Graphic Novel Review: Binky Takes Charge by Ashley Spires

 

 

Title: Binky Takes Charge

Author: Ashley Spires

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Binky the space cat has been promoted to lieutenant. He’s now in charge of training the next generation of space cadets. But then he meets the new space kitten — who isn’t a kitten at all! Is someone trying to pull the fur over his eyes? Binky and Captain Gracie need to figure out the new cadet before the next alien attack!


Review:

I love Binky!  Somehow I allowed this installment of Binky’s space adventures to languish on my iPad, but I’m glad I finally had a chance to read it.  Binky has been given a promotion, and he’s getting a new cadet to train.  To his dismay, however, he learns that FURST (Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) has morphed into PURST (Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) in an effort to diversify its membership.  He’s upset to think that he’s a Space Pet, instead of an esteemed Space Cat.  To add insult to injury, his new trainee isn’t a CAT, but a lesser life form instead.  Gordon is a puppy! What is the world coming to?

This book is hilarious!  Poor Binky is at his wit’s end.  Not only is Gordon clumsy, noisy, and an attention hound (pun intended), Binky starts to think that he’s a double agent.  Why else would the aliens be so interested in Gordon’s waste matter? Why else would he be stealing Binky’s human’s possessions?  Why else would he deactivate the anti-alien device??  Things are looking mighty grim in Binky’s world, but he needs concrete proof before he can go to his superiors.  With Gracie’s help, Binky begins a careful and thorough investigation into the motives and behavior of his new charge, and what he discovers is surprising.

This is such a cute series.  The art is comical yet expressive, and Binky’s adventures are always good for a few laughs.  I enjoyed the introduction of Gordon, and more specifically, I found Binky’s reaction to his new student amusing.  With his superior cat attitude, he is resigned to teaching a not so bright trainee, but he isn’t certain of success.  Once the evidence stacks up and Gordon looks like a double-agent, Binky and Gracie race against the clock to maintain the integrity of their space station and the safety of their humans.   This is great stuff, and now I am convinced that Bumble and Poppy are member of PURST.  They are like ninjas, albeit  occasionally clumsy ninjas, in their efforts to take out aliens.  I have never had dogs so determined to wipe out the insect population in the nearby vicinity, so I wonder – have these guys been through boot camp, possibly with Lieutenant Binky?

Recommended for animals lovers of all ages

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Waiting on Wednesday–Cowboy Take Me Away by Jane Graves

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I am waiting for Cowboy Take Me Away by Jane Graves because the heroine runs an animal shelter.  I love romances that revolve around animals!

 

FIRST LOVE BURNS HOTTER

Rainbow Valley, Texas, has always been a refuge for animals, and Shannon North, director of the local shelter, intends to keep it that way. But with donations drying up and more pets in need of a loving home than ever before, Shannon’s beginning to fear she’s not the savior the shelter needs. When a tall, dark, and handsome cowboy from her past comes to the rescue, she knows that accepting his help may come with a high price: her heart.

THE SECOND TIME AROUND

Bad boy Luke Dawson shook the dust from this little town off his boots years ago. He walked away from everything . . . except the memory of the one night of passion he shared with Shannon. Now, a few wins away from becoming the world bull-riding champion, Luke’s headed for fame and fortune. But then a crisis calls him back to Rainbow Valley, and Luke is reunited with the good girl who stole-and broke-his heart.

As their rekindled relationship deepens into desire, old secrets resurface, and Luke must choose between the future he’s always dreamed of and the only woman he’s ever loved.

 

What are you waiting on?

Feed Your Kindle – Cheap Middle Grade Reads!

Today I have some Middle Grade books, all nicely priced under 3bucks!

Click on the covers for the Amazon product page.

A  Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban – $2.99 MG – I read this a few years ago and fell in love with the quirky characters.

Ten-year-old Zoe Elias has perfect piano dreams. She can practically feel the keys under her flying fingers; she can hear the audience’s applause. All she needs is a baby grand so she can start her lessons, and then she’ll be well on her way to Carnegie Hall.

But when Dad ventures to the music store and ends up with a wheezy organ instead of a piano, Zoe’s dreams hit a sour note. Learning the organ versions of old TV theme songs just isn’t the same as mastering Beethoven on the piano. And the organ isn’t the only part of Zoe’s life that’s off-kilter, what with Mom constantly at work, Dad afraid to leave the house, and that odd boy, Wheeler Diggs, following her home from school every day.

Yet when Zoe enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition, she finds that life is full of surprises–and that perfection may be even better when it’s just a little off center.

 

 

The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick – $1.99 – MG

Something strange is happening at the Clarksville City Zoo. Late at night, monkeys are scaling the walls and searching the neighborhood—but what are they looking for?

Noah, his sister Megan, and their best friends, Richie and Ella, live next door to the zoo. Megan is the first to notice the puzzling behavior of some of the animals. One day Megan disappears, and her brother and their friends realize it’s up to them to find her. Their only choice is to follow a series of clues and sneak into the zoo. But once inside, will they discover there’s much more to the Clarksville City Zoo than they could ever have guessed?

