Thursday, September 30, 2021

Review: Frankie and Bug by Gayle Forman

And now, it's time for today's second book! This one is a historical set in the 1980's...can I tell you how weird it always feels to say 'historical' to books like this for me? (Yep, I'm feeling old). 

This one flows in reality and tells the story of two kids, who each need to find a way to get past their uncomfortable situations (very different ones) and find a way to friendship and themselves. And it's written by a well-known author...

So, let's take a peek! 

by Gayle Forman
Middle Grade Contemporary
288 pages
ages 8 to 12

OCTOBER 12th!!!

In the debut middle grade novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Gayle Forman comes a poignant and powerful coming-of-age story that follows a young girl and her new friend as they learn about family, friendship, allyship, and finding your way in a complicated world.

It’s the summer of 1987, and all ten-year-old Bug wants to do is go to the beach with her older brother and hang out with the locals on the boardwalk. But Danny wants to be with his own friends, and Bug’s mom is too busy, so Bug is stuck with their neighbor Philip’s nephew, Frankie.

Bug’s not too excited about hanging out with a kid she’s never met, but they soon find some common ground. And as the summer unfolds, they find themselves learning some important lessons about each other, and the world.

Like what it means to be your true self and how to be a good ally for others. That family can be the people you’re related to, but also the people you choose to have around you. And that even though life isn’t always fair, we can all do our part to make it more just.



These two characters come across so naturally, they could be waiting for the reader on the doorstep and invite them for a day of friendship and fun.

Bug is ten and not exactly happy, since her favorite part of every year is falling flat thanks to her brother, who wants more space from her. Yep, her brother and that hurts. When she accidentally suggests staying at home as the best alternative, she's even less excited to learn she'll be spending time with the neighbor's relative, Frankie, a kid none of them have ever met, and a person, who has their very own reasons why they don't quite fit in. But this isn't the only issue as a serial murderer combs the city,  gangs cause issues and more.

Set in the 1980's, this book takes a look at a time before cell phones and internet...allowing the life of Bug and Frankie to evolve in a world, which really centers on the world around them. Bug is a very normal girl, who isn't pleased to learn that her favorite vacation spot has been cancelled because her brother has gotten older (14) and wants his space. From her. This sibling and family dynamic, and that set with just a mother raising two kids, is already a theme in and of itself, but the author adds so much more.  Wonderful neighbors and many outside issues give it depth and more than a little food for thought.

The arrival of Frankie, with his/her oddities, and the later forming friendship lay at the heart of this story and show how amazing friendship can be. The theme of acceptance and individuality is very clear as well. But the wholesome messages meld with more troublesome and even dangerous plot lines to create an intriguing tale, which does have the reader more than curious what the end will bring. A serial murderer is on the loose, Bug's mother is working hard on it in the mayor's office, and the local gangs and such also make life more than difficult. That's not even including the gun shot noises Bug hears every now and then. So, this is more than a calm, emotional tale of friendship.

All of this is woven into a very, well-told story. The writing is more than smooth and allows the world to come to life. The characters, especially the neighbor named Phillip, carry wonderful attributes and quirks, which make them hard not to like. Some of the problems pop-up a little out of nowhere in the scenes, but it does keep suspense higher too.

And here she is...

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous publications, including SeventeenCosmopolitan, and Elle in the US. Gayle Forman’s novel, If I Stay, was released as a blockbuster movie starring Chloë Grace Moretz in 2014. Her most recent YA novel is We Are Inevitable. Gayle lives in Brooklyn, New York with her family.

Review: I'm With the Banned by Marlene Perez

I have two reviews for today because I did not want to leave October without cleaning out the stack of books meant for this month. And it was a packed month.

The first review is the 2nd in a series, and get this...I actually did read the first one first! See, I can do it. The first one was such an easy, entertaining, and tad bit quirky, which I truly enjoyed. In other words, it was perfect for one of those evenings where I just want to have fun without much thought. So, when I was offered to take a peek at this one, I was thrilled.

Ready to see what I thought?

by Marlene Perez
Afterlife #2
Entangled Teen
YA Paranormal
320 pages

OCTOBER 5th!!!

I never wanted to be a vampire queen.

