ARC Review: The Story Collector by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb — An Ode to the Stories We Love and Cherish

Hi guys! The Tennessee writing community is full of amazing and talented storytellers, and Kristin O’Donnell Tubb is one of them! I met her back at the SE-YA Book Fest earlier this year in March (although I saw but never actually talked to her in person twice before that), and I had the opportunity to read her latest novel The Story Collector, which definitely filled me with joy. I hope you enjoy this review and check out her wonderful book!


About the BookThe Story Collector

The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler meets Harriet the Spy in this middle-grade historical fiction novel inspired by the real life of Viviani Joffre Fedeler, born and raised in the New York Public Library.

Eleven-year-old Viviani Fedeler has spent her whole life in the New York Public Library. She knows every room by heart, except the ones her father keeps locked. When Viviani becomes convinced that the library is haunted, new girl Merit Mubarak makes fun of her. So Viviani decides to play a harmless little prank, roping her older brothers and best friend Eva to help out.

But what begins as a joke quickly gets out of hand, and soon Viviani and her friends have to solve two big mysteries: Is the Library truly haunted? And what happened to the expensive new stamp collection? It’s up to Viviani, Eva, and Merit (reluctantly) to find out.

The Story Collector releases from Henry Holt & Co. on August 28th!

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5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my review in any way.

I have always been fascinated with history. I remember when I went to Washington, D.C., and visited the Lincoln Memorial, I stood near the very spot Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech and imagined that very day–the March on Washington on August 28th, 1963–from his point of view. I could envision the massive crowds stretching across the National Mall and around the Reflecting Pool. I saw the Washington Monument, standing tall as a beacon of hope and freedom, as I became aware that these were the very steps where history was made, was changed, was altered forever. Reading The Story Collector made me realize that this love for history, along with my love of taking pictures or buying souvenirs to commemorate big moments in my life, is fueled because I love the stories behind them. It made me realize that I am a story collector myself, and I need to treasure the memories that make up who I am.

The Story Collector is the perfect reminder that stories are precious and that stories make up who we are. Viviani’s fascination with the tales behind every artifact and person, the tales that might not be 100% true but can excite the listeners’ imaginations, and the tales that are found in a person’s beloved books is very contagious. Her pursuit to get her new classmate Merit to see the value of stories, to find the ghost that is supposedly haunting the library, and to catch the stamp thief is an exhilarating escapade that readers will not want to put down. My heart was filled with joy as I journeyed through New York City in the Roaring Twenties. This was the book that I needed in a long time for it rekindledmy passion for reading.

The Story Collector was such a fun and exciting adventure filled with friendship, ghosts, mystery, and history. I truly became transported into the story, and I could even hear the crashes that came when the thief stole the stamps. I had so much fun exploring the New York Public Library and becoming acquainted with every nook and cranny and all of its inhabitants. This book both wrenched and warmed my heart as I felt Viviani’s emotions and inner struggles as she was bullied, labeled a liar, and even doubted herself as a storyteller. The Story Collector is not just a fun mystery, but also a novel full of self-exploration. It will make you rethink how you view the people around you and the things that surrounds you. Ultimately, it will teach you the power that stories have on our lives and on the lives around us–a power that can build or tear relationships, bring comfort in our darkest times, and take us on the journey of a lifetime.

Kristin O’Donnell Tubb exceeded all of my expectations for her novel, which compelled me to give her latest release a five-star rating. It truly is one of the most well-written and inspiring novels I’ve read this year, and it’s one that I am not going to forget. It is certainly one that I would want to revisit again and again, especially since this story has helped me make up who I am. Especially with the recent article that advocated against public libraries, The Story Collector is very relevant today, with Merit even discovering the joys and wonders of the New York Public Library. The Story Collector is an ode to the stories we cherish, whether they be in the books we love or in the memories we value, that will inspire readers to become story collectors.

Please note that this review is based from an uncorrected proof, which means there may have been changes between this draft and the final publication.


About the AuthorKristin O'Donnell Tubb

Kristin O’Donnell Tubb is the author of The Story Collector series, A Dog Like Daisy, John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drummer Boy (written as E.F. Abbott), The 13th Sign, Selling Hope and Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different. She’s also written many activity books featuring well-loved characters like Scooby-Doo, Bugs Bunny, the Powerpuff Girls, and Strawberry Shortcake. Kristin lives near Nashville, Tennessee with her bouncy-loud family. Just like her two dogs, she can be bribed with cheese.

Kristin can be found far too often on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Oh, and she has a website, too.

