Monday, March 25, 2024

It's Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday with a review of The Secret Library by Kekla Magoon

The Secret Library by Kekla Magoon 
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
Format:  E-ARC
Number of pages:  384 pages
Publishing:   May 7th, 2024
Source:  Edelweiss+

Opening Line:  "Dally paused with her hand on the doorknob and took a deep breath."

Eleven-and-a-half-year-old Dally crossed all her t's and dotted all her i's while preparing her presentation for her mother.  She double, triple checked all her graphs and pie charts and even has a hard copy ready for her just in case.  She's determined to convince her mom to allow her to join the Adventure Club, a new after school program.  But ever since her grandpa died, Dally's mom has restricted her activities and has been grooming her to take over the family business.  Filling her time after school with tutoring lessons in economics, finance and enrichment courses in science and math.  Time that she previously spent with her grandpa playing together, roaming and have long talks.  At first the presentation seems to be going well, but in the end Dally's mother still refuses.  

Then Dally recalls an envelope her mother received at her grandfather's funeral.  Despite it clearly being addressed to her, Dally's mom put it away in the safe.  But now, Dally plans to retrieve it.   Inside the envelope is a letter and a map showing the distance to various locations around town.  Deciphering the map further, Dally finds her way to a library, a secret library.  More precisely, a library of secrets.  Each book in the library holds a secret, a portal that takes the reader to the actual moment the secret takes place.  It's a very precise moment in time, shrouded by fog that forms a boundary within the memory, which must never be crossed.  Patrons are allowed to pursue these secrets but must practice "discretion" and never reveal someone else's secrets.  Suddenly, Dally is visiting the library on a daily basis to uncover more and more secrets, not only does she delve deep into her family's past, but she also gets a new perspective on her present with her mom.  At the same time, Dally is learning that everyone who finds the library is meant to be there, but the library has a few secrets that it's been keeping too.  

The Secret Library is part portal story, a mystery, and adventure.  It's also a deep dive into Dally's family's history.  Dally's family acquired their wealth from their business that has been passed down from one family member to the other.  From Dally's grandpa and now on to her mom.  It's stressful having the business and disheartening that it is Dally's mom's number one priority.  Dally is biracial and hasn't spent much time within the black community and given her wealthy family, she mostly grew up around white people and privilege.  She is very eager to learn more about her identity and heritage.  Each of Dally's trips into a secret have a purpose bringing her one step closer to understanding her families past.  Taking her aboard a pirate ship in the 1850's hunting down treasure and meeting other characters in an interracial relationship.  Moving on to times during the underground railroad and on into the 1960's meeting many more ancestors from the past.  The story is interesting in the way that it plays with the timeline, allowing her to see these memories/secrets that existed in her present but are now in the past for her, even delving into the future.  Very interesting to get this perspective of your family's secrets.  The story touches on the subjects of interracial relationships, racism, slavery, and passing as white to escape slavery.  Money, and privilege versus appreciating every penny you have and knowing what it's like to live without are also addressed.  An engaging time travel fantasy adventure and exploration of family secrets.   

I hope you'll check out all the other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge's blog HERE            

Monday, March 18, 2024

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Mystery of Locked Rooms by Lindsay Currie

The Mystery of Locked Rooms by Lindsay Currie
Publisher:  Sourcebooks
Format:  E-ARC via NetGalley
Number of pages:   256 pages
Publishing:   April 2nd, 2024
Source:  Publisher

Opening Line: "Angle it the other way! West screeches, holding his mirror up in the air."

Team Delta consists of best friends Sarah, West and Hannah and they have just beat the second hardest escape room in Escape City history.  Their victory places them among the topmost elite teams that have ever completed this level.  Together Team Delta feels invincible.  That is until the team experiences a major setback when Sarah finds a foreclosure notice in her mailbox.  Sarah's mom has been working two jobs, as her dad was recently diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and hasn't been able to work.  Sarah's older brother Sean is supposed to head off to college soon, but her parents are worried about where the money is going to come from.  Now with the foreclosure notice, they need to get some money fast, otherwise Sarah and her family might have to move in with her grandparents in Michigan, which would end up breaking up the team.  