 

 

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman – 1.99 MG

In eight days, Coke and Pepsi McDonald are going to turn thirteen.

Before then, they’ll jump off a cliff, get trapped in the locked basement of their burning school, chased cross-country by murderous lunatics, left for dead in the pit of a sand dune, forced to decipher mysterious coded messages, thrown into a giant vat of SPAM, and visit the world’s largest . . . ball of twine!

There’s more, but if we told you here, we’d have to kill you.

Megapopular author Dan Gutman brings on the excitement with an action-packed new series that’s nothing short of dynamite. Join Coke and Pep on their quest to uncover just what it means to be part of The Genius Files . . . if you dare!

 

 

The Familiars by Andrew Jacobson and Adam Jay Epstein $1.99

Is the kingdom’s fate in the hands of an orphan cat?

Running fast to save his life, Aldwyn ducks into an unusual pet store. Moments later Jack, a young wizard in training, comes in to choose a magical animal to be his familiar. Aldwyn’s always been clever. But magical? Jack thinks so—and Aldwyn is happy to play along.

He just has to convince the other familiars—the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert—that he’s the powerful cat he claims to be.

Then the unthinkable happens. Jack and two other young wizards are captured by the evil queen of Vastia.

On a thrilling quest to save their loyals, the familiars face dangerous foes, unearth a shocking centuries-old secret, and discover a destiny that will change Vastia forever. Their magical adventure—an irresistible blend of real heart, edge-of-your-seat action, and laugh-out-loud humor—is an unforgettable celebration of fantasy and friendship.


The Frog Princess by E D Baker – $.99 MG

Princess Emeralda isn’t exactly an ideal princess. Her laugh is like a donkey’s bray rather than tinkling bells, she trips over her own feet and she does NOT like Prince Jorge, whom her mother hopes she will marry. But if Emma ever thought to escape her life, she never expected it to happen by turning into a frog! When convinced to kiss a frog so he might return to being a Prince, somehow the spell is reversed and Emma turns into a frog herself! Thus begins the adventure – a quest to return to human form.

Fascinating and hilarious characters ranging from a self-conscious but friendly bat to a surprisingly loyal snake and a wise old green witch confirm that readers won’t soon forget this madcap story! A fantastic debut from the talented E.D. Baker.

Look for the other exciting books in this series: A Prince Among Frogs, Dragon Kiss, Dragon’s Breath, The Dragon Princess, Once Upon a Curse, No Place for Magic, and The Salamander Spell!

I Say, You Say Opposites and I Say, You Say Animal Sounds Giveaway!

Happy Saturday! Thanks to Little Brown, I have THREE sets of the cutest board books to giveaway!  I SAY, YOU SAY OPPOSITES! and I SAY, YOU SAY ANIMAL SOUNDS! by artist Tad Carpenter, released on September 11th, and now you have a chance to win a set!

From the publisher:  

I SAY, YOU SAY OPPOSITES! and I SAY, YOU SAY ANIMAL SOUNDS! are interactive and endlessly entertaining lift-the-flap board books that emphasize "word prediction," an important language development step for young readers. As parent readers call out the animal on each page, the child reader is encouraged to triumphantly respond with the correct answer, hidden beneath the flap. Fun and educational, this call-and-response technique offers a playful interactive reading experience and is a delightful and exciting way for children to learn words.

With a bright, retro-style palette and round-eyed animals, the I SAY, YOU SAY board book series is perfect for today’s hip babies and parents.

Tad Carpenter is an illustrator and designer living in Kansas City, Missouri, and an adjunct professor in graphic design and illustration at the University of Kansas. You can visit him at www.tadcarpenter.com.

I SAY, YOU SAY OPPOSITES!

So cute!!

 

I SAY, YOU SAY ANIMAL SOUNDS!

So adorable!

Entering is easy! Just fill out the Rafflecopter widget below.  Extra entries for following and tweeting.   US mailing addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Micro Review: Some Cat! by Mary Casanova and Ard Hoyt

 

Title: Some Cat!

Author: Mary Casanova

Illustrator: Ard Hoyt

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Violet has always imagined ruling a kingdom with sharp claws and velvet paws, so when she is adopted and goes to live with two dogs, she immediately takes over with a Meowww! Hisssss! and Spat! Poor George and Zippity try to befriend Violet, but they get nowhere. One afternoon, while her new family is out fishing, Violet is awakened by some stray dogs who chase poor Violet into a corner. Luckily, George and Zippity arrive home just in time to help.

Review:

I love Ard Hoyt’s art, and I am now a rabid fan.  Some Cat! revisits George and Zippity from Some Dog!, introducing Violet, a homeless cat, to the family.  I love the humans in both of these books.  They are patient and loving to their pets, willing to watch from the sidelines as their new family member tries to find a place for herself.  The problem is, Violet isn’t easy to get along with, and she doesn’t make things easy for herself.  She, like most cats, believes that she is royalty, and instead of trying to make friends with George and Zippity, she attempts to take charge – of everything.   She bullies her new animal companions, stealing their toys, food, and favorite sleeping spots.  She hisses at them, and she swats at them with her velvet paws, claws extended.  She is so NOT nice!  When a pack of dogs attack her, though, it is George and Yippity to the rescue.  Will Violet finally learn to play well with others?

