Review of The Crypto Capers Book: The Case of the Missing Sock and The Case of Red Rock Canyon by Renee Hand

The Case of the Missing Sock
Are You A Puzzle Solver? You know those crossword puzzles, then there are word scrambles. Well, now you will find cryptograms to work on to help solve mysteries along with a group of young children plus their Granny!

Renee Hand’s stunning new mystery series, The Crypto-Capers, is an excellent read for your children. Thanks to Cheryl Malandrinos for giving me the opportunity to review these great detective books. I received signed copies with bookmarks and a sweet note enclosed from the author of the Case of the Missing Sock and the Case of Red Rock Canyon. A big thank you to Renee Hand for such a warm welcome to her new children’s mystery book series!

Book #1 The Crypto-Capers: The Case of the Missing Sock

Right from the beginning Renee’s award winning style of writing draws you in. The author is able to create an atmosphere of mystery and wonder through likable and well-known characters such as Sherlock Holmes. Throughout the book, you will follow Max and Mia, young detectives who are asked from a rich man in Florida to help find his wife’s stolen birthday present. It seems an antique sock with a specially made pair of sunglasses tucked inside is missing.

I must warn you from the beginning, you will not want to put this book down because it is that good. One book can easily be read in a day. Basically, the plot revolves around Max and Mia easily solving clues using cryptograms. The Crypto -Capers are a team of young siblings Max and Mia from London, plus their lovable Granny Nellie Holmes who is always forgetting something or wandering off and the sibling’s best friend, Morris a computer genius.

What I especially like about the Case of the Missing Sock is how these youngsters go about finding solutions through their great deductions and reasoning skills. Children will get involved with reading this book on any level and will have fun figuring out the paper clues. Of course, if you get stumped, Renee easily provides answers to the cryptograms at the back of the book… but wait, no peeking. You’ll discover and solve the clues right along with Max and Mia throughout these wonderful children’s mystery series. My rating is 5+ stars. I loved this book. The price $12.95

Book #2 The Case of Red Rock Canyon

The Case of Red Rock Canyon
Now the second book of the series is called The Case of Red Rock Canyon. I have been told that it’s important to read this particular series in order. With Book #2, the stolen item and assignment is A missing Orchid Ruby Necklace. The team heads to Las Vegas, Nevada, where they are thrown into the dramatic world of theater to solve their next mystery.

Personally, I found Book #2 action packed and intense at times. You know, the kind of material kids love to read. The young detective team must sift through the clues to figure out what is truth, and what are lies. One of their lives will be in the balance. I think you will find this book an adventure of self-discovery and courage!

I highly recommend Renee Hands mystery series for children ages 9-12 and their parents. The paperback books are reasonably priced and the treasures inside are priceless. I am fond of the character Nellie because I am a Grandma also. And it is quite an adventure to be with my two precious Grandsons! As I recall, my Mother was so good at doing crossword puzzles. I found myself being drawn into solving all these paper clues along with the professional team of Max and Mia. What fun!

The Crypto-Capers: The Case of Red Rock Canyon

I have made a strong connection with Renee’s writings. She reminds me of a modern day ‘Joan Wilder’. Congratulations Renee Hand on a winning series of children’s mystery books!

For more information about this lovely lady, visit her website

Much continued success to Renee,

P.S the Blog Tour kicks off soon. Take a look at the trailer!
The Crypto-Capers by Renée Hand

Promotional video for the new children's interactive detective series by Renée Hand. In "The Crypto-Capers" readers must solve the cryptograms and puzzles to help the detectives solve the ...

-- LadyD

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Amish Love

What’s all the hubbub about Amish fiction? Major media outlets like Time and ABC Nightline are covering it, and authors like Cindy Woodsmall are making the New York Times bestseller list regularly. What makes these books so interesting?

Check out the recent ABC Nightline piece here: about Cindy and her titles When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends. It’s an intriguing look at Amish culture and the time Cindy has spent with Amish friends.

And don’t forget that Cindy’s new book The Hope of Refuge hits store shelves August 11, and is available for preorder now.

