Monday, October 31, 2022

Today's read... Big Nate: Prank You Very Much by Lincoln Peirce

 Happy Halloween! Today's read...although not spooky or chilling or dealing with creatures of the night...slides into a different direction, which kind of hits the holiday but indirectly. Pranks. Or 'tricks' on the ever-so-loved trick-or-treat phrase. (Am I stretching things a little?)

Anyway, today's read is the 2nd of two books in the popular comic/graphic novel series, which has now turned into a show on Nickelodeon. It doesn't come out for a few more weeks, so we're going to take an early glance.

Big Nate TV Series Grapic Novel Book 2
by Lincoln Peirce
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Humor / Graphic Novel
224 pages
ages 7 to 12

NOVEMBER 29th!!!

This dynamic graphic novel is based on the Big Nate animated series on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon, featuring storylines from animated shorts and full-length episodes. Starring Nate, Francis, Dee Dee, Teddy, and friends, these hilarious escapades will thrill longtime Big Nate fans as well as new readers. It's Big Nate like you've never seen him before!
When it comes to making mischief, Nate Wright's in a class by himself. Whether he's pranking his sister with fluorescent toothpaste or giving the school yearbook an unauthorized glow-up, Nate's genius for trickery always earns straight As.

Based on the hit 
Big Nate TV show on Paramount+ and Nickelodeon, Big Nate: Prank You Very Much features stories from two shorts and two complete episodes. In "The Pimple of Power," a honkin’ zit on Nate’s forehead unexpectedly becomes the most miraculous good luck charm in school history. In “Time Disruptors,” Nate and his pals channel a legendary team of superheroes to rescue Francis from the clutches of P.S. 38’s obnoxious archrival, Jefferson Middle School. Two short stories showcase Nate’s unmatched prank-pulling flair along with his hilarious response to a school picture day gone horribly wrong.

Combining the animated series’s full-color artwork with the hand-drawn illustrations  so familiar to fans of 
Big Nate comics, Prank You Very Much packs a serious comic punch!



Sticking to the exciting flair of the Nickelodeon series, two adventures make sure Nate and his friends never near the realm of boredom.

After becoming a Big Nate mini-fan, I was excited to dive into this newest edition. I have not, yet, seen too much of the Nickelodeon series, which meant that this graphic novel form was still a little unfamiliar. Unlike the rest of the Big Nate graphic novels, this book (and it's predecessor, book one) leave the traditional, well-known format and let the new series come in. The graphics align with the show and carry that animated direction, rather than the traditional illustrations. As a fan of the originals, this caught me a little off-guard, but I have no doubt that those who know the series will settle right in and enjoy the familiarity right away. 

Pranks abound in the first part of this book and carry all of Nate's ridiculous antics as well as the wonderful reactions of his friends. This newer format does add a new dimension thanks to the colors and slightly more realistic scenes. The emotions come across clearly, letting the humor fly. Instead of darting through many, various situations as in the traditional books, this one centers around two main tales. These play out smoother than the traditional form and remind of watching the show. The word bubbles play on top, giving the right amount of text to balance with each moment. 

Imagination mixes with humor and more realistic situations to create ridiculous moments...and carry some things readers can connect to. The pimple tale is easy for many to relate to and pray they never have that horrible of a zit (this more graphic illustration form made it truly gross). And the superhero tale with the self-made costumes was also more than smile-worthy. Plus, it was hard not to hope the 'heroes' made it through. The read was easy, the adventures fun, and it even hits home just a little bit.

Nate's antics are hilarious as always and his friends round everything off well. There's tons of humor and lots of heart. I do see fans of the show enjoying this quite a bit but also believe fans of the original series might not be as drawn in quite as much. Either way, its a fun read.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

What's Coming in November?

Hello, November...and wow! What a mixed-up selection of reads awaits us these next weeks. I can't remember a month, which has been a larger hodge-podge-throw-together of all sorts of genres, directions, age groups...and that made it super hard to get this post together because I had no idea where to begin!

There are more graphic novels than usual, some nonfiction, a couple whispers of nostalgia, a original genre-cross-over or two, and even a nod toward the upcoming holiday season. Oh, I almost forgot the science fiction, fantasy, humor, paranormal, historical and mysteries as well as rescue fiction? Plus, it's going to be heavier on the middle grade and young adult end with not quite so many picture books as I often have (which also means it's going to be a very heavy reading month for me!). 

Here's a quick glimpse at the array...and see what you think!


This is the 4th in the Cat Ninja series, but my first time meeting these characters. I couldn't resist the idea of hamsters and cat ninjas joining together in a great adventure. I believe it's a graphic novel. Join me on the 2nd for what, I hope, is an exciting, fun adventure.

