Sunday, October 24, 2021

Review: Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne

by Elizabeth Kilcoyne
Wednesday Books
Young Adult Horror
320 pages

JULY 12th, 2022!!!

The sleepy little farm that Laurel Early grew up on has awakened. The woods are shifting, the soil is dead under her hands, and her bone pile just stood up and walked away.

After dropping out of college, all she wanted was to resume her life as a tobacco hand and taxidermist and try not to think about the boy she can’t help but love. Instead, a devil from her past has returned to court her, as he did her late mother years earlier. Now, Laurel must unravel her mother’s terrifying legacy and tap into her own innate magic before her future and the fate of everyone she loves is doomed.



Emotions and character depth weave together with a touch of the impossible to create a dark and original read.

Laurel is haunted by her mother's legacy and known as the Devil's Daughter by the people in town. Although she's not the most joyfully seen person, she doesn't want to leave her home, either. Giving up college dreams, she returns to that which she knows and loves: tobacco and something nearing taxidermy. Despite her attempts to ignore the situation, she finds herself drawn to a boy, she's known a long time and would rather not get attached to. But things get even more complicated when her mother's past truly returns... and this past brings nothing good with it.

This is a very well written novel. The author does a marvelous job at bringing each character to life in an individual way, and letting the reader get to know them. All the while, there are original droplets of plot, twists, characteristics and turns, which give every aspect an unusual twist. Laurel herself is very unusual...not in her mannerisms or logic, but her interests surround two very unusual areas with tobacco and bones. I can't remember a tale which has the heroine diving into these directions. She's also a bit of a misfit thanks to her past, and yet, she's a strong person, who refuses to let others bring her down. There's a lot to root for with Laurel and a lot to get to know.

The tale weaves in odd directions as well, allowing darkness to flow in unexpected directions. Her mother's past and it's secrets set up the perfect atmosphere for a dark and tense tale. But it's not always in the way the reader might expect. The author allows the strange to meld with the shadows to create a very intriguing read.

Despite all of this...and it is well done...this wasn't a book for me. I'm more of an action person and this one runs a bit too slow, especially in the first 20%, for my taste. The plot does move forward, but this tale builds more on the emotional end than on the high tension. But while it isn't my kind of thing, I'd be wrong to say it isn't well done because the writing, scenes, characters and originality are there and will capture readers, who are geared to those type of reads.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Review: Bone Tree by Jenna Lehne

I'm throwing a trick in with today's review. I actually had this one scheduled for tomorrow but needed to shove it in a day ahead.  Not that I minded reading this one a day early. 

As soon as I saw this cover and read the blurb, I was excited to get my hands on it...and I wasn't disappointed. It's perfect for the spookier season and promises more than a few surprises and scares.

What Lies Beneath May Be More Than Friendship
by Jenna Lehne
Illustrated by Uliana Babenko
The Little Press
Middle Grade Thriller
182 pages
ages 9 to 12

Elsie battles a terrifying ghost to keep her best friend around forever. But does forever have too much of a cost? Elsie's best friend, Roman, is dying. But Roman has a plan to escape death. He wants to be resurrected through the powers of the Bone Tree and the curse of the Woman in White, Mary Simon, whose body lies beneath the tree. Terrified, yet determined not to lose him. Elsie promises Roman to summon Mary's ghost and the powers of the Bone Tree to bring him back when he dies. When the Bone Tree's magic works and Roman resurrects, Elsie vows to do anything to keep him around, even if that means battling an angry, screeching banshee, with talons for fingers. But what Elsie doesn't realize is that the cost of keeping Roman around may be too high. When the Woman in White kidnaps Roman's brother, Jake, and threatens to take his life as revenge, Elsie must choose between saving the lives of many from the deadly grasp of Mary Simon, the Woman in White, or keeping her best friend.



This one holds ghosts, curses, graveyards, friendship, emotion, heart-break, determination, adventure...need I say more?

Elsie and Roman have been best friends for most of their lives. When Roman is diagnosed with cancer, he asks her to help him learn more about a town myth surrounding the old tree in the graveyard, one that has the magic to bring someone back to life. Research and tons of digging has them deciding there might be some truth to the myth, but there's a puzzle piece missing. When Roman dies, Elsie follows his wish, and it works. Roman is visible even if he isn't alive. But by bringing him back, they uncover the secret surrounding the original magic, the tree, and a ghost, who will protect her ability to 'live' no matter what the cost.