Then Hannah remembers a story about an old, abandoned funhouse from the 1950's.  As the story goes, the funhouse was constructed by triplet brothers, Karl, Stefan and Hans Stein. The brothers were orphaned at the age of eight and ended up separated, only reuniting later as adults.  They had always dreamed of building a funhouse together to share with the public.  Unfortunately, they all died before the funhouse opened.  According to the legend, hidden somewhere in the house there is thought to be the Triplet's Treasure, a reward for whoever can survive the house's secret passages and riddles.  Many have tried, but none have been successful in making it past the mirror mazes and optical illusions.  Since then, the funhouse's treasure has gone unclaimed.  Hannah, Sarah and West believe that finding the treasure is the answer to all of their worries and so they make plans to enter the funhouse to solve its mysteries, as losing each other is too great of a risk.

Once inside the funhouse, Sarah, West and Hannah begin to feel some success but also make a couple of wrong guesses, for which they suffer a penalty and have to change their plans and redo a few steps.  The trio also begins to worry that trying to solve the funhouse's mystery was a bad idea as they didn't tell anyone where they were going and now, they can't even get a phone signal to call for help if something goes wrong.  But going back is also not an option so the team continues on.  As the trio ventures further into the various rooms they face even more difficult tasks and begin to wonder if the triplets were really diabolical and whether the trio have what it takes to solve this puzzling house, as this place is unlike any escape room that they've ever attempted before.

I just adore Lindsay Currie's books and The Mystery of Locked Rooms was a fantastic read, part suspense, filled with puzzles, riddles and precarious hidden passages that pose potential dangers around every corner.  Highly recommend it for fans of Goonies, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and even Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.  And oh, my what a task this trio faced navigating through these sixteen rooms with only a hope that there was going to be a treasure waiting at the end.  I quite enjoyed Sarah, Hannah and West, and the friendship that they share.  The way that they start confiding some of the secrets that they've been hiding.  How Hannah feels like she's failed as a dancer, and how West feels burdened by his exceptional memory.  I really liked how Currie highlights each character's worries, and skills while giving them an opportunity to show their strengths, be it Hannah's agility and balance, to West's ability to solve riddles and his memory skills, to Sarah's decision-making skills, ability to keep track of the time and determine the probabilities of risks.  There was such a nice balance in seeing each of them have a moment of success.  I also really enjoyed learning about the history of the Stein triplets.  It added a layer of mystery to the story which was fun.  It was also exciting to see what strategy the trio used to solve each riddle and how important attention to detail played in some of the clues and how at other times they had to just make a choice, come what may. Taking a leap of faith.  Overall, this was creative, exciting with just the right length and perfect pacing to entertain a sleuth who enjoys escape rooms, riddles and solving puzzles.

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

 I hope you'll check out all the other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge's blog HERE      

Thursday, March 14, 2024

THE DEADLY DAYLIGHT by Ash Harrier Blog Tour + Giveaway

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE DEADLY DAYLIGHT by Ash Harrier Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


                                                                      About The Book:

Title: THE DEADLY DAYLIGHT (Alice England Mysteries #1)

Author: Ash Harrier

Pub. Date: March 5, 2024

Publisher: Holiday House

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 272

Find it: Goodreads

12-year-old Alice has a hard time making friends. Maybe it's because she works in a funeral home and receives messages from the dead.

While the kids at school taunt her and call her “Alice in Zombieland," Alice England finds refuge at her father’s funeral home, where the dead tell her stories. As she arranges the deceased’s personal mementos, an item will hum with meaning–resonance–and Alice will see the story of their life.

When she "meets" George Devenish, a man who died of a rare sunlight allergy, Alice knows George was murdered. Her only leads are George’s niece, “Violet the Vampire,” who shares her uncle’s allergy and a friendly, but secretive boy named Cal.