But on the bright (if not sunny) side of the debacle, I’ve got a super-hot new boyfriend. And he just might be the perfect guy.

Well, if the perfect guy ghosts you for a month and then comes back to school with a new look, a pack of friends, and a secret. But we have bigger problems.

The Drainers are back. They’re singing a different song, but have they really changed?

Even worse, werewolves’ hearts are being ripped from their bodies—which is putting the people I love in danger. I need to figure out who is behind the murders before there’s an all-out vampire-werewolf war.

No one is going to mess with my friends, even the ones who like to get wild and howl at the moon.

Sometimes, all a girl can do is grab her tiara and start kicking some supernatural ass...



I did read the 1st book in this series and enjoyed it as a fun, easy read, but I found this one to be even better. And yes, this one needs to be read as a series since this book does build off of the events and characters of this first one.

Now, that she's the Queen of the Vampires...or at least, for the district, and a witch, the politics of her situation are becoming a hard balance. Her laws are very different than the ones of her eviler predecessor, and the other paranormal communities aren't ready to trust her. Add the werewolves automatic hate for vampires, which is being kept at bay simply because her boyfriend is a werewolf, and it's a sticky situation. Especially when something keeps killing werewolves and they want to blame the vampires.

This is not a deep read but rather one with tons of tension fun. The main character has a lot of spunk and as a newbie to this entire vampire thing, is doing her best to balance it all. And considering she's still a teen, it's a lot on her plate. She's fun to read about, though, and her thoughts do cause some laughs and giggles sprinkled between the more dangerous scenes. It's a fun mix

Romantically, it's not as exciting as it could be as it becomes more of a battle to keep the werewolves and everyone balanced. Although there are some surprises on this end, too. But if you're reading this only for romantic tension, it's more of a fun action read (which I prefer). The hero is swoon-worthy, though, and things don't always turned out as expected, which keeps this book on its toes.

I can't wait to see if and when book 3 hits the shelves because these characters are quite a bit of fun for those simple reading moments.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Review: Tiny Dancer by Siena Cherson Siegel

Today, I'm taking a look at a memoir for teens, which focuses on a ballet dancer and what happens when everything she's hoped for and dreamed about suddenly seems to become impossible. Not only did the cover on this one catch my eye, but I had to take a look, when I discovered it is in graphic novel form. Memoirs have rarely been my thing (I tend to like action, intrigue, and such), but I suspected that throwing it into a graphic novel might spruce things up a bit.

Ready to see if I was right?

by Siena Cherson Siegel
Illustrated by Mark Siegel
Atheneum Books
Young Adult Contemporary / Memoir / Graphic
272 pages

OCTOBER 26th!!!

A teenage ballet dancer struggles to find her next step, and her place in the world, in this exquisite graphic memoir—a follow-up to the Sibert Honor–winning To Dance.

All her life, Siena has dreamed of being a ballerina. Her love of movement and dedication to the craft earned her a spot at the School of American Ballet, with hopes of becoming a member of George Balanchine’s world-famous New York City Ballet company. Siena has worked hard for many years to be a professional ballet dancer, but injury and doubt are starting to take their toll.

Maybe it’s time to look beyond the world of dance—but Siena’s whole identity has been shaped by ballet. When you have spent your entire life working toward something, how do you figure out what comes next? And how do you figure out who you are without the thing that defined you? This is a moving and beautifully drawn memoir of a dancer struggling to find her next step—and a young woman finding her true footing in the world.

GOODREADS   /    AMAZON    /     B&N    


Especially teens, who have dedicated their lives to something they love only to discover they won't be able to follow them, will find encouragement and a ray of hope in these pages.

Since her first ballet lesson, Siena loved to dance. As her family's situation changed, ballet was the one thing she constantly adored. And she was good at it, too. Finding her way to the top ranks of her classes, she gained acceptance into the top schools in New York. With her friends, she dreamed of her future and could picture nothing else but ballet. But when an injury made her step back for awhile, she lost her momentum and, with every passing event, lost her drive and belief in herself more and more...until she no longer knew what to do.

