Friday, September 23, 2022

NetGalley's Book Advocate Toolkit


I only recently discovered the extra resources available on NetGalley's website which included their "Book Advocate Toolkit." Advertised to help new and experienced reviewers alike, I wanted to see what tips I could glean.

The Toolkit basically takes someone new to NetGalley and walks them through every aspect: setting up a  profile, determining membership type, selecting books, checking publisher approval preferences (i.e. knowing what type of reviewer a publisher is most likely to approve). Readers also will learn tips on good reviews (including some do's/don'ts) and how to keep one's review ratio high. The kit also contains links to external articles for additional help on various topics. 

More experienced reviewers will find pointers on improving content as well as expanding their social media presence. Readers are introduced to starting accounts for Book Blogging, Bookstagram (IG), Booktubers (YouTube), or Booktok (TikTok). 

The next section includes tips for being organized, strategizing, and planning for growth. Also tips on fabulous photos, graphics and hashtags. Lots of really great content to help anyone at any level improve their reviews and online engagement. 

The NetGalley Book Advocate Toolkit is truly an all-encompassing resource that offers a treasure trove of suggestions and ideas to help every reviewer succeed. Well done and highly recommended! 

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of "NetGalley's Book Advocate Toolkit" from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

The Inkwell Chronicles: The Ink of Elspet by J. D. Peabody

Set in post-WWII England, Everett and Bea live in the vicarage with their Reverend father and stuffy housekeeper (sadly, their mother died in childbirth). From the very first chapter, J.D. Peabody captures the reader's interest by introducing a mysterious foe. When their father is declared dead, the children are lost in despair and drawn into the most exciting (and perilous) adventure of their young lives.

I loved the inclusion of members of the literary cohort "The Inklings" on a quest to save the last magical inkwell before the powers of darkness beat them to it! With hidden passages and underground tunnels, children will be on the edge of their seats cheering for the youngsters on a thrilling and daring adventure.  One that just may save the world!

Author, J. D. Peabody has crafted a highly imaginative tale with just the right amount of suspense that will engage children and adults alike. Hopefully the tale will also spark an interest in learning more about the characters that made up the original Inkling group in Englad. This would make a terrific family read aloud for ages 8 and up. I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading more books by this author.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of The Inkwell Chronicles from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received and the opinions expressed are mine alone.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Joy of Missing Out Book Club Kit


According to the publication, the kit was created by the editorial team of "We are Bookish" an independent division of NetGalley. Sadly it was also sponsored by Thomas Nelson Publishers. Perhaps Thomas Nelson never actually read the kit contents? Or perhaps they have just gone the way of too many other "Christian" publishers: bowing to societal trends, psychobabble and buzzwords. I had so much hope for this book (even forked out money to purchase two copies of the hardcover...grrrr.).  Shame on me for not first reading the book club materials before ordering the book itself. Would have told me all I needed to know about its disappointing content.

The concept of a book club kit is a great idea. This particular kit includes:
  • Author Interview 
  • Discussion questions
  • Prioritizing worksheet
  • Additional book suggestions
  • Printable bookmarks
  • Tips for a successful book club
The recommended reading section is what set off red flags for me. When the author not only quoted Elizabeth Gilbert (by no means a model of virtue or Biblical truth) in the book but also suggests reading one of her books, that was a deal-breaker for me. In a book about prioritizing your life and pursuing what is most important, we should fill our mind with secular wisdom? I think not.

Further down the list is a book cover with a mostly naked woman (except for plants over select body parts), regarding body positivity. From reviews of that book, sounds more like a rant about excusing obesity and learning to celebrate physical dysfunction blaming anyone but ones own self for making  poor health choices. Sorry, cannot do that. And that message certainly does not jive with the idea that our body is a temple that we are expected to steward well.

Nice idea to include bookmarks; just wish they'd had some Scriptural wisdom on them. I would have thought a Christian book would perhaps have included some Biblical content. 

In summary, I don't recommend this book club kit, much less the book it was based on for any serious believer. How I wish my life would have had the joy of missing out on this.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of the "Joy of Missing Out Book Club Kit" from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade by Nancy Springer


I had read the first few books in the series shelved with juvenile fiction in our library. Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade, #8 in the series, is decidedly more mature in content and I would suggest it for 14 and above. As Enola has aged within the series, she has continues to buck the conventional expectations for young ladies of the time. 

The Elegant Escapade involves assisting a friend (who was the subject of previous books that I had not read). I had no difficulty following the story and found it enjoyable as a stand-alone mystery. 
Enola's resourcefulness and ability to outwit not only her enemies but occasionally her brother, Sherlock makes her a protagonist of particular merit.  As Enola seeks to liberate her friend imprisoned within her own home, readers will be rooting for her emancipation. Through many twists and turns throughout the city and in and out of various disguises, Enola proves herself to be the capable young woman her mother believed her to be.

