The Inflatables in Bad Air Day – Children’s Graphic Novel Review

About

The Inflatables don’t get pumped. They stay pumped! Flamingo, Cactus, Donut, and Watermelon may be forgotten waterpark floats who live at the lost and found, but these inflata-pals are about to make some big waves in a funny graphic novel series that’s perfect for fans of Dog Man and The Bad Guys!

Flamingo is destined to be a star! So when the opening of a new wave pool brings camera crews flooding to the park, his inflata-pals hatch a daring plan to make him famous. But will a flock of familiar faces from Flamingo’s past burst his bubble? Get ready, world — Flamingo is about to BLOW UP!

Thoughts

This book was both cute and fun. I loved the puns throughout, and I think Donut was my favourite character. I loved how all of the characters were so determined to help their friend, Flamingo fulfill his destiny, and that no matter what challenge they were faced with, they worked together to find a solution.

I thought this book was really funny, and loved the illustrations. It’s definitely something I can see my niece and nephew enjoying, and I’ll definitely be recommending it upon release.

Thank you Scholastic for sending me this ARC for review.

I’d highly recommend this to young readers who enjoy the concept of films like Toy Story, and comedies like Loud House.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

How to Get Free Books – Book Talk Episode 21

How does one go about getting free books?

Well, seeing as how I get free ARCs every week or so, I thought I’d share how this works, as well as giveaway contests, book fairies, and free libraries.

ARCS

Now, I’d like to start off by clarifying what an ARC is, because not everyone is aware, especially if they’re new to the world of reviews. An ARC is an Advanced Review Copy or Advanced Reader Copy. These can either be eBooks, or print proof versions of of books that are coming out in the near future. They are not final versions, and are sent out in order for books to gain reviews and generate discussion prior to their release.

I get eBook ARCs through websites such as Netgalley, and ARC Reviewers.

With Netgalley, the more reviews you share on your blog, booktok, goodreads etc…the more likely you are to be approved for the most anticipated upcoming releases. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you fill out your Netgalley profile completely, so that publishers know exactly what type of books you are looking for. I often get approved for manga review requests, because I read, and review them frequently on my blog and Goodread’s account. The same goes for children’s literature. With Netgalley, there is also a time limit for completing these books. Most ARCs expire by the books release date, or the week of, and depending on the demand, it can be hard to get approved for popular requests without prior reviews on your chosen platforms.

ARC Reviewers has a smaller selection of books available, but it is much easier to get access to new releases. Usually there are 3-5 eBooks to choose from, with a limit of 20 copies for each book. There is anything from romance, to sci-fi on the website, and it is a great way to build your review roster so that you can get approved for ARCs from larger, more competitive websites like Netgalley. ARC Reviewers also does not have a request system in place, so anyone can download an ARC. This is perfect for people starting out, as these ARCs do not expire after a specific time period, and reviewers can add these books to their reviews on Goodread’s, and other platforms to build a following.

Now onto physical ARCs. Physical ARCs have become much harder to come by in recent years, especially with the pandemic. The most common way to get them, is to work for bookstores like Indigo or Barnes & Noble. Publishers will often reach out to these stores directly when they are are looking for avid readers, to review ARCs because it helps to boost sales upon release. If employees at your local bookstore always seem to have read the latest releases, it is because publishers like Harper Collins, Penguin and Scholastic are reaching out to them with free copies of books, sometimes months in advance. By working at a bookstore, book lovers can get access to great programs, giveaways and much, much more.

This year, I became a Children’s and Middle Grade ARC Ambassador for Scholastic. As an ARC Ambassador, Scholastic sends me physical copies of books to read and review for these specific age groups. On occasion I will also receive books in other genres I enjoy, outside of young readers, such as Science Fiction. I get around 2-6 books to read every few weeks and usually these books are sent to me a few months before the actual release date, but sometimes I will get a recent release to review as well. These reviews I post here on my blog, as well as on Goodreads. I will also share my reviews with my team members, highlighting which customers I feel would enjoy reading that specific book. I always aim to add a personal touch to my reviews, especially when I connect well with a book, as I want my review to attract readers to their next favourite book.

