Castles in the Air, Ilana Waters {$2.99 or borrow FREE w/ Prime!}

Ten-year-old Wikkley McStag and his family are born farmers, happy to work the land. But then they—and other royal subjects—are forced to buy strange, useless machines. Money starts running out. Now the McStags have two days before they lose their farm. As the eldest child, Wikkley must journey to the palace and ask for the king’s help. His loved ones only hope his reckless nature won’t get him in trouble once he’s there!

When Wikkley arrives at the palace, he finds an unnecessary castle being built right into the sky. The same thing is happening in a neighboring kingdom. When royal foolishness leads to disaster, it’s up to Wikkley to save several lives. Will his recklessness finally come in handy? Or will it mean the end of his family, his farm, and possibly . . . his life?

From the fantasy world of THE ADVENTURES OF STANLEY DELACOURT, Ilana Waters brings you another alternate-medieval adventure. If you like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, don’t miss meeting Wikkley McStag!

(This novella is approximately 21,000 words, or 70 pages).

What readers are saying:

5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Adventure! March 3, 2013
By Helene
Wikkley McStag is an honest, hard-working boy, determined to save his family’s farm. It’s easy to sympathise with his his innocent, ever-optimistic view of the world. This is a magical, quirky, fast-paced read and I’m sure readers of all ages will love it!

5.0 out of 5 stars An Adventure for All Ages February 26, 2013
By Diba
This book is appropriate for any age group even though it’s geared toward young adults. It is really an enjoyable read for all ages! The main character is a young man with a lot of love and heart and you end up rooting for him from beginning to end. The author gives a good amount of background as to how Hartlandia came about. Excellently written!

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful fairytale!, February 21, 2013
By Dr. S. Drecker – See all my reviews
My kids (5+7) loved this story! It starts out with a nice farmer boy, who only wants to help his family. So he travels into the wide world, totally unaware of what he’s about to get himself into. His ‘simple’ and practical way of looking at things bring him from one humorous situation into another. My kids laughed and cheered for him the whole way.

And when he reaches his goal, the king, things really get silly. Even when the story was done, my children continued to ask questions as to why the kings did what they did. They really got into this imaginary world.

The main character is easy to relate to and it’s a pure joy to accompany him on his adventures. This is definitely a story we’re going to read a second…a third… several times. 

The average Amazon reader review rating is currently 5 stars, with 5 reviews.

Click here to read more about and purchase Castles in the Air for $2.99 or borrow FREE w/ Prime!

The Tiger Princess (Saderia Series), Sarah Renee {$0.99}

Ten years ago, a devastating fire took the lives of Queen Karenisha and King Makero, leaving a young Princess Saderia orphaned. Nobody knows how the fire was started, but it ignited quickly. Too quickly.

In ten years, the truth has never been discovered…

Saderia is a curious 10 year old tiger Princess. Her Aunt Cia and Uncle Jash have taken over the duties of Queen and King and raising Saderia since her parents disappeared in a mysterious fire. Her aunt and uncle don’t understand Saderia, which she resents.

But Saderia starts having dreams about the past; dark, disturbing dreams. She has to know the truth. Could her parents have been murdered? Soon she finds herself surrounded by more secrets when she discovers a dangerous, ancient royal secret regarding her oldest ancestors.

At the same time, strange things start happening in the usually peaceful forest. Hard times and disappearances create fear and desperation. Out of the shadows comes a dark, mysterious lion named Dastarius to offer his services and play the hero. But his past is just as shadowed and uncertain as the King and Queen’s sudden fiery death.

Saderia doesn’t know who or what to trust, but she is desperate to find the truth about the past. She’s willing to do anything to get it.


What readers are saying:

“The Tiger Princess”, the debut title from Sarah Renee, is the first in a series of stories geared towards middle grade readers starring a courageous young princess named Saderia. Children can easily relate to the engrossing saga of Saderia, while learning worthwhile life lessons, and enriching their imaginations. – Amazon Reviewer

Author Sarah Renee captures the voice and thoughts of a strong-willed, independent and curious ten-year-old girl so perfectly that it is easy to forget that she herself was only 12 when she wrote the book! – Amazon Reviewer

This book is full of twists and turns, hate and love, filled to the brim with emotions that reflect in my own life! I cannot put this down! Anyone who loves ANY animal should be in love with this series – Amazon Reviewer

The average Amazon reader review rating is currently 4.8 stars, with 16 reviews.

Click here to read more about and purchase The Tiger Princess (Saderia Series)  for $0.99 at Amazon 

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah, Lee Edward Födi {FREE}

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Lee Edward Födi‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah:

A SPLINTER IN SORCERY . . . According to Een legend, a Kazah stone grants a wizard the power to catch an echo of the past—and a glimpse of the future. But when Kendra Kandlestar is given her own cracked and broken Kazah stone, she soon discovers that it’s capable of so much more. Now, with her faithful companion Honest Oki by her side, Kendra is sent on an unimaginable journey across the cosmos, finding herself amidst worlds that are strange and bewildering—and at the same time all too familiar. Trapped in this adventure, Kendra finds herself faced with choices that just may unravel the mysterious history of the Eens—and destroy their future. What will Kendra choose? There’s only one way to find out: Slip through the crack in Kazah and enter a world of magic, monsters, and mystery!



Winner of the Mom’s Choice Award (Gold Recipient) 2012

A 2012 Best Books for Kids Selection – CCBC

“Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah would be an excellent class novel for individual reading or as a read aloud choice. It would be an excellent addition for personal, class, school and public libraries. Highly Recommended.”

~ Deborah Mervold, CM Magazine

“All the books in the series are really good. The first one stands out because it’s the first one we read . . . this one [The Crack in Kazah] I think is now my next favourite in the series . . . there are so many twists and ideas . . . you just don’t know where the book is going to go next.”


“Mythic archetypes, hair-raising action and humor makes this installment of the Kendra Kandlestar chronicles a bookfans of fantasy will be tempted to stay up all night to read. This family-friendly series and exciting book is filled with thought-provoking issues. Kendra Kandlestar and the Shard from Greeve will entertain readers of all ages.”

~ Midwest Book Review

Amazon Reader Reviews:

Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 5 stars, with 20 reviews! Read the reviews here!


Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for FREE

Excerpt from Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah:

Chapter 1: How Kendra heard the Danger

As this tale unfolds, and your mind begins to revel in the crackle of each turning page, you will find yourself wanderingalong a familiar path, where creatures of mischief and malice lurk around each bend, where danger lingers in every shadow. Indeed, you know this path well—for this is the road to adventure and you, my young dreamer, have traveled it before.

Perhaps you have found yourself hiding behind the long beard of an ancient wizard as he weaves his magic against the fire of a ferocious dragon. Or perhaps you have crept behind the tattered cape of abrave explorer, through the bone-biting shadows of a dark dungeon, seeking escape from monstrous fiends. Perhaps you have even found yourself amidst the roar and rumble of a mighty battle, dodging claws and talons, fists and feet.

If your imagination has taken you to such places, then you know that no adventure happens without a long journey. We do not find ourselves thrust immediately against the dragon, or suddenly lost in the dungeon maze, or so quickly catapulted into the roar of battle. Indeed, we must begin with that first step upon adventure’s path. We must trek through places strange and unknown. The journey, as you know, is sometimes as important as the final destination.

Ah! Such has always been the case with our young heroine, Kendra Kandlestar. If you are familiar at all with her adventures, then you know she comes from the quiet land of Een, tucked between the cracks of here and there. The Eens, of course, are an ancient race—some say older than even Elves or Dwarves. The Eens are a very small people and are known for many things: their long braids, their ability to speak to animals, and—perhaps most of all—for being shy and timid. Indeed, they prefer to stay hidden behind the magic curtain that protects them from the outside world. But Kendra has never been an ordinary Een. We have seen her cross river and wasteland, descend into mines and dungeons, and climb cliffs and castle towers. And now she will undertake her most difficult journey yet. Perhaps you will be surprised to know that she will end just as she has begun, for in this taleKendra will not visit new lands. She will find herself only in those placeswhere she has been before.

Then how can this be a journey, you ask? Ah—and there lies the key to this tale. Imagine, if you will, not a journey to where—but a journey to when.

