Monday, February 28, 2022

What's Coming in March?

March is always a busy, busy month in my world. The farm work kicks up a few notches thanks to the warming weather, our birthday rush begins, all sorts of competitions and events are scheduled at school...but no worries! I always have time for reading, too. And that's a good thing because what exciting books we have in store! 

While I hit a few different directions this month, including humor, poetry, and several non-fiction, I'm also heading deep into fantasy...or at least, that's what my reading pile claims. Fantasy, fantasy, and more fantasy. It's going to be a bit lighter than usual in the picture book arena (has that ever happened before?) and I'll be hitting a little more middle grade...some awesome middle grade, by the way.

But let's just take a quick glance.


The well-known author of the Spy School series is spreading his wings into new territory with this humor-packed read. Or so, I'm told. I thought the cover was more than intriguing...and since this author has been a treat to read, I'm ready to take a peek. Laugh and giggle with me on the 1st!

Middle Grade Humor


After the read above, I decided a little more humor never hurts, and this one definitely caught my attention. It's about...(brace yourselves for this one)...a two-headed chicken who races across the multiverses to escape from an angry moose. If that doesn't spell crazy, I don't know what would. View this bright and silly adventure with me on the 3rd!

Children's Humor


I'm switching gears to head into poetry and the tale of a girl, whose name isn't important. Odd, but it makes sense with the theme. It rakes through bullying, sexual assault and other series issues. It's part of a fundraiser for anti-bullying, anti-sexual assault and anti-violence organizations. Take a look with me on the 5th.

Young Adult Poetry


I'll admit it—the cover caught my attention on this one. It's about a little girl, who wants to hold back the cruelty of the world around her by building a tough, rhino suit. See how this turns out with me on the 8th.

Picture Book


This one is already available in several languages but is hitting the US, too. It's about a cryptozoologist-in-training with tons of mythical creatures, and a main character, who feels more comfortable with beasts than humans. It sounds like a lot of fun. Take a look at it with me on the 9th!

Middle Grade Fantasy


It's time to head into space with a read, which promises tons of adventure, excitement, a true hero, and even character depth. Since I don't seem to ever have enough science fiction, I was really happy to get my fingers on this one. Blast off into action with me on the 15th.

Young Adult Science Fiction


The second I saw that this one deals with a window in an old building, which gives the view of a world parallel to ours, I wanted to get my hands on it. Plus, the cover caught my attention, since it seems to mold so well with the plot. Let's find out more on the 20th.

Middle Grade Urban Fantasy


It's time for some non-fiction! This one dives into the findings of Ruth Mason on her ranch in 1905. As a kid, and even now, I found dinosaur bones fascinating, and I'm curious to see how this book handles the entire thing. Let's go digging on the 23rd!

Picture Book


Heading off into an alternate future, this takes a teen in Chicago, three magic schools, tons of evil, and no chosen ones, who are coming to the rescue. It's written by a journalist, who incorporates the problems he sees in today's world into his works...and this is by no means his first novel. See what you think with me on the 26th!

Young Adult Urban Fantasy


This one promises wit, adventure, and determination all mixed with gorgeous illustrations and a super, sweet rabbit. I'm thinking a cheerier version of Watership Down? Maybe? Or maybe, not at all. We'll find out more on the 29th!

Middle Grade Animal Fiction have no idea how badly I wanted to show you more of what's to come this month, but I'll behave and just head right into our...

There are so many books to review and so little time...which means a waiting-list each and every month for those books, which didn't quite hit the schedule, but I'm determined to sneak in.


Based on Nancy Springer's bestselling series, this graphic novel steers toward middle grade readers. It has been published in several languages and is receiving a new release this year. Since it's obviously enjoyed and gaining attention even after more than half a decade, I'm excited to take a peek at it myself. When? Well, that's the first mystery, isn't it?

Middle Grade Mystery / Graphic Novel

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Review: Fashionista: Fashion Your Feelings by Maxine Beneba Clarke

In today's read, I'm giving you a super-early peek into the future. So early, that this may not even be the final cover! (Ooos and aahhhs are probably echoing right now.) The idea of inspiring young readers to embrace their emotions and let them shine through their clothes...and feel pressured to fit a certain norm... shines like a beacon in this book. It is scheduled for release in December. 

Ready to take a look? 

Fashion Your Feelings
by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Candlewick Press
Picture Book / Fashion
48 pages
ages 6 to 9


Crackling with energy and flair, this stylish book from Maxine Beneba Clarke—author of The Patchwork Bike and creator of When We Say Black Lives Matter—is all about the power of self-expression.