ARC Review Etiquette

One thing to keep in mind is ARC Review Etiquette.

What do we do with DNF’d books or low ratings, if the book hasn’t hit the shelves yet?

My rule as a reviewer is, when it comes to Netgalley, send a direct message to the publisher with my concerns about an unreleased book. In these cases I will choose not to leave a public review, because I don’t feel it is fair to the author, and their team to publically slam an unreleased book. I contact them directly out of respect for the people behind the book, in hopes that any concerns I had with the book would be addressed and corrected before the final version was released. The last time I did this, was to address the descriptions of POC in a debut novel I’d gotten an ARC for. I had been extremely excited to read the book, but once the POC character’s were introduced, I noticed a lot of problematic descriptions, that I don’t believe the author or publisher even noticed as potentially harmful. Unfortunately these issues were not addressed, and the book received poor reviews and ratings. As you might notice, I’m not sharing the title of this book out of respect for the author and publisher. I’ve never posted my review either. To me, if I didn’t even finish the book (DNF) I don’t feel it is fair to post that review publically until after the marketing campaign is over. Although this book has been out for over a year now, I feel there are enough reviews on it, which address the thoughts I expressed in my direct message to the editor and publisher before the release. All I’ll say about that situation is, that there are certain tropes, stereotypes and descriptions that definitely need to be retired, and hopefully the author’s next book is a success. As a reviewer I like to be mindful and will always spend time determining whether or not a public review is necessary. If I do leave a public review, for a book I didn’t enjoy, I like to be as polite as possible. You can still be kind, while providing criticism or sharing your opinion. I don’t like chocolate ice cream, but I would never say “this is trash!” to my sister, who absolutely loves it. Just because I don’t enjoy something, doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Sometimes, it just isn’t for you, which brings me to my next point: with low ratings, it is proper review etiquette to provide readers with an explanation, as it’s unhelpful to those who rely on reviews to simply see a 2 star rating, without any reasoning behind it.

Now, everything I mentioned above in terms of Review Etiquette is something that reviewers often debate when it comes to ARCs and book tours. I always reevaluate this whenever I read a book I wasn’t fond of, and try to take into consideration the people behind the book, the amount of work they did, and whether or not what I have to say is thoughtful and worth contributing to the conversation. To completely trash a book during it’s release month or even worse, on the release date is just seen as poor review etiquette, at least amongst reviewers I follow and admire. This is why at times, you’ll see videos made say, three to six months after a book releases titled, “books I DNF’d.” Everyone however, has their own approach to this, but I do encourage people to really reflect before posting a review.

Giveaways

Now onto giveaways.

How does one find book giveaways?

Well, there are many places to look. A lot of giveaways are hosted by authors, publishers, bookstores and even reviewers. I follow the newsletters of several of my favourite authors, and they will announce giveaways a couple times a year, especially for new releases or special editions of books. These can be incredibly cool, and it’s always nice to win free stuff. It’s also beneficial to follow author newsletters because closer to the holidays, they might offer neat treats to their fans. One author I follow gave away Halloween themed goodies, designed by an artist friend of theirs since their novel took place in a haunted mansion!

Author Kami Garcia recently did a giveaway on Instagram for bundles of her novels, and the DC graphic novel series she’s been writing based on the Teen Titan’s characters.

Publisher giveaways tend to be hosted on a variety of social media platforms. Sometimes they’re done in collaboration with specific booksellers, or authors. Other times, it’s just a fun campaign for bookish peeps to check out. Some publishers will also give away tote bags with book related goodies, and exclusive content. I usually see these giveaways on Instagram, but have stumbled across a handful on Goodreads and Twitter over the years. I recently saw a very cool giveaway for Heartstopper to celebrate the film adaptation!

You can also type in #giveaways or #freebooks in the search bars of your favourite social media apps to find some neat stuff, however always be sure to read the details and guidelines of these contests carefully, and make sure that the host isn’t asking for anything sketchy in return. You should never be asked to pay a fee to enter a giveaway (unless it’s a raffle to raise money), or provide information such as your credit card.