So now, your mind is swirling with questions, just like flakes of snow on the cold and bleak morning when our story begins. Here, amidst a symphony of wind and cloud, a magical airship chugs across the sky. It looks like a giant bird, with sails for wings and windows for eyes. The ship is called the Big Bang and amongst its crew is a wizard’s apprentice, twelve-year-old Kendra Kandlestar.

On this winter’s morn, Kendra was sitting in a dark chamber below deck, mind ablaze with questions as she pondered the mysteries of Een magic. She did not like sitting in quiet meditation. Even with her eyes closed and her hands outstretched, it was a grueling task to focus on the moment, to think only of the present.

Instead, Kendra thought of the past. She thought of the future. She thought of her brother Kiro, and all that he haddone, all that he was meant to do. And yet Kiro, in a way, was no more. Long ago, he had been transformed into Trooogul the Unger, a beastly creature with tusks and claws and crooked limbs and it was difficult to know whose side he was on. Trooogul had stolen the dark stone known as the shard from Greeve, a fragment of an ancient warlock’s cauldron. As far as Kendra knew, Trooogul was intent on rebuilding that vile cauldron—which meant resurrecting a curse that could transform the entire Een race into monsters, just like Trooogul himself.

He’s somewhere out there, in the lands below, headed towards the City on the Storm, Kendra told herself. We must find himbefore it’s too late.


Kendra opened her eyes and gazed upon the old man who had just grunted. Her master. He sat across from her, like a mirror in his pose, still as a statue in the Elder Stone. He was ancient and frail, with a beard so long and white that some Eens claimed he used it to sweep his floors. But Kendra knew better, for not only was the wizard her master, but her uncle as well. With her family having long ago disappeared, ornery old Uncle Griffinskitch had raised her from the time she was a baby. He never swept his floors, with his beard or otherwise. Sweeping was Kendra’s job.

Uncle Griffinskitch looked older than ever. His face was a criss-cross of cracks, as if someone had taken a putty knife to clay, and his beard was as white as a winter’s moon. He even wore spectacles now—an old hand-me-down pair from Professor Bumblebean. Of course, at this moment, Uncle Griffinskitch didn’t need his spectacles. Even though his eyes were closed, Kendra felt as if the old man was glaring right into her soul.

“You must focus, child,” Uncle Griffinskitch murmured. “If you wish to master Een magic, then you must quiet your mind, tune yourself to your wand.”

Kendra’s eyes turned to the small stick of wood that lay in front of her. She had received her wand months ago, but she still had trouble understanding its power. Kendra looked back at her uncle. His own wand was more like a staff, twisted and gnarled, its length a symbol of his mastery of Een magic. The wand stood beside him, without support, as if it had a mind and will of its own.

“Remember, the wands do not give us magic,” Uncle Griffinskitch said.

“Then why have them at all?” Kendra asked.

“The wand is like a musical instrument,” the old man replied.

“Like the narfoo?” Kendra asked, thinking of the golden horn-shaped instrument that hung on their wall, back at home. The narfoo seemed to have a hundred valves and keys—far too complicated for Kendra to imagine playing. Come to think of it, she had never seen Uncle Griffinskitch play it either.

“Yes, the narfoo, if you wish,” Uncle Griffinskitch grunted impatiently. “If you want to make music, then you need the narfoo. But the instrument itself doesn’t make beautiful sounds; it only amplifies that which the player can find within.”

Kendra sighed, and tugged nervously at one of her braids. Tugging helped her think, so it was a good thing she had seven of them, radiating out from her head like the rays of a star. “Was it this difficult to train my mother?”

Uncle Griffinskitch’s eyes fluttered open. “Humph,” he murmured. “Why do you suddenly ask about her?”

Kendra fiddled with her hair, not sure what to say.

“She asked as many questions as you, that is for certain,” the old wizard said. “She had a strong will—and more attitude than a giant with a sliver in his toe.”

Kendra had seen a giant or two in her time; she couldn’t help thinking that, for a giant, the nearest thing to a sliver would be a small tree.

“Your mind wanders again,” Uncle Griffinskitch accused.

“Sorry,” Kenrdra said. “You didn’t really like her, did you? My mother, I mean.”

Uncle Griffinskitch grunted. Kendra knew it was difficult for him to talk about such matters. After all, Kendra’s mother was his own sister. She was just as long-lost to him as she was to Kendra. “Your mother and I did not often see eye to eye,” the old man admitted. “But my love for her was as long as my beard.”

“Is,” Kendra said. “You mean is. She’s still alive.”

“Humph,” Uncle Griffinskitch muttered, and Kendra knew it was the type of humph that meant the discussion was over. “We shall return to our meditation, this time with our wands.”

Kendra nodded, lifted her wand and closed her eyes again. She took a deep breath.

Focus, came her uncle’s voice—but he wasn’t speaking out loud. The words just popped into Kendra’s mind, and she knew he was speaking to her through their wands. Feel the world about us, he said.

Yes, master.

What can you see?

My eyes are closed!

See without your eyes,Uncle Griffinskitch told her. Deeper breaths. Let your mind expand. The world surrounds us, alive and vibrant. Tell me what you see.

Kendra wrinkled her nose, wishing she could tug at one of her braids. But instead she followed her uncle’s command by taking another deep breath, trying to focus. For several minutes she just sat there, quietly breathing, the sound of her uncle’s voice whispering inside of her. Then, slowly, Kendra felt her mind begin to drift, as if she was entering a dream.

Now tell me, came her uncle’s voice, what can you see?

A picture began to appear in Kendra’s mind, hazy and white. Clouds, Kendra told her uncle. An endless stretch of clouds. Then she saw something sharp and black amidst the white.  There are rocky crags ahead, Kendra added. We should warn Ratchet, so he doesn’t crash the ship.

The ship will be fine. Stay with the moment. What can you taste?

Water, Kendra replied. It’s cold . . . wait, not water; snow. I can feel it melting on my tongue! It’s snowing outside.

Good. Now, what do you smell?

Smoke on the wind. Someone has lit a fire, far below, on the ground. Kendra now felt light as air, as if she was no longer in her body, no longer on the ship. The sensation was incredible.

Keep it going, Uncle Griffinskitch urged. Tell me, what do you hear?

Kendra tuned her mind. I hear someone telling a story. It’s the legend of how two angels with braided hair appeared before the first Elders of Een. I think we must be close to home! But still, how could I hear that from way up here?

Distance, size—even time, these are but barriers in our minds. We must train ourselves to climb these walls! Our frail minds may fret over such walls, but the magic of Een does not. Yes, the magic, tune to it, Kendra. It can take you anywhere, if you so allow. Now, keep seeking, Kendra. What else do you hear?

Kendra breathed, and let her senses wander. Snow is falling, on the trees, on the mountains. There’s a murmur in the wind. There’s a—

Suddenly, a dreadful shriek pierced her mind, like an arrow splitting a melon. She dropped her wand with a clatter and clutched her ears—and the sound was instantly gone. Her eyes flew open, only to see Uncle Griffinskitch staring back her, his wrinkled face gaping in surprise. He had heard it too.


But the old wizard was already rising to his feet in a flourish of white beard. “Quickly, Kendra,” he beckoned. “To the ship’s deck. We’re under attack!”


Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for FREE


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Chase Tinker & The House of Magic, Malia Ann Haberman {$3.99}

In Chase Tinker’s world, magic, lies and secrets can be a lethal combination…

Chase Tinker has the power to move things with his mind. His brother Andy can stop time. The thing is, they have no idea where these crazy abilities could’ve possible come from, and, are totally clueless on how to control them. Chase wants desperately to talk to his dad about it, but Benjamin Tinker has disappeared without a word.

It’s a huge shock to Chase and Andy when one day a grandfather they thought to be long dead arrives at their door. He invites them to come spend the summer with him and their cousin Janie on a remote island in an out-of-this-world house where fantastic magic can be found in practically every room, stairway and corridor. Chase can’t believe his dad has been lying and keeping so many important things from his sons.

Not long after the boys’ arrival at Grandfather’s house, their aunt, who has been on a mission to find their missing dad, turns up, hurt, sick—and alone. Now three of the biggest questions in their minds are: where in the world is their dad? And how will they find him? Or, is he…dead? It doesn’t help matters when Chase’s despicable cousin James arrives and turns everything upside down, even putting Chase’s life in mortal danger.

As he spends more time in the house, Chase begins to realize that, not only has their dad been keeping things from them, but Grandfather seems to be keeping several secrets of his own and Chase is bound and determined to find out just what those secrets are.

