Book Spotlights, Urban Fantasy

Stolen Relics Release Blitz!

Title: Stolen Relics
Author: Karina Espinosa
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Nicole Poole
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:
Are all the fairy tales real?

 

Mackenzie Grey is back at the Supernatural Investigative Unit and her first big case is not what she expects. Tasked to find stolen relics that are attached to a legend even Kenz herself is having a hard time believing. This leads to a target getting put on her back, and she finds help from an unexpected enemy.

 

Unfortunately, the SIU isn’t all Kenz has to worry about. When Alexander finds out about Ollie, he takes the first flight to New York City to spend time with his daughter, but he comes with news of his own that will change Mackenzie’s world completely.

 

Will Mackenzie find the thief in time before the bounty on her head is collected? And will her life be altered after Alexander’s proclamation? Find out in Stolen Relics.



Karina Espinosa is the Urban Fantasy Author of the Mackenzie Grey novels and The Last Valkyrie series. An avid reader throughout her life, the world of Urban Fantasy easily became an obsession that turned into a passion for writing strong leading characters with authentic story arcs. When she isn’t writing badass heroines, you can find this self-proclaimed nomad in her South Florida home binge watching the latest series on Netflix or traveling far and wide for the latest inspiration for her books. Follow her on social media!

Author Links:



Blog Tours, Book Review, YA Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: No Filter and Other Lies

Title: No Filter and Other Lies
Author: Crystal Maldonado
Publisher: Holiday House
Publication Date: February 8th, 2022
Genres: Young Adult contemporary romance

Where to buy: Blackwells | Amazon | BookDepository | Barnes & Noble

Thank you Colored Pages tours and Holiday House for the review copy and the opportunity to be a part of this tour!

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis

You should know, right now, that I’m a liar.

They’re usually little lies. Tiny lies. Baby lies. Not so much lies as lie adjacent.

But they’re still lies.

Twenty one-year-old Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and a glittering life filled with adventure. With tons of followers on Instagram, her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.

Except it’s all fake.

Max is actually 16-year-old Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic teenager living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous in her existence–just sprawl, bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with her best friend Hari’s unrequited love. But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with famous influencers, even making a real friend in a follower named Elena. The closer Elena and “Max” get–texting, Snapping, and even calling–the more Kat feels she has to keep up the facade.

But when one of Max’s posts goes ultra-viral and gets back to the very person she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake — comes crashing down around her. She has to figure out a way to get herself out of the huge web of lies she’s created without hurting the people she loves.

But it might already be too late.

Review

Imagine a full novel from the POV of the catfish. Now imagine understanding that catfish and still wishing they have as happy as an ending as they could given everything that has happened. Put those two ideas together and you get No Filter and other Lies. We follow Kat Sanchez as she create the heartthrob Max Monroe and navigates keeping one of the biggest lies yet as secret as possible. As the lies become bigger and the boy behind the photos becomes viral, making it harder to hide, Kat has to figure out how to get out of this bed of lies without losing everything.

No Filter and Other Lies focuses on some real themes that both teens and adults face today. You see how social media can be both a curse and an escape. How portraying someone else can feel refreshing. The themes are so relevant because we see them in our everyday lives. From shows, like Catfish, catfishing in many forms is something we just know is a part of navigating social media. Crystal writes into these themes so well that it almost makes it feel like a story many people can relate two, whether they were the catfish or not. Crystal is able to show how impactful social media can have on how one view’s themselves and how anxiety inducing clicking to check likes can be. In short, this story was so good. Crystal makes you like Kat even though she is doing some pretty hurtful things. She roots for Kat to give it up and see just how awesome she is and hope that she can repair the parts of her life that are not perfect. The story also notes the darker side of catfishing and how for the catfisher- it can be a mode of escape that they become addicted to when their reality is far from the perfect vision they want to see.