One of the best ways to constantly find giveaway’s for books is Goodreads. I’ve entered lots of giveaways through the site, and recently hosted one for Vermin. It’s very easy for people to enter, and it’s also fun to scroll through and see what books are available. All that is required is a Goodread’s account, and Goodreads will of course send you a reminder to leave a review of the book once you’ve finished it.

Book Fairies and Free Mini Libraries

Earlier in this post I mentioned book fairies. Book fairies are very special, magical beings, who leave books around in public places for people to keep and take home. They are more common in the UK, and I’ve yet to catch a book fairy in action, however when I was little one often frequented my local Starbucks. Sometimes a book fairy will leave little notes or wrap the books to keep the contents inside a surprise for the reader! I heard a rumour that Emma Watson is actually a book fairy! Shh…it’s a secret though. The main goal of a book fairy is to provide books to those who may not have access to new books, but to also spread joy and the love of ones beloved stories to others. Perhaps one day I’ll meet one? Or…maybe I’ll find out I was one all along?

Lastly, free mini libraries. There are so many of these in my neighbourhood, and they’re absolutely adorable! The purpose of these is similar to that of the book fairies. Neighbours can take a book to borrow or keep, and can also leave books inside to share with others. It always makes me happy to see what books are in these tiny libraries, and it’s a lovely way to give back to your community. For those like myself, who are avid readers and constantly running out of space, it is also a wonderful place to donate gently used books to those who might not have access. I highly recommend visiting one if you get the chance, and if you have the means to do so, perhaps donate some children’s, middle grade and teen books to mini libraries located near under funded school districts. Some new parents, and young families may also appreciate seeing baby board books, and books for early readers as well! In my neighbourhood, people always donate children’s books, and the free mini libraries are close to the park. This is great because not everyone has access to transportation, but these are within walking distance of their house.

Another thing to keep in mind is that with book fairies, and free mini libraries, reviews are not a requirement. The goal is to merely share books with fellow bibliophiles, and to spread joy. I think that once I have a place of my own, I would love to set up a free mini library…perhaps book fairies will visit me? I’d love it if they did.

How to Get Free Books – Book Talk Episode 21

I hope that through my reviews you find stories that you absolutely adore, and that this post will also lead you to other ways to not only get your hands on a free book for yourself, but also introduced you to new ways to share books with your community as well.


More Book Talk Episodes

YA Faves

As YA week comes to a close, I’ve found myself reminiscing over some of my old favourite books that I read during my teenage years. […]

Mimi and the Cutie Catastrophe – Children’s Graphic Novel Review

ABOUT

Talented illustrator and author Shauna J. Grant, of http://www.shaunadraws.com/ introduces young readers to Mimi, a fun, fantastic little girl with a very big problem: everything thinks she’s just too cute!

Mimi wants others to see the other things about her, that make her special, and with the help of her magical toy dog Penelope, she does everything she can to try and change their minds…

Will she be stuck in this cute-astrope forever, or will others see her for who she truly is?

But that’s not all! She’s also a loyal friend and fun playmate, who has the best adventures with

THOUGHTS

Thank you Scholastic for providing this ARC.
I absolutely loved the illustrations for this book! When I saw the cover, I was immediately reminded of Pretty Cure, which was one of my favourite series as a kid.
The story itself was wonderful, especially since Mimi is super relatable. I can recall when I wondered whether being considered “cute” was a bad thing, and tried to make myself seem more “cool” like my older cousins and friends…even though I absolutely adored my stuffed animals and other cute things.
I think that exploring the thoughts and emotions that Mimi faces in this graphic novel, is an excellent way for young readers who are most likely facing similar situations, to try and understand what they’re going through.

I know I would’ve loved having a character like Mimi when I was growing up, especially since many of the books and films I grew up on weren’t much in favour of the cutesy aesthetic, and leaned more towards encouraging young children to be strong, as if those two things couldn’t go hand in hand. Here, Mimi proves the opposite, that you can still love what you love, and be loyal, strong, and brave! I think that’s a very important message for young children (and grownups too). We are more than what others perceive us as.

Another thing that I really want to mention is how precious Mimi’s friendship is with Penelope!

