Saturday, December 31, 2022

DNF&Y [43]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative!

The Immortal Highlander (Highlander, #6) by Karen Marie Moning


With his long, black hair and dark, mesmerising eyes, Adam Black is Trouble with a capital T. Immortal, arrogant, and intensly sensual, he is free to roam across time and continents in pursuit of his insatiable desires. That is, until a curse strips him of his immortality and makes him invisible, a cruel fate for so irresistible a man. Now Adam's only hope for survival is in the hands of the one woman who can actually see him.

Enter law student Gabrielle O'Callaghan. For Gabrielle, cursed with the ability to see both worlds, Mortal and Faery, it is the beginning of a long, dangerous seduction. But as Adam's quest to regain his immortality plunges them into a world of timeless magic, the price of surrender could be their very lives. Unless they can thwart the conspiracy that threatens both Mortal and Faery realms...and give them a shot at a destiny few mortals ever know: glorious, wondrous, endless love...

I started reading The Immortal Highlander because I wanted steamy sex and swoonworthy characters. Sadly, this book was unremarkable and more than a little frustrating. 

I haven't read any of the other books in this series, but it was my understanding that they could be read as standalones (they can). The book mentions other characters that I know have been in previous books (yay reviews), but not knowing who they were made no difference to this story (what I read of it). Unfortunately, I could barely get through The Immortal Highlander, despite several attempts to do so. 

I am so over the virgin trope. She refers to boyfriends she's had previously, but none of them ever "got that far" due to her being able to see the Tuatha De Danaan. Were they in her house? Sitting next to her in bed while getting frisky with a regular Joe? I'm fine with virgins (still not a fan of the trope), but the reason for her virginity wasn't believable. It was also REALLY WEIRD that Gabby kept conversing with her inner 14-year-old self. 

Gabby's halfhearted attempts to "resist" Adam were annoying and made my head hurt. Her reasons were laughable and barely made sense. She was going to cave eventually, and I think the author could have handled their initial romance a little better. It all felt forced and unnecessary. Let's not forget that Adam assaulted her in the beginning and essentially forced her to do what he wanted. If someone - human or not - was attacking me, I wouldn't be thinking about how hard he was against me. He also broke into her home and then later stole some of her underwear (creepy). 

The author also had Gabby completely isolated from everyone. She wasn't close to her remaining family (her mom left her with her grandmother once it became clear she could see the Tuatha De), she wasn't in a relationship, she had no friends... she was just existing. I wish she'd had someone in her life that she cared about. Maybe then she would have cared more about herself. 

It also bothered me that Adam never really seemed to care about Gabby. It was always about what he needed from her and his desire to claim her. I never saw him put her needs first (with a few small exceptions that also benefitted him), and I can't get behind a character that would do that. She's supposed to be his love interest, but I never saw an actual connection between the two.

Occasionally, I can get behind a book with a mediocre plot if the characters are likable, but both Gabby and Adam were exhausting to read about. She was annoying and he was over-the-top. I kept reading to see if the sex was going to be good, but they kept getting interrupted (which is something else I hate). 

I don't think I'll be reading any of the other books in this series. (★★☆☆☆)

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

How to Speak Animal by Aubre Andrus & Gabby Wild
[Blog Tour: Spotlight + Giveaway]

Halito! Welcome to the next stop on the How to Speak Animal blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Thank you for stopping by! If you would like to win a copy of this book, be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post. πŸ‘‡ For the full tour schedule, please visit the Rockstar Book Tours website.

About The Book:
Author: Aubre Andrus & Gabby Wild
Pub. Date: August 16, 2022
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 176
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, TBD,

Learn about the secret language of wild animals in this exciting and informative guide from the experts who brought you How to Speak Cat and How to Speak Dog.

We know animals can’t speak and express themselves in the same way as humans … but even the smallest and quietest animals have incredible ways of communicating with each other. With wildlife veterinarian expert Dr. Gabby Wild as a guide, How to Speak Animal helps kids understand how animals communicate through sound, body language, and behavior. It’s full of expert insights and real-life stories of humans exploring ways to “talk” to animals, from teaching great apes sign language to speaking “dolphin.” Packed with super-engaging animal photography that helps illustrate key concepts, this fascinating book profiles more than 60 different creatures―from birds to mammals to reptiles and more―and their amazing ways of communicating with each other.