As a determined Alice investigates, she is surprised to find Violet and Cal become more than just suspects, but allies—maybe even friends. However, Alice soon finds navigating her first real friendships might be harder than solving a murder.

Clever humor and twisty clues abound in this cozy middle grade mystery about a group of misfits finding courage in the truth and friendship in each other. Delightful, dark, and quirky, The Deadly Daylight is perfect for fans of Nancy Drew and 

The Deadly Deadlight

By Ash Harrier

Excerpt for Rockstar Book Tours

Excerpt from The Deadly Deadlight / Text copyright © 2022 by Ash Harrier. Reproduced with permission from Holiday House Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. 


The Resonance of Trinkets

ALICE smoothed down the dead woman’s collar. Her dad often missed that detail. He prepared and dressed the bodies but didn’t always notice things like misbuttoned blouses or crooked spectacles.

There were two items for Alice to arrange. They were inside an envelope with the name Edna Macintosh handwritten on the front. Alice slipped out a pair of square-­cut diamond earrings set in silver, and a photograph of a man dressed in clothing from the 1970s—flared trousers and a shirt with a wide collar—held in a black frame.

She removed a gold stud from Edna’s left ear and replaced it with one of the ugly diamonds. But when she came to the right earlobe, there was no earring to replace. Managing the pen awkwardly in her latex gloves, she made a note about it on the envelope. Her dad would need to mention it to Edna’s next of kin, as grieving families sometimes made wild accusations when jewelry was misplaced.

Alice tried to insert the diamond earring, but it wouldn’t go in. Edna’s earring must have been missing for a while, and the pierced skin had grown over before she died. Alice considered her options. She could cut off the earring’s stem and use costume glue to stick the diamond to Edna’s ear. But that was risky. Occasionally the glue failed. All it would take was a grieving guest to stroke Edna’s hair and the earring might fall off. A mishap like that could ruin the


And what if the relatives changed their minds and asked for the earrings to be returned? Alice didn’t want to be responsible for any damage if someone noticed dear Granny’s earrings were real diamonds and wanted them back.

Her only option was to re‐pierce Edna’s earlobe. Piercing an ear was new to Alice but she didn’t want to fetch her dad to do it. He had already spent long hours embalming Edna, then bending her arm into a suitable position to hold the photo frame. It would be silly to

call him for such a simple task.

“This shouldn’t hurt at all,” Alice assured Edna, because you couldn’t be too careful.

The earring stem went easily through Edna’s earlobe, like pushing a toothpick into an olive. Alice surveyed her work. Not bad. It was slightly off-­center compared with the left one, but no one would notice.

Now for the photo. Sometimes dead people’s possessions shared stories with Alice. Not always, but every so often an object put a little story into her head. Alice called these items resonant—an excellent word she had discovered when she was about nine, meaning anything that gave an ongoing hum. That was what it felt like to Alice—like the item was humming and vibrating with meaning and significance. Sometimes it was just a little sliver of a story; and sometimes it was a full history of the person’s life.

This photograph was resonant.

About Ash Harrier:

Ash Harrier lives in Perth, Western Australia. She is an Ambassador for the Books in Homes Australia charity, which helps children in disadvantaged circumstances build their home libraries. Ash has a great fondness for puzzles, scientific facts, birds and the smell of dried tea. Some of her favorite pastimes are reading, daydreaming and spending time in the garden with her small flock of hens.


Website | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of THE DEADLY DAYLIGHT, US Only.