Put on your PASSION.
Wear your HEART on your sleeve.

Work it. Rock it. BELIEVE.

Sometimes you go for clothes that are comfy-careless or just-blend-in fine. Or maybe you’re in the mood for something more chic-a-bam! Lipstick that shimmers. Knee-high boots for steppin’ out on 
the town. Fancy-frolic in feathers. Whatever you wear, find something you love and fast-make it
 your thing. Wear your wardrobe however—chic-a-boom! You’re a fashionista! Alive with bold, vibrant, minimalist illustrations, Maxine Beneba Clarke’s freeform text celebrates the joy of 
expressing yourself through fashion.


Art melds into unapologetic fashion in a way which encourages readers to embrace their feelings and let them shine in a look they can call their own.

Designed for the elementary school audience, this is an easy read which encourages and inspires. The illustrations carry a modern and textured flair, allowing the idea of creativity to come across loud and clear. The people aren't defined with features, and that matches them theme wonderfully. I'm not always a fan of this type of artwork, but in this case, it harmonizes with the idea of allowing your own style to radiate to the rest of the world.

The text is very simple and carries a poetic atmosphere. The words aren't simply printed but hit various fonts, colors and are shown are different backgrounds. While this read could work for younger readers, it's the meaning behind the words, which make this one for those in grades 1 to 4. It presents people not only in all sorts of patterns, clothes, and colors, but also stretches across generations to round off a message that includes everyone. 

Not only is it inspiring and carries a wonderful message of individuality, but it's an easy way (I want to say painless when I think of how my own kids) to slide the themes of modern art and poetry in as well. 

And here she is...

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an award-winning Australian writer and slam poet champion of 
Afro-Caribbean descent. She is the author of The Patchwork Bike, illustrated by Van Thanh Rudd, 
which received a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and the author-illustrator of the critically 
acclaimed When We Say Black Lives Matter. Maxine Beneba Clarke’s poetry and short fiction 
have won several prizes, including an Australian Independent Bookseller Indie Book Award 
and a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry. She lives in Australia.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Review: Honeybee Rescue by Loree Griffin Burns

 Today's read caught my attention for a couple of reasons. One: it's a nonfiction read, and I love learning all sorts of new things. Two: honeybees are always interesting. Three: my husband and brother have both had hives over the years (sometimes more successfully than others). Since this one also takes an unique twist and dives into the job of a honeybee rescuer, I decided to give it a go. And I'm glad I did!

Ready to buzz around?

A Backyard Drama
by Loree Griffin Burns
Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz
Charlesbridge Publishing
Picture Book / Nonfiction
40 pages
ages 5 to 8

COMING...  MAY 10th!!!

Fans of the Scientists in the Field series will love discovering ways to save and protect bees through the eyes of a honeybee rescuer.

Follow honeybee rescuer Mr. Nelson as he expertly removes a colony of bees from Mr. Connery's barn (with a vacuum!) and helps it relocate back to a hive. Photographs of Mr.Nelson's relocation of the colony help bring the honeybee rescue to life.

Nature lovers and scientists-to-be will be abuzz as they learn all the ways to keep honeybees (and our ecosystem) safe. 



Real-life photographs add just the right touch to make this a interesting and valuable look into how honeybees can be moved to safety.

While many honeybee picture books focus on pollen collecting, how bees live, and honey production, these pages explain what a bee rescuer does. The honeybee farm of Mr. Connery starts the scene, first showing how honeybees usually are kept before switching to the hive they've built on their own in the corner of a rickety garage. Knowing the bees won't survive the winter in that spot, the honeybee rescuer comes in. Readers follow him, step-by-step, as he moves the hive into a safer spot.

There are several things I enjoyed about this one. First, the entire thing holds actually photographs of a honey farmer, his farm and the honeybee rescuer. The tale comes from real life and readers follow this right along, getting a true view into how everything is done. While illustrations are nice, these photographs add the needed touch of reality. 

Second, the writing is very well done. Even though this is a nonfiction read, which explains exactly how the bees are moved and why, it reads like a mini-adventure. Not over the top, but definitely not an informational gush, which can bore. It gives the reader the impression that they are standing right there and learning while watching. The vocabulary is at the right age level and this is one for readers who have a good grip on words or as a read-aloud with more text.

