Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Review: GOD BLESS AMERICA, The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin Written by Adah Nuchi and Illustrated by Rob Polivka (C)

*A finished hardcover copy of GOD BLESS AMERICA: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin was sent to me for free by the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for an honest review. All thoughts here are my very own. Any problems, concerns, questions, etc. please contact me via email - - Thank you!

Written by Adah Nuchi
Illustrated by Rob Polivka
Release date: June 5th, 2018
Published by: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Format read: Hardcover from the publisher.


An inspiring portrait of an immigrant and the gift he gave his new home.

Persecuted as Jews, Izzy Baline and his family emigrated from Russia to New York, where he fell in love with his new country. He heard music everywhere and was full to bursting with his own. Izzy's thump-two-three, ting-a-ling, whee tunes soon brought him acclaim as the sought-after songwriter Irving Berlin. He ignited the imaginations of fellow countrymen and women with his Broadway and Hollywood numbers, crafting tunes that have become classics we still sing today. 

But when darker times came and the nation went to war, it was time for Irving to compose a new kind of song:

A boom-rah-rah song.

A big brass belter.

A loud heart-melter.

A song for America.

And so "God Bless America" was born, the heart-swelling standard that Americans have returned to again and again after its 1918 composition.

This is the tale of how a former refugee gave America one of its most celebrated patriotic songs. With stirring, rhythmic text by Adah Nuchi and delightful, energetic art by Rob Polivka, readers will be ready to hum along to this exuberant picture book. 


*A finished hardcover copy of GOD BLESS AMERICA: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin was sent to me for free by the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, for an honest review. All thoughts here are my very own.

In 1938, Irving Berlin's song, GOD BLESS AMERICA, debuted on the radio. And so many people liked it so much, "they wanted to replace the national anthem with it." However, some people boycotted it because Berlin was an immigrant... 

The author narrates Berlin's journey from when he was a small child fleeing from Russia with his family, to coming to America and moving to New York's Lower East Side, to how Berlin, even as a small child, knew the importance of having to work hard to help the family... we get to see Berlin fall in love with America and music and how he was able to combine the two by joining the Army to help and do what he did best - create music! Music that most people, even now, sing and hum every day... I had no idea he had done so much for Broadway and the Army - this memoir was so insightful!

Surprisingly, this book spoke to me on so many levels! In the times that we are facing now, I feel that many of us need a book like this for ourselves and our children. A reminder of America's history; a time to reflect and really see where most of us came from and are going... This wonderfully written picture book is a great way to help us teach our children about the "good old days" and what that saying really means and how dreams were possible! And with the right mindset, how everyone's dreams are still possible!

The illustrations are so heartwarming and endearing capturing the time period and pieces of Berlin's life perfectly. The old retro look piqued my little one's curiosity and question after question started to pour out of him - he wanted to know what was happening then and why. Finding out that everything takes place in New York, where we reside in and having it look so different and noticing how things change was so surprising for him... I also truly appreciated that the author added a note summarizing Berlin's biography and a timeline of events in the back of the book. It truly helped to answer his questions quickly and easily; other facts were discussed in animated detail, a few things were also elaborated due to a 4 1/2-year-old's imagination - which made this book memorable for the both of us.

I highly recommend this book to all! It's come to us at the most perfect time. Those who are looking to introduce their little ones to America's history and how diverse and wonderful it was and still is will love everything about this book!


Adah Nuchi is the daughter of immigrants. 

She has worked at the National Book Foundation, served as a children's book editor in New York, and currently works as a literary agent. 

This is her first picture book. 


Rob Polivka is a children's book illustrator and cartoonist living in Texas with his wife and three children. 

Waiting On Wednesday: SHADOW OF THE FOX by Julie Kagawa (YA)

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme that used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. I've missed posting these on a weekly basis and have decided to start doing them again. 
Waiting On Wednesday is where I/we get to "spotlight" the books that we are most looking forward to reading soon! 

Today's pick is... 

by Julie Kagawa
Expected release date: October 2nd, 2018
Published by: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, eBook


Once every thousand years...

Every millennium, one age ends and another age dawns...
and whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers holds the power to call the great Kami Dragon from the sea and ask for any one wish. The time is near... and the missing pieces of the scroll will be sought throughout the land of Iwagoto. The holder of the first piece is a humble, unknown peasant girl with a dangerous secret.

