Sunday, October 31, 2021

What's Coming in November?

I'm enjoying my pumpkin treats, walks in the fresh air, and wooly sweaters, and, of course, I have another stack of books to review this month. I'm super-excited about some of the reads coming up in the next weeks because I do have some middle grade gems in my pile. And while the peek I'm giving you today doesn't show it, there's more than a couple cute, holiday picture books on the list, too. (I just didn't want to give you the impression everything is going to be too Christmas-y because it's not.)

Among nods toward the approaching holidays, I also have fantasy reads, romance, mystery...and...well, a little of everything. It's a broad spread in genres and a nice balance over all audience age groups (under 18, of course).

Grab that cup of warm tea because here's a peek!


The main character grabbed my attention on this one. She loves who she is and is popular. How often does that happen? It is a romance but with a whole new twist. Plus, there was no way I could ever say no to a cupcake. Visit this one with me on the 1st!

Young Adult Romance


Believe it or not, it's almost time for Thanksgiving...yeah, I'm not keeping up this year. Good thing this book is waiting for me to grab it up and take a peek because thankful is something we should always be. I'm looking forward to introducing this one on the 4th!

Picture Book


This is the sequel to the best-selling novel, Out of my Mind...which, of course, I never read because I seem to never start a series until book two arrives in my hands. This one has to do with summer camp, disabilities and tons of heart. Find out more with me on the 9th.

Middle Grade Contemporary


It's time for another nod toward the upcoming holidays...and what better way than with cornbread? (I do love a warm cornbread with butter and honey.) Take a peek at this one with me on the 11th.

Picture Book


A Thai-inspired, historical read with light fantasy and magic? There was no way I was going to skip out on this one! It's said to have an atmosphere similar to Les Misérables. With so much goodness wrapped into one book, I'm betting you won't want to miss this one when I present it on the 14th.

Middle Grade Light Fantasy



I actually did read the first book in this series and enjoyed it quite a bit. So, of course, I was going to grab up the 2nd one, too. I'm betting it's packed with adventure and, obviously, dragons. Fly into adventure with me on the 19th!

Middle Grade Fantasy


I've enjoyed the books from this author and am assuming that this one won't be any different. With thoughts of snow and winter, this one is said to be a modern day fairy tale...and that with beautiful illustrations. I'm excited to share this one with you on the 20th.

Picture Book


My homeschooled daughter is hitting American history this year. So, this read slips right in with it's American Revolution setting in 1779. Two boys are on adventure as they try to catch a spy. Take the dive into history with me on the 22nd.

Middle Grade Historical Fiction


I'm always light on the nonfiction end of things, which is really too bad since it's one of my favorite categories. This one takes a gaze at engineering accomplishments in the realm of buildings and structures. I'm hoping for tons of wonderful illustrations and well-done information. See if it accomplishes all of that with me on the 26th.

Middle Grade Nonfiction Picture Book


The second I read the description, I needed to read this one. It's about a young girl, who lives with a dysfunctional family in a house with someone stuck in the mirrors. There are secret messages, magical paint sets, and a very, mysterious stranger. It's the 1st in a series (see, I can do it!) Find out more on the 25th.

Young Adult Fantasy

There are a few more titles I'd love to shout-out already, but since I've reached my monthly ten-sneak-peeks, I'm going to keep my mouth shut. Oh, it's hard.

Luckily, I have a joker read, too!

Each month, my review scheduled is packed, stuffed, and over-flowing. So each month, I choose one book, which will be snuck in somehow because it simply looks too good to pass up on. When will I get to reviewing it? Well, that's the question, isn't it?


This one is not a romance (Surprise!) but centers around the main character, Wendy, her issues, and a cat, who holds a few surprises. There is a grandmother and heirlooms involved as well. So, this sounds like it could be a refreshing read. When can you discover more about it? Well, that's the thing...I don't know yet.

Young Adult Magical Realism

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Review: Good Girls Die First by Kathryn Foxfield

by Kathryn Foxfield
Source Books
Young Adult Paranormal Horror
368 pages


10 mysterious invitations.

10 terrible secrets never meant to be shared.

1 abandoned amusement park where all will be revealed.