 Lastly, there are helpful and interesting additions at the end, which give an even deeper look into a honeybee rescuer's job and several other bits of information. It wraps up the book nicely and makes this a great addition to a classroom theme, homeschoolers, or simply those who are interested in learning more about honeybees.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Review: Haven: A Small Cat's Big Adventure by Megan Wagner Lloyd

 Today's read doesn't hit the shelves under this coming August, but it's well worth the wait. Now, I'm not usually a huge, animal story fan. Nor am I a huge cat-lover (yep, dog woman, here!). Add past animal tales, which also use the plot of a pet on a journey off into the world on its own, and I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this one, but gave it a go, anyway. And I'm glad I did.

Teachers and homeschoolers are going to want to keep an eye on this one, too.

A Small Cat's Big Adventures
by Megan Wagner Lloyd
Candlewick Press
Children's Adventure
144 pages
ages 7 to 10

AUGUST 22nd!!!

When her cherished Ma Millie falls ill, a timid housecat ventures into the wild to seek help in this adventure about love, loss, and finding the truest version of ourselves.

A warm, cozy lap. The toasty smell of baking bread. Tasty food served in a bright-blue bowl. These make Haven’s life as an indoor pet heaven. All thanks to her beloved human and rescuer, Ma Millie. But when Ma Millie becomes too sick to care for her, the cat’s cozy life is turned upside down, and Haven decides she must seek out another human for help. Anything for Ma Millie! Her vow pulls her out of her safe nest into the shadowy forest and down unfamiliar and dangerous roads. When her first plan fails, Haven meets a wilderness-savvy fox who volunteers as an ally, and their perilous journey together brings some victories. But Haven finds herself pitted against creatures far wilder than she ever could be, testing her strength and spirit to their limits. Will her loyalty to Ma Millie—and her newfound confidence in herself—be enough to help Haven see the quest through to its conclusion? Can she stand up against the fierce predator that is tracking her every move?



Heart, inspiration, and warmth make this a book to cuddle up with and dream of big adventures and the vast world beyond the backyard.

Haven is a content cat. After being abandoned in the woods, she was accepted into Ma Millie's home. There's isn't a better home that Haven could have asked for. When Ma Millie falls ill and help isn't nearby, Haven knows it's her turn to return the favor. Setting off to find assistance, Haven has no idea how many dangers she's about to face, nor can she even suspect what great friendship lies in store.

This is one of those animal books to fall in love with and enjoy from beginning to end. It's written for the lower end of the middle grade audience, and even suitable for those who are ready to leave the chapter book world. The chapters are short, the vocabulary isn't too hard but offers a little challenge, and the flow keeps boredom away. There are some more tense scenes, which might bother very sensitive readers, but most readers will enjoy the added adventure and find themselves at the edge of their seat.

The writing grabs right away and keeps the reader in the pages the whole way through. The scenes come to life as the odor of fresh bread or forest scenes bring a nice vividness, and that without bogging down with heavy descriptions. There's always something going on to drive the tale forward. Add Haven as a cat to root for, and an unexpected friendship, and there's more to love than just the heroism and exciting moments. Even the end touches the heart and leaves on a bitter-sweet note, which isn't quickly forgotten.

It's an easy read and packs enough adventure to even interest those readers, who aren't normally animal-story fans. 

And here she is...

Megan Wagner Lloyd is the author of the graphic novel Allergic, as well as the picture books Finding WildFort-Building TimeBuilding Books, and Paper Mice. Megan Wagner Lloyd lives with her family in the Washington, DC, area.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Review: Uprooted by Kandi J. Wyatt

I'm late today, and that's because I got lost in this read and didn't finish it until this morning. Fantasy friends are in for a treat with this one because it is a gem. But I'm going to let my review do the rest of the off we go!

Sovereigns, Book One
by Kandi J. Wyatt
Young Adult Fantasy
295 pages

Sold as a slave, and uprooted from home, 18-year-old Hest must decide where his loyalties lie or risk losing his new friends.

At peace in the stable, Hest cares for the visitors to Stad while spinning tales of adventure for the innkeeper’s son. But when a foreign warrior purchases him as a slave, he must decide if he’s willing to live the adventures he’s told.

With his new country under attack from an old enemy, Hest must learn to fight or lose his life in battle. While recuperating from injuries, he overhears a plot of treason. Choosing where his loyalties lie will seal his fate and that of a kingdom.

Hest’s already lost one family. He’ll do anything to keep his new one—even ride out to battle and most-certain death.