I had my very own Penelope growing up, who I used to take everywhere with me. To this day, I still have her.

Mimi shares her thoughts and feelings with Penelope, and even considers that in order to stop having others perceive her as cute or baby-ish she needs to stop playing with her favourite toy.

I can recall being teased about my stuffed animal by some kids in my class, and placing her in my trash bin (super dramatic I know), but then I felt lonely without her, and decided to rescue her. I didn’t care what the other kids thought about her anymore, because she was important to me. See, I used to be incredibly shy, and she helped me feel comfortable when I changed schools, or whenever I struggled to make friends. Just knowing she was close by in my backpack, was enough. She was…is…dear to me, and despite being a toy, really gave me an outlet to work through some complex emotions and situations as a child. I changed schools four times during our move between grades 3-4, and had to keep remaking friends, which at the time was extremely difficult for me. I wanted nothing more to go back to my old house and school, where my teachers all knew me and people actually pronounced my name properly haha.

Another thing that really got me was that Mimi has bubbles in her hair! As a kid, I absolutely adored these, and recently I found a doll with bubbles in her hair for my niece and went bonkers. Like, bubbles and beads were my favourite because it was like fashion for my hair…and until high school…and really more-so into my adult years, we weren’t really encouraged to experiment with our natural hair. It was always pulled back into a tight bun…but when I got to wear bubbles in my hair–I had these orange ones with teddy bears that had googly eyes–my mom would give me Pippi Longstocking braids…or that’s what I called them. It was my favourite thing in the world. Seeing Mimi with her hair like that on the cover made my day!

Mimi is such a sweet character, and I loved seeing how she grew throughout the story, and interacted with her friends, family and neighbours. I can’t wait to see what adventures she has going forward, and I look forward to seeing this book on shelves this July 2022!

RATING

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Perfect for ages 6-8!


In the Garden With Flori

About

Batchelder Honor recipient Sonja Danowski has created a new story reminding us that love, patience, and a sense of humor help any garden to flower.

What a fuss! Linn’s grandfather broke his leg. Fortunately, his granddaughter Linn offers to take care of his spectacular garden. After all, Linn has helped out in the garden many times and knows a lot about plants. With Linn’s dog, Flori, and her good friend, Emi, by her side what could go wrong? But when mischievous Flori causes a mess, Linn has to learn to deal with a difficult situation. Taking responsibility for the first time is a big step. Together with Linn, we experience pride in the trust placed in us as well as self-doubts along the way. Sonja Danowski’s lovingly detailed illustrations appear almost lifelike and unfold with incomparable magic.

Thoughts

This book has such beautiful illustrations! I absolutely adored each and every page, there was so much to look at. I thought Linn, Flori and Emi were so sweet, and loved all the pictures they painted of the garden, and of course Emi’s picture of Flori!
The artwork for this book reminded me of some of the old books I used to read at my grandparents when I was little, and I think what made it more special is the fact that I used to help my grandparents garden as well. That really connected with me, and I think this would be a really lovely story for folks to gift and read with their grandchildren. I also think this is a great book for people with dogs who like to dig haha.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you Netgalley and North South Books for accepting my request to review this beautiful book!

In the Garden With Flori is expected to release in March.


We Adopted A Baby Chick – ARC Review

About the Book

Thank you Penguin Random House for providing this ARC for review.

Albert the sheep is the only one unhappy about the new addition to the family. Tina is a tiny, fluffy baby chick — and she gets all the attention. Albert is big and loud, and he can’t resist Mom’s vegetables (Get out of the garden, Albert!). Sprout the dog doesn’t have time for Albert anymore. The cats only have eyes for Tina. And though he tries his hardest, Albert’s gifts to the family aren’t as welcome as Tina’s eggs.

Then one day, Tina faces a danger and only Albert can save her. Will Albert be able to put his feelings aside and truly welcome Tina into his flock?

Thoughts

Both the story and illustrations were incredibly cute. I loved Albert, and Tina and seeing everyone in their family. Albert was so sweet, and the story was charming. It kind of gives the feeling of when there’s a new baby in the house, and the dynamic changes. I definitely think this story is super adorable, and will be recommending it.