And someone—or something—determined to make sure that only one survives.

Blackmail lures Ava to the abandoned amusement park on Portgrave Pier. She is one of ten teenagers, all with secrets they intend to protect whatever the cost. When fog and magic swallow the pier, the group find themselves cut off from the real world, and one by one, they die.

As the teens turn on each other, Ava will have to face up to the secret that brought her to the pier and decide how far she's willing to go to survive...



Secrets, murder, magic and a paranormal twist makes this one perfect for fans of tales like I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Ava receives a strange invitation with only two short sentences, but it's the picture which makes her realize that someone knows of her darkest secret...something no one can possibly know and something that will destroy her if it ever comes out. When she arrives at the abandoned amusement park island, she finds 9 others there, who received similar invitations. Immediately, strange things start happening, but before they decide to flee, the bridge connecting the island from the mainland breaks, leaving them stuck. Something is playing with their minds, and even the first night brings blackouts in the memory of each of them and one of them dead. They are caught in a sick, twisted game, and aren't sure there is any way out except death itself.

I was drawn to this one by the cover, especially since I was on the search for a chilling, Halloweeny read. The setting is perfect—an abandoned amusement park, which burnt down and holds secrets no one in the small town wants to speak about. The weather, of course, is dark, foggy and stormy and shadows are heavy and dark. Even mirrors play a roll, creating everything needed for a thrilling tale. And this one does pack more than a few chilling surprises. Death plays in the air, and there's little hope for escape, making the stakes high and the fear more than clear. So, it's a dark read with a fast past and unexpected twists the whole way through. And yes, I did read this one in one sitting, curious to know what would happen next.

Now, I'm usually a chicken when it comes to horror stories, but this one didn't scare me much after the first chapter or so. Instead, it was a good paranormal read with higher tension and deadly moments. And there were a few reasons for this.  (In other words, this is a good read but it could have been even better...but I do want to stress that it is good).

There are ten teens on the island, and they banter between each other several times. Each one supposedly has a distinct personality, but with that many of them together, it was hard to get a grip on any single one of them. I got them confused more then a few times and had a problem connecting with any because of that. Even the main character was hard to grip because she never gave anything really sympathetic from herself. I'm not sure I really ever found her likeable. Actually, every single one of these teens had huge, horrible secrets...and coming from the same high school, it made the situation unbelievable. Plus, none of them had cell phones. If this was marked as a historical, that isn't an issue, but it's not. And as an upcoming release, that's going to cause some reality issues.

I did find the paranormal twist original and intriguing. It was revealed a bit too early, which also caused some problems, but all in all, it made the read unexpected and entertaining. 

This is a gripping read for fans of thrills and paranormal and secrets. It does contain murder, suicide, drug abuse, and violence, but these flow well with the plot and don't reach over what can be expected for this type of tale. It was an enjoyable read, just not horror-worthy or as creepy as it could have been.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Review: Ripped Away by Shirley Reva Vernick

Today's review takes a time travel twist and sends two 'non-friends' back to the streets, where Jack the Ripper lurks in the shadows. It's a short read at 107 pages...and the cover as well as the description caught my interest. Plus, it's only a day or two until Halloween, and I hoped this one might slide right into the season.

Let's take a peek, shall we?

by Shirley Reva Vernick
Fitzroy Books
Young Adult Magical Realism / Time Travel
107 pages


Ignored yet again by his crush, Abe Pearlman wanders into Fortunes and Futures for a little diversion. The fortune teller reveals that Abe may be able to save someone’s life. But before he can ask any questions, he’s swept to the slums of Victorian London, where he finds that his crush, Mitzy Singer, has also been banished. Abe and Mitzy soon discover that they’ve been plunked down in the middle of the Jack the Ripper spree. To get back home, they’ll have to work together to figure out how the fortune teller’s prophecy is connected to one of history’s most notorious criminal cases. They’ll also have to survive the outpouring of hate toward Jewish refugees that the Ripper murders triggered. Ripped Away is based on real historical events, including the Ripper crimes, the inquests, and the accusations against immigrants.



History comes to life as an unexpected pair swoops into the grungy life of  Whitechapel, London in the 1880's and has to deal with all the difficulties of that time period.