I'm not sure where even to begin with this book. It packs a punch, pulls at the heartstrings, throws in chills, and leaves the reader on the edge of their seat the whole way through. So, I guess I'll start at the beginning and an amazing friendship. Elsie and Roman are there for each other no matter what. Even when Roman gets sick, Elsie stays herself and stands at his side until the end. Even the family life of both is true blue, comes across naturally, and offer a wonderful base of warmth, which withstands even the troubling times and a hiccup or two. Elsie has a great base and that sets a wonderful foundation for the tale.

The more serious tones of this story head toward the death of a friend, how to deal with it, and how to carry on. This is very well done and weaves naturally along the thrilling adventure and tense plot, staying almost in the background most of the time. The author handles this theme with care, while allowing the emotions to sit exactly where they need to...and that without ever growing over-bearing or becoming too much for the age group. Elsie does mourn, but it's handled in careful way, making sure it fits the situation and allows her to grow and move on.

But despite all of this, the main part of this read is all about the ghosts and curses, and horrible danger, which threatens to spill into the town and steal lives. The ghost, Mary, is evil and the stakes are very high. Elsie does witness dark moments and gets into very dangerous situations. I'd recommend this one more for the upper end of the middle grade age group because it does deal with death, and not just Roman's. There is a little gore, too. Sensitive readers might find some moments a bit much, but, in general, it's still appropriate for thrill seekers of this age group.

I enjoyed the tale quite a bit, was surprised by several twists and turns, and can recommend it for a Halloween read (and for the rest of the year, too).

Friday, October 22, 2021

Cover Reveal: The Liars Beneath by Heather L. Powell


The Liars Beneath
Heather L. Powell
YA Thriller

JANUARY 27th!!!


A romantically dark YA thriller set in the backdrop of Iowa’s suspenseful farmlands.

After a tragic accident ends her best friend’s life, 17-year-old Becca Thompson succumbs to grief the only way she knows how: by wallowing in it. She’s a fragment of the person she once was—far too broken to enjoy the summer before her senior year. But when Ben McCain, her best friend’s older brother, returns home, Becca must face her new reality head on.

She isn’t interested in Ben’s games, especially since he abandoned his sister during the months leading up to her death. But when he begs for her help in uncovering the truth about what really happened the night of his sister’s death, Becca finds herself agreeing, hoping to clear up rumors swirling in the wake of her best friend’s accident.

An unhinged ex-boyfriend, secret bucket lists, and garage parties in the place Becca calls home soon lead her to the answers she’s so desperate to unveil. But nobody is being honest, not even Ben. And the closer Becca gets to the truth—and to Ben—the more danger seems to surround her.

Clearing her best friend’s name was all she wanted to do, but Becca is quickly realizing that the truth she craves might be uglier than the lies her best friend kept.

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order

Author Bio:

Heather Powell is Midwestern-born author with a love of all things spontaneous road trips, TV shows that leave her questioning her morals, and book boyfriends. As a graduate of Black Hawk College, Heather took her degree in early childhood development, tossed it into the garbage, and is now living the dream writing young adult novels sprinkled with suspense and lots of kissing.

She’s currently living out her own version of a happily ever after with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband, their three hugely feminist daughters, and two fur babies with bad attitudes. When she’s not being a mom or writing books, you can find her drinking way too many energy drinks or crashing out on her sofa with a romance novel of some sort.

Website / Twitter / Newsletter

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Review: The Old Person Curse by Chris von Halle

Spooky mysteries and curses hit today's review...just in time for the Halloween season! This is the first book in a new series for middle graders, and it promises to pack tons of chills and thrills and bumps in the dark. I do have the impression that this one leans more in a Goosebump  direction... which is totally fine with me!

Grab those flashlights and throw that blanket over your head because its time to take a peek. 

Between Dark and Light
by Chris von Halle
Middle Grade Horror
36 pages
ages 10 to 14

12 years old one day, 80 the next…

Azie has no idea she and her family just moved into a cursed Victorian house in small town upstate New York. Until she learns about the Old Person Disease. Apparently, all the kids who ever lived in Azie’s new house over the past few generations died of a mysterious illness nobody ever knew the source of or how to cure. The disease slowly made the victims’ skin crinkle and hair gray out like an elderly person’s until they died a few days later. And now the same thing’s happening to Azie! Can she and her new friends find out what’s at the root of the bizarre illness and finally stop it—before she and future generations meet the same untimely fate?