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you are interested in this book it is scheduled to release on June 14th, 2022.

Children’s Books I’ve Read in 2022 So Far…

Stacey is a little girl who loves words more than anything. She loves reading them, sounding them out, and finding comfort in them when things are hard.

But when her teacher chooses her to compete in the local spelling bee, she isn’t as excited as she thought she’d be. What if she messes up? Or worse, if she can’t bring herself to speak up, like sometimes happens when facing bullies at school?

Stacey will learn that win or lose . . . her words are powerful, and sometimes perseverance is the most important word of all.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What a charming book! I absolutely adored the illustrations and the story. Both complimented each other perfectly. It’s such a pretty book!


When their train makes a 10-minute stop at the station in Jaipur, a young girl and her mother hurry to get in line for a cup of chai. While the girl waits for her mug of milky spiced tea, readers are treated to the sights, sounds, and smells of the Chaiwala’s cart. The aroma of ginger, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon sticks swirls in the air. Tea leaves rustle, milk bubbles, and the hot drink is poured back and forth until–clink!–the cups are filled and placed on the stand. With a biscuit and a rusk added to their order, it’s time to find a spot to sit and enjoy!
Inspired by the author’s childhood visits to India, Chaiwala! celebrates the pleasures of taking time for food, family, and tradition–even for a brief moment. Illustrated in lively cut-paper collages and filled with scrumptious sensory details, this book is just like a cup of chai–warm, comforting, and good to the last drop.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I had the pleasure of meeting the author at work, when she came in and asked to sign some books for us! It was such a cool experience!
I’d read the book prior to meeting her, and fell in love with the story and the beautiful illustrations. I highly recommend adding it to your bookshelf!


A funny, heartfelt, perfectly pitched story about misunderstandings and the importance of true friendship.

When a little girl thinks that her best friend James has been saying bad things about her behind her back, she takes action in the form of the silent treatment. As they go about their day and James tries harder and harder to get her to talk to him, they both realize that true friendship surpasses any rumor… or misunderstanding.

A classic childhood situation is brought to life with humor and poignancy with energetic illustrations by Matt Myers and a simple, telling text by Liz Rosenberg.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I read this earlier today, and thought it was a very sweet story. I definitely loved the ending and the illustrations were very pretty. I especially liked the use of the paint splotches throughout, and how they were incorporated onto each page. I thought this was really neat, and it helped compliment the text.
I think this would be an excellent book for elementary teachers to add to their classroom libraries, as it deals with friendship, misunderstandings, and what it means to be a good friend.
I thought how James handled the situation with his best friend was fantastic, because although he doesn’t know what’s upset her, he does everything he can to cheer her up…and that was just incredibly sweet.


Valentine’s Day is coming, which means showing the ones you love how much they mean to you, so Tiny has decided to make the perfect Valentine for his best friend Pointy.

But as Tiny discovers, making a Valentine isn’t easy. It might take a few tries—until Tiny realizes the best Valentine might have been there all along.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Awwwwwww! Okay, this book was too cute. I love the illustrations, I love the dinosaurs. It’s just a perfect book. This was the cutest thing ever! 


Doug the slug needs a hug. But who wants to hug a slug called Doug?

Snuggle up with lonesome Doug on his search for love in this completely charming picture book which shows that you just never know when love might come flying by… (And which introduces an unsuspecting world to snail superstar, Gail!)

A warm and endearing rhyming text by Rachel Bright (Love MonsterThe Lion Inside) is perfectly paired with funny and fabulous illustrations by Nadia Shireen (Good Little WolfBilly and the Beast) in this adorable future classic. 

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Upon completing this adorably funny book, I informed everyone at work that they need to read this book, and recommend it to absolutely everyone. It’s hilarious, it’s cute and that Snail has glasses.
I don’t know what else to say other than I love Doug, Doug the Slug. Someone give Doug a hug.
I needed this book in my life. 


Grub is a lonely racoon. Rumbling in the trash. Looking for food.

Seed is, well, a seed! Patiently waiting in the trash. Hoping someone will plant it.

