Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Challenges

Ten-Ships-A-Sailing: 10 Books You didn’t Finish

1)The Darkest Minds

Darkest Minds, The (The Darkest Minds series Book 1) by [Alexandra Bracken]

Reason: Triggering content

2)This is Where It Ends

Triggering content

3)Can You See Me?

The portrayal of autism made me want to punch something.

4) The Maze Runner

Didn’t live up to the hype thought it was vulgar when it didn’t need to be.

5) Just Breathe

Too romancy for me. I know you say I’m reading YA but still can’t I have a story about disability without all the romance.

6)Winterkill

The world was engaging but the characters weren’t.

7) Belle Révolte

Triggering content

8) After Zero

Trigging content, but beautiful story on selective mutism for what I was able to read.

9) Verify

I finished it but I felt the plot was kind of all over the place.

10) This is not a Ghost Story

I finished it but the plot of the plot, I’m looking forward to reviewing this.

Image by Youssef Jheir from Pixabay

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Challenges, YARC

Eight Ladies Dancing: 8 Best Female Character

I will warn you in explaining why I like the characters I have to SPOIL THE BOOKS. If you have an issue with that please turn around now they are all great books and great characters again.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1)Jameela Mirza

In Hena Khan’s take on Little Women Jameela is the Jo like character. I particularly like her attitude when it comes to facing challenges. You can see there is a kernel of Jo’s personality in there but Jameela is all her own, Hena Khan as always does a great job working in faith and culture and how important it is to her characters and she did the same with Jameela. I think my favorite thing about Jameela is her interactions with her sisters.

(Jameela is I believe supposed to be pictured in the plaid shirt)

2)Molly Nathans

I like Molly because she is one of the best portrayals of OCD that I’ve read, she’s honest and her rituals mean a lot to her. There is a lot riding on other people not finding out about her rituals. This book is important for teens with OCD, it shows her not being able to keep up with her rituals and her eventual breakdown, it also shows her getting help and being supported by her family, therapists and friends. I think her story is important because there are a lot of teens with OCD who need to read that they aren’t alone.

3)Aventurine

I like Aventurine because she breaks traditions both human and dragon. She sets her own path in life plus her refusal to give up even after being turned down by the two best chocolate houses in town show her fighting spirt. Finally once she get to be family with The Chocolate Heart her fierce protection of it is admirable. Plus who doesn’t support someone whose main interest in life is chocolate?

(Aventurine is pictured on the cover)

4)Mimi Mackson

Do I like heroines obsessed with baking? Maybe, but Mimi is smart she see’s past a spell meant for her, rescues her family, and outsmarts an immortal being. The fact that she’s also an awesome baker, I mean that’s just props to her.

(Mimi is pictured on the front cover)

5)Mia Tang

Mia was strong in the first novel, Front Desk securing the Calavista motel from the corrupt Mr. Yang. But thing novel finds her digging deeper having to help her found family when they are nearly torn apart after a racist law and racist politician come up for Governor, Mia sticks to her values, and makes sure immigrants know they are welcome at the Calavisita and that’s what makes her one of the best female characters I’ve read this year.

6)Edie

I loved Edie journey to understand who she is and where she fits. She’s strong and even though she doesn’t understand exactly what is missing at the beginning of the book she still knows there is something about herself she can’t define. Once she finds out about her grandmother, she has questions for her family and who how she fits in. But she doesn’t back down, when she finally learns the truth about her family past she deals with tragic past in her own way and finds take in that past and blend it with family present to make a brighter future. She’s one of the most complex and well written characters I read this year so there was no question she’d make the list.

(Edie is pictured on the cover)

7)Lizzy Sherman

Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl by [Susan Lubner]

Lizzy may not make the best decisions, going into an abandoned house, having a girl live in her closet, but she has a good heart, at first she just wants the best for her mom and baby sibling, and eventually she wants the best for the girl she helps rescue too. She’s got a big heart even if she isn’t always thinking about her choices in advance and that’s why she makes the list.

(Lizzy is supposed to be up in the window playing with the cat)

8)Clover Martinez

The Last 8 by [Laura Pohl]

Clover Martinez’s literal refusal to give up even when she thinks she’s the last person on earth, and her shaping the Area 51 group into a real team both show her leadship skill, her general awesomeness and refusal to give up also she goes one on one with an alien plane it’s super awesome, just like her.

Come back tomorrow to see who we picked out for 9 Lords a Leaping!

Image by Amarpreet Singh from Pixabay

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Author Recommendations, Recommendations

Seven-Swans a Swimming: 7 Books You Dove Right Into Reading

1)Seafire

Short Summary:

Female pirates being AWESOME.

Real Summary

Okay for real, it is female pirates being awesome but its so much more. After Caledonia Styx and her best friend, Pisces are the only survivors on a raid on their ship where their families are killed and their brothers are kidnapped by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets.  They set their minds for revenge. 

Four years later the two have set up a new ship from the ashes of the old one, Caledonia captains the ship while Pisces is second in command. The two have built a crew of women who have also been personally affected by Aric Athair in one way or another. Either losing their families, homes or being former members of his army.

On their ship the Mors Navis, the crew tries to stay alive and take out the Aric’s fleet when they can. But when one attempt to attack some of the vessels in the fleet that make an addictive compound called Silt goes south, Caledonia nearly loses Pises, were it not for the help of a Bullet looking to defect.

Caledonia finds herself at a crossroads, the last time she trusted a Bullet she nearly lost everything but this man may have valuable intelligence that could help the crew of the Mors Navis finally gain an upper hand against Aric.

