Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Mish-Mash Day with Review 3: RYB by Nicole Adrianne

It's Mish-Mash Day, and here's book number three!
I think I was approached by the author on this one...or maybe I someone got it some other way? Seriously, I've been searching and am no longer sure. But it doesn't matter because this one is free over on the author's website anyway...Nicole Adrianne.
Why? Well, my best guess is that she's about to release a brand new series. Her first trilogy, Miles & Breaker, has gotten positive praise (it's a YA SciFi Dystopian). After reading this novella, I've started reading this trilogy. Maybe I'll get a chance to share my thoughts when I'm done. 
Anyway, this one is a quick, fast-paced read, which throws the reader into the virtual world and was good enough to have me pick up her other, I guess that says something.

A Novella
by Nicole Adrianne
Young Adult Gamer Fiction

Greta wakes up in a tunnel surrounded by soldiers, with nothing to her name but a red uniform and a sharp mind. The only thing she knows for sure: she needs to think fast if she's going to survive.

As Greta searches for a place to hide from the fighters, she notices bizarre details in her world. Are trees supposed to have secret panels? And why is the war zone next to a perfectly manicured suburb?

When Greta puts on a blue uniform and hides among the enemy, she learns they're not the monsters she expected. Their warmth and gentleness seem out of place in the battle-scarred city.

But Greta's charade can't last forever...


Set in a 'gamer' world, this one takes a slightly different twist as it throws two sides against each other in a battle which never seems to end.

Greta wakes up in a concrete tunnel with selectively wiped memories. She has no clue how she got there, what she's doing there or even where she came from. Others around her wear blue or red, and she herself is adorned in a red outfit. When chaos breaks out and all attack each other, her panicked desire to survive and a good portion of luck bring her to the surface, where a destroyed city and outer forest awaits. But as she runs, she soon notices things are even more bizarre than she first thought. She knows where secret doors are on trees, sees flying girls, and runs into a barrier. As she tries to understand and wrap her head around what's happening, a deadly incident leaves her in the hands of the blues, and while she manages to wear blue before they notice, her life is more than on the line. 

I've read a few gamer novels...they seem to be far and few between...and was excited to try this one, especially since it's a short read. It takes quite a different twist on the 'gamer' world in that, it sets two sides against each other in a seemingly never-ending, pointless battle. Or perhaps pointless. It's just the novella beginning to a series. So, there are mountains of story still in store. 

It's definitely high action and edge-of-the-seat moments. I appreciate that Greta is at a loss and not super amazing at fighting or anything. She's just got a good handle on her gut feelings and sharp wits. But she makes tons and tons of mistakes...and she should considering she has no clue or shimmer what's going on. The realistic thought process does win bonus points and helped my connect with her well.

The tale itself has a lot of open ends. And there is a lack of explanation and logic holes which riddle every twist and turn. While this bothered me, at first, I have to remember that this is a short taste and dip of the toes into the pool that's about to come. The writing is solid and the characters intriguing. To say there isn't enough world building which draws in would also be unfair. It comes to life in every way. I just wish the first book was already here because I'm more than curious to see what lies in store.

Mish-Mash Day with Review 2: Traces of Sulfur by Madeline Freeman

It's Mish-Mash Day and here is book two! I picked this one up...hmmm...via Book Bub, I think. And it was more entertaining than I'd even hoped it be. 


Blade Keeper Academy, Book 1
by Madeline Freeman
Laurealinde Publishing LLC
YA Urban Fantasy / Academy
228 pages

I’m not who they think I am. If they learn the truth, I’ll pay with my life.

Blakethorne Academy is the premier training ground for warriors. Every person here will one day be a member of the angelic Guard.

As a demon, it’s the last place I should ever step foot. But I couldn’t exactly say no when they handed me an engraved invitation to attend. Access like this doesn’t come around every day.

My people are in peril, and walking among these angels could give me what I need to save them. I just need to keep my true identity a secret.

But that gets harder by the day when the lead Keeper, Nate Kouri, sets my heart galloping every time he draws near. Getting close to him is dangerous, but I’ve never been one to turn down playing with fire.

They think I’m a Blade Keeper—one of five elite warriors destined to defeat whatever evil rises. If they learn I’m a demon, I’ll pay with my life.

My name is Eden Everdell. Saving my people has always been my mission, but ensuring the survival of my brethren might destroy me.

Enter a fast-paced world of angels and demons! Click to buy Traces of Sulfur today.


While I've picked up a handful of academy stories over the last years, I tend to steer away from them thanks to the heavy tendency toward cliches. This one did surprise me.

