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, Children's Fiction

Blog tour [Review] T-rexes Can’t Tie their Shoes

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TITLE: T-Rexes Can’t Tie Their Shoes
AUTHOR: By ANNA LAZOWSKI Illustrated by STEPH LABERIS
PUBLISHER:
Double Day Books For Young Readers
RELEASE DATE:
June 2021
GENRES: Children’s, Picture book

Thank you Turn the Page Tours and RandomHouseKids for the early review copy and opportunity to be on this tour!

Where to Buy: Penguin Random House Website

Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis

A funny and encouraging alphabetic book about all the things animals CAN’T do but kids CAN! Every parent teaching their children new skills will be happy to have this super-positive picture book on hand.

Bees can’t ride bicycles, penguins can’t play ping-pong, and zebras can’t go zip-lining. No one is good at everything, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying! Here is a funny and encouraging picture book for any child learning how to tie their shoes, ride a bike, spell their name, or do a variety of new things.

Follow a hilarious alphabet of animals, and see all the things they can’t do but kids can—from doing gymnastics to flipping pancakes to playing a xylophone. Along the way, young readers will learn that it’s okay if they can’t do everything; they can still have a LOT of fun trying.

Review

When reading this book, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was an alphabet book. Suffice to say, my nephew and I had a couple of giggles throughout the story. It is both entertaining and encouraging. I appreciate the main message to kids that it’s okay to not be good at everything while still enjoying the thing you are doing. Each page introduces the reader to a new animal and the thing they cannot do. At the end, we are shown all the wonderful things they could do instead. Along with the beautiful illustrations, bright colors and occasional giggles I provided my nephew while reading T-Rexes Can’t Tie Their Shoes to him, I enjoyed the positive cadence the book had and the motivation is will provide to young readers.

Overall, I would recommend this book to any parent or person who ha a young child in their lives and is learning their ABCs.

About the Author

Anna Lazowski wrote her first picture book for a class assignment in the sixth grade and has been creating stories ever since. Now an award-winning radio producer, Anna has an MA (Journalism) from the University of Western Ontario and a BFA (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba.

Giveaway!

Up for grabs is one (1) copy of T-REXES CAN’T TIE THEIR SHOES! This giveaway is limited to US readers only.

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d46/?

Blog Tours, Book Review, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fiction, YA Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: Gold Spun by Brandie June

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Publisher : Camcat Publishing, LLC (June 8, 2021)
Title : Gold Spun
Author : Brandie June
Pages: 368 pages
Release Date:

Where to buy: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | BOOK DEPOSITORY

Rating: 4 Stars

Thank you Jean BookNerd and CamCat Books for providing a review copy and the opportunity to be a part of this tour.

Synopsis

If Nor can’t spin gold, she can always spin lies.

When seventeen-year-old Nor rescues a captured faerie in the woods, he gifts her with a magical golden thread she can use to summon him for a favor. Instead, Nor uses it for a con—to convince villagers to buy straw that can be transformed into gold. Her trick works a little too well, attracting the suspicion of Prince Casper, who hates nobody more than a liar. Intent on punishing Nor, he demands that she spin a room of straw into gold and as her reward, he will marry her. Should she refuse or fail, the consequences will be dire.

Review

Gold Spun is a face paced Rumplestilksen retelling you didn’t know you needed. Brandie June created world that was equal parts magical and corrupt. Talking about the worldbuilding, it was so well written with the intention that every detailed of the setting described was important to the story. At times, the powerfulness of the worldbuilding spoke for itself, making the story all the more attractive. It had a strong fairytale feel to it that I welcomed from the first page opened to the last page closed. Although a retelling of a very popular Grimm Fairytale, Brandie managed to take this classic tale and spin it completely around into a unique story full of characters you find yourself fighting to figure out which is your most favorite. Let’s not forget that this tale had Fae and I am honestly a sucker for any story has has Fae included in a different way.

The story itself is pretty great. You get Prince Casper, a war captive who is returning back to his home kingdom to take the throne and hears word of a girl who can turn straw into gold. As a Prince who despises a lie more than anything else in this world, he sets his journey to find the truth to this suspicious miracle. He gives Nor a chance to prove her magical gifts are true in exchange for his hand in marriage. Marriage to a prince would mean Nor would no longer have to commits the schemes and cons she has been doing to feed her family – so what will she do?

