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.

Book Review: And I Darken

And I Darken (2016, Delacorte/Random House, Young Adult Historical Fiction)

and i darken

From the publisher:

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.


In And I Darken, Kiersten White weaves a dark and detailed tale of a reimagined history featuring Lada, a female Vlad the Impaler. The detail the author put into the writing is incredible and lends great authenticity to the text, but it does slow things down quite a bit too. Shelved with teen fantasy at the bookstore, some readers will be disappointed that this is not a fantasy. This is firmly in the realm of historical fiction and features no fantastical elements.

Lada is imposing and often vicious and makes for an interesting main character. The character dynamics are complex and well done, though adult readers may find there is a surprising and sometimes overwhelming amount of teenage angst. Lada feels out of character at times as she nearly fawns over her love interest.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read and interesting new take on a historical figure. The subject matter was clearly thoroughly researched and the writing style will appeal to many. Fans of historical fiction will enjoy this while some may find the pace a bit slow and the amount of names and locations confusing.

Best for ages 14 and up do to violence and adult themes.

4 stars

The sequel to And I Darken comes out this summer. Check out And I Rise when it hits shelves!

Bone Witch ~ Book Review

When I finish a book and review it, I also post on sites such as Amazon and GoodReads which gives me a chance to see what other people are thinking about the book too.

If I really love a book, I’m always eager to check out reviews and see if everyone else loved it as much as I did.

So after reading Bone Witch, I rushed over to GoodReads only to discover most reviewers did not enjoy this book. I was so confused, how could someone not love this book?

It’s beautiful and sweeping and wonderfully told, but many thought it was too slow and that nothing really happens.


I still think it’s fantastic! I was a little disappointed in the ending but it’s part of a new series so that will likely be cleared up in the sequel, and I don’t like to give spoilers in my reviews so I can’t really explain why the ending was disappointing. Sorry, guess you’ll have to read the book 😉

And now, my review…

bone witch

Bone Witch (2017, Sourcebooks Fire, Young Adult Fantasy)

From the publisher:

“Let me be clear: I never intended to raise my brother from his grave, though he may claim otherwise. If there’s anything I’ve learned from him in the years since, it’s that the dead hide truths as well as the living.”

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha—one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.


Bone Witch, written by Rin Chupeco, is the first book in what promises to be a brilliant new fantasy series. The world-building is exceptional as the reader is immersed in Tea’s world where asha’s wield extraordinary powers and are both revered and feared. As Tea evolves from a simple, country girl to a powerful asha, the story introduces a cast of unique and entertaining characters. The descriptions of the asha’s outfits can sometimes be a bit drawn out, but overall the detailed descriptions only serve to make the world more real.

The story is told from the perspective of Tea and from the perspective of a Bard who has sought out Tea to hear her story. The story unfolds as Tea recounts her rise as an asha to the Bard. The story goes from present day to the past as the two storylines build and the reader begins to anticipate that Tea will reveal what happened in her past to bring her to where she is now. This gives the story a page-turning quality and even though the plot is somewhat slow, the writing and characters are sure to keep the reader engaged.

A beautiful, epic tale with strong female characters that will be enjoyed by teens and adults who love fantasy stories.

Thank you to Net Galley and Sourcebooks Fire for a reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Who Run the World?

Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s been far too long since I last posted. While I have been keeping up each week with my newspaper column and sharing lots of reviews there, I have not been keeping up with my blog. Sad day.

To make up for my absence, I am sharing THREE book reviews with you today!

Get excited.

And as a bonus, and in honor of International Women’s Day, these books all feature strong female protagonists!

Happy Reading and Happy International Women’s Day! 🙂

carolines comets

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story (2017, Holiday House, Picture Book Non-Fiction)

Caroline Herschel made history in 1786 when she became the first woman to discover a comet. But her journey began long before that, and it was not an easy road to becoming a highly respected scientist and astronomer. Caroline’s journey is inspiring and incredible, as she worked hard to achieve her goals at a time when women were afforded few opportunities.