Between Dark and Light is a series of nonconnected children’s horror books featuring strange, eerie, supernatural events. Ages 10 & older!



Chills, thrills, and unexpected twists and turns mark every page in this slightly dark and oh-so-fun read.

Twelve-years-old Azie knows that moving into a new home means a few challenges, but she never expects things to become as difficult as they do in her families' Victorian home. She hears rumors that every child, who's lived in the house, has died of an Old Person's Disease. When she wakes up one morning to find herself aging, too, she can't believe her eyes. The house is cursed and the clock is ticking. If she and her friends don't figure out how to reverse the curse soon, she'll be the next child to join the house's growing list.

This book is suggested for the older end of the middle grade audience, and it fits that level perfectly. The writing flows and draws into the story as Azie moves into her new home. Everything is familiar enough to allow the reader to fall into the scenes and get lost in the tale. Azie and the other characters come across naturally, make understandable decisions and react in a sympathetic way. So, when the curse takes hold and Azie finds herself fighting for her life, it's hard not to get invested and hope she makes it.

While this does stay appropriate for the age group and there isn't any gore, death, or extreme violence, the author still creates eerie moments and lets the tension rise in all the right spots. Something is always happening, making it hard to put the book down. And there are surprises, which are not easy to see coming. It's a fun read for dark mystery and thriller fans.

And here he is...

Chris von Halle has always been fascinated with the dark edges of life, and the light that always seems to be trying to prick through. Between Dark and Light represents the war that’s constantly raging between the two forces. Chris lives in Mendham, New Jersey, and enjoys watching tennis, playing video games, and creating the occasional comic strip.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Review: Twins Mac & Madi's Birthday by Linda Herron

Today's review heads towards twins...and a sweet, friendly pair, too. This is part of a picture book series, which follows the girls as they face various moments in every day life.  

by Linda Herron
Illustrated by Marie Delon
Big Little Press
Picture Book
34 pages
ages 4 to 8

A fun tale about twins celebrating their Birthday!

Mac and Madi are twins, which means they have the same smile, hair, and even the same birthday! But this year, they want to do something different – something that will show the world they like being the same, but they also like being different too…

Packed with vibrant, colorful illustrations and an adorable story, this delightful children’s book explores the importance of individuality and being yourself. Kids of all ages will love this exciting tale, discovering a valuable lesson while enjoying a relatable story with endearing characters. An ideal read for twins to help them find their identities and practice personal growth, Twins Mac & Madi’s Birthday will quickly become their favorite book!



The wonderful relationship twins can have shines and makes readers' (who don't have a twin) wish they had one, too.

Mac and Madi are twins and match everything from clothes to food to favorite things. They are the happiest of sisters and love being twins. When their birthday rolls around, they always have a big party and are excited about having one this year, too. But unlike other years, they want to shake things up a bit. They may be twins and get along splendidly, but each one does have their own favorite things. So, they decided to have two cakes, two sets of decorations, two outfits and two meals...all at the same time. But now, they aren't sure if their family and friends will be as excited about the idea as they are.

This is a cute book geared for twins and shows the struggle they can face when displaying individuality. Mac and Madi get along very well through-out the book and support each other no matter what without the slightest hesitation. This sibling love is inspiring and was nice to see. Interestingly enough, they are worried their friends and family won't like them showing individuality....which is an original twist. 

The reader gets to know the twins first and how they are always alike before they show the differences in opinions while preparing their party. This was done in a fun way and probably has readers wishing they could attend the party, too. I was a little surprised that the girls ordered cakes, went clothes shopping and everything else all on their own without their parents' knowledge, but that doesn't really hurt the main point of the tale in any way, since this one is about accepting differences and helping twins to know that it's okay if they aren't alike...and others. And it fulfills this purpose completely. At the end of the book, there is a note to parents about raising twins as well.

And here she is...

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Linda Herron knows firsthand what it is like to grow 
up as an identical twin. In fact, the most wonderful part of her childhood was spending 
time with her best friend and twin sister.


​Because Linda recognizes the unique bond—and the unique challenges—that being 

a twin entails, she was inspired to create a series of children’s stories about being an 

identical twin.