After her parents' deaths thanks to the angels' lack of interest as to what happens to anyone with demon blood, she's spent her years in the underground, planning on raids to acquire the desperately needed medicine, which heals certain deadly diseases. When a raid leaves her stranded in a building of angels, the last thing she expects if for them to mistake her as one of them and lead her to join others in a test to join the elite warriors. Since this is the perfect chance to finally get information from the inside, the rebellion urges her to continue the charade. And while it's the chance they've been waiting for, she also knows it could very well cost her life.

While this book does involve an academy, there's much more to it. The first chapters allow Eden and her place in the rebellion along with the problem between demons and angels to really sink in. The academy angle is more of a side plot. Even when Eden does enter the academy and is forced to secretly train among the angels, the cliches which do arise don't hit quite as horribly. There is a 'mean girl' and the hot guy who instantly likes her...and I really could have done without either of these, but it is an academy book, and I'm not sure fans of this genre would be happy if these things didn't exist. But thanks to the wider concept in this book and broader world building, it doesn't irritate quite as much as other books I've read in this genre.  This book simply has more than just the academy scene.

There's a nice build-up in this pages, which promises a potentially more complex plot with intrigue, secrets and scenes which go beyond the cold brick, school walls.  Demons and angels are at odds but there's more to it than the usual good vs. evil. This one is grayed and almost seems to flip-flop stereo-types...maybe. And the rebellion along with Eden's mother's death are also promising some more twists to come. There was quite a bit of foreshadowing on the rebellion's leader...which I'm hoping won't turn out too predictable and still has some surprises in wait. Plus, I'm hoping this one does allow the world to stay expanded and doesn't suddenly shrink. So far, so good.  But we'll see. And I will see because this one was good enough to have me happily awaiting book two.

Mish-Mash Day with first Review: Lift Off by Tyrean Martinson

I'm declaring this to mish-mash day! What's that, you ask? 
While I post one review a day on here, many are picture books, which leaves me (sometimes) grabbing up a random book from friends, at the library or simply stumbling across on social media...and these look so good that I need to read them immediately! Which I do but then have no space to put them up here on Bookworm for Kids. Since I have a few this time, which are for ages up to eighteen (and I had a slot suddenly open up) I've decided to make this a day where I simply shove in reads throughout the day, which I've enjoyed the last months.

And here's book #1! It's fresh off the press, a quick read, and one for YA science fiction fans. 

The Rayatana Series, Book One
by Tyrean Martinson
Wings of Light Publishing
Young Adult Science Fiction
105 pages

A spaceship in disguise,
an Earth girl searching for a sense of home,
and a Thousand Years’ War between alien races,
collide on a summer afternoon.

An old movie theater welcomes Amaya in and wraps her up in the smell of popcorn and licorice. But one sunny afternoon during a matinee, the movie screen goes dark. The theater rumbles.

Amaya gets trapped in the middle of an ancient alien conflict. Angry and frightened, Amaya entangles herself in a life-changing cultural misunderstanding with Sol, a young alien who keeps omitting key information, even while they’re on the run from his enemies.

What will it take to survive a battle between alien races involved in an ancient war?

A fast-paced, clean YA read for fans of Skyward, Cobra Kai, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Science fiction, Action, Adventure, and Sweet Romance.


Like a spaceship switching into hyper-drive, this is a fast-paced, action packed read and a good beginning to what appears to be an exciting series.

Sitting in a movie theater with her best friend to watch the latest film, the last thing Amaya expects is an earthquake to rock the theater. While her friend manages to jump through the exit in time, Amaya is held back. Soon, she finds her world thrust into the vast realm of a universal war and is unwillingly placed on the side of a young alien, who isn't being quite truthful about everything...and that while he's being hunted down.

I picked this one up because I know the author, and it's been awhile since I've set off on a space adventure. Also, the short length guaranteed I'd have enough time to shoot through this one and get it finished without stressing over my normal reading schedule. And it is an entertaining read. Definitely fast paced.

