and other data-driven infographics. From a Venn diagram of Yoda’s idiosyncrasies to an organizational chart of the Empire to a line graph of Grand Moff Tarkin’s management decisions, STAR WARS SUPER GRAPHIC shines a new light on the much-adored universe. Equal parts playful and informative, this visual love letter to the vast STAR WARS universe will enchant fans of all ages.

Star Wars fans out there, this is a pick for you! The Star Wars Super Graphic is an infographic-based book that contains everything Star Wars. From bar graphs, pie charts, organizational charts to closer looks at characters (for example, what are R2-D2’s thoughts?), this is a very cool, funny, new and different kind of Star Wars book. I’ve read my share of Star Wars books (and we have a collection in our household!), and I don’t have anything quite like this. I must admit that I have a soft spot for infographic-based books and visually-based odes to various subjects (there’s something so aesthetically pleasing about this format to my librarian brain…), so, yes, I really adore this book! This is an unusual, fun, keepsake kind of book that would be perfect for a Star Wars fan.

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The rest of the terrific #PlayTestShare items:

Say Zoop!
The newest book from Herve Tullet magically responds with bursts of color and moving shapes, empowering children by letting their imaginations liberate and direct each page’s reaction. Tullet’s books define the genre of participatory bookmaking, encouraging readers to explore and interact with the physical book in all its dimensions. The reward is tremendous: a journey of whimsy and sheer fun that extends well beyond the book’s pages.

After Dinner Amusements: Family Time
This is a fun little twist on classic games and activities and offers easy amusement during family dinners, holiday gatherings and road trips! This miniature deck of cards features fifty thoughtful and playful questions about the past, present, and future – a great way for family members to connect and learn new things about one another.

Animal Friends on Parade Puzzle
From a gorilla in a party hat to a hedgehog rat-a-tat-tatting on his drum, these animal friends from different habitats-the jungle, farm, woodland, and Arctic-know that togetherness is something to celebrate. Featuring twelve double-sided uniquely die-cut pieces by artist Junzo Terada, this fun puzzle offers (nearly) endless combinations, providing hours of entertainment.

Donner Dinner Party
Who’s safe when there are cannibals hiding among you? That’s the question at the heart of this fast-paced game of social deduction in which cannibals and pioneers face off in a fight for survival. Set in the winter of 1846, players are members of the ill-fated Donner Party wagon train, stranded atop a mountain with no food. Rowdy, outrageous, and full of deception, this party game packs a delightfully wicked twist!

Make and Move Mega: Dinosaurs
Press out, slot together and play with your very own T-Rex, Triceratops, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Pteranodon. Created by talented paper artist and engineer Sato Hisao, each of these detailed 3D models comes with easy-to-follow assembly instructions. No scissors or glue required!

Travel Matching Game
Mix and match with this classic matching game, which includes 36 robust, jumbo-size cards featuring charming illustrations by Greg Pizzoli that will have kids ready to pack up their bags and explore the world! Children will adore pairing colorful images of suitcases, taxis, stop signs, and other classic travel imagery as they develop memory, concentration, and identification skills.

Royal Bingo
This majestically illustrated bingo game features portraits of 64 royal icons from around the world. Spot famous faces like William and Kate, or meet some less familiar figures such as the playboy prince Wenzeslaus of Liechtenstein. Each royal is further brought to life in an accompanying booklet, which details their personalities, foibles, gaffes and romances. Who will reign supreme?

Giveaway Info:

The contest is open to Canadian residents only, and entrants must be aged 18 and up. The contest will run from September 20, 2017 to September 28, 2017. One winner will be randomly selected at the end of giveaway via Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond by emailing me at fabbookreviews[at]gmail[dot]com, confirming their name, their mailing address, and their ONE (1) giveaway prize pick. The winner has 48 hours to email me with their prize pick and Canadian mailing address, or another winner will be chosen.

THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED- big thank you to everyone who entered!

The winner is… JENNIFER P.!

If I haven’t heard from the randomly drawn winner in 48 hours, I will select another winner.

 

 

Click here to enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter!

I received copies of Ghost Story Box and Star Wars Super Graphic from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review and for the purposes of this giveaway. Thank you! Opinions and comments regarding the titles are my own. Prizes provided by Raincoast Books.

Travels with my family…

Richard Thompson’s Cul de Sac

Long-ish time, no post! Mr. Fab and I are currently traveling and visiting family, and thus ability to post and review has been limited! Hope to be back with posts soon. A brief bookish note: if you haven’t yet had a chance to read Jason Reynolds’s middle grade novel Ghost (Track #1)– I cannot recommend this one enough. Had a chance to read this recently during some downtown on holiday and it is superb.

In the meantime, won’t you please enjoy some of the late Richard Thompson’s Cul de Dac?

Richard Thompson’s Cul de Sac

We now interrupt regularly scheduled programming…

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis

The above comic doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m posting about…but I always like a chance to feature a comic! Especially if it’s Pearls Before Swine…

Anyhow! Lovely readers and visitors to my site might have noticed that posting of any kind has been…sporadic at best lately. There’s a bit of major, happy news on my home front and that is that Mr. Fab and I are expecting another baby! We’re over the moon and our young daughter is also getting (somewhat!) excited at the prospect of being a big sister. What’s all this to do with lack of posting? Well, I’m in my second trimester right now, and it’s been a bumpy journey. I’m not going to get into all the gritty, but my health and daily functioning has been affected- to the point where reading, writing, and any lengths of time working on blog stuff has been a real struggle. Hopefully (fingers-crossed), everything at the next ultrasound is still a-okay with baby, and I’ll be feeling better as the weeks go on!

In the meantime, I’ll keep doing my best to read and post when I can!

 

Coming up: Blog tour for Internet Famous & other things

I have been away on a brief blogging hiatus due to a myriad of factors and life being generally frenetic, and perhaps unsurprisingly am behind on reading and writing reviews. But somehow- mysteriously!-  more books have made their way onto my must-read list! Besides reading comics- which is my go-to comfort reading when things are bumpy- there are a few books I have managed to start in the last week. The first is a graphic novel called Invisible Emmie by Terri Libensen- I’m about halfway through and really enjoying it. Great mix of humour with aches and pains of middle school…This is a perfect read to recommend to any Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Jamieson fans out there! The second is a contemporary YA title by Canadian-based author Jennifer Honeybourn called Wesley James Ruined My Life. Due out in July, this is, so far, a delightful, frothy read, reminiscent of Lindsey Leavitt and Jessica Brody. I haven’t talked much lately about contemporary/romantic YA- it is unfortunately a genre that has fallen a bit off my radar. But having had the chance meet Jennifer at a recent event and getting to hear more about her writing, Wesley James, and her process to publication really cinched it for me as a YA title I wanted to dive into.

Also coming up this week- more YA! The Raincoast Books blog tour for Canadian author Danika Stone‘s young adult novel Internet Famous stops here on Friday, June 16th. You can take a look at the blog tour postcard to see which awesome bloggers/reviewers are participating and when!