When she isn’t writing children’s books, Linda spends much of her time writing business

 articles and blogs. As a Financial Expert, she provides strategic advice that transforms 

businesses by boosting profitability. Her financial expertise has been featured on media 

outlets including American Express, LendingTree, and Daily Business News, and she 

holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Bryant University.


Today, Linda lives in California and enjoys the sunny, seventy-five-degree weather 

every day. Though her twin still lives in Rhode Island, they visit each other to spend 

time together. 

Sloth the Lazy Dragon by Regan W.H. Macaulay

 Mirror World Publishing and Sapphyria's Book Promotions present the 1-week book tour for Sloth the Lazy Dragon.

by Regan W.H. Macaulay
Illustrated by Alex Zgud
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

October 23rd !!!

Join Sloth on his adventure to wellness…

Sloth the Lazy Dragon lives in a mountain atop his hoard of gold and jewels. He believes he has all that a dragon could possibly want, until he meets a brave dwarf named Radish who offers to help him lose weight. With Radish’s guidance, Sloth finds himself eating healthier and getting plenty of exercise. In time, Sloth gains the freedom that his new healthy lifestyle brings, which he discovers is more valuable to him than all the treasure in the world.

And here they are...

Regan W.H. Macaulay is an award-winning author of novels, short stories, children’s literature, and scripts. Writing is her passion, but she’s also a producer and director of theatre, film, and television. She is an animal enthusiast as well, which led her to become a Certified Canine and Feline Massage Therapist. Other picture storybooks include Dog Band, Libby the Lobivia Jajoiana, Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese, Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far, Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast, and Merry Myrrh the Christmas Bat. She is also the author of The Trilogy of Horrifically Half-baked Ham, which includes Space Zombies! (based on her film, Space Zombies: 13 Months of Brain-Spinning Mayhem!— available on Amazon Prime and on DVD), They Suck, and Horror at Terror Creek.

Social Media:

Alex Zgud is an artist from rural Ontario, currently living in Calgary. She attended the Ontario College of Art & Design, where she majored in drawing and painting, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After finishing school she went on to begin a tattoo apprenticeship, and has since been developing her skills as a tattoo artist. Her preferred media are inks and watercolours.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Review: Parker Shines On by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry

It's tutus and ballet in today's review! This one is written and inspired by a mother-daughter pair and centers around...well, ballet. The adorable trio on the cover and their facial expressions caught my attention because I'm always a softy for sibling dynamics, and this book packs a lovely amount of that as well.

Ready to take a turn and a spin? 

Another Extraordinary Moment
by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry
Illustrated by Brittany Jackson
Aladdin Publishing
Picture Book
48 pages
ages 4 to 8


The New York Times bestselling team behind Parker Looks Up returns with an uplifting story about Parker making a new friend and learning about self-expression, opening your heart, and helping others.

Parker Curry loves being a big sister. She gets to play dress-up with her little sister, Ava, and piano with her baby brother, Cash. And Parker loves to dance, twirling and leaping and spinning in joy.

But when a dancer joins her class and needs her help, Parker wonders if she has what it takes to be not only a real dancer, but a real friend.

This inspirational picture book has an afterword by prima ballerina and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland.



Dancing joy mixes with sibling adventures to showcase a heart-warming balance, which beams from every page.

Parker loves her brother and sister, and enjoys spending time with them, but when a new girl at the ballet school makes each step and plie shine, Parker realizes that she'll need to practice more if she wants to achieve her dreams of becoming an amazing ballerina, someday. Unfortunately, that means she doesn't have as much time to play with her siblings...not to mention that they even get in the way. When the day of the recital finally arrives, she's surprised to see that the new girl, despite her talent, is afraid to go onto the stage. But maybe, that's exactly when having wonderful siblings might give the extra, needed edge.

Parker's energy and joy for life (as well as ballet) are impossible to miss, making her easy to like and connect with. Her love for her siblings and the fun they have playing together is inspiring. Even when they 'bother' Parker during her practice, there isn't even the touch of ill-feelings. Rather, Parker misses having the time to spend with them. So, this is a book with positive vibes pure.

The dance scenes with Parker will make ballet and dance fans smile. The basic terms are mentioned and the illustrations fit right along, allowing young ballet hopefuls to easily see themselves dancing, too. But then, this is a book, which also rotates around Parker's joy for dance. Even when the new girl is more advanced, Parker doesn't harbor negative thoughts. Rather, it pushes her to do better herself and realize that it takes practice to achieve something...and that it's not a right or handed over on a silver platter. The only thing, which made me raise an eyebrow, is the way in which the problem of stage fright was solved. It is caring and makes the heart feel warm, but I'm not sure it would go over well  with most dance teachers.

