Wednesday, May 11, 2022

WE ARE THE SONG by Catherine Bakewell Blog Tour +Review and Giveaway

Today I'm excited to be hosting a spot on the WE ARE THE SONG by Catherine Bakewell Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


About The Book:

Author: Catherine Bakewell
Pub. Date: May 3, 2022
Publisher: Holiday House
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 304

Find it:
 GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, Audible, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD,

A lush and beautiful fantasy set in a world where music is magic and the fate of many thrones lies with one girl...

Twelve-year-old Elissa has been raised in seclusion as a devotee of the Mother Goddess. She is a special child, a blessed child, a child who can sing miracles into being. Her voice can heal wounds, halt landslides, cure hunger--and even end wars.

But there are those who would use her gift for darker things. And when Elissa finds herself the farthest from home she's ever been--along with her vain and jealous music tutor, Lucio--she will have to develop the judgment to decide who wants to use her song to heal... and who wants to use her song to hurt.


"Elissa’s desire to follow her divinely inspired abilities and overcome the barriers to her musical ambitions echo women’s historical experiences in classical music. . . . And constellations of race, sexuality, and gender expression lend richness to an already unique world."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"This fast-paced fantasy is full of action and intrigue, taking place in a war-torn world that still holds much beauty and magic. Readers will come to love Elissa, who struggles with doubts as she faces heartbreak, tragedy, and loneliness and tries to fight for what is right. An excellent addition to middle-grade fantasy collections."—Booklist

"Fantasy fans will queue up for this delightful novel with its strong female characters and carefully drawn fantasy world. . . . Fast packed action will keep readers totally engaged. This captivating novel promises a good future for this first-time author."—School Library Connection

"An exploration of devotion and finding one’s voice."—Kirkus Reviews

My thoughts:  

One of the first things that struck me about We Are the Song was how it reflects the authors love for music, nature, the arts and language.  There's a very lyrical quality to her writing and I especially enjoyed the imagery it creates.  Like this passage, "my voice hopped like a stone skipping across water..."  Music is central to the story, we see it in the names of the cities (Acuto, Basso and Cadenza), the way the story was written into four movements, how musical terminology is infused into the story (trill, crescendo and vibrato) and how music is what creates the magic that allows Elissa to sing blessings that heal, stave off hunger, and even give comfort.

Elissa is such a wonderful character, she begins the story as this quiet girl, following the plan that was set to her by the Goddess Caé, realizing that her gift is to be a singer, not a scholar or composer.  Then Elissa becomes like this flower gradually exploding into bloom as she gains her voice.  She begins to question the people who are in power and asking her to perform for their own purposes, wanting to use the power of her songs to defeat their enemies.  Even trying to tell her that it isn't her place to decide whether to sing or stay silent, that they know Goddess Caé's wishes better than she does.  I so enjoyed that Elissa learns that the only voice she really needed to listen to was her own. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this story.  How it touches on religion, spirituality, how if something doesn't set right with you, it's ok to question it.  Although this wasn't a high stakes adventure as I expected it to be at first, the musical/lyrical writing made this a delight.     

About Catherine Bakewell:

Catherine Bakewell is a writer, artist, and opera enthusiast. She has lived in Spain and in France, where she romped through gardens, ate pastries, and worked on her novels. We Are the Song is her debut.

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Website | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of WE ARE THE SONG, US Only.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Monsters in the Mist by Juliana Brandt

Monster's in the Mist by Juliana Brandt
Format:  E- ARC
Publisher:  Sourcebooks for Young Readers
Number of pages:  320
Published:  May 3rd, 2021
Source:  publisher via Netgalley. 

Opening Line:  "The windows of the third keeper's home at Graving Lighthouse quivered, restless in their frames as the wind outside crept against their edges and tried to sneak in."

While their father is away for work, thirteen-year-old Glennon McCue, his mother and older sister, Lee have moved in with their Uncle Job on the Isle Philippeaux, which is situated in the middle of Lake Superior.  The Isle has this ominous, creepy vibe, which immediately the siblings find unsettling, but neither of them can put their finger on what specifically is wrong with it.  Then a series of events occur, making Glennon suspicious of whether it's safe to remain on the Isle.  For starters he has a mysterious encounter with a boy hunched in the road while out riding his bike and then a major storm hits the island, resulting in a shipwreck and several crew members wash up near the lighthouse.  The ship's crew also are frightened about being on the Isle and their bizarre behavior begins to convince Glennon that he has to find a way to get them off the island before it's too late.  