Uprooted is the first book in the coming-of-age fantasy series, The Sovereigns. If you like action, rounded character development, and dragons, you’ll love Kandi J Wyatt’s book.

Journey to a new world and start reading Uprooted today!



I'm going to step into trouble, and immediately admit that the cover is not my thing, which made me hesitant to pick this one up (Yep, I'm superficial like that). Gosh, I'm glad I took a peek anyway because this is really an amazing read.

Hest is a stable hand in a country, which gets its light from two stars. Not much grows, but that's the only way he knows things. He's heard stories about the other side of the planet, where the sun only shines and burns everything. Then, there's area in between, and that's where their food and wood comes from. When a warrior from this lusher country visits the inn and demands Hest take special care of his horse, little does he realize that his life is about to change. The warrior pays Hest's foster mother money for him, and Hest finds himself as the squire to a man, who knows kings and is about to go to war.

This is one of the better written, fantasy tales I've read in awhile. It holds mages, dragons, warriors, a foreign planet, horses, kings, and so much more. The world is rich, well developed, and doesn't drag, in the least. Every page is grabbing, and every moment holds something of interest...and still, it isn't rushed and flows at a wonderfully, steady pace. There's intrigue, secrets, growth, friendship, crushes, battles, and....well, it's simply rich in every way and form. Even the characters shine with their own personalities, goals and backgrounds. 

Hest is a young man, who is very easy to relate to. He does have a sense for adventure. He things. Or maybe not? And that's what makes him so much fun to connect with. He's just a guy, who finds himself in one of life's flips and has so much growing to do and so much to learn. He's not cocky, he makes mistakes, he's by no means a hero, but he's determined to do his best...whatever that might mean. He's caring, humble, and clever. In other words, he's the perfect character to start out a journey to a series, and one that has so much room to grow that it makes it fun.

While this is a solid fantasy read, it still flows easily and quickly. The dialogue comes across very naturally as do the characters' actions and decisions. Even the kings and such each bring just the right dusting of quirks and attitudes to make them human with all of their pomp and circumstance. And it's written for the age group. I'd even recommend this one for upper middle graders, since Hest is that easy to connect with and the read isn't inappropriate. 

I'm so glad I found this one and can't wait to see where the series goes from here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Review: Witchy Magic and Me, Maggie by Cynthia Magriel Wetzler

 Due to some changes, I had to switch things up again. Instead of heading into a middle grade read with a touch of paranormal spookiness, it's time for beaches, magic and a girl to love. This book has won more than a prize or two, and after reading the blurb, I was really curious to see what it held. And what a treat it was! This is one of those small gems, which makes reviewing so much fun...a bit like finding that amazing sea shell while strolling along the beach.

Ready to take a peek?

by Cynthia Magriel Wetzler
Saltwater Press
Middle Grade Fantasy
296 pages
ages 8 to 12

Hi, I’m Maggie and I have to whisper something to you. Shhhh..

There are witchy doings on the island of Nantucket where I live. Seriously.

Can you believe sandpipers doing cartwheels on the beach and dune grasses doing backbends?

My father thinks I’m making it up to be dramatic or to find awesome things to draw for the art fair. But my dog, Blissful, knows it’s magic—my witchy Grammy Apple’s magic.

Uh-oh. Does this mean I’m a witch too? The kids at school will be so mean about it, maybe even pinch their noses when I pass by.

Even so, it would be kind of cool—to be a real witch, I mean.



With the feel of a traditional tale...which isn't so traditional, after all...this book takes the reader on a slightly magical ride with a ton of warmth and lots of mystery.

Maggie loves to sketch and draw, and she's rather talented at it, too. When she somehow is allowed to participate in the local art show, she's over joyed. Then, the secret is out. Her grandmother was rumored to be a witch, and Blissful, her dog, seems to be magical, too. She's not certain whether magic and witches are go things, though.

Maggie is a character, which a reader wishes could be their real-life friend. She's determined, caring, careful, curious, and wise for her years. Usually, books for this age group have characters excited when they discover magic abilities, but Maggie isn't convinced this is great. Her father is less than supportive, and she's even threatened by those who've guessed her grandmother's secret. After all, witches are open  to gossip and ridicule. Maggie's magic is also different than one might suppose. The subtleness makes it more wonderful and invites to dreams as only fairy tales can. And yet, this one packs mystery too.