Chase soon finds out that all their magic is controlled by a strange, incredibly powerful relic hidden in the attic, and if anything happens to this relic every bit of Tinker magic will be lost forever. And, if this isn’t enough to worry about, the Tinkers are also facing a terrifying and powerful enemy that is determined to destroy the Tinkers and possess all their magic, their house and their Relic. Now Chase, along with Andy, Janie and their good friend Persephone, must find a way to stop these evil beings in order to save, not only themselves, but everyone else on the planet.

What readers are saying:

“I love middle grade. I also love magic. This was a perfect mix of both. The magical aspect was awesome. It reminded me of Harry Potter and Howl’s Moving Castle. All the characters were great.I loved how innocent they were. This had a super exciting storyline. I can’t wait to see what happens next.” – Amazon Reader Review

The average Amazon reader review rating is currently 5 stars, with 4 reviews.

Click here to read more about and purchase Chase Tinker & The House of Magic for $3.99 at Amazon

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Chase Tinker & The House of Magic, Malia Ann Haberman {$3.99}

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Malia Ann Haberman‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Chase Tinker & The House of Magic:

In Chase Tinker’s world, magic, lies and secrets can be a lethal combination…

Chase Tinker has the power to move things with his mind. His brother Andy can stop time. The thing is, they have no idea where these crazy abilities could’ve possible come from, and, are totally clueless on how to control them. Chase wants desperately to talk to his dad about it, but Benjamin Tinker has disappeared without a word.

It’s a huge shock to Chase and Andy when one day a grandfather they thought to be long dead arrives at their door. He invites them to come spend the summer with him and their cousin Janie on a remote island in an out-of-this-world house where fantastic magic can be found in practically every room, stairway and corridor. Chase can’t believe his dad has been lying and keeping so many important things from his sons.

Not long after the boys’ arrival at Grandfather’s house, their aunt, who has been on a mission to find their missing dad, turns up, hurt, sick—and alone. Now three of the biggest questions in their minds are: where in the world is their dad? And how will they find him? Or, is he…dead? It doesn’t help matters when Chase’s despicable cousin James arrives and turns everything upside down, even putting Chase’s life in mortal danger.

As he spends more time in the house, Chase begins to realize that, not only has their dad been keeping things from them, but Grandfather seems to be keeping several secrets of his own and Chase is bound and determined to find out just what those secrets are.

Chase soon finds out that all their magic is controlled by a strange, incredibly powerful relic hidden in the attic, and if anything happens to this relic every bit of Tinker magic will be lost forever. And, if this isn’t enough to worry about, the Tinkers are also facing a terrifying and powerful enemy that is determined to destroy the Tinkers and possess all their magic, their house and their Relic. Now Chase, along with Andy, Janie and their good friend Persephone, must find a way to stop these evil beings in order to save, not only themselves, but everyone else on the planet.



“I love middle grade. I also love magic. This was a perfect mix of both. The magical aspect was awesome. It reminded me of Harry Potter and Howl’s Moving Castle. All the characters were great.I loved how innocent they were. This had a super exciting storyline. I can’t wait to see what happens next.” – Amazon Reader Review


Amazon Reader Reviews:

Chase Tinker & The House of Magic currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 5 stars, with 4 reviews! Read the reviews here!


Chase Tinker & The House of Magic is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $3.99


Excerpt from Chase Tinker & The House of Magic:


Keeping Secrets

They bolted down the road, their flashlight beams bobbing. Chase grasped Andy’s arm and dragged him to help his shorter legs keep up. The sounds of pursuit echoed behind them, and they were still a ways from home.
Chase’s heart was about to pound right out of his chest when he remembered a small building he’d glimpsed through the trees on the way to town. “Come on, you guys,” he gasped. “This way.”
Slipping into the dark woods, he shivered as the chill from the damp ground and mossy trees surrounded him. With the stickery blackberry vines grabbing at everyone’s skin and clothes, Chase led the way to a small clearing. A rickety old shed was there in front of them, leaning as if ready to topple at any moment. Chase opened the sagging door. The kids’ shoulders drooped when they saw it was crammed with cracked, splintery wood, a rusty tricycle, several old tires and a paint-chipped door with the hinges falling off.
“Crap!” said Chase.
“Oh, no!” said Andy. “We’ll never fit in there.”
“Let me see what I can do,” said Janie. Taking a deep breath, she scrunched her face and flicked her hands. Ribbons of silvery mist flowed from her fingertips, swirled through the building and then vanished. “Oh my gosh! It worked!”
Brushing aside dusty webs, she climbed behind the crusty woodpile into the space she’d created, which was much larger than the outside of the shed. The others followed, wrinkling their noses at the smell of rotting wood and mold. Shutting off their flashlights, they huddled together and tried to calm their ragged breathing.
“Won’t whoever’s out there fit in here too?” Andy whispered in Janie’s ear.
“I made it so it looks bigger to only us,” she whispered back.
“I’m worried the whole place might cave in on us,” muttered Persephone.
Everything was quiet for a few minutes, then they heard the crunching of breaking twigs and the rustling of leaves and brush. Chase held his breath as the door creaked open. Persephone’s hand squeezed his arm. In the moment the door hung open, he could have sworn he saw a glint of blond hair as he peeked through a crack in the woodpile. The door slammed shut and the footsteps faded away.
Chase’s legs began to cramp from crouching for so long. More lightning and thunder flashed and boomed as the storm moved closer. He now understood what his last premonition had been about. If only he’d found out more while he was sleeping, then maybe they wouldn’t be squatting in an old, spidery shed, hiding from some insane stalker.
“Isn’t he gone yet?” Andy whispered. “How long have we been in here anyway?”
“Feels like forever,” grumbled Janie, rubbing her legs, “but maybe about twenty minutes or so.”
“I’ll go see if it’s safe,” said Chase. Although, if he had his choice, he’d rather be lounging in a comfy chair in front of the fire in Grandfather’s study.
“Good idea,” said Janie.
“And be careful,” said Persephone firmly.
He gave her a small, lopsided smile. “Hey, what else would I be?”
Creeping to the door, he opened it just enough for him to slip out. Pressed against the side of the building, he strained to see anything the least bit suspicious in the darkness. He swallowed, pushing down the panic that rushed through him at the thought of running into whatever crazy person was after them, but everything looked okay.
He snuck to the edge of the forest, while trying to blend in with the shadows. He checked up and down the road. No one was in sight. The wind riffled eerily through the trees. It swirled around him as he stood for a moment listening to the sounds of the night before he turned and hurried back to the shed.
“Whoever it was seems to be gone now,” he said as he swung open the door. “So let’s get the heck out of here in case he comes back.”
Stepping outside, Persephone brushed at her hair and clothing. “Yuck! I feel like I’m crawling with bugs.”
“Same here,” said Janie.
“Come on. We need to go,” said Chase, losing patience as he watched Janie picking cobwebs off her jacket and Andy hopping around. “We’ll worry about spiders and whatever later.”
“Easy for him to say,” Andy whispered to Persephone. “He didn’t have one crawling in his pants.”
Keeping a lookout for any sign of their pursuer, they flitted through the trees and down the road. Chase stuck out an arm and stopped everyone when he heard rustling and snapping twigs. With his heart thumping at least a hundred miles a minute, he flashed his light toward the noise. Several pairs of green, glowing eyeballs blinked in the brightness as a family of raccoons sprang from the bushes. They loped across the road and disappeared into the darkness.
“Whew!” said Persephone. “For a second there…”
“Yeah,” said Chase, mentally swiping his hand across his forehead. “I know what you mean.”
He heaved a deep sigh of relief when they finally reached the end of the road and saw their friendly, glowing house across the yard.
“Man! Was that scary or what?” said Andy. “Who would want to chase us, anyway?”
“Good question, shrimp,” said Chase, staring back down the dark, sinister-looking road. He didn’t mention anything about the glimpse of blond hair he’d seen. It still seemed too crazy that it might have been Doctor Dan.
“Maybe someone wanted to kidnap us and hold us for ransom,” said Janie, looking worried. “Grandfather is kind of rich, you know.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier to take just one of us and not the whole bunch at once?” said Chase.
“Yeah, I guess.” Her hands shook as she scraped sticky webs from between her fingers. “It was too scary for words, though. I sure won’t be walking down that road at night ever again. And where was Grandfather? He said he’d be there. If he was with us we could have teleported!”
“At least your power came in handy, Janie,” said Persephone.
“I should’ve frozen him,” said Andy, cramming his hands into his pockets as he stomped along, “but I was so scared, I forgot I had a magical power.”
“That’s okay, Andy,” said Chase. “I would’ve levitated the creep to the top of a tree, if I’d've thought of it, that is.”
Janie stepped between them and patted the boys’ shoulders. “I’m sure you guys will remember to use a little magic in the next crisis we have.”
“I sure hope so,” Chase muttered to himself.
The pouring rain started seconds after they entered the kitchen. Thunder boomed overhead, making the doors and windows rattle. It felt as if the storm had followed them home, like a big, growling dog nipping at their heels.
“Cool! We got here just in time,” said Chase, quickly closing the back door. He glanced at the clock and saw it was a few minutes until midnight. “We should probably let Grandfather know we’re home.”
“Let’s go see if he’s with my mom,” said Janie, plopping her bag on the counter before heading for the swinging kitchen door. “Oh my gosh! Maybe she had a relapse and that’s why he missed the show.”
The door to Clair’s room was open and rosy light spilled into the hallway. The kids heard voices coming from within. Chase jerked up his arms to stop the others. “Let’s listen to this,” he whispered.
They nodded and tip-toed closer.
“Are you sure?” asked Grandfather. His voice was filled with worry.
“It was them,” Clair said, sounding hoarse and weak. “From what I can tell, they’re still collecting magic…” Thunder boomed, drowning out half her words. “…lost Shard.”
Grandfather said something they weren’t able to hear because of the sound of the loud, pounding rain coming through the bedroom window. Then, “…a long time…dangerous.”
“We have to…safe…was followed…Mar…angry…escaped,” murmured Clair, her voice fading in and out. “I don’t want them to…” BOOM! The lightning and thunder flashed and roared. “…didn’t mean…I planned…toward the…my journey…but I…Ben or…so confused. The kids can’t know…” BOOM! Thunder shook the windows.
“Don’t worry. I’ve taken care of that with a powerful enchantment,” said Grandfather. His voice was louder now, moving back and forth as if he was pacing the floor. He heaved a deep sigh. “It looks like our Dark Enemy will never stop until—”
The kids looked at each other. “Dark enemy?” mouthed Chase.
Clair’s croaky voice took up where Grandfather had left off. “—until either we or they are de—” She stopped, as if afraid to finish the sentence. “Anyway, I’ll do what I can to keep…” More rumbling thunder drowned out her quiet words.
“It’s late,” said Grandfather. “The children will be here soon and it’s best if they know nothing of what we’ve been discussing. Why don’t you get more sleep and we’ll speak again when you’re feeling better.”
The kids dashed back to the kitchen.


