Inception meets The Magicians

All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.

As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.

This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret world’s that people hide within themselves come to light.

Reverie, Ryan La Sala
December 3, 2019

I liked Inception, I liked The Magicians. I was not a fan of Ryan La Sala’s Reverie. The description was intriguing enough, the police found Kane half-dead in a river and he has no memory of what happened. There are promises of dragging and danger and wildly imaginative plot elements.

But I didn’t see it. I stopped at a quarter of the way through Reverie and had to push myself to get there through the mundanity. La Sala’s writing is strong but the plot was weak and the characters could not hold my interest long enough for me to wait for monsters.

In that 25%, a single monster showed up. I never saw a subterranean temple or a Victorian home rife with scandal and sorcery. I did see a lot of sass.

Kane’s sass is really the only thing that kept me reading. He’s got an answer for everything whether or not he says it out loud.

Ultimately, I think the writing is enough to carry fans through the rest of the story where it wasn’t enough for me.

My Rating:

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November First Impressions

Ah, November. The days are short, the nights are long, and the white hot chocolate is raising my blood sugar. My dashboards are covered in contemporary titles just ripe for reading at a Starbucks with your feet up on the table. Time to see if anything coming up this month is making it to my TBR.

All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney

Pub Date 12 Nov 2019

Nadine Jolie Courtney’s All-American Muslim Girl is a relevant, relatable story of being caught between two worlds, and the struggles and hard-won joys of finding your place.

Allie Abraham has it all going for her—she’s a straight-A student, with good friends and a close-knit family, and she’s dating popular, sweet Wells Henderson. One problem: Wells’s father is Jack Henderson, America’s most famous conservative shock jock, and Allie hasn’t told Wells that her family is Muslim. It’s not like Allie’s religion is a secret. It’s just that her parents don’t practice, and raised her to keep it to herself.

But as Allie witnesses Islamophobia in her small town and across the nation, she decides to embrace her faith—study, practice it, and even face misunderstanding for it. Who is Allie, if she sheds the façade of the “perfect” all-American girl?

My Thoughts:

My first thought was whether or not Nadine should be telling this story. But the author herself is of Circassian heritage so this is right up her alley. I would probably pick this up just to see how it all plays out but I am hesitant since the character has to hide her identity.

Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell

Pub Date 05 Nov 2019

A girl searches for a killer on an island where deadly sirens lurk just beneath the waves in this gripping, atmospheric debut novel.

The sea holds many secrets.

Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he’s one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.

Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too late—for humans and sirens alike.

My Thoughts:

Could be good. Not “have to have it on my shelf right this second” good, but I probably wouldn’t say no to a copy. The cover feels pretty basic and the description makes me feel like Moira is about to learn she’s part siren. BUT, I do love a good murder mystery and I’m a bit addicted to fantasy settings. So I’ll leave this one on my radar and see what other people think.

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Pub Date 05 Nov 2019

Deluxe edition with special embellishments on first printing only.

From New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance perfect for fans of Practical Magic, where dark fairy tales and enchanted folklore collide after a boy, believed to be missing, emerges from the magical woods—and falls in love with the witch determined to unravel his secrets.

Be careful of the dark, dark wood…

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

For as long as there have been fairy tales, we have been warned to fear what lies within the dark, dark woods and in Winterwood, New York Times bestselling author Shea Ernshaw, shows us why.

My Thoughts:

…Everyone has secrets anymore. Honestly, I’d rather have this presented in a different way. I mean, that sentence about his secret and the other missing kids feels like it goes on forever. Maybe something that hints that Nora takes some action when she learns about the other missing kids.

Sick Kids In Love by Hannah Moskowitz

Pub Date 05 Nov 2019

Isabel has one rule: no dating.
It’s easier—
It’s safer—
It’s better—
—for the other person.
She’s got issues. She’s got secrets. She’s got rheumatoid arthritis.
But then she meets another sick kid.
He’s got a chronic illness Isabel’s never heard of, something she can’t even pronounce. He understands what it means to be sick. He understands her more than her healthy friends. He understands her more than her own father who’s a doctor.
He’s gorgeous, fun, and foul-mouthed. And totally into her.
Isabel has one rule: no dating.
It’s complicated—
It’s dangerous—
It’s never felt better—
—to consider breaking that rule for him.

My Thoughts:

So sick kid romance is a genre now, I guess? I think the part that really throws me from wanting to read this is the “It’s never felt better–to consider breaking that rule for him.” There’s a certain tropey feel there, right on the back copy. I can practically hear it in that movie trailer narrator voice: Isabel has rheumatoid arthritis. An unnamed boy at the hospital has a disease no one can pronounce. Will they risk their own health just to have a surface level relationship? Find out, when SICK KIDS IN LOVE drops this month.

A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price

Pub Date 05 Nov 2019

Shannon Price’s A Thousand Fires is a breakout contemporary debut—think The Outsiders meets The Iliad—that’s perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Veronica Roth.

10 Years. 3 Gangs. 1 Girl’s Epic Quest…

Valerie Simons knows the Wars are dangerous—her little brother was killed by the Boars two years ago. But nothing will sway Valerie from joining the elite and beautiful Herons with her boyfriend Matthew to avenge her brother. But when Jax, the volatile and beyond charismatic leader of the Stags, promises her revenge, Valerie is torn between old love and new loyalty.

My Thoughts:

So… it says “contemporary debut” but it reads like “dystopian-esque debut.” There’s the Wars (capital W), three gangs, and a woodland setting just dying to have some disease in it. And the comp titles (this is why I hate comp titles) are to The Outsider and The Iliad–NOT CONTEMPORARY TITLES AT ALL! What is going on in this description!?

Too Many Tuesdays

If you’re an avid bookworm with a calendar full of highly anticipated release dates or a book blogger with deadlines (i.e. Our Audience) then you know that literally every book is published on a Tuesday.

As an adult with a day job, I have to wonder: whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

Just release it on a Friday! I get paid on Friday. I’d even take a Thursday release over Tuesday. I wake up before the sun on Tuesdays and get home after it sets. And I’m driving, always driving, so I can’t even read it if I do pick it up on a Tuesday.

And were I still in school–high school, not college– I would have to get up early and STILL WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO READ BECAUSE I’M SUPPOSED TO BE DOING LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE!

We joke about it a lot behind the scenes here at Booked All Night. When’s that book coming out? I bet it’s a Tuesday. Oh, hey, Tuesday is here, I wonder what book came out. And as I’ve mentioned many-a-time on the podcast: I long for the days of midnight release parties.

Recently, there was an event near me on a Tuesday night, and as any bookworm who doesn’t live in New York City or Seattle knows, local events are hard to come by. The event started at 7pm, I got out of work at 5pm. It seemed ideal. Except, that by the end of the day all I could think about was travel time.

And on my way home from work I thought if this was a weekend I wouldn’t care.

Well, actually first I thought if I were younger I wouldn’t care but then I thought about it and yes I would.

Tuesday is such a horrible day for anything to get released. Everyone is busy–or tired from being busy. And how could you ever have a midnight release on a Tuesday? Why does Tuesday even exist? DOWN WITH TUESDAY PUBLICATION DATES!

The Grave Digger

In 1875 Ohio, twelve-year-old Cap Cooper is an aspiring inventor—and a reluctant graverobber—enlisted by his father to help pay for his mother’s medical expenses. When one of the dead returns to life at his touch, Cap unearths a world of dark secrets that someone at the local medical school wants to keep buried. On the brink of discovery, he’ll have to use every ounce of cunning he has to protect those he loves most and save his own skin. The Grave Digger is an eerie mystery set in the aftermath of the Civil War, filled with action, friendship, and a hint of the paranormal, perfect for those who enjoy reading late into the night and long after the lights go out.

The Grave Digger, Rebecca Bischoff
October 29, 2019

I wanted a spooooooooky read. And I got a slooooooow spooooooky read.

I picked up Cap Cooper’s story because my interest was piqued at reluctant graverobber. Especially in a middle grade title, that’s a lot of dead bodies. And Bischoff’s descriptions were appropriate for the age range but there was something about a twelve year handling a naked dead body that just put me off.

In an early scene, Cap realizes they are digging up the grave of one of his recently deceased classmates and she comes to life at his touch. He follows her home and freaks out, not because of the walking dead, but because he cost his father money.

Don’t get me wrong. I was always afraid of angering my parents–but uhh–I think I’d be more afraid of a dead body.

Unfortunately, I did not finish reading The Grave Digger. It moved slowly after that and my interest waned too far.

I found A PIECE OF CANDY!!! #giveaway #yalit #kidlit

My Plain Jane


Move over, Charlotte Brontë. The authors of My Lady Jane are back with a fantastic, romantic, hilarious reimagining of Jane Eyre.

Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows’s My Lady Jane was a New York Times bestseller, “an utter delight” (ALA Booklist, starred review), and “an uproarious historical fantasy that’s not to be missed” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). Now they’re back with another irreverent tale of mischief, mayhem, and romance—perfect for fans of The Princess Bride or A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre begins a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions as one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood embark on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

I’m not a huge fan of the classics, but Jane Eyre has always held a special place in my heart. It’s got “ghosts,” it’s got mystery, it’s got a crazy lady in the attic burnin’ the whole place down, and a super creepy romance between a teenager and a man in his forties. But hey: love.

I enjoyed most of My Plain Jane, in ways that I certainly did not enjoy My Lady Jane. This was funnier, well written, and did a wonderful job tying in the source material while commenting on the original story in a modern way (mostly that Rochester is old enough to be Jane’s grandfather-gross)

Perhaps where it lost points for me was its attempts to draw in other elements of pop-culture like Lord of the RingsThe Princess Bride, and others. I would rather the authors relied on their own humor which was vastly more successful than the lines they stole from others.

My Rating: ★★★★

I found A WHITE WITCH’S HAT!!! #giveaway #yalit #kidlit


The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave. 

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame. 

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her. 

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself. 

Kelly Coon, Gravemaidens
October 29, 2019

From the very first page you can tell that Kelly Coon sees the world she’s created vividly. Her descriptions of clothing, people, markets, and architecture are more than enough to paint the world for the reader.

Unfortunately, other aspects of Gravemadens didn’t meet the same standard.

I was drawn to request Gravemaidens because of how wonderfully dark it sounded. I also felt that the themes hinted at on the back cover, those of honor and tradition, were poignant in today’s political climate.

But I felt lost in the early pages. There is a lot of language that is unique to this world, and I could not understand family relationships without it. It was also difficult to understand the regency without a few context clues as to what all these new words meant.

Ultimately, I put it down pretty early on when the main character suggests and believes in the power of a Hail Mary to save her sister, although just paragraphs before she knew all was hopeless.

I wish I’d made it further but I didn’t feel like anything pulled me along.

My Rating: DNF

I found A PIECE OF CANDY! #giveaway #yalit #kidlit

Ruin of Stars


The thrilling conclusion to the Mask of Shadows duology that weaves a tale of magic, shadows, and most importantly, revenge.

As one of the Queen’s elite assassins, Sal finally has the power, prestige, and permission to hunt down the lords who killed their family. But Sal still has to figure out who the culprits are. They must enlist the help of some old friends and enemies while ignoring a growing distaste for the queen and that the charming Elise is being held prisoner by her father.

But there’s something terribly wrong in the north. Talk of the return of shadows, missing children, and magic abounds. As Sal takes out the people responsible for their ruined homeland, Sal learns secrets and truths that can’t be forgotten.

Ruin of Stars, Linsey Miller
August 28, 2018

Y’all. I’m still a mess whenever I think about Mask of Shadows. And then along came Ruin of Stars? More like RUINED MY HEART!

Excuse me while I go mop up the shreds of my broken heart and my tears from the floor!

I championed Mask of Shadows from the get-go. I loved me some genderfluid assassin babies. Sal was the heart of my heart, and then I got my grubby little queer hands-on Ruin of Stars and I couldn’t have been happier.

And then I read it.

And then I cried.

A lot.

Like, more than usual.

Y’all know I’m a tender heart, I cry at everything.

But especially this.

Okay, okay, serious reviewer mode!

I won’t lie, the first ~20% were slow to start. It felt like a long uphill battle to get anywhere, but once we crested that hill and things started hitting the fan… well, we really got to rolling and it just wouldn’t stop.

Sal faced more brutality, more emotion, more queerness and I loved it.

We were introduced to so many more queer characters and we got to dive deeper into who Sal is and who they were becoming.

Also, 100% more Maud. Every Maud scene was amazing.

And then there was the epilogue…

When we interviewed Linsey on our podcast, she mentioned something about an extended epilogue and honestly… I need it. I need an entire novella of that epilogue because O. M. G.

I’m just going to go run off and cry some more about this book, y’all. Don’t mind me. There are extra mops downstairs if my tears start to flood things.

Don’t forget, Booknerds! We’re part of the Ruin of Stars blog tour! Check out the excerpt and don’t forget to enter the giveaway for your chance to win two copies of Ruin of Stars!

I found A FRIGHTENED GOURD! #giveaway #yalit #kidlit


Help! A witch cursed us and we’ve all been turned into bats! But when she left she dropped the batty antidote. Search our most recent posts for the ingredients to the cure! We’d be so grateful that we’d give you any book you wanted!

How to enter!

  • Find the ingredients in any one of our October posts.
  • Click the button to tweet that you found it.
  • Copy the URL and enter it in the rafflecopter giveaway.
  • Entries end on Oct 30, 2019.


  • A Potion of Orange
  • A Leaf of Maple
  • A Piece of Candy (there are four)
  • A Frightened Gourd
  • A White Witch’s Hat

An Interview with Sarah Jean Horwitz

This episode we’re joined by Sarah Jean Horwitz to talk about her new book The Dark Lord Clementine. 

The new face of big evil is a little . . . small.

