First Chapter Review: The Paladins DuBois by Patricia Donaruma Williford


While attending the WriteAngles Conference this past November, I ran into Patricia Donaruma Williford, author of The Paladins DuBoisPat is a teacher in our local school district. Luckily, she had a copy of her book with her that I was able to purchase.


BLURB: Eighteen years after the infants Kai and Mahri DuBois were separated and taken from La Foret de Chenes for their own protection, they are called to return. Appointed as Paladins, they receive their first charges from the Elders. The twins must overcome the devastating act of treachery that tore their family apart, restore the integrity of the treasure they guard, and beat back the encroaching evil of La Famille DeMauvaise.

COVER: While I’m not always a fan of dark covers, they are popular in the young adult genre. This cover works well for the book because the dark forest with its glowing fireflies is an integral part of the story.

FIRST CHAPTER: Kai Woods, a painfully shy boy with unruly blond hair, has just graduated from high school. The letter he has received from his Uncle Frank invites him to be considered for a position of caretaker of La Forêt de Chênes, The Forest of Oaks. He follows a trail and soon comes to a cottage, where he meets the mysterious Shaun O’Shaunessey.

KEEP READING: Definitely. Williford quickly captivates the reader with her mysterious, magical tale. In a few short pages, the reader learns a bit about Kai’s past and the future that is about to unfold before him. Told from Kai’s and Shaun’s points of view, this intriguing first chapter is filled with rich descriptions that add depth but are not overdone. The back story is just enough to entice. It doesn’t cloud over the present day happenings.

While I’ll admit fantasy is not my first choice of reading material, this strong first chapter, the conflict of a family torn apart, and Kai and Mahri’s destiny enchanted me. I’m eager to continue.

Paperback: 524 pages
Publisher:, Inc. (September 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1621417719
ISBN-13: 978-1621417712

This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


On My Kindle


The summer of 1984 was a golden time in America. From California, where gymnast Mary Lou Retton was winning Olympic gold, to Cape Cod, where explorer Barry Clifford was discovering pirate gold, the nation seemed obsessed with the precious metal. But for 15-year old Al, that obsession hits a little too close to home when he finds a code-filled notebook belonging to his missing father that may contain the ancient formula for turning lead to gold. Convinced that his father’s sudden disappearance is connected to his secret experiments in alchemy, Al sets out to find the truth. He enlists the help of Cammie, a beautiful girl staying for the summer while her marine biologist father tracks a wayward manatee, and together they begin unraveling the mystery. But the closer they get to an answer, the closer they grow to each other, and as the end of summer draws nearer, Al wonders if they can break the code without breaking his heart.

bone field

In this sequel to Belle of the Glades, the holiday season brings mystery and adventure for Belle and her Indian friend, Summer. At the Bone Field, they find clues of a Bigfoot, but Belle’s uncle dismisses the signs. Belle and Summer set out to befriend the mysterious stranger with food gifts, but he has reason to stay hidden. Is he a real Bigfoot? How does Belle solve the mystery?


Eleanor Parkhurst is determined to get in the way of Nathaniel Naverly seducing her sweet cousin Rose. Nate has a history of treating girls badly and Ellie suspects his intentions are far from honorable. Getting Nate to switch his attention to her seemed like a good plan, but Ellie didn’t foresee that she might have to protect her own heart from his schemes as well. The game is proving a challenge. Midnight meetings, fighting or kissing, it’s all part of the fun of flirting. Set in an English boarding school, Ellie and her American new best friend, Flora, discover that boys are more complicated than classes, and you have to play the game well or you might just get played!

She is a mere child of twelve. But in these medieval days, this is the age when childish things must be put away and greater responsibilities accepted–all in preparation for a betrothal of marriage.

For young Lady Guinevere, on the advent of her thirteenth Birth Day, the whole idea is quite unbearable. After all, what could be better than spending her youth playing with her best friend Cedwyn, roaming the grounds around the castle looking for mythical creatures or hunting rabbits?

However, the wizard Merlyn–her teacher and friend–knows that destiny has a way of catching up with a person. His arrival sets in motion a series of events that will lead Guinevere to her destiny whether she is ready for it or not.

down under

When a reluctant grandson in Oregon is pressured into writing to his grandma in Australia, wonderful things happen. Both have a need for love and reassurance as they deal with their everyday problems. Back and forth the letters go: Josh shares his daily problems, and Grandma Rose shares past memories that astonish her grandson and his friend Kelly.

The Xbox gathers dust, as the two friends find themselves bike riding and bird watching – and actually reading. Googling the weird and wonderful Aussie critters that come to Rose’s garden becomes a fun hobby. Soon, Andy and Gradma Rose shrink the Pacific Ocean into a puddle they can easily ford.