Demons have burned the temple Yumeko was raised in to the ground, killing everyone within, including the master who trained her to both use and hide her kitsune shapeshifting powers. Yumeko escapes with the temple's greatest treasure - one part of the ancient scroll. Fate thrusts her into the path of a mysterious samurai, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan. Yumeko knows he seeks what she has... and is under orders to kill anything and anyone who stands between him and the scroll.

A wish will be granted and a new age will dawn.


I am SO happy that we are all getting another book/series from Julie Kagawa!!!
Although I have not been able to finish her TALON series yet (sorry! I plan to!), I have been a fan since the first book of the IRON FEY was released!

There are SO many good things that this summary has to offer! Some things that caught my eye are...
- "... ask for any one wish."
- "... unknown peasant girl with a dangerous secret."
- "Demons..."
- "... hide her kitsune shapeshifting powers."

I'm excited about this, are you???

What else are you dying to get your hands on soon???

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Review: DID YOU EAT THE PARAKEET? by Mark Iacolina (C)

*An Advanced Reader Copy of  DID YOU EAT THE PARAKEET? by Mark Iacolina was sent to me for free by the publisher, Macmillan, for an honest review. All thoughts here are my very own. Any problems, concerns, questions, etc. please contact me via email - - Thank you!

by Mark Iacolina
Release date: July 3rd, 2018
Published by: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (Macmillan)
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Format: Hardcover, eBook
Format read: ARC from the publisher.


A little girl can't find her parakeet - her kitty must have eaten it!
Where else would it have gone?
It was just here!
She shouts, she accuses, and she laments her loss.
But her cat might be trying to tell her something...

With rhyming text and adorable art, DID YOU EAT THE PARAKEET? by Mark Iacolina, is a sweet and silly picture book that will have children laughing through the final page.


*An Advanced Reader Copy of  DID YOU EAT THE PARAKEET? by Mark Iacolina was sent to me for free by the publisher, Macmillan, for an honest review. All thoughts here are my very own. 

Such a playful storybook! Told in an upbeat, quick, rhyming style - this book is sure to get the giggle-fest started on the first page... 

Right from the start, the little girl is looking for her pet parakeet and accuses the cat - 
of course, the cat would never do such a thing! However, the girl is convinced that the cat had something to do with the parakeet's disappearance. And the story just flows with her search and how the cat defends himself and helps her.

First of all, the little parakeet is quite the little clown - with it imitating the little girl's mannerisms with exaggeration while still having the ability to hide in plain site for quite a while... this parakeet is our new hero and we wish our parrot had its wit and charm!

Next, the poor cat getting accused of doing such an unthinkable thing! The patience and understand that it had for its poor little girl until it couldn't take it any longer and helped her realize the error of her ways... 

And lastly, look for the adorable little mouse hiding throughout the story but curiously peeking in just enough to keep up to date with the investigation - this was not missed and was just too cute! 

The illustration style is one that I hope to accomplish in my own work someday! With simple stick figure colorful drawings, the illustrator is able to portray so much of the story with facial expressions and mannerisms that it made it really fun, engaging and simple for my little one to keep up with and engage in more than just pointing to things and asking questions, but in helping tell the story too.

Quite a fun book to get even the shyest one to open up and have a good laugh!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Mark Iacolina

Mark Iacolina in New Jersey with his two children and a very furry cat.

This is his first picture book. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Review: WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT by April Genevieve Tucholke (YA)

by April Genevieve Tucholke
Release date: March 22nd, 2016
Published by: Dial Books (Penguin Random House)
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Format read: ARC acquired from a book blogger friend.


Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair, and freckles.
Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee.
Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them.
Wink. Poppy. Midnight.
Two girls.
One boy.
Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.


*An ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) was acquired from a book blogger friend for free to read and review. All thoughts here are my very own. 

This book has my brain all jumbled up! It was whimsical, addicting and... everything that you would want in a book that will leave you feeling overwhelmed and confused in such a good way... I'm advising you now, when you pick up this book, be prepared to be sucked in until the end. This is not a book that you could/should read in spurts or while reading other books. This book will demand your undivided attention and you should not go against it!