This memoir is the follow up to another book, one I haven't read. But that definitely doesn't make a difference when picking this one up. This is the story of the author's own journey as she gives her all for one dream during her teenage years, only to have it suddenly fall away, leaving her with no idea what to do next. I do know a few teens, who would benefit from this memoir as they have gone are going through similar experiences themselves, and don't always see a light at the end of the tunnel, yet. 

The graphic novel form is well done, especially since it invites to a more relaxed and quick read. The illustrations allow the emotions to stay front and center, giving the entire portrayal an almost poetic atmosphere for the eye. The words float along, sometimes bold and sometimes dimmed, to let feelings hit with more emphasis. By keeping this in the illustrated form, it also circumvents the usual heaviness a written description might have, while still keeping the atmosphere very clear. In other words, this is well done.

The text stays short and quick. This isn't a memoir with much dialogue, but rather, the author describes each moment and leads the reader through this timeframe of her life with many direct statements. I realize this is a memoir, but it still wasn't as engaging as I like and felt as if the reader were viewing a slide show of the life. Luckily, the illustrations make up for this and add the needed emotions.  The message is very clear and powerfully done, and will strike a note with the right reader.

And here they are...

Siena Cherson Siegel is an author and former dancer who trained at the School of American Ballet. To Dance and Tiny Dancer are stories from her life.

Mark Siegel is the author and illustrator of several award-winning picture books and graphic novels, including Tiny Dancer, To DanceMoving House, and Sailor Twain. His latest project is the collaborative graphic novel series 5 Worlds, an epic science fiction story for young readers. In addition to writing and illustrating, Mark is also the founder and creative and editorial director of First Second Books, Macmillan’s graphic novel house. The Siegels live in Tarrytown, New York. Visit Mark at

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, It Fell From the Sky by The Fan Brothers!

 You have no idea how excited I was to see another book from the Fan Brothers. Their artistry and pacing has been amazing in their past two picture books, and I couldn't wait to see what they've brought out now. 

With this book, they've definitely won me over as a fan. In some ways, it reminds me of James and the Giant Peach, but it takes its own direction, making it an original and intriguing tale.

And now, I'm going to stop before I saw everything...because isn't that what a review is for?

by The Fan Brothers
Simon & Schuster 
Picture Book
56 pages
ages 4 to 8

From the creators of the critically acclaimed The Night Gardener and Ocean Meets Sky comes a whimsical and elegantly illustrated picture book about community, art, the importance of giving back—and the wonder that fell from the sky.

It fell from the sky on a Thursday.

None of the insects know where it came from, or what it is. Some say it’s an egg. Others, a gumdrop. But whatever it is, it fell near Spider’s house, so he’s convinced it belongs to him.

Spider builds a wonderous display so that insects from far and wide can come look at the marvel. Spider has their best interests at heart. So what if he has to charge a small fee? So what if the lines are long? So what if no one can even see the wonder anymore?

But what will Spider do after everyone stops showing up?



Vivid grays and whites create a capturing world and setting the perfect background for a wonder, which changes everything.

It fell from the sky, a glorious ball of color. None of the insects and other creatures living in the grass and weeds know what it is, but they know it's amazing. After various attempts to figure it out, the spiders steps up with an idea, which allows everyone to watch it in a wondrous that can be seen after paying a small entrance fee of a leaf. As things grow and grow, all seems spectacular, but then, disaster strikes.

To say that the illustrations are amazing is an understatement. The details of the grass world comes to life with vibrant exactness thanks to the defined grays and whites. Not only are these well done, but it allows the marvelous object, which fell from the sky, to truly capture the attention. This is as masterful play as it also demonstrates why and how the insects can find this item so miraculous. It stays at the center until it's not. It's a visual tale in and of itself.

But to say the tale isn't just as capturing would simply be wrong. Various creatures from the grass play with ideas of what the item could be. It's entertaining and curious to watch them marvel over an object listeners will recognize. As the spider comes in and changes everything, the story grabs and keeps listeners waiting to see how it all turns out. It's a capturing tale with a very good message and is sure to become a favorite. I'm definitely adding this one to my list of favorite picture books for 2021.

And here they are...