Carrie Bradshaw -- in a Bonnet?
Stories of Forbidden Love, Communal Spirit Put Amish Romance Novels on Best-Seller List

The Amish lead a private, rural lifestyle that hasn't changed for hundreds of years. It's a far cry from the glittery, gossipy, sexually carefree world of "Sex in the City" and its lead character, Carrie Bradshaw.

But the Amish now have their own Bradshaw, of sorts: Cindy Woodsmall, one of the several best-selling authors who specialize in Amish-themed romance novels.

"People are seeing this quaint, peaceful-looking, picturesque view of [the Amish] and they want to know the real life," Woodsmall said.

Watch the full story tonight (May 26) on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET.

After a debut novel, "When the Heart Cries," Woodsmall chalked up two New York Times best-sellers: "When the Morning Comes" and "When the Soul Mends." The trilogy, known as "Sisters of the Quilt," tells the story of a conservative Amish woman as she comes of age, experiences tragedy and struggles with the demands of her world -- and her love for a young man from outside.

Woodsmall has a second Amish-based series in the works, set to launch in August with the publication of "The Hope of Refuge."

Read more of Cindy Woodsmall at

Here are a few comments I found online:

"Cindy's books were some of the first books of this type I really thoroughly enjoyed. She did a great job of portraying them, honoring them and not exploiting them or mocking them. I feel many of the books now tend to make them out to be stupid in their simplicity, which is far from the truth. Also, in many books it had the characters leaving the Amish or Mennonite faith in a way that was taken as no one could take that for long and of course they long to wear jeans! As someone of a faith similar to Mennonites, it sort of bothers me that people would look at us and think that. I do not try to get them to change and dress differently. I live this way by choice and not because I feel I have to!" posted by MJVA28

"As a writer-friend of Cindy's I congratulate her on this successful series. They are well-written, capturing the reader on the first page. Nearly a year's span passed between books 1 and 2, and later 2 and 3. After book 2 I saw Cindy at the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference and kidded her saying, "Hannah has been out on the road way too long Cindy, referring to where book 2 stopped. We had a good laugh and I wasn't disappointed when I finally got to read book 3. It is strongly suggested that readers read these stories in succession. I can't wait for the next books to come out at the end of summer. Cindy is one author that I consider an auto-buy." posted by writerwoman106

I am looking forward to reading this book. I so much enjoyed watching the trailer video of Cindy Smallwood. How fortunate to have a relationship of love and trust with the Amish!

The Hope of Refuge: A Novel (An Ada's House Novel)

-- LadyD

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Abigail Spells by Anna Alter- Book Giveaway

Abigail Spells
I remember being in a spelling bee in 6th grade. My Mom was very proud of me. I had made it through several rounds, but I sure was nervous. It soon became my turn again, and I misspelled the word "thrifty". It seems I got ahead of myself and put the i before r. Well, that ended that! I was great at spelling but the pressure at spelling bees was a bit frightening for me. Funny thing is that I don't mind playing the piano in front of lots of people. I'm quite comfortable sitting behind a keyboard... but that's another story!

Back to spelling bees... Brimful Curiosities is hosting a book giveaway contest for Abigail Spells. For more information, please visit her blog at

"But there was one thing Abigail liked to do better than anything else. More than anything, Abigail loved to spell." - Abigail Spells by Anna Alter

A chicken named Abigail possesses many talents including spelling. She spells words constantly and prepares for the upcoming school spelling bee with help from her best friend, George the bear. After practicing words like A-P-P-L-E and C-L-O-C-K, she feels ready for her big day. But, she finds out quickly that spelling in front of a crowd in a large auditorium isn't easy. Luckily, her friend George encourages her and offers her his friendship at exactly the right moment.

Learn more about the book and this wonderful author at

Get Free Coloring Pages at

Thank you, Brimful Curiosities for Abigail Spells book giveaway!
Best wishes to all the contestants!

-- LadyD

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Sal and Sally by Jay Miller

Sal and Sally
A funny thing happened to me online the other day. I was introduced to the author of Bingo the Banjo Picking Bear, Jay Miller. He had left a comment on Book Blogs and I followed the link to his website. I immediately bonded with some of Jay's characters in his books and I love his style of writing. I was fortunate to exchange a few sentences or two with Jay Miller.