Wink, Poppy and Midnight are our three main characters and the story is told from all of their point-of-views... there is a love triangle here, BUT, it is not like anything you have probably read before. Their story is so complicated and full of unexpected twists and turns, revelations and more. No one who is who you think they are and then they are and then they're not again. Their story is full of manipulation, and puzzling thoughts... they're not here to make friends with you, to get you to connect with them and sympathize; they're here to tell a story, their story.

Wink is the new girl next door who believes in fairytales and feels that life should be lived like one, and feels that Midnight is the hero to her story. 

Poppy is purposely the villain. She admittedly has a black heart and enjoys playing with peoples emotions and their lives. And will do anything to claim what is hers and put people in their rightful place. Midnight is hers and she will play along, or until she grows bored.

And, Midnight. Midnight is our lost boy who is in love with two girls who may be exactly who he thinks they are and also knows that he doesn't. He's torn between the two, but he also has his own story to tell.

THE WRITING! Oh, my goodness - the writing is AMAZING! It is flawless and lyrical; some passages are so captivating and realistic. For me, while reading, I felt like I was there seeing everything first hand, smelling the strawberries and barn, feeling the sheets and the grass between my toes, seeing the dust and cobwebs. It is quite eerie the way the magic of Tucholke's writing had on me.

I highly recommend this book to those who want a quick read to fall into for a while and get lost in, to then take some time to find a way to climb out of. For those who love honest complex characters, mysteries and a mind-boggling experience. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR - April Genevieve Tucholke

She also curated the horror anthology SLASHER GIRLS & MONSTER BOYS.
She has received five starred reviews and her novels have been chosen for the Junior Library Guild, Kids' Indie Next picks, and YALSA Teens Top Ten.

When she's not writing, April likes walking in the woods with her two cheerful dogs, exploring abandoned houses, and drinking expensive coffee.

She has lived in many places around the world and currently resides in Oregon with her husband.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

My JUNE Book Haul, Wrap-Up, and JULY TBR (2018)

Hello, friends!!! 

SO happy to have made it through the month! June is always the busiest month of the year for us - busier than the holiday season with all the birthdays, lol! 
My kiddos finished school this month - all done with Pre-K, 6th grade, and 8th grade!
I'm trying not to think too much about the fall when school starts again... 
I'll have a kid in high school (hold me please! I'm really not ready for this!), a middle schooler and a kindergartener (hand me the tissues, please!)  
In the meantime, we have a lot of fun stay-at-home vacay plans, plus -  
swimming lessons, band lessons, foreign language and writing practice...
reading, movies, trips to local fun places!
I just need to catch up on a bit of sleep first, lol! 
SO happy to be able to sleep in for the next week :) 

Now, let's talk about BOOKS!!!

*My JUNE Book Haul*


- STERLING, BEST FORK DOG EVER by Aidan Cassie (C/HB) from the author via Macmillan 
- A BLADE SO BLACK by L.L. McKinney (YA/ARC) from Macmillan
- BLACK WINGS BEATING (Skybound #1) by Alex London (YA/ARC) from Macmillan
- SPILL ZONE Written by Scott Westerfeld, Illustrated by Alex Puvilland (YA/HB) from First Second (Macmillan) 
- WILDER by Andrew Simonet (YA/ARC) from Macmillan 
- THE BROKEN VOW (Spill Zone #2) Written by Scott Westerfeld, Illustrated by Alex Puvilland (YA/HB) First Second (Macmillan) 
- WILLA IN THE WOOD (Willa #1) by Robert Beatty (MG/ARC) from Disney Hyperion 
- SHIP IT by Britta Lundin (YA/HB) from Disney/Freeform 
- NEANDERTHAL OPENS THE DOOR TO THE UNIVERSE by Preston Norton (YA/HB) from Disney Hyperion 
- HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL by A.W. Jantha (YA/HB) from Disney/Freeform 
- GOD BLESS AMERICA: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin Written by Adah Nuchi and Illustrated by Rob Polivka (C/HB) from Disney Hyperion 
- GRIM LOVELIES by Megan Shepherd (YA/ARC) from HMH Books 
- GO TO SLEEP, LITTLE CREEP Written by David Quinn and Illustrated by Ashley Spires (C/HB) from Crown Publishing 
- SIDE BY SIDE (Bonnie #2) by Jenni L. Walsh (YA/HB) from Forge 
- THE GIRL WITH MORE THAN ONE HEART by Laura Geringer Bass (MG/HB) from Masters Media Publicity 
THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF SHARKS by Brian Skerry (C/HB) from Media Masters Publicity 
- BUT NOT FOREVER by Jan Von Schleh (YA/PB) from Book Sparks/Sparks Press 
- BONFIRE by Krysten Ritter (A/PB) from Crown Publishing Group 
- THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST by Samantha M. Clark (MG/HB) from Simon and Schuster 
- RAD GIRLS CAN: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women by Kate Schatz (YA/HB) from Ten Speed Press (Penguin Random House) 