The illustrations are pretty, pink, and bring across the atmosphere and emotions wonderfully. The depictions of Parker and the others give everything a positive glow and inspire the entire way through.

The text is kept short, making it great for a read-aloud with even more impatient listeners. At the end, there is a short biography of each true-to-life ballet dancer, which has been shown in posters on the walls in the illustrations. This can be used in discussions with the listeners or is great as extra information for the caretaker.

And here they are...

Parker Curry, six years old, is a New York Times bestselling author and dynamic young mind with a love for ballet and reading. Currently, Parker is in first grade, where she loves to explore art and new books. Precocious Parker lives with her mother, father, younger sister, and baby brother. 

Jessica Curry Morton is a New York Times bestselling author, mom-favorite blogger, and work-at-home mama who lives with her husband and three children Parker, Ava, and Cash. Jessica's blog, Happy Mama, Happy Babies, is an authentic motherhood and lifestyle platform that shares her family’s adventures, growth chronicles, and everything in between.

Brittany Jackson (Bea for short) is a New York Times bestselling illustrator who attended the College for Creative Studies and is the grand prize winner and returned alumni of L. Ron Hubbard’s Illustrator of the Future Award of 2007. Bea has worked in freelance as a character and outfit designer for various social networking and gaming platforms for more than eight years, though she is most publicly known in publishing as an illustrator.

Uncharted Horizons by Kyle Langan with Giveaway!


The Uncharted Waters Chronicles Book 2
by Kyle Langan
YA Mystery 

Another summer in the Hamptons was just what Kingston, Claire, Kurt, and Amelia were looking forward to after their tumultuous meeting last year. But when mysterious new residents seep into their social circle, their seemingly perfect friendship becomes frayed.

Kingston and his new girlfriend fall victim to the trappings of fame. Amelia gets an enigmatic, sexy new neighbor. Kurt meets a gorgeous southern debutante. And Claire is frantically planning a wedding to a man she doesn't want to marry.

But when a harrowing murder rocks the villages of the Hamptons, and a few of them become suspects, it's a race against time to decipher who the real murderer is - but can their friendship survive it?

**Print Book on sale now! **

Goodreads * Amazon

Uncharted Waters

The Uncharted Waters Chronicles Book 2

With their first year of college behind them, wealthy New Yorkers Kingston Lang and Claire Buckingham escape to the Hamptons for their annual retreat, expecting another fun-filled season of sun, surf, and friends. But their lives are forever changed when they accidentally befriend two newcomers.

Amelia Colombo is an Italian runaway that flees to the Hamptons. Kurt Nitro is a working-class landscaper looking for a job to pay his college bills. When Kingston and Claire fold these two outsiders into their circle, worlds collide, and tensions flare, causing jealousy and deceit to erupt between the bluebloods and the local island residents.

Caught in a class war between their roots and their new friends, Kingston and Claire must work out who their true allies are in a world full of manipulation, money, and greed. And they’ll have to decide quickly who they can trust before their summer of fun transforms into a summer of peril.

Goodreads * Amazon

Kyle Langan started writing as soon as he could pick up a pen. What started out as homemade comic books turned into short stories, then chapter books, and finally culminated into the heralded Young Adult novel, Uncharted Waters.

Set in the Hamptons, Uncharted Waters takes a splashy and humorous look at the class divide on the East End of Long Island between a group young adults. Kyle also is the Founder of the lifestyle website and brand,, which also chronicles the culture and people of the Hamptons and Los Angeles.

He's contributed to the L.A. Times, as well as many other print and digital publications, and hosts the streaming interview series, Town Hall Chats, for Town Hall Los Angeles. He even moderates events with millennial thought leaders across the country.

Whether he's writing, producing and hosting video projects, or just spending time with friends at the beach, Kyle is known for his optimistic outlook on life, his humor, and of course, his signature laugh.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Review: Rules for Vampires by Alexandra Foulkes


by Alexandra Foulkes
Simon & Schuster
Middle Grade Paranormal
368 pages
ages 9 to 12

The Nevermoor series meets Hotel Transylvania in this dazzling debut middle grade adventure set in a world of talking spiders, living forests, and haunted castles about a vampire girl who wants to fit in but first must defeat an evil ghost.