Chase Tinker & The House of Magic is available for purchase at:

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Twitter: @malia_ann

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD: Six Short Stories of Exciting, Hilarious and Possibly Deadly Adventure, Eve Yohalem {$2.99}

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Eve Yohalem‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:



“Alas, it is true. Grandpa hates me. He has always hated me, even before I used his ear as a swing toy (his lobes are so long and flappy!). I can’t imagine why. I assume Grandpa hates me simply because I am the bird—and he is not.”

Everybody loves Bird. Joseph and Maya, Mother and Father, Humphrey the dog, Slick the snake. Everyone except Grandpa, who will stop at nothing to set Bird free. Forever.

• How does the battle begin when Bird and Grandpa are alone together for a whole week?
• See classroom chaos in Bring Your Pet to School Day!
• Exactly what are they hunting at the Aw Shoot archery range?

Fasten your feathers and warm up your wings—here are six collected short stories in the GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD series!



By Jill Arent, “All Things Jill Elizabeth”

Without further ado, I bring you a fabulous book in today’s review. Grandpa Hates the Bird, by Eve Yohalem, is a collection of short stories about the adventures of the eponymous Bird and the misadventures of the eponymous Grandpa. My review copy was graciously provided free of charge by the author. AND she has also graciously agreed to provide a giveaway copy, so you can have your very own!

I admit that I’m a bit obsessed with unified short story collections/interwoven stories lately, as evidenced by last week’s post. But do not, for one second, think that is why I am giving this collection such a rave review. Heck, no. This one is entirely owing to Yohalem’s sense of fun, of humor, and of giggle-inducing irony. Let me say right up front: I don’t normally review actual children’s books. When she contacted me about reviewing her book, and told me it was aimed at readers aged 6-10, I almost sent her the standard “sorry, your book sounds lovely, but I just don’t review…” email. Then I read further. Once I saw how she described her book I couldn’t help but review it. Here is what she said: (I hope you don’t mind my using this Eve, but it’s so great that I couldn’t not!)

“GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD is a collection of comic short stories for readers 6-10. There are very few short story collections available for young readers and one advantage to reading them as ebooks is that a parent in a crowded waiting room or stuck in traffic can hand their cranky child their smartphone with a funny story instead of Angry Birds.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I love the Angry Birds (or the Where’s My Water or the Rush Hour or Running Man or whatever game of the day the kids can teach me how to play). I also love the ability to provide entertainment to the kids on the go that things like Angry Birds provides. But I LOVE that someone is out there putting together alternatives to games as a means of doing this. And I LOVE LOVE the manner in which Yohalem accomplished this alternative.

The stories are, in a word, delightful. They are fun, engaging, hilarious, revenge-filled without ever being vengeful. They are cute and heart-warming and contain hidden life-lessons about being a good friend, being honest and trustworthy, and being loving. And they are written in a very easy-going and altogether compelling style that appeals to me as a reader, a step-parent, and someone who is more than occasionally worried that the future of our world is in the hands of kids whose main introductions to reading are video game manuals.

I strongly encourage you to pick this one up and throw it on your phone, ipad, whatever… You – and the kids in your life – will be exceedingly glad you did!


GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD currently has a customer review rating of 4.5 stars with 12 reviews! Read the reviews here.

GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD is available to purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99



Excerpt from the story Bring Your Pet to School Day from GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD: Six Short Stories of Exciting, Hilarious and Possibly Deadly Adventure by Eve Yohalem

It was my favorite day of the year: Bring Your Pet to School Day. Most schools do not observe this particular holiday, which I personally believe should be made into a national event like the Fourth of July or Super Bowl Sunday or even National Forest Products Week. But Joseph and Maya go to one of those progressive schools where they believe in hands-on learning. Thus, Bring Your Pet to School Day is an opportunity to learn about biology, animal care, and even geology and puppetry since the pitiful children who are unfortunate enough to live without real pets are allowed to bring in rocks and dolls instead.

The day was warm and I traveled to school via my preferred method of transportation: on top of Joseph’s head, his hair being the closest thing I have to a nest. Bird care books will tell you never to allow a bird to perch higher than yourself because it gives the bird the idea that he is superior to you. Bird care books are right.

There was just one dim spot in my rainbow of happiness, and it was walking next to us. Joseph’s teacher had asked for a grown-up to help with the animal presentations, and Grandma had made Grandpa volunteer. Something about “behavior modification” and how spending time with children and animals might help him “build tolerance” and improve his “attitude.”

Grandpa was dressed from head to toe in full military camouflage. That’s right: a green flack jacket, cargo pants, and black combat boots. It was the same outfit he had worn every day for the last month, ever since he had applied to be a contestant on Killigan’s Island, a new reality TV show where twelve humans struggle to survive on a tropical island with no running water or electricity. Something millions of birds have been doing with ease since the beginning of time, I might add.

I was determined not to let Grandpa ruin my good mood. In fact, I even hoped that Grandma was right and once Grandpa saw what Joseph and I had prepared for the class, he would be so impressed, so charmed and enchanted by my performance, that he would finally appreciate me properly and we would become friends.

Anything is possible, right?

There is only one fifth grade class at Walden Pond School, with nineteen children, most of whom I recognized from past Bring Your Pet to School days. Larissa spends most of every day writing poetry about kneecaps. Harrison is the boy who attended all of pre-kindergarten in a lion costume. I’m not sure anyone noticed. Then there’s Jake. Poor Jake is the class oddball: he likes soccer. He’s good at it, too.

