Genre: Illustrated Stories

Blog Book Tour | “Alycat and the Monday Blues” (Book Two: The Alycat Series) by Alysson Foti Bourque

Posted Thursday, 5 October, 2017 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for the Alycat series hosted by iRead Book Tours. I have been showcasing Children’s Lit alongside my adult literature choices since I first started blogging. I appreciate finding new voices in Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult selections as an Auntie and secondly as a future mother. Today’s Children’s Lit market is vastly different than when I was growing up as there is happily more diversity and more choices in stories. Whenever I get a chance to become introduced to one of today’s Children’s Lit series or stand-alone stories, I feel blessed for the chance to see what is newly emerging onto the scene for young readers! I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the author Alysson Foti Bourque in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Ahead of sharing my thoughts today about this delightfully colourful Picture Book, I have a Guest Post to share from the author. I wanted to tap into her inspiration behind creating ‘Alycat’ and how she made the choice to feature a spunky cat who has a lot of personality and life lessons to impart on the readers who find her stories.

How did the Alycat series percolate inside your imagination and develop into a cleverly illustrated series for young readers? Especially as cats have such cheeky personalities, it leads to a lot of life lessons which can be told through a character’s journey. What is your favourite aspect of Alycat’s personality?

I have always loved to write and read. It gives me peace and an outlet for my thoughts and imagination. Every night, my husband and I read a story to our children before bedtime as part of their routine. One night, after reading every single book in the bookshelf, the kids said it was time to buy more books. That is when I had my “ah-ha” moment. I simply told them that I would write a story for the next night and they believed in me.

I wrote and wrote that evening into the following day as the first Alycat story unfolded. Unfinished and unedited, I read it to the kids before bedtime. They loved it! They had ideas for the ending and gave me outrageous outcomes to choose from. The laughs and squeals made my heart full. It was then that I knew that this was a journey I needed to take in my life.

Why cats? Well, cats are very interesting animals. They have bold and mischievous personalities, coupled with a loving and nurturing nature. My favorite aspect of Alycat’s personality is her ability to solve her own problems with imagination and creativity. She is like most children where she has good days and bad days. She has such enthusiasm for what her heart wants and she is eager to work hard to obtain her hopes and dreams. It was important for me to develop her character to be self-motivated, hopeful, and fearless. I want readers to be inspired by Alycat to reach their goals, get themselves out of a slump, and demonstrate kindness even in tough situations.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | “Alycat and the Monday Blues” (Book Two: The Alycat Series) by Alysson Foti BourqueAlycat and the Monday Blues
by Alysson Foti Bourque
Source: Author via iRead Book Tours

Alycat wakes up with the dreaded Monday Blues and is certain that nothing will go right. But when a mishap sends her astray, she discovers that helping a friend will help her discover her own hidden talent—curing her Monday Blues.

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 978-1684012459

Genres: Artistic Adaptations &/or Picture Books, Children's Literature, Early Reader Stories, Illustrated Stories


Published by Mascot Books

on 12th September, 2017

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 38

Published By: Mascot Books (@MascotBooks)

Converse via: #KidsLit, #PictureBook

About Alysson Foti Bourque

Alysson Foti Bourque

Alysson Foti Bourque is the author of the Rhyme or Reason Travel series, and the multi-award winning Alycat series. Alysson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a law degree from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge. She believes that there is an Alycat in all of us, encouraging our imaginations to guide us through new opportunities and adventures. ​

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Posted Thursday, 5 October, 2017 by jorielov in Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Brothers and Sisters, Cats and Kittens, Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Illustrations for Stories, Indie Author, iRead Book Tours, Picture Book, School Life & Situations, Siblings

Book Review w/ Author Q&A | The #picturebooks of Muon Van (“In A Village by the Sea” and “Little Tree”) with a lovely convo about her creative style of writing stories for children.