I was in a mood for something creepy when I received a review request for Monster's in the Mist, and this certainly hit the spot.  The story is one that slowly burns, we get to know Glennon, Lee and what brought them to Isle Philippeaux, but from there it grows in intensity.  Glennon begins to unravel the mystery of the island and what he finds, well he has every reason to be scared of.  Even I was scared for him and Lee.  And the monsters of this story, well let's just say that the phantom ghosts and the real-life monster that is present in Glennon's life was equally frightening.  This story really does build in the horror department and has a lot of depth, delving into some pretty deep subjects, like PTSD, panic attacks and the overall pain of abuse.  For Glennon and Lee it is the verbal abuse and raging anger that their dad displays toward them that is also present toward their mom. Glennon, Lee and their mom have each found their own ways to exist amongst this terrible emotional and verbally abusive situation.    I really appreciated the author's letter to the reader at the end of the book explaining how not all abuse is physical, that the words Glennon's father used in the story were forms of verbal and emotionally abuse.  I also especially liked the encouragement that Brandt offers for children who may recognize any of these actions to seek a trusted adults help, whether a trusted teacher or counselor.  Finally, I felt the love that exists between these siblings, the way that they support each other and understand each other's needs.  I'd recommend this to the readers who enjoyed A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, it had that same sort of feeling of confusion and sadness with the greater theme of finding the truth of what haunts them.  Overall, the story left me optimistic about Glennon and Lee's future and I really wanted them to be free from the pain that was being inflicted on them.

**A huge thank you to Sourcebooks for the E-ARC**                 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Captain's Daughters by Doreen D. Berger

The Captain's Daughters by Doreen D. Berger
Format:  E- book
Publisher:  Polaris Print, LLC
Number of pages:  254
Published:  April 16th, 2021
Source:  author in exchange for an honest review

Opening Line:  "Polaris can be found almost directly above the North Pole and is, therefore, nicknamed the North Star or Pole Star."

The Captain's Daughter begins in March of 2297, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  12-year-old Diane and Robin are visiting their grandparents ranch with their father, Captain March of the Starship Polaris for a short shore leave while repairs are being completed on his ship.  While on an outing horseback riding, the girls are abducted by aliens and whisked away as a part of a huge ransom and revenge plot.  The March girls, however, prove to be more capable than the aliens anticipated and so they overpower their guard, beam to a space station and stowaway aboard a shuttle heading back to Earth.  Elated to have escaped their captures and soon to reunite with their father, the girls believe they're in the clear only to find upon their return to New Mexico that they've not only entered an alternative universe, but also an alternative timeline, one in which their family doesn't recognize them.  How will they ever set their timeline back and get back to the home that they know?  

The Captain's Daughters was such a fun science fiction story, defiantly feeling some Star Trek vibes in this one, think firing phasers, aliens, Nebula's, beaming down to space stations.  The premise of identical/parallel worlds and "counterparts" was interesting, and I liked how creative and resourceful Diane and Robin were in getting off of the alien ship.  I especially enjoyed how the story was divided fairly equally between the girls exploits in the parallel universe New Mexico and Captain March's efforts to recover the girls from the aliens in his time.  Both sides were working toward reuniting with one another.    The story also contained flashbacks or memories of the girls with Captain March, how he moved from being their uncle to their father, and even some of the pranks they played aboard the Starship Polaris.  It was quite entertaining and kept me intrigued with wanting to read more.  Plus, you could feel the love that the girls and their father shared and how much being apart was so difficult for both of them.   Overall, this was a wonderful story, highlighting two sisters and the fun escapades they share in space and time.  

**A huge thank you to Doreen Berger for the E-book for my review. **  

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar

The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar
Format:  ARC paperback
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
Number of pages:  488
Publishing:  May 17th, 2022
Source:  publisher

Opening Line: "All the gargoyles on the unfinished cathedral in the dusty market district of Odierne face east except one."  

For ninety years, the five east side gargoyles have gathered for their daily gossip, while the one westside is left facing the Sarluire river flowing below.  Each of the gargoyles has one sole purpose, to protect the cathedral.  Then one stormy night, a woman is chased with a baby up onto their rooftop by the constable, seeing no means of escape, she jumps into the river below.  The story then jumps ahead eight years to a group of orphans who call themselves the Crowns.  Gnat is the leader and divvy's out their daily pinch.  Duck is the baby girl of the bunch, she's also the baby from the beginning of the story who was found floating in the river by Ash.  The names of this ragtag group of orphans (Frog Eyes, Spinner, Fingers, Drippy, and Le Chou) had me chuckling, as I couldn't help thinking of the seven dwarves.

