Thursday, August 25, 2016

MG Review: Waiting for Augusta by Jessica Lawson

Waiting for Augusta by Jessica Lawson
Format: eBook, 336 pages
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Date Published: May 10th 2016
Genre:  Middle Grade 
Source:  Library

Ben Putter has been helping his mother run their home BBQ business ever since his father passed away from lung cancer.  That's also about the same time that Ben noticed this "golf ball" sized lump in his throat, and he also started to feel like his hometown of Hilltop, Alabama was getting a bit smaller.  Ben's solution is to run away, but where to he isn't certain yet.  It's on this very day that Ben begins to hear a mysterious voice talking to him, which for the Putter men isn't really that unusual.  Everything from the clock to the wind "speaks" to Ben, yet this time, Ben recognizes the voice as his father's and it is speaking to him from his dad's urn.  Ben's father tells him that he wants his ashes to be spread across the 18th hole at Augusta National Golf Club.  Wanting to honor his dad's wishes, Ben makes plans for the 400-mile trip, but unbeknownst to Ben someone has been listening, and she plans to come along.  Noni will provide the strength and brains, while Ben will bring the provisions and money to get them there, and no one can say no to Noni.  

Waiting for Augusta is the third book by Jessica Lawson that I've read and enjoyed, the others being Nooks and Crannies and The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.   Waiting for Augusta takes place in rural Alabama during 1972 and touches on the topics of  racism, integration of schools and the grief of coming to terms with the death of a parent.  It's part adventure story, but also an interesting examination of Ben and his father's relationship through their many conversations they have along the way to Augusta. There is magic to the story, in that Ben's speaking to his father, who has passed away and who's ashes are being kept in an urn.  Lots of things "speak" to Ben during the story, some quite entertaining too.   The magic seems to make it easier to approach the topic of a parents death.  I really got caught up in Ben and his dad's story, with how Ben had always felt like he wasn't living up to his dad's expectations for him. How Ben felt like his dad loved golf more than him.   I really felt for Ben and his unresolved feelings, for all the things that he had wanted to say to his father before he died.  They have some very touching moments where they get to have the conversations they both need to hear.  I'm not ashamed to say a few tears were cried.   One of my favorite quotes is when Ben says, "If only I could find a way to let the dark, heavy memories go.  Watch them drift away like colored balloons that would fade and disappear into the midnight sky."  I'm a firm believer in the importance of not assuming that people know how you feel, and always telling the people who are important to you just how important they are.    Ben also struggled with feeling like he had let his friend May down when she was being bullied at school.  Yet, witnessing a protest of students being bused into a school in Georgia, Ben's eyes open to how May must have felt and he also realizes that he should have stood up for May.  I was really happy with the way that he made amends to May.   Another aspect that I really liked was the balance between the characters of Noni and Ben.  His quiet to her fearlessness and how by the end, she was able to open up to Ben about her reasons for needing to come with him.   Noni was by far my favorite character and I love how Ben describes her, "she was like a tricky springtime:  nice and bright and calm one minute, smacking you with rain the next."  It just seems to fit her.   Plus Noni has these wonderful rules for wandering which she learned from her dad.  Another huge aspect of the story centers around golf, which truly I know very little about.  I've played on an actual golf course once and seen a few rounds of the Masters on T.V., but you can just tell that golf is as important to Lawson as it was to Ben's dad.  It just seems right that the book is broken down into rounds of golf and that each chapter begins with a "hole" being played.  A wonderful adventure story with magic, humor and many heartfelt moments.  

Favorite line:  

" know this is impossible, right?  Lots of things are, right up until they're not."  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ten Books That Have Been On My TBR From Before I Started Blogging That I STILL Haven't Read Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish  This week's Top Ten Tuesday is Ten Books That Have Been On My TBR From Before I Started Blogging (August 2012)  That I STILL Haven't Read Yet

Books I Own and really should have read by now:  I don't seem to have a reason for not having read any of these yet, probably just got busy with reading other series or books.   


Books that have been on my TBR for a really long time:  My TBR is really unruly, but who's isn't?  From time to time I weed it out a bit as my interests change, but mostly it still reflects books, series that I would like to read/revisit.    


What are some of the books are on your TBR list? 
Feel free to leave your TTT links in the comments

Monday, August 15, 2016


Today, I’m thrilled to unveil the trailer for book two in Donna Galanti’s fantasy adventure Lightning Road series, JOSHUA AND THE ARROW REALM, arriving August 30th.