Posted Sunday, 3 January, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to review “In A Village by the Sea” by JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm. After I was putting together this showcase, to highlight both the story and a conversation with the author, I learnt of her second picture book “Little Tree”; enabling me to combine my showcase to feature both releases. JKS is the first publicity firm I started working with when I launched Jorie Loves A Story in August, 2013. I am honoured to continue to work with them now as a 2nd Year Book Blogger. I received my complimentary copy of In A Village by the Sea (hardback) and Little Tree (PDF) direct from the publicist at JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

I decided I wanted to switch things up a bit today, and offer the conversation before my thoughts on behalf of the illustrated stories contained within the picture books of Muon Van! In this way, I wanted the author’s own words to help define the stories and in some ways, give an extra layer of enjoyment to my readers as they read this ahead of knowing what I found inside the books themselves! Enjoy!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

My convo with Muon Van on her creative way of giving children a beautiful ‘first start’ towards embracing creative stories built on family, hearth and love:

How did you create In A Village by the Sea to bespeak of such a grounding of autobiographical inspiration and homage to your heritage whilst renewing the spirit of Vietnam for those of us who are not as familiar with the country?

Van responds: I come from a long line of fisherfolk on both sides of the family, which is pretty unusual for both an American and Vietnamese-American. I grew up with my dad at sea most of the time, and eating seafood for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so I wanted to write a story that would reflect those experiences.

Whilst your father was away fishing, how did your mother encourage you and your siblings not to worry about his safety and well being? Were the passages of home and hearth reminiscent of your mother tending to the home? I ask as there is such a lot of warmth and love set inside this story, it softens the concerns of dangers at sea. 

Van responds: Even though fishing is considered one of the most dangerous occupations around, my siblings and I didn’t consider it as such while we were growing up–it was just what our dad did. My mother definitely tended the home–cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping, dressing, educating nine kids! I always knew she was a superwoman and supermom but after I had my first kid, I was amazed!

I was curious about the process you took with April Chu to bring your story to life through her illustrations – can you explain how you worked together to give the reader such a wellspring of living realism whilst deepening it with thought-provoking narrative?

Van responds: Unlike what most people think, April and I did not collaborate in real-time on the book–we only met once it was completed! April only received a plain, unannotated manuscript and knowledge that the story was dedicated to my father, a Vietnamese fisherman. With just those pieces of information, she was able to imagine and execute the brilliant art in the book. I, and the readers, are truly lucky!

The spirit of Vietnam is strongly lit inside you, as the story that is set inside this picture book is alarmingly clear and visually stunning – when you wrote the words that are featured against the illustrations did the final copy read to you like the internal visuals you had whilst you had written the story?

Van responds: I believe the published visuals are faithful to the story but in my imagination, they were spare and monochromatic, sort of like the verse. I was surprised, and delighted, by the outcome.

What has caused the fishing lifestyle of the villages in Vietnam to disappear? Is it the culture of the time that is changing or is the fishing industry unable to support itself, as this happens in other countries as well?

Van responds: I can’t speak to all fishing lifestyles in Vietnam–just the one in my ancestral village. The villagers there, and the ones who have migrated to America, have found the the income derived from fishing is not as great, or sustainable, as it is through other means. While most of my relatives worked in fishing when they first arrived in America, most now work in the cosmetic (nails) industry, as it’s lower-risk and more profitable.

In your heart, your drawn to the sea as it states in your biography you live near it; what do you find the most alluring balm about the sea and how it’s set a harmonic pulse inside your life?

Van responds: Probably that it seems so vast and unknowable (you can only see a bit of it at a time, from a beach or a boat or an airplane). I also like the color blue :)

In The Little Tree the colour contrasts are brilliantly bright and pop with vitality whereas the colour contrasts in In A Village by the Sea is more traditional and classic. Did you have input about the colour spectrum for the illustrations and books?

Van responds: No, but I love that they are so different.

The Little Tree is philosophical and intuitive, giving children a pause to think about the larger scale of life and how the circle of life evolves during our lifetime. How did you tap into this life lesson whilst writing such a cleverly witty story?

Van responds: I was inspired after my first (and so far, only) trip back to Vietnam in nearly thirty years. I thought about how my parents must have felt when we left and how they would felt about it now, thirty years later.