Dastardly deeds aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind when one hears the name “Clementine,” but as the sole heir of the infamous Dark Lord Elithor, twelve-year-old Clementine Morcerous has been groomed since birth to be the best (worst?) Evil Overlord she can be. But everything changes the day the Dark Lord Elithor is cursed by a mysterious rival.

Now, Clementine must not only search for a way to break the curse, but also take on the full responsibilities of the Dark Lord. As Clementine forms her first friendships, discovers more about her own magic than she ever dared to explore, and is called upon to break her father’s code of good and evil, she starts to question the very life she’s been fighting for. What if the Dark Lord Clementine doesn’t want to be dark after all?

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I found A LEAF OF MAPLE!!! #giveaway #yalit #kidlit



In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Mirage, Somaiya Daud
August 28, 2018

Once in awhile, there comes a book where you go into it with almost no expectations, in a genre you only occasionally read, where you go into it with an open mind. And then it consumes your entire life.

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked up Mirage–part of it came from the fact that I loved the cover. Part of it because I wanted to explore sci-fi more. And part of it because I was eager for a new diverse voice in the market.

And Mirage blew me away. I was caught immediately, and it wasn’t letting me go. It was brutal, beautiful and unabashedly amazing. I loved Amani, I loved the romance (though I tried not to at first) and I loved the world.


Somaiya Daud has an AMAZING voice and showed us an AMAZING world filled with richness and splendor. I saw everything, could feel the things Amani felt and saw. I couldn’t put this book down to the point where I was late getting off my break at work.

I rooted for Amani from the get-go. I watched wide-eyed at how her relationship with Maram and Idris changed throughout the book. I cried (of course I did) towards the end.

And all I need right now is to a) read it again, b) shove it at all my friend’s faces because WOW and c) that sequel because OMG the ending left me shattered.

I can’t recommend Mirage hard enough. If I could float down from the heavens like some sort of Bookish Angel, heralding the good news of how much I loved this damn book, I could. But alas, a lack of wings. But I’ll shout it from every Tweet and newsletter and in podcast episode!

EXCERPT: The Dark Lord Clementine

Clementine Morcerous awoke one morning to discover that her father had no nose.

This was not exactly unexpected. Several mornings previously, the Dark Lord Elithor Morcerous had greeted her with slightly less nose than usual, and a bit of a weaker chin. The difference was so small that Clementine, who was quite small herself, barely noticed it. She did notice something different about him—he was her father, after all—but she thought perhaps he had gotten a rather unflattering haircut.

An unflattering haircut could not explain the next few days, however, as the Dark Lord Elithor’s nose became skinnier and skinnier, and his chin weaker and weaker. It could also not explain why his skin took on the raw-looking texture of freshly chopped wood, or why the ends of his fingers sharpened first into long points, and then shorter and shorter ones. It was as if every day, something were eating away at him—chipping away at him, Clementine’s mind helpfully suggested—but the Dark Lord carried on as if nothing were the matter, even when the tip of his finger snapped off as he was ladling out the pea soup at dinner.

It was so light it barely made a plop as it landed in the tureen. They ate the soup anyway.

Clementine Morcerous knew that if the Dark Lord Elithor had three gifts in this world, they were:

  1. The invention and implementation of magical Dastardly Deeds
  2. Math
  3. Not Talking About Anything

But the day she sat down to breakfast, rubbed the last bits of sleep from her eyes, and looked up to see her father sitting across the table from her, quite alarmingly noseless . . . well. Clementine decided that was the day they were going to Talk About Something. “Father,” Clementine said as she watched him spear a piece of melon on the tip of his pointy wooden finger. “I do believe you have been cursed.”

The melon cube paused on its journey to his poor thin lips.

“Ah,” said her father, his thick eyebrows rising. “Do you?”

He then returned his focus to his plate, as if she’d merely made a comment on the weather. His finger had sliced through the melon cube. He picked it up again with some difficulty.

“Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?” demanded Clementine. “Something is . . . well . . . chipping away at you!”

Clementine regretted using the word “chipping” as soon as it was out of her mouth. Yet a consequence of Finally Talking About Anything is that words, once set free into the world, aren’t in the habit of going back where they came from.

The only sound in the room was the Dark Lord’s labored breathing, a thin whistling from the two tiny slits left in his face where his nostrils should’ve been. His eyebrows threatened to meet in the middle. He looked down at his plate again, and even the melon seemed to turn a paler green under the force of his glare.

“No . . .” he said softly. “Not. Chipping.” He spat out the words like they were curses themselves and finally looked up at a very concerned Clementine. “Whittling.”


I found A POTION OF ORANGE!!! #giveaway #yalit #kidlit

BLOG TOUR: The Dark Lord Clementine

Clementine knows very well what is expected of her as the interim Dark Lord: there are dastardly deeds to accomplish, unsuspecting townspeople to frighten, a level of chaos and uncertainty that must be maintained. But Clementine has other priorities, too. Namely, who is this mysterious Whittle Witch, and what is her quarrel with her father? Is Darka Wesk-Starzec a friend or foe, and who—or what—is she hunting? And what happens if her father finds out that she, Clementine, is capable of light magic—or that she sometimes dreams of existing somewhere between the two moral extremes?

Sarah Jean Horwitz has once again constructed a magical universe that is engaging from the very first page. From Clementine’s loyal Gricken—the result of an accidental spell that transformed her grimoire into a chicken that lays spells, rather than eggs—to a talking black sheep named Dave, THE DARK LORD CLEMENTINE is a delightfully magical romp that poignantly explores the importance of distinguishing external expectations from internal motivations—and how sometimes, following your heart is a risk well worth taking.

I found A PIECE OF CANDY!!! #giveaway #yalit #kidlit


“After luring readers in with wordplay and tongue-in-cheek, genre-savvy humor, the plot takes an emotionally rich thematic turn, dwelling on community and forgiveness—all the while building toward a mythical, mystical arc involving the unicorn. The few action sequences are mined for utmost impact, as are the slice-of-life scenes and flashback vignettes…Absolutely delightful.”
Kirkus Reviews

Horwitz’s ingenuity for bizarre enchantment and characterization proves boundless… In a wry, satisfying ending, Clementine hints at future enchantments ahead.”
—Publishers Weekly

“The descriptions of magical beings are fittingly awe-inspiring  . . . this inventive fantasy twists conventions while involving readers through good storytelling laced with irony and wit.”

About Sarah Jean Horwitz:

Sarah Jean Horwitz grew up next door to a cemetery and down the street from an abandoned fairy-tale theme park, which probably explains a lot. She currently lives near Boston. You can find her at or on Twitter: @sunshineJHwitz

I found A PIECE OF CANDY!!! #giveaway #yalit #kidlit

October First Impressions

Time to look at some upcoming titles that caught my interest in one way or another. Here are five titles that caught my interest… and a few that lost it quickly.

Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer

Pub Date 01 Oct 2019

Bestselling and award-winning author Trista Mateer takes an imaginative approach to self-care in this new poetry and prose collection, Aphrodite Made Me Do It. In this empowering retelling, she uses the mythology of the goddess to weave a common thread through the past and present. By the end of this book, Aphrodite will make you believe in the possibility of your own healing.

My thoughts:

Alright, I totally clicked on it because of the cover. And the title. The cover is super simple but I really love the colors. I’m not really into poetry collections but I’d probably love to see a few from this one.

Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

Pub Date 01 Oct 2019

In the kingdom of Axaria, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes.

Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm.

Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down. Not one has ever returned.

When Asterin Faelenhart, princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain.

With the help of her friends and the powers she wields—though has yet to fully understand—Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless trained soldiers have failed. To kill it.

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the princess herself instead. Asterin and her friends begin to wonder how much of their lives has been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.

That is, of course, if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

My Thoughts:

Eeeeeehhhhhhhhh… Mmmmmmm… I mean the cover is pretty. But the plot just doesn’t really pop out to me. They princess and her friends are the center of the assassination plot without knowing it? Meh.

Heart of the Moors An Original Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Novel by Holly Black

Pub Date 08 Oct 2019

From New York Times bestselling author Holly Black comes a captivating original novel set between Disney’s Maleficent and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, in which newly-queened Aurora struggles to be the best leader to both the humans and Fair Folk under her reign; her beau, Prince Phillip, longs to get to know Aurora and her kingdom better; and Maleficent has trouble letting go of the past.

My Thoughts:

So these Disney novels have been hit or miss, to be honest. The back copy is pretty slim and reveals nothing to me. I’ve got nothing here. Come on people.

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

Pub Date 29 Oct 2019

In the last days of the twenty-first century, sea creatures swim through the ruins of London. Trapped in the abyss, humankind wavers between fear and hope-fear of what lurks in the depths around them, and hope that they might one day find a way back to the surface.

When sixteen-year-old submersible racer Leyla McQueen is chosen to participate in the city’s prestigious annual marathon, she sees an opportunity to save her father, who has been arrested on false charges. The Prime Minister promises the champion whatever their heart desires. But the race takes an unexpected turn, forcing Leyla to make an impossible choice.

Now she must brave unfathomable waters and defy a corrupt government determined to keep its secrets, all the while dealing with a guarded, hotheaded companion she never asked for in the first place. If Leyla fails to discover the truths at the heart of her world, or falls prey to her own fears, she risks capture-or worse. And her father will be lost to her forever.

My Thoughts:

You had me in the first paragraph but lost me somewhere after that. Sunken cities? Yes. Submarine street racing? Sign me up. Father arrested on false charges? A contest to get your heart’s desire? Impossible choice? I feel like I’ve read that. Maybe a little more info from the back copy could’ve piqued my interest but it feels like it’s keeping too much to itself to really keep me interested in the text.

Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland

Pub Date 29 Oct 2019

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers—like Kamai and her mother—can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom …

My Thoughts:

Ooooh. Soulwalking sounds cool. Dark fantasy. Asexuality. This sounds like it could be a really addictive read.



Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own.

Graphic novels have always had a special place in my heart, and Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier has taken my heart in its adorable fist and crushed it to smithereens.

Raina Telgemeier has a long list of great kidlit graphic novels, including DramaSmile, and her graphic adaptation of the Baby-Sitter’s Club. So Ghosts is another stellar addition to anyone’s library, and let me tell you, you need this book in your library.

Catrina is a great character, someone I would have heavily identified with as a kid–scared but loyal and a great big sister. Her younger sister Maya has cystic fibrosis and ends up stuck at home when she would rather be trick-or-treating or meeting ghosts in their new home in Bahía de la Luna. Bahía de la Luna is a town where the veil between the human world and the ghost world is thin, and so ghosts come into town every so often. But on Halloween night, every ghost comes into town to meet with their living family.

The art is adorable and the fact that Telgemeier shows all the little things about what it means to have cystic fibrosis is awesome; we see Maya’s nightly breathing ritual, how quickly a breathing attack can come on, how it affects Maya’s mentality about life and death. The juxtaposition of Maya’s inevitable passing and the reality of ghosts in town softens the blow that eventually Maya will leave her family in the world of the living, but it’s still so incredibly bittersweet.

Catrina grows and becomes courageous, not just for herself but also for her sister, and she meets the ghosts and makes new friends.

Ghosts by Raina Telegemeier is the perfect Halloween read for readers of any age.

Staff Picks for Fall 2019

Fall is the season of the book nerd. It’s cool, it’s quiet, and it’s the perfect warm drink and good book weather. So get ready, cause the night owls have some great picks for you this season.

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

September 3, 2019

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Recommended by Jessica

Adorably awkward characters, witches, knights, French influence, magic, and amazing storytelling. If you love wordplay and sass, you’ll love Serpent & Dove‘s magic and Louise (aka Lou). If you love awkward naivete and watching prejudices get beaten down, you’ll love Reid and the Chasseurs.

Free Lunch by Rex Ogle

September 10, 2019

Free Lunch is the story of Rex Ogle’s first semester in sixth grade. Rex and his baby brother often went hungry, wore secondhand clothes, and were short of school supplies, and Rex was on his school’s free lunch program.

Grounded in the immediacy of physical hunger and the humiliation of having to announce it every day in the school lunch line, Rex’s is a compelling story of a more profound hunger—that of a child for his parents’ love and care. Compulsively readable, beautifully crafted, and authentically told with the voice and point of view of a 6th-grade kid, Free Lunch is a remarkable debut by a gifted storyteller.

Recommended by Dan

A middle grade memoir about not having enough money to buy food and the further complications it causes the family. It’s dark but it’s an amazing story.

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

June 25, 2019

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway. 

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s. 

Recommended by Maggie

I’ve already freaked out about this book in my review. If you love K-Dramas, rich fantasy and myths, and hard ass magic girls slowly falling in love with dopey human boys, then y’all, Wicked Fox is for you.


After a young woman is kidnapped by an evil Faerie Queen and trapped in a far off realm, she must survive teen Victorian fairy fight club in order to get back home.

As the illegitimate daughter of a Naval Captain, Artemisia has never fit in with her father’s family, nor the high class world to which they belong. However, when she is targeted by the Faerie Queen and pulled into another realm, she has no choice but to fight her way back home, amongst evil fairies who want her head, and untrustworthy allies that claim solidarity but have ulterior motives. New York Times bestselling author Delilah S. Dawson (Ladycastle, Star Wars: Phasma) and illustrator Matias Basla (The Claw and Fang) present a gripping dark fantasy tale of a young woman claiming her time and her agency.

Sparrowhawk, Delilah S. Dawson, Matias Basla

Definitely intriguing but perhaps too fast paced. The set up for Artemisia’s journey works well on all sides. Her Cinderella-esque background, being the bastard child of a Naval Captain and a slave, ensures she never fits in at home. Her stepmother is cruel and shows her no affection.

Then Artemisia is pulled into Faerie, the land of the fae. She meets Crispin, a Cheshire cat type, who convinces Art to kill the Unseelies she meets along the road. Her first kill transforms her and gives her wings.