Terry Fan received his formal art training at Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, Canada. His work is a blend of traditional and contemporary techniques, using ink or graphite mixed with digital. He spends his days (and nights) creating magical paintings, portraits, and prints. Terry is the cocreator of The Night Gardener and It Fell from the Sky. Born in Illinois, he now lives in Toronto. Visit him online

Eric Fan is an artist and writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. Born in Hawaii and raised in Toronto, he attended the Ontario College of Art and Design, where he studied illustration, sculpture, and film. He has a passion for vintage bikes, clockwork contraptions, and impossible dreams. Eric is the cocreator of The Night Gardener and It Fell from the Sky. Visit him online

Monday, September 27, 2021

Mommy and Daddy's Day Review: Asylum by Tamera Lawrence

Every so often here, on Bookworm for Kids, I have a Mommy and Daddy's Day because parents love to read, too. These books are often also suitable for the young adult audience and do not have any content, which requires them to be hid under the bed. 

Today's read nods toward October and the approaching Halloween season with a thriller...and it does take place right around Halloween! There is some violence but nothing over the top, and it is a bit creepy but doesn't slide really into horror, either.

But just take a look for yourself.


by Tamera Lawrence

Psychological Thriller
232 pages
ages 16 +

Like all children living at Rose Hill Asylum, Kyle Hampton wanted freedom from the abusive staff and violent residents. When at nine he was adopted into a loving family, he left his younger brother behind and didn’t look back. Twenty-eight years later, his choices have returned to haunt him.

Now a family man, Kyle has hidden his true childhood from his wife, only to stir up the past when, as a lark, he revisits the underground tunnels and the abandoned asylum with a friend. A dark figure wants revenge and emerges ready to destroy Kyle and everyone he loves. But Kyle isn’t going down without a fight—he’s played in the shadows before.

Will his childhood, rooted in terror, be what saves him?

Purchase Link:


Tension runs high as this fast-paced thriller shoves a man back into his childhood memories and let's everything play out in the dark shadows of a desolate and forgotten asylum.

Kyle was born in an asylum and raised there with his younger brother after their mother's death until his adoption. His brother was left behind. Years later, Kyle now is married and has a baby daughter. The family atmosphere along with a visit to the asylum's ruins...thanks to his best friend's urban adventure interests...has left him wanting to find out what happened to his brother and reconnect. But strange things start happening, and it soon becomes clear that someone is watching him and his family. And their intentions aren't only set on revenge...they are pure evil.

I love a well-woven thriller, and this one fits that bill. Kyle is presented as a normal family father, whose marriage is a bit rocky thanks to their new baby daughter. His past comes in easy to follow flashbacks, which present the harshness of his childhood in the asylum. These do hold clues, but they are foggy enough to keep the reader wondering how it all pieces together as things get more and more dangerous for Kyle. He remains 'a nice guy' throughout the tale, which made him easy to like and fun to fever for. His wife, father, best friend and other relationships come across very naturally and made the world that much more believable.

The descriptions of the characters give each one a distinct personality, especially the 'bad guy'. His personality holds a quirky chill, which grabs and leaves an off-balanced atmosphere. Since the story unfolds from different points of view (divided by chapters), the reader slowly gets to know him without really knowing who he is until the end. It kept me guessing and added twists and turns, which were hard to see coming.

Of course, the condemned asylum buildings and tunnels offer the perfect background for a creepy thriller, and the author does an excellent job at letting the dark corners hold all the necessary eeriness and then some. But even outside of the asylum, the thrills and chills remain high. It's well-woven, grabs from beginning to end, and leaves off with an unexpected surprise.

And here she is...

With a passion for writing, Award winning author Tamera Lawrence likes to entertain readers with edgy thrillers and mysteries. As a mother of six, Tamera draws on personal experiences to bring to life interesting characters set in today’s complex world. She loves meeting fans and writes book reviews upon request.

Tamera also likes to play softball and clang out a tune or two on the piano.


Happy Book Birthday, Friends to the End by C.L. Colyer!


Friends to the End
C.L. Colyer
Middle Grade Action, Adventure, Supernatural


Zach doesn’t believe in ghosts…but he should.

Twelve-year-old Zach is convinced he’ll never be happy without his best friend Jeremy by his side. But both of their lives changed with a bang five months ago, and as far as Zach’s concerned, it’s his fault Jeremy will never see his twelfth birthday.