What I enjoyed most about Kat’s character was how creative she was. Yes, she may have created lies but I tihnk for Kat the lies she made outside of the Max Monroe profile were understandable. When you live in a society where your upbringing or who you are isn’t the ideal type, sometimes lying to fit in more eases some of the pressures and anxieties for wanting to be authentic but also wanting friends. Kat’s character hit what a teen exploring so much of herself can be. We see it in shows and other forms of media now where tens are figuring out their identity and their sexuality. Kat realizing that she may be bisexual and may have a huge crush on her friend Elena is an experience many teens are experiencing now. Although I couldn’t relate to that experience, I can appreciate seeing a character becoming more confident in who she is. Speaking of Elena, I honestly enjoyed how she was the friend who would call it as it is and let Kat know that her lies would get back to her. We see Kat face the consequences of her actions and then see Kat trying to build those pieces back up again to replenish the relationships her lies have tarnished but not completely break.

Overall, Crystal knows how to write a good story, so I wasn’t surprised when I read through this in one sitting. Crystal is spinning stories of teen experiences that are happening to the present. Teen readers will be able to relate to Kat in some for of way and understand how impactful the strive to reach that social media aesthetic can make you do things you will not be okay with in the future. It’s a quick read, it’s a fun read and really hones into important themes while still providing an entertaining story.

About The Author

Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, is a 2021 New England Book Award winner, a Cosmopolitan Best New Book, and a POPSUGAR Best New YA Novel. Her next novel, No Filter and Other Lies, explores teenage life in the social media age—and the lies we tell to ourselves and others. By day, Crystal works in higher ed marketing, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, spending too much time on her phone, and being extra. Her work has also been published in Latina, BuzzFeed, and the Hartford Courant.

She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

Blog Tours, Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fantasy, Middle Grade

Blog Tour [Review]: Kelsey Murphy and the Academy of the Unbreakable Arts

TITLE: Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts
AUTHOR: Erika Lewis
PUBLISHER: StarScape
RELEASE DATE: March 1st, 2022
GENRES: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Thank you JeanBookNerd and Starscape for a review copy and the opportunity to be on this tour!

Star Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis

Brimming with Celtic mythology, action, and danger, Erika Lewis’s Kelcie Murphy and The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts introduces readers to a new kind of magical school and a warrior who must choose with which side of an epic battle her destiny will lie.

The Otherworld is at war. The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts trains warriors. And Kelcie Murphy—a foster child raised in the human world—is dying to attend.

A place at AUA means meeting Scáthach, the legendary trainer of Celtic heroes. It means learning to fight with a sword. It means harnessing her hidden powers and—most importantly—finding out who her parents are, and why they abandoned her in Boston Harbor eight years ago.

When Kelcie tests into the school, she learns that she’s a Saiga, one of the most ancient beings in the Otherworld. Secretive, shunned, and possessed of imposing elemental powers, the Saiga are also kin to the Otherworld’s most infamous traitor.

But Kelcie is a survivor, and she’ll do whatever it takes to find her parents and her place in their world. Even if that means making a few enemies.

Review

Wow, this book was pretty good. I always love to see newer books that involved magic and school and epic battles. Kelcie, the main character, goes to girl in foster care with little memories of her past, to finding out family secrets and unleashing her hidden powers. Add in a case agent who is actually a fairy and a found found in her new school and you get a great magical adventure. Kelcie Murphy is in for an adventure of a lifetime and a battle her team has worked hard towards. The book has a great pace: it wasn’t too fast or too slow. It is definitely a good pace for the targeted demographic. I enjoyed Kelcie’s character evolution. She went from having no agency to not only gaining that through her journey but becoming more confident in her own skin and power. It was great to see Kelcie open up more from the girl we were first introduced with. She no longer stays the outcast in the academy. She instead finds amazing friends and a great leader who become her found family.