Author: Donna Galanti 
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Tantrum books (Month9Books, LLC) 

Number of Pages: 278
Publishing:  August 30th,  2016

Joshua And The Arrow Realm:  On August 30th take the lightning road back to a world of beasts, bandits, and heroes in book two of the Lightning Road series. Join Joshua in a new fight for power in the Arrow Realm. Can Joshua and his friends conquer an unstoppable evil? Joshua never thought he’d return to the world of Nostos but is soon called to the Arrow Realm to free his imprisoned friend, King Apollo, kidnapped as a power pawn in Queen Artemis’s quest to conquer every realm. With his loyalties divided between our world and theirs, Joshua wonders whether he alone can restore magic to the twelve powerless Olympian heirs and save all those enslaved. But when he finds himself abandoned in his quest, he fears he cannot only save those imprisoned—but himself as well.

 “Fast-paced and endlessly inventive, Joshua and the Arrow Realm is a high-stakes romp through a wild world where descendants of the Greek gods walk beside you, beasts abound, and not everything—or everyone—is as it seems.”  ~ Michael Northrop, New York Times bestselling author of the TombQuest series

The Midwest Book Review calls book one, JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD, “a heart-pounding thrill ride full of unexpected twists and turns from start to finish.” 

Grab book one for just $.99cents now through September 20th.

Also,  be sure to enter the fun giveaway package at the bottom of this post that includes a paperback of book one, poster of the Lost Realm, bookmarks, and a $25 B&N gift card (U.S. only). Sign up for Donna’s Thunderclap book release campaign and help her zap the world through social media with her lightning message!


A faint rumble groaned through the whistling wind. 


Thunder ripped the sky overhead. 

Charlie reached the frozen pond, spinning across it. “Woohoo! I win! You Americans can’t beat us at speed!” 

Lightning flashed. It zinged across the pine trees like brilliant sunlight. A seed of terror flickered inside me. 

Boom! Boom! 

Another flash scorched the sky. 

Charlie’s smile fell to a frown as he raced across the ice, peering up into the swirling clouds. 

We both knew what lightning could do. 

Suddenly, sneaking outside for a moonlit sled ride before Bo Chez got home from his monthly poker game didn’t seem so smart. 

The sleet turned to snow. Icicles flew off trees like glass splinters, shattering on the hard snow. As I shot toward the pond, a tree on the edge moved. Its branches swayed in the swirling snow. 

It wasn’t a tree, but a girl! She stumbled through the mad flurry, arms outstretched. 

“Charlie, look!” 

Gusts snatched the words away as my sled hit the ice and careened out of control on the bumpy surface. The girl staggered and fell onto the pond. I twisted my sled away to avoid hitting her and smashed right into Charlie. With a yelp, he pulled me up, and we clumped toward the girl. We lifted her up, half dragging her back up the hill to the house in the pelting snow and sleet. 

“Who is she?” Charlie yelled. 

“No idea,” I yelled back. 

He said more, but his words were lost in the wind. 

My lungs burned with the cold and effort. There was only one reason someone would appear with lightning—to steal us. This girl might appear like a waif unprepared for a storm but I couldn’t trust that’s all she was.

Book Trailer Reveal:  


Donna Galanti is the author of The Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). She attended an English school housed in a magical castle, where her wild imagination was held back only by her itchy uniform (bowler hat and tie included!). There she fell in love with the worlds of C.S. Lewis and Roald Dahl, and wrote her first fantasy about Dodo birds, wizards, and a flying ship. She’s lived in other exotic locations, including Hawaii where she served as a U.S. Navy photographer. She lives with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse, and dreams of returning one day to a castle. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. You can find her at

Preorder your copy of Joshua And The Arrow Realm at:  
 *   Amazon *   Barnes & Noble *    

 BOOK REVIEWERS: E-book ARCs are available for this next thrilling book in The Lightning Road series! Email donna(at) for copies and specify the format you’d like.


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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Blog Tour Stop: Guest Post + Excerpt of Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes (+ Giveaway)

Today, I am really excited to have Keira back on my blog to talk about 10 Book Title Facts for her latest book, Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper's Golden Shoes!  As you might have noticed, I've enjoyed following her series and particularly like the Norwegian setting and folklore.  And the illustrations by Eoghan Kerrigan are beautiful.  

29983980Author: Keira Gillett 
Format: eBook 
Publisher: Keira Gillett 
Number of Pages: 300 
Date Published:  July 1st 2016

Book Three in the Zaria Fierce Trilogy Summary: 

“Nothing can save you now, Princess.” How can anyone be tricked twice? Isn’t there even a saying about that? Zaria Fierce is determined to get things right this time and with the Drakeland Sword in her possession she’s ready to take on trolls, dragons, and whatever else may come… but first she and her friends are going to have to figure out just how much trouble they’re in at home. 