There's never a boring moment, and it's an easy read. I'd recommend this one to the younger end of the age group, although older readers will enjoy it too. The world comes to life through clever descriptions, which flow right along with the tale. Characters come with different personalities and add just the right touch at the right times. The dialogue comes across naturally, driving the scenes forward. Everything is smooth and glides as a tale should. As an extra bonus, lovely illustrations are sprinkled between the text. 

It's simply a lovely read with so much to enjoy.

And here she is...

Hi, I’m  Cynthia Magriel Wetzler. I used to be a journalist and wrote many stories for The New York Times. I loved interviewing and writing about really interesting people.

But I followed my dream and started to write children’s stories because I love to make up magical worlds with magical characters!

Maybe you would like to be a journalist or a writer some day?

I have grown children and live with my husband, Garrett, in Northern Westchester, New York. Our high-spirited little dog, Rodney, is the total inspiration for Blissful in this book.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Review: The Stars Between Us by Cristin Terrill

Today's review is still in line with this week's run of young adult fantasy and science fiction reads...and even with the earlier post today. So, it must be fate. While yesterday's read hit parallel world's and fighting for survival on a dead planet, today's mixes the dream of 'rags to riches' with romance and adventure. While the blurb definitely grabbed my interest, I also found the cover on this one eye-catching.

Ready to shoot off into the galaxy and see what it holds?

by Cristin Terrill
Wednesday Books

AUGUST 2nd!!!

There’s always been a mystery to Vika Hale’s life. Ever since she was a child, she’s had an unknown benefactor providing for her and her family, making sure that Vika and her sister received the best education they could. Now, Vika longs for a bigger life than one as a poor barmaid on a struggling planet, but those dreams feel out of reach. Until one day Vika learns that her benefactor was a billionaire magnate who recently died under suspicious circumstances, and Vika has shockingly been included in his will. Invited to live on a glittering neighboring planet, Vika steps into a world she can hardly believe is real.

The only blight on Vika's lavish new life is the constant presence of Sky Foster, a mysterious young man from Vika's past who works for her benefactors. She doesn't like or trust Sky, but when she narrowly escapes an explosion and realizes someone is targeting the will's heirs, Vika knows Sky is the only one who can help her discover the identity of the bomber before she becomes their next victim. As Vika and Sky delve into the truth of the attacks, they uncover a web of secrets, murder, and an underground rebellion who may hold the answers they've been looking for. But Sky isn't who he seems to be, and Vika may not escape this new life unscathed.

In The Stars Between Us, Cristin Terrill sweeps readers away to a Dickensian-inspired world where secrets are currency and love is the most dangerous risk of all.



This is a fun, rags-to-riches tale with adventure and space and romance and...well, it's quite the ride.

Vika works as a barmaid, bringing in what income she can along with the rest of her family members, since her father's job went under. The last thing she expects is to suddenly be declared the chosen wife for one of the richest sons in the galaxy. She definitely doesn't expect it to be taken away again...and then, back? Her life has turned into a rollercoaster, but then, there's so much more as she faces a plot to kill off the rich family, strangers trying to gain her trust, and a world she doesn't really fit in with.

This was a fun read. The world building is very well done, keeping everything familiar and yet gliding off into space. It's not hard to sink into Vika's life as she does her best to support her family. She's a bit snarky, but she lives a tough life. Her family is supportive...for the most part. Her younger sister is a bit of a mystery to me, but all in all, it's a lovely mix. Especially when the other characters join in and stir up the plot quite a bit.

It does carry the usual Cinderella appeal, but then, twists in murder and intrigue as well as an enemy to friends love. The story flows very smoothly and draws in with it's easy-to-read style. With the space setting, the uniqueness is complete. Even this doesn't overwhelm, but rather adds a nice touch, which won't even scare away those who don't normally dive into the science fiction world. 

This is a read to enjoy with a bit of several genres flowing together seamlessly. So, I can recommend this one to YA romance fans, who love more than just than usual, sweet read.

Cover Reveal: The Stars Forgot Us by R.J. Garcia

The Stars Forgot Us
by R.J. Garcia
Midnight Tide Publishing
YA Paranormal, Suspense


MARCH 30th!!!


Fifteen-year-old Jacob Kelly would love to go back to simpler times. Before his parents’ divorce and the onset of his brother’s Schizophrenia. But when he returns to his hometown, things feel off. After a series of strange occurrences, Jacob fears his new house is haunted or worse, yet he is losing his mind.

