Saturday, October 24, 2020

Review: I'm Feeling School Bus Yellow! by Tina Gallo

by Tina Gallo
Illustrated by Clair Rossiter
Simon Spotlight
Board Book
14 pages
ages 2-5

Celebrate the back-to-school season with fantastic Crayola colors in this adorable board book that’s shaped like a school bus with foil on the cover!

Kids are sure to love going back to school with this fun shaped board book! From a scarlet lunchbox to macaroni and cheese–colored pencils to a blue violet brand-new backpack, there is so much to be excited for with the start of a new school year!

© 2020 Crayola, Easton, PA 18044-0431. Crayola Oval Logo is a registered trademark of Crayola used under license.



The inventive names Crayola uses for their crayons come to life as the school day goes rumbling joyfully by.

If you're like me and my kids, it is fun to read the names of the colors printed on Crayola crayons. They can be pretty inventive. In this little board book, several of these colors take the spotlight. By accompanying a 'crayon' on a usual day at school, several colors are presented while the good points of a day at school are highlighted.

This is a sturdy board book, which takes the cute form of a bus. A yellow school bus, of course. The crayon colors which will appear in the book are already shown doing all sorts of antics in each of the bus' windows. Personality and quirks are definitely there, and it does add a lot of fun to the tale. The book covers two things at once—showing what a pretty average day of school looks like and learning colors. So, from the end, it's something well directed toward little ones, who are facing their first days of school. 

For a board book, there's quite a bit of text on the pages. At first, I wasn't sure that was a good thing, but the text isn't difficult and does fit the understanding level of the intended age group. Some words are a little more difficult, but since this is a read-aloud, introducing a few new words is a good thing in my book (no pun intended). It not only introduces each color and a moment in the school day, but adds a couple more details which address the listener directly like favorite foods and games that most will recognize. Each page ends with a question directed toward the listener, asking for their opinion on things like favorite colors and what makes them feel happy.

One thing which makes me take pause in these pages is the presentation of the colors. Firstly, by introducing Crayola's names, it does run a little on the wayside of basic color learning. For example, Jungle Green isn't a pure green...but does this make a difference? Maybe. Maybe not. Also, there are quite a few intentions held in these pages between learning Crayola's colors, seeing the schedule of a usual day at school, and talking about emotions. It feels busy. But then, it can be used to address several themes, depending on where the main reader wants to take it. 

All in all, it's a fun book which heads in several directions without growing confusing. Friends of coloring, who recognize Crayola's colors, will especially enjoy this one.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Review: Three Keys by Kelly Yang

Good morning! Anyone else experiencing the weather rollercoaster? We have a high of 55 degrees one day, and 85 the next. But I can't complain. It's the right mix for working outside and snuggling with a book the next day.
Today, I have something for middle graders, which is set in southern California. This is the second book in the series and hits hotels, friendship, and illegal immigration along the lines of racism. It's definitely diverse and has a sweet little girl as the lead role.

Front Desk, #2
by Kelly Yang
Middle Grade Contemporary
ages 8 to 12

Mia Tang thinks she’s going to have the best year ever.

She and her parents are the proud owners of the Calivista Motel, Mia gets to run the front desk with her best friend, Lupe, and she’s finally getting somewhere with her writing! But as it turns out, sixth grade is no picnic…
1. Mia’s new teacher doesn’t think her writing is all that great.
2. The motel is struggling, and Mia has to answer to the Calivista’s many, many worried investors.
3. A new immigration law is looming and if it passes, it will threaten everything—and everyone—in Mia’s life.

It’s a roller coaster of challenges, and Mia needs all of her determination to hang on tight. But if anyone can find the key to getting through turbulent times, it’s Mia Tang!


A little girl navigates the world around her with heart, spunk, and an attitude, which is hard not to enjoy.

Mia's life is looking up. Her parents have not only purchased the hotel and made a step closer to fulfilling their hopes and dreams, but it's flourishing. Now, if only the rest of her life were like that. But school and especially one teacher are making things difficult. Add the constant rampage of the local government's focus on the evils of illegal immigration, and she's got more than a few stumbling blocks to overcome.

This is the second book in the series. While I didn't read the first one, this wasn't an issue. There are a few mentions of things which did happen in the first book, but I had no problem getting to know Mia, her family, her situation, and her friends by starting with book two. So, this can be read as a standalone.