If you’ve ever wondered why gorillas beat their chests and make hooting noises, what it means when chameleons change color, or why some elephants twist their trunks together, this is the book for you!

About Aubre Andrus:

AUBRE ANDRUS is an award-winning children's book author with dozens of books published by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, American Girl, Disney, Scholastic, and more. She has also ghostwritten books for young YouTube stars. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her family. Visit her website and portfolio at

About Gabby Wild:

DR. GABBY WILD earned her Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degrees at Cornell University. She completed her veterinary internship training at Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital in Akron, Ohio, and received her master's of public health (MPH) from the University of Minnesota. She is a published genetics researcher and uses her research background to screen zoonotic disease transmission among wildlife, domestic animals, and people. To help maintain a healthy planet, she monitors herd and individual health for rising epidemics. Dr. Wild balances her Western medicine practices with traditional Chinese medicine in an effort to blend both methodologies. Acclaimed for her role as “the veterinarian” on Animal Jam, the world’s largest online “playground,” with 54 million players, she creates educational videos and teaches children internationally about wildlife conservation and medicine. When not in the wild, Gabby works as a Wildlife Health Program veterinarian for the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo and is a training veterinary surgeon at the Veterinary Medical Center of Long Island. She lives in New York City.

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of HOW TO SPEAK ANIMAL, US Only.Ends September 6th, midnight EST.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Honeys by Ryan La Sala [Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

Halito! Welcome to the next stop on The Honeys blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Thank you for stopping by! If you would like to win a copy of this book, be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post. πŸ‘‡ For the full tour schedule, please visit the Rockstar Book Tours website.

About The Book:
Author: Ryan La Sala
Pub. Date: August 16, 2022
Publisher: PUSH (Scholastic Press)
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 352
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD,

From Ryan La Sala, the wildly popular author of Reverie, comes a twisted and tantalizing horror novel set amidst the bucolic splendor of a secluded summer retreat.

Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline's radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who'd grown tragically distant.

Mars's genderfluidity means he's often excluded from the traditions -- and expectations -- of his politically connected family. This includes attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. But with his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place.

What Mars finds is a bucolic fairytale not meant for him. Folksy charm and sun-drenched festivities camouflage old-fashioned gender roles and a toxic preparatory rigor. Mars seeks out his sister's old friends: a group of girls dubbed the Honeys, named for the beehives they maintain behind their cabin. They are beautiful and terrifying -- and Mars is certain they're connected to Caroline's death.

But the longer he stays at Aspen, the more the sweet mountain breezes give way to hints of decay. Mars’s memories begin to falter, bleached beneath the relentless summer sun. Something is hunting him in broad daylight, toying with his mind. If Mars can't find it soon, it will eat him alive.


"Pure horror gold." - Booklist STARRED review

"Tantalizing and memorable." - Publisher's Weekly STARRED review

"As rich and complex as dark amber honey." – Kirkus

Ryan talks about THE HONEYS:

The Honeys
by Ryan La Sala was so mind-bendingly good! It's easily one of the best books I've read this year. I was hooked from the very first chapter (it's a doozy) and never wanted to put it down. Small, seemingly inconsequential details are shared slowly as the story progresses, and my paranoid brain gobbled them up (I was like Mars in this way). I suspected everyone and everything. The anxiety!!

I'd almost given up on YA books as a whole because the last ten or so I've read really haven't worked for me. I thought maybe I'd outgrown the genre, but La Sala showed me it wasn't the genre at all... just the books I'd been reading. The Honeys checked all my boxes and then some. 

Mars being genderfluid is the icing on the cake. I could relate to their struggles and sympathize with them on a level I wasn't expecting. At times I felt like I was Mars. It goes to show you just how phenomenal the writing truly is. I lived in this book. It's been a long time since a story has captured my attention so fully. The Honeys demands your attention, and I absolutely loved every second of it.

If this book isn't already on your TBR, I highly recommend adding it right now! (★★★★✩)

About Ryan La Sala:

Ryan La Sala writes about surreal things happening to queer people.

Ryan resides in New York City, but only physically. Escapist to the core, he spends most of his time in the astral planes and only takes up corporeal form for special occasions, like brunch and to watch anime (which is banned on the astral planes).