Middle Grade Adventure / Graphic Novel


This one hits the shelves end of the month (29th) and touches on issues such as immigration, grief and emotional hardships. I, honestly, don't know much more than that, except that it centers on a 15-year-old girl and is supposedly quite an engaging read. Find out more with me (which is a lot) on the 4th.

Young Adult Contemporary


I'm thinking this read is packed with silly humor. I'm really not sure what to expect and am wondering if it will take a similar direction as The Monster at the End of This Book. (Okay, that title dates me. So, if you haven't heard of it, that's not really a surprise). Just think ridiculous nonsense pure with tons of reader interaction. Join me on the 6th to discover what these pages hold.

Picture Book


I've been seeing this one around quite a bit the last months. Heading straight into the theme of bullying, this read goes a step further and adds cyberbullying to the mix, too. It centers around a girl with a lisp, who is determined to help her brother achieve his internet dream. I'm going to be diving into this one on its release day, the 8th.

Middle Grade Contemporary


There's a new non-fiction series out, and I'm going to be taking a glance at a couple titles because I love non-fiction. This one promises to hold a wealth of information and wonderful photography, and is recommended to schools and homeschoolers, too. I can't wait to dive in and discover the world of nighttime animals. Join me on the 15th!

Picture Book  Non-fiction

Set in a science fiction world, this tale rotates around the idea that some humans inherited a gene to give them immortality...which is great until it isn't, and jealousy(?) has the government hunting these immortals down and killing them. Take one of these exterminators, have him run into a female immortal, who catches his heart, and I bet sparks are going to fly as well as tons of action. Find out more on the 18th.

Young Adult Science Fiction Romance


This originated as a webtoon but has found so much popularity that it's coming out soon as a graphic novel in English. It's a dark fantasy, which centers around a tower. The MC has lived his entire life under the tower, but when his friend is summoned inside, things change. Or something like that. Discover more with me on the 20th just a couple days before its release.

Young Adult Fantasy / Manga

Sold as a pick for fans of Hatchet and The Skeleton Tree, this one centers around an academy and a risky rescue in a snowy landscape. Survival techniques join surround a girl's determination to save lives. It promises to give a refreshing twist to academy novels, and we'll find out if this is true on the 28th.

Tween Adventure


Sold as Caraval meets Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, my interest was immediately caught. I was a huge fan of Buffy, back in the day, and am ready to give this read a whirl and see what it holds. Find out more with me on the 25th.

Young Adult Paranormal


This one was, unfortunately, squeezed out of my list last year due to scheduling reasons (I can't read everything I'd love to!). So, get ready this year to dive into a life of trees, snow and fun. I do hope it will be fun. Join the adventure with me on the 27th.

Middle Grade Holiday Fiction

What is a joker read? Each and every month, I have more books on my pile than I could possibly ever get to read. While every day of the month is already filled with a recommended read for the day, I always have one or two (or more?) others, which I'd love to work in but have no idea how or when. Luckily (or unluckily), the publishing world isn't always predictable and a book I was suppose to receive doesn't arrive.... Or maybe the book I expected to be a fun or good read didn't meet my expectations. (Yep, I only read and review books I enjoy!) So, there's always the possibility of working other great reads in somehow...sometime. 

This month, I have the following book at the top of my 'still want to read' pile...


The first book in this series released in May...and yes, I read it and loved it. Now, the 2nd one is coming out. Not only is it a graphic novel, but it packs three mysteries into one volume: The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, and The Case of Baker Street Station. I'm really excited to jump into this one....but when????? Ugh. It was, unfortunately, placed on my extra pile for this month. But there's no way I'm not going to get to this one. I just have no clue when, yet.

Young Adult Mystery / Graphic Novel

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Today's read... Busy Feet by Marcia Berneger

Toes are wiggling in today's read. This one is all about feet and how they accompany us through an entire day. The cover tells me that this one is going to be full of energy and busy-ness...and aren't the little ducklings cute?

by Marcia Berneger
Illustrated by Susanna Chapman
Starry Forest Books
Picture Book
24 pages
ages 8 to 12

FEBRUARY 7th, 2023!!!

Get little feet moving and grooving in no time with Marcia Berneger's interactive and engaging new picture book, Busy Feet!

Feet wake up

Time to play.

Happy feet,

Out all day!

Follow along as adorable baby feet move through a busy day. Where do these feet go? How do they get there? What exciting activities will they get up to? See just how busy little feet can be at playtime, bath time, and more!

In this picture book, art and text play off each other: Berneger’s simple, gentle rhyme underscores illustrator Susanna Chapman’s bold, expressive style. This winning combination—along with diverse art—makes wiggling around and learning opposites a blast. Little ones will be itching to join the party as the characters dance, hop, and march along!

Playful and bright, this book is perfect for sharing and gifting. Busy Feet promises full-to-bursting fun for little movers of all ages!



Feet are moving, moving, moving...with tons of energy all through the day.