** Glossary of Australian and words included.


Young Billy loves the game of baseball. He can’t wait to play and hang around with his team mates. But Billy’s team mates don’t take to him right away and Billy struggles hitting.

Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! by Dominique Roques


If you’re looking for a typical bedtime story, this isn’t it. Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! is, however, a sweet and zany bedtime story that youngsters will love. Anna Banana’s stuffed animals are ready to go to bed after a long day of playing, but Anna Banana isn’t ready yet. Each time one of them tries to convince her to turn out the lights, she’s having none of it. But when the shoe is on the other foot, things aren’t so peachy.

I loved this book. It’s whimsical, it’s funny, it’s adorable, and the stuffed animals are alive and talking! With all this and the delightful, often silly, illustrations by Alexis Dormal, kids will eat this one up. This is the first in a series. I can’t wait to see what this mother and son team come up with next.

Highly recommended!

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 2
Hardcover: 28 pages
Publisher: First Second (June 17, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626720193
ISBN-13: 978-1626720190

I received an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Coming Soon from Chronicle Books!

Here are three titles I received this week. They are coming in April and May from Chronicle Books.


When Bryce Billings says he will clobber Fish Finelli in the Captain Kidd Classic boat race, Fish has no choice but to accept the bet. But Fish’s 1970s Whaler with a broken motor is no match for Bryce’s new, top-of-the-line, 9.9-horsepower Viper—even if Fish, Roger, and T. J. can fix their measly 5-horsepower motor, it can’t compete with Bryce’s boat. With $9.63 between them, do the guys even have a chance at the Classic? A hilarious romp, filled with fun facts seamlessly integrated into the story, Fish Finelli informs as much as it entertains for perfect middle-grade reading.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Series: Fish Finelli
Hardcover: 172 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books (April 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1452110832
ISBN-13: 978-1452110837

Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. All her friends are coming to her party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain9781452124568_upside-down-in-the-middle-of-nowhere_large wrapped box. Turning ten is a big deal to Armani. It means she’s older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans, Armani realizes that being ten means being brave, watching loved ones die, and mustering all her strength to help her family weather the storm. A powerful story of courage and survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere celebrates the miraculous power of hope and love in the face of the unthinkable.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books (April 8, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1452124566
ISBN-13: 978-1452124568


As befits a future President of the United States of America, Maggie Mayfield has decided to write a memoir of the past year of her life. And what a banner year it’s been! During this period she’s Student of the Month on a regular basis, an official shareholder of Coca-Cola stock, and defending Science Fair champion. Most importantly, though, this is the year Maggie has to pull up her bootstraps (the family motto) and finally learn why her cool-dude dad is in a wheelchair, no matter how scary that is. Author Megan Jean Sovern, herself the daughter of a dad with multiple sclerosis, writes with the funny grace and assured prose of a new literary star.

A portion of the proceeds of the sale of this book will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books (May 6, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1452110212
ISBN-13: 978-1452110219

The Bifrost Bridge by James Bradley Clarke $25 Book Blast

About the Book

The Bifrost Bridge by James ClarkTitle: The Bifrost Bridge | Author: James Bradley Clarke | Illustrator: Marcus Gran | Publication Date: January, 2013 | Publisher: Wynwidyn Press | Pages: 92 | Recommended Ages: 8+

Summary: The Bifrost Bridge is a Viking princess fairy tale intertwined with Norse mythology. Silya, the feisty ten year old Princess of Norway, eagerly awaits the arrival of her cousin and best friend, Princess Hedda of Denmark. The princesses are both looking forward to the summer solstice celebration, but trouble lurks in their future as magical villains see the girls as being vital for their deadly conspiracy. Hedda and Silya find themselves cast into a dangerous adventure filled with fire giants, female warrior angels and the God of Thunder.


Amazon | Wynwidyn Press Books

The Buzz

“A delightful and endearing adventure that winds Norse mythology and two young girls through a whirlwind of danger, friendship and standing up to evil-doers. The Princess heroines, Silya and Hedda, engage the reader with their charming day to day life at the celebrated summer solstice festival in ancient Norway… The book moves along easily and the characters are likable at once. A fun read for the parents, and challenging enough for the children because it may have a few new words and characters they may not know. It is an adorable story that will soon become a favorite.” ~ 5 Star Review, Janet, Amazon

“Bifrost Bridge is a beautiful fairytale, mixing legend and adventure and creating a wonderful reading experience for both children and adults alike. I read this to my 7 year old daughter, and my 10 year old daughter read it for herself; both of them were captivated by the story. My 7 year old loved the idea of two princesses being such close friends, and my 10 year old loved all of the action and suspense in the story. I enjoyed the Norse mythology woven into the tale. It’s a wonderful family story. I will be reading it to my sons next!” ~ 5 Star Review, Rebecca F., Amazon