I love the way this book starts out—tons of family goodness, a celebration with friends and neighbors, and a dash of culture, setting and the lifestyle they live in all rolled into one. It sets a rich scene without feeling that it other words, no description dumps which bore. The positive vibes hit right away, so fitting to Mia's personality, too. The characters and their relationships come to life in a fun and easy to read way.

The writing is very fitting for the age group. Mia and her friends come across naturally, not only in their actions and dialogue, but also in their thought processes. Friendship, school troubles, and family concerns come across in an age appropriate manner and are mostly things readers will easily identify with. The entire thing carries a nice pace and makes for a smooth, easy read. Middle graders, who enjoy reading about kids just like them who deal with real life issues, will enjoy it quite a bit.

The only thing which bothered me about this tale is how the author handles the message. This is a book with a clear one, addressing illegal immigrants. While I respect and enjoy lovely written tales, which broaden horizons, make kids think and open it all up for discussion, this one slams it front and center with gusto. Mia's adventure slides around it, more as second place. I simply wish there had been a better weave between the two with a little more finesse, so that Mia would stand in the center point and not an agenda.

Still, middle graders who like tales about kids their age, who take on real life issues, are going to enjoy this one. Mia is hard not to like and the type of kid you'd like to call your friend. And how fun it would be to have the chance to visit her family's hotel!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Review: Cat's Fur by Bonnie Stanard


by Bonnie Stanard
Illustrated by Mariaena Shannon
Fairview Publishing
Picture Book
36 pages
ages 4 to 8

A witch lives alone until homeless cats move in. The moonlight gets scratchy and the witch gets achey. Then a letter arrives and she understands! Cat's Fur is a lyrical read aloud story with irresistible artwork and beautiful illustrations. Fun for all ages. Perfect for Halloween and year round. Perfect for the little ones, and big ones will enjoy it too!


Just perfect for Halloween, this is a darker read for those young listeners who want something creepy and very different.

A witch lives alone and is miserable, since everyone avoids her. But in a way, she has a heart of gold. Stray cats find a type of home around her house...and she tolerates them mostly thanks to the things they bring her so she can do her spells. When a witch friend very unexpectedly wants to visit but has a cat allergy, the witch realizes that this might just be her problem too.

I'm always on the look-out for picture books that stick out. And this one definitely does that. Dark is the word for this tale, inside and out. It starts with the very heavy illustrations and stretches right into the odd tale. Every page is dark and dreary...much like the witch herself. The illustrations give off a creepy vibe without really ever crossing any lines. But still, the image of her house surrounded by many, many cats, and even the image of her horribly, miserable self, does anything but awake warm fuzzy feelings. Sensitive readers might not like this one, since it does send off a strange vibe.

The tale itself is...well, strange. But that doesn't mean it's badly written either. The witch is a witch, a very lonely witch. This brings a sense of sadness which mixes in with her odd quirks and strangeness. But I don't think it really misses any marks because witches might just be that way. I did enjoy it and believe that there are young listeners out there, who will be thrilled. It just won't be every listener's thing. My only real critique on this one is the ending. It doesn't wrap up much, but leaves a lot hanging as if the story were dropped off before the end hit. 

Is it worth a read? That really depends on your listeners, but for Halloween, this definitely earns at least a consideration.

Sneak Peek: Dare by Rowdy Rooksy with Giveaway!

by Rowdy Rooksy
A Bradford Academy Novel
August 1st 2020
YA Contemporary


Welcome to Bradford Academy where power and elite are bred, wealthy bloodlines bond, and a risky game of Dare can make or break your family legacy. Fallon Gamble used to believe that life was simple until she found herself in the hall of Bradford Academy. At Bradford, the only thing that matters is your family legacy and what you’re willing to do to preserve it. Fallon used to live a simple life but things are different now. Now, Fallon’s caught in the viper’s den with a power hungry egomaniac out to destroy her, a dangerous secret that’s eating her alive and she’s torn between three of the hottest, wealthiest boys on campus.

Goodreads / Amazon


“Bradford Academy is the Harvard and Yale of boarding schools. Your family has to not only be extremely wealthy but they have to have certain connections. There’s a hierarchy within the elite and that same hierarchy applies here at Bradford. The kids at the top of the food chain come from the wealthiest families and are what we call pure bloods.”