Abe isn't exactly popular or noticeable or much of anything, but he gets good grades, is a good kid, and has a secret crush on a girl, who refuses to acknowledge anyone. When he visits a fortune teller for fun, he blacks out and finds himself awaking as the assistant to a jeweler in the late 1880's in London. The boy's memories mix with his own, allowing him to seamlessly slide into the life...while he freaks out and tries to figure out how to get home. When he discovers Mitzy living in just as bad conditions as him and as confused as he is, a friendship might form....but then, things aren't easy for their class in that society, prejudices fly, and, to add to the problems, Jack the Ripper is on the loose.

First off, this novel was not nearly as dark as I expected, and instead, took a more historical twist, revealing life styles, prejudices against the Jews, and simply exposing the living conditions and everyday problems people of the lower, working class (especially the Jews) had at that time in London. All of this was done very well and melded perfectly into an exciting tale. So, while my expectations had to take a hard curve, I wasn't disappointed, either. 

Already the beginning of this book had me smiling. Abe speaks directly to the reader and draws in with a personal touch, which does make him and the story connect immediately. He's a good kid with insecurities, but doesn't look down on himself, either....which is refreshing. When he meets the fortune teller and gets whisked away, the transition is quick, but it works thanks to the author's clever twist of having Abe meld with an existing boy during the time period. The sudden murder, trying to adapt to the changes, and everything else, and it's definitely a fast-paced read, which rolls right along from beginning to end. And that in a smooth way, too. 

This is supposedly for a young adult audience, but the writing and Abe come across more like a middle grade novel, and I would definitely recommend it for this younger age group rather than the older one. I do believe middle graders will enjoy this one quite a bit and it does a very good job at bringing the historical period to life in a way that's easy to understand and sympathize with. The prejudice aspect is also very well done and while it doesn't dive into why the Jews are looked down upon, the problems these people face is clear.

I did enjoy Abe and Mitzy quite a bit. They have wonderful personalities, are careful but ready to take on whatever challenge they have to, and have hearts of gold. I would have liked to know more about them before the time swap and missed the depth. But for a middle grade novel this worked well enough and was really an engaging tale from beginning to end. I do hope this is the beginning of a series, since these two have so much potential and tons of adventure waiting in time.

And here she is...

Shirley is the author of four novels for young readers. The American Library Association named The Blood Lie to its list of Best Fiction Books for Young Readers. The Blood Lie also won the Simon Wiesenthal Once Upon A World Book Award and was named an Honor Book in the Los Angeles Unified School District Awards. Her novel Remember Dippy won the Dolly Gray Literature Award from the Council for Exceptional Children. The Black Butterfly is a Junior Library Guild selection. Ripped Away will be released on February 8, 2022.

Shirley is a graduate of Cornell University and an alumna of the Radcliffe Writing Seminars. Her shorter work has appeared in Salon, Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, and several literary journals.

Shirley also mentors incarcerated individuals with their writing via the Prisoner Express program. 

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Review: Magic by Lylian K

It's graphic novel time! I know my own kids have always loved graphic novels and would run to that section first at their school libraries, when their reading day hit. Today's book comes from France and has, now, been translated into English. It's the first book in a 5 book series, and had so a sweet looking witch on the cover and lovely ghosts, that I had to take a peek. Plus, ghosts and witches are exactly what this season calls for! 

The Girl With Purple Hair
by Lylian K.
Illustrated by Audrey Molinatti
Europe Comics
Middle Grade Fantasy / Graphic Novel
58 pages
ages 8 to 12

A baby girl born with purple hair is promptly handed over to a convent by her horrified father, who fears she bears the sign of the witch. And indeed, little Evelyn seems to have strange powers and to attract supernatural manifestations as she grows up among the nuns, who patiently put up with it as best they can. But after one scary “trick” too many, she is entrusted to the care of a hat-maker, who whisks her off to London, where she will learn about much more than making hats! For as Evelyn and her talking cat Benedict will soon find out, Master Neil has a few tricks up his sleeve, too, and his hat shop might not be exactly what it seems…



With a little mischief and a huge heart, this young witch heads off to meet her destiny and tons of adventure, too.