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story, written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, is a fascinating account of Caroline Hershel, who not only discovered comets, but became the first female professional scientist, earning a salary from the King of England. Filled with interesting facts, detailed illustrations, and even excerpts from Caroline’s own journals, this is a beautiful book to share with young readers. Caroline’s journey is inspiring as she overcame many obstacles in her life before she even dreamed of becoming an astronomer. Young readers will look up to Caroline and all she accomplished as a woman and a scientist.

Highly recommended for ages 6 and up.

5 stars shooting across the sky!

runs with courage

Runs With Courage (2016, Sleeping Bear Press, Middle Grade Historical Fiction)

When ten-year-old Four Winds is taken from her Lakota tribe and sent to a white boarding school, she doesn’t understand the new world that surrounds her. She imagines she might be a bridge for her people and learn the ways of the white people, but as she learns more, she realizes the white ways are meant to replace all the things she’s ever known. Four Winds wants to run. She wants to run away from the white school and home to her people, but there are bigger things at stake than just what she wants.

Runs With Courage, written by Joan M. Wolf, is a touching, and heart-wrenching portrayal of life for Native Americans in the late 1800’s. This book is written with care and thoughtful consideration of all that was done during this period. Though the story is fiction, readers will gain knowledge of the how the Lakota tribes lived, as well as the actions of the U.S. Government during this time.

The story is written in first person, and delivered in a straightforward manner as fits the main character’s personality. Four Winds is strong and brave, and young readers will look up to her and root for her. The fictional life of Four Winds represents so many young girls who did face her harsh reality. While the girls might starve with their tribes, boarding schools offered food if only they would give up all they had ever known.

Thought-provoking and extraordinary, the story of Four Winds will stay with the reader long after her book has ended. Highly recommended for children ages 10 and up.

5 stars to guide Four Winds

future threat

Future Threat (2017, Albert Whitman & Company, Young Adult Science Fiction)

From the publisher:

The second book in the New York Times bestselling Future Shock trilogy!

Six months ago Aether Corporation sent Elena, Adam, and three other recruits on a trip to the future where they brought back secret information–but not everyone made it back to the present alive. Now Elena’s dealing with her survivor’s guilt and trying to make her relationship with Adam work. All she knows for sure is that she’s done with time travel and Aether Corporation.

But Aether’s not done with her–or Adam, or fellow survivor Chris. The travelers on Aether’s latest mission to the future have gone missing, and Elena and her friends are drafted into the rescue effort. They arrive in a future that’s amazingly advanced, thanks to Aether Corporation’s reverse-engineered technology. The mission has deadly consequences, though, and they return to the future to try to alter the course of events.

But the future is different yet again. Now every trip through time reveals new complications, and more lives lost–or never born. Elena and Adam must risk everything–including their relationship–to save their friends.


Future Threat, written by Elizabeth Briggs, is the second book in the Future Shock trilogy. Last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing Future Shock and so I was eager to review this book at well. As with the first book, the pace is quick and the plot moves right along as Elena and the others zip back and forth through time once more. As with the first book, the fast pace makes both character and relationship development difficult, but at the same time, the characters don’t feel exceptionally flat. Elena is still an interesting, engaging and daring main character, while other characters fill their roles and provide support to the plot.

This science fiction adventure is lots of fun to read, and once again, the time travel aspect is very well written. This is a sequel that definitely builds off the first book, and keeps the twists and energy going. I enjoyed this book just as much, if not more, than the first, and I look forward to the third installment in this trilogy.

This book is a fast read, and written in a straightforward style that will appeal to many readers. Readers who enjoyed Future Shock are likely to enjoy Future Threat, as well as fans of science fiction, action, and teenage angst. This would be a good one to add to the summer reading list!

Best for ages 13 and up due to some scenes of violence and adult situations.

4 stars for Elena traveling through time.

Thank you to Holiday House, Sleeping Bear Press, and Albert Whitman & Co. for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

You can find each of these books at your local book retailer or online.

At Amazon:

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story

Runs With Courage

Future Threat