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Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited for The Story Collector? Do you like MG Historical Fiction?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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Review: Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLellan and Louis Sylvester — An MG Western Fantasy Full of Adventure and Perseverance!

Hi guys! Happy President’s Day!! Today I am off from school (yay, thank goodness), so I’m getting some much needed rest and relaxation. School is getting so much busier, and Lent has started, so I will be off of social media a lot these upcoming weeks. I will, however, check all my emails, messages, and notifications on my accounts once in the morning and once at night, so I will not ignore any messages you send me. It will take me some time to respond because I did give up social media for Lent, but I will be sure to look at and reply whenever I have the time. Today’s review is for Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLellan and Louis Sylvester, a new and becoming MG Western Fantasy series that infuses elements of Native American culture and Western adventures! I hope you check out this book when you have the chance!


About the BookLegends of the Lost Causes

A band of orphan avengers. A cursed stone. A horde of zombie outlaws. This is Keech Blackwood’s new life after Bad Whiskey Nelson descends upon the Home for Lost Causes and burns it to the ground.

With his home destroyed and his family lost, Keech will have to use the lessons he learned from Pa Abner to hunt down the powerful Char Stone. Luckily, he has the help of a ragtag team of orphans. Together, they’ll travel through treacherous forests, fight off the risen dead, and discover that they share mysterious bonds as they try to track down the legendary stone. Now, it’s a race against the clock, because if Bad Whiskey finds the stone first. . . . all is lost.

Legends of the Lost Causes releases tomorrow February 20th from Henry Holt!

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Pre-Order Legends of the Lost Causes here today!

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4 Stars

Disclaimer: Thanks so much to the publisher for sending me a free finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This will not affect my review in any way.

Legends of the Lost Causes is the MG adventure novel that I have been looking for ages. It was fun and gripping at the same time, and it had everything from zombies and gun fights to curses and mystery. It felt so refreshing to read a book that enraptured me from page one! I just could not put it down, and I found myself going “One chapter more. I need to know what happens next!” so many times. Legends of the Lost Causes places you in the midst of the fighting between the orphans and the outlaws as it takes you on a wild adventure in search of the elusive Char Stone. This story will not only make readers smile but also inspire readers, regardless of age, to continue to fight for what is right in the face of enemies and evil.

Continue reading “Review: Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLellan and Louis Sylvester — An MG Western Fantasy Full of Adventure and Perseverance!”

Marty Frye Private Eye and the Case of the Missing Action Figure & Marty Frye Private Eye and the Case of the Stolen Poodle Blog Tour: Exclusive Excerpt!

Hi guys! Happy Friday! I’m about to go out of town to see the Niagara Falls (woo hoo!), and I’m super excited! To celebrate, I am super glad that I am hosting a tour stop for the Marty Frye Blog Tour! Hope you enjoy the excerpt and check out the books!

MARTY FRYE Blog Tour


About The Books:

Title: MARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE & THE CASE OF THE MISSING ACTION FIGUREMARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE & THE CASE OF THE MISSING ACTION FIGURE

Author: Janet Tashjian

Pub. Date: June 27, 2017

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback

Pages: 96

Find it: AmazonB&NiBooksTBDGoodreads

Synopsis: Broken into three short stories of poetry and petty crime, this charming chapter book will have young readers in search of a rhyme in no time. Book 1 in the Marty Frye series!

Marty Frye is not your ordinary sleuth. Marty Frye is a poet detective–he makes up rhymes as he solves small crimes. When his friend Emma’s diary is missing, Marty is on the case. When Katie’s flour is nowhere to be found, Marty tracks it down. And when the brand-new Action Chuck figures mysteriously vanish from the toy store, Marty unravels the mystery. Will there ever be a case too hard for Marty to solve? Or a word too impossible to rhyme?

Broken into three short stories of poetry and petty crime, this charming chapter book will have young readers in search of a rhyme in no time.

A Christy Ottaviano Book 


Title: MARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE AND THE CASE OF THE STOLEN POODLEMARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE & THE CASE OF THE STOLEN POODLE

Author: Janet Tashjian

Pub. Date: June 27, 2017

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback

Pages: 96

Find it: AmazonB&N,  TBDGoodreads

Marty Frye is not your ordinary private eye. Marty Frye is “the poet detective”–he solves petty crimes by turning rhymes. In the course of a busy day, Marty tracks down his friend Emma’s lost diary, finds a box of toys missing from Mr. Lipsky’s store; and locates a bag of disappearing flour for his little sister, Katie. Although he hits some dead ends along the way, Marty Frye combines his three favorite hobbies–sleuthing, rhyming, and climbing trees–and leaves no case unsolved or unrhymed.