This is an easy to read book, which celebrates feet as they carry us through an active day. It begins with waking up in the morning, and then, heads outdoors before hitting the bathtub and back to bed. It's written in rhyme, which flows well enough, and sticks to a few, very short phrases. So, even impatient listeners or very young listeners won't feel bogged down.

The illustrations are colorful and center on feet. While holding energy and artistic flair, they weren't quite my thing, but that's more of a personal taste matter, than anything else. Plus, while diversity is present, it would have been fun to see other types of feet, but again, this was just my personal two-cents.

Energy abounds as these pages inspire to head outdoors and experience life in a very playful way. It also holds hints of friendship and enjoying life. So there are tons of good feelings to be found. I do see this as a great way to inspire young listeners to get moving, and it would make a great read-aloud just before heading to the playground or starting an active game.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Today's read... Blood Moon Prophecy by Dilani Kahawala

Magic and evil creatures and much more are promised to abound in today's read. This is the beginning to a new series, which hit the shelves a week or so ago. It takes a nod toward South-Asia and is said to be quite the ride...perfect for action fans.

So, let's just dive right in!

by Dilani Kahawala
Cedar Street Press
Young Adult Fantasy
464 pages

Eleven years ago, Tilly Nyx did something she wasn’t supposed to. As a result, her mother was killed. Her village was destroyed. Her sister disappeared. And an ancient horror sent her into hiding.

Now sixteen years old, Tilly is determined to go home, even though she doesn’t know where home is or how to get there. All she has is the map that her mother made her swear to protect with her life.

Tilly soon finds herself plunged into the world where it all began—a world of oceans, sailing ships, and feuds between ancient magical families. She joins a fleet in search of the secret that her map holds, the secret that has been guarded by her family for thousands of years.

As Tilly learns how to cast sprites and make potions, she and her three friends must follow the trail of murky clues left by her ancestors before time runs out. But the closer they get to their destination, the more Tilly learns about her true identity–and everything is not as it seems.



Fast-paced is an understatement in this rich fantasy, where magic, mystery, and adventure abound.

Tilly is treated like a servant in her second-cousin-or-whatnot's home, but after being dumped in Central Park at five-years-old, she should just be happy he took her in. Her memory of her past is sketchy, at best, but she knows to meet a man at the park on a certain day when she's sixteen. Instead of showing up for the meeting, the police escort her to find him dead. When she arrives back to her current home, everyone is pressing her to give them a map, one she promised her mother she would hide, but chaos soon breaks out, the world changes completely. Suddenly, people are fighting with magic, horrible creatures want her dead, and there's an entire world she never knew existed, but she has to enter to stay alive. Escaping on a ship to help a commander find the only tool left to stop evil from taking over everything, she finds herself caught up in the middle of saving worlds and, finally, discovering the secret behind her past.

Beginning with a very grabbing, intense scene, this book shoots off and doesn't stop for a single, tiny breath the entire way through...and at around 460 pages, that's a long, intense ride. And it's well done. The writing sits, close and tight, making every moment and word count. This isn't only in the action, however. The world building is also rich, extremely imaginative, and...well, very original in so many ways. The author leads the reader into an elaborate world, where sprites enable magic to be wielded, and there is always more to discover than meets the eye. The South-Asian flair comes through with grace, making this a world to enjoy.

Family and friendship are key in these pages, and without it, the heroine wouldn't have a chance. There's a lovely bonding of a hodge-podge family as Tilly meets friends, and they are forced to stretch all of their capabilities in order to achieve their goal. It is wholesome and heartening in a way, which makes readers wish they could jump right in...except for the very dangerous parts, of course.

There are quite a few characters and subplots, which work out well and promise much to come in the upcoming books...and if they pack just as much, this will be quite the series. While the action and world building definitely had me, I was a little distracted by the similarities to the entire Percy Jackson/Harry Potter trope and wasn't sure why the entire adventure suddenly had to become a type of school on the ship. While this is for the young adult audience, there were quite a few times where it felt more like an upper middle grade read with a little lack on character and background depth. Still, it was well written and definitely draws in. There is so much happening and so much still to explore, and I am excited to see where Tilly and her band go next.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Today's read... Creep: A Love Story by Lygia Day Penaflor

 Nothing screams Halloweeny like chills and thrills, and today's read should bring lots of these. I'd say more, but it's probably best to just dive in.

by Lygia Day Penaflor
Clarion Books
272 pages

You meets To All the Boys I've Loved Before in this twisted, tragic love story that follows Holy Family High School's cutest couple--as told through the eyes of the classmate who's stalking them.

Laney Villanueva and Nico Fiore are the perfect couple: beautiful, popular, talented, and hopelessly in love. Everyone looks up to them at Holy Family High School.

But Rafi doesn't just admire them. She watches them. She's drawn to them.