Ends March 26th, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


Comic Book Yeti

Excerpt/IG Post


Eye-Rolling Demigod's Book Blog

Excerpt/IG Post



Excerpt/IG Post



IG Post



IG Review


Country Mamas With Kids

Excerpt/IG Post



IG Review/TikTok Post


Log Cabin Library



Kim's Book Reviews and Writing Aha's

Review/IG Post


Fiction Lux


Week Two:





Deal sharing aunt

Review/IG Post



IG Review



IG Review



IG Post


A Blue Box Full of Books

IG Review/LFL Drop Pic/TikTok Post



IG Review


Two Points of Interest



One More Exclamation

Review/IG Post


The Book Critic

Review/IG Post

Monday, March 11, 2024

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Haru: Book 1: Spring (Volume 1) by Joe Latham

Haru: Book 1: Spring by Joe 
Publisher:  Andrews McMeel Publishing
Format:  E-ARC
Number of pages:   272 pages
Publishing:   March 12th, 2024
Source:  NetGalley

Opening Line:  "At the dusk of man there was a darkness that spread far and wide across the land."

Chapter one begins with black and white illustrations and alludes to a darkness traveling across the land until it was snagged on a thorn of pure light.  Unable to free itself, the darkness encapsulated its heart within the brambles of the thorns.   The story then jumps to present day to Haru, a small blue bird who despite being unable to fly still has big dreams of one day taking flight, and their best friend Yama, a boar who finds a strange, cursed artifact.  The artifact attaches itself to Yama and the two friends then find themselves on a journey to The Beacon in search of the answers to removing it.  

Haru is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel, a coming-of-age story that also highlights the four seasons with Spring being the first volume.  The colors of each page range from a muted turquoise background reminding me of the early dusk sky, to lighter shades of green indicative of daytime.  With further pages having shades of yellows and pink.  This volume is broken down into six chapters and chronicles Haru and Yama's journey to remove a cursed artifact.    The atmosphere is very mysterious and shifts between darkness and periods of light to some downright creepy moments.  I felt a sense of apprehension as I flipped pages and wondered what peril was in store for these two.  And boy do they get into some sticky, dangerous situations.  Everything moves along at a fairly quick pace and yet it still feels like some details were being left out, with some confusing points when Haru and Yama entered the mall.  I wanted to know more, which I suspect will be revealed in one of the other seasons.  Overall, I really loved the illustrations and would love to read more but might hold off until the full series is released, as the completed series will fill in all those missing pieces and questions that I had.       

 I hope you'll check out all the other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge's blog HERE      

Thursday, March 7, 2024

THE THIEF OF TIME Cover Reveal + Gift Card Giveaway

Today Vivi Barnes, Christina Farley, and Amy Christine Parker and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover for THE THIEF OF TIME, their new middle grade contemporary fantasy book which releases May 7, 2024! Check out the awesome cover and enter the giveaway!


On to the reveal!

                    About The Book:

Title: THE THIEF OF TIME (The Library of Alexandria Series #1)
Author: Vivi Barnes, Christina Farley, and Amy Christine Parker
Pub. Date: May 7, 2024
Publisher: Infinity House Creative
Formats:  Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 312

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon 

“The Thief of Time is a thrilling contemporary fantasy that will steal your breath away. Chock full of complex world building and magic that springs from the power of story, this book will definitely keep young readers turning pages.”—Polly Holyoke, Award-winning author 

Unleash the Magic…

THE THIEF OF TIME is an exciting middle-grade contemporary fantasy adventure that takes readers on a thrilling journey through the realms of magic, friendship, and self-discovery.

On a visit to their local library, Ben, Bridgette, and Maya unwittingly unleash a dragon from an ancient book and find themselves fighting for their lives against a swarm of evil birds. They battle to escape with the help of the dragon and are whisked through a portal into the magical Great Library of Alexandria.

Once they pass the Trials and prove themselves worthy, they are invited to become students at Helicon Academy. There they train to become librarians for the Library of Alexandria, protecting books and the magical artifacts within.

Ben, Bridgette, and Maya fall in love with the story-themed dinners, fantastical animals, and fictional characters roaming the halls. But when they discover a dark and sinister mystery within the academy’s halls, the three must embark on a quest to protect the library and preserve the fabric of time itself.