To his surprise, Jacob discovers a mysterious teenage runaway, Sanctuary Daniels, living in the house. She reveals she has been kept by a figure known only as Mother, in a place where downstairs children are languishing prisoners, and upstairs children do Mother’s bidding.

Jacob’s investigation into Sanctuary’s allegations, along with their budding romance, are cut short when she is reclaimed by evil beings. Beings who unleash terror upon Jacob and his family. Now he must journey to a real haunted house to save his first love and fight for his very life.

Add to Goodreads / Pre-order

Author Bio:

R.J. Garcia is a wife and proud mom. She earned her MSW and worked with foster children and as a school social worker. Writing has been her other great love. She has published several non-fiction pieces. She has been writing short-stories for as long as she can remember. To her amazement, those short stories became novels!

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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Monday, February 21, 2022

Review: Wakers by Orson Scott Card


by Orson Scott Card
Margaret K. McElderry Books
YA Science Fiction
400 pages


From the New York Times bestselling author of Enders Game comes a brand-new series following a teen who wakes up on an abandoned Earth to discover that he’s a clone!

Laz is a side-stepper: a teen with the incredible power to jump his consciousness to alternate versions of himself in parallel worlds. All his life, there was no mistake that a little side-stepping couldn’t fix.

Until Laz wakes up one day in a cloning facility on a seemingly abandoned Earth.

Laz finds himself surrounded by hundreds of other clones, all dead, and quickly realizes that he too must be a clone of his original self. Laz has no idea what happened to the world he remembers as vibrant and bustling only yesterday, and he struggles to survive in the barren wasteland he’s now trapped in. But the question that haunts him isn’t why was he created, but instead, who woke him up…and why?

There’s only a single bright spot in Laz’s new life: one other clone appears to still be alive, although she remains asleep. Deep down, Laz believes that this girl holds the key to the mysteries plaguing him, but if he wakes her up, she’ll be trapped in this hellscape with him.

This is one problem that Laz can’t just side-step his way out of.



Written with grabbing details and background, this is a dystopian read which more than hooks into an alternate world.

Laz can spring from one world to another to correct decisions or change them as he wants. He's used the shifts since he first understood what was happening and has warped those moments in his life he didn't like. But this time is different. He wakes up in a strange facility, lying in a type of capsule bed among rows of beds just like his. He finds he's still on Earth, but everyone has died long ago. He's alone and, somehow, must survive because while side-stepping still works to change the small things, it doesn't take him from the new reality.

To say that the author has done his research is an understatement. I think this one is even better laid out and support with real explanations than the author's other works, and that does make it a treat to read for fans of science. And it goes beyond that. Laz is caught up in a seemingly impossible situation with no real way out. He faces danger upon danger, makes unexpected discoveries, and rounds it all off with a tense and exciting end. 

I did enjoy the details and was surprised at how much thought went into the world and situation. So much of the world around Laz was very well laid and slid along the harshness only reality can offer. So, a huge thumbs up on this end. While this was all more than well based, there were still holes in the general plot and characters' awareness or decisions. I'm not going into specifics (no spoilers), but from the very first 'I'm a clone' decision to several other big moments, Laz seems to decide something is fact without any solid evidence to strongly support it. These felt like forced plot-tweaks and did bother me a bit.

Laz's character is very well done, and we also get to know the others as they trickle in with time. This does take awhile, since the first half or so of the read is about Laz settling, more or less, into the world. And this part did draw out, especially for those who aren't into science and survival details. I also never warmed up to his later 'friend', but she was well fleshed-out. The last third-or-so of the read is where the real action finally begins and leads to an intriguing twist with all of the tension a read like this needs.

This is a very well done read, which will especially grab the interest of time travel, alternate reality, and physic fans. For more relaxed readers, it may or may not be the right read.

And here he is...

Orson Scott Card is the author of numerous bestselling novels and the first writer to receive both the Hugo and Nebula awards two years in a row; first for Ender’s Game and then for the sequel, Speaker for the Dead. He lives with his wife and children in North Carolina.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Review: Buried by Kennedy Plumb

Today's review has been sitting in my pile for more than a few months as an ARC and was released this last November. Still, I refuse to ignore it and pass it up...and no, the publisher really doesn't mind. They gave a huge time frame on this one. 

I've been excited to dive into this one. Doesn't seem like it, I know, but my pile has been super huge. Honestly. Not only did the blurb catch my attention, but science fiction seems to get the short-end when it comes to young adult reads. Granted, this one does take place in a dystopian world, but even those aren't nearly as plentiful as they were a few years ago.