Jake was seated alone at a table for two near the front of the room, holding a plastic animal carrier on his lap. Inside was Beckham, Jake’s ferret. Grandpa went to introduce himself to Mandy the teacher, and Joseph and I took the seat next to Jake. I hopped from Joseph’s shoulder onto the table, and Beckham hissed at me through the wire screen on the end of his carrier. So that’s how it’s going to be, is it? Very slowly, I stretched out my wings to their full green, blue, and red glory. Then I turned my back on the little beast, bent over, and presented him with a full view of what lay underneath my tail.

“Hola, chiquitas y chiquitos!” sang Mandy, a tiny young woman with curly red hair the color of a house finch. Mandy liked to greet the children in a different language every day. Most of the time the children had no idea what she was saying, but they had all been studying Spanish at school since first grade. At this point in their Spanish language studies, every child in the room was able to say, “the air is not toxic,” but not one of them could ask for directions to a bathroom.

“Hola, Señora Mandy!” answered the children.

“Is everyone totally psyched for BRING YOUR PET TO SCHOOL DAY?” Mandy asked, sounding totally psyched herself.

“Yeah!” “You bet!” “Wahoo!” the children shouted back.

“Right on!” Mandy said, pumping a small fist in the air. “First I’d like to introduce you to Joseph’s grandfather. He’s going to help us with our presentations today.”

Grandpa stepped forward. If this were opposite day I would describe the expression on his face as warm and friendly.

“Hi, Grandpa!” the children greeted him.

“Uh, hi,” Grandpa muttered.

There was a long awkward silence that Mandy finally interrupted.

“Thanks, Grandpa! Now how about we hear from some of the students!”


GRANDPA HATES THE BIRD is available to purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Silent Invasion, Neil Ostroff {$1.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!}

Neil Ostroff‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:


Description of  Silent Invasion:

Thirteen-year-old Tim Madison’s life turns upside down when a strange visitor takes him aboard a magnificent spaceship to train for a future alien invasion. Returned home with new skills and this terrible knowledge, he confides in his two best friends about his experience. Now, they’re in a race against time to prevent an all-out attack on Earth. Can they stop ruthless, spider-like creatures from constructing a massive extermination army deep inside our planet? Or will we all perish?


Silent Invasion is available for purchase at:

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An Excerpt from Silent Invasion:


Battle Training

Chapter 1

Something was wrong! Air was still. The house too quiet. Brady the neighbor’s obnoxious collie wasn’t barking outside.

Tim Madison rolled to the side of the bed and flicked on the table light. His desk, cluttered with astronomy magazines, math homework, and his eighth grade history book; the model airplane with the broken landing gear hanging by fishing line above his bed, his laptop computer, all looked normal. It was the walls. Ordinarily light-blue, they were red. He looked to the floor. The blue carpet had become black. Bright brown numbers on his digital clock beamed 6:15 A.M.

Weird, he thought.

He slipped from the sheets, stepped toward the door, and turned the handle slowly. Bedroom light threw his shadow across the hallway’s previously tan, now lime-green carpet. Formally white hallway walls were yellow.

“Greetings,” a low voice said.

Tim spun around. Fear soared up his spine. He tried to scream but a lungful of choked air came out. A creature a few feet taller than him, with a human body, beetle-like head, and claws instead of hands, stood wearing an all black jumpsuit.

“I will take you to our training facility where the Thispan Council arranged accommodations,” the creature said.

Tim’s heart banged against his chest. He backed against the wall and looked from side to side thinking which way to run. To his parent’s room? The bathroom? His muscles tensed. Should he bolt back into his own bedroom and slam the door shut?

“What?” he gasped. “Who are you?”

“I am Kiz,” the creature said. “The council sent me here because they have knowledge of dangerous events that will occur on your planet. I will teach you skills that most assures your success at preventing these events. This is your assignment.”

Tim gulped, pushing panic down. “I… I don’t understand.”

“You are the Earth’s galactic warrior. I will explain more once we are onboard the Skyru.”

“The what?”

“Our traveling device.”

Panic hit.

“I can’t leave!” Tim thought of excuses. “What about school? I… I have a math quiz today and a history test on Thursday!”

“Your universe will only age for one minute while you are away. However, we cannot remain in this state of near timelessness for an extended period. We must reach the end of your universe before the hole connecting our two dimensions closes.”

Tim’s mind whirled. So much farfetched information was coming at him at once he felt dizzy.

“This is impossible!” he stated.

“As you will learn,” Kiz replied. “Nothing is impossible.”

Kiz turned and stepped down the hallway. The impulsive for Tim to follow him was enormous, as if being pulled by an invisible string. He felt compelled to go. And he did; down the stairs, through the yellow foyer, to the blue front door. Kiz turned the handle. Hinges creaked.

“We are experiencing problems with the colorization adapter on the time-stopper,” Kiz said. “The Council believes its function was second in importance to the urgency of your assignment.”

Tim barely heard him; most of his attention was absorbed by the site of the bizarre landscape. The early-morning neighborhood was frozen in time and everything tinted with the wrong colors. Everywhere he looked was something different and astonishing. Brady was blue and stood silent for once in his life with his nose glued to the ground. A few feet away, a green sparrow hovered motionless in midair. Grass on the front lawn was red. Neighbors’ houses were pink and blue instead of their usual browns and grays. Leaves on the spruce tree across the street were orange and its trunk was yellow.

“Unbelievable!” Tim gasped.

Kiz headed down the driveway and onto the sidewalk. Tim followed, completely awestruck at his surroundings. They passed an orange squirrel suspended in mid-scamper and another reared back on its hind legs. Brown bees poised above silver daisies. Mountains of green clouds dotted a milky-white sky. Wild-colored cars sat motionless amid the morning congestion around the construction in the right lane of Watson Street.


Sound like a cracking of the sky. A silver triangle about the size of a parking space and looking as thin as a pane of glass appeared overhead. Three thrusters one at each corner kept the ship hovering as a beam in the center shone down on him.

“What’s that?” Tim asked.

“The Skyru. Battle training begins now.”

Brilliant light flashed from the triangle’s underbelly and just like that, Tim found himself standing inside a wide, brightly lit, metal corridor that appeared to go on endlessly.

Kiz stepped forward. “Other galactic warriors are waiting for us in the main hall.”

“Others?” Tim’s belly swooned with uncertainty. He held out his hands and backed away slowly. “I… I don’t think I’m ready for this! I mean, a few minutes ago I was asleep in my bed, and now… I mean… I don’t even know what’s happening?”

“To tell you more at this time will jeopardize your assignment and everything the Council has worked toward. You must learn your battle skills in the appropriate order for your training to be most effective. The fate of your world, perhaps all worlds, rests on you.”


Chapter 2

Tim headed down the corridor in a daze, his heart beat so hard he was sure Kiz could hear it and see the arteries thumping in his neck. This situation struck him with awe and not knowing what waited ahead tinged that awe with a spike of fear.

They passed between two gold pillars and entered an enormous stadium. Thousands of strange beings stared at them from a massive tier of seats. Tim looked over the assembled group. These creatures were like nothing, and everything, he had ever imagined. One nearby form resembled a rose bush but had yellow, tulip-like flowers with bright blue eyes on the ends of translucent petals. And it was hardly the most exotic. Another individual appeared to be an oversized bacteria with large cilia waving on its outside. Another looked like a fish out of water except with a moose’s head. Some of the aliens could best be described as transfigured humans with hands where their heads should be and eyeballs on their elbows. Others were bizarre morphs of animal, human, and insect features: flies with arms, a caterpillar with horse-like legs, a moth with the ears of a rabbit. It looked to Tim like someone had taken animal parts out of various bins and put them back together at random.

“I… I don’t believe this,” he said. “What are these things?”

“Galactic warriors,” Kiz replied. “One galactic warrior chosen from each advanced civilization in this quadrant of the universe.”

“Can they understand me?”

“A universal translator is built into the Skyru. You will hear words in your own language as will the others in their own. Some receive information as sonar waves and others understand through scent and smell.”

Tim thought about this for a moment. “But you spoke English in my bedroom?”

“I have learned your language as part of the assignment.”

“The final galactic warrior has boarded,” a voice boomed, through an unseen loudspeaker. “Your assignments now continue. The next general assembly meeting will occur when we reach the final destination. Return to your rooms and await further instructions.”

The large crowd swelled toward the outlining corridors.

“Follow me,” Kiz said, and guided Tim into one of dozens of recessed openings.

They passed an amazing variety of life: a giant centipede shuffling along on several porpoise-like flippers, a snail with a ferret’s head leaving a trail of lime-green slime as it glided down the hallway, a bee that whipped a snake-like tail as it buzzed by.