When Zach moves with his family to a Chicago suburb, he quickly becomes friends with a group of thrill-seeking kids trying to find a disappearing haunted house. But Zach’s not worried. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, so he follows them into a wild, dangerous encounter that becomes a battle to decide what’s real and what’s not.

Goodreads / Amazon


“We were going to look for the ghost house.” Dom adjusted the faded NY Yankees baseball cap he wore. “But Morgan has to be home by five.”

“We’ll never make it there and back in time, and we never leave a man behind,” Josh added, dropping a backpack on the grass next to him. It landed with a clunk.

“Ghost house?” I repeated, picturing a boarded-up, decrepit building built during the Civil War or something.

“Haven’t you heard the stories?” Josh asked, eyes wide in amazement.

I shook my head.

Dom walked over to our open garage, grabbed my skateboard out of one of the boxes, and said, “It’s known as the disappearing house.”

My bewildered gaze slithered from Dom to Josh, finally coming to a stop on Morgan as I tried to decide if they were crazy.

“If the house is invisible, how do you expect to find it?” I asked.

Morgan sat on the stoop next to me. “It’s not always invisible. My brothers saw it once. They said it’s a big house with a long porch. It vanished before they could set foot on the first step, and I’m glad, too.”

“Why? What would have happened if they were on the steps?” I asked. Not because I believed an old ghost story had any truth to it, but I was curious to know what she’d say.

Morgan had to pick her jaw up from the walkway before she could answer, and when she did her voice came out in a high-pitched squeak. “If they had been on the porch or worse—” she swallowed loudly “—inside, they would have disappeared with it.”

“That’s a myth,” Dom said as he rode the skateboard down the driveway.

“It is not!” Morgan shot back.

“Come on, how is a solid person going to disappear?” Dom asked from the sidewalk.

“The same way the house does! Duh!” Morgan shook her head as if Dom was the loony one.

“Isn’t the whole thing…um…you know…a myth?” I asked. There were no such things as ghosts, and buildings didn’t just go poof and disappear into thin air. “I mean, you don’t really believe in—”

“The house is real, dude,” Josh said.

“And we’re going inside of it.” Dom did an Ollie, lifting all wheels of the skateboard off the ground.

“No, we’re not!” Morgan shook her head as if that reinforced what she’d said. A dark auburn curl snuck out from under her baseball cap. “We are,” Josh confirmed. I was with Dom and Josh. Not the part about believing in disappearing houses, but if one happened to exist and I managed to find it, I’d want to see inside of it, too.

Author Bio:

Professional network technician by day, novelist by night, Cherie lives a quiet life in the Chicago suburbs with her charming husband. She has four amazing sons who she loves dearly. Cherie magically weaves together stories with a paranormal twist. She’s the author of the Embrace series (Embrace, Hold Tight, and Entwined), Challenging Destiny, Damned When I Didn’t, and Friends to the End. She waltzes into the adult novel world with this enchanting holiday romance, Merry Little Wishing Spritz.

She happily visits schools, libraries, and book clubs, and is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators).

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Review: You Can't Kiss A Bubble by Karen A Wyle


by Karen A Wyle
Illustrated by Siski Kalla
Oblique Angles Press
Picture Book
28 pages
ages 4 to 8

What can you do with a bubble?

​​​​​​​Many children – and adults – find bubbles fascinating, even enchanting. And yet they’re so different from most things we enjoy, lasting only a few moments. This little book, with its lovely and whimsical illustrations, looks at both the charm and the transitory nature of bubbles, and reminds us that we can take joy even in the impermanent.



The title and cover already had me more than curious, since I've always been a huge soap bubble fan.

This one is about bubbles. They offer so much joy, are unique and fascinating, but they don't last forever. Written in prose, it fits the theme wonderfully and allows the gentle nature to come across, while not loosing the sense of amazement a bubble can have. The text is simple, making it great for younger listeners, and yet, it packs meaning, which means even slightly older readers can enjoy it. This makes it also a great way to introduce prose to beginning readers and let them experience the emotion a few words can bring across, since playing with bubbles is something they will easily identify with.