The Crowns don't usually stay in one town for too long, but Gnat has hatched a new plan to send Duck to the bakery to pose as her new apprentice.  Not only will she be providing the group with bread, but she'll have to swap out their fake coins for real ones.  Master Griselde easily accepts Duck's foraged documents and takes her under her wing showing her how to prepare the bread, she even gives her a roof over her head and an abundance of food to eat.  It's the first time Duck has received any form of tenderness and she relishes in being listened to.  The more that Duck settles into her new life, the closer it feels like a home to her.  But Duck is grows concerned when she hears that the last apprentice Master Griselde had was a thief and worries constantly about being found out.  As the season's pass from chapter to chapter beginning with Summer, things appear to be going well.   Duck secretly gives bread and coins to the Crowns and Master Griselde continues to provide for Duck.    But then a rival gang, the Red Swords show up and try to force the Crowns out of their territory. Gnat tries to align with the Red Swords in a new scheme, which ends up posing a dangerous threat to them all.  

Told in the alternating perspectives of Duck and the unnamed gargoyle, The Patron Thief of Bread is a story of belonging, family and loyalty.  It's a story that will pull at your heartstrings, especially over the beautiful relationship that develops between Master Griselde and Duck.  So very sweet.  Duck is defiantly the star of this story.  I love how she grew under the love and attention of Master Griselde, how she begins to question Gnat's motives and how the guilt of stealing from the baker ways on her.  This is one of those slower, thoughtful books plot wise, but it will stick with you after reading it.   It reminded me of a gentler Oliver Twist mixed with Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame and all the warmth of a freshly baked loaf of grandma's banana bread.  

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Review of The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton
Format:  E- ARC
Publisher:  Henry Holt & Co.
Number of pages:  416
Publishing:  May 3rd, 2022
Source:  Edelweiss +

Opening Line: "Salutations & Greetings of the Most Magnificent Kind, we are thrilled to inform you that you've been accepted into the Arcanum Training Institute for Marvelous and Uncanny Endeavors."

Ella Durand has been invited to attend the prestigious Arcanum Training Institute (ATI), a magical school floating in the sky that is never in the same place twice and can only be reached by a sky ferry.  Ella is the first Conjuror to attend, having gained her spot after her father won his case at the Marvellian court and the three-hundred-year-old ban on Conjurors attending was lifted.  Before that the Institiute admitted Marvellers from all around the world, but never a Fewel, or non-magical student.   Ella is apprehensive about attending the institute, not only is she feeling the pressure of representing all Conjurors, but she really wants to belong and make some friends.   At the same time, she's fully aware that most Marvellian's don't seem to trust Conjuror magic.   After meeting her mentor,  Masterju Thakur and fellow student Jason, Ella feels a little more optimistic about her year.  But when her new roommates reject her, and she's placed with Brigit, a girl who hates magic, being at the institute, and is homesick for her Fewel community, Ella is once again discouraged.

Then news of the notorious Ace of Anarchy, Gia Trevilino's escape from the Cards of Deadly Fate, a high security prison reaches the ATI.  The Marvellian community suspects a Conjuror helped her and Ella's fellow students once again turn on her.  To make matters worse, her mentor is missing, and it seems that Gia Trevilino has found her way to ATI and may be the one pulling all the strings.  Can Ella, Brigit and Jason track down and save Masterju Thakur before the institute is brought down in runes? 

I really enjoyed the immersive and diverse magical world and school that Dhonielle Clayton created.  So many different cultures are represented and each student has their own unique form of magic, or Marvel.  Everyone starts out the year on an even playing field, not knowing what their specific Marvel will be until the end of the years Marvel Exam.  I loved the magic of the Conjuror's and Marvellian's,  both sounded very cool.  How Marvel's are performed with light and come from one of the five Paragon's (Touch, Sound, Taste, etc.)  which provides for many different combinations to include brewing Indian spice elixirs, marvels that make predictions or even control the weather.  And how Conjurors, sing spells and have intricate tattoo's of roots and flowers on their bodies because of the magical spells they cast.  I'm sure there are many other subtitle differences I missed while  reading, but that only means a re-read is in order.  