A creature with a rhinoceros-like head attached to a lithe, cat-like body caught Tim’s attention. Spines ran down its back like teeth. A formidable horn poked from its snout. The rhino-cat stopped walking, turned, and focused its tiny black eye on Tim.

“Are you the galactic warrior from planet Earth?” it asked.

Tim’s throat clogged with nervousness. He cleared it. “I guess so.”

“I visited your world many time spans ago,” the rhino-cat said. “It is an acceptable planet for a brief period, but I would not want to live among your people. Impulsive carnivores like you have much to learn before you can be considered civilized. I hope Kiz can teach you to channel all that savagery. I’ve heard Earth is the first encounter.”

The rhino-cat snorted and ejected a wad of mucus that stuck to the wall like a piece of chewed gum. It continued tramping down the corridor, turned, and disappeared into a separate passageway.

Tim flashed Kiz a quizzical look. “What’s he mean first encounter?”

“Disregard his remarks. Blituars are an arrogant race who feels humans should not even be granted the privilege of having a galactic warrior.”


“Blituars evolved several thousands of years before humans. They made the same mistakes your species now make, somehow surviving planet-wide pollution, harsh famines, and dozens of catastrophic wars. They are now a peaceful race of explorers and somewhat hypocritically given their own tortuous path to becoming pacifists, they consider humans a violent, lower form of life.”

“Is the Blituar a galactic warrior?”

“Yes, but he isn’t nearly as important as you.”

“Why am I so important?”

“I cannot tell you at this time.”

Kiz stopped in front of a gold door encrusted with nine huge diamonds arranged like the Earth’s solar system with the third jewel from the center as the largest.

“This is your room,” Kiz said. “You are free to come and go as you please, but use caution if you choose to walk about the Skyru. Some representatives aren’t receptive toward humans. Battle training will commence when I return.”

Kiz walked away.

“Wait!” Tim called after him.

“Is there a problem?”

“How do I get inside?”

“Press the largest star-stone.”

Kiz disappeared into a side corridor. Tim raised his finger to touch the jewel. When he did, the door changed into a swirling, gray, curtain of mist.

“Computer on,” said a digital voice, startling him. “Please identify yourself.”

“I’m…uh, Tim. Tim Madison.”

“At last!” the computer rejoiced, its tone becoming thoroughly human. “I thought you were the Goron galactic warrior. The Goron has been trying to access your room since she came aboard. I assume she wanted to see what grass looks like. Gorons are curious creatures; they live their entire lives on a single ball of rock devoid of all vegetation. But never mind that information. Everything is prepared as described in your profile. Please enter.”

Tim hesitated. Was this a trap? He’d watched enough late-night horror flicks to know that if dangerous monsters were to attack him they usually lurked on the other side of such mysterious places.

“Your room is your sanctuary,” the computer assured him, as if sensing his concern. “There is no safer place for you.”

Still wary, Tim took a cautious step, and then another. He held his breath as he went through the warm, surprisingly dry mist, and emerged into his own yard with his house in front of him.

Silent Invasion is available for purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Corie Universe Feeder, Walter Eckland {$2.99}

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Description of  Corie Universe Feeder:

What’s not to love about digging and mud?

Corie: tall, thin, scruffy, female, student, blondish, smart, creative, outspoken, trouble-finding, precocious (whatever THAT means), eager, mature, silly, immature, messy-roomed, imaginative, animal-loving girl ……

……. has actual PERMISSION FROM HER FATHER to dig a hole in the front yard of her house. As an added bonus she can use the water hose, wheelbarrow, shovel, spray paint, a sign and any and all neighborhood friends she wants. After this whole, hole digging event, lots of oddness ensues not just from the aforementioned father, but from her mother, a dog walker, the police chief, the newspaper guy and the scowling town librarian.

Does any good come of this at all? Well, sit down, grab a free cheese sandwich and find out. Oh! One other thing. If you ABSOLUTELY do not like reading, then read this book. It is a tad nutty, nonsensical and sometimes barely even seems like a book.

If you are a parent who has a child that appears to be un-fond of reading, well, then, bribe them to try this by telling them it’s about popcorn, pudding, and Popsicles.

And pickles.



5.0 out of 5 stars A fun read!

I bought this book to read aloud to my eight-year-old daughter, simply because it looked like fun. I was not disappointed. Corie, who plants a pickle-and-fish tree in her garden to help feed the world, is a delightful character, who would appeal to any young girl. Her wealth of ideas and her determination to do the best she can for the cause is inspirational without being at all preachy.

This is not a `normal’ book. I expect it would have been passed over by publishers lacking in imagination. The style of writing reminded me a lot of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The humour is off-the-wall. But it is a great read for young and old alike, especially out loud.

My daughter’s reaction to having reached the end is perhaps the most telling commentary of all. “No, I don’t want it to finish. I want it to have infinity pages!”



Corie Universe Feeder currently has a customer review rating of 5 stars from 10 reviews. Read the reviews here.


Corie Universe Feeder is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99

An Excerpt from Corie Universe Feeder:

One Green Fermented Chapter

A Pickle Sandwich


the Pickle Sandwich


one Pickle Sandwich



Whichever you choose,

all I know is that it started with a/one/the/THE Pickle Sandwich.

And a fish.


Two: The Beginning(s)

Corie: tall, thin, scruffy, female, student, blondish, smart, creative, outspoken, trouble-finding, precocious (whatever THAT means), eager, mature, silly, immature, messy-roomed, imaginative, animal-loving girl.

Corie lives in a suburb of a big city in the Northeast. Want to know which city? Well, I can’t tell you that.

The house she lives in:

*is painted white;

*has many rooms including, two and a half bathrooms (Corie still wonders where the other half went);

*has a big, big, big, huge front yard;

*has an even bigger, bigger, bigger, more huge back yard;

*is old;

*contains two irritating older but not more mature brothers;

*has the neatest boy-you-can-get-messy-and-in-big-trouble-after-playing-in-it-and-going-into-the-house-and-lying-upside-down-all-muddy-on-your-bed-to-read-a-book-even-though-reading-is-good-for-you stream next to it;

*has plenty of food;

*contains one dog (although, it is often asked, “Why we can’t have fifteen dogs? That’s silly. I’ll take care of them.”);

*is happy;

*looks good in winter;

*has great snakes in the yard, but that’s another story;

*has a fox who visits the yard;

*is also visited by white-tailed deer, as well as one weird deer with no tail and a goofy limp who eats mushrooms and doesn’t run away when you go outside and look at him;

*and contains a mother and a father.

That snake story is pretty interesting, and I wish I could tell you more about the trouble that whole thing caused but I can’t right now.

Anyhow, anyhoo, anywhatever…

Whenever I get off track and try to tell you something else or go off and tell another story—like the time Smelly Timmy, too young to sled, went down the “world’s most incredible slippery, slidey, sled run in Corie’s back yard that only costs a quarter to use all day” and broke his wrist and lost a tooth, and Corie got mad because she never got her quarter but got in more trouble than he did, even though he welched—whenever I get off track like that and I remember what I was supposed to be doing, I end up saying, “Anyhow, or anyhoo,  or anywhatever,” and then try to get back to the story.

I think.


It’s a nice house in a nice neighborhood with nice parents and irritating brothers and Corie.

And a pickle and a fish.


Two: The Beginning(s) Some More

The pickle.

Listen. Dad, who is not so, so bad as dads go, actually likes pickles. He was home making late lunch, or maybe early dinner, and Corie was Corie-ing around, not doing anything really, but kind of doing it wrong anyway. Dad was making lunch/dinner, and Corie said for the ten-thousandth time, “What’s to eat?”

Dad finally said, “Pickle sandwiches,” even though Corie hates (or as Mom says, “dislikes immensely”) pickles.

The pickle in question:

*was green—and not a nice shade of green like the green stuff that came out the time Corie threw up all over the bedroom after the birthday party thingy happened;

*was wrinkled (aren’t they all?);


*was some new kind that was even bigger than the old kind;

*came from a jar;

*was cold;

*and wouldn’t be eaten by the dog who ate ASOLUTELY ANYTHING (Corie knew this because she had tried feeding the dog ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING).

I’m not going to tell you the name of Corie’s dog. She thinks if you know the name of her dog and what a great pull-you-in-the-sled, chase-you-through-the-house-and-the-muddy-stream, and eat-the-vegetables-you-pass-her-under-the-table-except-for-pickles dog she is, you’ll come to the Northeast and steal her.

