Giveaway Winner & Book Review: The Heart Forger

Happy Tuesday! I hope your week is off to a good start! The week will be off to an even better start for the lucky person who wins a copy of I’m a Duck…drum roll please…

Congratulations to Marty! You have won a copy of I’m a Duck courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Thanks to everyone who commented, and don’t miss out on the next giveaway starting April 6th. I’ll be sharing a fantastic picture book about puppies and an interview with author Deborah Diesen. Get excited!

And now, a new review for fans of dark fantasy…

The Heart Forger (2018, Sourcebooks Fire, Young Adult Fantasy)

the heart forger

From the publisher:

In The Bone Witch, Tea mastered resurrection―now she’s after revenge…

No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life…and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her―and took the life of her one true love.

But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die…

War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.


The Heart Forger, written by Rin Chupeco, is the sequel to The Bone Witch, a book I reviewed and loved last year. This highly anticipated sequel does not disappoint. The sequel picks up where the previous book left off and continues with more action and a bit faster pace than the first book. Readers will be pleased to find Tea as fierce and independent as ever, plus minor characters get more face time. The book follows the format of the first book where the past and present are told in alternating chapters and the timelines continue to move toward a point where they converge, however this book still does not reach a point where the reader learns the entire story.

Readers definitely need to read The Bone Witch prior to reading this sequel for the story to make sense, and if it’s been a while since reading The Bone Witch, readers might even need to reread it. Teen and adult fans of fantasy will enjoy this gripping new adventure from Rin Chupeco. Recommended for readers ages 13 and up due to dark themes.

5 stars dark as night to guide Tea on her way

The Heart Forger is available now from Amazon!

And if you’re new to the series, check out the book that started it all…The Bone Witch!

Thank you to the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Glow

Hope you all are having a safe and happy Halloween filled with lots of treats and not too many tricks 🙂

I am still hoping to enter Susanna Hill’s Halloweensie Contest, so I better get to work! But until then, here is a new review for you to enjoy…

Glow (2017, Albert Whitman & Company, Young Adult Historical Fiction)


From the publisher:

Sometimes the light is more treacherous than the dark.

When thrift-store aficionado Julie discovers a series of antique paintings with hidden glowing images that are only visible in the dark, she wants to learn more about the artist. In her search, she uncovers a century-old romance and the haunting true story of the Radium Girls, young women who used radioactive paint to make the world’s first glow-in-the-dark products—and ultimately became radioactive themselves. As Julie’s obsession with the paintings mounts, truths about the Radium Girls—and her own complicated relationships—are revealed. But will she uncover the truth about the luminous paintings before putting herself and everyone she loves at risk?


Glow, written by Megan E. Bryant, is a gripping tale weaving together a haunting story from the past and Julie’s modern day teenage struggles. Told in alternating points of view, the story is slowly revealed from Julie’s perspective as she tries to learn more about the mysterious glowing paintings, and through letters written by a young woman who lived a century ago.

The historical aspect of this novel is both fascinating and terrible, and the letters are beautifully written with an incredibly authentic feel. Julie’s narrative is strong as well, but her life is almost overly complicated. She has so much going on that the reader will struggle to fully grasp her situation until very near the end, but that’s a minor detail, as the story overall is a brilliant, page-turning creation.

A fantastic read for young adults. This story has mystery, romance, strong female characters, and creepy glowing paintings. The historical inspiration for this story is gripping, and will leave readers wanting to know more about the Radium Girls. Highly recommended for readers ages 12 and up.

5 glowing, gleaming stars to shine this Halloween night!

Thank you to the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Spliced

Counting down to Halloween with another thrilling and chilling tale!

Spliced (2017, Holiday House, Young Adult Science Fiction/Dystopian)


From the publisher:

In this gripping sci-fi thriller, genetically altered teens fight for survival in a near-future society that is redefining what it means to be human.

Sixteen-year-old Jimi knows people change, but nothing could prepare her for what’s about to happen to her best friend, Del. Del is obsessed with becoming a chimera (ki-mir-a): a person who pays back-alley geneticists, known as “genies,” to illegally splice animal genes into their own. The resulting physical changes have scared lawmakers into drafting legislation declaring chimeras officially nonpersons―so when Del goes missing, Jimi is desperate to find him before he alters himself forever. 

As she tries to save him, Jimi must face down unscrupulous people and risk her own life―all while knowing that if getting spliced is the choice Del has made, it means he’s leaving her behind forever.