This dark, twisted magic kept my interest for much of the story. Each time she killed, she became more and more Fae, and we were given a little flash of memory.

But great art and great story can’t cover up the speed that we blew through emotions. Artemisia readily accepts that she will have to kill to get home and doesn’t seem to acknowledge what a big change that it. The only time that she seems hesitant is when she has to kill her last Unseelie, before continuing back home to seek revenge on the Unseelie queen.

The lack of character development definitely holds this work back. I hope that, in future installments, that this is addressed.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Mesmerist

Thirteen-year-old Jessamine Grace and her mother make a living as sham spiritualists—until they discover that Jess is a mesmerist and that she really can talk to the dead. Soon she is plunged into the dark world of Victorian London’s supernatural underbelly and learns that the city is under attack by ghouls, monsters, and spirit summoners. Can Jess fight these powerful forces? And will the group of strange children with mysterious powers she befriends be able to help? As shy, proper Jess transforms into a brave warrior, she uncovers terrifying truths about the hidden battle between good and evil, about her family, and about herself.

Ronald L. Smith, The Mesmerist
February 7, 2017

Jessamine works with her mother pretending to be spiritualists—until the day where the pretending becomes real and she finds out she has mysterious powers. Ronald L. Smith has made a dark and memorable middle-grade story in The Mesmerist.

Set in Victorian London, The Mesmerist tackles many dark stories: death, vengeance, and violence. Jessamine Grace lived a normal life with her mother until the day they found out that Jess was actually a mesmerist—someone who can read people’s thoughts and communicate with the dead. She joins the mysterious League of Ravens in order to fight necromancers.

A great story with a strong voice, The Mesmerist is sure to please any lover of middle-grade stories. With many familiar story ideas, young readers will love it.

My one gripe with the story was that it seemed to be trying to capture too many storylines in one book. And at less than 280 pages, there wasn’t much room to play with multiple storylines. With death and retribution being in the top spot, it was quickly followed by mystery, the Plague, and social-political statements that bog down the story and make it a little hard to keep one plotline straight.

Jess was a bright character and fiercely loyal and strong, and I fell in love with her immediately. While a lot of familiar tropes seem to fill the pages of The Mesmerist, and it did seem to border on cliche, it’s bound to become a staple in a young reader that loves dark stories and supernatural tales.

Tiger Queen

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

Goodreads, 2019

I wanted to love this one. I love princesses who can kick ass and take names. I love rulers who want to do whatever it takes to do right by their people.

I don’t love whatever happened in Tiger Queen.

The Lady, or the Tiger? was one of the few short stories I enjoyed reading in high school. And I was intrigued by a YA that was inspired by it. And yet…


There was a lot of steaming misogyny in this one. A lot of focus on the boys being better than the girls. I couldn’t get into this story, no matter how hard I tried. It could have been so good, and yet…

Perhaps this story just isn’t for me. I know this isn’t Sullivan’s first rodeo and she’s got several other books that people love out there. It’s possible I just don’t jive with her writing.

My Rating: ★★☆☆☆



In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Truthwitch, Susan Dennard
January 5, 2019

Can someone love a book more than I loved Truthwitch by Susan Dennard? Can anyone love anything more than I loved that book? Probably not. I loved Truthwitch (and Susan Dennard. I nearly cried when I saw her in the hallway at BookCon Chigaco) so much.

I just need to sit here for a moment to revel in my love for this story. Just give me a minute…

Okay, I’m ready to tell you how great this story was. Two kickass girls from different backgrounds trying to survive in a magic world with immense and sought-after powers, with a deep power budding inside both of them, the world may never be the same after coming to face them.

This was the first fantasy book I listened to on Audible and while the voice acting may have played a great role in my incredible love for this book (Cassandra Campbell was awesome) that when I finished listening, I immediately ordered a physical copy. I needed to hold this book in my hands so badly that I actually went out and bought a physical copy. I bought Truthwitch twice. That’s how much I loved it.

The characters are so well fleshed out and the quiet undertones of love that followed the whole story (seriously, just kiss him Safi!) made for a perfect balance of action and plot and characters. There were so many times I just screamed out loud to Truthwitch; in frustration, in horror, intense anticipation, you name it. I didn’t want to get out of my car just so I could keep listening.

The only bad thing about Truthwitch is that it ended. That’s it. There was a back cover. Thankfully, its sequel, Windwitch, should be out soon.

Debian Perl Digital Detective: The Memory Thief

Megalopolis used to be the city hub for all the makers, doers, and dreamers. It was a better time according to Debian Perl, a technomancer known for her out-of-date computer programming skills. Now the city streets are filled with “Egg-heads,” those in thrall to the ease and simplicity of new technology as opposed to Debian’s way of doing things. Digits is one of those Egg-heads. She is a young social media guru and knows her way around all the newest, latest technology.

Debian and Digits cross paths when they both stumble across a 100-year-old lost robot named Ray-Bot. They soon learn that Ray-Bot’s CPU was suspiciously overclocked, leaving him unable to perform basic functions and commands. To find out where the robot came from, Debian must teach Digits everything she knows about computer coding and programming. Along their journey to bring Ray-Bot home, they begin piecing together the mysterious puzzle about his malfunction and uncover some sinister secrets.

Debian Perl: Digital Detective is a five-book series in which middle-grade readers will join Debian and Digits on mystery adventures all while building practical knowledge of coding, algorithms, algebra, and logical problem-solving.

Goodreads, 2019


*cough* Ahem. Now. Onto the review.

This was seriously one of the cutest graphic novels I’ve read this year. I LOVED the art style–the poppy, bright colors, the funky future-punk designs. It was just a JOY to experience.

The story itself is pretty straightforward: someone’s stole a robot’s memory card, thus hiding a serious crime. What I loved the most was the blending of old and new tech, of the general educational feel of this story, and the subtle (and some not-so-subtle) themes of acceptance, sentience, and the good of all.

This graphic novel is PERFECT for teachers, librarians, and any kid looking to learn a little more about coding. It’s got so many great things to it and I can’t wait for the next in the series!

My rating: ★★★★☆

Kingdom of Souls

Magic and girls who try so hard and a long line of witches, oh yes!

Reading it? Oh no…


Explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend, where one girl must sacrifice her life, year by year, to gain the power necessary to fight the mother she has never been good enough for.

Perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas, Tomi Adeyemi and Black Panther


Arrah is a young woman from a long line of the most powerful witch doctors in the land. But she fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can’t even cast the simplest curse.

Shame and disappointment dog her.

When strange premonitions befall her family and children in the kingdom begin to disappear, Arrah undergoes the dangerous and scorned process of selling years of her life for magic. This borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal and a danger beyond what she could have imagined. Now Arrah must find a way to master magic, or at least buy it, in order to save herself and everything she holds dear.

An explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend with a twist you will never see coming.

Goodreads, 2019

Look at the cover and tell me you don’t want to read this book. This cover is #goals and totally made me judge the book by it.

Which didn’t exactly work out for me this time around.

I wanted to love Kingdom of Souls so dang much. SO MUCH, Y’ALL. It’s got everything I could ever want from it; non-European fantasy setting, a kickass main character, magic and blood and danger! But there was something about the writing that threw me off and I could never get back on afterwards.

I can’t exactly pinpoint it, but the writing never felt natural to me. It was a hard read–not in the sense that the writing was difficult, but that I was so bored. I kept checking the time, or seeing how much longer I had left in the book. I kept thinking about starting my next read the entire time I had this in my hands. I tried to power through it. I got as far as 76% of the way through. I just wasn’t invested in the story or the characters. Not only was so much introduced at once, we never got a chance to marinate in the world or the story or the tension (if there was any).

A ton of characters are introduced and then we go chapters upon chapters without a single mention of them. Any plot point we hit races past. It felt like Barton was trying to push too many stories into one book. It didn’t feel like one main plot, plus a subplot or two. It felt like two or three main plots squished into one. Everything felt forced, villains felt one dimensional (and don’t get me started on who the “actual” villain is supposed to be. It just a hot mess). When people died, I didn’t care, even though Arrah, our main character, really loved this person and saw them as a brother. We saw them interact once, for a brief conversation. And that was it.

Despite all that negativity (I know, I know, I’m sorry), I actually really enjoyed the concept of Kingdom of Souls. I felt that Barton did a great job conceptualizing the magic and the world, but just fell short conveying that to the page. I was intrigued by the magic system; it was, after all, enough to get me to read 3/4ths of the book. But the entire time, I was just waiting for something better to happen. For some reason to connect. And, for me, it never came.

My rating: ★★★☆☆

An Interview with Emma Steinkellner

This week we talked with Emma Steinkellner, author and illustrator for the graphic novel The Okay Witch,  coming to you September 3rd. 

The Okay Witch

Sabrina the Teenage WitchmeetsRoller Girlin this hilarious, one-of-a-kind graphic novel about a half-witch who has just discovered the truth about herself, her family, and her town and is doing her best to survive middle school now that she knows everything!

Magic is harder than it looks.

Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves all things witchy. But she’s about to discover that witches aren’t just the stuff of movies, books, and spooky stories. When some eighth-grade bullies try to ruin her Halloween, something really strange happens. It turns out that Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, has a centuries-old history of witch drama. And, surprise: Moth’s family is at the center of it all! When Moth’s new powers show up, things get totally out-of-control. She meets a talking cat, falls into an enchanted diary, and unlocks a hidden witch world. Secrets surface from generations past as Moth unravels the complicated legacy at the heart of her town, her family, and herself.

In this spellbinding graphic novel debut, Emma Steinkellner spins a story packed with humor and heart about the weird and wonderful adventures of a witch-in-progress. 

Partners in PenHaving an artist on the podcast means playing some fun art games! Don’t worry. We’ve got pictures for you.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly

Mice of the Round Table


Young mouse Calib Christopher dreams of the day when he will become a Knight of Camelot like his father and grandfather before him. For generations, Calib’s family has lived among the mice that dwell beneath the human Knights of the Round Table, defending the castle they all call home. Calib just hopes he will be able to live up to the Christopher name.

Then, on the night of the annual Harvest Tournament, tragedy strikes. The mice suspect the Darklings are behind the vicious sneak attack, but Calib has his doubts, so he sets off on a quest for the truth. Venturing deep into the woods beyond the castle walls, Calib and his friend Cecily discover that a threat far greater than the Darklings is gathering, and human and animal knights alike are in grave danger.

With help from a host of unlikely new allies, including a young human boy named Galahad, Calib must get the Mice of the Round Table and the Darklings to put aside their differences and fight together. Only then will they be strong enough to save Camelot.

Mice Of The Round Table: A Tail Of Camelot, Julie Leung
Octer 4, 2016

I have been waiting to get my hands on a copy of this book ever since I heard about it from the author herself. I’m so happy that it’s finally out and that I can review it.

Calib Christopher has a lot to live up to starting with the expectations of a prospective knight of Camelot and ending with his family’s name. When someone puts his name into the drawing for the Harvest Tournament, the final test to become a true knight, he is forced to participate or be branded a coward and never attain knighthood.

We took a little time getting into the tournament and I was worried the story would be mostly about Calib passing tests. Instead, we see Calib take on an epic journey all his own to save the kingdom and reveal everyone’s own prejudices.

Perhaps the best lesson contained within these pages, beyond learning to trust and believe in your own self, is the lesson on prejudices and that everyone is the protagonist of their own story and villains are often cloaked in shining armor and riding white horses, an opinion which probably gives away a little of the plot, but that’s okay.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that although some of the mice shared names with Arthur’s knights that this was not simply a retelling of the Arthurian legends with mice. These mice are their own characters, as are the human two-leggers. Galahad, Guinevere, and the other knights’ appearances are minimal allowing us to focus on the impending war that threatens Camelot’s critters. As an added bonus, the appearance of the two-leggers reminds us of the larger world the mice inhabit and enforce that the problems facing either race effect all of them.

A very cute and much-needed read.

The Okay Witch

Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Roller Girl in this hilarious, one-of-a-kind graphic novel about a half-witch who has just discovered the truth about herself, her family, and her town and is doing her best to survive middle school now that she knows everything!

Magic is harder than it looks.

Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves all things witchy. But she’s about to discover that witches aren’t just the stuff of movies, books, and spooky stories. When some eighth-grade bullies try to ruin her Halloween, something really strange happens. It turns out that Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, has a centuries-old history of witch drama. And, surprise: Moth’s family is at the center of it all! When Moth’s new powers show up, things get totally out-of-control. She meets a talking cat, falls into an enchanted diary, and unlocks a hidden witch world. Secrets surface from generations past as Moth unravels the complicated legacy at the heart of her town, her family, and herself.

In this spellbinding graphic novel debut, Emma Steinkellner spins a story packed with humor and heart about the weird and wonderful adventures of a witch-in-progress.

Emma Steinkellner, The Okay Witch
September 3, 2019

Maggie’s Review

I love all things witchy. And oh man, is The Okay Witch an amazing witchy coming-of-age story. Not only is the art in this graphic novel beautiful and colorful and expressive, but the story is endearing and magical all in one.

Moth is such a compelling character: a girl who’s an outsider and a bit of a weirdo, whose family holds an ancient secret that she only discovers when she accidentally steals the mouths right off the faces of a pair of bullies! MAGIC IS WONDERFUL.

Moth struggles to accept not just her new layer of weird–uncontrollable magic–but also grapples with her mother’s history and their hometown and how it all affects her family. And on top of it, she finally makes a new friend and now she’s got to come around to figuring out how to be a good friend and a good witch at the same time.

Oh, and did I mention there’s a talking cat that’s possessed by the spirit of Moth’s Russian neighbor? It’s all super cute and incredibly deep with twists and stellar worldbuilding.