As the daughter of a man, who hunted witches, Evelyn was taken away from her mother right after her birth thanks to her purple hair...the mark of a witch, he claimed. Fulfilling his promise to his wife not to harm Evelyn, he had her dropped off at a convent. Although the purple hair marked Evelyn for what she was, the nuns took her in anyway and raised her as best they could. As her tricks and uncontrolled magic caused more and more problems, they finally had to give in and find a new place for her—a hat maker in London. But this hat maker might not be what he seems to be.

While the first pages of this novel start with a fairly dark and sad beginning, the tale sprouts off into a lively and fun one afterwards. Evelyn is a little witch, who knows nothing about her past, her powers, or what any of it really means. She's a bit mischievous and strange things do have a way of happening around her, some wanted and some not. But she's a bundle of energy, who has a heart of gold even when she's maybe not behaving the best she could. In other words, she's an adorable character who's hard not to smile at and like.

The illustrations are bright and bring across the scenes nicely. The text font is a bit smaller than I like for this audience level, but the vocabulary and such do fit the age group well. The text falls in short as it should be and balances out with the visual scenes to create a balanced tale. The vibrant attitude Evelyn has and the slight annoyance of her cat, come across very well and add the right amount of humor and cuteness to the tale.

This is the first book in the series and sets the definite beginning steps. While it pretty much wraps up the first, beginning part of Evelyn's journey, it does leave with an open door to the next. This will be a series which needs to be read in order, since it appears that one book builds on the next. The first friends are introduced along with the first problems, and all of it promises to be a wonderful adventure, which middle graders are sure to enjoy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Review: Knock, Knock, Trick or Treat! by Amy E. Sklansky

Halloween is almost here! Today's review is for those young trick-or-treaters, who can't wait to throw on their costumes and fill their bags with all sorts of treats. 

by Amy E. Sklansky
Illustrated by Chiara Galletti
Little Simon
Board Book / Holiday
14 pages
ages 2 and up

Knock, knock, trick or treat! Knock on the doors and lift the flaps to see who’s hiding inside this spooky haunted house!

Come with me, right down my street.
Who knows what creatures we might meet?
“Knock knock, trick-or-treat!
Give us something good to eat.”

Knock on this haunted house to find out what kind of Halloween monsters are waiting inside...if you dare! From a ghost to a witch to a skeleton and more, little ones will love lifting the die-cut flaps to reveal the spooky surprises behind each door.



Trick or treating rings in spooky fun with a cute, door-to-door adventure, which holds tons of surprises.

The well-known tradition of going from door to door on Halloween and shouting 'Trick or Treat!' takes a new twist in this fun book for the youngest readers. The board book is robust and each page has been cut to a different house size, making it great for small fingers to feel, grab, flip and carry around. The illustrations are bright, bold and full of details, inviting to gazing. But of course, these aren't nearly as exciting as the house door found on each page. Opening each one discloses a surprise and a Halloween creature, which displays a huge smile.

It's a sweet take on trick or treating, and allows young readers to go from door to door all on their own. The text is written is swinging rhyme and builds up right before the door is opened. There it describes the character in short words. The text works great as a read-aloud, but I do see young readers more invested in discovering this book on their own. The Halloween creatures are mostly familiar, while a couple might introduce something new.

Its a cute book with the perfect amount of spook to create a Halloween atmosphere.

And here they are...
Amy E. Sklansky is the author of a dozen books for children, most of which are written in verse. As a kid, she dressed up as Laura Ingalls Wilder two Halloweens in a row. She has visited (in person and virtually) more than 150 schools and libraries from Turtle Lake, North Dakota, to Singapore. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where she is fond of reading aloud and drinking fancy black tea as she crafts her stories.

Chiara Galletti is a children’s book illustrator and character designer. She has a degree in advertising from the University for Foreigners of Perugia and a specialization in e-design from the Academy of Digital Arts Nemo in Florence. Currently she is working in advertising, publishing, and web as a freelancer and organizing drawing workshops for children and adults at the Biblioteca delle Nuvole in Perugia. Chiara is very curious and loves learning new things and observing the world around her in every way possible: by traveling, reading, watching movies, visiting art exhibitions, and meeting new people. Drawing for her is not a hobby or a job; it is a mission. She wants to make people happy with her art. Chiara lives in Italy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Review: My Dad is a Russian Spy by Candy Berg

It's spy time in today's review and that for a picture book audience! It included imagination and reality in a lovely mix, and is sure to bring more than a smile or two.