Spliced, written by Jon McGoran, is a fast-paced science fiction thriller that will have readers staying up late into the night to read just one more page. Jimi shines as the unlikely heroine in this book and the chimeras are both beautiful and scary, at least at first.

The storyline is a nearly perfect blend of incredible, science fiction plot, and normal teenage worries set against a somewhat dystopian future. The reader will root for Jimi as she struggles to figure out who she is, while everyone around her seems to be choosing one side or the other in a heated debate. At times, the dialogue is a bit heavy on the human/non-human dilemma, but in this near-future fictional world, the debate plays out politically in a very real way, and has serious consequences for the chimeras.

Hopefully this is the first in a series, because the reader will be wanting more and the ending is left a bit too wide open to be truly satisfying as a stand-alone book. Overall, an entertaining and exciting read that will get readers thinking about the future of science and what might be possible. Highly recommended for readers ages 14 and up due to some scenes of violence and adult situations.

5 stars for this page-turning, thrilling adventure

Thank you to Holiday House for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: First We Were IV

I apologize for the long hiatus. For whatever reason, I was having difficulties getting to my site on my laptop. But I am back now and have a new review for you all!

Thanks for stopping by and as always, I welcome your comments and input 🙂

First We Were IV (2017, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, Young Adult Mystery/Thriller)

First we were iv

From the publisher:

A group of friends start a secret society in this out-of-control thriller from the author of The Telling and The Creeping that examines the all-consuming love of lifelong friendship—and what someone is capable of when they’re afraid of losing it.

Izzie loves nothing more than her three best friends, Viv, Graham, and Harry, and the bond the four of them share. And she’s terrified of their friendship falling apart next year when they go off to college. To bind them together, she decides to create something that will belong only to them, a special thing that they’ll always share between the four of them. And so they dream up the Order of IV, a secret society devoted to mischief that rights wrongs and pays back debts. At first, it works like a charm—but when the Order of IV’s escapades get recognition beyond their wildest expectations, other people start wanting in. And soon, what started as a game of friendship is spiraling into something dangerous and beyond their control—and before it’s over, they’ll pay the ultimate sacrifice.


In First We Were IV, written by Alexandra Sirowy, readers follow the destructive path of four friends who form an order to maintain their friendship beyond high school, and instead it ends up creating something much bigger than high school friendship. Full of high school drama, bullying and teenage angst, many young adult readers will likely find this book engrossing.

There is a mystery in this book which is established at the very beginning, but the first chapter is a bit convoluted and vague. In an attempt to be super mysterious, the first chapter will likely leave readers scratching their head, but everything will be explained in time if the reader forges ahead. The book picks up after the first few chapters, and the author has a lovely writing style, but there are few truly suspenseful parts and overall the focus is on teenage relationships.

Fans of high school drama, teenage angst and secret clubs will enjoy this book, while others may feel a bit let down. Recommended for ages 14 and up due to adult situations and topics.

3 stars

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for a reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Landscape with Invisible Hand

Landscape with Invisible Hand (2017, Candlewick Press, Young Adult Science Fiction)

landscape with invisible hand

From the publisher:

When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth – but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Can it really be called an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? As it turns out, yes. With his parents’ jobs replaced by alien tech and no money for food, clean water, or the vuvv’s miraculous medicine, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, have to get creative to survive. And since the vuvv crave anything they deem classic Earth culture (doo-wop music, still life paintings of fruit, true love), recording 1950s-style dates for the vuvv to watch in a pay-per-minute format seems like a brilliant idea. But it’s hard for Adam and Chloe to sell true love when they hate each other more with every passing episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he’s willing to go – and what he’s willing to sacrifice – to give the vuvv what they want.


Landscape with Invisible Hand, written by M.T. Anderson, is a futuristic satire in which aliens have colonized on Earth and have caused a myriad of unforeseen consequences with their advanced technology. With each chapter titled as a still-life painting, the story has a poetic quality that gives it an other-worldly feel. The emotional connection to Adam is beautifully written, and will keep the reader turning pages to find out what happens to him and his family.

There are a few inconsistencies with what the vuvv supposedly offer versus how life is described throughout the book. It’s implied the vuvv arrived offering everything for free, but then most people can’t afford basic necessities and it’s unclear how other humans have become insanely rich. Still, it’s an interesting concept and the relationships between the characters are what really drives the story forward.