Ryan is the author behind the riotously imaginative Reverie, and the brilliantly constructed Be Dazzled, and the highly anticipated The Honeys. He has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, NPR,, and one time Shangela from RuPaul’s Drag Race called him cute. Right in the middle of the road downtown! So. Pretty big deal all around, yes?

His next book, The Honeys, will be publish with Scholastic on August 16, 2022.

Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a finished copy of THE HONEYS, US Only.
Ends August 23rd, Midnight EST.

Monday, July 11, 2022

DNF&Y [42]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative!

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling
🎧 Narrated by Caitlin Davies

Synopsis (via Goodreads): New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins, writing as Erin Sterling, casts a spell with a spine-tingling romance full of wishes, witches, and hexes gone wrong.

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

I really enjoyed Hex Hall and The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins (the author uses a pseudonym for this book), so I had high expectations for The Ex Hex. I wanted to see how this author added her humor and wit to a book promising "spine-tingling romance." Unfortunately, the characters were awful, and the story was borderline boring. I gave up after an hour and wish I'd stopped sooner.

The narrator's voice didn't do this book any favors. All of the characters sounded too similar (if there was any change at all), and I really had to pay attention to know who was speaking. This isn't anything against the narrator, but it did detract from my overall enjoyment of the book. 

In addition to boring, the story was super cheesy. I couldn't really get behind Vivi's feelings of animosity nine years later. They were two kids in college that dated for three months, and they had a simple misunderstanding. Accidentally curse him? Sure. Hate him for a decade? Not likely. It just wasn't believable. But that's not all... they've also been secretly pining for each other - unawares - while outwardly cursing the existence of one another. 

Miscommunication is one of my biggest bookish pet peeves, and all Vivi and Rhys needed to do was have a conversation with each other to resolve their issues. The entire thing was blown out of proportion yet fuels their vendetta for the better part of the book (at least what I read and skimmed through). (★★☆☆☆)

This May End Badly by Samantha Markum
🎧 Narrated by Heather Masters

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Pranking mastermind Doe and her motley band of Weston girls are determined to win the century-long war against Winfield Academy before the clock ticks down on their senior year. But when their headmistress announces that The Weston School will merge with its rival the following year, their longtime feud spirals into chaos.

To protect the school that has been her safe haven since her parents’ divorce, Doe puts together a plan to prove once and for all that Winfield boys and Weston girls just don’t mix, starting with a direct hit at Three, Winfield’s boy king and her nemesis. In a desperate move to win, Doe strikes a bargain with Three’s cousin, Wells: If he fake dates her to get under Three’s skin, she’ll help him get back his rightful family heirloom from Three.

As the pranks escalate, so do her feelings for her fake boyfriend, and Doe spins lie after lie to keep up her end of the deal. But when a teacher long suspected of inappropriate behavior messes with a younger Weston girl, Doe has to decide what’s more important: winning a rivalry, or joining forces to protect something far more critical than a prank war legacy.

This May End Badly is a story about friendship, falling in love, and crossing pretty much every line presented to you—and how to atone when you do.

I committed six hours to This May End Badly and still ended up DNFing it. I really liked the idea of a school rivalry and thought the author played that up really well, but it should have remained the focal point of the story. There was just too much going on. And what was the deal with the pervy teacher? That subplot seemed REALLY unnecessary. The students kept bringing him up, so I'm sure something would have eventually happened with that, I just didn't stick around long enough to find out. I do think it should have been left out altogether. 

Fake dating is usually a trope that I like, but it didn't work for me in this one. There was no chemistry between Doe and What's His Face. I think there were more sparks between her and her archnemesis than the guy she likely ended up with. 

I think this book would have been better if it had been simplified just a little. A school rivalry, some teenage angst, and boom. Unfortunately, I was having to force myself to listen to this one "hoping" it would get better as it progressed. (Spoiler alert: It didn't.)

I also wasn't thrilled with the narrator. She wasn't bad per se, but I did find her voice to a be a little distracting. 

Additionally, Doe was incredibly unlikeable, and I always struggle with books when I can't relate to - or at least understand - the main character. She was so selfish and never considered how her actions affected others. She wanted to talk about her friends and how close they were, yet she didn't think twice about them before doing whatever she wanted.