“Pure bloods?” I say with a frown.

“Yeah, it means that your family wealth goes back many generations so you’re born into wealth. It’s the only life you’ve ever known.”

“Are you a pure blood?” I ask.

“Yep” she nods.

“But I’m not,” I say.

“No, you’re not but you’re a Gamble and that trumps everything.”

“Why?” I ask. This is some secret illuminati shit she’s talking and it’s blowing my mind right now.

“Because the Gambles not only have wealth, they also have political power. The Gambles ran the inner circle for years then they lost their heir when your father died. No heir, no power. So, for a long time the Gambles had to yield to the Barringers but then you came along and even though you’re not a pure blood, you’re the future of the Gamble dynasty so the rules were changed to accommodate your existence and not everybody’s on board with that.”

“And by everybody you mean Bexley,” I say.

She nods. “Next to the Gambles, the Barringers are it. That family is worth sixty-six billion dollars and with the Gambles out of the way the Barringers took over the inner circle. And here at Bradford, there was no Gamble legacy so Bexley Barringer became the It pure blood around here.”

“So, what about the others? How do they fit in?” I ask.

“So, here at Bradford the Barringers have been at the top of the hierarchy for a long time. At least since the last Gamble heir went here.”

“My father,” I say.

“Right, but that was a very long time ago. So, it’s been the Barringers ruling this place. That family owns one of the largest fashion and retail chains in the country. After the Barringers you have the Davenports who make their money in oil. They’re worth about forty billion. Then you have the Nadars,” she says point to herself. “My grandfather is a billionaire industrialist and philanthropist. We’re worth thirty-eight billion. Then there’s the Amhersts who own the largest energy infrastructure firm in the country. They’re worth about thirty-six billion. Next you have the Radcliffes who are cousins of the Barringers.”

My eyebrows go up in shock. “Bexley and Harlyn are related?”

“Yeah, they’re cousins but they’re nothing alike. So anyway, the Radcliffes are worth like thirty-five billion, then there’s the twins Indigo and Tatum James who are the offspring of Hollywood actor Quincy James and billionaire heiress, Leyla Motsepe James. Leyla’s family is the real power in that union. The Motsepe’s family made their fortune in gold, metal and platinum. They’re worth like thirty billion. Then there’s the Caldwells and the Norths. They’re not as wealthy as the rest of us. Their net worth is in the high millions but they’re legacies. Lucca’s the son of legendary NFL running back, Darren Caldwell. After daddy Caldwell retired he partnered with the Amherst family in some lucrative deals putting the Caldwells in the inner circle. As for the North’s, their worth about five hundred million but they’re deep into politics so they have an in with the government which makes them very valuable.”

“So, let me see if I got this right. The hierarchy here is Bexley Barringer, Alisander Davenport, You, Zade Amherst, Harlyn Radcliffe, the twins, Indigo and Tatum, then Lucca Caldwell and Chloe North.”

“You got it except…”

“Except what?” I say, leaning in.

“Except now that you’re here, technically you’re at the top of the hierarchy,” she says with sly grin.

“Me? Yeah, right?”

“I know you don’t realize it yet but you will eventually. Again, you just need to learn how things work.”

“It’s all so complicated. Why can’t we just be teenagers?” I wine.

“We are teenagers. Our bank accounts are just bigger and normal teenager rules don’t apply to us,” Devya says with a smirk.

And here she is...

RowdyRooksy aka Rowdy fell in love with writing in junior high when she was given an assignment to read the poem Death Be Not Proud by John Donne and to write a sonnet in that similar style. She wrote the poem and hasn't stopped writing since. She has several notebooks filled with poems and short stories and she finally decided to put some of her short stories into a novella which became her first published book, Turned Out.

Rowdy loves a range of genres from Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary Romance, Erotica to Young Adult. She can talk all day about aliens, ghosts and the afterlife and can get lost for hours in meditation. She hates peas but chocolate is her jam!