Available in E-bookPaperback, and Audiobook (Coming Soon) 

10 Book Title Facts about Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes

Good day everyone! My name is Keira Gillett and I'm so glad to be back here at Brenda's fabulous blog talking about my Zaria Fierce Trilogy. The story revolves around a young girl who moves to Norway, meets a troll, and goes on a quest to save her friend, making new friends along the way and discovering magic powers. The final installment, Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper's Golden Shoes was so much fun to write and I'm thrilled to share it with you all. I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at the book's title.
  1. There were 105 titles being considered for the third installment in the Zaria Fierce Trilogy. I'm not kidding!
  2. The very first title considered for this installment was Zaria Fierce and the Claiming of the Hoarfrost Crown. The Hoarfrost Crown was a remnant from the initial world building that occurred when prepping for the trilogy. In the end, this title was rejected because a crown never became a focus in the books, but shoes, however did. I mean, a gal has to have her footwear, right?
  3. At one point in time the shoes were more like Cinderella's glass slippers being made out of hoarfrost instead of gold, to go along with the hoarfrost crown idea from above.
  4. Geirr's comment in book one about, "Shoes? This is about some girl’s shoes? Are you kidding me?" inspired and influenced many book titles on the list.
  5. When the book titles weren't about Golden Shoes they were heavily swayed toward Golden Kings.
  6. One of the close contenders was Zaria Fierce and the Sorceress’s Golden Shoes, but it was felt to be too much of a mouthful so it was nixed.
  7. Some of the titles focusing on the Golden Kings included:
    • Zaria Fierce and the Tarnished Golden Kings
    • Zaria Fierce and the Corruption of the Golden Kings
    • Zaria Fierce and the Crowning of a Golden King
    • Zaria Fierce and the Next/Last Golden King
  8. Each title in the trilogy focuses on one item that the dragon Koll needed to ensure his escape from the Under Realm. The “secret”, the sword, and the shoes. I hadn’t originally intended that, but once I saw the pattern I had to complete it. It just made sense.
  9. The results were narrowed down with the help of friends and their kids. Some titles were deemed babyish, like Zaria Fierce and the Marvelous Golden Shoes. Others came across as a different genre than fantasy adventure, like Zaria Fierce and the Curse of the Golden Shoes, which was thought to be a mystery book. The current title was the unanimous winner among all the kids. So when it doubt, poll your target audience for their opinion. They were super happy about getting to pick the book’s title and I was happy to let them!
  10. The Under Realm directly and indirectly featured in many titles. Dragons too. One of these titles came to me when writing book two. That one was Zaria Fierce and the Hidden Entrance to the Under Realm.
So now you've seen some of my thought process for coming up with the book title for the third Zaria Fierce installment. Which title is your favorite? Thanks for having me Brenda! Readers, if you stick around there's giveaway information at the end! One lucky person has a chance to win a Zaria Fierce audiobook package.

Keira Gillett author pictureAbout the Author:

Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting. From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader. Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.

Praise for Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper's Golden Shoes (Book 3):

“That’s the great thing about the Zaria Fierce trilogy: adventure is fast, furious, and loaded with Norse mythology, but the friendship between Zaria and her group of friends is the heart that drives this story.”    
  - Rosemary, Mom Read It 

“Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper’s Golden Shoes was the magical conclusion this trilogy asked for. Filled with action and adventure, Zaria and her friends showed us the importance of teamwork, friendship, and having courage in ourselves. The perfect ending to a fun series, I recommend this to all fantasy lovers, middle school and beyond!”   
     - Emily, Midwestern Book Nerd

“Zaria Fierce and the Dragon Keeper's Golden Shoes was a spectacular conclusion to a great trilogy (though the ending left the door open for more adventures). Filled with magic, a great story line, amazing and real characters, wonderful settings and beautifully explored themes, Keira Gillett created a trilogy that I will always cherish and will visit anytime. If you like The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Spiderwick Chronicles or simply love a book filled with Norwegian folklore and fantasy, then this is the ultimate series for you to read, devour and lose yourselves in.” 
  - Ner, A Cup of Coffee and a Book