"Every so often, you read a book with a fictional place that is so full of magic and so full of wonder that you want to live there forever -- the library in The Thief of Time is such a place. You're in for a treat!" —Sarah Beth Durst, award-winning author of Spark


What a ride! The Thief of Time whisks readers from the immortal Library of Alexandria to adventures across the globe. Maya, Ben, and Bridgette kept me reading to the very end! —Sarah McGuire, author of Flight of Swans and Valiant


We all know books are magic, but in The Thief of Time, they are beyond our expectations! This adventure jumps right in with our protagonists facing an adventure, both physically and mentally, unlike any other I've read. Fans of Land of Stories and magical school books are going to devour this new twist on what it means to truly get into a book. —Kellee Moye, librarian




Chapter 1

Polly Definitely Doesn’t Want a Cracker


The first weird thing Ben noticed was the birds. 

Clustered in bushes around the front of the library, they watched with unblinking beady red eyes as he made his way up the steps. 

“To be, or not to be…gone!” he said loudly, clapping his hands at a pair that was preening on the steps in front of the door. They hopped only a few inches away and fixed Ben with a baleful stare.

Ben shook his head. Here he was, quoting Hamlet at creepy birds and returning an almost-overdue book on a Friday night when there were probably ten end-of-summer parties going on—or at least two that he was invited to. 

He yanked the door open and stepped inside. Mr. Lozano, who’d been the town librarian ever since Ben could remember, was scanning barcodes from a tall stack of books.  

“Hey, Mr. Lozano.” Ben slid his book across the counter. 

Mr. Lozano caught the book and added it to the stack. “Just under the wire, Benjamin. Your dad wouldn’t be happy to come pay another late fee.” 

“I know.”

Mr. Lozano picked up a magnifying glass to peer at the book. With the plaid bow tie and pencil mustache, Ben thought he looked more like a Scotland Yard detective than a librarian. 

Mr. Lozano peeled off the outside cover that was titled “Practical Science.” Ben inwardly groaned. He meant to remove that before returning it. Underneath the cover was a copy of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Mr. Lozano sighed. “Your father still giving you a hard time?”

Ben shrugged. His father was a surgeon and thought Ben should be studying math and science, not “farting around with theater and poetry,” as he liked to say. It was just easier for Ben to pretend he was more scientific than he was.

His mom would’ve understood him better. Not a day went by where he didn’t think about her and wish she was with him again, reading Shakespeare’s sonnets like she did when he was little. The gentle lilt of her voice always lulled him to sleep.  

“I know what you’re going to say,” Ben said. “I’ll talk to him again, and—”

“Mr. Lozano, that astronomy book isn’t here,” a girl announced as she walked up and set a stack of books on the counter. She looked familiar, maybe from school. She wore an old Texas Rangers baseball T-shirt and had a short mop of auburn curls, pale skin, and thick round glasses that made her green eyes seem extra-large. 

She shrugged her oversized military-looking green backpack off her shoulders and plopped it on the counter next to the books. “It was due five days ago. I’ve been on the waiting list forever.” 

“I’m sorry, Bridgette. I’m sure the person will bring it back soon.” Mr. Lozano glanced at the clock over the desk. “Unfortunately, the library’s closing so I can’t help you find something else right now.”

“Can’t you call them? Fill out a police report or something?”

“Excuse me.” Someone with two long dark braids squeezed between Ben and Bridgette, her hands cupped around a small ball of fur. A volunteer badge was clipped to the sleeve of her light blue shirt. “Mr. Lozano, I think Griffin’s sick. I’m really worried about him.” 

This girl Ben knew. Everyone knew Maya Friedman, who moved here last summer from Israel and within a month of their sixth-grade year became one of the most popular kids at Harrison Middle. Her braids had kind of become her trademark. Ben hated to admit he was jealous, but no matter how many times he’d styled his sandy blond hair or even dyed it, he’d failed to get a trademark “look.” This girl showed up with two long braids and perfectly tanned olive skin and everyone was like whoooooaaaa. 