Rowdy loves to hang out on Instagram. Hit her up @authorrowdyrooksy.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Review: Escape from a Video Game by Dustin Brady

The Secret of Phantom Island
by Dustin Brady
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Science Fiction/
Choose Your Own Adventure
179 pages
ages 7 to 12

Young gamers control the action in this interactive new series from the bestselling author of Trapped in a Video Game. With more than 30 endings and an unlockable bonus adventure, The Secret of Phantom Island promises hours of screen-free fun.

Cooper Hawke and the Secret of Phantom Island is the greatest video game nobody has ever played. The treasure-hunting adventure was supposed to set a new standard for gaming. Then, just one month before its release date, it fell off the face of the earth. 

Now, for the first time, you get a chance to play the mysterious game—from the inside. As you outsmart enemies, solve puzzles, and explore the island’s hidden areas, you’ll discover that there’s more to this game than the world realized. 

Escape from a Video Game is an innovative pick-your-plot story that promises two adventures for the price of one! The main adventure builds critical thinking skills by rewarding young readers for solving puzzles and making sound choices with non-stop action and huge plot twists. Once readers beat the video game within the book, they’ll get a chance to hunt for every possible ending. Finding all the book’s endings reveals a code that readers can use to unlock a secret story online.

Fans of the best-selling Trapped in a Video Game series, as well as new readers, will quickly come to appreciate the page-turning action to uncover more secrets about the mysterious video game company Bionosoft.


Choose Your Own Adventure takes on a new meaning in this exciting tale of adventure, puzzles and oh-so-many twists and turns.

This is the second book put out by Mr. Brady, which follows this CYOA style. I didn't get to read the first one, and that doesn't really matter (except for the fact that I'd now love to grab it up, too). This book goes right down the traditional CYOA alley but with a few new twists. The reader can interact a little more with the tale and is prompted to work out things with puzzles and such. It adds a new dimension and a lot more fun.

 The story telling itself is fine...nothing amazing, but then, that's not the point of something like this. The tale does draw the reader in and allow them to become part of the excitement as well as steer in unknown directions. Luckily, if the reader dies, they aren't prompted to have to return to page one (because who does that in a traditional CYOA anyway?) but simply leads them back one step to try the other route. If it wasn't this way, I could see frustration raking in quick...and that's also not the point of a 'fun' read.

The adventure suggests that the reader remember their steps, and there are little prizes along the way. In other words, this is so much more than a simple CYOA, and that's great. It isn't literature at its prime, but this does encourage kids to read while doing so much more. In other words, I'm a total fan and have no doubt middle graders will enjoy this one from beginning to end.

And here he is...

Dustin Brady writes funny, action-packed books for kids. Although he regularly gets locked out of his own accounts for forgetting passwords, Dustin still remembers the Super Mario Bros. 3 game genie code for infinite lives. It’s SLXPLOVS. Dustin lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife, kids, and a small dog named Nugget.

Please see: 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Review: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco


by Kerri Maniscalco
JIMMY Patterson
Young Adult Fantasy
448 pages

OCTOBER 27th!!!

From the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series comes a new blockbuster series…

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…


Mystery combines with witches, demons, and curses to form a tale, which is darkly beautiful and sinfully dangerous.

Although they help their family run a restaurant in Sicily, Emilia and her twin sister aren't humans. They are witches, born in a special bloodline and constantly hiding from those who would do them harm. Their strongest charms are the pair of necklaces around their necks. They never remove them or allow them to touch because their Nonna claims that doing so would bring Hell to Earth. Not that they completely believe Nonna's tales. But when Emilia finds the body of her sister sacrificed with the heart ripped out of her and a man licking her blood, Emilia is determined not to let the murder go despite the warnings of approaching evil and eternal fires. But even Nonna and the others aren't aware of the true scope of terror about to be released.

From the very first page, this book grabs and refuses to let go. Emilia and her sister are a wonderful pair—love each other fiercely but yet have their own personalities and secrets. And their Nonna is simply a treat. When this group appears in the delicious setting of red wine, oranges, tomatoes, fresh bread and spices, it's hard not to want to get lost in their world. The author paints a rich culture and family scene before allowing the darker contrast to settle in. And then, the hook is so deep, that it was impossible to put this one down.