Some notes I made while reading:

Missed the mark
Didn't like why they were fake dating
Doomed to fail
No friendship would survive the fallout

It a nutshell, This May End Badly had too much going on and the main character was a selfish brat that didn't actually know what she wanted. She was too absorbed in herself to see what was happening around her, and her fake boyfriend clearly had ulterior motives of his own. Weird teacher subplot. (★★☆☆☆)

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

Synopsis (via Goodreads): The first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

This started off as a buddy read, but they quickly left me behind while I struggled to find reasons to continue reading this book. It's honestly been so long now that I've forgotten most of what I read (not very much). I do remember being annoyed by the dialogue and wishing for more showing instead of telling. Roanhorse has created a very complex world, but I wanted to feel fully immersed in it and not like a bystander. I also don't want to have to question how something works but want the story to unfold in a way that explains through experiences. I know some dialogue is necessary to explain complex ideas, but I would prefer to see them played out on paper.

Black Sun was soooo hyped, and I just expected more from this fantasy world and its characters. I also really, really didn't like the child mutilation and found that aspect of the book to be hard to stomach. (★★☆☆☆)

Friday, May 13, 2022

Wicked Beauty (Dark Olympus, #3) by Katee Robert

Synopsis (via Goodreads):  

She was the face that launched a thousand ships, 
The fierce beauty at the heart of Olympus,
And she was never ours to claim.

A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Helen of Troy, Achilles, and Patroclus that's as sinful as it is sweet.

In Olympus, you either have the power to rule...or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city's inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.

Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize...or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.

Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can't keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield?

Can all of the other books be about Helen, Achilles and Patroclus? Pretty please?? This is by far my favorite book in the series, and that's really saying something since I thoroughly enjoyed the first two. The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus was so sweet and swoonworthy. They love each other despite their differences, and they don't let petty problems ruin what they have. The addition of Helen just made everything better. She amplified the feelings they already had and added some of her own. My one and only complaint would be that this book wasn't long enough. I wanted more, Katee!! 

Wicked Beauty was unspeakably hot. Full body tingles and all the feels. I really wanted to be a part of their trio, and a mΓ©nage Γ  trois has never been on my to-do list. The chemistry and trust they had with each other in the bedroom — I'm blushing just thinking about it. Despite Helen and Achilles trying to beat each other in the tournament (Achilles and Patroclus were a package deal from the start), they still cared about what happened to their threesome and did their best to make sure everyone was okay. Obviously, there were times when they felt conflicted, but at least they were honest with each other about what they wanted. 

Katee Robert has written something that I will be thinking about for a long, long time — she really took it to another level with this one! It was also refreshing to read about people who discussed consent, protection, and safe words.

I also really liked the tournament setting and seeing the characters work with and against each other. They're all competing to be Ares, but some alliances were formed early on to help with the initial trials. I wish the three trials had been longer and little more complex, but they were over almost as soon as they started. They tested mostly physical skill, but there were some mental preparations involved as well. I hope we see more of Atalanta in the next book, and maybe Ajax. He seemed funny and like he might have his own story to tell. Atalanta was a badass that definitely deserves her own book.

Paris was awful and I hated him. I really wish he'd gotten more of a beating before the end of the book. He definitely deserved to have someone pummel him into unconsciousness. His brother, Hector, wasn't any better since he willingly helped his snake of a sibling. 

I'm happy with how their story ended, but I wish we'd gotten a few more chapters to see how their new dynamic was going to work. They've been competitors and lovers, but we don't really get to view their triad outside of the tournament's walls. I wanted to see how they interacted in their new roles and how that affected their overall relationship. Maybe see them enjoying each other's company one more time? If not in the book itself, maybe a bonus chapter posted online somewhere? I'd even buy a novella if it was about these three. 

If you like Greek Mythology, if you enjoyed the previous two books in this series, or if you're just looking to read something steamy, then make sure you grab this one when it's released. I've already pre-ordered a physical copy for my shelves, because it's definitely one I will be reading again. All the stars! (★★★★★)

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Monday, May 2, 2022

The Change by Kirsten Miller

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Feminist revenge fantasy about three women whose midlife crisis brings unexpected new powers--putting them on a collision course with the evil that lurks in their wealthy beach town.

In the Long Island oceanfront community of Mattauk, three different women discover that midlife changes bring a whole new type of empowerment...