The illustrations flow right along, allowing the bubbles and their uniqueness to come across. The colors pull in and create a fitting world to the atmosphere. 

Then, there's the message. It isn't preachy but flows right along with the rest of the book. Things can be fun, capturing, and very enjoyable...even if they don't last forever.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Review: The Crosswood by Gabrielle Prendergast

I was lucky enough to win today's book through Library Thing and love the concept of the Ocra Currents series. The read was short (only about 100 pages), and yet, didn't let that hurt the richness and excitement of the world and adventure. I've noticed that while there are some middle grader readers who devour books no matter how long, there are many others who are book shy. So, packing a great tale into something 'thin' always makes me smile, since it's much easier to get a hesitant reader to pick up something short, rather than place at 200+ page tale in front of them.

And this is also the type of book, which might hook them and maybe, make them a little less reading shy.


by Gabrielle Prendergast
Ocra Book Publishers
Middle Grade Fantasy
120 pages
ages 8 to 12

Fourteen-year-old Blue Jasper takes his younger siblings, twins Indigo and Violet, out for a hike to give their mother a break. One moment the twins are scampering in the trees right ahead of him, and the next moment they are gone. As Blue frantically searches for them, a strange woman appears in the forest claiming to be the Faerie Queen Olea of Nearwood and the twins' real mother. Now because of a magical pact, Blue's mother's life will be in danger if he can't find the twins before the next sunset. Blue must find his way into the magical forest known as the Crosswood and through the dangerous Faerie lands beyond it. Will he be able to find the twins in time? And will they be able to find their way out again? This is the first book in the Faerie Woods series. 



Short and packed with fantasy, magic and adventure, this is a read which lets the secrets of the forest take flight.

Blue is fourteen and sick of helping his mother constantly take care of his very unruly, sibling twins. At ten, one would think they had some sense, but they are always getting into the most ridiculous trouble. When a chance to hide for a breather leaves Blue's mom with a broken ankle...thanks to the twin's antics...he's had enough and breaks the rule of keeping a constant eye on them. The result has them kidnapped by a fairy king and him faced with a fairy queen, who wants to have his life for a contract he never knew even existed.

Young fantasy friends...especially those who don't want to dive into a 200+ page novel...are going to enjoy this one. It starts with a normal boy, who has sibling troubles and can't wait not to help out with them. Anyone who has younger siblings will already identify with him, and those without, will sympathize with his problems. He comes across like any normal kid from school, and, actually is. That's one thing I do love about this tale because his 'usualness' definitely doesn't hinder his ability to experience amazing things and head into a huge adventure.

The author allows hints at something more magical to immediately start weaving into Blue's world without giving away exactly what's going on. The magical world hits with full force and draws the reader in with a bit of curiosity and excitement. It's well done without being overly descriptive. Even the other characters gain wonderful personality without ever slowing down the fast-paced plot. Every character is intriguing and has a hint of exciting magic. It's impossible to say what will come next, making the twists and turns come with delicious surprise. Of course, some of the smoothness of a longer novel is missing, letting the events jump from one right to the next, since this is a short but packed adventure. And still, it flows well enough not to let that hurt the read.

With all of it's richness, the read is still short and easy. At around only 100 pages, it invites even more reluctant readers to take a glance, and the pacing keeps a reader in the pages until the very end. There are hints at more adventures to come, and I'm more than curios to see what Blue will experience next. 

And here she is...

Gabrielle Prendergast has written many books for young people, including the BC Book Prize–winning Zero Repeat Forever, the Westchester Award winner Audacious, and the first two instalments in the Faerie Woods series in the Orca Currents line, The Crosswood and The Wherewood. She lives in Vancouver with her family.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Review: Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor

 It's Friday!!! And yes, I'm extremely happy about that a week it's been. For my avid readers, you might have noticed that I haven't been leaving a few words for thought every day at the beginning of my reviews like I usually do. This week has been a fight to get the books read and reviews up, which is weird because I haven't felt that busy...but when I hit the end of the day, I realize that I am. 

Anyway, today's review is a sudden, unexpected shove-in (because not everything runs smoothly even in the review world), and I'm all smiles that I got this one in. 