That’s why I can’t tell you the name of Corie’s dog and have to just call her “Corie’s dog,” because you might steal her.

Corie’s brothers’ names are Robert and James.


Two: The Beginning(s) Still More

The fish in question…

…was served at the early dinner/late lunch on last night’s rice, reheated in the micro-wavy.

At least there were no leftover green beans.

The fish wasn’t that bad, but you never want to admit to your parents that you like fish, or else you’ll get it all the time instead of good dinner stuff like popcorn, pudding, and Popsicles.


Dad suggested she eat his extra half of a pickle sandwich and all of the fish, but Corie was way, way, way too full from all that rice, thank you very much.

Brothers Robert/Bobby and James/James came in around then, but they had more important stuff to do like go up to their room and talk about baseball or pick their noses.

If you ask them about the hockey game they’re watching on TV when it’s in the middle of baseball season and it’s clearly a baseball game they’re watching, it’s guaranteed to earn you a bop on the arm; and if you fall down or bump into the wall like the bop really hurts or something, then maybe the brother gets in big or medium trouble and can’t watch baseball for like a month or two years or until there’s enough money in his savings account to pay for college.

Dad said to Corie, “There are people starving all over the world and right here in our very own town, and boy, it would be a shame to waste food, even if it is pickles and fish,” so that’s how all this started.


Three Finally

“Well, Dad, I couldn’t agree more.” (They hate it or at least immensely dislike it when you agree with them.) “Dad, it truly, truly, deeply would be a shame to waste a perfectly good pickle half and a hunk of fish that could be used to feed all the starving people in our town, or at least the known universe.”

“But—and I mean, BUT—wouldn’t it be better if we could put this itty, bitty piece of fish and pickle to better use and feed many more people and kids and goats? Wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it?”

“Anyhow, what I thought was we (you and me and that new shovel I’m not supposed to use because I broke the last one, even though, who would know that a shovel would break if you just accidentally dropped it from the second-floor bedroom window while trying to get a crow off the roof? And no, I did not almost fall out the window with the shovel, since my pants were caught on the bed anyway)…anyhow, couldn’t we just use that new shovel and me and you to plant the piece of fish and the pickle in the front yard and grow a pickle-and-fish tree to feed more people? Couldn’t we? It would grow lots of pickles and fish, and some people like pickles and fish, so we could feed lots of people instead of just one girl who’s pretty full from all that rice anyway.”

“I never get to do anything fun.”



You would expect Dad to give a long, speechless look, like there’s a piece of gum stuck in your hair that’s so long it trails down to your feet and gets caught in the carpet and has twenty colors and maybe marshmallows in it. You’d expect him to say, “I wonder whose child you are anyway and if there REALLY WAS some kind of a mistake between the hospital and the zoo that day, or at least the circus.”

But instead, Dad said, “Sure. Go ahead. Please use the new shovel. Plant the fish and pickle and feed many, many more people in the world. That’s a great idea, and I know you can do it.”


The End of the Beginning(s): Five

Which takes half the fun—or at least a third of the fun, or maybe eleven-sixteenths of the fun—out of it, but so what? We’re talking:





new shoveling and

mess-making (approved even!) and

Corie doesn’t have to eat the pickle or fish, which has to be pretty cold and gross now ‘cause it came out of the micro-wavy around ten hours ago.

Pretty good for a Thursday.

That’s how this all began.


Corie Universe Feeder is available for purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, D. Robert Pease {$2.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!}

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Description of Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble:

Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth’s animals from extinction. Life couldn’t be better. However, the twelve-year-old time traveler soon learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is abducted and taken to thirty-first century Mars; his dad becomes stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying a newly habitable, post-apocalyptic Earth.

Traveling through time in the family’s immense spaceship, Noah, a paraplegic from birth, must somehow care for the thousands of animals on board, while finding a way to rescue his parents. Along the way, he discovers his mother and father aren’t who he thought they were, and there is strength inside him he didn’t know he had.



From Heather “Buried in Books”

“I loved this story! It was fresh and fast paced and as the title tells you it’s based loosely on Noah’s Ark, but this Noah is part of the family Zarc and their spaceship is called the ARC. It’s huge, large enough to house ten blue whales in a natural enough habitat that they won’t be crowded and elephants on a realistic African savanna. Their mission is to travel through time saving a male and female of each species of every animal so they can repopulate the planet Earth. Earth experienced a cataclysm and all life was destroyed, but that was eons ago and now it is deemed habitable.

Of course, there is an evil man that wants to stop them. People don’t need animals anymore as they eat synthetic meat and he doesn’t want the Earth to be a zoo. He wants people to live on Earth instead of Venus with it’s inhospitable air. So they are in danger whenever they collect their specimens.

But more than being an exciting story about racing through space and saving Earth and animals and trying to beat the bad guy, all of which I’m quite sure children will love, this story is also about family. Noah is very aware of his family and discovers a huge secret about himself during the course of the book. He has to come to terms with it and what it means. A lot of the novel is taken up with him trying to rescue his parents. His siblings take a back seat in the novel but there is no doubt that this family is close knit and love each other first and foremost. It was good to see that tied in to the story so subtly yet feel it’s importance to the outcome.

A second book is due out next year and I cannot wait for it!

Robert Pease’s writing is easy to read and engaging. It wasn’t bogged down with too much Sci-Fi language that I felt like I didn’t know what was going on. And every time there was something about moving through space and time, some of the characters understood it, but Noah fessed up that he never did understand it and frankly neither did I. But it never kept me from thoroughly enjoying this novel!”


Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble currently has an average Amazon Reader Review Rating of  4.5 stars from 50 reviews. Read them here!

An excerpt from Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble:

California sped by in a blur below. I hugged the terrain as closely as I dared. A line of mountains in front of us made me smile.

“Computer, keep track of Haon’s location.” I slowed the ship slightly. “We want to make sure he keeps following.”

“XB Class is two-point-seven kilometers behind and closing,” the computer said. “Altitude five hundred meters.”

“Perfect,” I said.

“I hope you know what you’re doing.” Mom looked a little pale. Adina on the other hand seemed to be enjoying the excitement.

The mountain range soared in front of us. I pulled back and skimmed along the peaks.

“Missile lock confirmed.”

I accelerated over a ridge of granite.

“Two Mark 7 missiles fired.”

After we crested the ridge I plunged back down. The DUV III streaked toward a green valley below. I heard an explosion as one of the rockets clipped a peak behind us. I banked left and climbed up over another ridge. The second rocket didn’t make the turn and smashed into a granite wall.

“That was close!” Adina yelled.

Once more I hugged the terrain. The ground below was broken up by never-ending rows of sharp granite peaks.

“XB Class is still within missile range.”

“Good.” Finally the terrain below smoothed out. We sped over brown desert. I pushed the DUV III faster and pulled away from Haon.

“Just a little farther.” Finally I saw what I was looking for. The desert gave way to rocky terrain again and a huge chasm came into view.

“The Grand Canyon?” Mom said.

I grinned. “I always wanted to try this.” I banked right and dropped into the canyon. Even after I lowered our speed, the canyon walls still sped by in a blur.

“XB Class closing. One kilometer.”

“Seven hundred fifty meters.”

“Missile lock confirmed.”

The DUV III screamed around a column of red rock.

“Four Mark 7 missiles fired.”

“He can’t have too many missiles left.” I skimmed over a flat butte, then dropped down toward the green Colorado River. Rockets exploded around us, smashing into ancient stone.

“One Mark 7 missile remains. Impact in five seconds.”

I spotted the perfect outcropping of stone. I skimmed the surface of the river, mashed the yoke left, and whizzed behind it. The rocket blew a hole through the shale. Fragments of stone pinged all over the DUV III.

“Those are getting too close for comfort.” Mom dug her fingernails into her armrests.

“I need the right spot.” I banked, turned, rose, and fell while we rocketed through the canyon. Just ahead, the canyon walls came together.  “That should do.”

I slowed and let Haon close in. I dropped toward the river. He followed.

“XB Class is two hundred meters back. Missile lock confirmed.”

A few more heartbeats, then I yanked back on the yoke. The DUV III groaned, but her wings caught the air and lifted her up. I kept pulling back as the ship strained toward the blue sky above, then curved back around to the canyon floor. I’d done a complete loop.

