Valensteins – Ethan Long

So, I decided to read a love story to coincide with the royal wedding and naturally chose a picture book. The Fright Club members are all practising their scares, from the ghost’s Boo! to the butterfly’s Blah!, but Fran K. Stein is doing something weird with pink paper, scissors and glue.

Several of the Club members try to guess what Fran is making (the ghost’s paper butt guess is the best one) before Bunny explains what Fran is really up to. It turns out that it’s Valentine’s Day and Fran has made a pink paper heart, which leads Sandy the witch to wonder the scariest thing of all…

“Do you think Fran … gulp … is in LOVE?”

Bunny then tells the bewildered Fright Club members what love is, terrifying them more and more with each new piece of information. Fran is reminded what love really is when his Valentine appears. Aww! 💕

The illustrations in this book are adorable! With muted colours and expressive characters I loved every picture. My favourites are those that show the horror of the Fright Club members when Bunny is explaining what love is.

This culminates in a two page illustration with the characters’ “EEEEWWW!” expressions. Sandy the witch looks decidedly nauseous and may vomit at any moment. The ghost has its eyes screwed up tightly and its tongue has escaped its mouth, looking to be mid “Blech!” The spider’s eyes are goggled. Vladimir, the werewolf, mummy and butterfly also have priceless expressions.

I’ve read this book three times over the last couple of weeks and I love it each time. In fact, if any of you are desperately searching for a Valentine’s Day present for me 😜 I’d love my own copy of this book. I definitely have to read Ethan Long’s other books, especially this book’s companion, Fright Club.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Something strange is in the air on this dark, cold night.

The members of Fright Club are always ready to scare, but tonight Fran K. Stein has something else on his mind. He’s busy making something, and the other monsters want to know what it is.

Could it be a mask with fangs? A big pink nose? Or maybe a paper butt? No … it’s a Valentine!

That means one thing … EEEEK!! Is Fran in love? What could be scarier than falling in love?!?

Honey Moon #3: Not Your Valentine – Sofi Benitez

Illustrations – Becky Minor

Sorry but this one wasn’t for me. I really enjoyed the first two Honey Moon books though.

Thank you very much to NetGalley, Rabbit Publishers and Diamond Book Distributors for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A Sleepy Hollow Valentine’s Day dance with a boy! NO WAY, NO HOW is Honey Moon going to a scary sweetheart dance with that Noah kid. But, after being forced to dance together in PE class, word gets around that Honey likes Noah. Now, she has no choice but to stop Valentine’s Day in its tracks. Things never go as planned, and Honey winds up with the surprise of her Sleepy Hollow life.

Geronimo Stilton #10: Hang On To Your Whiskers! – Geronimo Stilton

💔 Achy Breaky Heart Month! 💔 Super 🧀 Cheesy 🧀 Edition!

Geronimo Stilton: Hang on to Your Whiskers was just as 🧀 Gouda 🧀 as The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid, probably better. In this book Geronimo falls in love at first sight at the Tail Trap Diner over a cup of spilled coffee. ☕️ Geronimo later discovers this 🐭 fabumouse 🐭 new love interest is none other than countess Stephanie von Sugarfur. He thinks she’s the best thing since 🧀 sliced cheese 🧀!

After spending big on an 🧀 Aboundance 🧀 of 🧀 cheesy 🧀 gifts for the countess and realising his love is unrequited he becomes 🧀 Moody Blue 🧀. Geronimo’s sister Thea, cousin Trap and favourite nephew Benjamin decide they’ve 🧀 Goats 🧀 to lift him out of his 🧀 Off Kilter 🧀 state and after reading an article about the mysterious Eighth Wonder, the Valley of the 🧀 Cheesettes 🧀, they are certain they’ve found a way to repair Geronimo’s 💔 Achy Breaky Heart 💔.

The family wind up on a semi 🧀 Impromptu 🧀 trip to search for this Eighth Wonder. Perhaps if they succeed they will become 🐭 famouse 🐭. Naturally it’s up to the 9 year old to save the day because all of the adults are behaving like 🐭 mouselets 🐭.

Some of the best exclamations in this book include:
🧀 Cheese niblets!
🐀 Rancid Rat Hairs!
🧀 Holey cheese!

