The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….

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(NetGalley) Book Review: Waiting for Sophie by Sarah Ellis, Illustrated Carmen Mok

Thank you to NetGalley, Pajama Press, and Myrick Marketing & Media for providing me with an e-copy (of the ARC galley) to read and review.
Waiting for Sophie was recently released April 3, 2017.
I received an e-copy of this book after its initial publication.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture Book
Rating: 4/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quote: “I want to smash it to smithereens and flush it down the toilet.”


My Summary:
Liam has been waiting a long time for his baby sister, Sophie, to arrive. He couldn’t be happier when she finally comes home. But in no time he starts to become impatient and wishes she would grow up faster so they can play and do more things together. Can Liam learn the virtue of patience?


My Review:
A cute story that teaches children about patience. It’s especially perfect for parents to read to their small (only) child when there’s another on the way.

Carmen Mok does a wonderful job with the illustrations and I love the color palette she chose.

I found myself invested in the story, anticipating how Liam would deal with his disappointment about all the things Sophie can’t do. He has a typical reaction to Sophie and I was pleasantly surprised at how adorably proactive he became.

I think my favorite thing about this book was whenever the word “smithereens” was used – it’s such a quirky, funny-sounding word to include in a children’s book. However, I’m really confused about why the grandmother is called “Nana-Downstairs.” Is it that she lives downstairs in the house? I had a hard time getting past the oddity of her name which felt so out-of-place.

Sarah Ellis has a way with words; I would read more books by her.

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Library Mini Haul! & Slight Change To TBR List

An unexpected thing happened. My local library recently acquired Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley and Once and for All by Sarah Dessen!

I first found these books on NetGalley but one wasn’t available for request and the other I didn’t feel I met the publisher’s approval requirements. Later I saw that my library was ordering a copy of both titles, which made me so so happy that I immediately placed a hold on them. I was thoroughly surprised and didn’t expect them to become available so soon but I’m happy they did. However, this means I’m going to have to adjust my TBR list for the next couple of weeks.

Below lists what I’m currently (still) reading, what I plan to read next, and then what I’ll be reading afterwards.


Image via Goodreads

Image via NetGalley | ARC copy


Image via NetGalley | ARC copy

Image via Goodreads


Image via Goodreads

Image via Goodreads

Reading 2 books at once is always challenging but reading 6 total in two weeks is certainly bananas! But I’m really excited to read all these books and can’t wait to write reviews for them. My Summer Reading List will be up June 21 – the first day of summer!

To stay up-to-date on all the books I’m reading, you can follow my Goodreads page.

To stay up-to-date on the blog, you can follow me on Twitter @bookshelfcorner.

Have a great day, everyone! And happy reading!


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Mid-Year Review: Favorite Books of 2017 (so far)

Background Image: Royalty Free Image via
Cover Images: via Goodreads and NetGalley
Music: Song Title – “Buddy” (Royalty Free Music from
Quotes: excerpts from the reviews I wrote about these books (see links below)


Read My Full Reviews Of These Books:

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch

Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin (ARC review)

Prophecy Awakened by Tamar Sloan (NetGalley review)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Pictures by Oliver Jeffers

Zodiac by Romina Russell

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ARC Book Review: A Pattern for Pepper by Julie Kraulis

Thank you to NetGalley and Tundra Books for providing me with an advance copy to read and review.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture Book
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


My Summary:
Pepper needs a special dress for a very special occasion. But will she be able to find the perfect pattern that’s just right?


My Review:
This book was so cute! Pepper is so adorable. She’s classy and sassy and knows what she wants just like any child. I got a Goldilocks and the Three Bears vibe from reading this story. I also liked learning about the different kinds of fabrics, which immersed me more into what was happening.

What I loved most about this book were the illustrations. My eyes swept over the pages, needing to take in every little wonderful detail and color. I love the way the pictures are laid out on the page and that sometimes you get a different angle/perspective of a scene. Interesting border choices are used as well that I found to be particularly complimentary to the story.