Haon’s ship was now in front of us. I dove forward. He couldn’t turn—he was surrounded by stone walls left and right. He couldn’t climb out of the canyon—I moved in to block his ship.

Just ahead, the canyon took a sharp turn left.

The DUV III skimmed above the XB Class, Haon hurtling toward the rock. We were maybe ten meters away from the canyon wall when he managed to pull up high enough to scrape over the cliff’s edge.

He smashed against our underside—and flew out from beneath us with a wrenching tear. The vertical stabilizers on his ship dangled.

I clipped an outcropping of stone and the DUV III spun left. I used up every trick I knew to straighten her out, but the ship continued to spin.

We dropped toward a plateau of rock below.

“Landing thrusters!” I yelled. The DUV III continued to twirl like a top. A loud grinding noise rent the cabin.

We hit the ground.

Dust and debris filled the air while I fought with the controls. For several long heartbeats, the ship rumbled and shook. Finally everything went quiet.

We’d crashed.

And Haon’s ship was gone.

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE with Prime!

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Winter Wolves (Secret Doorway Tales), V. A. Jeffrey {$1.49}

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V. A. Jeffrey‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Winter Wolves (Secret Doorway Tales):


Winter has come early, an unusually fierce winter that has nearly paralyzed the city, courtesy of the Winter Fairy Queen. Her reach has had consequences far and wide, especially in Other Land where winter’s rage has been the cruelest.

Anne goes back to Other Land armed with armor made by the gnomes, her hammer and ring and a new weapon against the Queen, but will it work? The dreaded unlocked doorway appears right in her own bedroom and trouble immediately finds her when she embarks on her latest mission! The Queen soon sends word to capture Anne and bring her to the castle on the Ice Sea, where the Summer Queen is being held captive. Constant skirmishes and battles assault and weaken the free folk, making way for Queen Faye’s great army from the north to strike the final blow on all those who oppose her rule. Anne and her friends must battle winter fairies and trolls and make their way to the safety of the Whitestone Lodge where Great Grandfather Whitestone, the other gnome Grandfathers and an army of gnome family clans have gathered. The gnome Grandfathers have a plan to defeat the Winter Queen, which involves placing Anne right into her clutches!

Will Anne’s new weapon and the Grandfathers’ plan work? Can they stop Queen Faye before she destroys Queen Titian and births her unending winter?



“”I was drawn to The Winter Wolves through its beautiful cover; and the tale within does not disappoint! Now, I’m a grown-up, but this is precisely the sort of book I would have loved as a middle-grader: Easy to read, yet the prose sparkles and shines with delicate description and carefully set scenes. The young heroine is charming and sweet, and we can sympathize with her troubles with the ‘mean’ girls at school. And the magical elements blend in beautifully with the modern story. Author Jeffrey shows great promise and talent! I would recommend this book to any book-loving young reader old enough to read to enjoy chapter books.” – {On Amazon Reader Review}


The Winter Wolves (Secret Doorway Tales) currently has an average Amazon Reader Review Rating of 5 stars from 2 reviews. Read them here!

An excerpt from The Winter Wolves (Secret Doorway Tales):



Winter came early in the year. It was nearly the middle of December and stormy winter weather was everywhere, from the Atlantic shore to the Pacific shore. As swift as a spinning dervish the snow storms came and laid a suffocating cloak of ice upon the small city where Anne Greene lived. The ice storm had encased everything: utility poles, houses, cars and trees. Being that the city received snow and ice perhaps only once every three years, whenever it was dressed in full winter garb the city shut down. Which meant that school was out! A delight to all children everywhere and none of them more delighted than Anne! She gazed out of her bedroom window, wondering what her friends were doing; whether she should build another snowman and how many maple candies she could make – and eat, before mama said enough was enough!

Maple candies were something mama had learned to make when she was a girl. You gathered a big pan of snow or ice, poured a dollop of maple syrup on top of the snow and let it sit for a while outside in the cold or in the freezer until it became hard. Then you just popped them in your mouth! Anne could smell the savory scent of beef broth simmering in the big pot in the kitchen. It was early morning and dad was out shoveling snow from the driveway again. Anne hopped from her chair and flew downstairs. She suddenly remembered that a special package had arrived for her before dinner and it was high time she found out what it was! She went rummaging around in the coat closet, throwing out all and sundry that didn’t look like a new package.

“Anne? I can hear you in the closet. What are you doing?”

“Looking for something!”

“The package is in the kitchen!” Mama said. Anne stuffed everything haphazardly back into the closet and bounded into the kitchen.

“Where is it, mama?”

“Right here on the counter. It’s from grandma Barbara.”

“Goody!” She cried with glee. A long, brown box sat on the counter near the refrigerator. She glanced at the label, trying to guess where it came from.

“Your grandma is in Scotland right now.”


“It’s near England and Ireland. Here, I’ll open the box for you.”

“But I want to open it!” Anne protested.

“Alright.” Mama said patiently. Anne tried ripping the thick tape off but the box was held fast by it. Try as she might, she could not get it open.

“OK. You can open it.” Anne pouted. Mama gave her an expectant look, raising a brow.

“Can you please open it for me, mama?” Mama wiped flour from her hands on a towel and with a pairing knife, cut at the tape slowly, opening the box. Anne eagerly took the box and pulled out her new gift. It was a royal blue cloak made of velvet with tiny silver stars stitched into the bottom hem and it had a plush, fur trim of midnight blue with a fur trimmed hood! The inside was light blue dyed wool. It was so beautiful! Anne had never owned a cloak before and especially one so wonderful as this! Mama exclaimed in wonder and delight and she helped her put it on. Anne twirled and swirled this way and that. She felt like a royal princess!

“When can I wear it? Can I wear it to school?”

“Well I suppose. . .”

“Please, mama? I want to wear it to school!” She said excitedly, flouncing around the kitchen.

“You can wear it to school then. After all, it’s cold outside and that looks like a very warm cloak. I just wonder though, sweetie. I don’t want it to get soiled or dirty.”

“Oh, I won’t mess it up!”

“Now remember, you’ll need to thank grandma when she calls next time.”

“I will!” Anne tried on her hood, running her hands along the soft fur. Mama laughed.

“If you plan to wear it to school, then I want you to put it away in the coat closet. You can either wear it today or you can wear it when you go back to school.” Anne screwed up her face in a frown. She didn’t much care for those choices but mama didn’t leave her much room to negotiate and she did want to show it off at school. She skipped from the kitchen and down the hall. Grandma Barbara knew her favorite color! I wonder where grandma will go next? What will she send next? Anne reluctantly took her cloak off and laid it carefully on an occasional table by the coat closet. She went to the living room and gazed outside. It had begun to snow lightly again. More snow. She thought. The trees looked like white spires, heavy with ice and snow. She heard the front door open and in blew a giant snowman! Or, rather, it was just dad.

“Well! Old Man Winter really laid a number on the whole country this month!” He said, wiping fat snow flakes from his face. The walk was partially clear but as it had begun snowing again, dad gave up the fight for the day in frustration.

“Got anything planned today, little one?”

“I’m going to make another snowman.”

“Another one! Soon we’ll have an army of them out there. Did you find your gift?”

“Yes! I love it!” She said. Dad winked. Anne thought he looked quite comical and a rather dramatic looking snowman, all covered in bright white crusts of snow framing his dark brown face.

“One of your friends is coming to visit.” He said, pointing towards the window. There, waving and bundled up in her pink snowsuit and scarf was Emma. Yay! Anne ran to the door, pulling Emma inside. They hugged each other, both chanting: ‘School is out! School is out!’

“I hear company!” Mama called from the kitchen.

“It’s Emma! Can she stay for dinner?”

“Of course!” Both Anne and Emma melted into a gale of giggles and then ran upstairs to play. If only Tanya could be here, but she lived across the river, clear across town. At least they would see her at school. That is, if school ever opened again.

All that day Anne and Emma made snowmen, ate maple candies, collected frozen pine cones and made snow angels as big, fat snowflakes fell lightly in their hair and on their cheeks. They simply did as children will do; play and bask in the fun and beauty of winter. After all, they would go inside when their hands became too cold and when it became too dark to see. But deep in her mind Anne knew that behind the wonder and sparkle, the dark hand of an evil winter was rising.


The Winter Wolves (Secret Doorway Tales) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $1.49

Connect with V. A. Jeffrey:

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