This book was first published in 2000 so the presence of a camera that has film that needs to be developed makes sense in that context. Ah, nostalgia. I loved my days working in a Photolab! The stories I could tell you – but won’t because this is a review of a children’s book. 📷 😜

This series is aimed at 🐭 mouselets 🐭 from 5 to 8 years who love to read and those who don’t. With splashes of funky formatted font, funny illustrations that complement the story well and maps of New 🐭 Mouse 🐭 City, 🐭 Mouse 🐭 Island and The 🐀 Rodent’s 🐀 Gazette, there’s plenty to keep the reader 🐭 amoused 🐭. I loved the illustrations and I’d just like to point out that on the cover those are glow in the dark butterflies!! 🦋😃 I’d like to place an order for several hundred of those please.

Overall I enjoyed this book more than The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid, probably because this one had a resolution and didn’t do the always irritating ‘Someone told me it would make a great story so I wrote a book about it, and guess what?! This is that story!’ thing.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Sweet Cherry 🍒 Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

P.S. Apologies for recycling the 🧀 cheesy 🧀 names from my previous review but they worked for this one too. You may now press charges against me for excessive use of emojis and crimes against humour. 😊

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Love is in the air! Geronimo has met the mouse of his dreams but he just can’t play it cool. He needs to do something amazing, something incredible to catch her attention! What better way than by searching for the Eighth Wonder of the World: the mysterious Valley of the Cheeselets? 

Will he return home a legend? And will it all be worth it in the end?

Dating Dilemmas #1: The Dating Debate – Chris Cannon

Of course I had to read an actual romance novel during 💔 Achy Breaky Heart Month! 💔. Apologies to Chris Cannon in advance for choosing The Dating Debate. Chris, you may recall that I previously reviewed Boomerang Boyfriend and I’m sorry for any therapy bills you incurred as a result. I remain staunchly anti-romance yet your blurbs keep sucking me in. Excuse me while I continue one of my many arguments debates with Nina and West.

Me: Hold on. Weren’t you just having an anti-Valentine’s Day rant a few pages ago?

Nina: Yeah, but –

Me: Yet now you’re planning to go to the Valentine’s Day dance at your school with the boy next door, who is gorgeous and can speak fluent Harry Potter.

Nina: Uh-huh, but note that I’m not going with the gorgeous boy who doesn’t get Harry Potter at all.

Me: Okay, so I get the book thing but why are all of the guys gorgeous?

Nina: Well, I am one of the main characters in a romance novel.

Me: Hmm… So, West. Are all the girls in this book good looking as well?

West: Well, duh! Nina is cute, obviously. I’ll bet that even spatula makeup girl is a stunner. Romance novel, remember?

Me: Gotcha. So, West, you’re named after a direction. Are you a Kardashian offspring by any chance?

West: I dunno. Let me go ask my mother.

Nina: Whoa! You have a mother?

Me: So, Nina, back to the whole Valentine’s Day dance thing. You don’t like Valentine’s Day or Valentine’s Day dances and you don’t want to go, yet you’re going with the gorgeous next door neighbour just to be stubborn. Is that right?

Nina: That pretty much sums it up. You want some chocolate?

Me: Obviously! Thanks! [grabs the chocolate and starts munching] Why don’t you just stay at home and read a book on Valentine’s Day? That’s what I’ll be doing.

Nina: Sounds great, but unfortunately as a main character in a romance novel it’s in my contract that my decisions don’t have to make sense and if I stay at home I can’t all of a sudden fall in love with the gorgeous boy next door, then find something to cry over before we decide we’re meant to be together forever due to our mutual love of Harry Potter.

Me: Okaaaay… So, West. Any thoughts?

West: I just hope Nina doesn’t find out my secret. Any chance we can change this from a romance novel to another genre so I can keep my personal business private?

Me: Nope, but I’d love that because I’m sick of watching you two kiss and argue.

West: This is going to end in tears. I just know it.

Me: Yeah, me too, but what can you do. Romance novel, after all. Personally I think the two of you need some therapy to sort out your trust, self esteem and shame issues before you seriously consider dating. I hear Lisa’s mother is a good therapist. Hey, what’s the deal with you two juggling issues beyond your years within your respective families, yet you act like 12 year olds when you’re dating?

West: You’re asking me? I’m just doing what Chris Cannon tells me to do! You’re the one with a choice here! Why are you reading this book when you’re so anti-romance?

Me: Sucked in by Harry Potter, just like you. Chris Cannon found and exploited my weakness – again. [sigh] And she just had to go and include an adorable dog too, didn’t she.