As a satire, it does feel a bit heavy in making a point at times, which might not appeal to some readers. Highly recommended for science fiction fans. Best for ages 13 and up due to some profanity and adult situations.

4.5 stars awarded by an invisible hand

Landscape with Invisible Hand hits shelves next month.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Goldenhand

Goldenhand (2016, Harper/HarperCollins Publisher, Young Adult Fantasy)


From the publisher:

Goldenhand takes place six months after the events of Abhorsen and follows the novella Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case, which is featured in Across the Wall.

Lirael lost one of her hands in the binding of Orannis, but now she has a new hand, one of gilded steel and Charter Magic. On a dangerous journey, Lirael returns to her childhood home, the Clayr’s Glacier, where she was once a Second Assistant Librarian. There, a young woman from the distant North brings her a message from her long-dead mother, Arielle. It is a warning about the Witch with No Face. But who is the Witch, and what is she planning? Lirael must use her new powers to save the Old Kingdom from this great danger—and it must be forestalled not only in the living world but also in the cold, remorseless river of Death.


Goldenhand, written by Garth Nix, is a long-awaited continuation of the Old Kingdom series. Fans of the series will love this newest addition as they are drawn back into the world they fell in love with years ago. This book picks up close to where the last one left off and readers will enjoy meeting their favorite characters again. Full of the magic readers have come to expect from Garth Nix’s writing, this one will not disappoint. However, readers new to the series will definitely need to read the first three books to understand what is happening.

Told from dual point of views, Lirael is the main focus of this tale and a new character, Ferin, is introduced as the other point of view. The dual view points add to the suspense and make this a page-turner. And along with Ferin, comes a whole new part of the Old Kingdom as the North comes alive with people and places. Old favorites and new, come together as Lirael faces an ancient evil with the help of Sabriel.

Again, this is a book for anyone who has already read the other books in the Old Kingdom series. If you haven’t read the other books, I highly recommend them. For old fans, this new book is not without flaws, but it is still a wondrous journey back to a world we all love.

4 stars to shine from the darkest depths of death

The Bone Queen

Hello all!

I didn’t mean to take a two month hiatus but it seems that’s what happened.

I’m so sorry! So many book reviews you all have missed out on during my absence. Not to worry, I will get them posted soon 🙂

In June I went to the SCBWI Arkansas conference which was a lot of fun and I met great people and wonderful agents and editors. And Little Rock, Arkansas is the most adorable town!

And now I present a new review! (This review appeared last month in my newspaper column.)

The Bone Queen (2017, Candlewick Press, Young Adult High Fantasy)

the bone queen
From the publisher:

After being seduced into sorcery by an agent of the Dark, the promising Bard Cadvan of Lirigon recklessly unleashed the terrible Bone Queen, bringing destruction down upon Annar. Cast out of the Schools of Barding for his crime, Cadvan now lives in exile, burdened by memories of his dealings with the Dark. At his former home, Cadvan’s mentor, Nelac, and his rival, Dernhil, begin to suspect that the Bone Queen may yet lurk in Annar, and a young Bard named Selmana is plagued by an ominous presence and an unsettling new ability to step between worlds. With darkness gathering and Bards giving in to fear and paranoia, a guilt-ridden Cadvan must once again earn the Bards’ trust and Selmana must gain control of her newfound powers if they are to bring peace to the living and the dead. Fans of the Books of Pellinor will savor this glimpse into Cadvan’s past, and readers new to Alison Croggon’s intricately built world will relish The Bone Queen as a stand-alone epic of light, dark, magic, and redemption.

The Bone Queen, written by Alison Croggon, is the prequel to her highly successful Books of Pellinor series. Supposedly, the reader doesn’t need to be familiar with or have read the series in order to understand this book, but I do think it would help to have read them. While this book can stand alone, a reader familiar with the world will likely be more drawn in than a reader being introduced for the first time. The writing is beautiful and descriptive and very much traditional high fantasy which will not appeal to every reader. I had a hard time getting into this book as I was unfamiliar with the series, but once Selmana’s storyline took off, I became more engaged. The characters are interesting and well-developed and the storyline is complex, but again, this is high fantasy so the naming of people and places as well as the story-telling style will not connect with all readers.

Fans of the Books of Pellinor or fans of high fantasy will enjoy this book, while others might have a hard time getting through. A beautifully written, epic tale arriving just in time for summer.

3 stars

Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.