Author Nancy Springer has created a spunky, determined heroine who boldly puts her own life on the line to come to a friend's aid. In the world of detection crowded with men, Enola offers a fresh take on the genre and provides a model of ingenuity and independence for young female readers. Hopefully, Springer will continue the adventures of Enola Holmes, with many more future mysteries to solve.

I reviewed the audiobook narrated by Tamaryn Payne who did a stellar job. I highly recommend the audiobook! With a second Netflix production of Enola Holmes in the works, the series' popularity cannot help but escalate.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of the audiobook, Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade from NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

A Song of Comfortable Chairs by Alexander McCall Smith


Bravo to Lisette Lecat who masterfully brought to audio life the next installment in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. This was my first opportunity to listen to the audio of McCall Smith's series and it was an absolute treat!

Mma Ramotswe heads up the first (and only) female detective agency in Botswana and is assisted by her capable assistant Mma Grace Makutsi. Each book in the series involves multiple cases and this novel tackles some issues that hit very close to home. Mma Ramotswe handles her work, marriage and parenting with wisdom and patience. My favorite case in this book was when Mma Makutsi's husband's business is faced with a ruthless competitor,  and Mma Ramotswe uses all her cunning to craft a clever way of correcting the situation. 

Like a Mrs. Piggle Wiggle for grownups, Mma Ramotswe's solutions are pure magic. She always knows the best way to outfox a criminal or to tease out the truth from wily suspects. I love the way Mma Ramotswe handles Grace's sharp edges with finesse. How I wish I had a Mma Ramotswe to consult when tricky relationships or situations arise. Readers will enjoy the pearls of wisdom that Mma Ramotswe weaves into every conversation. She is direct and intelligent but always kind and considerate. Readers will enjoy the satisfactory conclusion to all the threads within this novel. Make sure you read this in a comfortable chair for you won't want to put it down!  Bravo Mr. McCall Smith! Please keep your lovely series going--each book offers many pleasant moments spent virtually in beautiful Botswana.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of the audiobook for A Song of Comfortable Chairs through NetGalley for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Grant's Huge Choice by Aaron J. Parker


The importance of role models for children cannot be overemphasized and children's literature is a wonderful avenue for providing real-life examples for kids to experience and learn from. In the book, Grant's Huge Choice the main character is faced with a dilemma: conform to a teacher's arbitrary standard or stand alone for what makes him a unique individual.

I love the interaction between Grant and his father and the healthy interaction modeled there. Grant's father takes an active, interested role in his son's life and when Grant comes to his dad for help, he doesn't just tell Grant what to do but helps Grant make the decision for himself. Young readers will be inspired by Grant's willingness to carefully consider his options and make a decision that is not necessarily popular.  I hope this book also inspires fathers to be more like Grant's father: listening well and taking the time to instruct, guide, and then allowing Grant the freedom to make the final decision. 

The illustrations within the book are vibrant and eye-catching. I like that the pages with writing are on  a solid colored background (not on top of the illustrations) making it easier for readers to focus on the words without distraction. 

In the book, Grant is wearing a shirt with "Sawubona Culture" on it. If you'd like to learn more about what that means, you can check out the Sawubona Culture website. What an inspiration to see how the author and his wife are making a positive difference within their community!

This book would make a great starting point for children to talk to their parents about cultural differences and ethnic uniqueness. Perhaps even research ancestors and where they originally lived. This would make a wonderful addition to any school or public library. You can purchase your copy on Amazon (affiliate link).

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of Grant's Huge Choice from the author for the purpose of review through Reedsy Discovery. The opinions expressed are my own. 

Friday, August 19, 2022

Agnes and the Sheep


Meet Agnes: a dog who knows and appreciates the concept of cozy! Agnes is a helpful, hard-working farm dog who also enjoys closing out each day under a blanket on a comfy carpet in front of a warm fire. Clare Therese Gray perfectly illustrates that vision of coziness for the reader.  

Agnes has three animal friends on the farm named Fern, Flax and Baa Baa. They lived and breathed plants every day. One fateful day, when the wind drove the three sheep close to the cottage for shelter, they spied PLANTS inside the cottage. Therein began the trouble. Readers will relate to the struggle thinking the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. And in this case, those plants looked more enticing on the other side of that window!

When Agnes notices the gleam in the sheep's eyes, she tries to remind them about all the plants they already have around them but it was no use. Once they'd caught a glimpse, they were obsessed with finding a way to get inside. Children will delight over the antics of these wayward sheep and the dog who tries to keep them in line. 

I highly recommend this book as a gentle way of discussing the importance of being grateful for what you already have. I am hoping Ms. Rowley will write more adventures featuring Agnes and her farm friends!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of Agnes and the Sheep from DK Publishing through NetGalley to review. No other compensation was received. 

NetGalley's Book Advocate Toolkit

  I only recently discovered the extra resources available on NetGalley's website which included their "Book Advocate Toolkit."...