What I have learned about Jay is that he has been married to his wife for thirty years. Together they have seven children and thirteen grandchildren. He is a retired Electrical Engineer. Presently he is writing a five-story compilation novel called "All God's Critters." It is approximately 80% completed. Jay is a member of Published Authors, Book Marketing Network, and many other writing groups. He is also the Founder of the newly formed "Rock the Babies" Foundatio

I was attracted to the art on the cover of this book. I knew I had to purchase the book and read it to my Grandsons! Having not read this book yet, I did some research on it and found some very nice folks who had great things to say about Sal and Sally!


Title: Sal and Sally
Author: Jay Miller
ISBN: 978-1-935028-13-0
Genre: Children (Toddler age 3 to 6)
Pages: 23
Reviewed By: Brian Knight

Official Premium Promotional Services Rating:

Sal and Sally are best friends that enjoy playing together and discovering new adventures. One day, the two happy-go-lucky sea bass stumble upon the most amazing pastime…they learn how to blow bubbles! In the ocean, they blow big bubbles, little bubbles, and bubbles of many different colors. For hours, just the two of them laugh and swim around all the blown bubbles until Nellie, the octopus, swims over to join in.
Nellie sees how much fun Sal and Sally are having and really wants to join them. But Nellie has a big problem…she doesn’t know how to blow bubbles.
Sal and Sally daily come to Nellie’s rescue and are happy to teach her. Nellie proves she is an excellent student when she exhales and blows a huge bubble. A bubble so enormous, it engulfs Sal and Sally inside.
Sal and Sally attempt to pop the bubble, but to no avail. And what’s worse—Nasty Nick, the Texas long nose shark, comes by and now they are in real danger. Afraid, Sal and Sally can only watch as he approaches.
Nasty Nick is looking for dinner and can now see his meal trapped inside this bubble. He attempts to pop the bubble with his long nose; but like Sal and Sally’s attempt, the bubble just won’t burst.
Sal and Sally are safe, but this leaves Nellie outside the bubble and looking scrumptious for Nick’s next meal. Will this be Nellie’s last frolic with her two new friends or will Nasty Nick have a change of heart and let Nelly go free?

Once again, Jay Miller composes a delightful tale.
In a joyful way of learning, Miller uses rich descriptions, delivering powerful messages of life values and morals—playing and working together in a way that shows even a nasty shark needs friends. In “Sal and Sally,” the colorful illustrations compliment the story and are sure to grab the little listeners’ attention. With joyful songs at the end of the story, everyone will surely be dancing about the room as they envision many bubbles bouncing and floating around them.

“Sal and Sally” is sure to be a favorite on any child’s bookcase. I recommend this book for those children who have lots of energy. Those who love to dance, sing and have fun. And adults who wish to spread positive life values and morals to those little ones they love.

Learn more about Jay Miller at

Order Book:

Sal and Sally

April has a review post of Sal & Sally at

April goes on to say,

"Sal And Sally was great fun to read, and quite captivating for children to listen to. It is quite repetitive which young children love Even before they can read they will be chanting along with you.
It is a beautiful book...flowing and poetic with lovely humor. Anyone who reads this will be drawn in right from the very first word. It is an engaging children's story with all it's graceful prose, and full bodied characters. I particularly loved the atmospheric setting in the Ocean. This book is uplifting and an enchanting tale that is likely to become a childhood staple. Miller is a mesmerizing storyteller, his book is deeply emotional with wonderful three dimensional characters. Sal and Sally, a couple of Sea Bass are infinitely appealing ... one gets the sense of them having a caring respectful friendship ; which is rich and satisfying. Beyond the familiar elements is the underlying current that they just might be eaten by Nasty Nick the Texas Long Horn Nose Shark. This added dimension elevated the story to more then just a fun children's tale but one with a message. Miller has a talent for navigating children's emotions through Sal and Sally; from the familiar....discovering how to blow bubbles, to the friendship and respect between them, to their fears of being eaten and Nick's anger for not getting what he desired and ultimately to everyone getting along and having fun. A masterful blend of love, and humor, with a little of bit wonder thrown in.
Beautifully written..... highly recommended.... a perfect 10.
At the end of the book are words to a few songs :

* The Octopus Song
* Nifty Nick's Bubble Blowing Song
* The Turtle Song."