Also, you might notice me mixing up things quite a bit from the announced plan the next week or so. There are some personal reasons for that, but all the books will be slipping in at one point or another. Just see it as a Halloween Trick-or-Treat surprise.

by Candy Berg
Illustrated by Isabela Flores de Moura
Entrada Publishing
Picture Book
33 pages
ages 4 to 8

A young girl decides her dad is a Russian spy. Follow the clues to see if you come to the same conclusion!

Breakout author Candy Berg has something for kids and parents alike in My Dad Is a Russian Spy.

Enjoy your family reading time and practice some spycraft yourself with every re-read.



A realistic child's imagination and desire for a little adventure make this a fun theme and a cute adventure.

This little girl is sure her father's a spy. She really didn't know it before but has finally pieced the activities together and has come to this conclusion. But most importantly, she loves him a lot.

I did think that this book was going to follow clues as the child pieces together her conclusion. Rather, she starts with her already settled conclusion and tells the reader why she thinks the way she does. This was a bit disappointing, since letting it actively join her search would have been more investing (imo). But this is still a sweet read as the text explains what reasons she has, one by one, and the illustrations show reality.

I did smirk and smile, and I'm sure young readers/listeners will as well. Some situations were very obvious in what was really going on, while others were a little less clear (and might need a tiny shove in pointing them out depending on the reader). I did appreciate the realistic play on a child's fantasy and how it allowed reality and fantasy to meld into a fuzzy and happy truth. It's a fun read and one which will have kids flipping through more than once.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Review: Waffles and Pancakes: Planetary-YUM by Drew Brockington


by Drew Brockington
Little Brown Books
Children's Graphic Novel
64 pages 
ages 6 - 9


Inspired by his beloved CatStronauts series, Drew Brockington is going back in time to when everyone's favorite Catstronaut, Waffles, was a kitten!

One very special Saturday, Dad-Cat decides to take Waffles and his sister Pancake to the big city to go to the science museum! While they're there, the kittens see extraordinary things, like dino-cats, hairballs in 4D, and even the planetarium. But as the kittens learn about constellations and Neil Pawstrong, they get separated from Dad-Cat. Oh no!

Will the kittens be able to find their (possibly invisible) Dad-Cat? Or will they get stuck living in the museum and eating star tots and tuna melts fur-ever?!



Science museums and space gain a boost of excitement and fun in this fun to read adventure.

Dad-Cat announces that it's time to head to head to the science museum. Waffles and Pancake are amazed by all of the different sights to see, facts to learn, and things to experience. But when the get separated from Dad-Cat, things take an interesting turn.

This is a lovely, beginning reader for those who are comfortable with words but aren't quite ready for a middle grade novel yet. Waffles and Pancakes are a cute pair, who have a touch of mischief but also a wonder for discovery. In other words, they are very easy to like and connect with. Dad-Cat is a fun adult, who knows exactly how to put in the right burst of surprise and excitement to keep the two entertained. It's a lovely, family dynamic.

The illustrations are great for the audience level, have enough details to enrich the scenes, and carry as much of the tale as the text. The text is placed in easy to ready bubbles and does have sound effects and fun moments. There are facts sprinkled in, but those are kept light, letting the fun of the tale stay front and center.

My favorite aspect of this book is the way the author illustrated how fun science and a science museum can be. This does not surpass the main plot of Waffles and Pancakes, and yet, it flows constantly right along just a little off in the background. The author has added a museum map as the three move from one area to the next. Not only does this allow the reader to get a feel for museum layouts and follow them along, but it shows how wide and broad the displays, activities, and sights are in a science museum...something for everyone.

Young readers will enjoy this duo and their adventure, and learn something about science along the way.

And  here he is...

Drew Brockington has flown a Space Shuttle, repaired the International Space Station, and served in Mission Control; all during a week at Space Camp. CatStronauts is his first series. He lives with his family in Minneapolis.

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.

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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.