I do love my magical schools, think The Hound of Rowan, The Magicians Guild or Wundersmith.  I relish all the lovely details about foods and classes and there were certainly enough here to satisfy.  The only thing I was saddened by was all the prejudices that were directed toward Ella and Conjurors, and especially the unfair treatment she received when it was perceived that she broke a rule.  However, Ella admirably stands up for herself and challenges the Marvellers thinking.   Overall, I enjoyed the characters and varied magic systems, I can really see this expanding into a longer series of books.  I especially can't wait to explore more in the Underworld.  Did I mention that multiple children book authors appear as characters in the book?  Such fun.   

**Happy to see this tweet from Dhonielle Clayton  announcing this will be a four book series and check out this book trailer**   

Sunday, April 17, 2022

ARU SHAH AND THE NECTAR OF IMMORTALITY by Roshani Chokshi Blog Tour + Review and Giveaway

I'm super excited to introduce you to the Aru Shah series and to be hosting a spot for Chokshi's latest book ARU SHAH AND THE NECTAR OF IMMORTALITY by Roshani Chokshi.  The Blog Tour is hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Please check out my review and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About the Book:

Author: Roshani Chokshi
Pub. Date: April 6, 2021
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 400

Findit:   GoodreadsAmazonKindle,

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents the breathtaking conclusion to Roshani Chokshi's New York Times best-selling Pandava quintet. Will the Sleeper gain immortality or be stopped once and for all?

*"A deeply satisfying conclusion to a superb, groundbreaking series."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The Pandavas only have until the next full moon to stop the Sleeper from gaining access to the nectar of immortality, which will grant him infinite power. But how can Aru, Mini, and Brynne hope to defeat him without their celestial weapons? The Sleeper and his army are already plundering the labyrinth, and the sisters can't even enter. Their quest to get in will have them calling on old friends, meeting new allies, and facing fearsome trials, like...performing in a rock concert? When the moment of confrontation finally arrives, it's up to Aru to decide who deserves immortality, the devas or the asuras. The most unexpected answer will come from a most unexpected place.

More surprises and delights, gods and demons, and laughs and tears await in this immensely satisfying conclusion to the wild ride that began with the lighting of a lamp.

Collect the whole series:

 My Review:

Opening Line:  "Kara's first reaction when she entered the labyrinth that hid the nectar of immortality was, well, disappointment."

Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality picks up moments after Kara joined forces with the Sleeper to enter the labyrinth and acquire the nectar of immortality.  Kara is musing over her choices and can't shake the thought niggling at the back of her mind and the voice that keeps telling her that the Sleeper might be lying to her.  Although she's conflicted about his motives, and that he hasn't been as forthcoming as she'd like, Kara stills wants to believe that his true desire is to bring her family back together again.  Meanwhile, Aru and her Pandava sisters are reeling from Kara's betrayal, that their mentor is now a flammable chick, and that their celestial weapons have been incinerated.  They also learn that they only have ten days remaining to enter the labyrinth and stop The Sleeper before he ends the world, but it seems time is not on their side, and every attempt they've made to enter the barrier near the gate has proven to be futile.  Without their celestial weapons, they can't see a path forward.  

Then the Pandava's learn that if they can prove themselves worthy by winning back the gods favor, their weapons may come back to them, so Aru, Mini, Brynne, Aiden and Rudy set out on a series of challenges starting with reuniting the three pieces of the Sun Jewel.  Reading the last book in the series is always such a struggle, especially one where you've become so vested in the characters, the luxurious world building, the pop culture movie references, the banter and humor.  It's bittersweet, because you've come to enjoy the plot, and characters so much, and now things are coming to an end.  I must say though, I really enjoyed the way that everything was tied up.  

I also really enjoyed the themes in the Nectar of Immortality.  The way the author incorporated the idea of who gets to be remembered and how.  The premise that through tackling one's insecurities and fears, new strength can be found.  That being thought of as small and weak, might lead others to underestimate you, and can be used as a form of strength.  There's also a huge sacrifice that brought a tear to my eye, no spoilers here, but everything happily works out in the end.  Most of all I enjoyed the characters arcs, how they learned from the hardship of not having their celestial weapons to lean on, how they looked inward and grew closer together to overcome the obstacles they faced.  Most of all I especially loved Aiden's song of truth!  Like I said, I'm sorry this is the final book in the series, but I so enjoyed the adventure.  I truly hope to read more books by Roshani Chokshi in the future.                      