Being Greek and loving to fish, I just know this book will be perfect for my 2 Grandsons. And being a piano teacher, the music on the trailer, well it's my kind of music! This wonderful Grandpa, Jay Miller, has written a winning series of books. I look forward to hearing more from Jay and will keep my eye open for new releases. A big thanks to Jay Miller!

Book Review : Sal and Sally "All God's Critters Toddler Series #2 by Jay Miller

A book review of the children's book Sal and Sally by Jay Miller.

Take a look at the trailer video for yourself and listen to this very cool music:
Book Video Trailer: Sal and Sally

Sal & Sally, two small sea bass, explore the ocean floor for a new game to play. They accidentally discover how to blow beautiful colorful bubbles, and soon they are trying to teach Nellie The Octopus how to blow them, too. However, she accidentally blows one so big that it entraps both Sal and Sally, and when Nasty Nick the Texas Long Nose Shark crashes the scene - can the friends figure out a way to avoid becoming his mid-afternoon snack...?

I will definitely be getting this book... thank you, Jay Miller!

Sal and Sally

-- LadyD

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Picture Books for Older Listeners

Girl reading a book
To complete the list of the Top Ten Picture Books, I have added them in this morning's post. I need to take a closer look at the books mentioned in today's list because I mostly read books for the little ones... you know, with my 2 Grandsons!

For older listeners (8+)

These books may very well appeal to younger listeners too, but they have enough complexity to interest most older listeners.

1. The Elves and the Shoemaker retold by Jim LaMarche

The Elves and the Shoemaker

2. Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke- $10.85 (Booklist Editor's Choice. Books for Youth Awards)

The Princess Knight

3. Andrew Henry's Meadow by Doris Burn- $10.36

4. Child of Faerie, Child of Earth Jane Yolen and Jane Dyer

Andrew Henry's Meadow

5. The Widow's Broom by Chris Van Allsburg- $12.89

The Widow's Broom

6. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett- $6.99

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

7. A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley and Jim LaMarche- $10.88

A Story for Bear

8. Dragon Scales and Willow Trees Terry Givens and Andrew Portwood

Dragon Scales and Willow Leaves

9. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney- $7.99

Miss Rumphius

10. Raising Dragons by Jerdine Nolen and Elise Primavera- $7.00

Raising Dragons

11. The Raft by Jim LaMarche- $6.99

The Raft

-- LadyD Books

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The List of Top Ten Picture Books

To continue with the picture book list from Seattle Children's Literature Examiner, Laurie Mayhew, I have posted the list of great picture books for the 4-year-olds here. I love this age group because the children see the characters talking directly to them... oh my, what a captivating audience!

"As a life-long reader, Laurie Mayhew is thrilled that her own children are avid readers. Laurie provides fellow book-loving parents with a wealth of tips and resources to help them tackle the challenge of finding appealing material and appropriate content for kids." For more of Laurie

Laurie Mayhew goes on to say, "Even though my children are almost too old for picture books, I still love them and have stacks and stacks of them. They are kind of like potato chips, it is hard to stop at one."

So here is my list of some of my favorites, broken into three age groups.

For slightly older listeners (4+)

These books can work for older and younger kids too depends on your listener.

1. Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner- $10.39 (in fact there's a whole series!)

Skippyjon Jones

2. Wild Child by Lynn Plourde and Greg Couch- $7.99

Wild Child

3. Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann- $11.55

Officer Buckle & Gloria (Caldecott Medal Book)

4. Stella, Star of the Sea by Marie-Louise Gay- $10.85

Stella, Star of the Sea

5. Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert- $10.88

Leaf Man (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards))

6. The Mitten by Jan Brett- $11.04

The Mitten

7. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr- $11.04

Owl Moon

8. Pigsty by Mark Teague- $9.95


9. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak- $11.43

Where the Wild Things Are

10. Click, Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin- $13.25

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

Congrats to Anny on Dear Mom Giveaway!

-- LadyD

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