A sweet story that tells it like it is, I’d recommend it to child readers and anyone who enjoys children’s fiction. I definitely want to read more books by Julie Kraulis.

A Pattern for Pepper is set to be released August 1, 2017 by Tundra Books.

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ARC Book Review: Yak and Dove by Kyo Maclear, Pictures by Esmé Shapiro

Thank you to NetGalley and Tundra Books for providing me with an advance copy to read and review.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture Book
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


My Summary:
Yak and Dove are best friends until their polar-opposite differences come between them. Can they learn to accept each other for who they are?


My Review:
This book was hilarious from start to finish! Yak and Dove had such a great concept and pretty illustrations.

It’s divided into three stories and is all dialogue, which I found refreshing. The font is distinguished enough between each character’s voice to easily follow along. I liked that this book was longer than the standard for picture books – I think the story would have had less of an impact if it had to be cut down.

I liked the book’s message that being friends with someone – or just interacting with someone – means accepting their differences as well because nobody is perfect. It made me think of the Maya Angelou quote, “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” Also, the use of the word “horticulturist” might be too advanced for a picture book, but that could just be me.

Great story, lovely characters, interesting structure, immersive storytelling, wonderful illustrations. Yak and Dove is absolutely a book to add to your reading list.

Mark your calendars! Yak and Dove is set to be released September 19, 2017.

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What I Learned About Writing Picture Books

A few months ago I learned about how to write and structure picture books. So much goes into picture books that I never knew before. It’s challenging and complex. Simple but very precise. The words and pictures go hand-in-hand to build a story that is relatable to its child reader, engaging, creatively artistic, and well written.

So here’s what I’ve learned so far – because there’s still a whole lot more to learn about this area of children’s literature.

  • Be creative when writing picture books (and as with any story you write)
  • Remember your readers are children ages 0 to 6 or 7
  • It doesn’t matter how good the illustrations are – if the story is bad, then so is the book
  • The Main Character must be a child (human, animal, robot, etc.) in age, behavior, thinking, and feeling
  • A subversive MC is a good, child-like quality
  • Vocabulary is simple
  • Sentences are short(-ish) and simple
  • Each page should not have a lot of words/sentences on them
  • Being very descriptive isn’t that important because that is the illustrator’s job to fill in the visual blanks when drawing images to compliment the words
  • The title and copyright pages are called front matter
  • Picture books typically follow a 32 page turn structure (not counting the hard/paper cover) that leaves the writer with about (if I remember correctly) 30 pages to fit their story on
  • Picture books are made up of 16 sheets folded in half (hence the 32 page turns)
  • A Dummy Book is like a galley – a preview/sample of what the picture book could look like that is handmade by the author or author/illustrator
  • Limit the number of characters in a story to just a few
  • A picture that goes across two pages (the book being open) is called a double spread
  • When writing a picture book it could help to think in terms of how the pages turn and what images will be on each page (if that makes sense) – this helps with pacing
  • The author has nothing to do with the illustrations/cover (final or otherwise) unless he or she is both an author and illustrator
  • Picture books come in different shapes: hardcover, paperback, vertical, horizontal, or square

These are things I could think of off the top of my head and to the best of my knowledge/memory. Since I am still a novice in this field, if any of the above is wrong, please feel free to correct me and I’ll change it.

Of course each publisher has its own methods and standards for picture books. And there are probably plenty of good websites you can look at if you’re interested in learning about how to write picture books. Like with any area of writing, if writing picture books is what interests you, then reading and studying heavily in this area will be very useful.

Based on all I’ve learned about picture books, I wouldn’t mind writing more of them. The two that I wrote were really fun to write and make but challenging nonetheless – especially since I was doing this in the role of author/illustrator. There’s so much more I need to know about writing picture books before I’d seriously consider trying to publish one. But that’s something to consider in the future.