The Okay Witch is a must-read for all witchy fans and graphic novel fans and just anyone who loves a cute, tries-her-best main character.

Jessica’s Review

The Okay Witch is adorable from start to finish. If you don’t love it for the art, you’ll love it for Moth and her journey of self-discovery.

Moth Hush is a weird, friendless outcast who discovers that her family isn’t at all what it seems. Putting magic in place for the consequences of our emotional outbursts, Moth literally steals the mouths right off some bullies’ faces.

The Okay Witch features all kinds of teenage witch favorites: talking cat, cool best friend, family secrets, and other realms.

I really loved watching Moth figure out the extent of her powers reveling in her triumphs and reacting to the uncontrollable nature of her magic. An especially empowering scene comes near the end when Moth decides to make a commitment to herself and her magic in her own way, telling both her mother and her grandmother that it’s hers to discover.

Which is a great coming-of-age message that no two people will get through the same experience in the same way.

The Okay Witch is a must-read for everyone, adults and kids.

Maggie’s rating:

Jessica’s rating:

The Shadow Hour


A battle has been won. But the war has only just begun.

Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.

Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.

She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.

Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature—or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground?

Welcome to the shadow hour.

The Shadow Hour, Melissa Grey
July 12, 2016

Sequels are hard; sequels in trilogies are even harder. So many of them suffer through Sagging Middle Syndrome that some people aren’t even able to finish them. I read and reviewed The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey last year, and I fell head over heels and finished it in one go. It’s a sequel, The Shadow Hour, was slightly less head-over-heels and more…trip and fall.

I was so excited for The Shadow Hour that I pre-ordered it the day it was announced. I didn’t even stop to read the summary attached, just ran straight over to Barnes & Noble’s website and put it in my cart. Melissa Grey had become one of my favorite authors of 2015, so she was sure to keep that Fave Status in 2016. I wasn’t wrong.

The Shadow Hour picks up more or less where The Girl at Midnight left off; Echo has become the Firebird and has gained supernatural powers that can either send the world into darkness or bring peace. Quite a lot to put on the shoulders of a teenager, but hey, YA heroines are used to it.

Echo is as snappy as ever, there are more stolen gazes and furtive kisses (Go Dorian and Jasper!) than in the last book and everyone in the main cast gets equal screen time so that all the character arcs are great and rounded. We even get some new love-to-hate characters on screen (I’m looking at you, Tanith. Why do you do the things you do?).

My only gripe with The Shadow Hour and the only thing preventing it from entering my Top Books of 2016 list was that I felt like I had to slosh through thick mud to get to the good parts. Some castle raids and kissing wasn’t enough to motivate me through 400 pages of a book. I devoured The Girl at Midnight in a day; it took me over a week to get through The Shadow Hour. The best part of the book was the last 20 to 50 pages when things hit the fan and Echo faces off against the Big Bad. Right around when that thing happened to Caius was when I started to get interested. (Man, it’s so hard to stay spoiler-free…)

But The Shadow Hour was still a good book and a great continuation of The Girl at Midnight. Now just to check to see if I can pre-order The Savage Dawn yet…

33 Thoughts While Reading Serpent & Dove

  1. Oooh, magic smells like cinnamon. I kind of want some cookies.
  2. In fact, yes, it is weird watching naked women curtsy. Thank you for that visual.
  3. Such vigorous scrubbing, Lou. SCRUB HARDER!
  4. Fancy ring. The precious. Wait… wrong ring…
  5. Oh my.
  6. OH MY.
  7. Wait… no… same character? Same character.
  9. So sassy.
  10. “You’re a woman.”
    “Well spotted.”
  11. Ah! No eyes!
  12. Ah! A hag!
  13. Ah!
  14. AUGH!
  15. Why is she eating that ring?
  17. “You missed a spot.”
  18. OH MY!
  19. Why. Are. You. Smelling. Her.
  20. Oooh! A Disney reference!
  23. KISS!
  28. “Would my soul remember him?”
  29. Ooooooh!
  31. Excuse me.
  32. EXCUSE ME!?

Serpent and Dove

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Shelby Mahurin, Serpent and Dove
September 3, 2019

Maggie’s Review

Seriously, the characters of Serpent and Dove are the best part of this book and I honestly don’t even know when it started, but I love them so much that if anything happened to them, I’d die.

They’re both awkward and strong and pushed each other in ways that made me love them even more. Gimme more girls who make their big, burly man blush. I’ll gobble that right up.

I have to admit that it was a bit of a slow start. If Jessi hadn’t told me how much I’d love it, I probably wouldn’t have kept going. But the book really hit its stride a few chapters in and then… I couldn’t put it down.

Y’all. I sobbed at work over this one.

Serpent and Dove has a lot going for it; a truly unique magic system (that we still didn’t learn too much about and it took me some time to really understand it, as I didn’t fully grasp it as it was being used) and characters that are morally gray and lovable. Some of them you just plain love, some you hate to love and others you love to hate.

The setting was really rich and the tension of the story really picked up near the middle to end parts. But I do agree with Jess’s remark. The ending just sort of stopped. It felt like it was trying to be this big “DUN DUN DUN” moment but because we don’t really have any context for that last word. We literally have no idea who this person is and it replaces the tension with confusion. It almost feels like the book was longer but someone decided, “aaaand we’ll chop it off here.”

Still a dang good book though. 100% recommend. 10/10 would cry about these oafs in love again.

Jessica’s Review

There is so much to love about Serpent and Dove, and it all starts with the characters.

Lou and Reid absolutely stole my heart with their awkwardness and attitudes. Lou loves to push Reid’s buttons and his naivete knows no bounds.

I enjoyed Shelby Mahurin’s storytelling craft as she showed us Lou’s life outside of magic and her struggle to remain without it for her own safety. Serpent and Dove also features a magic system which I haven’t seen before, using patterns, smells, and individuality as well as acknowledging the ambiguity of magic’s cost.

Perhaps my favorite part was that the cost of magic was up for interpretation. A broken finger for a broken lock or a memory for memories feature as magic’s equivalent exchange, but later as tensions rise and the need for more complicated spell work comes into play so too does wordplay and a little faulty logic.

My only derogatory remark about Serpent and Dove is in regards to its ending, which seems to just stop like the draft wasn’t supposed to end there at all. As we begin the closing arc, addressing the consequences of the actions in the novel, we just stop. A character who was only mentioned as “my aunt” is finally named, but the name had never been mentioned before in the text. It lost all tension where it should have been a big explosion off the page, especially if it was to be the final word.

Despite that though, I’m proud to add this to my library and my little list of book recs.

Maggie’s Rating: ★★★★☆

Jessica’s Rating: ★★★★☆

5 Star Quotes: Serpent & Dove

Regret changed nothing. I had no choice but to trust him now. We were linked irrevocably.
I would’ve scowled too if my husband had more lovers than fingers and toes-not that I ever planned to have a husband.
I like you, Ansel, but this had better be something good. Emilie and Alexandre just had a moment, and I swear if they don’t kiss, I will literally die.
“Do you promise to behave yourself?”
“Of course not. That would ruin the fun.”
She finally swallowed. Licked her fingers with a reverence that belonged in Mass. No-with a reverence that most definitely did not belong in Mass.
Would my soul remember him?
Where you go, I will go.

For This Life Only


Three minutes.

Jacob Palmer died for three life-changing minutes.

And when he woke up, nothing was the same. Elijah, his twin brother, is dead, and his family is broken. Jace’s planned future is crushed, along with his pitching arm. Everyone keeps telling him that Eli’s in a better place, but Jace isn’t so sure. Because in those three minutes, there was nothing.

Overwhelmed by guilt and doubt, Jace struggles to adjust to this new version of the world, one without his brother, one without the certainties he once relied on. And then Thera comes into his life.

She’s the last girl he should be turning to for help.

But she’s also the first person to truly see him.

For This Life Only, Stacey Kade
August 30, 2016

I have a theory that Stacey Kade wants to watch me die from dehydration. A scene that’s absolutely plausible given how much I cried while reading For This Life Only.

Would you believe me if I said Jace’s loss of his twin is the least of his problems? He struggles to identify himself after the accident which claimed the life of his twin brother, Eli. Jace knew he was the screw-up and Eli was good. Jace knew that he was an athlete and Eli was a scholar. But after the accident all Jace knows is that he is alive and Eli is dead. And it was heart-wrenching to watch him go through that struggle.

Jace’s characterization in For This Life Only is physical. He pops right off the page and sits down next to you to tell you his story. He is so, incredibly, aware of his situation in terms of what it is, what it was, and what it was supposed to be. Although his comparisons are constant, they are never overbearing.

When he finally begins to reach out and ask for help from “the last girl he should be turning to” it happens naturally like an un-dammed body of water rushing to find a new home. The pressure builds on him robbing him of his choice, causing him to let go of his prejudices and grow.

I loved the pacing in For This Life Only. I never felt rushed or like I was sitting in stagnant scenes. Kade got us where we needed to–when we needed to.

I do wish For This Life Only‘s ending were a bit longer, but I also feel that it was written exactly as it needed to be. 

The Last Hope ✨ Excerpt



“You’ve escaped one prison before, so you’ll be escaping another in  no time.” Mykal spoke those optimistic words thirty-one days ago, but I didn’t have the heart to remind him that it took me five years to flee Vorkter Prison.

Now that we’re trapped aboard an enemy starcraft and only fed scraps every three days, we don’t have five years to spare.

Our bodies heave in miserable hunger and pain, and I’m in far worse shape.

With time running out, I refuse to lie on the only cot, our only comfort, and I sit on the hard floor.

Slumping against the firm wall, my spine aches, and a sharp pang in my hip radiates like hot agony throughout my rigid bones. I breathe shallow breaths between dry lips, and my shak- ing hand constantly hovers near my hip. As though I can fix what’s wrong, but the only remedy is outside this brig. Medi- cine, antiseptic, water.

I have none.

We’re all together, but there is nothing here besides a single cot. There are no bars to peer out of, like at my last cell. This is just a tiny, bare, enclosed room inside a starcraft. Clean with polished floors, sterile walls, and a spotless padlocked door, all bathed in soft pink hues from an overhead rouge light.

Mykal hunches as he stands, the ceilings too low, and since I’m much taller, I spend most of my time sitting or crouching. Franny squats next to a hatch on the cumbersome door. No windows, the hatch has been our sole view outside the brig, but it only opens when they feed us.

She presses her cheek against the chilly pink metal. Listening. With our linked emotions and senses, I try to concentrate  on Franny. Just for a reprieve from my own torment. I wouldn’t be able to hear what she hears or see what she sees; we still only share touch and taste and smell. I can barely feel the bite of the cold door against my jaw and ear.

Her senses, his senses—they both sweep past me as another pang of misery scratches at my flesh.

I look down.

Crude, gnarled stitches weave jaggedly along my lower ab- domen. My golden-brown skin is sickly green and inflamed. I resist the urge to itch.

Franny scratches her own hip—she feels my pain.

I shut my eyes for a long moment. Hating that they both feel the deep cuts from a man I loathe. From Bastell: the man I shared a Vorkter Prison cell with, the one who relentlessly hunted me until he attacked me at Yamafort’s museum.

We may’ve left Bastell behind on our home planet, we may’ve stolen the Saga starcraft and reached space, but he left real wounds that can’t disappear easily—focus.

I open my eyes and try to focus on our plans of escape. Though we’ve failed each and every day. I try to think of any- thing to forget that last encounter in the museum.

We’re out of Bastell’s reach.

I try to breathe stronger, and then I wince and shift, a stab- bing pain shooting up my side. Gods be damned.

Mykal swings his head back, his hard-hearted blue eyes meeting my grim grays. If he could beat down the door with his fists alone, I’m certain he would.

Because he’s already tried. Until the skin on his knuckles busted and bled, and sores formed.

“What are you moving for, Court?” Mykal asks. “Rest yourself. You’ve hardly slept one blink of an eye.”

“It’s not so easy when we need to leave,” I say in a single breath. I sink my head back to the wall, our eyes not detaching.


I asked him to fly away with me, and I’ve led him to a prison. No apology I speak can erase the guilt. I just need to free Mykal and Franny from this place.

I have to.

“There’s no time,” I say with another wince.

Franny stiffens and cautiously glances back at me. I don’t know how to ease her worry.

Mykal takes a step toward my spot on the floor. I don’t know how to ease his either.

“Don’t,” I say weakly, stopping him.

He scratches his jaw. Frustration burrowing through his body and mine. He stays an arm’s distance away and gestures to me. “I may not be a physician like you, but once upon an era, I nursed you from the brink of something foul. I can do it again, you realize?”

It’s too late for that.

His muscles flex. “Court?”

He can’t read my mind, and so I’m left to wonder what emo- tion accompanied my thought. What did he sense?

I blink a few times. Unsure of what I felt. But I want him to know something. “I still remember . . .” I swallow hard and fight to speak louder. “I still remember the winter wood.”

His eyes redden. “Yer telling me this now?” His northern lilt breaks through. I’m truly happy to hear it again.

In a whisper, I clarify, “I know what you’ve done for me.”


“I wouldn’t have survived without you.” My voice cracks, days and months and years rushing toward me. Frostbitten skin and the crackle of fire and his impossibly bright laughter. I re- member the moments after I escaped Vorkter.

Where Mykal brought me to his warm hut out of the wet snow. Hovering over my gaunt frame, nearly nose-to-nose, he lathered mud and herbs on my wounds. Grenpale remedies.

He was a wild Hinterlander.

I was a lost boy of fifteen, and years later, we’ve found our- selves in a similar position. I’m on the brink of something foul again, but there are no trees, no mud, no plants, nothing that can save me by his hands.

I’m afraid.

I take in a breath, finally understanding my emotions, and I do everything I can to contain them. Bottle them. Swallow them. So they won’t know this fear.