Intent on becoming their closest friend, Rafi weaves her way into their lives. She starts small: taking photos of the senior class for the yearbook, joining Laney's club, and babysitting Nico's little sister. And it works--soon they invite her to parties, take her on joyrides, and ask her for favors. Rafi's actions quickly turn invasive, delving deeper and deeper until she's consumed by their most intimate secrets.

When tragedy strikes the young lovers, Rafi's obsession spirals, and she will do anything to keep the perfect couple together. Anything . . .



Playing right along the lines of high school drama, this tale takes a step into the disturbing direction and leads down a chilling path.

Rafi is amazed at how perfect the high school's cutest Senior couple is, and she holds nothing but the highest regard for both of them. Determined to bask in their glory every moment she can, she finds ways to weave into their lives and become friends. First, she joins yearbook and makes sure that she's in charge of all Senior photos. Then, she joins the same clubs. With each opportunity, more doors are open to her, and soon, she's right there with least, until the two love-birds part. It's more than Rafi can stand, and she's going to do anything to keep them together.

This book fulfills the title completely. It's creepy, but not completely in the way I expected. Everything plays from Rafi's point of view. The reader dives deep into her head, watches the high school couple through her eyes, and is exposed to her every thought. It's clear right away that she's obsessive in a very unhealthy way. She knows it, embraces it, and follows her urges with full heart and no apologies. It is creepy to get to know Rafi and unsettling to watch her grow closer to the pair, move by move. Her thoughts are well laid, and her plan logical, even as it sends discomfort into overdrive. And worse, yet, there are times where it's hard not to feel sorry for her and wish they could become good friends. It's a tight weaving and well done.

Unlike many thrillers, violence isn't the main drive, but rather, the psychology...which isn't any less dark. Rafi's true intentions are also never hidden, and what surprised me, is that this tendency isn't even unknown to some around her. Here's where I do wish there had been a bit more, since is missing history surrounding a friend and an earlier teacher. 

Thriller fans, who love diving into high school drama, are going to want to take a peek at this one, since it does fulfill the promise its title makes. This one is creepy.

Kickstarter: The Stolen Tears Series by Cortney Pearson with Giveaway!

Chosen Guardian
The Stolen Tears Series, #1
by Cortney Pearson
YA Fantasy / Romance


“This story by an accomplished YA writer is jam-packed…The action moves so quickly that the reader is fully engaged to the very last page.” –Publisher’s WeeklyBookLife Prize

Tears are used to steal magic. Stolen magic equals slavery. I must take up the fight.

In an emotionless world, tears are a precious commodity, valued for their magic and sold on the black market. When I find a vial of these enchanted tears, it paints a target. The ruthless Arcaian soldiers use tears to steal magic, and now they’re after me.
I can’t defend myself against an army. My only chance of survival is aligning myself with a rogue soldier. Talon is rugged, battle-scarred, and full of heavily guarded secrets that keep us both in danger, but I can’t help how drawn to him I am. But what happens when I discover his darkest secret of all?
With Talon’s wavering allegiance, there’s no one I can trust. The tears have chosen me as their guardian, and I’ve got to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. If I fail, my people and their magic will be enslaved to the Arcaians forever.
If you like bold twists, riveting worldbuilding, and slow-sizzle romance, find out why readers are calling Chosen Guardian “magically delightful!”
Get it now!

Goodreads / Amazon

The complete series:

Back the Stolen Tears Series Kickstarter project here!

The purpose of this Kickstarter is to raise funds to launch Special Edition hardcovers of the 3 full-length books in the series as well as to offer an exclusive book box!


“I hope we get some good tears,” Gwynn whispers. “Hopefully, they won’t extinguish my magic or shrink us to the size of nymphs or something.” Nymphs are small, hobbling creatures the size of small children.

“Or maybe you’ll get a siren’s ability to transfix the unsuspecting passerby with the power of your song.”

Gwynn grins at the prospect. “Hypnotic song power? Yes, please. Or maybe we’ll become instantly rich. Or smart like Darrin Graffman—”

“Right?” Darrin Graffman is the only guy at school I’ve ever heard of actually getting his hands on some. Supposedly, he drank tears the night before his Pledgeschool Acceptance Exams and got soaring scores, and he’s about as smart as a fencepost.

“It depends on your innermost desires,” I say. “I’ve heard tears personalize themselves to what you want most. Once you drink them, they make whatever that is happen. If you don’t know what you want…well, that’s when it becomes a gamble.”

“I know exactly what I want,” she says.

“Then you’ve got nothing to worry about.” I hope my words sound more reassuring than I feel.

Author Bio:

Cortney Pearson is the USA Today bestselling author of the Stolen Tears series. She writes fantasy worlds brimming with adventure, loyalty, and romance, from wizards, to ghosts, to pirates. She is the mom of four cuties, loves classical music, chocolate, slow-burn kissing scenes, and sparkles. Not necessarily in that order.