See the cover? Well, the real one is all sparkles and shine, making the gold florals really pop off the page. Special things like that get lost in these images, which is too bad because this book is super pretty!

This one came out just a few days ago...on the 14th.

by Nabela Noor
Illustrated by Nabi H Ali
Simon & Schuster
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

From designer, creator, and self-love advocate Nabela Noor (@Nabela) comes a much-needed picture book about loving yourself just as you are.

Meet Zubi: a joyful Bangladeshi girl excited about her first day of school. But when Zubi sees her mother frowning in the mirror and talking about being “too big,” she starts to worry about her own body and how she looks. As her day goes on, she hears more and more people being critical of each other’s and their own bodies, until her outburst over dinner leads her family to see what they’ve been doing wrong—and to help Zubi see that we can all make the world a more beautiful place by being beautifully ourselves.



These pages embrace uniqueness and show that beauty is much more than the superficial definition of a certain, outward appearance.

Zubi is spilling over with excitement—it's her first day of school! She dresses in her nicest clothes and is more than ready to attack the day, when she overhears her mother complaining about having too large of a stomach. Then, her older sister wants to go on a diet, and even Zubi's father is saying that he's gained too much weight. At school, everything is great until a boy at recess teases another kid about being too fat. Suddenly, Zubi isn't feeling so beautiful and wants to go on a diet, too, and this causes unexpected waves in the family.

Weight and outer-appearance carry much too large of a role in our lives and society, but no matter how we try, it seems impossible to ignore the standards which have been drilled into our minds. So, this book definitely hits a topic, which all young readers can and will, at one point, find themselves faced with. While the message in this one is very clear, though, it doesn't come across as overly preachy...and I think that's thanks to the wonderful character, Zubi. She's hard not to love with her bubbly attitude and joy for life.

Not only does this one carry a lovely message about true beauty, but it also revolves around a family, which finds its heritage in Bangladesh. The terms and culture are woven into the tale without a nod or pause, allowing it to flow smoothly. The reader is shown the culture in a natural, matter-of-fact state. But, luckily, there is a glossary at the end of the book to define those terms that readers/listeners may not know.

It's a beautiful book with a beautiful messages...and beautifully done.

And here she is...

Nabela Noor is a first-generation Bangladeshi American creator, activist, and entrepreneur. As a self-love advocate, Nabela utilizes her platforms to empower and inspire millions of people around the world to love the skin they’re in. Her work centers around her passion for representation and diversity with a commitment to uplifting stories and characters who are often unseen and underrepresented. Globally recognized for her “Pockets of Peace” content, you can learn more about the power of self-love through self-care on Nabela’s TikTok and Instagram @Nabela.

Nabi is a Tamil American illustrator who enjoys creating diverse works that showcase an array of cultures and peoples. His interest in illustrative works started when he realized he could help create representation in the arts and in media for minorities, and he is very passionate about working with characters that he would have liked to see when he was a kid. His favorite quality in art is experimenting with color and what the right colors can do to make a piece of art magical. His hobbies include drawing (of course), doll collecting, reading, learning about South Asian mythology and folklore, and researching history.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Review: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson


Vespertine #1
by Margaret Rogerson
Maragaret K. McElderry Books
Young Adult Fantasy
400 pages

OCTOBER 5th!!!

The dead of Loraille do not rest.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.

When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.

As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.



I have not read Margaret Rogerson's books before, and after reading this one, I realize I'll have to catch-up on that.

Artemisia is a teen girl, who lives in a convent trained to subdue spirits. She carries the scars of her own dealing with spirits before the convent took her in, physical as well as psychological ones which run deep. Despite living in the convent, she doesn't really interact with anyone more than is necessary. When she's faced with a growing and evil danger, she'll need to overcome her past and more.

This is a wonderfully written book, which brings the world to life with all of it's shadows, spirits and magic. The first pages already grab as Artemisia dives into a extremely dangerous situation in an attempt to save a younger member of the convent. And the tale doesn't let up from there, although the pacing does slow down every now and then. It's an intriguing world, which has been nicely fleshed out, and it lays a great foundation for the novels to come.