Let me suffer alone.

Mykal bends low to be at eye level, palm on the floor. “I don’t want yer praise. I got you in this mess—”

“No.” I cut him off.

He’s still kicking himself for not stopping Bastell. In his mind, he broke a devout promise. He swore that I’d never en- counter that cruel bastard again, but I did.

I already forgave Mykal a hundred times, even when he didn’t need to be forgiven. He’s just not ready to absolve himself yet.

He reaches out his hand to me . . .

“I don’t want your guilt,” I say, more strictly than I intend.

Purposefully pushing him away, and it works.

He retracts his callused palm. And he flicks his forefinger in a vulgar Grenpalish gesture. Rising to a hunched stance again. I try to bury my disappointment. Because I long for Mykal.

I want him closer and closer, our chests pressing together and the heat of our bodies easing us into a contented sleep. I’m called toward him. Every minute of every day.

Toward his kindness and fortitude and foolish optimism. A great pull beckons me into his arms, but in the same breath, I’d rather Mykal be far, far away from my suffering.

If we touch skin-to-skin, the link will make him feel what I feel tenfold, and since we’ve kissed, we’ve already heightened this bond between us a significant amount. He’s noticed the shortness of my breath, whereas Franny can’t distinguish the subtleties as well.

He’s even started recognizing emotion in me that I can’t even name.

“I’ll just be standing right here,” Mykal says, angling toward me, “where I can stare at your handsome face.”

I roll my eyes, but I don’t mind him staring at all. I want to smile, but it seems like an impossible feat.

Quietly, his gaze slides down my weakened frame. Inspect- ing me from afar.

I do the same to him. Sweat builds up on his pale skin and drenches his wheat-blond hair.

All we’ve ever known was the ice and snow on our frozen planet of Saltare-3. None of us are used to the sweltering room temps here.

The brig stinks badly of a musky odor, our stench the obvious culprit.

We’ve all shed our onyx-and-gold StarDust uniforms to combat the scorch. No slacks, no cloaks, and Franny slung off her bra. Left only in black underwear, we sweat through those and make the best out of the absolute worst.

Beads roll off Mykal’s sideburns and slip down his stubbly jaw. I watch his eyes lower to the tangled scars and ink over my heart, and then I scrutinize his brawn. Bands of his muscle have begun to lose their tautness, not as carved or cut as they once were.

My squared jaw tightens, and a rock lodges in my throat. I want to believe that he’s fine. That he’s not hurting, but I can feel him starving. I can feel his stomach gnawing on itself and his body withering away.

Franny is worse. Her rib cage is visible and juts in and out as she breathes, more skin and bones than either him or me.

My concern for her grows and grows every day.

She refuses to eat our rations. No one is willing to take more than our share, but we’ve all volunteered to take less.

The Last Hope 🌌 Blog Tour

A stunning conclusion to the sci-fi romance duology by writing duo Krista & Becca Ritchie, The Last Hope is filled with twists and turns you’ll never see coming.

Sacrifice all you have to survive. 

Imprisoned for weeks on an enemy starcraft, Franny, Court, and Mykal have sat with an unfathomable revelation. But as they fight to stay alive, escaping prison means trusting a young mysterious stranger. He knows everything about their lost histories, and when answers aren’t given freely, the bonded trio are forced to join a mission. One that will determine the fate of humanity. 

Legend says, a baby—the first of her species—has the power to cloak and teleport planets. Tasked with retrieving the infant, Court fears the baby is just a myth, and if they fail, they’ll never find the truth about their origins. 

As Court and Mykal grow closer, their linked bond becomes harder to hide, and dynamics change when Franny begins to fall for someone new. Vulnerable and with no choice, the hunt for the baby sends the trio on a dangerous path to Saltare-1: a water world where their enemies can’t die and survival comes at a high cost.

Krista & Becca Ritchie, The Last Hope
August 13, 2019

Krista & Becca Ritchie are New York Times Bestselling Authors and identical twins, one a science nerd, the other a comic book geek. With their shared passion for writing, they combined their mental powers as kids and have never stopped telling stories. Graduates from the University of Georgia in Biology and English & Journalism, the twin writing duo now lives in Atlanta. The Raging Ones is their first young adult novel.

Amazon . Barnes&Noble . IndieBound . iBooks . Wednesday Books

Website . Twitter . Facebook . Instagram

*PDFs can be sent to your e-reader

Bursts of Fire

Bursts of Fire has so much going for it. Magic! Sisters! Political intrigue! But…

To survive. To fight. To restore balance.

The Falkyn sisters bear a burden and a legacy. Their mother, the imperial magiel of the kingdom of Orumon, protects her people from the horrors of the afterlife by calling upon the Gods with a precious Prayer Stone. But war among the kingdoms has brought fire and destruction to their sheltered world. When a mad king’s desire to destroy the Prayer Stones shatters their family, the three girls are scattered to the wilderness, relying on their wits and powers they don’t yet master.

Assassin. Battle tactician. Magic wielder. Driven by different ambitions, Meg, Janat, and Rennika are destined to become all these and more. To reclaim their birth right, they must overcome doubtful loyalties within a rising rebellion; more, they must challenge a dogma-driven chancellor’s influence on the prince raised to inherit his father’s war: a prince struggling to unravel the mystery of his brother’s addiction to Heaven.

Bursts of Fire, Susan Forest
August 6, 2019

An interesting, action-packed fantasy with a fresh twist on magic, a deep sisterly connection and a hard take on mental illness. I fell in love with the premise immediately. I just wanted it in my hands ASAP.

And when I did finally get into Bursts of Fire I was pretty excited. It sounded like it was going to be a hard and wild ride.

Unfortunately, that’s not the experience I had.

The writing was slow and heavy in a way that made me reread entire paragraphs just to grasp what happened. There were so many characters coming at you all at once that it was difficult to follow along. Multiple POVs is usually not so bad; you have an entire chapter to read and follow the character.

But in Bursts of Fire? Multiple POVs. Per. Chapter. There would be a few paragraphs and then BAM. POV change. While each POV shift was clearly marked by a paragraph break and a symbol, there was zero time to settle into the character’s head. You were only with them for five, maybe six, paragraphs (sometimes fewer) and then you were being whipped away to someone else’s POV.

I figured I could get used to it, and the longer I could read, the better I’d be at slipping back into the character’s heads. But I didn’t read long at all. I had to call it quits when a character spent several pages lusting after a handmaiden and then trying to kiss her, getting caught, and then masturbating for another page or so.

I’m all about sex-positivity, but the way it was done felt like this wasn’t even written for a teen audience. A lot of the writing didn’t even feel like a YA book. It read way too much like an adult fantasy with too many “teenaged” characters.

Bursts of Fire just wasn’t for me. I had to DNF it before I even hit the 20% mark.

Bursts of Fire publishes August 6th, 2019.

My Rating: 🌟🌟

The Darkest Corners


There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

Kara Thomas, The Darkest Corners
May 9, 2017
UPDATE: We love the new cover!

Looking for a nice, well-paced, slow build? You need to pick up a copy of The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas.

I should’ve known I would enjoy The Darkest Corners when it came packaged to me in an evidence bag.

Tessa Lowell and Callie Greenwood show signs of major anxiety disorders after having testified against the alleged killer, Wyatt Stokes. They also show two very popular ways to deal with: Tessa attempts to overcome it by ignoring it while Callie dives to the bottom of the bottle. Their character growth was both amazing and realistic. Too often, we see vices simply dropped without recourse and it was nice to see both cause and effect for these girls.

I certainly spent most of The Darkest Corners speculating “who dunnit?” which is exactly what I want out of a crime/mystery novel. Thomas does a great job slowly giving us information as Tessa and Callie remember fights and come to terms with their own actions. Without giving too much away, large revelations in the plot are given away as Tessa and Callie forgive themselves for their own actions and finally admit, both to themselves and each other, what actually happened ten years ago.

On the surface, we follow the case of The Ohio River Monster, a man who murdered girls and left their bodies to be discovered along I-70, but beneath that are other mysteries–all of which tie back to The Ohio River Monster and Wyatt Stokes. This was perhaps my one qualm with The Darkest Corners.

I wanted them to find the killer and Tessa’s other mysteries were a bit like roadblocks. I was delayed from finding out the inevitable. I wanted Tessa to prioritize Wyatt Stokes over her personal issues.

7 Obnoxious Book Reviewer Problems

Everyone thinks it’s all fun and games with all these book reviews but let me tell you that it is TORTURE! Torture I tell you! The TBR pile keeps growing because I have no self control about accepting requests, review embargoes are real, and sometimes I cram a whole new release in between another book just so I can have a timely review!

But also there’s a lot of books and I love them.

Writing spoiler free reviews for great books is, in fact, a Herculean task.

Okay look. Some THINGS happen and someONE does them to someONE else. It’s a good book. I swear. Go read it.

All the books I’m reading now don’t publish for another six months and there’s no one to talk about them with.

Did you read… oh right. Lemme just check another day off my calendar.

There’s an embargo date on reviews for this awesome book and I can’t tell anyone about it!



Why even list it if it’s not available for request? Like-what is this?

That came out today?

Don’t mind me while I frantically type up my review and post it and pretend like it went out at 8am. *whistles nervously*

I hate this book. I’ll write my review after this chapter. I just can’t force myself through this. Okay, I’ll write it after this chapter… one more… just one more… oops I finished it.

Hate reading is a thing! A tried and true method of reviewing. I’m gonna finish it out of pure spite!

Friend: Hey, I picked up this book you might like.
Book Reviewer: Yeah, I read it six months ago.

And then we’re book snobs just because we get books early and read them quickly.

An Interview with Rebecca Donnelly

Join us this week for an interview with the author of The Friendship Lie, Rebecca Donnely. We talk about the hard-hitting stuff here: garbage games, Lulu VanRobot, book recs. Just how many sad questions can Maggie ask in a single episode? Get ready to sing some baby shark and laugh your little garbologist butts off. 


 Connect with Rebecca Donnelly: Website . Twitter

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Follow Jess: Twitter . Facebook
Follow Maggie: Twitter
Follow Dan: Twitter

Book Recs From The Episode

Shouting At The Rain by Linda Mullaly Hunt

Shouting At The Rain by Linda Mullaly Hunt

The Serpent's Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

Game of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta

Game of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta

The Lie Tree

Lie Tree.jpg

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy—a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.

In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder—or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.

Frances Hardinge, The Lie Tree
October 20, 2016
UPDATE: We love the new cover!

I’m always enamored by girls in stories that seem innocent and invisible but use that to their advantage to carve their own path — which is exactly what Faith Sunderly does in The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. It’s impossible to put down this historical mystery, set just after the advent of Darwin’s On The Origin of Species, where young Faith takes the matter of her father’s murder into her own hands.

Historical fiction has always been that tiny love of mine, the flame of a candle burning in the back of my mind while I busied myself with fantasy. It’s always forgotten while I adventure with dragons and goblins, but I’m reminded how brightly that candle burns when I read something like The Lie Tree.

When I opened Lie Tree up, I couldn’t close it until I was almost halfway through, and the only reason I did was that it was 3:00 in the morning and I had work in a few hours. Faith is an incredibly strong female character–and not in the ways most people expect when they hear those three words. She’s immensely flawed, selfish and brash, but she’s kind and brave and willful too. She seeks the truth when everyone else is blind to it, and she puts herself in danger to get to the bottom of it.

Every detail comes full circle in every aspect; Hardinge is a talented writer who wastes no word.

My only gripe, if I really could call it that, is the huge cast of characters. Some are only mentioned in passing and others we physically see on the page, but they end up flowing into one another and often I find myself asking, “Wait, who is that?”

It’s not a good thing to have happen, especially in a murder mystery where everyone you meet is a potential suspect. You forget who wronged whom or when they were last seen, and it gets confusing.

But regardless of your favorite genre, whether it’s fantasy or historical fiction, you ought to pick up The Lie Tree as soon as you can.

Here There Are Monsters

The Blair Witch Project meets Imaginary Girls in this story of codependent sisterhood, the struggle to claim one’s own space, and the power of secrets

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye’s window in the middle of the night, claiming she’s the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

Here There Are Monsters, Amelinda Bérubé
August 1, 2019

I requested Here There Are Monsters for a few reasons. The back copy intrigued me: Codependent siblings? Why does Skye need to start over? Did Deirdre have a psychotic break? What came scratching at her window?

The last bit certainly hints at something fantastical and dark, but the writing simply did not. From the slow opening to the rushed ending, I just didn’t connect to these incredibly selfish sisters. Part of the draw for me was the codependency but all I saw were two sisters in a normal relationship. Skye wanted friends her age, Deirdre wanted to stay in their childlike world and was sad that Skye was growing up. Both sisters constantly demanded things of the other, only to be denied. It wasn’t healthy, but it certainly wasn’t an example of dependency when neither party was dependable.

Barely a day after Deirdre disappears, Skye sneaks out to go to a party. While there she confesses that she doesn’t want to be the center of attention because of her sister–but how selfish and uncaring is it to just walk out on your parents who are already worried about one missing daughter? And it’s here that we have the first of many “that’s just like Deirdre” comments. Skye blames Deirdre for everything, even after she disappears. After roughly three chapters of that pure disdain, I was over it.

While Skye’s secret is a doozy, the length of time that we we’re told she has a secret wasn’t worth it. Her violence is hinted at but not confirmed until halfway through the book when the monsters force her to tell her secret in order to get her sister back. So Skye beats up her friends and screams that she almost drowned a kid in their old home town.

And she did it for Deirdre.

Skye’s friends rightfully decide they won’t be friends anymore, except for one, who suddenly segues his way into the last half of the book. For the first half, William is just sort of there. Skye likes him a little. He likes her. Deirdre is mad that her sister has a sort of boyfriend.