I reviewed a few picture books on this blog: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Pictures by Oliver Jeffers, Sheila Rae, The Brave by Kevin Henkes, and Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. I would also recommend reading Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins, Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri, any of Kevin Henkes books, and Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems.

Have you ever written a picture book? What have you learned from your experiences? What are your thoughts on picture books in general?

As always, happy reading and happy writing!


Blog Milestone: 100+ Followers!

Wow! This week The Bookshelf Corner reached 100+ followers – incredible!

Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has viewed my blog, read/liked/commented on my posts, and decided to follow. I’ve been blogging for about a year and three months now and it’s been awesome writing about all things books and writing, and reading about all things books, writing and more from other bloggers.

To celebrate this milestone, I’ve decided to do a book review blitz. Below are 5 short reviews of books I’ve read in the past an loved – all of them I would give a 5/5 rating.

Image via Barnes & Noble | Cover Reprint Dec 7, 2010 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Song of the Lioness, book 1 | Published by: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing | (First) Released: September 28, 1983

Follow the tumultuous journey of young Alanna of Trebond who disguises herself as a boy to fulfill her dreams of becoming a knight. Book 1 of 4, it’s an incredible beginning towards an even bigger adventure. Along the way you meet fun and interesting characters. The world set up is simple but lovely. This is one of my favorite series and Alanna is one of my favorite literary characters/heroines!

Image via Goodreads

Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn

Dragonback, book 1 | Published by: Tom Doherty | (First) Released: February 1, 2003

This was an interesting book and an even more interesting series. The story follows a young human, Jack Morgan, and Draycos, a dragon whose species live like tatoos on humans’ backs but can exist for a short time on their own. I read this book many years ago so I don’t remember everything. But this turned out to be a great YA science fiction book, which I was surprised at because it was a little outside the genre I normally read. I also enjoyed watching Jack and Draycos develop into a dynamic duo.

Image via Goodreads

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Books of Bayern, book 1 | Published by: Bloomsbury | (First) Released: 2003

This charming tale follows Crown Princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee of Kildenree who has the ability to communicate with animals. On her way to meet her betrothed, a mutiny is staged by her lady-in-waiting and the company she was traveling with. This leads to Ani becoming to the goose girl to the very king whose son she was supposed to marry. She must overcome her circumstance and harness her ability in order to reach her true destiny. This book is so pleasantly written and beautifully told. The Goose Girl is one of my favorite books that I could read over and over again.

Image via Goodreads

My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent

Soul Screamers, book 1 | Published by: Harlequin Teen | (First) Released: January 1, 2009

This YA fantasy story/series follows a girl named Kaylee who has the unnerving ability of knowing when someone near her is about to die, which causes her to emit a loud, terrifying scream. This premise was so peculiar that I was highly interested in seeing what this book was really about. And I’m glad I did because it was so good. All the covers are gorgeous and each story builds upon itself. I found Kaylee to be a strong, likable main character. All the other supporting characters are interesting as well. The Soul Screamers series is a unique concept and was worth the read.

Image via Goodreads

The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill

Chronicles of Icemark, book 1 | Published by: The Chicken House | (First) Released: January 3, 2005

After her father is killed in battle, warrior princess Thirrin Freer Strong-in-the-Arm Lindenshield must protect Icemark by forging unexpected alliances. This book and the world within took my breath away – I loved it so much. Thirrin is such a great character and warrior, and I love reading her full name – it’s so her. The author has created a fantastical world and incorporates a whole lot of magical and mythical beings you’d find in fantasy books. I would really like to re-read this trilogy someday in the future. The Cry of the Icemark book was a big win for me!

Again, thank you everyone for taking the time to view and follow my blog and all that other good stuff – I really appreciate it.

If you’re new to The Bookshelf Corner and want to learn more about it, check out the About Me page. You can also follow me on Goodreads to keep up to date on the books I’m reading, as well as by checking out the side bar on the blog or the Currently Reading page.

Thanks so much! Have a great day!

And, as always, happy reading and happy writing.