This is a world of magic and secrets...of monks chanting while dangerous creatures lurk in the shadows, promising to fulfil every heart's desires but with terrible costs. Lies weave with half-truths and trust is a commodity which no one can afford. And it was simply fun to join Emilia as she heads so determined from one cursed situation to the next, but not encountering anything with simplicity or direct results. The evil is twisted and cunning and has a long term goal. It creates a tight weave and made it hard to guess what would happen next. Even when the book ends, it's unclear if it's for good or worse. 

I also found it intriguing that the seven demon princes (the ones in this book are all super hot and amazing, of course) each carry simple names like Lust, Wrath, Greed and such. The author allows the temptations to flow free, and it's understandable why they have an allure, and yet, it's clear that each one is deadly and has their own scheme in place. It's simply a wonderful mix, which shows how hard it is to resist sins. 

My only complaint is that book two won't be out until next year because I would have snatched it up already and been lost in the next stage of this adventure. In other words, I enjoyed this one.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Review: Charley's Horse by Judith Shaw


by Judith Shaw
Middle Grade Fiction
ages 8 to 12

Eleven-year-old Charley is crazy about horses. She’s learned everything about them—except how to ride.

Now her world is falling apart. Her parents are splitting up and plan to ship Charley off to a riding camp for the summer. She wants to stay home and fix things, but the lure of her very own horse for the summer is hard to resist. She’ll live with girls who love horses as much as she does, and she’ll finally learn to ride.

It doesn’t turn out that way. From her first day at Secret Lake, Charley feels like an outsider. Her grumpy summer horse won’t look at her, riding lessons are terrifying, and Jane, the camp bully, is out to get her.

How will Charley survive eight weeks of horse camp hell? Friendship with a mysterious black horse is all that makes camp life bearable.

Charley’s Horse is a heartwarming tale of friendship, courage in the face of fear, and the ability to find peace and healing in unexpected places. You don’t have to be a horse-mad girl to love this book. Children of any age will find something to value in Charley’s summer story.


Young horse lovers will enjoy following Charley as she steers through her life and finds solace and friendship in a horse.

Charley loves horses and would do anything to be around them. So, camp should be her dream come true. But life is throwing several things her way, which make this hard. Camp only takes her away from the problem between her parents—their splitting up and she wishes she could stop it...which she can't do from camp. At camp, things aren't rosy either as she deals with the other girls, instructors and a horse, which is not what her ideal one should be. Somehow, she's got to work everything out.

This is a wonderful book for all those middle grade/preteen horse lovers out there. It dives into the realm of horses, and lets readers connect with someone, who loves horses as much as they do. Of course, not path is without stumbles, and this keeps the book interesting and adds just the right amount of tension to keep those pages turning. Plus, the situations are ones readers will be able to sympathize and connect some with their own lives. 

Charley's problems are easy to understand, and while some of her reactions aren't always quite as logical, it's still fun to follow her as she tries to deal with the problems. There are a few messages, which will give the reader a little food for thought, but mostly, readers will simply enjoy falling in love with horses all over again.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Review: A Cauldron of Bats by Michael Buxton


by Michael Buxton
Hardie Grant Egmont
Board Book/ Novelty Book
12 pages
ages 3 to 7

Introduce the idea of collective nouns to young children with this fun lift-the-flap book.

Open the flap to reveal a funny scene that illustrates weird and wonderful collective nouns for animals that fly!


With flip-flapping fun, listeners learn some funny ways to described groups of certain animals in the English language...and adults might just learn something new, too.

English can be an odd language, even for those of us who speak it from birth on. This cute book takes some little known words, which are the true way to describe groups of certain animals...words even us adults don't realize are used in that context. While this is a language lesson, the illustrations keep it far away from feeling preachy or boring. 

It's fun to try to guess why the animals are dressed and acting they way they are (in the illustrations). And while older readers/listeners will recognize the pattern right away, it's still entertaining to flip the flap and find out what's going on. For example, flies in business suits and crowded around a table is silly, and yet, that's exactly what a swam of flies is called—a business. It's intriguing and fun for all ages.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Review: Juan Has the Jitters by Aneta Cruz


by Aneta Cruz
Illustrated by Miki Yamamoto
North Atlantic Books
Picture Book
32 pags
ages 4 to 8

An interactive children's book about inclusion, diversity, and the power of math to help one boy with autism thrive amongst his peers.

Juan claps his hands to get his Jitters out. They make his tummy swoosh and swirl. They happen when there are too many people, too much noise, or too many changes to his day. Juan doesn't like surprises!