West: Tell me about it! I’m still trying to get dog fur out of my clothes.

Nina: So, you coming to the bookstore tonight with Lisa and I?

Me: Of course! Got any more mini bars of chocolate?

So, Chris Cannon, you sucked me in again. If I can enjoy the non-romance parts of your romance novels then I can certainly understand the appeal for readers who actively seek out that genre. I really enjoy the way you write, despite the genre.

If you ever decide to write a YA book that doesn’t major on romance and holds onto the social issues themes but delves deeper into them, I’ll be front row centre of your cheer squad. Regardless, I’m definitely interested in reading your next book (sorry!).

My Nitpicking: Without giving anything away I think there was more to one person’s mental health diagnosis than what was revealed in the book and would have loved for this to have been dealt with further as they were an interesting character. Unfortunately they came across as though the wheel was spinning but the hamster was dead and I think they were actually a lot smarter than they seemed.

My Nitpicking – The Sequel: Some of the characters without much page time came across as fairly two-dimensional. However, with the length of the book and the issues raised in it, there probably wasn’t enough room to add another dimension to these characters. Their contribution wasn’t pivotal to the story anyway.

Favourite Sentence Snippet:

“then he kissed me again, a slow, deep kiss that scrambled what was left of my brain.”

Vindicated! Kissing in romance novels does cause brain damage in characters!

Content warnings include issues surrounding mental health.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Teen Crush, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Nina Barnes thinks Valentine’s Day should be optional. That way single people like her wouldn’t be subjected to kissy Cupids all over the place. That is, until her mom moves them next door to the brooding hottie of Greenbrier High, West Smith. He’s funny, looks amazing in a black leather jacket, and he’s fluent in Harry Potter, but she’s not sure he’s boyfriend material. 

West isn’t sure what to make of Nina. She’s cute and loves to read as much as he does, but she seems to need to debate everything and she has a pathological insistence on telling the truth. And West doesn’t exactly know how to handle that, since his entire life is a carefully constructed secret. Dating the girl next door could be a ton of fun, but only if Nina never finds out the truth about his home life. It’s one secret that could bring them together or rip them apart. 

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is not for anyone who has to get in the last word, but it is for all book nerds, especially those who live next door to so called unapproachable gorgeous guys. There’s no debating the chemistry.

I Love You More Than the Smell of Swamp Gas – Kevan Atteberry

Welcome to 💔 Achy Breaky Heart Month! 💔

I’m kicking off my love inspired bookfest with this fun Kevan Atteberry book for quirky adults and their kidlets, who are going to be quirky too, like it or not! 🤪 If I was the type of person to get all gooey over Valentine’s Day, this is the book I’d want my Valentine to buy me.

Papa monster and junior monster are chasing a skink through the stinky swamp under the gaze of a full moon. The young monster sees Papa enjoying himself so much and wonders if Papa loves him as much as the purple-horned skunk, the ghost bats and other wonderful creatures and creepy crawlies that they encounter along the way. Papa’s answer is always an enthusiastic ‘yes!’, and that he loves him more.

This is so much fun to read aloud, with rhymes of the “bubbling slime” and “thick gooey grime” variety, a perfect bedtime story with laughs and reminders of how big a parent’s love is for their child. If I had a kidlet I’d be making up my own “I love you mores” to accompany this book and would use it to increase the silly in our home. However a calming story may be needed after this one if you expect your child to go to sleep because this one has the potential to increase both excitement and decibels.

I really enjoyed the illustrations, with some left of centre takes on familiar animals. My personal favourites were the purple bloodsucking ducks with green wings, fangs and kind of dopey expressions.

I was also very partial to the spider parade, all of whom also had fangs. My favourite headstone was the one for Edgar Allen Potato. 😃

I smiled my way through this book and would happily do so over and over … and over …

P.S. It may be a small bookfest because I’m allergic to romance. 🤮

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Little monster wonders: Does Papa love the swamp more than he loves his little monster?

Papa and little monster are on a skink chase in a dark, stinky swamp. 

Do you love me as much as the skink that you chase … or the smell of the swamp … or the beasts in this place? 

From the author-illustrator of Bunnies!!! and Puddles!!!, as well as the illustrator of Tickle Monster, Kevan Atteberry, comes a monstrously tender and silly tale guaranteed to elicit lots of giggles and monster hugs.