I love how you’ve stitched familial history inside your stories – you write from the heart and your stories have a living spirit about them. How did you capture the moment of recognition to be given to the Little Tree by the Little Seed’s leaf? It was such a warm gesture of love from a child to a mother.

Van responds: Parents will always know their children, right? (Ask me this again in thirty years; my older child is only four :))

You give so much of your own heart to your writings and you leave fingerprints of affection in your closing statements where your ancestry and your family are illuminated in short stories of recollection. How did your family react to the picture books and of your continuance of carrying forward your living histories to inspire children and adults alike?

Van responds: My family likes to play it cool but I think one day soon, one of them will get choked up reading it to their daughter or son. Three, soon to be four, of my brothers just had their first child!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Truly blessed to have had the chance to ask these questions of Ms Van and to have your responses threaded inside my showcase! I was truly touched by the warmth of her words in her stories and wanted to gain a bit more insight into how she created the world in which I lived for the time I soaked inside her picture books! I can definitely foresee many Mums and Das appreciating ‘reading time’ with their children as they pick up either volume and enter a world of family and timeless love!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Book Review w/ Author Q&A | The #picturebooks of Muon Van (“In A Village by the Sea” and “Little Tree”) with a lovely convo about her creative style of writing stories for children.In a Village by the Sea
by Muon Van
Illustrator/Cover Designer: April Chu
Source: Publisher via JKS Communications

Written in a spare, lyrical style using fresh, evocative imagery, this richly illustrated picture book is about longing for the comforts of home while braving the adventures and perils of the wide world.

In a house by the sea, a woman is cooking. Near the woman, a baby is crying. Under the floor, a cricket is painting. In the painting, a fisherman rides stormy seas, longing to get home to his wife and infant…

The perfect book for teaching about diverse cultures and lifestyles, children will delight in this beautiful story which pays homage to the vanishing fishing culture in Vietnam, honors courage and sacrifice, and celebrates hearth and home.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 9781939547156

Genres: Children's Literature, Early Reader Stories, Illustrated Stories


Published by Creston Books LLC

on 9th June, 2015

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 32

Published By: Creston Books, LLC (@CrestonBooks)

Available Formats: Hardcover and Ebook

Converse via Twitter: #MuonVan

#picturebooks and #JKSLitPublicity

About (Illustrator) April Chu

April Chu

APRIL CHU began her career as an architect with a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, but decided to return to her true passion of illustrating and storytelling. April currently lives and works in Oakland, California.

About Muon Van

Muon Van

MUON VAN was born on the run in the southern port city of Rach Giá, Vietnam. When she was nine months old, she left Vietnam as part of the “boat people” mass exodus. She now lives in Northern California.

Her previous book, In a Village by the Sea, is also a family story and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus, as well as rave reviews from The New York Times and School Library Journal’s Fuse #8 Production.

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Posted Sunday, 3 January, 2016 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Children's Literature, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Debut Author, Early Reader | Chapter Books, Equality In Literature, Illustration for Books & Publishing, Illustrations for Stories, Indie Author, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Picture Book, Story knitted out of Ancestral Data

Blog Book Tour | “Inspector Dewey” by Kristen Heimerl and illustrated by Irene Bofill A cosy #mystery for #catlovers!

Posted Friday, 2 October, 2015 by jorielov , , , 4 Comments

Illustrated Stories Banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for “Inspector Dewey” hosted by iRead Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the author Kristen Heimerl in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Beautiful extras arrived with my ARC:

I wish I had thought to take a photograph of the extras which were included with this lovely ARC copy of Inspector Dewey! The author truly made it a special treat to become a part of her publicity campaign via this lovely blog tour! The other bloggers I noticed have mentioned the lovely surprises on their posts, too, and even one tweeted about them! I wanted to simply give an extra note of gratitude to Ms Heimerl for coming up with not only clever little ‘extras’ to tuck inside a review copy’s envelope, but to put a lot of thought into what a book blogger and reader might enjoy as a surprise gift!