The beginning really caught my interest with a very usual scene of teens in a movie theater. The tension mounts super quick, and although I did miss a little more build-up, the adventure shot off right away and didn't slow down until the end. There are tons of surprises, a good dose of humor and snark, and run-ins which keep the characters more than on their toes. If you're looking for depth, this isn't the read to pick up because there's not much. It's a fun ride through the galaxy which centers on action, fun, frustrating moments, deadly encounters and a main character, who would probably pull her out thanks to the alien, who 'kidnapped' her, but will have to battle off killer aliens to have even the slightest chance of ever returning home. It's simply an entertaining read.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Review: The Girl Who Found Christmas by Barbara Escher

Thanksgiving is this week! I have to keep telling myself this because it really snuck up on me this year. It's not that I'm unprepared...I have the entire meal planned and ingredients purchased (although I'm not sure how I managed that)...but it's rolling in too quick. But that also means Advent is almost here. We do keep this period special through several traditions, not excluding Advent's calendars and special thoughts for each day. I was lucky enough to be approached with today's book, which has a story time for each day leading up to the 25th of December. It's got a girl with spunk, fun adventures, contemplates the true meaning of Christmas, and is has exactly the right amount of reading for sharing a few moments together. Anyway, here it is and enjoy taking a look!

An Advent Calendar Storybook

A Unique Christmas Mystery for Kids!

Bet you don't think there's anything mysterious about a snowman!! But hold onto your hat. Snowmen are just the beginning of a mystery adventure for six-year-old Belinda, and for your kids too!! Every day in Advent, Belinda draws a clue as she tries to solve the mystery of "What It Is That Makes It Christmas." She thinks it's pretty tough. "No treasure map, no frankincense, no presents What kind of mystery is that?"

Every day brings a new story and a new clue. If it's not the snowman, what about the Christmas tree? Or the stockings? If your children have a crayon, a piece of paper, and some imagination, they can gather round you to listen to a new story every day and join Belinda in drawing each clue and solving the mystery that is Christmas.

Lucky for Belinda, she has special help. It's somebody she calls "Howard" (like "Howard be Thy name"). He's a big help as Belinda finds her way from the snowman to the manger.


A snowman, a mystery, and the meaning of Christmas swirl together in a exciting read, which reveals fun and the warmth of the holiday season.

Belinda can't believe her eyes—the calendar shows it's finally December! While there's tons of reasons to celebrate...and she does...she still misses her mom, who is miles and miles away at work. Luckily, her parents and grandfather have set-up something special. Belinda needs to figure out what makes Christmas Christmas, and every day she gets a very unexpected clue.

I love the spunk and energy Belinda radiates on every page. This is a girl full of life, curiosity, and the cleverest questions. Only her constant 'Oh boy!' irritates a bit. But she's adorable and exactly the kind of girl any kid would love to live next door to because there's never, ever a boring moment when she's involved. Her family is also packed with love and care, creating a truly wholesome environment while illustrating the stress the modern business world can place on families (her mother is miles away and only visits through Skype). 

This is a fun tale with a new twist and clue for every single one of the Advent days. Each read is a few pages long, making it perfect for a short, shared reading time between parents and children (or even in other groups). The clues do lead in unexpected directions, and it is fun to see what each day will bring. 

There's obviously a ton of meaning and several messages woven in as Belinda tries to figure out what makes Christmas Christmas. Now, Belinda does have a super good grip on Jesus' birth from the first page on...yep, this one is a lovely Christian read. And she has a very close relationship with our Lord, who she calls 'Howard'. This did strike me a little weird, at first, but she gets the name from a slight misunderstanding—"Howard be Thy Name". And after a second thought, I had to smile because I remember have a similar issue in the early years of school, when we said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.."...and to the Republic for Witches stand...". It took years for me to figure out why those witches were there. So, I have to give Kudos to the author for adding this because it makes Belinda very human.

But these stories are super cute, definitely hold attention, and explore the wonders of Christmas through the adventure of a spunky girl. In other words, I can really recommend this one.

And here she is...

Barbara Escher grew up in Philadelphia and loved seeing her city come alive with light and sparkle and color as Christmas approached each year. She read every book she could get her hands on, including Christmas favorites like The Night Before Christmas. 

She never lost that childhood love for Christmas, and today she often looks back on special Christmas memories, like much loved books she received as Christmas gifts.  She also remembers years she spent teaching and creating stories. First for every kid on her block. And later for a classroom and her own children. And she especially remembers how much her children loved their Advent Calendar and looked forward to it every year! 

One day Barbara decided that she wanted to share a story that had been in her head for a long time. That story book became The Girl Who Found Christmas. It was important to her as she wrote the story that kids have both the traditional Christmas and the spiritual one. In her words the magic and the manger!

 Today, Barbara lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband and Hope, their funny Havanese dog. She still loves Christmas and delights in decorating her Christmas tree with ornaments made by her children long ago. When Barbara isn’t writing, she spends time dipping her toes in the waves at the Gulf beaches and spending time with her children, grandchildren and grand pets (three dogs, three cats, and a turtle named Michelangelo). 