Tomorrow there is an athletic event planned at school, which makes Juan very nervous. But his teacher has the perfect solution! Math--Juan's favorite subject! Counting, sorting, and matching help Juan to calm his Jitters. They focus his mind and keep him engaged. By making math part of the day's athletic games, and by appointing Juan the official judge, he can have fun and feel included. The class is calling it the Mathletic Games!

Juan Has the Jitters is an interactive children's story about how one boy manages his autism. It is a lesson in the power of inclusion, as the class takes steps to normalize Juan's special qualities. Colorfully illustrated, this book invites young readers to help Juan as he counts, matches, and sorts both people and objects from the games. Parents of children 4 to 8 years-old can use this book to help teach kids about diversity and the beauty in what makes every one of us unique. Teachers will find the book meets Common Core standard and nurtures multiple domains of scholastic development.


Inclusion, awareness of others and autism come together in a tale, which holds a message but still manages to keep to a fun situation.

Juan has the jitters. He often does when something falls out of the usual routine. So, he handles it with an amazing amount of control. But he's not alone as his teacher and class have a fun day, which manages to help him cope with his jitters and enjoy himself as well.

This book is well done and does a good job at presenting Juan as a normal kid, who simply approaches things/life a little different. He needs rhythm in his routine, and when the strays away, he uses clapping and counting to keep himself grounded. The author does a great way of presenting is problem by letting it simply happen. Listeners/readers get to watch Juan in his life and see how things work out wonderfully. It's a warming book, which offers tons of smiles, encouragement, and shows how great things can be. And it deserves a thumbs up for that.

As a mother with a child with autism, I could only smile and wonder, though. It's never said what Juan's problem a introduction or afterword or anything. Listeners will want to know what's up with Juan because it's clear something is and curiosity is part of life. Plus, Juan's way of dealing things only works for a smidgen of those with autism. I've also very rarely come across a kid who is so self-aware of his issue as Juan is at that age. 

Still, I do find this to be an excellent book in many ways and am impressed with how seamlessly all aspects are placed together. This book will be a wonderful addition to any group discussions focusing on autism or for those children, who know someone who has a very similar like Juan, to help them better understand the person.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Review: A Curse of Gold by Annie Sullivan

A Touch of Gold, Book Two
by Annie Sullivan
YA Fantasy

Curses and queens. Pirates and kings. Gods and magic. The final saga of a cursed queen, a vengeful Greek god, and a dazzling kingdom in the balance.

After barely surviving thieving, bloodthirsty pirates and a harrowing quest at sea to retrieve her stolen treasure, Kora finds readjusting to palace life just as deadly. Kora’s people openly turn against her, threatening to overthrow her as heir to the throne—a cursed queen who has angered Dionysus. When Dionysus puts out a challenge to kill the girl with the golden touch and burn down her kingdom, it’s not just her future on the throne in danger. Kora’s life and entire kingdom are now on contract.

As bold and brave as ever, Kora sets out to find Dionysus, the very person who is trying to kill her, on the mysterious disappearing island of Jipper. Kora has no other choice. If she wants to save her kingdom and have any chance at reversing her father’s curse, she will have to enter into a deadly game with Dionysus, the greatest trickster the world, or the underworld, has ever seen.


With a dive into Greek mythology, this book twists and turns with the gods, Midas' touch, and a heroine, who is hard not to root for.

Kora is determined to break the curse set on her father (and by blood, her) thanks to Dionysus. But it's not an easy task as she runs up against creatures and gods alike. Luckily, she's not alone and even finds help in unexpected places.

Note: I did read the first book in this series and would highly recommend that the series be read as such. This second one can be read as a stand-alone, but it does take some time to sink in, and the characters will seem different if book one was read first.

Anyone who enjoys tales with twists on Greek mythology is sure to enjoy this one. The gods are sneaky and cruel as always, but there are several surprises too. Plus, I enjoy the fact that this is a retelling of Midas' Touch...a tale I haven't seen a lot of retellings on yet. The book is packed with action and doesn't leave a moment for boredom. Kora has her hands full, not only with the gods, but with her seafaring friends as well. I especially enjoyed Titus' place in this book... it was an interesting twist on his character and did help to make Kora even more likeable than before.