Hector was right that the group wasn’t far from Malmdor. They reached the entrance before night fell, and in the gloomy dusk that slipped around them like a cloak, they reached the edge of the forest and stopped. Below them in a wide clearing was an abandoned quarry filled with water.
The lake was nestled at the bottom of a deep, steep pit. Its deep blue water was smooth and glassy, protected from wind by the rocky walls and surrounding forest. Zaria could see the lakebed in the shallower areas. Something large swam in the center, too deep to see clearly.
“What is that?” asked Filip, having spotted the creature at the same time.
Hector said, “It’s a water-wyvern.”
“Is that like the Loch Ness Monster?” asked Christoffer. “Cool. No wonder they can’t find it in Scotland.”
“You haven’t seen a winter-wyvern,” Zaria said. “I bet it’s more like Norwick.”
“The flying snow leopard-bear-bat thing you told me about? Even better,” Christoffer said, rubbing his hands together in glee. “Do we get to meet it?”
“Is it friendly?” worried Geirr.
“The beastie is not friendly,” said Hector, grimly. “And yes, we will be meeting it. Water-wyverns are wild, unpredictable creatures. This one is particularly nasty. It was captured and transported to this quarry lake over a century ago. It can’t escape – water-wyverns aren’t able to live out of water for very long. This makes it very angry. The lake is too small for him.”
“That’s what I was afraid of,” Geirr said, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “So, can it eat us?”
Hector nodded. “It once devoured an entire legion of dwarf handlers because they smelled bad. They’ve showered regularly ever since.”
Geirr looked at Zaria. “Why?” he moaned. “Why do we have to meet it?”
“Look on the bright side, mate,” Filip said, clapping Geirr on the back. “Maybe we get to ride it.”
Hector shook his head. “The water-wyvern is the guardian of Malmdor. Its job is to keep out all trespassers.”
Christoffer sighed, disappointed. “Too bad. I would have loved to ride him.”
“Will we have to feed it to get by it? What does a water-wyvern eat?” Aleks asked, readjusting his backpack and bow.
“It eats whatever it can catch,” Hector said forebodingly. “We’ll have to be careful as we near the shoreline. A water-wyvern might not have much in the way of limbs, being adapted to the water, but it has enough leg-power to propel itself onto the shore and attack.”
“At least it can’t fly,” said Geirr, relieved. “Small favors.”
Zaria and her friends gasped as it breached the surface, blowing out a large stream of air. The water-wyvern was magnificent with a gray-and-white pattern. It had a seahorse face, with a long snout, and no ears. The top of its head bore a wavy crest that trailed down its neck.
As the creature dove beneath the water, it flipped its body into the air. There were no scales anywhere on it, as far as she could see. Zaria half-expected a whale fluke, but its tail looked like an eel’s. The thing was massive, at least four times bigger than Norwick, and hideous.
They stood there, watching the shifting, undulating, shadow in the water. Aleks wore a pensive frown, his brown eyes narrowed. “Does it have a name?”
“The dwarves call it Vingar.”
 Keep up with all of Keira's latest news on her:

 Website *     Twitter *    GoodReads *    Facebook  * Pinterest


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Monday, August 8, 2016

YA Fantasy: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

 Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
E ARC, 465 pages
Expected Publication:  August 9th, 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books
Genres: Fantasy YA/Adult 
In exchange for an honest review, an E ARC was received from the publisher for free via Netgalley

 In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

My Thoughts: 

Okay, that premise right?  Doesn't it get you wondering?  Plus that cover.    Back in January the Midnight Garden had a cover reveal for Nevernight and after reading the premise it instantly went on my TBR list.  It has all the right elements, a girl who after her father is killed right in front of her enrolls for training in a special school for assassins to exact her revenge.  I mean we have a special school,  so there must be some classes, teachers.  Anyone thinking Hogwarts?  Nevernight was my first introduction to Kristoff's books, and what an introduction. The action and tone of the book are set during the opening chapter.  There is no mistaking that what you're about it read is for a more mature reader.  As the title of the first chapter states, "Caveat Emptor", or "let the buyer beware."  So be forewarned,  there will be sexual content and violence,  Mia is training to be an assassin.  That being said,  I've already pre-ordered a copy to read it again it's so good.  