When the two finally meet, they realize they might be able to help each other! Grub has just one big question first: What will Seed grow? Could Seed grow Grub’s favorite food, mouthwatering cheeseburgers? Seed isn’t sure what a cheeseburger is exactly, but . . . maybe!

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The seeds butt on the back made me laugh, which is why I decided to read the book. I also love that a seed and a raccoon became friends.
As someone who used to adore catching raccoons trying to get at my grandparents tomato plants when I was little, I thought this book was incredibly fun.
The illustrations were wonderful–my favourite being the one where the sun is a giant cheeseburger–and I instantly fell in love with the characters. What a cute book!

Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld – Review

Summary

Amaya, princess of House Amethyst in Gemworld, is something of a troublemaker. She and her brother have great fun together until a magical prank goes much too far and her parents ground her…to Earth! They hope a whole week in the mundane world will teach her that magic is a privilege…and maybe washing dishes by hand will help her realize the palace servants should be respected.

Three years later, Amy has settled into middle school and ordinary life. She doesn’t remember any other home. So when a prince of the realm brings her home and restores her magical destiny, how will she cope? – Goodreads

Thoughts

This book was so much fun! I loved the character development, and fell in love with the story from the first panel. It was exciting, funny, and charming. All of the characters were likeable, and the friendships and dynamics between each of them was incredibly sweet.

The artwork by Asiah Fulmore is stunning, detailed and absolutely gorgeous. It immediately captured my attention, and I loved how much motion there was. The colour scheme was also beautiful, I liked the mixture of pastels, and bright warm tones in contrast to the colours on earth.

I think one of my favourite parts was whenever people from the Gem world would talk about what they believed Earth to be like. It was hilarious, and cute.

I’ve always liked the superhero/magical girl stories, and was thrilled to read this. I finished it in one sitting, and was entertained the entire time. Immediately after, I was recommending it to everyone.
This book is fantastic! I can’t wait to see what Shannon Hale puts out next!

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Five stars! This graphic novel was absolutely fantastic. I adored the story, and the artwork. Both complimented each other so well! I highly recommend this book. It’s definitely worth adding to your TBR for comic book fans young and old!

Check out 5th Grade Challenge on Audible!

“Ted, the 5th grade genius and Veronica, his arch-rival, are constantly pranking each other. When the pranks spill over and ignite a grade-wide war, the teachers organize a girls vs. boys competition.”

This is a project I’ve been working on during 2020 with author Jamaal Fridge! I absolutely loved voicing his characters and discussing his work with him. It was so much fun and such a great learning experience as both an actor and an author!

You can find the audiobook on audible and read along!

Black Canary Ignite Review

Title: Black Canary Ignite.

Author: Meg Cabot

Age Group: Middle Grade, 9-12 years old.

When I heard that the author of The Princess Diaries was writing a comic book, and said comic book was about Black Canary, I knew I had to read it!

This book was definitely a fun read. I instantly recommended it to my niece once I was finished. It’s age appropriate, the characters are fun and Dinah is in a rock band. How cool is that?

The artwork, done by Cara McGee, who creates these charming images of Dinah and her friends. I loved the movement in the images as well. Plus everything was super warm and colourful (aside from the villains of course).

The story itself was fun. Honestly, I wish it had been a little longer…or perhaps split up into a series. I did however appreciate that the comic remained age appropriate as say…for example shows like Young Justice which were originally rated Y7 are now very clearly PG 13. In cases like this show I don’t mind as much, simply because the original target audience has grown up along with the characters. However when it comes to comic books I think it’s important to be very clear who the target age group is for. Which is why I always read books before giving them to my niece.

My niece really, really liked the comic. She found Dinah and her friends hilarious. She also wanted to help Dinah kick some Joker butt (who doesn’t wanna be a superhero right?).

We had so much fun reading it together and because of that it’s getting 4.5 stars!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Who is your favourite superhero and if you could have one super power, what would it be?

Happy 1st Blogiversary!

Apparently it’s my blogs anniversary. I hadn’t even realized it until just now. Traditionally, with my older blogs I would make a long post highlighting […]