After Nessa James's husband dies and her twin daughters leave for college, she's left all alone in a trim white house not far from the ocean. In the quiet of her late forties, the former nurse begins to hear voices. It doesn't take long for Nessa to realize that the voices calling out to her belong to the dead--a gift she's inherited from her grandmother, which comes with special responsibilities.

On the cusp of 50, suave advertising director Harriett Osborne has just witnessed the implosion of her lucrative career and her marriage. She hasn't left her house in months, and from the outside, it appears as if she and her garden have both gone to seed. But Harriet's life is far from over--in fact, she's undergone a stunning and very welcome metamorphosis.

Ambitious former executive Jo Levison has spent thirty long years at war with her body. The free-floating rage and hot flashes that arrive with the beginning of menopause feel like the very last straw--until she realizes she has the ability to channel them, and finally comes into her power.

Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio of women discover a teenage girl whose body was abandoned beside a remote beach. The police have written the victim off as a drug-addicted sex worker, but the women refuse to buy into the official narrative. Their investigation into the girl's murder leads to more bodies, and to the town's most exclusive and isolated enclave, a world of stupendous wealth where the rules don't apply. With their newfound powers, Jo, Nessa, and Harriet will take matters into their own hands...

The Change by Kirsten Miller is one of the most compelling books I've read all year. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the characters, and the justice dealt to those who deserved it. 

If you have a weak stomach or don't like to talk about menstruation, then this book might not be for you. The author goes into great detail about what it's like for women - Jo in particular - to have a heavy flow and what all that entails. Jo's period seems to be more intense due to the particular talents she possesses, but I do feel like the author was accurate in representing what women have to go through while on their periods. 

Harriet was by far my favorite character. I really liked her transformation and the freedom it provided her. She was finally able to be herself without restrictions and being responsible for doling out punishments suited her personality and newly discovered gifts. She always seemed to know what was going to happen before the others did, and I'm not sure if she was able to glimpse it somehow, or if she was just that intuitive. Of the three, she seemed most at home in her new body. She embraced her abilities and newfound connection to the world around her - a true badass. 

Nessa was a really sweet and gentle character, and my heart broke for her throughout the book. She's still dealing with the loss of her husband, and seeing dead girls pop up on a beach wasn't easy, especially once they realize the depth and magnitude of the situation. Someone has been taking and hurting girls, but specifically girls that no one will look for. Girls that no one will miss. It was heartbreaking to read about, and I'm glad they received justice at the end. 

I know the author was trying to make a point with this book, but not all men are terrible. It felt like every male in this book was flawed in some big way. Other than the detective, it was hard to like anyone other than the women in this book. Jo's husband was okay, but he wasn't the best, you know? He seemed jealous of his wife's accomplishments, lazy and uninterested in helping out around the house, etc. I wanted to see men who weren't scum peppered in throughout the book, but it mostly focuses on women and their bad experiences with the opposite sex. Not knocking it... just an observation and an opinion. 

I was also slightly annoyed by some of the character's choices in this book. One of Nessa's daughters decided to go for a run by herself even though girls have disappeared, and people have clearly threated the lives of Nessa, Joe, Harriet and their families. Jo also gets a business opportunity seemingly out of nowhere, and I didn't like how easily everything fell into place. She should have had more questions, or at the very least been hesitant about the offer. Additionally, the ending was a tad too obvious for my liking, and I wish it had been a little more unpredictable. 

I think The Change brings attention to a lot of "taboo" topics and realistically shows how women are perceived in the world. It's still very much a "man's world" that women are having to claw their way through just to be seen and heard. Even now, with everyone discussing abortion rights and what women are allowed to do with their bodies, women are fighting just to have a choice. Miller doesn't paint a pretty picture; she shares the harsh truths that people would rather avoid, and for that alone I would wholeheartedly recommend this book. It might be fictional, but its frankness was refreshing and really makes this book one worth reading. (★★★★☆)
Quotes I liked: 

"'The Commandments only apply to humans,' said the older woman. 'Nobody goes to hell for killing a monster.'"

"'But the truth is, Ms. Rocca--and I suspect deep down, you know this--every recipe is a spell. And all cooks are witches.'"

"'Anyone who needs a reward to be good isn't good. They just like rewards. Good people do the right thing because it's the right thing to do.'"