Even the attention to detail in gift wrapping the ARC in yellow tissue, sealed inside a plastic bag with a delicate silvery white bow and placed in a non-bendable mailing envelope was top notch! Placing the Inspector Dewey promotional sticker and artwork on the mailer was something that winked out a smile when I caught sight of it in my postbox yet it was the amount of time she took to make this a special memory for each of us that touched me the most. Well done!

Blog Book Tour | “Inspector Dewey” by Kristen Heimerl and illustrated by Irene Bofill A cosy #mystery for #catlovers!Inspector Dewey
by Kristen Heimerl
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Irene Bofill
Source: Author via iRead Book Tours

My name is Dewey--Inspector Dewey.

I live in the big green house on Hampshire Avenue with my family: Thumper, Lily, and Anna. I am the Big Cat—responsible for keeping everyone safe and in order. I do this quite well, in spite of the fact that managing my family is like, well, herding cats!

Mostly our life is peaceful. But one night it wasn’t. That was the night the bad guy showed up on our block. Of course, I knew exactly how to outsmart the outlaw, but—miserable mullet!—would Anna and the police understand my instructions?

To find out how the adventure ended, you’ll have to read my book. But I’ll give you a hint: there’s a reason I’m called Inspector Dewey.

Fifty percent of the profits from the sale of this book will fund veterinary care for pets whose families are in financial need, so that the animals can remain in their homes and out of the shelter system.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781939710277

Genres: Artistic Adaptations &/or Picture Books, Children's Literature, Cosy Mystery, Illustrated Stories


Published by Orange Frazer Press

on 1st September 2015

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 32

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Available Formats: Hardback

Converse via: #InspectorDewey

About Kristen Heimerl

Kristen Heimerl

Marketing Officer, Strategy Expert, Innovator and Brand Builder, Kristen’s business career spans 20+ years serving the biggest brands in industry and the biggest hearts of start-ups and entrepreneurs. Kristen revels in bringing compelling products and services to life and helping leaders and individuals with big dreams realize their big goals.

Kristen’s life joys include her 2+ year obsession creating the most beautiful self-published picture book possible, the breathtaking forests and lakes of her Minnesota birthplace, the family that really does love her no matter what, and her three magnificent Norwegian Forest Cats who together, with Kristen, helped catch the bad guy on their block that inspired her upcoming book (stake out and high speed chase included!)

She holds a master of science in eCommerce from Carnegie Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, and a BA from the University of St. Thomas. As the great transformer in her life, Kristen supports others’ education and literacy as an adjunct professor of business and strategy and, more recently, through her children’s book, Inspector Dewey (Available September 2015).

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Posted Friday, 2 October, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Cats and Kittens, Children's Literature, Cosy Mystery, Debut Author, Illustrations for Stories, Indie Author, iRead Book Tours, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Modern Day, Picture Book

Book Review | Children’s Lit arrives on #JLASblog: “The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake: A Wilcox and Griswold Mystery” by Robin Newman with illustrations by Deborah Zemke An early reader gem to engage your child into the joy of sleuthing!

Posted Thursday, 25 June, 2015 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to review “The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake” by JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm. JKS is the first publicity firm I started working with when I launched Jorie Loves A Story in August, 2013. I am honoured to continue to work with them now as a 2nd Year Book Blogger. I received my complimentary copy of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake direct from JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Happily supporting Children’s Lit:

One of the best blessings in 2015 is being able to bring a spotlight on Children’s Literature a bit more than I could originally as a 1st Year Book Blogger. I have been actively seeking out opportunities to review Children’s Lit, inasmuch as I have quite a heap of selections I want to pursue through my local library as next reads which I hope will potentially become future showcases on my blog.

I love being able to draw a circle of joy around the writers who are truly underwriting a lot of innocence and light into their literary ideas for children; because not all stories need to be rooted in realism, as I still believe that even in the world of Children’s Lit, sometimes the undertone can run too dark. It’s been awhile since I could scout out Early Reader | Chapter Books at a local book shoppe, so imagine my happy joy in finding the Wilcox and Griswold Mysteries!? They appear to be the perfect starter for a budding mystery lover and a great opening door for a Mum (such as I will be) who wants to help encourage her (future) children in a direction to intersect with one of her most beloved sections of literature!