- MY PLAIN JANE (The Lady Janies #2) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows (YA/ARC) - from a giveaway hosted by @CurtisBrownLTD
- FURYBORN (Empirium #1) by Claire Legrand (YA/HB) from #booksfortrade
- BLANCA & ROJA by Anna-Marie McLemore (YA/ARC) from #booksfortrade 
- BROKEN THINGS by Lauren Oliver (YA/ARC) - gift
- LITTLE DO WE KNOW by Tamara Ireland Stone (YA/signed HB) from #booksfortrade 
- FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS (Rise of the Empress #1) by Julie C. Dao (YA/ARC) from #booksfortrade 
BRIGHT SMOKE, COLD FIRE by Rosamund Hodge (YA/ARC) - gift
SPLINTERED by A. G. Howard (YA/PB) from #booksfortrade 
UNTAMED (Splintered #1.5 and #3.5) by A. G. Howard (YA/PB) from #booksfortrade 
- ANOTHER DAY (Every Day #2) by David Levithan (YA/HB) from #booksfortrade 
- THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN by Holly Black (YA/PB) - gift
- EMMA by Jane Austen (Classic/Vintage Classics Edition) - trade 

- LEGENDARY (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber (YA/HB) 
- SAVE THE DATE by Morgan Matson (YA/signed HB) 
- THE GIRL IN THE TOWER (Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden (YA/HB) 
- SIMON VS THE HOME SAPIENS AGENDA (Creekwood #1) by Becky Albertalli (YA/Audible Audiobook) 
- AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir (YA/Audible Audiobook) 
- THE LITTLE MERMAID AND OTHER FAIRY-TALES by Hans Christian Andersen (Barns and Noble Classic Editions) 
- PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen (Knickerbocker Classics Edition) 
- SENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Jane Austen (Knickerbocker Classics Edition)
- JANE EYRE by Charlotte Bronte (Knickerbocker Classics Edition) 
GETTING DOWN (Shacking Up #1.5) by Helena Hunting (A/eBook) 

THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang (A/HB) 

*What I read in JUNE*

- CRAFT A LIFE YOU LOVE by Amy Tangerine (A/PB) 
- SPILL ZONE by Scott Westerfeld (YA/HB) 
- THE BROKEN VOW (Spill Zone #2) by Scott Westerfeld (YA/HB) 
- PETRA by Marianna Coppo (C/HB) 
- UPROOTED by Naomi Novik (YA/HB) - reread 
- SIMON VS THE HOME SAPIENS AGENDA (Creekwood #1) by Becky Albertelli (YA/Audiobook)


First, I hope to finish reading
- GRACE AND FURY by Tracy Banghart (YA/ARC) 
- WILDER by Andrew Simonet (YA/ARC) 

And then, I hope I have enough time to read all of these
- SWEET BLACK WAVES by Kristina Perez (YA/ARC) 
- SPINNING SILVER by Naomi Novik (A/HB pre-order)
WILLA OF THE WOOD by Robert Beatty (MG/ARC)
- SHIP IT by Britta Lundin (YA/HB)  
- SAVE THE DATE by Morgan Matson (YA/HB) 

For the Tome Topple Readathon 
- MY LADY JANE by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (YA/HB)

Please let me know in the comments what you're reading... 
and leave your blog or book haul links too - I'd love to visit and see what you all have been up to!

Happy reading!!!
Imagination Designs
Images by LabyrinthofDreams