This is a delightful story, with wonderful prose and charming illustrations that perfectly capture the mood and action of the book.  Some Cat! is sure to enchant animal lovers both young and old.

Grade:  A

Review copy provided by publisher

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Cheap eReads – Who Let the Dogs Out?

Here are some YA and MG Kindle books featuring dogs, all priced at below 5 bucks! Click on the title to order. 

 

Boys Are Dogs (Annabelle Unleashed)  by Leslie Margolis (.99)

Middle-school boys act like wild animals. 
That’s what Annabelle discovers on her first day in her brand-new life. Birchwood Middle School is totally different from her old all-girls elementary. In fact, lots of things in Annabelle’s life are totally different now that she’s back from summer camp. There’s mom’s new boyfriend, a new house, new friends—even a new puppy that likes to chew on Annabelle’s clothes. Well, at least the puppy comes with a leash and a training manual! If only she could say the same for the boys . . .
Featuring Annabelle’s hilarious take on friendship, boys, and her all-new life, this novel / survival guide perfectly captures the joy—and agony—of junior high school. And it might just teach you how to tame the wildest beast of all, the teenage boy.

 

What the Dog Said by Randi Reisfeld ($1.99)

Ever since her police officer father was killed a few months ago, Grace Abernathy hasn’t wanted to do much of anything. She’s pulled away from her friends, her grades are plummeting . . . it’s a problem. The last thing Grace wants is to be dragged into her older sister Regan’s plan to train a shelter dog as a service dog. But Grace has no idea how involved she’ll get-especially when a mangy mutt named Rex starts talking to her. Has Grace gone off the deep end? Or might this dog be something really special-an angel? A spirit? Either way, he is exactly the therapy that Grace needs.

Me & Jack  by Danette Haworth ($1.99)

Joshua Reed is used to moving around since his dad became an Army recruiter and the Vietnam War broke out. But their newest home, in the mountains of Pennsylvania, feels special somehow. Josh has started to make a new friend, his dad has finally allowed him to get a dog, and Jack-with his strange glowing ears and the way he seems to understand Josh’s feelings-is like no other dog Josh has ever seen. But in Vietnam-era America, conflict is never far away-even on the homefront. When a local boy is killed overseas, the town turns on the new army recruiter. And when a few late-night disturbances all point to Jack, it will be up to Josh to fight for his dog, his family, and his new home.

Dogs of the Drowned City #1: The Storm   by Dayna Lorentz  ($4.61)

Warriors and Guardians of Ga’Hoole fans have a new animal adventure to sink their teeth into!A terrible storm — and the beginning of a thrilling new animal adventure trilogy!When a hurricane forces his family to evacuate without him, Shep the German sheperd is confused. Where is his boy? Will he ever return? And what will Shep do in the meantime, now that the extra bowls of food — not to mention all those tasty things he found in the big cold box — are gone? Then another dog shows up at Shep’s window and convinces him to escape. There’s food outside, and a whole empty city to explore. Shep just wants to go home … but the adventure of a lifetime is just beginning.

The Puppy Place #1: Goldie by Ellen Miles ($3.82)

Welcome to the Puppy Place! This new Little Apple series stars a lovable new puppy in every book! And it’s Charles and Lizzie Peterson’s job to find every puppy the perfect home.
Charles and Lizzie Peterson love puppies. They want a puppy of their own more than just about anything. They know dogs are a lot of work. But their mom still doesn’t think their family is ready for a puppy.

Then, Goldie arrives. She is a sweet golden retriever that needs a home. Goldie is very young. She doesn’t know how to be a good puppy yet. Will Charles and Lizzie be able to help her?

Cover Shot! Rocket Writes A Story by Tad Hills

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I probably read more picture books than most adults should, but I can’t help myself.  There is so much energy and depth in a good picture book.  One of my favorites so far has been How Rocket Learned to Read.  I am a sucker for the cuteness, and how can you resist the sense of delight when Rocket did, finally, learn how to connect those confusing lines and make meaningful words?  The art is adorable, too.  When I saw that Rocket will be returning for another adventure, Rocket Writes A Story by Tad Hills was immediately placed on my wish list.  In stores July 2012.

 

This irresistible sequel to the New York Times bestselling How Rocket Learned to Read is "a perfect choice to inspire new readers and writers," according to a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

Rocket loves books and he wants to make his own, but he can’t think of a story. Encouraged by the little yellow bird to look closely at the world around him for inspiration, Rocket sets out on a journey. Along the way he discovers small details that he has never noticed before, a timid baby owl who becomes his friend, and an idea for a story. This book is sure to appeal to kids, parents, teachers, and librarians.

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