 *Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours and Disney Hyperion for an ARC in exchange for my honest review*  


About Roshani:

Roshani Chokshi ( is the author of the instant New York Times best-selling books in the Pandava series, Aru Shah and the End of Time, and its sequel, Aru Shah and the Song of Death. She also wrote the New York Times best-selling YA books The Star-Touched Queen and The Gilded Wolves. She studied fairy tales in college, and she has a pet luck dragon that looks suspiciously like a Great Pyrenees dog. The Pandava novels were inspired by the stories her grandmother told her as well as Roshani's all-consuming love for Sailor Moon. She lives in the south and says "y'all," but she doesn't really have a Southern accent. Her Twitter handle is @roshani_chokshi.


Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub



Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of ARU SHAH AND THE NECTAR OF IMMORTALITY, US Only.

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Tour Schedule:

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Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Review of The Lucky Ones by Linda Williams Jackson

The Lucky Ones by Linda Williams Jackson
Format:  Paperback ARC
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
Number of pages:  320
Publishing:  April 12th, 2022
Source:  Publisher 

Opening Line: "Thank you, Mr. Foster!"  Ellis Earl Brown waved goodbye to his teacher, then trekked with his sister Carrie Ann along the dusty path toward home."

The Lucky Ones takes place in rural Mississippi in 1967.  11-year-old Ellis Earl lives with his mother and ten siblings in a small leaky three-bedroom home.  Times have been difficult with such a large family under one roof and so many mouths to feed.  Adding to the burden is their oldest brother and his four small children, who have come to stay until their mom delivers.  What little work the family can find comes from either their mother cleaning houses, or any odd jobs that their older brothers can find.  Meals consist mostly of beans and cornbread, when they can find it, and most of the kids have learned to go without.  Everyone in the Brown family pitches in with the chores and their eldest sister, Jeannette ensures the younger children, and house are kept in order while their mother is away at work.  Ellis Earl and his younger sister, Carrie Ann are the only two Brown children who currently go to school, Oscar, who is close in age to Ellis Earl hasn't been able to attend because he's been too ill.

Ellis Earl generally enjoys going to school.  Mr. Foster is a very kind teacher, he even drives nine of the neighbor children to and from school each day, because there is no school bus that comes out their way.  Mr. Foster gives the children snacks, shares his lunches and even lets Ellis Earl borrow books from his personal library so he can read to his younger siblings at home.  His latest book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  In school, Mr. Foster discusses news articles from Jet Magazine and currently they're learning about Thurgood Marshall.  Ellis Earl is even dreaming of becoming a teacher or lawyer someday.  However, Ellis Earl learns that he may soon have to give up his dream and leave school to find work to help out the family.  

With Easter approaching, Mr. Foster invites Ellis Earl to his church to recite a speech to the congregation.  At first, Ellis Earl's mom is hesitant about the idea, on account of the church not being Baptist, and worrying that Ellis Earl has nothing to wear.  However, Mr. Foster isn't easily put off and brings some clothes for him to wear and Mrs. Brown agrees to let him come.  Ellis Earl has such a fun time at church that he even encourages his siblings who are musicians to participate in an upcoming talent contest, although he falsely says that there will be a cash price if they win to get them to come.  Mr. Foster sees great potential in Ellis Earl, and along with a few of his classmates, he invites them on a field trip to the Jackson Airport to greet Senator Robert Kennedy and Marian Wright, who are touring the area and exploring options to help their state.  When Senator Kennedy later shows up at their home, Ellis Earl is initially surprised, but takes the opportunity to discuss the Fair Housing Act with Senator Kennedy and even asks for help in enrolling their family into the food stamp program.  The end of the story brings improvements to the family's living situation and a brighter future for the Brown family.  

The Lucky Ones is a beautiful historical fiction story that explores the topics of poverty, racism and the power of education and reading with a sensitivity and empathy that children will be able to easily relate to.  It's a story that will evoke an emotional response but is uplifting too.  Ellis Earl is such a wonderful main character, he is selfless, even splitting up his treasured Moon Pie into equal shares so that all his brothers and sisters can have a small piece.  He goes without eating when it would prevent one of his siblings from getting dinner.  The lengths he will go to and the sacrifices he makes for his family while being heartbreaking just made me love him so much more.  I so loved the inclusion of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a vehicle to compare Ellis Earl's life to Charlie's, pairing something children might have read to a historical time period they may be unfamiliar with really brought the story home for me.  I also loved how his siblings and he were captivated by the book and how it stimulated his younger sister to want to read as well.  And Mr. Foster, what a wonderful teacher, seeing the potential in Ellis Earl and the way he encourages him to challenge himself and gives him opportunities to shine.   Overall, this was a beautiful story about family, sacrifices, education, and the power of having the right book in the right hands.       

** A huge thank you to Candlewick Press for the Paperback ARC**