Speaking of friends, I really enjoyed how the author took different approach with certain character. Niall is the first friend of Kelcie and is loyal through and through. They connect instantly. While Brona and her relationship with Kelcie takes time to form that strong bond. It shows how real and different each friendship can be and how patience can be a key in developing those friendships. When thinking about the storyline, I particularly enjoyed the many twists and turns the story took. It allowed means a reader to keep the pages turning. The story draws on Celtic mythology and adds such a mystifying magical element to it. Kelcie has magic but the author adds on other magical elements such as Kelcie’s necklace. I am a sucker for seeing magic in different forms so it was a pleasure reading the significance that each magical element had to the overall story.

This is a great read for all ages and a story that will have older readers feel the nostalgia of the magical reads they once read.

About the Author

Erika Lewis grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, spent summers with her grandparents in Worcester, Massachusetts, and currently lives in Los Angeles, California. With a passion for storytelling set in magical places, she spends as much time as she can traveling. When she’s not writing, she can generally be found scribbling notes in a blank book while wandering through abandoned buildings, all kinds of museums, and graveyards.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University, her list of credits straddles the comics and novel space, including Game of Shadows from Macmillan’s Tor Books, Firebrand and Acursian from Legendary Comics, #Guardian from Awesome Media & Entertainment, and The 49th Key from Heavy Metal Publishing. The Color of Dragons is her debut YA, coming from HarperTeen October 19th, 2021, and Kelcie Murphy and The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts is her middle grade debut coming from Starscape/Macmillan March 1st, 2022.

Blog Tours, Book Review, Fiction, Legends, Myths & Fables, YA Epic Fantasy

Blog Tour [Review]: Daughter of the Moon Goddess

Click here to check out the tour!
TITLE: Daughter of the Moon Goddess
AUTHOR: Sue Lynn Tan
PUBLISHER: HarperVoyagerUS
RELEASE DATE: January 11th, 2022
GENRES: Fantasy, Mythology, YA Retelling

Thank you TBR and Beyond Tour and Harper Voyager for a review copy and the opportunity to be on this tour!

Star Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis

A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

Review

So, I have been really getting into Folklore, Mythology and legends retelling recently and Daughter of the Moon Goddess did not disappoint. Daughter of the Moon Goddess in inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess. The story follows the journey of Xingyin, daughter of the immortal Chang’e, who is currently banished and her fight to free her mother and live in peace. Overall, this is a fantasy novel that is packed with beautiful imagery, epic adventure and a heroine we love to root for.

When thinking of Daughter of the Moon Goddess, the setting and background compliments so much to the story. The mystical aspect of it allows the reader to dive into a beautiful world, watching Xingyin travel away from the moon on a cloud. It allowed me to escape into a world that felt like a song. It was lyrical and magical. It’s been a while that I devoured a story so quickly before diving into this story.  Back to the background, I was appreciative of how the author was able to create the kingdoms in a way where the reader could visualize it but still have a sense of mystery to fill in. The story flowed so naturally and well. It never felt like an info dump to me. The author did a fantastic job in creating a celestial adventure, rich in culture and enchanting realms.  

As mazing the setting and plot was, the characters, especially the main character Xingyin were phenomenal. I really loved how much Xingyin valued the value of honor. I also appreciated the relation she had with her mother, the Moon goddess. It added to the different forms of love and relationships a character can experience in a story. When Xingyin trained with the prince, and worked for the royal army, you knew she did it with the upmost value of honoring the promise she made to free her mother.  Xingyin’s relationship with her mother isn’t the only relationship that was executed well. Without much spoilers, there is a love triangle between Xingyin and two men that was *chef’s kiss* so good. To wrap up why I loved Xingyin as a character – Xingyin is loyal, honorable, takes chances, and is not perfect. Having a character that relatable in some sense is important and I tihnk readers reading Xingyin can appreciate how relatable she can feel.

About the Author

Sue Lynn Tan writes fantasy inspired by the myths and legends she fell in love with as a child. Born in Malaysia, she studied in London and France, before settling in Hong Kong with her family.

Her love for stories began with a gift from her father, her first compilation of fairytales from around the world. After devouring every fable she could find in the library, she discovered fantasy books – spending much of her childhood lost in magical worlds. When not writing or reading, she enjoys exploring the hills and reservoirs of Hong Kong, the temples, beaches and narrow winding streets here.

Her debut, Daughter of the Moon Goddess, will be published by Harper Voyager in early 2022, with a sequel to come. It is an enchanting fantasy of love and family, immortals and magic – inspired by the beloved Chinese legend of Chang’e flying to the moon upon taking the elixir of immortality.

Sue Lynn can be reached on Instagram @SuelynnTan, or on her website www.suelynntan.com.

Blog Tours, Book Review, Contemporary, Middle Grade

Blog Tour [Review]: Shelter by Christie Matheson

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TITLE: Shelter
AUTHOR: Christie Matheson
PUBLISHER: Random House Books for Young Readers
RELEASE DATE:
October 12th, 2021
GENRES: Middle Grade Contemporary

Thank you TBR and Beyond Tour and Random House Books for Young Readers for a review copy and the opportunity to be on this tour!

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis

Perfect for fans of One for the Murphys and Paper Things, this heart-wrenching middle grade debut considers homelessness from one girl’s perspective and explores deep truths about the resounding impact of empathy.

Fifth grade can be tough for anyone. There are cliques and mean kids and homework and surprise math tests. But after tragedy strikes her family, almost-eleven-year-old Maya has a painful secret that makes many days feel nearly impossible.

And today might be Maya’s toughest yet. Her family is on edge, she needs to travel alone across the city, a bully is out to get her, and Maya has to face this winter’s biggest rainstorm without a coat or an umbrella.

But even on the rainiest days, there’s hope that the sun will come out soon.

Emotional and compassionate, Shelter looks at homelessness through one girl’s eyes and explores the power of empathy, friendship, and love.

Review

Shelter is a middle grade contemporary novels that follows Maya’s story as she navigate homelessness after a life threatening injury her dad experiences and her home being sold by their landlord turns her world upside down. And to top it off, she has to keep her homelessness a secret for fear of being bullied for it. But this doesn’t stop Maya from hoping that things will get better. Shelter was a quick read that adds a different perspective to how most view homelessness and influences people to ponder more about the negative stereotypes society may put upon homeless people.

After the accident that has left her dad in a coma [medically induced], Maya’s mom now struggles to navigate being a single mom of two. Gabby, Maya’s younger sisters has many allergies and illnesses which makes it harder for Maya’s mom to keep a steady job and care for her daughter. Keeping the secret that you are homeless can be hard for a 5th grader but we view in Maya’s journey her ability to create a façade for her peers.  I overall enjoyed the support of Maya’s teachers throughout the story. I also appreciated Maya’s story also having a strong friendship component; it allowed me as a reader to not focus too much on the theme and see Maya for more than just a young girl going through many situations.  I also enjoyed Maya’s character. She felt very mature for her young age and it was mostly given her circumstances. But what I enjoyed most about Maya was her hopefulness – she was able to find some good among a very unpredictable journey. She is also generous – she is willing to give her last bit of food to a homeless boy. It rings true to her altruistic spirit.

It was a pretty good read. It was under 200 pages and told the story in the way that it could. I wasn’t fully invested and I tihnk it was mostly because I was not the target reader for this. Nonetheless, I do recommend this book to anyone who has a middle grade reader in their life. It is a sweet story about perseverance, hope and navigating a tough struggle with optimism. You don’t often read about homelessness through the eyes of a child which is just as important. It makes you think a bit differently and for good reason.

About the Author

Christie Matheson is the author and illustrator of many picture books, including Tap the Magic Tree, Touch the Brightest Star, and Bird Watch. Shelter is her first novel. She lives in San Francisco with her family. Find her on Instagram at @christiematheson.

Author Links: Instagram | Goodreads