Ellie, Engineer

I approached this book with mixed feelings, but was quickly enchanted by this fun-loving kid who loves to invent and build.

Ellie Engineer

In the opening pages of this chapter book, we meet Ellie and her best friend, Kit. They are deeply absorbed in building a large water balloon launcher out of broomsticks, exercise bands, and Ellie’s dad’s funnel (let’s hope the holes Ellie drills in the funnel don’t prevent him from changing his oil!).

While the invention itself is cool, I adored the reason WHY Ellie needed to build a giant water balloon launcher. The neighborhood boys are playing soccer a few backyards over, but when Ellie asked to join, they told her that only boys were allowed to play. So Ellie created the Water Empress to shoot water balloons across a few backyards at them.

Hey boys! Girls just wanna have fun, too!

Ellie runs into a problem when she discovers that the birthday present she is making for Kit doesn’t work. She only has a few days to come up with a new invention and build it without Kit noticing! After deciding on the perfect present, she researches designs and then gets to work.

The boys-versus-girls opening sequence remains a theme throughout the book; however, Ellie befriends one of the soccer-playing boys and agrees to let him join her in the research and development phases of her work. Trouble starts when Ellie’s need to keep the present a secret from Kit makes Kit start feeling left out!

I was delighted to discover that Ellie isn’t just a one-sided character (which was the root of my apprehension as I began the book). She isn’t simply a tool to create a STEM book, but a girl with wide-ranging interests and personality traits.

As I read Ellie, Engineer to my six-year-old daughter, Ellie reminded me of my daughter. My daughter asked Santa for a pink toolbox she saw at Lowe’s one day last fall, and she kept talking about that toolbox until it arrived Christmas morning. She has used the pink hammer to decorate her room, the screwdrivers to replace batteries in her toys, and has worn the tool apron around the house.

Tool kit

Like my daughter almost any day of the week, when we first meet Ellie, she is wearing a fluffy skirt. And, like my daughter, that skirt doesn’t stop Ellie from any of her activities—whether working with her hammer and cordless drill or doing cartwheels and rolling down hills.

I highly recommend Ellie, Engineer for your boys and girls. It is fun to read, and informative (we even get a lesson on flat-head and Phillips screwdrivers). I am grateful to have received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Jackson Pearce is the author of middle grade books such as Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures and The Doublecross and Other Skills I Learned as a Superspy and the young adult Retold Fairytale series. Check out her books at www.jackson-pearce.com!

Have you read any great books lately?

Lions and Tigers and Boys – $50 gift card GIVEAWAY!!!

Lions Tigers and Boys Banner

A little magic. A little romance. A little shape-shifting… Tawny Stokes’ Lions and Tigers and Boys has it all!

To start us off, here’s the official description of the book:

The last thing a girl as awkward as Dani Gale should be doing is trying to learn the high wire. Yet that’s exactly where Dani ends up—at OZ, the Oswald Zinzendorf School of Circus Arts. Trying to overcome her shyness is near impossible when her new partner—the hottest guy she’s ever laid eyes on, and whose touch seems to give her poise she thought impossible—also seems to be sabotaging her progress.

The last thing Cai Coppersmith needs is a distraction, especially in the form of the new, cute shy girl. He needs to focus on trying not to shape-shift into a tiger on school grounds, and completing his mission to keep Dani from winning the school’s high-wire competition. In fact, the entire safety of OZ is relying on Dani not succeeding. But there’s something about the girl that draws him in. She has magic, he can feel it. So he’ll do what he can to protect her, even if it means pushing her away.

Lions Tigers and Boys

This was a sweet romance story told from the perspective of the two main characters, Dani and Cai. Sixteen-year-old Dani has just started attending an obscure circus school in the deep woods of Oregon. Part of her doesn’t want to be there, but she also wants to follow her dreams to be a high-wire walker – a promise she made to her mother on her deathbed.

Cai is the adopted son of Frank Coppersmith, who handles the school’s lion and tiger. We learn in the prologue that Cai is also a shape-shifter, and roams the school’s grounds in the form of a tiger. He is also part of a secret group led by one of the school’s teachers, Professor Marvel. They are practicing a plan to steal a pair of ruby slippers from an art and history museum in Salem.

The alternating perspectives throughout the book was very effective. It allowed me to follow Dani’s and Cai’s growing feelings for each other and to understand why Cai kept pushing Dani away (if the book was just written from Dani’s point of view, it would have meant many more questions throughout the book).

This paragraph may be a spoiler, although I’m trying to write it in a way that does not spoil anything. I got to the end of the book and felt a little unsatisfied with the conclusion. I gather from the ending that Ms. Stokes may anticipate writing a second book about these characters. However, there was so much emphasis on preparing for the matter that was left unresolved, that I expected getting to that point in the story. I simply felt unfinished even though the book was over.

About the Author:

Tawny Stokes has always been a writer. From an early age, she’d spin tales of serial killers in love, vampires taking over the world, and sometimes about fluffy bunnies turned bunnicidal maniacs. An honour student in high school, with a penchant for math and English, you’d never know it by the foot high blue Mohawk and Doc Martens, which often got her into trouble. No longer a Mohawk wearer, Tawny still enjoys old school punk rock, trance, zombie movies, teen horror films, and fluffy bunnies. She lives in Canada with her fantastical daughter, two cats, and spends most of her time creating new stories for teens.

You can find Ms. Stokes on twitter @Vivi_Tawny.

Lions and Tigers and Boys was released last week. I received an advance reader copy of the book as part of this blog tour in exchange for my unbiased review. You can get a copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and from your local independent bookstore.