Skye frequently goes over to Williams to shoot his compound bow-which brings me to a big personal note I have regarding archery: YOU DON’T USE A LEATHER FINGER TAB ON A COMPOUND BOW. Also, William hunts, so his bow would have, at least, a 60 lbs pull, and Skye would not be able to pull it to its full length unless she and William had the same sized arms. But she does it easily as so many YA heroines do.

Who knew I could do anything I wanted to on the first try?

Some way through the back third of the book, the monsters finally make an actual appearance. They don’t feel like anything but a break in Skye’s psyche, until William sees them. He reacts for a page and then admits that they’re real and pretty much moves on with his life.

TL;DR Deirdre didn’t run away she’s possessed by the woods and wants her sister back. Also she killed the cat.

The only chilly thing in Here There Are Monsters was the weather. I was very disappointed and kept waiting for it to meet my expectations.

My Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

The Friendship Lie

Cora Davis’s life is garbage. Literally. Her professor parents study what happens to trash after it gets thrown away, and Cora knows exactly how it feels–to be thrown away. Between her mom and dad separating and a fallout with her best friend, fifth grade for Cora has been a year of feeling like being tossed into the dumpster. But Cora has learned a couple of things from her parents’ trash-tracking studies: Things don’t always go where they’re supposed to, and sometimes the things you thought you got rid of come back. And occasionally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, which Cora and Sybella learn when they come across a diary detailing best-friendship problems. Told in two intertwining points of view, comes a warm, wry story of friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself. Written by Rebecca Donnelly, author of How to Stage a Catastrophe (an Indies Introduce and Indie Next List honoree), The Friendship Lie will speak to any reader who has struggled with what to hold on to and what to throw away.

-The Friendship Lie, Rebecca Donnelly

I was drawn right into the story with “Cora Davis’s life is garbage.” Is there anything more true to the tweenage experience? I say to you, no. Cora and Sybella are best friends, they have their own world, inside jokes, and the sheer ability to read each other’s minds through body language.

But a few things get in the way: Cora’s parents separate and Cora gets a little jealous that Sybella’s parents are still available; someone finds a poem that Cora wrote about her best friend that doesn’t paint her in the best light; and instead of talking to one another–both Sybella and Cora avoid each other like the plague.

The Friendship Lie is told through the best points of view: yours, mine, and the Truth. The alternating viewpoints gave us the whole truth of the situation, which is often something you don’t get in life or literature.

Perhaps the most accurate scene of social anxiety and depression, is when Cora begins to spiral downward as a bully begins to split up her friendship. Oh, no, Sybella saw the poem! Oh, no, I wrote the poem! But I don’t think it’s true! But maybe I do… The guilt that both parties feel about having hurt their best friend and the immense shame that keeps them from reaching out is well worth the read.

A great lesson on friendships and how each one is its own unique journey, The Friendship Lie should find its way onto your pre-order list and nestle its way onto your bookshelf.

Pub Date: Aud 1, 2019
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Labyrinth Lost


Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Zoraida Córdova, Labyrinth Lost
September 6, 2016
UPDATE: We absolutely love the new cover.

Córdova immerses us in fantasy, language, and LGBTQ in a way I haven’t seen done successfully in today’s YA literature.

Labyrinth Lost shows us a custom fantasy culture of brujas with a hefty helping of Spanish language and family traditions. My experience with “diverse” literature lately has been for the author to go overboard, effectively alienating readers.

Alex has a lot on her plate: trying to keep her powers a secret from her family and her best friends, dealing with her feelings for Nova (a boy) and Rishi (a girl), being tracked by demons, and–not a spoiler it’s right there in the blurb–making her entire family, the living and the dead, disappear.


An amazing action-packed read, Labyrinth Lost never left me wanting more. Until the end. When I wanted more book because I need more of these characters.

Córdova even made me care about the antagonists, making me care about their general well-being.

Not only pushing for diversity but achieving it, not predictable, and in no way shape or form boring, Labyrinth Lost delivers more than you could ask for of today’s YA literature.

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Beyond the Red


Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

Ava Jae, Beyond The Red
March 1, 2016

When it comes to the broad sibling genre of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, I’ve always been more in the favor of Fantasy. But Beyond The Red showed me a whole new world within the Sci-Fi realm, and I have fallen in love.

I’ve been a long time follower of Ava Jae’s writing advice Writability (and you should be too!), and when I heard that their debut was coming, I was ecstatic. Surely, someone who gives such great and dependable writing advice should have written an amazing book, right? And Ava delivered, beyond all expectations.

Reading the book of someone who you hold in high regard due to their advice can feel like you’re walking on a fine line. On one hand, their book could not hold up to your expectations, and fall flat, thereby disillusioning you to their authority. It could be just plain bad and you’ll forever doubt any sort of knowledge they may try to impart.

But, as is the case with Beyond the Red, it could be everything you ever hoped for and more.

I felt deeply connected to Ava Jae’s characters, rooting for them from the start. Jae’s writing is rich and powerful, and their prose is lyrical. The book has a strong set of characters, all with different agendas, and the story itself has the potential to become a classic and a staple in the sci-fi/fantasy community.

My one and only gripe is the sudden end of the book, which sets up for a sequel. Perhaps it comes from my deep need to know more about the world of Sefara. I want more world-building, more stories, a comprehensive guide to the Sephari language, a history of all things Sephari, and how humans came to the world.

I essentially want this to become as wide and detailed as Harry Potter or LoTR, where I can learn the language and read everything there ever is to read about this story.

Happy 4th Of July

Call For Submissions: 25 Days of BookRecs

By now, many bloggers have received an email from us requesting titles and reviews for our winter event 25 Days of Book Recs. We thought we’d open it up to all bloggers.

We’re collecting book recs from now until November 1, 2019, to post starting on December 1, 2019. If you’re a book blogger and would like to be a part of our event please fill out the form below.

Here’s what we’re planning:

  • multiple bloggers contributing a book rec and review on the Booked All Night blog
  • all posts will link back to your blog and you are welcome to share your post a week after it appears on Booked All Night
  • previously posted 4 & 5-star reviews are also welcome for submission (please link to the Booked All Night post after publication)
  • multiple bloggers from the same blog are welcome to submit a review/book rec each (the more the merrier)
  • we ask that when your post goes live that you share and promote it the day it goes out like you would any other post
  • as Booked All Night is a middle grade and YA book blog, we’ll only be taking book recs for those categories (and some new adult)

If you’re interested please fill out this form and we’ll be in touch!

Hunger Games Movie Marathon

Welcome to the 75th HUNGA GAMES! Even before  Suzanne Collins announced her prequel we were itching to go back to Panem. To kick off our Summer Movie Marathon discussions we watched all four Hunger Games movies… and about 7 hours worth of special features.

Join us for an in-depth discussion on Panem and fandom interaction.

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7 July 2019 YA Releases To Be Excited For

Graphic novels and fantasy adventures, ahoy! There are all sorts of books coming out just in time for Summer vacation. And just for kicks we’ve even added a bonafide Booked All Night book rec!

Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

Pub Date July 9th, 2019

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Pub Date July 9th, 2019

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

Pub Date July 30th, 2019

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia, Illustrated by Gabriel Picolo

Pub Date July 2nd, 2019

When a tragic accident takes the life of seventeen-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom–and Raven’s memory–she moves to New Orleans to live with her foster mother’s family and finish her senior year of high school.

Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. When strange things start happening–impossible things–Raven starts to think it might be better not to know who she was in her previous life.

But as she grows closer to her foster sister, Max, her new friends, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past…and the darkness building inside her.

THIS IS A BOOKED ALL NIGHT BOOKREC! Check out the 5 star review!

The Beckoning Shadow by Katharyn Blair

Pub Date July 2nd, 2019

Vesper Montgomery can summon your worst fear and turn it into a reality—but she’s learned the hard way that it’s an addicting and dangerous power. One wrong move and you could hurt someone you love.

But when she earns a spot in the Tournament of the Unraveling, where competitors battle it out for a chance to rewrite the past, Vesper finally has a shot to reverse the mistakes that have changed her forever. She turns to Sam Hardy, a former MMA fighter who’s also carrying a tragedy he desperately wants to undo. However, helping heal Sam’s heart will mean breaking her own, and the competition forces her to master her powers—powers she has been terrified of since they destroyed her life.

Maybe This Time by Kasie West

Pub Date July 9th, 2019

One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year’s Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn’t so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.

Grimoire Noir by Vera Greentea and Yana Bogatch

Pub Date July 23rd, 2019

Beautiful, spooky, and utterly enchanting, Vera Greentea and Yana Bogatch’s Grimoire Noir is a charming graphic novel about coming to terms with your own flaws and working past them to protect those dear to you.

Bucky Orson is a bit gloomy, but who isn’t at fifteen?

His best friend left him to hang out with way cooler friends, his dad is the town sheriff, and wait for it―he lives in Blackwell, a town where all the girls are witches. But when his little sister is kidnapped because of her extraordinary power, Bucky has to get out of his own head and go on a strange journey to investigate the small town that gives him so much grief. And in the process he uncovers the town’s painful history and a conspiracy that will change it forever.

What books are you adding to your July TBR?

Planning Your Summer Reading

As you may have heard on the podcast, I have a washi tape addiction (pronounced problem). But I use my powers for good, I promise. And organizing your reading schedule, as well as reading breaks, makes for a great experience.

Before You Get Started

Answer a few questions before getting started so you can plan your speed reading efficiently.

  1. How long does it normally take you to read 100 pages?
  2. How long can you stand to go without reading?
  3. Do you have a job that will get in the way? Are you lucky enough to know your schedule?
  4. Are you going on vacation? When?

#1. Knowing your average reading speed per 100 pages will help you block the necessary time for each book. Use GoodReads to find out how many pages your book is.

#2. Knowing how long you can go without reading is to give yourself some time off so you don’t get burnt out.

#3 & #4. Jobs get in the way. Vacations can too depending on where you’re going and who you’re going with.

And that’s my explanation! Ready to get started? So am I.

Getting Started

Alright, let’s say for the sake of quick math, that you can read a solid 100 pages a day. You pick up a 400-page book. Give yourself five days to read it. The fifth day is a buffer zone. Even if you wind up taking more than those five days, take a day off. If you can stand it, try not reading for the length of time you spent reading.

So for you speeders out there-one day on, one day off.

Listen to the Booked All Night Podcast, the burnout is real, especially after the school year is over. Let’s keep reading fun!

Working Around Work

Alright, so Summer jobs exist for two reasons:

  • to stop us from reading
  • to get us money to buy more books

But let’s work with that. If you’re lucky enough to have a steady schedule, decide whether you want to read before or after your shift. Now, this is important to help avoid the burnout: DO NOT DO BOTH. Read before or after work only. Attempt to exercise self-restraint.

Attempt it really hard.

Preparing For New Releases

There’s no doubt in my mind that there are several alerts on your phone for all those Summer books you’re waiting to be published. As your new release gets closer to its pub day, take a look at your calendar. Give yourself a whole week off from reading before it gets here. Depending on your speed that might mean not reading for over a week. This lets your mind relax, unwind, and process the last story you put your poor emotions through.

This also ensures that you can begin reading that new release on the day that it’s released without fear that you have something else to finish first.

Preparing For Vacation

There’s a book for the car, a book for the hotel, a book for the flight, a book for the beach, a book for waiting in line for the roller coaster. Do yourself a favor: download Hoopla or Libby, and check out an audiobook. You’ll be able to keep your book going regardless of transportation AND you can turn it up if people are trying to talk to you.

But if that’s not your cup of tea (or coffee), then it’s time to figure out your vacation schedule and treat it just like work. Read before, read after, but not both.

What about you? What do you do to plan your Summer reading? Tell us in the comments!

Wicked Fox

Ripe with K-Drama level of feels and a rich fantasy woven through, Wicked Fox is a delight from start to finish.

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway. 

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s. 

Wicked Fox, Kat Cho
June 25, 2019

I was so excited to get my hands on this book. Wicked Fox has everything I love: a powerful girl and a dopey boy who falls in love with her and she can’t risk falling in love with him because she may hurt him.



This is one of these rare brands of modern fantasy that checked off every box in both romance and fantasy that I love. I don’t often go for modern fantasy stories, but Wicked Fox scratched that itch so well.

I really enjoyed Kat Cho’s writing and how immediately tense it got in the best situations. It would go from a cute high school romance to Oh No There’s A Monster type tension and it was such a wild ride. Wicked Fox hit all of those K-Drama moments perfectly, including making it feel impossible to put down. I couldn’t bear the leave the story behind for any reason. It was such a fun, intense story.

There were some part where I wish things were slightly more explained; even in just a bare description. Because the story takes place in Seoul, everything is sprinkled with Korean. I didn’t want a direct translation (I have Google for that) but I would have loved some descriptions after a Korean food name was dropped so I could get deeper into the scene.

Some of the magic and monsters could have been described a bit more. There’s a goblin-demon type monster called a dokkaebi that attacked Jihoon early in the book. They’re described as hunched, ugly goblin creatures. Later on, we meet a dokkaebi that passes as a handsome human guy and it’s never really explained why this particular dokkaebi is the way they are.

But all in all, Wicked Fox was a thrilling and emotional story that’s perfect for fans of fantasy, romance, K-Dramas, and Korean myths.

Wicked Fox publishes June 25th, 2019.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟



Magic abilities, a traveling performance troupe and a monstrous secret that could kill everyone sounds like the perfect recipe for a great story. That’s exactly what Amanda Hocking’s Freeks delivers!

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Mara is a no-nonsense type of girl; someone who gets the job done and makes sure everything is running smoothly. Which, when it comes to their magical band of performers, doesn’t always happen. Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow is often the source of ridicule for their strange and often freakish acts, but they always manage to draw a crowd.