After one hundred years of being a vampire, it’s time for Eleonora to have her Birthnight. Since Leo’s last rite of passage, her Grimwalk, ended with her losing her right leg and a good deal of her confidence, she’s hoping to redeem herself in the eyes of her mother, the fearsome Lady Sieglinde. All Leo has to do is hunt down and kill her first prey, and she already has the perfect plan. After all, who will miss an orphan from the bleak St. Frieda’s Home for Unwanted Children?

But an accidental fire causes more death and destruction than Leo bargained for. Instead of killing one carefully selected victim, she’s created several ghosts from the orphanage residents. And one sinister specter, the Orphanmaster, is poised to terrorize the living residents in a nearby town. To stop him and try to undo some of the mess she’s made, Leo must team up with the orphan ghost Minna.

Will Leo have the chance to prove herself as a vampire before her Birthnight is over, or will she discover that there are no winners in the battle of undead versus undead?



A little horror, a little gore, adventure, tons of humor, and imagination pure make this into a read to get lost in and wish it continued without an end.

Leo is a vampire, and it's her Birthnight. To allow her to pass into full-fledged, vampire adulthood, she needs to go on her Hunt and kill her first human. But things don't go as planned. Not at all. Instead, she ends up with ghosts, a powerful evil force, an impossible quest, and a whole ton of unforeseeable happen-chances. 

This is a fun novel from start to finish. The beginning already starts a bit mysterious, not making it totally clear what Leo is and letting her life slide in comparison with that of a normal 'human' girl. Which is clever in so far that it lets the reader build up a familiarity with her before her 'monsterly' side takes over. And she can be monsterly. There is a touch of horror and things can get tense and gruesome-ish. This isn't roses and whimsical twirls, but still, with added quirky moments such as talking spiders and flying objects and things just not going as planned, there's enough humor built in to keep it at the middle grade level. And definitely enough surprises and challenges to keep the reader glued to the pages.

The plot moves right along with tons of difficult moments, unsure relationships, high tension scenes, and deadly both senses of the word. The family weave is difficult, to say the least. And yet, there is an odd sense of bonding, although wholesome would never be the correct word. Friendship also takes rocky forms, and there's the problem of not always meeting parental expectations. But Leo stays true to herself, which is an odd balance in itself, and creates a character to root for from beginning to end.

I can only hope there will be a book two to see what Leo might be up against next.  

This review was featured on Twinkl as part of their Great & Ghostly Guide to Halloween.

And here he is...

Alexandra Foulkes is from Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands of England, and she’s lived in and around the Staffordshire Moorlands all her life, now with her boyfriend and their dog, Mac, who is just small enough to sit on the back of a broomstick (very convenient!). She works as an inclusion support assistant (a fancy term for TA) at a school where she used to run the library. Alexandra’s passion is amazingly fantabulous books for children. When she’s not reading and reading and reading, she’s writing her very own stories with chills, thrills, and maybe even a talking spider! Visit her online @FoulkesWrites.

Sneak a Peek at The Finest Lies by David J Naiman with Giveaway!


The Finest Lies
by David J. Naiman
October 14th 2021
YA Contemporary / Magical Realism


High schooler Nicole Hallett has just about had it with her brother Jay, so when a mysterious man appears with an offer to replace him with a better one, she doesn’t hesitate. Nicole has always been impulsive, but this time, she finds herself in predicament far worse than anything she’s experienced. Just like that, an average snow day—usually filled with hot cocoa and snowball fights—is commandeered by the stranger, who forces the siblings into a dangerous game.

Confronted by past reflections, tested by present complications, and threatened by future possibilities, Nicole has until the end of the day to disentangle the riddle of her life.

This suspenseful, yet winsome novel by award-winning author David J. Naiman explores the power of family and forgiveness. But take heed. The truth can cut like shards of glass, especially for those who’d rather avoid it. Sometimes, only the finest lies will do.

Goodreads / Amazon


The old TV sputtered and a fuzzy image of a peculiar man appeared on the screen. His eyes widened and sparkled. “Would you like a brand new brother?” a voice-over boomed. “Call now!” Above his head, the words CALL NOW flashed in golden lettering. At the bottom of the screen, a phone number scrolled.