Am I babbling? Yep, with the best of them! So, off we go!

by Kennedy Plumb
YA Science Fiction
410 pages

Life in the Underground United States really freakin’ sucks.

No freedom, no sunlight, and the whole place smells like armpit.

That‘s what life has been like for Sam and his little sister Ella for the past eight years, ever since the Draft took their parents. So pretty much hell. But at least they had each other.

​Until they didn’t.

​As if Underground life couldn’t get any worse, Ella mysteriously goes missing without a trace. Sam must now embark on a dangerous journey through the unknowns of the Underground to find her.

But will he find her before it’s too late?

Will a brother’s love be enough to save her?



The wit and humor of the main character give this dystopian an unique spin, while still weaving through more serious themes.

Sam's parents were forced into the armed forces, while he and his much younger sister were forced to join those living underground. He never saw his or heard from his parents again. Life underground is separated into different levels, which he and his sister reside in the lowest class. They work for credits to pay for their food and such, and he is well-liked by one of the heads. Life isn't great, but when his sister goes missing, it takes an even worse turn. Now, he can only hope it will be possible to find her.

I do enjoy a good, YA dystopian, but this one was not what I was expecting. While there are cliches and things that remind me of other books in this genre, there's a humorous touch, which makes it unique. The main character, Sam, isn't happy with the state of things...nor should he be...but he packs sarcasm and keeps humor up. It's not that he cracks jokes, but rather, the way his thoughts flow and his comments give him a touch of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This was strengthened by the illustrations of diagrams and notes he'd create. So, unlike other YA dystopians, which harbor serious circumstances and danger, this one takes a lighter twist...and still, adds in serious circumstances and, toward the end especially, danger.

The writing in this one flows well. It's written in first person from Sam's point of view, but even here, it's a bit original in that Sam speaks to the reader, at times, and switches between acting as a narrator and really sinking in as a character in the story. It makes it hard to say, which audience this book is intended for. Much of it screams middle grade, and I'd recommended it to that group if it weren't for some of the tougher scenes later on. Honestly, I'm not quite sure where to put this one.

The world building is well done and makes the underground world easy to picture. I also adored the sibling relationship, although I would have liked to have gotten to know his sister a little better. The other characters are very varied, and there the basis for the series is well set. While it is a longer read, the illustrations do keep it from bogging down and add a little fun. Still, there were more than a couple holes in the background information and reasoning to the world, which I do hope will still be explained in the next book(s)...but I am missing it already now.

This is an original and fun dystopian with a different flair. I'm going to recommend it for the very upper end of the middle grade and the very lower end of the young adult audience, and am sure the right readers will enjoy it quite a bit.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Review: Kirins: The Seer of Serone by James Priest

by James Priest
Beaver's Pond Press
YA Fantasy
366 pages

A race of tiny magical beings lives on Earth today.
They are kirins.
Due to ancient frictions, kirins have concealed themselves from humans for millennia. When a disgruntled kirin high magician interrupts the global invisibility spell, however, kirins everywhere are momentarily visible to humans. Taking advantage of this breach, a vicious Alaskan fishing boat captain, Jeremy Bailey, captures a kirin named Till and, under threat of torture, exploits Till's magical abilities for Bailey's benefit.
A kirin party fights back to deliver Bailey to The Seer of Serone, an esteemed kirin wizard who brings the infamous human to trial. Peering into Bailey's mind, The Seer will show mercy only if Bailey is a truly changed man.
This lovingly crafted story in the classic fantasy tradition explores the power of empathy, friendship, and forgiveness to heal the rifts that divide.


Fans of 'old-style' fantasy are going to get lost in these pages and enjoy the mix of modern meets a fantasy world.

The Kirins are a small, magical folk, who live hidden away from modern life in the forests and such. These creatures are well described and come across surprisingly naturally. The logic and world are built up just enough to make it 'work' without becoming overly long or dredging, and still hold enough depth and description to bring the scenes to life. I especially enjoyed the Alaskan moments and the boat, and found the author did a lovely job and sliding the two very different worlds together.

This is written in a more traditional style and reminds a bit of Tolkien's books. I'll admit that it's not quite my thing, but I do believe that epic fantasy fans will enjoy every moment. The characters are given enough depth to make them interesting, the logic, in general, gains a good foundation, and the plot pulses along with enough twists to keep the reader in the pages. There were some passages, which were a bit more built out than seemed necessary and slowed the pacing, but it wasn't enough to hurt the read. 