"'Nothing ages a person like poverty and misery,' Harriet said. 'Despite what all the ads claim, it's not skin cream that helps some women keep their glow. The only true youth serum has two ingredients--luck and money.'"

"'Seriously, Max. I grew up watching stuff that taught me that women who enjoyed sex were whores. That we should try to be who men wanted us to be--not who we really were. It fucked me up. It fucked up a lot of women I know. Is that what you want for your kid?'"

"The problem was the companies that sold shitty sanitary pads. Otherwise reasonable adults who believed tampons stole a girl's virginity. Doctors who didn't bother to solve common problems. Birth control that could kill you. Boys who were told that they couldn't control themselves. A society that couldn't handle the fact that roughly half of all humans will menstruate."

I also really liked the author's version of the Garden of Eden. It's better than the original, honestly. πŸ˜‰

"'God may have dictated the Bible, but it was put down on paper by men. And over the years, men have changed things that don't make them look good. In the original story, Eve was the hero, and this snake was her friend.'"

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes I use are from an unpublished copy and may not reflect the finished product.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Armadillo Antics by Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson
Illustrated by Nathalie Beauvois [Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway]

Halito! Welcome to the next stop on the Armadillo Antics blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Thanks for stopping by! If you would like to win a copy of this book, be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post. πŸ‘‡ For the full tour schedule, please visit the Rockstar Book Tours website.

About The Book:

Author: Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, Nathalie Beauvois (Illustrations)
Pub. Date: April 26, 2022
Publisher: Brown Books Kids
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 32
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, TBD,

Join the Armadillo on His Nightly Romp!

Children will love the rhythm and rhyme that are hallmarks of the beloved author duo of Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 as they follow the adventurous armadillo through nighttime fun as dawn approaches.

Bill Martin Jr. was the beloved author of more than three hundred books for children and teachers, including the classics Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Michael Sampson taught kindergarten through fourth grade before meeting fellow literacy expert Bill Martin Jr at a conference in Tucson, Arizona in 1978. They established a lifelong friendship and collaborated on many bestselling and award-winning books for children, including Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?


"A wonderfully musical nighttime romp with stunning illustrations." --Matt de la PeΓ±a, Newbery Medal-Winning, New York Times Bestselling Author

"Beauvois, whose elaborately textured, highly dimensional surfaces recognize the paper collage legacy of Eric Carle and Lois Ehlert, creates a series of striking contrasts to the repeating text's simple rhymes. As the mammals appear, ready to "romp and play till the night is done," they're shown in deep jewel tones with patterning reminiscent of a Missoni sweater... tagging along with this self-possessed, graphically stylish critter and chanting its name as it leaps, digs, and dines makes for a memorable outing." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"For a romping night in the life of a roly-poly armadillo, pick up Armadillo Antics!"--Parade Magazine

"This short rhyming story about a night in the life of an armadillo is cozy and soothing. Beauvois's collage-style art, especially the armadillo curled up inside its next, gives Eric Carle vibes. A collection of eight facts on the final page will fascinate kids and grown-ups alike."--Parents Magazine

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom were two books I read to my kids when they were younger. They've mostly grown out of those stories now, but we still have them on our shelves. I'm sure I'll pack them away eventually and save them for any future grandkids I might have. Unfortunately, Armadillo Antics failed to meet my expectations. 

It starts off well enough . . . the story flows and paints a pretty picture. However, once the armadillo shows up, everything falls apart. The repetition was expected (if a little overdone), so there was a lot of Armadillo, Armadillo, Armadillo, _____. It mostly made sense. The armadillo ran, grinned, leapt, and ran again. It even dug a hole and danced a jig, but then it says, "Armadillo, Armadillo, Armadillo, MIGHT," and I have no idea what that's supposed to mean. It didn't mesh with the rest of the story. Additionally, when the armadillo was digging, he was digging into his burrow. How was he then leaping and whatnot if he was supposedly underground? 

I think if they rearranged the sequence of events, it might help the overall flow of the story. Also, at one point the armadillo is supposed to flee from an angry bee, but the book just said he had armor like a knight. What damage could a bee do to something with bone-like material covering its entire body? It was bit nonsensical. 

If you're reading Armadillo Antics to a baby (or potentially a toddler), I think it would work. It's no Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, but it's an okay read. Although, it's probably not one I'll be adding to our shelves. 