“Who’s Griffin?” Ben asked.

“One of the library’s animals.” She held up a small ball of brown fluff. “Does he look a little lethargic to you?” 

Bridgette shrank away. “Keep it away!”

Maya pulled it to her chest protectively. “He’s just a little guinea pig. He won’t hurt you.”

“I know.” Bridgette pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. “Its scientific name is Cavia porcellus.” Her face flushed as Ben stared at her. “I read a lot.”

“Poor Griffin,” Maya cooed to the ball of fluff. “That girl didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” 

Bridgette frowned. “I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings. I’ve just never been near one before.” She reached out and awkwardly patted its tiny head with one finger. “Good boy.”

Maya smiled at her, then glanced at Ben. “I think I know you from English class. Ben, right?” 

Ben nodded. “You’re Maya.”

“And I’m Bridgette,” Bridgette said from the other side of Maya. “I mean, if anyone wanted to know,” she added softly. 

“No one wants to know,” another voice piped in.

Ben cringed as the awful Davey Singleton swaggered over with a group of his friends. Davey had been Ben’s nemesis ever since Ben was cast as the lead in the third-grade rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and ended up with a terrible case of stage fright, puking all over a kid in a tree costume. Davey took over the role for the rest of the show and still delighted in tormenting Ben about it. Worse, he seemed to beat out Ben for every lead role since then.

“Awww look, it’s Shakesfear,” Davey said. “Library’s closing, Shakesfear. Go barf somewhere else.”

Ben rolled his eyes. “Hang in there, Davey. One day, maybe you’ll actually come up with something original.”

“Hey, Maya, you going to Drew’s party?” one of the girls in the group asked. “Davey’s ditching but you should come.”

Maya brightened. “Sure, after I close up here.”

“And, um, change shoes?” the girl said as she stared at Maya’s scuffed black combat boots. “Where’d you get those?”

Maya’s face reddened. “My aunt gave them to me when we left Israel.”

Ben got the feeling she never wore those boots in front of her friends.

“Sorry, you’re not invited,” the girl said to Bridgette as she and her friends walked out the door, laughing.

“Like I was interested anyway,” Bridgette mumbled, looking away.

“Lozano, we have to leave,” Davey said. “When are you going to kick these nobodies out of here?” He pushed through the half-door of the counter and came back with a brown leather suitcase.

“Where are you going?” Ben asked.

“None of your business.”

“We’re fine, we’re fine.” Mr. Lozano glanced again at the clock. “We have ten minutes.” He nodded at Ben, Bridgette, and Maya. “You kids head home now. Library is closed. Maya, thank you for taking such great care of the animals. And Bridgette, tomorrow maybe I can help—"

A loud crack sounded outside of the library. Everyone jumped. Bridgette squealed and pushed closer to Ben, who was rubbing his ringing ears.

“What was that?” Maya said, cradling the chirping Griffin close.

“Lightning?” Ben suggested.

“It’s not even raining,” Bridgette pointed out.

“Quiet.” Lozano held up a hand, frowning. 

Something dark moved against the frosted glass of the front door. Ben heard tiny scratching and tapping noises, which got louder and louder until it sounded like hundreds of birds were trying to claw their way through the door. 

Ben covered his ears, his heart leaping into his throat as the birds shrieked and screamed.

Mr. Lozano yanked open the door to the circulation desk. “Everyone, get behind the counter.” 

“Don’t have to tell me twice!” Davey pushed through the opening, almost knocking Bridgette over with his suitcase. 

Another crash sounded at the door and more dark figures shot past the frosted windowpane, bird silhouettes with feathers and crooked bills that almost looked like creepy noses. 

The door wobbled and shook as if someone was trying to get inside but didn’t know how to use the handle.

Mr. Lozano yelled into his phone, “They’re here! I don’t know how. We need an R.E.R. team now!”

He gestured to Ben and the others. “Gather round and take hands. Now.”