There are, of course, messages, but these don't over power the plot of reading enjoyment. Fantasy readers will want to grab up the next book to find out what happens next.

And here he is...

James D. Priest, M.D., majored in English at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He studied English in the masters program and received a Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Minnesota. He spent three years in Japan as a physician in the Army of the United States caring for casualties from Vietnam, and four years in orthopedic residency at Stanford University. He practiced orthopedics in Minneapolis for twenty-one years. He has authored or co-authored approximately thirty medical articles, and received the Minnesota Medicine Outstanding Writing Award.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Review: Trigger by N. Griffin

Today's review hits a book that I wanted the moment I saw the cover and read the blurb. It's a darker read and heads into the thriller direction. I loved that it included chess and an unsure future, where a girl learns to be a survivor. 

Now, after reading this one, I have to say that it is like its name, 'Trigger'. This is not a nice tale but is harsh from beginning to end. It dives into child abuse, not the overly violent kind but every page seeps with it. There's accidental murder of a loved one at the hands of the child as well. This is not a read for sensitive readers.


by N. Griffin
Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
YA Thriller
256 pages

MARCH 29th!!!

The Queen’s Gambit meets The Hunger Games in this harrowing young adult thriller about a teen girl whose abusive father teaches her the finer points of chess and hunting for his own sinister ends.

Didi tries her best to be a good girl, but it’s hard to keep track of her father’s rules. When she wins a chess tournament, he’s angry she didn’t win with a better move and makes her run laps around the house. When she runs laps the next day, she has to keep running until she’s faster than the day before. When she’s skilled enough to outshoot him with both a gun and bow and arrow, he grows furious when she won’t then shoot a baby rabbit who crosses their path. And Didi can’t do anything to escape being threatened with the Hurt Stick when she misbehaves.

He’s all she has, he reminds her. They have to be prepared. They have to be prepared to fight the rest of the world, when the world comes to an end. He’s grooming her, to keep her safe. He loves Didi. He does—he says so! And so Didi runs harder; annihilates her opponents in chess; takes down a deer at a dead run. He’s grooming her, after all, to be the best…he says so.



If you're looking for a gentle read, this is not it. There aren't any triggers mentioned with the blurb, but there should be. This one is all about child abuse on a constant level, which hits full throttle on the psychological end as well as a bit on the physical. It includes murder of a loved one at a child's hands. There is nothing fuzzy about this read. 

And, most importantly, it is well done.

Didi has no memory of her mother, only the books she left behind. Didi's not allowed to mention her,  or her father gets very upset. But that's fine because her father takes care of her. He allows her to eat and even buys her favorite foods, when he's in a really good mood. She fears the boxes he brings sometimes, since they hold new hobbies he expects her to master. Like chess. Like hunting. But she's always the best, which is good because he demands it. She needs to be the best, although he hasn't told her why.

The author uses various devices to make this an amazing, grabbing read. It digs to the heart without diving overly deep into thought. It brings across scenes without plunging into heavy descriptions. It centers on Didi, using her thoughts as a child and, later, as a teen, to drive it forward as she experiences various situations. She isn't isolated. She's the best at school, rides the bus, and goes to events sometimes with him and his friends. She even has a loving grandfather. Still, she never asks for help for various reasons...and these hit reality as well as make sense.

The twists and turns in these pages carry impact. They come unexpected and are gut wrenching. The  author knows how to play the emotions and scenes just right. There's nothing overly graphic on the violence end or anything else, but there doesn't have to be. Actually, it almost makes it harsher. That's why this one is definitely not a read for sensitive readers, and even troubled young adults may be worse for wear after reading this. 

I read this one in a single sitting and really am impressed at how well it's woven and written. Still, I was surprised that no one reached out to change things. There were several people in the book, who noticed something wasn't right but remained silent. While this does mirror reality, unfortunately, I was surprised that nothing happened at the school, especially since she went there all the way through until she was fifteen. I've seen social services contacted over much less in various schools in various towns, cities and states, and have a hard time believing that her 'visual' state wouldn't have drawn some questions. But I guess anything is possible.

This is definitely an impactful read and well done. It is worth picking up and diving into.

And here she is...

N. Griffin is the author of The Whole Stupid Way We Are, for which she was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Flying Start Authors of 2013, as well as Just Wreck It All, Smashie McPerter and The Mystery of Room 11, Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of the Missing Goop, and Trigger. She received her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.