Don't miss a thing regarding Cortney's books. Sign up for her newsletter!

Stay up-to-date in her FB group, Cortney's Secret Keepers:

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest / Amazon / TikTok

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Today's read... Bock & Stella: Battle of the Baby Witches

What's Halloween without witches...and today's read packs some feisty ones. While I do present quite a few books on here from the larger publishers, highly anticipated, and such, I love to discover those reads, which often aren't as visible. Today's read is exactly one of those. 


Children's Fantasy
ages 7 to 12

Stella, a quirky nine year-old, Bock, the pet chicken that lives between her pony tails, and Stella's older brother, Jake, craft silly and creative booby traps to stop three miniature witches from entering their human world.

After perishing in each of their respective stories, "Hansel and Gretel," "The Wonderful Wizard of OZ," and "Sleeping Beauty," the three witches shrank.

These "baby" witches crawl out of a portal in the Oak tree in Stella's front yard, hoping to return to their original size and power by casting a spell which requires the hair of a human girl.

The witches, however, have a difficult time getting close to Stella's hair because she is an avid reader and knows each witch's strength and weakness!

Bock, Stella, and Jake's booby traps catch and send each witch, one by one, back into the portal out of which they crawled.

Will Stella realise that being different can be a real superpower?

Grab your copy of this bewitchingly beautiful tale, so you and your children can join the bewildering baby-witches fun!



A little bit of silliness and tons of imagination create an original story, which is sure to draw listeners in.

Stella is a pretty normal 9-year-old...well, if it wasn't for her best friend, a chicken named Bock, who lives on her head. When Bock claims that three, small witches stole his gummi worms, Stella is ready to help. With her brother Jake's help, she searches the oak tree for clues and discovers that Bock wasn't joking. Three 'baby' witches are hiding in the tree and ready to cause all sorts of trouble unless Stella, Bock and Jake can find a way to send them back to the tales where they belong.

When beginning this book, it's a good idea to put some logic aside and be ready to let imagination filter in...not completely, of course, but enough for some fun aspects to defy reason from the start. Like a girl, who has a chicken living on her head. Stella and Bock are quite the pair and set the perfect ton for this humorous read. While the first pages introduce Stella and Bock's curious friendship, that quickly seeps into the background as the true tale takes over, and they find themselves fighting to catch three witches. From here, the story holds tons of unexpected surprises and keeps boredom far away.

This book is heavily illustrated and carries the flair as if Stella is creating the sketches herself. Not only do these illustrations break up the text quite a bit, but they add to the fun and let each hilarious situation come across clearly. It also invites more reluctant readers to dive in.

I see this one as not only grabbing middle schoolers, who enjoy humorous reads, but the book also works as a nice read-aloud for slightly younger readers. It's quite a bit of fun to follow Stella and Bock's antics and see how they deal with the situations. The situations are ridiculous and quirky, and that's what makes it so much fun. 

Mommy's Day with a Happy Book Birthday to Maybe in Monaco by Kaya Quinsey Holt and Giveaway!

 Every now and then, here on Bookworm for Kids, I have a special Mommy's (and sometimes, Daddy's) Day post with a quick read for them. Why? Well, parents love to read, too! (So, I get a little sneaky and slip one in...)

Maybe in Monaco
by Kaya Quinsey Holt
October 25th 2022
Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Fiction


Immerse yourself in the dazzling world of best-selling author Kaya Quinsey Holt’s in this evocative romance full of “unrest, deceit, and heartbreak in one of Europe’s most spectacular places” (Readers Favorite).

Charlotte Levant left Monaco ten years ago in order to allow the man she loved to pursue his dream but she left with more than a broken heart. Only a select few knew that she gave up her baby. Facing a personal crisis, Charlotte returns to Monaco, thinking she can quietly sneak back without a fuss. But it’s hard to keep a secret in Monaco.

For recently retired Formula One driver Freddie Ridgeport, losing Charlotte was more painful than a car crash, but he quickly found company among his fans. Now back in Monaco, the responsibility of caring for nine-year-old Nicholas has been thrust upon him after he is unexpectedly named as the legal guardian in a will.

Will fate finally reunite these star-crossed lovers? And if so, can the truth make up for a ten-year-long secret that runs deeper than the adjacent Mediterranean sea?

Goodreads / Amazon


“So, where are you visiting from?” the taxi driver asked, turning briefly to look at her.

Charlotte smiled. “Manhattan.” The driver returned his attention to the road. New York City was another world, Charlotte mused as the car performed a hot lap past the Monte Carlo Casino. A throng of tourists with cameras crossed in front of the taxi, slowing all of the traffic behind it. Perhaps the two cities had some similarities, Charlotte thought.

Today, the body of water and anonymity that protected Charlotte was 4,000 miles away.