Caudry is a small town in Louisiana and when Gideon’s troupe arrives, things seem to start bad and get worse. When members of the troupe start to get attacked by a mysterious creature, it takes everything within Mara and her family to not turn tail and run. Mara struggles with staying to settle down for a normal life with town hottie Gabe and sticking to her family and helping to uncover who–or what–is killing them.

A slow start that goes from 0 to 100 in 3.5 seconds when the first attack happens to one of Mara’s childhood friends, Freeks will consume you and your entire afternoon. Once I got to the meaty bits of the plot, I didn’t want to put the book down at all. Mara’s internal struggle and desire for a normal life was enough to carry me through the first few chapters, because I cared about Mara.

Hocking does a fantastic job about painting these characters and showing you their best and worst parts all at once. I wanted Mara to find her gift and a place within the troupe other than roadie. I wanted her to fall in love and lead a normal life (though, I mainly wanted her to fall in love with Gabe’s sister Selena, and not Gabe himself, but that’s just me).

Freeks had a great voice; Mara’s unique perspective and choice of snappy comebacks left me giggling and really enjoying the story even more. If you’re already a fan of Amanda Hocking’s work, this is a great addition to your library. If you love paranormal oddities and thrilling mysteries with a sprinkle of romance, Freeks ought to find its way onto your TBR list.

6 Superfluous Books for Panem Fans

While the Hunger Games prequel is as of yet untitled and isn’t even set to release until May 2020, we’ve got some time to think and worry about whether Suzanne Collins will JK Rowling the world of Panem. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that but just in case–we’ve got some suggestions for additional guides and cookbooks.

Capitol Fashion: Revolutionary Ideas by Cinna

Everyone needs a power outfit, why not one to die for? Too soon? Been ten years, but still too soon?

Get your face punched in for your radical designs with this guide to Capitol Fashion from the Capitol’s hottest designer: Cinna.

Prose & Poise: A Guide to Public Speaking by Effie Trinkett

Chins up, smiles on! It’s time to perfect your diction and posture with Effie Trinkett. It won’t matter who you’re introducing into the game because everyone will be watching and listening to you.

Including the drunk at the end of the table.

Presidential Floral Arrangement

It’s the things we love that destroy us. But a rose could never destroy anything… or could it? Enter this handy guide from former Panem ruler, President Coriolanus Snow. Have you ever wanted to genetically engineer your garden to poison your enemies so you could seize power? Look no further, this is the book for you!

Cocktails & Sarcasm by Haymitch Abernathy

Here’s some advice: stay alive. There’s more to drink that way. What better way to make sure they remember you than to offer them a drink?

Bird Song by Rue

Gonna be out in the field all day or away from your ally in the games? Rue’s here to teach you and your feathered friends some new songs to signal the end of the day–or the lack of safety.

Home Edition


Randomly choose up to 24 players from your surrounding districts and force them to play with you against their will.

And remember:


Teen Titans: Raven

When a tragic accident takes the life of seventeen-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom–and Raven’s memory–she moves to New Orleans to live with her foster mother’s family and finish her senior year of high school.

Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. When strange things start happening–impossible things–Raven starts to think it might be better not to know who she was in her previous life.

But as she grows closer to her foster sister, Max, her new friends, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past…and the darkness building inside her.

Teen Titans: Raven
Publication Date: July 2nd, DC Ink

Raven’s origin story gets a retelling and a revamping in Teen Titans: Raven. We start in tragedy, as all good backstories do. Originally, Raven is raised in an alternate dimension with full knowledge of her powers and spends her life training to keep them and her emotions under control.

In the redux, Raven can’t remember anything before the car crash.

And it’s working. This characterization of her still works with the rage and the angst that we came to know, love, and sympathize with when we watched Teen Titans.

Kami Garcia’s Raven has questions and the drive to get them answered, and she’s drawn beautifully for her recent adaptation by Gabriel Picolo.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Happy 3rd Owliversay to Booked All Night!

The best way to wish us a happy birthday is to subscribe to the podcast or sign-up for our newsletter! We’re looking forward to having you in the fanbase!

Storm and Fury

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

Storm and Fury, Jennifer Armentrout
June 11, 2019

I wanted to try something new. I tend to shy away from stories where the summary is heavily focused on the romance. It tends to lead to books I don’t often enjoy.

But I was intrigued by the main character who was losing her sight and was a human among gargoyle protectors. It gave me some serious 90s TV vibes. So I tried it out.

And it wasn’t for me.

I couldn’t get into the writing style at all. It felt like there was so much in the story that wasn’t being told–so I did some research, and it turns out Storm and Fury is a spin-off from one of the author’s other series. It obviously expected you to have read the other series as a lot of details seemed to be missing for a first-time reader.

Then there was Trinity. I was super into a mostly-blind MC. But the only times we were ever really made aware of the fact that Trin was losing her eyesight were occasional comments like “my eyesight was shit”.

I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love this book. I was not one of them. In the end, it just made me think of the shitty teen romance fantasies I read as a teen–which isn’t a good thing.


The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett


Bitter, bored, and sarcastic-Lizzie Lovett is a girl after my own heart. Want to go back to high school and talk to You: Senior Year Edition? Great. Because she’s in this book.

A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.

You remember them. The popular kids. They had everything and nothing bad ever happened to them. Hawthorn had one direct interaction with Lizzie Lovett and held onto it in the darkest place in her heart.

And when Lizzie went missing-Hawthorn didn’t care… sort of.

With her wild imagination, Hawthorn believes she figures out what happened to local dream queen Lizzie Lovett, but as she immerses herself into Lizzie’s life she finds out she not only doesn’t know what happened recently, but she didn’t know much about this girl she came to loathe entirely.

Hawthorn latches onto a few surface items about Lizzie, namely her love of wolves, and concocts an entire-fantastical-story about her disappearance. This is really where The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett lost a star for me but after that arc is over I really enjoyed watching Hawthorn come to terms with herself and her prejudices against a girl she never knew.

The character’s journey is always so important and watching Hawthorn grow and realize that the things she originally thought Lizzie lied about were just things that contradicted the girl she’d made up in her head was great. I was also 100% creeped out and a little outraged to watch as Hawthorn moved in on Lizzie’s life. I thought we were going to get a flashback any moment and find out that Hawthorn was a murderer. Spoilers: she’s not. But The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett could absolutely have gone in that direction and I would have been fine with it.

How To Prioritize Your TBR

As Book Nerds, we have a problem. That problem is our ever growing, never shrinking TBR pile that now needs its own house with its own mortgage. To help, we’re going to use/alter/reference the KonMari method.

Relax! We aren’t going to make you keep a max or minimum amount of books. We know you can’t be contained.

Step 1: Tidy All at Once

Instead of moving over days and giving yourself time and excuses not to attack the dreaded TBR pile, give yourself one day. You aren’t going out. You aren’t watching Netflix. You aren’t going to the bookstore.

Let’s repeat for emphasis.


You are going through your TBR pile and finally determining which books will be read, and which books you know in your heart, will never be touched.

Step 2: Visualize the Destination

Think in concrete terms. Do you want to read more Sci-Fi? Fantasy? Contemporary? Thrillers? Figure out what you’re going to tend toward or whether you want to challenge yourself with a new genre and tell yourself to focus on those titles.

Step 3: Does it Spark Joy?

Well, does it? Did a friend recommend that title to you? Did you buy it at a con? Did you get it at a table where you met your favorite author?

Or did you stop by a booth, grab a book you knew you wouldn’t read, and then just chucked it on the pile?

Step 4: Tidy by Category.

Marie Kondo says to tidy by category, not location. As a Book Nerd myself, I’m positive that you have books all over the house. Track down one genre at a time and look through them. Are you going to read those? Or would they be better off being donated to a classroom library?

Step 5: Tidy in Order

The KonMari method has a checklist and so should you. No one knows your tastes better than you do so list out your top five genres and move through your books in that order. Don’t be afraid to separate them into sub-genres. Space sagas and futuristic dystopias are both sci-fi, but they aren’t the same.

After you’re done combing through the books you might read, take a look back at the ones you have read. If you find that you don’t need to keep those, consider donating them to any number of charities who give books to lower income schools and families.

8 June 2019 YA Releases To Be Excited For

June is going to be an exciting month, book nerds! Especially for fantasy fans. Did we include your most anticipated June read? If not, tell us what we missed in the comments below!

Sorcery Of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
June 4

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

The Beholder by Anna Bright
June 4

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
June 4

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante
June 11

This stunning YA debut is a timely and heartfelt speculative narrative about healing, faith, and freedom.

Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American, learning what Americans and the US are like from television and Mrs. Rosen, an elderly expat who had employed Marisol’s mother as a maid. When she pictured an American life for herself, she dreamed of a life like Aimee and Amber’s, the title characters of her favorite American TV show. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as “an illegal”, but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi’s, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, Pablo might still be alive, her mother wouldn’t be in hiding and she and Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.

But they have been caught and their asylum request will most certainly be denied. With truly no options remaining, Marisol jumps at an unusual opportunity to stay in the United States. She’s asked to become a grief keeper, taking the grief of another into her own body to save a life. It’s a risky, experimental study, but if it means Marisol can keep her sister safe, she will risk anything. She just never imagined one of the risks would be falling in love, a love that may even be powerful enough to finally help her face her own crushing grief.

The Grief Keeper is a tender tale that explores the heartbreak and consequences of when both love and human beings are branded illegal.

Storm and Fury by Jennifer Armentrout
June 11

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
June 25

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway. 

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter
June 25

Welcome to the Forest of Good and Evil. A dream come true, and a living nightmare.

Evil isn’t born, it’s made. One thought and action at a time. Take a good look at what you’ve made.

Far, far away, in the realm of Enchantia, creatures of legend still exist, magic is the norm and fairy tales are real. Except, fairy tales aren’t based on myths and legends of the past—they are prophecies of the future.

Raised in the mortal realm, Everly Morrow has no idea she’s a real-life fairy tale princess—until she manifests an ability to commune with mirrors.

Look. See… What will one peek hurt?

Soon, a horrifying truth is revealed. She is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen.

With powers beyond her imagination or control—and determined to change Fate itself—Everly returns to the land of her birth. There, she meets Roth Charmaine, the supposed Prince Charming. Their attraction is undeniable, but their relationship is doomed.

As bits and pieces of the prophecy unfold, Everly faces one betrayal after another, and giving in to her dark side proves more tempting every day. Can she resist, or will she become the queen—and villain—she was born to be?

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
June 25

When his dad is caught embezzling funds from half the town, Rob goes from popular lacrosse player to social pariah. Even worse, his father’s failed suicide attempt leaves Rob and his mother responsible for his care.

Everyone thinks of Maegan as a typical overachiever, but she has a secret of her own after the pressure got to her last year. And when her sister comes home from college pregnant, keeping it from her parents might be more than she can handle.

When Rob and Maegan are paired together for a calculus project, they’re both reluctant to let anyone through the walls they’ve built. But when Maegan learns of Rob’s plan to fix the damage caused by his father, it could ruin more than their fragile new friendship…

This captivating, heartfelt novel asks the question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons?

Survival Tips for BookCon


Happy Summer Convention Season! Time to cram a bunch of introverted super fans into one building and hope they can make a line. This weekend is BookCon, a bookish pop culture smorgasboard hosted at the Javitz Center in New York City. Whether you’re taking a bus, train, plane, or just hoofing it a few city blocks, you’ll want to be prepared. And we’ve got the ultimate guide.

Eat, Drink, & Don’t Fall Over Dead

It’s easy to say you’ll eat later when you really want to go to an event. Rather than starve until food is possible, keep your bag full of snacks. Make the investment in a Brita filter bottle and drink water constantly. Granola bars or crackers make the best bag snacks. They fill you up quickly and take up very little space.

Sync Up Your Calendar

If you’re going with friends or family, sync up your google calendars with the events you’re hoping to attend. It’s easy to get separated and even easier to lose cell phone reception. It might feel like overkill up front, but you’ll be happy you did when it comes time to gather everyone up for a meal.

Separate Your Money

This one is important. You will buy books. You will buy food. You will pay for transportation. You will pay for snacks. And you will need the money to do it. You can absolutely do the entire BookCon event for less than $300 if you try hard and believe in yourself.

You should have separate funds for:

  • Books
  • Food (meals and snacks)
  • Transportation
  • Emergencies

And never, NEVER bring all of your money with you to the convention. Visa and MasterCard gift cards, as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay are a God send. BookCon is prepared for digital purchases, and you should be too. Keep your money secure and carry minimal amounts of cash.

AUGH! People!

Not everyone handles crowded spaces well, I feel you. BookCon still doesn’t have social badges like some other cons do, but that’s okay. Here are some that you can print out and hang on your badge to help people interact with you or simply leave you alone.

Print these side by side, then fold them over and secure with tape. If you’re feeling particularly anxious and want to be left alone, display the red/white card. If you’re in a good place, or just a social butterfly, display the green one.

Chargers Are Important

Bring a charger for your phone. Yes, the one that plugs into the wall. There are ports all over the Javitz center. You will be on your phone for everything. You’ll be checking the BookCon app, you’ll be following authors and publishers on Twitter (yes, you will because they’ll tweet out updates about the convention), you’ll be texting friends, you’ll be taking and posting photos, you’ll be keeping an eye on the time, and you’ll be checking that one event religiously to make sure it doesn’t get moved or canceled. And your poor phone’s battery will die quickly. FEAR NOT: you can just plug it into the wall.


On May 11th, 2019, BookCon would’ve sent you an email prompting you to grab your two free tickets for autographs. After that, you’ll have to make sure that you’re in line for any authors who were sold out before the con. That means having patience. Hopefully, you’re all set with your top two. If not, be prepared to get to the convention center early, wait in line, and get to the autographing area quickly to get in line for the extra tickets. Some autograph sessions require you to buy the book at the convention, all of these details are listed on BookCon’s website and schedule. And some authors will only be signing books purchased at the convention. These will be available in line during autograph sessions.