Maybe I should call, Nicole thought. A brand new brother sounds perfect.

“That’s it. New and improved! Call now.”

Nicole smiled, sensing a personal connection as though this commercial spoke directly to her. She cradled her phone in her hands. A fingertip flicked across the screen without her even needing to concentrate. Her phone had long ago become an appendage, as integral as a foot or a kidney.

After Nicole entered the number, her finger hovered above the dial icon. Something held her back, but she couldn’t imagine what it could be. She might have guessed self-preservation had she any means to gauge the lurking danger. Had she any inkling her impetuous nature would fix her on a chaotic course beyond her control.

She did want a new brother. As long as he wasn’t like Jay, who always said things to upset her and never did what she wanted him to do. She thrust aside her unease and tapped the icon. Instead of a ring, Nicole heard more of a choking sound, a gasp as if someone strangled.

“Hello, Nicole. Are you ready to change your life?”

The voice on her phone was identical to the voice-over in the commercial. Nicole figured this guy must own the company or something. “Maybe,” she said. The man on the TV screen stared at her while she spoke. Nicole leaned to the left and right, and the man’s face tracked her each time. She hesitated. “How much does it cost?”

“Do you mean money? Oh, no. It won’t cost you any money. Not one cent. But there is a cost.”

“What is it?”

“Nothing for you to worry about, my dear. Nothing at all. Your satisfaction is guaranteed or your money back.”

“That seems fair. Wait, I thought you said—”

“Now, now. Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll simply replace your brother with a better one. This offer doesn’t come around every day. It is, to be candid, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” The man on the TV winked but not subtly. His head dipped so low that his oversized hat nearly slid off. “Decide quickly. Supplies are running out.”

The words CALL NOW lit up in a sickly yellow, casting a jaundiced glow across the face of the eccentric man with the whimsical hat and sparkling eyes.

“Then yes! What do I have to do?”

The man lifted his head. His lips gave a twitch. The voice answered, “Nothing more, nothing more. You’ve done it! Congratulations, my dear. Call the same number if your new brother malfunctions, and I’ll send an attendant straight away.” When he disconnected, the TV flicked itself off and Nicole heard her father’s voice.

“Nic, come downstairs, please. Jay has something he wishes to say.”

When Nicole arrived, she sagged with disappointment. Her brother looked the same. Same broad chest. Same confident grin. Stupid, worthless commercial. At least it didn’t cost her any money.

“I’m sorry, Nic,” Jay said. “I only wanted to use the new TV to kick you out. That was wrong of me. Please take the remote and accept my apology.”

Nicole stared open-mouthed. Jay appeared the same, his voice sounded the same, but this was not her brother. Sweet.

“Thanks,” she said.

He handed her the remote, flashed the kindest smile she had seen from him in years, and left the room. Nicole watched her videos in utter bliss. Once she was caught up, she decided to check on this new brother of hers. If he was going to be awesome, she might as well be friendlier. As she made her way upstairs, she thought about the number on her phone and doubted she would ever need to call it again.

Her brother’s door was ajar. Walking closer, she heard him chewing on something, maybe granola given all the crunching. She pushed the door open and stepped inside. Robot Jay took another bite of his phone and looked up at her. Metal and plastic bits ground together. He chewed slowly, savoring every morsel.

“Everything all right, my wonderful sister?” When she didn’t answer, he popped the rest of the device in his mouth and licked his fingers clean.

“Sure,” Nicole said, backing out of his room. “What could possibly be wrong?”

And here he is...

David J. Naiman is a best-selling independent author of award-winning books for children, teens, and adults including Jake, Lucid Dreamer, first-place winner of the Purple Dragonfly Book Award and the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards in pre-teen fiction and Didn’t Get Frazzled, humorous medical fiction written under the pen name David Z Hirsch. He is also a successful physician specializing in internal medicine and an unsuccessful speller specializing in vowels that sound identical to other vowels. He lives with his wife and two children in Maryland. Visit him at

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Monday, October 18, 2021

Review: Get You the Moon by Hasnita Singh

 Romance reigns in today's review...yes, a little of that, every now and then, is good for the soul. So, all of you young adult, high school romance fans, get ready because this might just be down your line.

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by Hasnita Singh
YA Contemporary Romance
July 15, 2021



Scarlet Bridge is beautiful, intelligent, and ambitious. In her final year of high school, she has five goals she wants to achieve before graduation, and she won’t let anything – or anyone – stand in her way. Not even everyone’s favorite golden boy, Levi Henare.