Charlotte was a French teacher at a private school on the Upper East Side, where she put her New York University education to use. Ample time, money, and effort were spent on rebuilding her life—an accomplishment she previously thought unimaginable. What Charlotte accomplished in those ten years astonished her and her grandmother.

In Manhattan, Charlotte cultivated a refined and private image. She socialized vigilantly, and her acquaintances consisted mainly of private school colleagues. Though she scarcely noticed, Charlotte was admired and desired by many. Charlotte enticed people with her softness, attentiveness in conversations (aided by her social media avoidance), adoration for anything vintage, and passion for French impressionist art. However, Charlotte’s romantic affairs were often cut short, and she developed a reputation for fleeing when relationships threatened to become too serious or prodding.

The men who courted Charlotte inevitably crashed into the walls that guarded her. Privacy was Charlotte’s priority, and the less that people knew about her, the better. She feared the discovery of her imperfections, which lurked beneath every layer.

Charlotte preferred blending in to standing out. As usual, she was dressed in simple, high-quality items, which she—or her relatives—had owned for years. Her haphazardly-piled, classic travel bags were passed down from Charlotte’s late mother, and her antique camera and matching leather bag belonged to her late father.

Contrary to her intention, Charlotte’s subtleties spawned second glances. Strangers couldn’t help noticing the authentic glamour of her well-worn Hermes handbag, slightly upturned nose, chestnut blunt cut grazing her freckled collarbones, and sparkling eyes that never gave anything away.

Slowly, Charlotte’s destination crept into sight. Le Soleil was a luxury condominium with coastal views of the Côte d’Azur. Charlotte dreaded stepping out of the car, and wondered if returning was a dire mistake. “Monaco is my home,” she silently repeated, as she promised herself she would.

The driver slowed to a stop, and carefully unloaded the aged Keepalls onto the unblemished cobblestone.

Charlotte remained still for a few more moments, summoning enough willpower to open the door. Once she touched her feet to the ground, the truth would land. She was in Monaco.

The trunk of the cab shut with a thud that rocked the whole vehicle. Taking a few deep breaths, Charlotte opened the door and set one ballet flat onto the pavement. She was home.

The suitcases appeared smaller and fewer to Charlotte when she left Manhattan. The driver gawked at the mountain of luggage that now blocked the sidewalk.

“That’s everything,” Charlotte lied, for the driver knew not of her heaviest baggage, smuggled into Monaco upon her freckle-dusted shoulders.

Charlotte paid the driver and watched as the car faded into a sea of traffic. She glanced helplessly at the unattended concierge desk and sighed. Keeping a watchful eye on her remaining belongings, Charlotte hauled her luggage into the air-conditioned lobby. She was no stranger to strenuous labor, but her arms ached and her breath grew heavier with each bag.

Ten years since she stepped foot on that cobblestone sidewalk. Ten years since she left the country—and the person—she loved. Ten years since she fled with two hearts beating inside of her. Ten years, and she was still wondering if she made the right decision. Ten years, she kept a secret.

But it was very hard to keep a secret in Monaco.

Kaya Quinsey Holt is a bestselling author of romance and women's fiction. Her books have sold worldwide, have been translated into multiple languages, and adapted for audiobooks. From house hunting in the South of France to weddings in Positano, Kaya's books offer a romantic escape from day to day life. Grab your favorite Kaya Quinsey Holt book an enjoy the journey!

Website / Goodreads / Instagram / Bookbub / Pinterest / Twitter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Today's read... Quest Kids and the Dragon Pants of Gold by Mark Leiknes

While today's read may not be completely in a Halloween direction, it introduces a group of questers, who would definitely bring some pizzazz if they showed up at the door as trick-or-treaters. This is the first book in a new series, and it promises to be hilarious. Half graphic novel and half heavily illustrated tale, it looks like it'll be just the thing for middle graders...and even reluctant readers. I'm looking forward to a laugh or too. And dragons are always a welcome sight!

So, grab those costumes and some traveling spirit because it's time to go on an adventure!

by Mark Leiknes
Union Square Kids
Middle Grade Humor
336 pages
ages 8 to 12

Comics artist Mark Leiknes delivers a laugh-out-loud story set in a fantastic world of dragons, rock creatures, and golden loungewear.
The Quest Kids are ready for their first real quest. This time, they won’t oversleep, they won’t be put off by a little rain, and they won’t accidentally burn down the village that hired them. All they have to do is find the Golden-Fleeced Rage Beast, shave it, and make a really nice golden tracksuit to appease a furious dragon. Simple, right?
Meet the Quest Kids crew: Gil, a wizard (well, wizard in training . . . the beard isn’t his); Terra, a 700-year-old elf kid; Boulder, a rock troll who is more of a cook than a fighter; Ash, a flatulent pig-dog-maybe-lizard hybrid; and, Ned, the intrepid and overly optimistic leader with his own personal quest to find his missing parents. With humor, magic, mystery, and at least one acid swamp filled with skeletal alligators, Quest Kids and the Dragon Pants of Gold is a richly illustrated saga of fantasy friendship for readers from all kingdoms! 