I really enjoyed the world that Kristoff created with Nevernight, and how he seemed to be inspired by other books/movies.   I don't want to spoil any of them, cause half the fun was reading along and then coming across a word or familiar scene or character from a book or movie.  Although there was this one slang word that immediately drew my attention and had me wondering what time period were we in, it just seemed out of place.  If you check out Kristoff's review of the book on Goodreads you'll see what I mean about influences and there is an excerpt at USAToday you could check out.   Nevernight was a pretty unique world that knew only daylight due to its three suns and night occurs only occasionally.  There's mention of the gods Niah and Aa and I believe this will become more important later in the series.  Mia starts out in  a city (Godsgrave) built on the burial site of a god and parts of the world building happen through endnotes, at least in the ebook version I was reading.  Normally I like footnotes or even endnotes,  but these ones were a bit of a challenge reading as an ebook.  For one, they were at the end of the chapter, so no easy flipping of pages to match the note to its location in the storyline.  For ease of reading, I wish that they were either incorporated into the story or at the bottom of the page I was reading.  There is lots of good information and humor in here and unfortunately, it was difficult to make the connections since they weren't being read together.  It's part of the reason that I ordered the hardcover,  cause now I can flip back and forth if the endnotes are still at the end of the chapter.  

 Mia is my favorite part of the whole story.  I got so wrapped up in her character from the very beginning.  Even though at first all we know about her is that some call her Pale Daughter, Kingmaker or Crow and it isn't until partway through the beginning chapters that we finally know her name.  I really just enjoyed reading about her and wanted to put together all the pieces.    I liked how Kristoff alternates between telling Mia's story from her being ten to currently being sixteen, at first it gives the impression that Mia is vulnerable and mysterious.  We learn that at ten Mia see's her father die by a hangman's noose and her mother whispers to her "never flinch" "never fear" and "never forget."  Her mother and brother are taken away from her, and Mia gets locked into a barrel and is ordered to be drowned in the canals.   Mia believes she is a weak, scared little girl, but yet she is so far from that.  She is definitely a badass girl with her ability to control darkness and draw shadows to conceal herself and she has a remarkable inner strength.   Then there's Mister Kindly, the cat who is not a cat, curling around her feet, or resting on her shoulder consuming her fears.  How and what he is I wasn't entirely sure, but he is always there protecting Mia.   The two are quite funny when they get to bantering with one another.  There was also the Red Church, which in some ways does remind me of Hogwarts,  except here you learn how to be an assassin and murder people.   It's not a cuddly school, the classes and teachers are brutal, there is no forgiveness for failure here.  But Mia's a fighter, and she seems to find a way to overcome all the obstacles put in front of her.  She is also loyal to those that she cares about.  People like Tric, who has his own reasons for wanting to enter the Red Church, and becomes one of Mia's best allies when they do get there.  Nevernight is one of the books that I know I will be reading again, heck I've already read it twice and pre-ordered it just to read again.    I think Nevernight will be hugely popular with a more mature reader in mind.   

Favorite Lines: 
 "She felt a presence--or closer, a lack of one.  Like the feeling of empty at an embrace's end."  
"Your mind will serve you better than any trinket.  Brains you earn."

*Thank you to Netgalley and Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press for a copy of Nevernight in exchange for an honest review.*

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

TTT: Ten Books I'd Buy Right This Second If Someone Handed Me A Fully Loaded Gift Card

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish  This week's Top Ten Tuesday is Ten Books I'd buy right this second if someone handed me a fully loaded gift card.  A gift card sure would come in handy right about now, I've got so many books on my wish list.  My list is going to be a mixture of books, with some publishing soon and other older books.  

1.  Insert Coin to Continue by John David Anderson releases September 20th, 2016   Author of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, The Dungeoneers.  I first heard of this via Ms. 

Yingling Reads.  It seems to have action/adventure, video games.  

2 & 3 are two books releasing in 2017. 

The Problem Children by Natalie Lloyd a middle-grade series about seven strange siblings, all born on a different day of the week, and the neighbors who keep trying to tear their family apart.  

The Great Hibernation of St. Polonius on the Fjord by Tara Dairman     a middle-grade novel set in an isolated community, following the chaos and comic adventures that take place after the traditional tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver goes horribly awry. 

4.  The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud releases on September 13th.  One of my must buy authors.


5.  The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen releasing August 30th, 2016.  Nielsen is another author on my must buy list and I really like the premise of Scourge.    


8.  Tell me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum published April 5th 2016 Contemporary YA.  With a gift card, I can splurge and get something I typically would only look for at the library.  

9. Don't get Caught Let the Prank War Begin by Kurt Dinan released April 1st 2016 I'd purchase this if only for this reference "A mix of Ocean's 11 meets The Breakfast Club."  

10.  Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie  I really want to add this to my classics collection.  I've been trying to add at least one new one per year.  

So what books would make it on your list if you had a fully loaded gift card? Feel free to comment or leave your Top Ten Tuesday link in the comments.