Artemisia is a character with more than a few scars, inward and out. This makes her easy to sympathize with and root for as she's forced to press her borders more and more. Her reclusive nature is understandable, which makes her willingness to help others without a second's thought even more heroic. She develops well through the story, learns as she goes thanks to mistakes as well as successes. The others around her weren't always quite as well developed as I'd like, but this is only the beginning of the series, and they more than fulfilled their purpose. 

One thing I especially appreciated about this tale is that there is no romance. None. Not a hint. Nada. Artemisia has so much to deal with in so many ways that adding this would have been unrealistic and hurt her character and the plot. So, kudos to the author for realizing that. 

While the ending of this one wasn't as strong as I would have liked, it definitely did its job, and I'm looking forward to seeing where the author takes Artemisia next.

And here she is...

Margaret Rogerson is the author of the New York Times bestsellers An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns. She has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, beside a garden full of hummingbirds and roses. Visit her at

Happy Book Birthday, The Grove by Karri Thompson with Giveaway!


The Grove
by Karri Thompson
YA Fantasy


Entering the woods is forbidden. To go in can mean a fate worse than death. At least that’s what seventeen-year-old Laura has been told. But living in a new town with nothing to do, she ignores her mother’s dire warnings and explores the forest near her home.

The trees entice Laura deeper into the woods. A mysterious, soothing voice calls her name, and she becomes lost. When a young man finds her, she thinks she’s saved. But he insists their meeting is more than a coincidence. For centuries, his colony has been waiting for a savior. With his alluring eyes and gentle smile, Laura almost believes his crazy story.

Caught between worlds, and with her life at stake, she doesn’t know who to believe or trust. Her heart tells her one thing and her head another.

Is it her destiny, or will her fate only postpone the inevitable?

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The hair on my arms rose. My heart thumped hard, the blood pulsing through my chest into my throat. Looking left and right, my muscles tensed to run or fight.

“Who’s there? What do you want?” I said at the same low whisper, my voice shaking.

A shimmering blur disappeared behind a tree—a featureless something, flashing in indistinguishable color as quickly as a silent whip.

“Laura,” someone said again, gentle and feather-light, drifting between the largest trees in front of me.

I held my breath.

“Laura.” My name resonated through the humid night air, echoing through the sugar maples before it thinned and died.

It was a male voice, full- bodied, but lacking malevolence and hostility. Strangely, it put me at ease. There must be a boy somewhere out here in the woods. I was sure of it. The voice sounded young, maybe my age of seventeen.

Or maybe it was a ghost. My Uncle Dean had told me the locals believed these woods were haunted. But ghosts couldn’t kill. At least that’s what I believed.

“Who are you?” I asked, relaxing my stiff muscles just enough to take a step forward. My shoulders dropped as I exhaled a pent-up breath. Broadening my stance, I leaned forward, raising the branch, and squeezed my eyes shut, hoping to hear it again.

“Laura,” it repeated. The word lingered through the dead of night, ringing softly in my ears. I opened my eyes.

“How do you know my name?” I asked, moving toward the direction of the voice. As a cool breeze rustled my pajama shorts, I wrapped one arm around myself.

A bird chirp rode the wind, followed by several more, weaving into a rhythm of tweets and trills. I looked up. Within the tousle of leaves and sway of thin limbs, perched a gathering of birds, flexing their wings for flight.

I took a step backwards, my eyes fixed on the canopy of leaves.

The bird calls increased, one squawk overlapping the other until their unique melody collapsed, twisting into an eerie song and wing beats.

“A–are you still there?” I breathed, eyeing the woods ahead of me and taking another step back.

A smear of color flashed to my left, and a cloud of leaves rose from the forest floor.

“Don’t go,” I said, breaking from a whisper.

The woods resonated with angry bird speak, their unnatural song thumping in my ears.

“I want to see you,” I shouted above the rising mad twitter.

A shadow skated across the ground at my feet. Wings flapped overhead, and a bird beak met my scalp with a hard peck.

Author Bio:

Karri Thompson, a native of San Diego, attended San Diego State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degree in education. When she’s not writing novels and teaching high school English, she can be found nerding out at San Diego Comic-Con and cooking delicious meals for her family. Karri is the recipient of the San Diego Book Awards Best Published Young Adult Novel for 2014.

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