Three short stories with clear, simple sentences make this charming easy-reader an ideal stepping-stone to longer chapter books. Laurie Keller’s quirky illustrations capture the spirit of Janet Tashjian’s tongue-in-cheek humor. Young readers will be off in search of a rhyme in no time.


Exclusive Excerpt from Marty Frye and the Case of the Stolen Poodle, pg. 63-71

When Marty got home, his sister, Katie, was doing her homework. The kitchen table was filled with piles of pennies, nickels, and dimes.

Katie counted out pennies as she worked. “Three plus seven equals ten,” she said.

Marty swiped one of the pennies. “No disrespect, but your answer’s incorrect.”

Katie threw herself over the rest of the coins.

“Stop messing around with my equation! I have a test tomorrow.”

Marty was heading upstairs to play video games when their neighbor Jackie burst into the kitchen.

“Darlene is missing! You have to help me find her!”

Darlene was Jackie’s poodle. Jackie loved dressing up Darlene in sweaters and bows and tiny shoes that Marty thought were silly. He wondered if Darlene ran away because she didn’t want to be Jackie’s canine doll anymore.

“Don’t break a sweat—I’ll find your pet,” Marty said.

“Oh, thank you, thank you!” Jackie did a hula dance around the kitchen table that made Marty want to hide inside the cupboard.

But when you’re a poet detective, you don’t say no to a new case.

Marty and his sister followed Jackie to her house. “There’s a Bobby the Bloodhound marathon that Darlene and I were going to watch today. But our television isn’t working—I was trying to figure out how to tell Darlene.”

Marty was having second thoughts about helping Jackie. But Jackie had lived in their neighborhood for years and was a good friend.

It was time to ask some tough questions.

“About Darlene—when was she last seen?”

Jackie told him she was getting ready to take Darlene for a walk when she realized her poodle had suddenly disappeared.

“What’s that smell?” Katie asked.

Jackie led Marty and Katie into a kitchen full of goodies. Marty remembered that Jackie liked to cook and his mouth began to water when he saw the counter lined with tarts and quiches. (Here was another mystery—how could he possibly be hungry after eating so much candy that afternoon?)

Jackie took out plates for her friends. While the girls ate, Marty snooped around the house.

He found chew toys.

He found dog food.

But no Darlene.

Marty spotted something sparkly. He reached underneath the shelf then held up his discovery for Jackie to see.

“Put down your quiche—I found your dog’s leash!”

“That’s because I hadn’t slipped it on Darlene yet! Someone stole her, Marty!”

Marty was disappointed the leash wasn’t a clue. He’d already solved two crimes today—would he be able to solve a third?

Did that make you interested? If so, please check out Janet’s books!


About Janet: Janet

Janet Tashjian is a middle-grade and young adult novelist who’s been writing books for children for fifteen years. Her first novel Tru Confessions was made into a critically acclaimed Disney TV movie starring Clara Bryant and Shia LaBeouf. The Gospel According to Larry is a cult favorite and Fault Line is taught in many middle and high schools. Her novels My Life As a Book, My Life As a Stuntboy, and My Life As a Cartoonist are all illustrated by her teenage son, Jake. Their collaboration continues with My Life As a Ninja coming April of 2017.

Janet lives with her family in Los Angeles, enjoying her respite from the long Boston winters. When she isn’t writing, she’s rewriting. Learn more about her and all her books at JanetTashjian.com!

Janet has been doing school visits for fifteen years; you can email her at spatulaproductions@mac.com for details.

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Giveaway Details:

3 Winners will receive a finished copy of MARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE & THE CASE OF THE MISSING ACTION FIGURE and MARTY FRYE PRIVATE EYE AND THE CASE OF THE STOLEN POODLE, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule:

Week One:

6/19/2017- Novel Novice– Excerpt

6/20/2017- Why I Read– Review

6/21/2017- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt

6/22/2017- The Pages In-Between– Review

6/23/2017- LILbooKlovers– Excerpt

Week Two:

6/26/2017- BookHounds ya– Review

6/27/2017-So Few Books– Interview

6/28/2017- Miracle Milli Reads Review

6/29/2017-Book Review Becca– Review

6/30/2017-Don’t Judge, Read– Interview


Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Do you have any thoughts or questions?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

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