I love both Casper and Nor for what their characters brought to the story. Casper, a brooding now free Prince trying to navigate the responsibility of becoming a king. Nor, a young girl scheming away to feed her family and trying to survive. Both lives seemingly changed through one Fae exchange. Casper is a swoon worthy character in my book. The way he goes about important decisions and figuring out what is behind the straw to Gold tough, I couldn’t help but continue to root him throughout the story. What I enjoyed about Nor was how clever she was. She knew he con was a lie, but she became clever in figuring out how to navigate this lie to save her life. Nor is also caring, having saved a Fae even though the very kingdom she lives in wants nothing to do with them. She is the big sister who is trying her best and only hopes that she gets a happy ending.

While I did enjoy many parts of the story, I did want to see more character development between the three main characters within the story; especially with Nor and how she came into the predicament she was in. I think this addition would have definitely made it an easy 5 start read for me. Overall, Gold Spun is a fast paced red, full of so many magical unfolding and with a cliffhanger that will make you stare at the book hoping that more words would magically continue the story. I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy, and/or fairytale re-tellings with a twist.

About the Author

Photo Content from Brandie June

Brandie June spent most of her childhood onstage or reading, as both activities let her live in fantastic stories. She moved to Los Angeles to study acting at UCLA, and eventually branched out into costume design and playwriting. While she spends most of her free time writing, she will still take any excuse to play dress-up, especially if it involves wearing a crown. She happily promotes more stories as a marketing director for kids’ films and anime. When not writing or marketing, she can often be found doing aerial arts, playing board games, drinking too much espresso, and coming up with new art projects. She lives with her husband, two spoiled rescue pups, a spoiled cat, six fish tanks, and five bookshelves. You can find out more about her at http://www.brandiejune.com and follow her @brandiejune.

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

It’s Giveaway Time!!

Click the picture above and enter for a chance win 1 of 3 copies of gold Spun by Brandie June!

Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

Blog Tours, Book Review, Children's Fiction, Young Readers

Blog Tour [Review]: Dino-Gro by Matt Myers

Follow the tour!: https://turnthepagetours.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/tour-schedule-dino-gro-by-matt-myers/

Book Title: Dino-Gro
Author: Matt Myers
Publisher: Random House Studio
Release Date: June 15, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Children’s Picture Book

Where to buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound

Happy Release Day to Dino-Gro!

Special thank you to Turn the Page Tours and Penguin Random House for providing a review copy and for the opportunity to be a part on this blog tour!

Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis

From the New York Times bestselling illustrator of Battle Bunny comes a laugh-out-loud story of a little sponge dinosaur that keeps growing…and growing…and growing….

Cole is very excited about his new Dino-Gro toy. He can’t wait for it to reach its full size! But when Dino-Gro becomes much larger than intended, Cole goes so far as to put Dino-Gro on a liquid-free diet and an exercise regimen, which don’t seem to make a difference! As Dino-Gro becomes so big that he can’t fit in the house, Cole learns that growing up and getting bigger can have advantages too, even if you’re not a dinosaur.

For fans of Tiny T. Rex and We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, this sweet and hilarious read-aloud is fun for kids to learn the importance of growing up big and strong.

Review

Dino-Gro is such a cute story about friendship. My nephew loved it and will likely in the future dump his dinosaur toys in water.

Cole is super excited to see his dino grow but did not expect to grow as much as it did. Soon his dino becomes to large to stay in the home. Dino-Gro delivers a message that is amazing; friends will be there no matter the circumstance. It is shown during a rain storm where Cole searches and worries frantically that he has lost Dino forever. Along with the message of friendship, Dino-Gro portrays the ups and downs of size and does so in a way where no size is considered unfortunate. In fact, it shows how one can be loved in any size. The story ends in a light-hearted feel good moment.

Along with the sweet story, I was mesmerized by the simple yet vivid illustrations. I would recommend this book!

About the Author

Matt Myers is the author and illustrator of Hum and Swish, and the illustrator of many other books for young readers, including the Infamous Ratsos series by Kara LaReau, Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, A Dog Named Doug by Karma Wilson, and BB-8 On the Run by Drew Daywalt. Matt Myers lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Youtube [Credit: Matt Myers]