Romance. There is some, but it doesn't steer the entire plot. Not by any means. Kora's main goal is to break the curse, and that's what this tale is about. So, anyone hoping to smolder on this end, will be disappointed. Still, there is some there, and it adds a sweetness to the tale that would be missing otherwise.

While I enjoy Kora's adventure, I did find many things a bit rushed. Not in the sense that it was confusing or too quick, but rather, the action scenes and other moments could have simply been built out a bit more. So, I felt hurried along when I would have loved to linger.

But it's definitely worth a read to anyone who enjoys these types of retellings.

Connect with Annie

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Annie Sullivan’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, September 21st:

Tuesday, September 22nd: @fearyourex

Wednesday, September 23rd: YA It’s Lit and @ya.its.lit

Thursday, September 24th: @the_readers_nook

Friday, September 25th: Hallie Reads and @h.szott

Monday, September 28th: @ifcatscouldread

Tuesday, September 29th: What is That Book About – spotlight

Wednesday, September 30th: The Reading Corner for All and @thereadingcornerforall

Thursday, October 1st: Stranded in Chaos

Friday, October 2nd: @thecityofdarkclockwork

Monday, October 5th: @girlsinbooks

Tuesday, October 6th: Shelf-Rated and @shelfrated

Wednesday, October 7th: @amanda.the.bookish

Thursday, October 8th: @jessicamap

Thursday, October 8th: @_ebl_inc_

Friday, October 9th: @moonlight_rendezvous

Monday, October 12th: @the.magicalpages

Tuesday, October 13th: Living My Best Book Life and @livingmybestbooklife

Wednesday, October 14th: @novelgrounds

Thursday, October 15th: Bookworm for Kids

Friday, October 16th: @mixed_matched_socks

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Review: Mistress of Death by Kathryn Trattner


by Kathryn Trattner
YA Fantasy
388 pages

Love. Death. Revenge.


Gabriel Mercer knows everything can be had for the right price. Raised in the shadow of the most famous assassin the city has ever known, she wants nothing more than to make a name for herself. Taking a solo contract from an up and coming politician seems like the easiest way to make it happen. But the contract comes with strings and soon Gabriel finds herself tangled in a web she won't be able to escape on her own.

Matthew Smith, a police officer rising in the ranks with a spotless record, discovers Gabriel at her lowest point; wounded and stranded on the wrong side of the river. He's drawn to her, unable to get past the uneasy feeling of familiarity, and saves her life against his better judgment.

As the web tightens Gabriel turns to Matthew for help. Their simple bargain, a life for a life, becomes harder to keep as their attraction grows. Soon Matthew realizes he won't be able to uphold his end of the deal. He isn't going to be able to let her go.

When the city begins to burn Gabriel will have to decide if she'll risk everything she's gained for a chance at revenge. Even if it means her future going up in smoke.

If you enjoy enemies-to-lovers romance with a hint of Romeo and Juliet, Mistress of Death might be your next favorite book!



Packed with emotion, this assassin is deadly, ruthless, and impossible not to love. 

Gabriel is on the verge of becoming one of the most revered and feared people on the left bank, but when her first solo assassination stumbles, her whole life is about to take a turn. As Death's apprentice, she is more than feared but there are a few men who dare to want to possess her. She underestimates one of these, a mistake that could be the last one she ever makes. 

I've enjoyed the books I've read from this author, and this one didn't disappoint. From the very first page, it's hard not to like Gabe and sympathize with her...and that while she ruthlessly kills. Her actions are horrid, and yet, the author makes her impossible not to side with and like. But this isn't really an emotional novel. It is action packed, cold-hearted, stuffed with intrigue, and cruel. Gabe's world is ruthless, and that is brought across with a bloody beauty, which is hard not to get lost in.

While this is a fast-paced read and there's never a boring moment, it isn't really only action, either. There's a lot of internal battles going on, romantic moments...well, ones which fit the tone, anyway...and mysteries to solve. Gabe is caught up in a dangerous game, which she only realizes after she's sunk too far to get out. While there are fight scenes and very tense moments, the author takes the time to let the reader accompany Gabe as she works through it. And there are some dark shadows, inside and out, to venture past. 

I love how this one leaves off, too. It ties up all loose knots, but yet, leaves the future open. Just like life. 