Packed with dangerous moments, never-ending quests, and a group of friends, who might be in over their heads, these pages deliver tons of humor and even more illustrations to go with it.

Ned is the 11-year-old leader of his band of friends, the Quest Kids, who are ready to take on any quest granted to them, which considering they are kids, isn't exactly many. When they sneak in on a quest to steal the golden pants off of a dragon, things get much more complicated quickly. Realizing that the town, which indirectly hired them, lied about the situation, the Quest Kids soon find themselves on a new quest...and things just grow crazier and crazier from there.

There's so much to enjoy in this read, and I have no doubt middle graders (and even some older readers) will enjoy the ridiculous fun. The rag-tag-team of questers is a great band of misfits, which bond together in an odd friendship. And to say that they each hold their own edges and corners is an understatement, and they do get into each other's hair, at times, but all is good. They have heart. Tons of it, and no matter how difficult and absurd everything may get, this group sticks together. Which is great because it's the only reason they make it through.

Illustrations abound and make the tale radiate with all of its odd amazingness, as this book teeters right between illustrated novel and graphic novel. While Ned's narrative of their adventure (in which he tends to humorously get sidetracked constantly) drives the text, all the lovely details in the illustrations bring it to silly heights. The side remarks of the characters made me chuckle and laugh.

I can recommend this one to humor fans, adventure originals, and even reluctant readers, who love ridiculous quests, uncertain heroes, and more than just a battle with a fire breathing dragon or two. 

Monday, October 24, 2022

Today's read... Unicornado by Dana Simpson

 This week, I'm concentrating on all sorts of Halloween reads. Now, this read may not look very Halloween-y, but it just came out a few days ago and holds more it first appears. While it isn't only about the upcoming holiday (there are many funny scenes involved), there are several adventures in the middle, which definitely swing around the season and give ghosts and spooks a whole new name. 

Ready for a surprise?

Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure
by Dana Simpson
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Fantasy / Graphic Novel
176 pages
ages 9 to 12

Get ready to experience a whole new thrilling sequence of adventure and discovery in the delightful, New York Times bestselling Phoebe and Her Unicorn series by Dana Simpson.

A new school year means many things for nine-year-old Phoebe Howell and her unicorn best friend, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. They prepare for a school dance (lame!), meet new friends (ghosts and gnomes and goblins, OH MY!), and even experience a rare supernatural phenomenon called a Unicornado! In fact, sometimes things get almost too magical. Marigold’s presence attracts pixies, talking birds, and a sphinx, turning Phoebe’s house into a magical sylvan glen. And Marigold even briefly transforms Phoebe into a goblin. Whether they’re trick-or-treating, singing showtunes, or casting new spells, every day for Phoebe and Marigold is an adventure thanks to the power of friendship.



This is the...oh well, I have no idea what book number this is in the series because there have been more than a few released. In any case, this is my first time visiting Phoebe and her unicorn, and it was quite the treat.

Phoebe is nine years old and has an unicorn for a best friend. While they've been friends for awhile in this edition, that doesn't mean that things are boring. The unicorn has quite the attitude and, yet, is very sweet. Just a unicorn of its own. Phoebe loves her unicorn with all of her heart but does call the creature out, when things get too ridiculous. Plus, it's hard to say what will pop up next when the land of magic is involved.

Normally, I'm not a huge unicorn fan, so I went into this a little skeptical, but with all of the silliness, that was soon long forgotten. This unicorn may have magic and sparkle (the secret to this is released in these pages, btw), but it has quite the healthy self-esteem and humor. Some of the situations might go above the intended age group's heads (so there are some jokes for older readers), but most will make everyone smile. So, it adds enough range to keep a slightly wider group entertained. 

I also was thrilled to see that this doesn't leave reading skills behind. While it's a graphic novel, the author makes sure to stretch the vocabulary. There's even a glossary at the end to help with those more difficult terms. Of course, that's only a sideline benefit as humor is key on every single page. So kudos on this end!

The illustrations are bright and bring across the scenes well. The unicorn is well cast and has antics and poses, which are smile worthy on their own. The balance between text and illustrations is well played, letting each end take over its fair share. I enjoyed seeing the emotions and characters sparkle (not just the unicorn in a literal sense) and shine. I've become a fan and can only hope there are many more of these to come.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Today's read... Escape to Witch City by E. Latimer

Today's read

by E. Latimer
Tundra Books
Middle Grade Fantasy
304 pages 
ages 8 to 12

In a world ruled by fear of witches, some secrets are deadly. A thrilling new fantasy adventure set in historical London for fans of V.E. Schwab's City of Ghosts and Serafina and the Black Cloak.