“When I first looked into this book, I was sure that the world of fairy tales had been overdone so many times that I wouldn’t see much difference between this one & my other classic favorites that I enjoyed over the years with my children… However, I was proven wrong.. This is such a beautiful and entrancing fairy tale! Mr. Clarke takes the often repetitive world of fairy tales and adds an elegant, dramatic twist to it, producing an epic and moving adventure that children will forever cherish! My daughter and I read it together and had many nights where we just didn’t want to put it down! His characters, including the feisty Silya, are memorable and seem so very real! It’s a hard thing to do that with children’s fairy tales and again, I commend Mr. Clarke for releasing a wonderful new fairy tale to pass on to generations to come!” ~ 5 Star Review, Vicky R., Amazon

About the Author: James Bradley Clarke

James Bradley Clarke

James Bradley Clarke

James Bradley Clarke is a graduate of Hiram College, The University of Houston, and the University of Michigan. He currently resides in Oxford, Ohio, where he works as an academic librarian for Miami University. He grew up near Ann Arbor, Michigan, and he has spent most of his life in the Great Lakes region.

The Bifrost Bridge is Clarke’s first work of fiction. The children’s book was first developed as stories Clarke started telling to his two daughters back in the summer of 2003. Both girls shared a love for classic princess fairy tales, so he invented original princess characters for both of them. As residents in Riverside, Illinois, Clarke’s family lived in walking distance of the Brookfield Zoo where the girls regularly admired the Norwegian fjord horses. When he learned this ancient breed of horse was used by the Vikings, a specific medieval setting for the stories came into focus.

As a Hiram College student, Clarke had developed a love for the epic poems of Homer and Virgil, so he chose to borrow from mythology to provide magical elements. The girls became instantly enamored with these stories and they insisted on developing new adventures for the two Nordic princess characters. The first draft of a manuscript was produced during the summer of 2005. Clarke’s daughters were delighted with the bound copy they received as a Christmas gift later that year, so he began the process of becoming an author. Clarke has a love for history and a taste for plot driven stories about extraordinary individualism. Themes of fortitude and self-determination lay at the heart of Clarke’s writing interests.

Facebook (Book Fan Page) | Facebook (Author Fan Page) | Goodreads

* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest runs: February 10 to March 9, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, James Bradley Clarke and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Interview with Alyson Flippo, author of ‘Addie B. Strong – I Am So Strong’

Alyson_Headshot_01_300dpi-244x300Alyson Flippo is the mother of two children. When she gave birth to her daughter at age 44, she had experienced enough of the challenges placed on young girls to cause her great concern. She has related that she would lie in bed each night and worry about how to prepare her daughter for the array of challenges that lay ahead. It was during those long nights that she realized the world needed to begin sending more positive messages to our girls as soon as they enter this world so they can develop the strength needed to fend off the often negative messages received from the media and other sources. Her book was inspired by her desire to remind each and every reader of their vast potential – the strength that comes from within.

Determined to do something to try to make a difference for all of our young girls of today, the character and story of Addie B. Strong is her way of helping our girls focus on their strength and self-worth, instead of more superficial characteristics.

Ms. Flippo grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey, and graduated from New Jersey’s Ramapo State College with a degree in business administration. Thereafter she studied at The New School for Social Research in New York City. Prior to her writing career, she spent 20 years as a paralegal at several East Coast law firms where she spent much time writing legal briefs. She currently lives in South Florida with her husband and children, and is working to develop a line of Addie B. Strong books.

Website Address: 

Thank you for joining us today, Alyson. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I am an only child, married to a wonderful man for almost 20 years, and mom of two amazing children, ages 13 and 4.  My second child, a daughter, came as a surprise late in life. Since my firstborn was a boy, I had no experience in raising a girl and was truly petrified by the thought of it. I worried during the entire term of my pregnancy about how she was going to navigate through all of the challenges that come with growing up.  I wanted to be able to empower her with the strength and self-worth that I was not able to find until I was well into adulthood.  I wanted to make her strong so she would be able combat all of the negative messages she would surely be exposed to. I wanted her to feel comfortable and happy just by being her authentic self.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I started making infant and toddler clothing that had images of this character (now named Addie B. Strong), and having positive messages written on them, like “Spread The Love,” “Move Mountains,” “Defy Gravity.”  In selling the clothing I would find myself 1having long conversations with people about how I wanted to begin empowering our young girls at a very early and impressionable age.  After having a hundred or so of these conversations, I realized I had a story to tell and a message to send, and that is when I knew it was time to write.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

Again, for me it is about reaching out to our kids as early as we can to provide positive messages of self-worth.  It is so difficult for them to grow up in this world of unrealistic expectations and impossible requirements that I wanted to start getting these positive messages resonating inside of them as soon as possible.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

No, I believe it is easier.  They are not yet judgmental and rigid as adults. They are like little mounds of clay taking on their own unique shape and are so open and honest.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

Being able to inspire and influence someone so young and helping to develop their sense of positive self-esteem is the greatest joy for me.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Addie B. Strong – I Am So Strong is the first in a series.  It is about a little girl who discovers that it is not what you have or look like but who you are inside that really counts.