Review: Daughter of the Song by Eliza Tilton with Giveaway!


Daughter of the Song
by Eliza Tilton
YA Paranormal

Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

A dark secret. A taboo love. A war upon the living.

After being kidnapped by occultists, Arabella Grace and her family move to the mining town of Port Tablot to forget the horror they experienced in England. With scars adorning her body, Arabella searches for peace by hiding within her songs.

But Port Tablot has its own demons. As the dead leave their domain, a spark of magic awakens within Arabella, and her songs have the power to stop the creatures from hurting anyone she loves, including the quirky boy Leo she's falling for ... if she's willing to make a sacrifice.

With the powerful words of her songs, Arabella must fight the wave of undead and stop the necromancer who's raising them ... or it won't just be her home that falls in to a pit of ghosts.

 Start reading the first book in the Unholy Magic Saga and get lost in a YA Paranormal Romance series that takes place in Victorian England and has a gothic twist. Perfect for fans of Victoria Schwab and Holly Black.



USA Today Bestselling author Eliza Tilton, graduated from Dowling College with a BA in Visual Communications. When she's not arguing with excel at her day job, chasing after four kids, or playing video games, she's writing.


Author Links:

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Zombies, necromancy, magic and romance make this into an intriguing read with more than a few dark surprises.

Arabella was kidnapped, nearly sacrificed at the hands of a cult, and is trying to recover from the experience with her family far away from their home. Scars cover her body, but she's managed to find a way to live on, and even has a nice dose of curiosity, which sends her exploring the surrounding area of the town they're staying in on her own. But she isn't aware that demons are not a myth in this village, and that the dark mines there hold even darker secrets. Soon, she finds herself facing the walking dead, and her voice might be the only way to stop them.

I've enjoyed Tilton's tales in the past and was looking forward to this one. This tale snuggles up with a darker, gothic plot and takes a teenage girl, who already has suffered a horrid ordeal, and sets her against a necromancer and his evil desires. The entire thing rings with originality and forces the heroine into situations, which grab and don't let go. With demons and zombies, the shadows are deadly, and throwing this all into a village which a maze of mines creates a perfect scene. It keeps the reader on the edge of their seat and offers all sorts of exciting surprises.

The writing flows seamlessly and creates a solid world. There isn't any time lost on long explanations as we meet Arabella during one of her explorations, and learn with dribbles and drops about her difficult past. And that works, although part of me wished to have had the chance to experience her earlier episode with the occult first. But then, there were several moments, which seemed to be rushed over and could have used more depth. Still, I didn't want to stop reading and had to see what would happen next.

This is a young adult novel, but for some reason, the characters often seemed a little younger to me than they were. The dialogue was often short and simple, not exactly how I'd expect (and know) older teens to speak. Plus, the reactions seemed a bit young as well...more as if they were in their earlier teens. But as the story went on, even this was no longer an issue, and I found myself rooting for Arabella, Leo (her love interest), and wishing the zombies would finally just fall over and stay nice and dead.

“You shouldn’t walk anymore.” Whitish scars surrounded her legs, circles within circles and stars. Lettering. It all looked chaotic yet expertly traced. I wanted to touch the raised skin and ask how. How could anyone do this to her? 

“What happened to you?”

She flattened her dress to cover herself more, leaving only the area with the wound open. “It’s nothing.”

I took the cloth and rewrapped it on her thigh “You don’t have to lie to me. You don’t have to talk about it neither. I just . . .” I lifted my gaze to see her face. “I want you to know, I think you’re beautiful and you don’t need to hide any part of yourself, ever.”

Her lip trembled as her eyes brimmed with tears. “I don’t feel beautiful anymore. I used to. I used to love my life and everything in it, but when those men took me.” Her words ended in a flood of tears.

“Hey.” I scooted between her legs and grasped her face with my hands, wiping her tears away with my fingers. “I’m sorry I brought it up. I can’t imagine the horrors you endured.”

She closed her eyes, sniffling. “I wish I could just forget. No one lets me. My family treats me as this fragile butterfly who’s broken and if she’s set free, she’ll die in an instant.”

The ground rumbled, and I knew our moment was ending. “Whatever happens after today, know that those scars don’t define you, and one day you’ll be free of them.”