For more information about Barbara and The Girl Who Found Christmas, visit


Facebook- @RedMittenBooks




Relic by Renee Collins

Monday, November 23, 2020

Review: The Vulture King by Nikki Turner


by Nikki Turner
Blkdog Publishing
Middle Grade Fantasy
156 pages
ages 8 to 12

Orphaned Aram has survived alone for five years, his only friend a thieving magpie, who acts as his eyes. For in the Carrionlands, magic comes at a terrible price. It costs you your sight, hearing or voice.

When he rescues a voiceless girl, Bina, from being sacrificed to the Vulture King, he is taken in by an underground resistance group. They reveal that Aram's mother is alive, but the king is using her and other slave magicians to fuel his unnaturally long life.

With his mother's magic being rapidly drained, she doesn't have long to live. If Aram can find the Radix, a hidden magical power source, there's a slim chance he might be able to save her. But to get there, he must cross the Barrens where every living creature is out to kill you. That's if one of his new companions doesn't betray him first.



Set in a bleak world, this is an exciting read with more than a few gripping twists and turns.

Aram comes from a people, who wield magical powers and are bonded to birds, who are their eyes and, for some, voices. His people are hunted by the ruling Vulture King and either killed or captured to be drained of their magical source until they die. After witnessing the death of his mother by the Vulture King, Aram is an orphan, who only wishes to survive and hide. He doesn't realize more of his kind still exist until one day turns everything around.

This is a short and packed read. I thoroughly enjoyed the bond between the people and their birds, and loved how this world was built and created. It's a bleak world and harsh (something more sensitive readers won't necessarily enjoy), but it's never graphic either. Aram is a wonderful character, who needs to build courage, self-esteem and trust. Even those around him are, for the most part, well developed and add the right tension and emotion to the tale. I especially enjoy Bina, a young girl who offers all the right support at the right time, while adding a wonderful sense of 'light' in the otherwise dark world.

Aram grows up on the street, is hunted by a very sinister king, and lives in a world of oppression and poverty. It's not a happy place and there's little humor added in. In some ways, it might have fit better in the young adult spectrum, but the author manages to keep it within a middle grade range and while dancing on the dark line, doesn't cross over into an area which would be too heavy for this age group. She also portrays the characters very age appropriate and makes them easy to connect with. The actions, thoughts, and decisions are easy to relate with and understand.

The tale is, in many ways, very well done. I was surprised that such a story can be packed into so few pages...and there's a reason for that. Things do move along quickly. While this does create an exciting read, there were moments which hit a bit too sudden. Especially the end and several of the characters would have benefitted from more build-up. But to say this really hurts or ruins the read wouldn't be fair. I can recommend it to fantasy fans and am sure they'll enjoy Aram and his bird as much as I did.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Review: The Butterfly Tree by Kelly Harrison Spining


by Kelly Harrison Spining
Illustrated by Abby Rocha
Mascot Books
Picture Book
ages 4 to 8

Three trees sat atop the verdure of a hillside: two were large and grand, while the other was tiny and weak. As the soft winds of springtime blew one day, a lovely butterfly flew past the trees in search of a new place to call home. What happened next would forge a lifelong bond between two unexpected creatures. Inspired by the writer’s own experience of viewing a stunning tree covered in butterflies, The Butterfly Tree communicates a universal message of love, friendship, and connection.


This is really a book I can recommend. It tells the tale of a tree, who doesn't feel as special as the ones surrounding it. It doesn't bear fruit for people to eat, nor is it strong like an oak. It's dying, weak and unloved. But when a single butterfly visits the apple tree and is shooed away, a small miracle happens.

This is a book, which belongs in the shelves and is one that can be read to children over and over again for generations to come, too. The tale is heartwarming, encouraging, and simply classic. There is so much goodness in these pages, I don't even know where to begin. Yep, I was that surprised by this one.

The text is easy for young children to understand and will interest older ones as well, since it follows a more traditional tale form. It makes a great read-aloud for groups or individuals or even as a bedtime read. Even those readers who are a bit more sure of their words will enjoy diving into this one. The words might be a bit challenging for beginner readers, but by ages seven or eight, many will be able to breeze through it. And there isn't an over amount of text on each page either.

The illustrations are well done, bright and add to the story as it flows along. Especially the last ones allow the meaning behind the words to come to full light. 

In other words, this is a book to pick up and know that it will be enjoyed.