Emmaline Black has a secret. She can hear the rhythm of heartbeats. Not just her own, but others' too. It's a rhythm she's learned to control, and that can only mean one thing... Emma's a witch.

In a world where a sentence of witchcraft comes with dire consequences and all children who have reached the age of thirteen are tested to ensure they have no witch blood, Emma must attempt to stamp out her power before her own test comes. But the more she researches, the more she begins to suspect that her radically anti-witch aunt and mother are hiding something. The truth about their sister, her Aunt Lenore, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances years ago.

The day of the test comes, and Emma's results not only pair her up with strange new friends, but set her on a course to challenge everything she's ever been taught about magic, and reveal long-buried family secrets. It seems witches may not have been so easy to banish after all. Secret cities, untapped powers, missing family members -- Emma is about to discover a whole new world.

GOODREADS   /   B&N    /   AMAZON 


A rich world reminiscent of kingdoms and magic embraces family secrets, a powerful queen, and friendship.

Emma is royalty, but that doesn't mean she wants anything to do with frilly dresses or the royal court. While hiding from all of it as long as she can in an abandoned wing of the castle, she hears the witch hunters discussing their latest target...and it happens to be her aunt, who disappeared years ago. But Emma has little time to dig into the mystery as Testing Day arrives. She's not a witch. She refuses to be. But the thumping in the back of her mind, when she gets upset, tells her otherwise. As her blood is tested, she has no idea of the secrets and adventures the results are about to expose.

This is a well written tale with tons of wonderful world-building. From the castle, where Emma's aunt rules as the Witch City and all the other places beyond, everything takes on a amazing vividness, which made it feel as if the scenes were coming alive. It was enjoyable to experience and visit. 

The plot is well woven with unexpected twists and turns, tension, secrets, and heart. The characters' actions were understandable, and each one had their own personalities and hopes. The whole story flows smoothly and is well done. And yet, I really didn't get pulled in. While the first scene is grabbing, and Emma, the political situation, and her family situation are laid out with care. There weren't description or information dumps, and yet, some areas moved slow. I found myself skipping paragraphs here and there. The entire thing does pick up by the end to bring a tense and exciting finish.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Today's read... Sherlock Holmes—The Final Problem adapted by Hannes Binder

I'm a bit late with today's read...which wasn't scheduled to be today's read...but hey, who said life was predictable? (And whoever did say that must be fantasizing.) I had some schedule shuffling due to shipping issues...and then, I had chicken coop issues. Lots of chicken issues. For those who aren't on the up-and-up when it comes to raising chickens, it's always bad to have more than one rooster. My last batch of chicks (from June) held 4 chickens and 8 roosters, and yesterday evening, the roosters decided to go all Halloweeny-horror on the poor chickens. (I'm just going to call it that because...well, if I were a chicken, I have no doubt I'd see it as living through a bloody, painful, horrible, awful nightmare).

Let's just say chickens are evil.

Anyway, all of that's taken care of now, and I finally had time to brew myself a nice, calming tea and dive into a bit of mystery. This read doesn't come out until April, which gives Sherlock Holmes and mystery fans plenty of time to get excited. 

The Final Problem
adapted by Hannes Binder
by Arthur Conan Doyle
NorthSouth Books
Middle Grade / YA Mystery
56 pages
ages 10 and up

APRIL 4, 2023!!!

Sherlock Holmes' most famous adventure, in a striking graphic novel format.

Hunting hat, smoking pipe, coat collar turned up— that's how we know Sherlock Holmes, the most famous detective of all time. He usually investigates from London's Baker Street. But Holmes' most spectacular case leads him in a fast-paced chase from the metropolis of London across the continent to the Swiss Alps. At the roaring Reichenbach Falls there is a showdown between Holmes and his archenemy Professor Moriarty. Who will triumph in this battle between good and evil?

Black and white line drawings on scratchboard are Hannes Binder's trademark. The Zurich illustrator has created dramatic images of the Swiss landscape for this epic story, the pull of which is hard to resist. An exciting graphic novel for beginners and seasoned Holmes fans alike.



This is an interesting twist on Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. While sticking to the every-loved Holmes atmosphere, this one dives a bit deeper into the man himself, giving away more of his personality. The aloof air, as found in the original works, isn't as strong, and, instead, this carries a little more of a thriller feel. 

It's a quick read and keeps the tension high. Of course, the mystery is well laid...although the wonderfully clever thought process didn't come across quite as strong as usual. Instead, there was more suspense, which works well, too.

The illustrations are very well done and take a mix between wonderful scenes and artistic imagery. These alone make this worth picking up and diving into. Although...this doesn't really take the usual graphic novel format. Instead, it reminds me of a highly illustrated read. I see upper middle graders as well as young adults enjoying this one...oh, and adults too.