Levi has it all – good looks, quick wit, and he is a rugby prodigy. And nothing gives him more pleasure than getting on Scarlet’s every last nerve.

When Scarlet accidentally dials Levi’s phone number, a chain of events that neither of them expected is set into motion.

Thrown together by a twist of fate, will Levi and Scarlet overcome the challenges of their final year at school, their mutual dislike of each other, and their own personal demons to successfully graduate?

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Back and forth banter turning into sweet romance makes this a read to get lost in and smile at by the end.

Scarlet needs to keep everything about her life on its best side if she wants to grasp her goals and head off to college. It wouldn't be as hard if all eyes didn't scrutinize her every move thanks to her older brother's mess up. Plus, she has the attitude of some other students at school to put up with. When she accidentally calls a guy with an amazing voice...and then, does it again...her life might take a very unexpected turn.

This is a super-sweet, high school romance set in New Zealand. It's written from two points of view, Scarlet and Levi, and slides between the two from one chapter to next. Both characters are wonderfully done, and both draw in with their warming personalities and quirks. The banter between the two make the chemistry complete and form a romance to root for.

While the book does center on the growing relationship between the two characters, there are also several tough themes addressed. Sexual harassment, PTSD, racism, suicide, and other themes come into play. None of them hit a graphic level, but they do slide into the story and give it an edge, which draws in naturally. So, the entire story flows very well. The only stumbling block is in several scene transitions, which jolt without any warning and took a second to realize what was happening. Otherwise, it's a cute story with fun characters, and something teen romance fans are going to enjoy. 

And here she is...
Hasnita Singh author picture

Hasnita Kiran Singh
is a twenty-one-year-old living in Auckland, New Zealand. As a university student, she spends most of her time procrastinating. As an Optical Assistant, she’ll do everything to convince you to get glasses. When she’s not writing (which is unfortunately too often), she can be found baking or trying out new restaurants. She loves her friends, being on time, and chocolate fondants as much as she loves reading. She is a proud feminist, typically sleep deprived, and a lover of the stars.

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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Review: Escape Book The Museum Heist by Stephane Anquetil

 Happy Sunday! Today's review is a mix of reading, mystery, and escape room in book form. As a kid, I enjoyed getting my hands on books which offered more than just a tale, and this one is just that.

by Stephane Anquetil
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Activity / Mystery
96 pages
ages 8 to 12

Overcome challenges, solve puzzles, and uncover the true culprit in the fourth installment of the Escape Book series!

What started as a typical family vacation takes a turn for the worse when you and your grandfather, a security guard at the local museum, find yourselves at the center of a serious scandal. It turns out that one of the museum’s masterpieces was stolen on the same night you and your grandfather were taking an after-hours tour—since you were the only two people there, you’re the prime suspects! To prove your innocence, you must now find the stolen masterpiece by observing, analyzing, and investigating like a real detective! Are you ready for an adventure?

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Mystery, clues, and detective fun make this an entertaining read with puzzles and surprises, too.

You are visiting your grandfather and accompany him to his job as a security guard at the museum. Unfortunately, several masterpieces are stolen while you and him take an after-hours peek at the displays. Now, you need to find clues and solve the puzzles to prove your innocence and discover who the real thief is.

This isn't my first 'escape room' in a book, but it's one of my favorites. I did review the first book in the series, but that doesn't have an impact on the second. In other words, these are stand-alones and can be tackled in any order. This book centers around a robbery at a museum and holds all sorts of thinking games, secret codes, and other riddles. Some are tougher than others, and it's a great fit for middle grader readers with lots of surprises.

While the puzzles are interesting and add thinking fun, the story also isn't bad. Unlike other escape room books, this one holds a tale, which is fleshed out as the detective goes along. There is a fair amount of text to create scenes and a plot, which go beyond just a simple puzzle book. This needs to be read in order to understand what's going on and how to solve the various problems. 

The only problem I saw was in finding the next section to turn to after a puzzle was solved. The section numbers run one after the other without page references. This makes for more flipping and searching than there has to be. But it isn't a problem really, either, since these run in numerical order. As said, it just takes a little more flipping.

This is a fun book for puzzle lovers, which adds a true story along with the mystery. I do recommend this one.