About Bill Martin Jr.:

BILL MARTIN JR. was the beloved author of more than 300 books for children and teachers, including the classics Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, which was illustrated by his friend Eric Carle, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, illustrated by Lois Ehlert. Bill was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame by the International Literacy Association. The Bill Martin, Jr Picture Book Award, which is the Kansas State award for best children’s picture book, was established in his name in 1996. Bill wrote Armadillo Antics with Michael Sampson when he moved to Texas, in honor of the fun, inquisitive creatures that roamed the woods outside his house. Website | Goodreads

About Michael Sampson:

taught kindergarten through fourth grade before meeting fellow literacy expert Bill Martin Jr. at a conference in Tucson, Arizona in 1978. They established a lifelong friendship and collaborated on many bestselling and award-winning books for children, including Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? Sampson often speaks at schools, book festivals, and literacy conferences, where he is known for his high-energy, entertaining performances. Dr. Sampson is a Fulbright Scholar and a professor of literacy at St. John’s University in New York City. Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

About Nathalie Beauvois:

NATHALIE BEAUVOIS has a graphic design background in advertising and has also studied industrial design. Nathalie started her career in the art departments of ad agencies and eventually transitioned into freelance illustrating. Since then, she has illustrated dozens of books and hundreds of magazines in countries all over the world. Her creations always start the traditional way — with paper and pencil. Depending on the visual task at hand, she mixes in techniques such as watercolor, collage, vector drawing and Photoshop coloring and texturizing. When not playing with the antics of armadillos, she is happily living and working in Argentina with her family. Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a finished copy of ARMADILLO ANTICS, US Only.

Shinji Takahashi and the Mark of the Coatl by Julie Kagawa
[Blog Tour: Spotlight + Giveaway]


Halito! Welcome to the next stop on the Shinji Takahashi and the Mark of the Coatl blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Thanks for stopping by! If you would like to win a copy of this book, be sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post. πŸ‘‡ For the full tour schedule, please visit the Rockstar Book Tours website.

About The Book:

Title: SHINJI TAKAHASHI AND THE MARK OF THE COATL (Society of Explorers and Adventurers, #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Pub. Date: April 5, 2022
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 320

Shinji Takahashi and the Mark of the Coatl is the first book in a globe-trotting adventure that combines high-tech wizardry, old-world legends and a little bit of magic.

Shinji Takahashi is just an ordinary kid. An ordinary homeschooled smart-alecky orphan kid being raised by his aunt Yui. But when a magical guardian decides to use him as a conduit to awaken its power, Shinji’s life takes a turn for the extraordinary. Captured by the menacing Hightower Corporation, which is bent on using the guardian’s magic for its own nefarious purposes, Shinji must team up with a brilliant young tech whiz named Lucy and her robot mouse, Tinker, to escape the Corporation’s evil clutches.

Together Shinji and Lucy turn to the venerable Society of Explorers and Adventurers and its ragtag cast of spelunkers, hackers, mapmakers, pilots, and mythology experts (among other things) to return the guardian to its rightful home and release Shinji from its magic—which seems to be draining his life force. Time is ticking, the Hightower Corporation is hot on their tail, and success or failure might depend on one small thing—Shinji finally coming around to the belief that he is anything but ordinary.

Based on the Society of Explorers and Adventurers lore that exist across the Walt Disney Parks, Shinji Takahashi and the Mark of the Coatl is the first book in an all-new action-adventure series that brings S.E.A. into the twenty-first century through a blend of science and magic, and a focus on two young characters on an epic journey through time and place.

About Julie Kagawa:

Julie Kagawa is the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, Talon, and Shadow of the Fox series. She was born in Sacramento, California. But nothing exciting really happened to her there. So, at the age of nine she and her family moved to Hawaii, which she soon discovered was inhabited by large carnivorous insects, colonies of house geckos, and frequent hurricanes. She spent much of her time in the ocean, when she wasn’t getting chased out of it by reef sharks, jellyfish, and the odd eel. She worked as a professional dog trainer for several years, dodging Chihuahua bites and overly enthusiastic Labradors, until her first book sold and she stopped training to write full time. Julie now lives in North Carolina with her husband, two obnoxious cats, and a pair of Australian Shepherds that have more Instagram followers than she does. Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a finished copy of SHINJI TAKAHASHI AND THE MARK OF THE COATL, US Only.