Packing for Autographs

If you’re all set to go with your scheduled autograph sessions, let’s talk about the weight of books. You’re going to come home with at least 20 or so and that doesn’t even count the ones that you’ll actually purchase. Of course, you want your copy signed. But your copy weighs a ton when it’s next to the rest of your copies.

Instead, pack a sheet of bookplates. Pick up some mailing labels, decorate them, print out a template if you want. The bookplates will take up less space, weigh less, and you can get multiple signed, which means you’ll be able to have an entire series signed.

A Note About Service Dogs

Service dogs are trained to assist someone with a disability. They have tasks to perform and are not just there for companionship (although that is an added bonus). If you see someone with a service dog, leave them be. Don’t comment that they have a dog, or point out that they “don’t look disabled,” or ask to pet the dog. Do not make kissy noises at the dog. And if the dog turns around and sniffs you, simply ignore it.

When you distract a service animal, you are putting their handler at risk, because if the dog is focused on you, they could miss something that their handler needs them to check.

If you see a service animal without a handler, follow the dog. Their handler needs help.

Be respectful. Remember: No touch. No talk. No eye contact. No kissy noises.

5 Star Quotes: City of Ghosts

S3E3 Testimony From Your Perfect Girl

Jess, Maggie, and now Dan, all talk about Kaui Hart Hemmings’ TESTIMONY FROM YOUR PERFECT GIRL. Listen and enjoy as we discuss blow jobs in the woods, body positivity, and how beating up your friends is the best way to make a point.

Annie Tripp has everything she needs–Italian sweaters, vintage chandelier earrings, and elite ice skating lessons–but all that changes when her father is accused of scamming hundreds of people out of their investments. Annie knows her dad wasn’t at fault, but she and her brother are exiled to their estranged aunt and uncle’s house in a run-down part of Breckenridge–until the trial blows over.

Life with her new family isn’t quite up to Annie’s usual standard of living, but surprisingly, pretending to be someone else offers a freedom she’s never known. As Annie starts to make real friends for the first time, she realizes she has more in common with her aunt and uncle than she ever wanted to know. As the family’s lies begin to crumble and truths demand consequences, Annie must decide which secrets need to see the light of day . . . and which are worth keeping.

Kaui Hart Hemmings

7 Places To Hide And Read Over Memorial Day Weekend

We all know what’s about to happen: the family, the friends, the music, the BBQ. It’s all coming to cut into your weekend reading time. You’re going to open that book, someone is going to ask you what it’s about, and then they’re going to talk about John at the office. Don’t worry. We’re here to help. Here are some places to hide this weekend to get in your well deserved reading time.

Under The Table

You heard me. Get under that table. Let the tablecloth do its job and hide you while you lay back and get a few chapters in.

The Side Of The House

Okay, sure. It’s where the bugs are. Spray on a little eau de deet and muster through it, because no one is going to bother you outside the side gate.

The Front Yard

Everyone is outback for the BBQ so the front step is yours for the taking. Lean back against the house, put your feet out, and finish that book.

The Garage

Sure, it smells like oil leaks and rust but there’s plenty of space to sit down and hide between the cars. Plus, you’ll hear the door open long before they think to look under the car for you.

The Bathroom

Light a candle. Open the window. Sit on the throne. Put your feet up on the tub. Get comfy. And be prepared to shout “Sorry, not feeling good!” About three thousand times while relatives knock on the door.*

*Maybe don’t hog the bathroom if it’s the only one.

Next to Grandpa

He’s gonna be asleep anyway and everyone just let’s him. Go get a chair and put it next to him and enjoy the gentle, lulling soundtrack of an old man snoring.

In The Car

Put all the windows down first and then lay down in the backseat. Sure, you’re big now and it might be a scrunched fit but it’s better than having that chapter interrupted.

Couch Fort

I don’t care how old you are: couch cushion forts are the bomb. Take all the cushions, build yourself a home, put a blanket on top of it, and tell everyone to STAY OUT.

You could also just… you know… talk to your family.

HA HA! Just kidding. Where are you going to read this weekend?

The Beholder

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

-The Beholder, Anna Bright

Pub Date: June 4th, 2019

Getting rejected when you propose is always hard, especially in front of pretty much all of your subjects, but when rejection happens in literature it’s important for the reader to have an established connection with the character. I felt very little for Selah as her heart was broken in front of her whole kingdom in the first chapter. There simply was not enough time to have gotten to know her. It’s not long afterward that she is forced to set sail in order to find a husband.

For most of her journey, Selah felt incredibly spoiled and naive, constantly missing opportunities to learn from her mistakes. Bright could’ve easily skipped The Beholder‘s opening scene and filled us in later, streamlining us straight to Selah’s journey aboard the ship. Instead, we spend a lot of time on the boat.

But the time of the boat was not wasted. We gather most of the world building here, confirming Bright’s use of magical realism, which is without a doubt, the strongest element of The Beholder.

Bright includes some of our favorite fairy tale and classical characters in her world’s history, including Baba Yaga, Hansel and Gretel, and Homer. Admittedly, the selections from various fairy tales at the chapter breaks were confusing, as Bright’s world presents more like historical fiction, but that is quickly remedied within the text.

Bright clearly understands her work and what she wants to do.

My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

Reign of Mist


Imagine Heart of Mist. Now turn it up to elevenReign of Mist, the high-stakes, daring sequel to Heart of Mist was even more action-packed and intense than its predecessor. While I had trouble holding on to the first one, this one dug its claws into me and wouldn’t let go.

The realm’s darkest secret is out.

The cruelty of the capital and the power-hungry King Arden have scattered Bleak and her companions across the continents.

On the run in a foreign land, Bleak finds herself tied to some unexpected strangers. When the answers she yearns for are finally within reach, she must face the hard truths of her past, and take her fate into her own hands before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, secrets and magic unravel as a dark power corrupts the realm. Bleak’s friends are forced to decide where their loyalties lie, and who, if anyone, they can trust.

But one thing is certain: war is coming, and they must all be ready when it does.

Intriguing and action-packed, Reign of Mist is the second instalment in Helen Scheuerer’s epic YA fantasy series, The Oremere Chronicles.

We see a ton of familiar faces in this sequel, and we dig deeper into all the characters we saw in the past. We get some answers to questions from Heart of Mist, and EVEN MORE questions once we hit the end.


Helen’s writing–while amazing in Heart of Mist–was EVEN BETTER this time around. I simply can’t understand how she’s got such a masterful command over words, every phrase lyrical and powerful. I swear, she’s made some pact with a demon if she’s gotten this good. Her writing style is one of my favorites that I’ve read so far this year–and I’ve read a lot of books. Trust me.

I loved the development we got for some of my faves–especially when we got to see Dash and Olena together again!–and thoroughly enjoyed seeing some characters I didn’t care for come into a new light to the point where I started liking their changes.

There’s a lot to love about Reign of Mist–and I’d be remiss to end this review without mentioning that GORGEOUS cover! Because that beautiful thing drew my eye instantly and made me fall in love.

Don’t forget–we interviewed Helen on our podcast! The patron episode–uncut and full of extra questions and an extended interview–will go live before the public episode on Thursday night! Go subscribe at and don’t miss a minute!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Testimony From Your Perfect Girl

Annie Tripp has everything she needs–Italian sweaters, vintage chandelier earrings, and elite ice skating lessons–but all that changes when her father is accused of scamming hundreds of people out of their investments. Annie knows her dad wasn’t at fault, but she and her brother are exiled to their estranged aunt and uncle’s house in a run-down part of Breckenridge–until the trial blows over.

Life with her new family isn’t quite up to Annie’s usual standard of living, but surprisingly, pretending to be someone else offers a freedom she’s never known. As Annie starts to make real friends for the first time, she realizes she has more in common with her aunt and uncle than she ever wanted to know. As the family’s lies begin to crumble and truths demand consequences, Annie must decide which secrets need to see the light of day . . . and which are worth keeping.

Testimony From Your Perfect Girl – Kaui Hart Hemmings
Pub Date: May 14, 2019

Maggie’s Thoughts

Listen, it’s no secret that neither of us like contemporary. We’ve talked about it ad nauseum on the podcast and on most reviews (it’s why we invited our friend Davis onto the project, he’s our contemporary boi!). And when Jessi told me we had some ARCs for a contemporary book coming up, I rolled my eyes and sighed. I wasn’t exactly enthused about it at all.

I read Testimony From Your Perfect Girl on my off time during work, or when it was slow. And then something strange happened.

I didn’t want to put Hemming’s book down.

Which is an absolute phenomenon when it comes to me & contemporary books.

Sure, it was hard to get into Testimony From Your Perfect Girl. And I audibly groaned and complained about the very first paragraph of the book–which describes, in detail, what the main character was wearing. I found Annie to be annoying and hard to relate to, and I was frustrated with the lack of information about the inciting incident. And then I realized that that’s exactly what Annie was going through.

I got pulled in by Hemmings’s easy flowing writing, and I started to relate to Annie a little bit more as she got herself a job, stumbled through some romance, found out more about herself and as she slowly started to redefine who she was, I started to get to like her. I liked being in the quiet little story–despite how often Jessi and I exclaim how much we want dragons and robots and exploding suns. It was a good little emotional book to ease me back into enjoying to read.

That’s not to say there weren’t some things that could have been better; I absolutely wanted some more tense moments. But the times we got that tension, it felt like real life tension. Robot dragons may be in your face tension, but trying to work through emotional trauma and redefining family borders is tense enough.

There were some laugh out loud moments–and I praise this book 100% for it’s fierce feminist sex-positive message. I loved watching the relationships build between Annie and her aunt and uncle. Some of the times when Annie and Aunt Nicole were hanging out felt so pure, it watered my crops and cleared my acne.

Jessica’s Thoughts

As I’ve practically tattooed on forehead, I’m not a fan of contemporary. And Testimony From Your Perfect Girl was distinctly lacking in killer AI programs falling in love and murdering whole ships of people for one single girl. But I decided to give it a chance.

Annie Trip introduces herself to us in luxury. She puts on designer sweaters like the rest of us put on those ratty old jeans from high school. And she stays in that naive, rich girl trope for a long time.

I agree with part of Maggie’s review, that this lack of information was incredibly frustrating, but obviously necessary. But I’d like to add that she only goes out of her way to ask or learn about the trial once and even after she gets some finite details about the extent of the damage her father has done, she doesn’t seem to register it.

In fact, Annie doesn’t seem to register much. And at first, I saw this as a pretty fair representation of the depressive spiral, giving her cause to act out just to see if a change in behavior would help. I was even proud of her for standing up to a guy who used her obviously weakened state for a good time on New Year’s Eve, when she shouted about what she’d done for him in the woods. And I was glad to see that of all the lessons Annie did take to heart that the lesson that sex is not affection one seemed to actually stick.

But it took a lot to really drive home just how many lives her father’s fraud screwed over. It’s not enough to hear it from old friends, but new friends also need to tack on that they are working more because their families have lost so much.

As the story progresses we find out that all the adults in Annie’s life have lied to her about one thing or another. This really clouded the story and diluted Annie’s chances at confronting her parents about the damage that had been done to so many people’s lives, including her own.

There were some funny moments and definitely a great lesson the autonomy of sex, but the plot overall felt watered down and slow. While I don’t think the plot should have been dumbed down to only focus on her father’s trial, I do wish more of the problems in Testimony From Your Perfect Girl had focused on the trial and its consequences for Annie.

Maggie’s Rating
Jessica’s Rating

Unicorn Bowling

The NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING series Phoebe and Her Unicorn is back with all-new sparkling tales of best friendship. Whether they’re visiting Camp Shimmerhorn or fitting unicorn hooves for bowling shoes, Phoebe and Marigold find magic in every moment.

A unicorn in bowling shoes is quite a STRIKE-ing sight. But for nine-year-old Phoebe Howell, it’s just another fun outing with her best friend, the illustrious unicorn Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. This unique and magical friendship is at the heart of the ninth Phoebe and Her Unicorn collection, which includes adventures such as writing original songs, publishing rival news websites, and making a summer visit to the exclusive Camp Shimmerhorn. Life with a unicorn BFF is not without its challenges, however, and whether it’s homework, friction with classmates, or talent show jitters, Unicorn Bowling is full of amusing, heartwarming reminders that when the going gets tough, the tough get sparkling.

Unicorn Bowling, Dana Simpson

Another great collection from Dana Simpson. Am I biased? Too much of a fan to give an honest review?


With an always adorable art style and relatable characters harkening back to my childhood favorite, Calvin and Hobbes, Phoebe and Marigold are perfect for readers of all ages. The jokes are hilarious and the lessons are real, even if they are covered in glitter and perfect nostrils.

Unicorn Bowling is yet another wonderful collection perfect for reading on a cool Sunday morning.

My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Bookish Podcast Round-Up

I love podcasts! I love hearing people talk about books, and making fun of books, and books, books, books, books, podcasts. Here’s a round-up of some awesome podcasts I have in my rotation.

Print Run Podcast

Print Run is a podcast created and hosted by Laura Zats and Erik Hane. Its aim is simple: to have the conversations surrounding the book and writing industries that too often are glossed over by conventional wisdom, institutional optimism, and false seriousness.


Welcome to Goosebuds! A podcast where your hosts Paul, Dom, and Chad dig into the Young Adult Literature worlds of R.L. Stine and give them the deep critique and respect they deserve. Come join us and re-discover the stories you grew up with or jump in for the first time.

Hey YA

From great new books to favorite classic reads, from news to the latest in on-screen adaptations, the Hey YA podcast is here to elevate the exciting world of young adult lit.

B&N YA Podcast