More banging at the door. Davey kept his hands on his suitcase. Bridgette grabbed Ben’s hand, her eyes wide with fear. He squeezed hers with a reassurance he didn’t really feel and felt Maya take his other one. He really hoped his palms weren’t sweaty.

Lozano glanced at the clock. “Hold on. And…now!”

Everyone watched as Mr. Lozano stepped one foot into the empty wastebasket next to the wall. 

And waited. 

Mr. Lozano pulled his foot out of the basket, then stepped in again. And again. 

Ben cleared his voice. “Um, Mr. Lozano, you okay?”

The librarian grabbed the phone, beads of sweat breaking out across his forehead. “It isn’t working. We need a car!”

With a loud smash, the glass in the door shattered, and large black birds with creepy red eyes started clawing their way through the window with long, almost fingerlike talons. Ben yelped and Bridgette screamed.

“Into my office!” Lozano yelled as a flurry of black feathers cascaded over them. “I’ll handle this.”

The kids scrambled into Mr. Lozano’s office and slammed the door behind them as birds thumped against its frosted glass. A single black feather floated in. Ben grabbed it and shoved it in his pocket. “That’s one less feather you’ll have to fight with,” he yelled at the door, not caring how weird he sounded. This whole thing was terrifyingly weird.

Ben turned around, realizing he’d never been in Lozano’s office before. It was like something from another century—old bookshelves, weird telescope-looking things, and ancient leather-bound books piled on a table. A low humming sound seemed to be coming from them. Ben rubbed his ears. 

Screeching from right outside the office made Ben forget all about the humming. The birds hurled against the window. Thump! Thump! Thump! The glass started to crack. 

“We need to hide.” Bridgette yanked her backpack onto her shoulders. 

“Behind there!” Ben ran to the heavy oak desk on the far wall. Bridgette and Maya followed. 

Davey crouched behind a plush chair near the door, clutching his suitcase. “Make them go away,” he whimpered.

A crash sounded on the other side of the door. Ben clamped his eyes shut, hoping Mr. Lozano was okay. 

“Griffin!” Maya cried out.

Ben opened his eyes to see the guinea pig running at top speed toward a crack in the wall. Maya started after him, but Ben grabbed her arm. “He’ll be fine. We need to stay together.”

The square glass window in the door shattered. Davey threw his hands over his head as the birds flew directly at him. His screams pierced the air. Ben gritted his teeth together. No matter how awful Davey was, Ben couldn’t just hide like a coward while birds were trying to kill him. This wasn’t a third-grade play. This was real.

“We have to help him. Distract the birds,” Ben told Maya and Bridgette. 

“How?” cried Bridgette. “It’s not like we have bird seed.”

“Hey!” Maya called out, standing up and waving her arms. 

“What are you doing?” Bridgette yelled at her as birds flew toward them. 

Ben crawled across the floor to Davey, where a bird was flapping over his head, poking him with its beak. He grabbed Davey’s suitcase and threw it at the bird. The bird dodged it, shrieking.

“Hey, that’s expensive,” Davey cried out. 

“So’s our lives!” Ben yelled as more birds converged around them. He grasped for the nearest book, an ancient one with a dragon etched into the leather and the imprint of a harp-looking instrument stamped on it. Ben flung it at the birds. The book landed with a thud on the ground, open. 

Everything went completely still. 

A gust of wind whooshed through the broken window and caught the pages, turning them fast and then faster. The humming he heard earlier grew louder in his ears. Ben gasped as sparks flew out of the pages like sparklers on the Fourth of July.

A column of fire-red flame shot up from the book. Something huge, red, and terrifying burst from the center of it.




About Vivi Barnes, Christina Farley, and Amy Christine Parker:

Vivi Barnes, Christina Farley, and Amy Christine Parker are best friends who bonded over their love of telling stories and going on adventures. They live in sunny Central Florida with their families, where inspiration is just a beach day away.













Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a $25 gift card to the book vendor of their choice, International.

Ends March 14th, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway