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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

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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

Blog Tours, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Memoir

Blog Tour [Review] Passport by Sophia Glock

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TITLE: Passport
AUTHOR: Sophia Glock
PUBLISHER:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
RELEASE DATE:
November 30th, 2021
GENRES: Young Adult Graphic Novel Memoir

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

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Indigo | IndieBound

Actual rating 3.5 Stars

Synopsis

An unforgettable graphic memoir by debut talent Sophia Glock reveals her discovery as a teenager that her parents are agents working for the CIA

Young Sophia has lived in so many different countries, she can barely keep count. Stationed now with her family in Central America because of her parents’ work, Sophia feels displaced as an American living abroad, when she has hardly spent any of her life in America.

Everything changes when she reads a letter she was never meant to see and uncovers her parents’ secret. They are not who they say they are. They are working for the CIA. As Sophia tries to make sense of this news, and the web of lies surrounding her, she begins to question everything. The impact that this has on Sophia’s emerging sense of self and understanding of the world makes for a page-turning exploration of lies and double lives.

In the hands of this extraordinary graphic storyteller, this astonishing true story bursts to life.

Review

Passport was a good read but felt a bit rushed. I initially had some difficulty rating it because it was a memoir. While I enjoyed reading about Sophia’s journey to feeling like she belonged, towards the end, I felt there was a gap that made the ending a bit choppy. Passport follows Sophia, a young girl who was born American but has never really lived there or any country long enough to call home because of the nature of her parent’s career. Sophia is often kept in the dark of what that secret is but as she gets older and questions more, eventually gets more insight form her parents.

Passport is a quick read and a pretty good coming of age story. I really enjoyed how the author depicted a turbulent teenage life. She showed Sophia [herself] trying to fit in while still trying to maintain the good daughter her parents want her to be. As she gets older, she craves more for that independence and acceptance. Sophia’s somewhat strained relationship with her sister was something I wish had a bit more backstory for. My assumption was that the sister knew about her parents and wanted to leave out of that lifestyle the minute she had the chance. I was happy to see that their relationship was growing a bit once her sister came to visit. Sophia as a character was okay. She was a teenager navigating a place still very foreign to her even though she’d lived there for years but managed to still create some friendships and have an average high school experience.

Overall, if you are a fan of Persepolis or enjoy a memoir that is a quick read, you will enjoy this memoir. It was a quick, light but enjoyable read with a unique color scheme that worked well with the tone of the story.

About The Author

Sophia Glock is a cartoonist who lives in Austin, TX. Her graphic memoir,Passport, is on sale 11/2/2021 from Little Brown Young Readers. It is available for pre-order here.

Sophia’s comics and cartoons have been published in The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, Narratively, MUTHA Magazine, and Time Out New York. Her work has also been featured in various anthologies including, Ink BrickSuspect Device, Quarter Moon, DIGESTATE, Rabid Rabbit, and Kilgore Quarterly. Her collection of comics Born, Not Raised was selected to be included in The Society of Illustrators Cartoon and Comics Art Annual 2016 and her short comic The Secrets in My Mother’s Nightstand was shortlisted for The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of the Year in 2016.

In 2008 she was a recipient of a Xeric Foundation Grant for her comic, The Deformitory. She is also the author of The Lettuce Girl, SemiSolid, Over Ripe and Passport: Fig. You can pick up her mini comics at indie-friendly stores across the country, or from Bird Cage Bottom Books.

Author Links: Website | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook | Tumblr

Blog Tours, Book Review, Uncategorized, YA Paranormal, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

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Title: Vespertine
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal

Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours and Jolly Fish Press for the early review copy and opportunity to be on this tour!

Where to buy: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

Rating: 3.5 stars bumped to 4 stars

Synopsis

From the New York Times bestselling author of Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens comes a thrilling new YA fantasy about a teen girl with mythic abilities who must defend her world against restless spirits of the dead.

The dead of Loraille do not rest.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.

When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.

As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.

Review

Vespertine is a great read for spooky season! You get possession, magical fighting nuns, spirits and a girls trying to save them all. Margaret Rogerson did not fail to keep me intrigued through most of the story.

The plot was very focused on Artemisia, her relationship with her revenant and her path to fighting the demonic soldiers that have popped up. If you are coming for romance, this may not be the book for you. If you are coming for some banter between a girl and the spirit that possesses her, then this is the perfect read for you. Artemisia, a grey sister, is responsible for purifying and preparing of the dead. One night, after finding a new grey sister in a near death experience and fighting off a spirit, Artemisia worlds takes a shift and she is now on the frontline of a big spiritual battle.

Artemisia is an interesting character. We start off seeing Artemisia as a lone girl; always keeping to herself. As the story grows, so does Artemisia’s will to open up more. We see this most through her many interactions with the revenant that lives within her.  Those interactions open Artemisia up to new conversations and we are introduced to supporting characters that just as interesting as our protagonist. Artemisia continues to shine in the story as a fair, logical and powerful leader who will do what she can to save those around her.

In regards to the worldbuilding, it was pretty simple but it worked for the storyline. The attention was put more of the characters creating a well written character driven plot. The plot overall was pretty consistent, although there were certain points of the story where the dialogue dragged longer than I expected. However, once we got to the action, the scenes were executed well and still kept to the overall tone and consistency of the plot.

Vespertine has dark magic, nuns fighting the supernatural, great dialogue and an overall spooky feel to it all.

About the Author

Margaret Rogerson is the author of the New York Times bestsellers An Enchantment of Ravens and Sorcery of Thorns. She has a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Miami University. When not reading or writing she enjoys sketching, gaming, making pudding, and watching more documentaries than is socially acceptable (according to some). She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, beside a garden full of hummingbirds and roses. Visit her at MargaretRogerson.com.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway

Up for grabs on the book blog tour is two (2) copies of VESPERTINE by Margaret Rogerson, one a physical finished copy and one a digital copy. Open USA only.
Giveaway starts: Monday, September 27, 2021
Giveaway ends: Saturday, October 9, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CDT

Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d53/?