What inspired you to write it?

My own daughter was the original ”inspiration” for the book but really I want to reach out to all of our young children to help them to believe in themselves and be happy with who they are.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

The individual book and book and doll combination package is available at select Learning Express stores, and the individual book will be available at select Books-A-Million locations in the upcoming months.  Both products are also available for purchase on Amazon and through our website at

What is up next for you?

I am actually in the midst of writing a second story in the Addie B. Strong series, and am developing a boy character to spin off and give a life of his own.

Do you have anything else to add?

I just wanted to mention that just as Addie is embarking on her journey, this is a journey for me as well.  I have waited all my life to do something that I consider meaningful and to contribute something positive and special to the world. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the strong women who I have met during this venture and who have become involved in helping to spread this message because they truly believe in it.  I hope to continue to grow, and, in the words of Addie, “Spread The Love.”

Thank you for spending time with us today, Alyson. We wish you much success.

Thank you!

From the Family Bookshelf – February


Oh, my goodness. I was looking how long it has been since I posted one of these columns and I am shocked. The last one was posted in September. Where did the time go?

Okay, I actually have an answer for that. This fall was super crazy around here–crazier than normal if you can believe it. I had two writers conferences, plus the Lil’ Princess had soccer from the end of August until the beginning of November. Oh, I was looking for work at the same time, too. Then there were chorus and violin concerts and…

You get my drift. Motherhood and family time must take precedence over blogging. Luckily, things have calmed down since after Christmas and I’ve started writing again. The other reason that I haven’t been blogging about everyone’s reading is that the Lil’ Diva and Lil’ Princess have decided they are old enough to read on their own now, so family reading time each night before bed is pretty much no more. I miss it, but I can’t keep them babies forever. And poor Dad, his work schedule doesn’t allow for a lot of down time.

That said, the Lil’ Diva has been busy reading for school and pleasure. She just finished off Divergent by Veronica Roth. The next two books arrived today. Before that, she read The Diary of Anne Frank and Rebel Spirits by Lois Ruby. She also just picked up the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie.

It’s harder to share what the Lil’ Princess is reading because she honestly has so many books going at once, I don’t know how she does it. Between her Nook, the school library, our local library, and books we buy, she is never reading less than five books at a time. I can only manage two at a time and they have to be totally different genres for me to keep them straight. She borrowed three books out of the Cupcake Diaries series by Coco Simon from the local library recently. She read The Lost Children by Carolyn Cohagan for school. Right now, she’s also reading Dork Diaries 6: Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker by Rachel Renee Russell. She’s also reading a non-fiction title on polar bears for her latest book project at school.

Dad is trying to make time to read The Candy Bomber: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlight and America’s Finest Hour by Andrei Cherny. I think I bought that one for him. He enjoys fiction and nonfiction about World War II.

As for me, I’m always reading something. I made a decision at the end of last year not to participate in so many virtual book tours. This should help me get through some of the books in my TBR pile. At this point, I receive almost more unsolicited books for this blog than ones I request. While I don’t feel compelled to review the unsolicited ones, I often mention them. In addition, I have so many other blogs that I simply can’t keep up with all the requests. I’m really liking having more unscheduled reading time–not reading a particular book in a certain time frame.

So far this year I’ve read,

Bedtime Prayers That End with a Hug! by Stephen Elkins
Recipe by Angela & Michael Petrella
Crabtree by Jon & Tucker Nichols
One Special Christmas by M. Christina Butler
Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home by Jo Linsdell
Pop! Pop! Bam! Bam! by Sally O. Lee
The Thackery Journal by John Holt
Elephantantrum! by Gillian Shields
Abigail by Catherine Rayner
Pi-Rat! by Maxine Lee
Storytelling by Rudy Mazzocchi
I Don’t Want to go to Bed! by Julie Sykes
The Maisy Files by Elizabeth Woodrum
The Box of Holes by Carmen Gil
The Things in the Air by Carmen Gil

I’m also almost done with I Am Abraham by Jerome Charyn. I’m scheduled to review this one on the 18th at The Book Connection. Next up will be Steam and Stratagem by Christopher Hoare.

That’s it for this edition of From the Family Bookshelf. Hope you’ll share with us some of what you’ve been reading lately.