So, you’re probably wondering, WHAT ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY??? You can win a $50 gift card to an e-retailer of your choice. Enter here.

Have you read any great books lately?

White Knights – 2 GIVEAWAYS!!!


It’s tough being a teenager these days. It’s even tougher being a geek among the “Technologically Gifted and Talented” at a Washington, DC, exclusive school. Sixteen-year-old Angel Sinclair just wants to get through her senior year without being bullied too badly, and to find her long-missing father. But instead, she is drawn into an investigation that involves spies, the latest in medical technology, and good, old-fashioned intrigue!

Here’s the official description…

My name is Angel Sinclair. I’m the youngest senior at Excalibur Academy for the Technologically Gifted and Talented in Washington, DC. I was pushed ahead a year because of my high IQ and considerable prowess behind the keyboard, making me an outcast even among my own peers. I’ve been looking for my dad all my life. A brilliant mathematician and cryptographer, he disappeared under mysterious circumstances when I was eighteen months old. Although my mom tells me I must put him in my past, it only makes me more determined to find out what happened to him. When weird accidents start happening at my school and the vice principal is involved in a deadly incident, I don’t see it as a coincidence. After launching my own investigation, with the aid of an unexpected set of allies calling themselves the White Knights, I discover a threat far greater than I ever could have imagined. I could take my discoveries to the authorities, but my own investigative methods would be at risk. Can anyone say hacking? No, it’s up to me to set things right. My objectives are straightforward: clear the name of the vice principal, learn the truth about my father, and stay alive. In other words, save the day and try not to look too much like a dork while doing it.


I loved how this book started, and I have to admit, the first sentence had me calculating how many days I have been alive. And wondering if I felt good about that (hey, I’ve had many, many great days!) or bad about it (holy cow, I’m OLD!!!).

I don’t usually include lengthy excerpts in my reviews, but since this one has that awesome first line that had me counting days, here you go:

On the 5,802nd day of my existence, my safe virtual life exploded into reality.

I should have seen it coming—I’m smart enough. My name is Angel Sinclair and I’m a geek. For most of my nearly sixteen years, I’ve lived online, roaming the information highway—hacking, gaming, and manipulating the environment to suit my every whim. The Internet is my world. I control kingdoms and maintain important and critical alliances. I don’t need real-life entanglements, friendships with people who will come and go, or a boyfriend so I don’t feel alone. I’m never lonely online.

I’m not bragging when I say I’m good at what I do. When I was eleven, I broke into my school’s computer system, just to see if I could. At thirteen, I changed the Twitter profile of a well-known gamer to read “Geek Girls Rule” after he posted a particularly sexist and ugly meme about women in the tech field. Later that same year, I hacked into the local police department looking for information on my father. I’ve hacked a lot of places since then, getting better and faster each time. I’m not into cracking—hacking with malicious intent. But I’m not above a hack when I feel it serves the greater good.

My older sister, Gwen, is always getting on my case to go out, hang with people, be social off the computer. Why would I? The girls at my school are always talking about guys or taking selfies to make sure they post the best angle of themselves. Who cares how you look while you’re eating in the cafeteria? I’d rather connect with the people who do matter via my phone or laptop. Online I’ve got constant access to what and who is important, and it is way less stressful than a face-to-face conversation.

So, my plan for my senior year of high school was this—survive by keeping my head down, restricting my social life to online, and not making any waves.

Simple, right?


I desired invisibility but would have accepted peaceful coexistence.

Instead, they brought me war…on the very first day.

This is a fun, fast-paced mystery / spy thriller. It champions the quiet computer geeks, making them the heroes of the story. Angel reluctantly accepts the help and friendship of two other geeks (plus a jock) and discovers that she isn’t always better at doing everything alone. Her friendship with weird Wally, quirky Frankie, and charming Colt grows along with the excitement and tension of the book.

White Knights kept me captivated from start to finish. I couldn’t put it down – it drew me into the world of hacking (NOT cracking – there’s apparently a difference!), espionage, and the occasional high school drama. Add it to your list for 2018!

There are TWO giveaways for this book! First, you can snag an ebook and a magnet HERE! To get a paperback copy of White Knights and a magnet, go to this giveaway! You can enter both giveaways, but do it soon – they end at midnight on January 8!

If you don’t win a copy of the book, you can pick up a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and your local bookstore.

About the Author:

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Julie Moffett is a bestselling author and writes in the genres of mystery, historical romance and paranormal romance. She has won numerous awards, including the 2014 Mystery & Mayhem Award for Best YA/New Adult Mystery, the prestigious 2014 HOLT Award for Best Novel with Romantic Elements, a HOLT Merit Award for Best Novel by a Virginia Author (twice!), the 2016 Award of Excellence, a PRISM Award for Best Romantic Time-Travel AND Best of the Best Paranormal Books of 2002, and the 2011 EPIC Award for Best Action/Adventure Novel. She has also garnered additional nominations for the Bookseller’s Best Award, Daphne du Maurier Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Julie is a military brat (Air Force) and has traveled extensively. Her more exciting exploits include attending high school in Okinawa, Japan; backpacking around Europe and Scandinavia for several months; a year-long college graduate study in Warsaw, Poland; and a wonderful trip to Scotland and Ireland where she fell in love with castles, kilts and brogues. Julie has a B.A. in Political Science and Russian Language from Colorado College, a M.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and an M.Ed from Liberty University. She has worked as a proposal writer, journalist, teacher, librarian and researcher. Julie speaks Russian and Polish and has two sons. She greatly enjoys interacting with readers at her website: www.juliemoffett.com. You can also follow her by clicking on the following social media sites: FacebookTwitterInstagram.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaways – click HERE and HERE!

Have you read any great books lately?