Mysteries are wicked awesome because they get you thinking outside the box and they give you a measure of mirth towards understanding different points of view. I happen to appreciate illustrators and writers who stitch in a happy thread of childhood wonderment and joy into their stories, and it’s a pleasure to be honoured with showcasing Creston Books as an Indie Publisher of Children’s Literature! They are definitely a publisher to keep an eye on for new releases and I cannot wait until August, when I will be giving my impressions on behalf of one of their picture books: In a Village by the Sea by Muon Van and April Chu!

Equally impressive is one of their Autumn new releases: Ada Bryon Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark with illustrations by April Chu! A step back into the footfalls of history where science and mathematics were constantly being elevated by new discoveries, this is a story set against the backdrop of Lord Bryon (as Ada has a famous Da!) whilst on the verge of computer technology being coded for the first time!

I came across the author behind How to Be Human (as Florida Frenz is her pen name) quite by accident, as I was following a thread of convo on Twitter. Coincidentally, shortly thereafter I was offered to review The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake and knew quite instinctively I was meant to find this Indie Publisher! At some point I am going to see if I can ILL a copy of How to Be Human but the best part is that the front list and back list of this Indie is beaming strongly crafted stories into the lives of young readers! A mission I will always be happy to champion and support!

Book Review | Children’s Lit arrives on #JLASblog: “The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake: A Wilcox and Griswold Mystery” by Robin Newman with illustrations by Deborah Zemke An early reader gem to engage your child into the joy of sleuthing!The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake
by Robin Newman
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Deborah Zemke
Source: Publicist via JKS Communications

Captain Griswold and Detective Wilcox are two hardboiled police mice and MFIs—Missing Food Investigators. When Miss Rabbit’s carrot cake goes missing the day before her big party, Griswold and Wilcox must investigate a farm full of fun, colorful suspects—and it will take smarts (and a delicious dose of humor) to crack the case.

An easy-to-read mystery with plenty of clues to point readers in the right direction, the book includes the recipe for Miss Rabbit’s tasty carrot cake from bestselling cookbook author, Mollie Katzen, and comes with a downloadable curriculum guide available for classroom use which teaches problem solving, logic skills, and storytelling.

Children will love this funny, friendly twist on classic mystery and detective stories as they follow the clues through pages filled with engaging illustrations and an entertaining, interactive story.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Also by this author: Author Guest Post by Robin Newman

Series: Wilcox and Griswold Mysteries,


Genres: Children's Literature, Early Reader Stories, Illustrated Stories, Foodie Fiction, Cosy Mystery


Published by Creston Books LLC

on 12th May, 2015

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 40

Genre(s): Early Reader | Cosy Mystery | Foodie Fiction

Illustrated Stories | Imagination Friendly

Wilcox & Griswold No. 2 due out Autumn 2016: The Case of the Poached Egg

Published By: Creston Books, LLC (@CrestonBooks)

Available Formats: Hardback

Converse via Twitter: #WilcoxAndGriswoldMysteries, #earlyreader, #KidsLit and #JKSLitPublicity

About (Illustrator) Deborah Zemke

Deborah Zemke puts words and pictures together in unexpected and lively ways. The author and illustrator of more than twenty children’s books and a frequent contributor to Ranger Rick magazine, her most recent book with Creston is Cock-a-Doodle-Oops!, a farm caper.

About Robin Newman

Robin Newman

Raised in New York and Paris, Robin Newman has been a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs, and peacocks. She lives in New York with her husband, son, goldfish, and English Cocker Spaniel, who happens to have been born on the Fourth of July.

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Posted Thursday, 25 June, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Art, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Book Trailer, Bookish Discussions, Bookish Films, Children's Literature, Cosy Mystery, Early Reader | Chapter Books, Illustrations for Stories, Indie Author, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm

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