But Bullets aren’t supposed to be able to come back from being mindless members of Arics army? Are they? If he joins the crew will it break the bonds that Caledonia and the women of the Mors Navis have spent four hard years trying to build?

Why I Dove Right In:

Is it ironic to say I dove right into a book about pirates? I couldn’t help it, the crew was feminist and awesome in so many way, the girls were diverse, even the Oran, the one Caledonia wants to cast in the role of the villian is multi-faceted.

2) Steeltide

Summary

Caledonia finds herself separated from her crew after nearly choosing to face an old foe, instead of running to safety with her crew. After nearly dying, Caledonia is pulled out of the sea barely alive and nursed back to health by the last people she’d expect. A crew of former Bullets who call themselves the Blades.

The Blades escaped Aric Athair’s clutches and are now nomadic, ready to leave when any sign of trouble comes their way. Caledonia herself represents trouble, and some of the Blades particularly one named Pine don’t like that.

But Caledonia makes some friends among the Blades, including Sledge and Triple, each of the Blades have given themselves their own names and prides themselves on having a sense of choice.

But when Caledonia finds out her crew is being held at the infamous Slipmark, she must convince the Blades to jump back into the fight and help rescue her beloved sisters.

Along the way, Caledonia finds out more about life in the Bullet army and just what all is under Aric Athair’s control. She senses a way to start a revolution if she can convince everyone to want to fight.

But the battle for the world of the Bullet Sea maybe even more surprising than Calendonia expected when an old enemy shows up with the last person she’d expect: her brother.

Why I Dove Right In:

This series certainly didn’t suffer from second book syndrome and added a whole new cast of interesting characters you just couldn’t help wanting to get to know, the Blades were especially interesting, but so were Caledonia’s interactions with her sisters.

3) Before I Let Go

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_0093.jpg

Summary

Corey and Kyra were inseparable best friend in their tiny town of Lost Creek, Alaska. Corey was always the first one to stand up to support Kyra as she dealt with the struggles that came with her bipolar disorder. But as things get serious with Kyra’s disorder, Corey’s family moves away.

Corey makes Kyra promise to wait for and stay strong during the long dark winter. But just days before Corey comes to visit Kyra dies. Corey is understandably devastated and also confused because Kyra never seemed suicidal.

So Corey comes back to Lost Creek to mourn and try to find out what happened. But Lost Creek isn’t like she remembers. Especially in how they feel about Kyra. The town used to shun her because of her condition now they speak of her reverently, like a prophet and say her death was meant to be be, and push Corey away like a stranger.

The more Corey investigates, and the more Corey asks questions about Kyra and gets stonewalled by the town, the more she is lead to believe that Kyra’s death wasn’t an suicide or an accident, but murder.

But Lost wants to keep its secrets, can Corey learn the truth about Kyra’s death and survive her visit?

Why I Dove Right In:

I love a good mystery, combine that with an ace lead and several other LGBTQIA cast members, you had me hooked right there.

4)Stritch Scratch

Summary

Claire’s father does ghost tours of Chicago, and she wants absolutely nothing to do with them. She’s a scientist and the stuff her dad talks about is just paranormal foolishness, right?

But one night she gets stuck helping her dad with a tour and some of the stuff he’s talking about starts to seem a little too real, she’s ready for the tour to be over and she thinks she’s made it through especially when she see a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus, there is something off about him, especially since at the end of the tour, he’s just gone.

Claire tries to think nothing of it at first, she must be imagining things, letting ghost stories she heard on the tour get the best of her, but then the scratching starts, then the whispers in the dark, the number 396 appearing everywhere she turns, and the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.

Claire realizes she’s being haunted and she’s got to find out what the boy from the bus wants before it’s too late.

Why I Dove Right In:

Because it was creepy, nothing has really scared me since Dead Voices by Katherine Arden until this and I love me some creepy stories, so that’s why I dove right into this book.

5) Contagion

Summary

A crew of misfits is sent to check out a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, Achlys. They aren’t the most qualified but they are the closest and all have personal issues that could get them in danger on an already dangerous mission. They are all aboard a ship called The Odyessy and hope to get this work done as fast as they can so they can get back to their normal lives.

They are supposed to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission for Black Quarry, the ship that was having trouble, but it turns out to be anything but when they uncover the remains, both literal and figurative, of a project gone wrong.

They find dead bodies with mysterious symptoms, but it may be too late to stop themselves from getting exposed to this contagion. Is anyone safe from this mysterious contagion, and if they are, what does that make them?

Why I Dove Right In:

You may be saying why did I dive right into to a contagious disease book during the height of the pandemic. I can’t explain it to you. I found it calming.

6)

Immunity (Contagion)

TW: Torture

Summary

Thea, Coen and Nova thought they were out of all the danger when they escaped the tidally locked planet Achlys. After all they managed to survive a planet overrun with a virus that got the rest of their crew. But now where they should be safe they find themselves imprisoned on the UPC Paramount.

A rebel group called the Radicals who want freedom from the larger political Union plans to use Thea and Coen as weapons to make supersoldiers. They don’t care they are putting the entire galaxy at risk to do it.

Meanwhile, as Nova wakes up from a coma that was caused by the Radicals a new ally Amber begins to shift to their side, but soon tough choices will have to be made.

Thea, Coen, and Nova don’t know it yet, but there are also larger forces at work, forces that will do anything to make sure Thea is safe, but will it be enough to stop the Radicals?

To stop the Radicals they will have to use the only weapons they have left: themselves.

Why I Dove Right In:

I think for the same reason as above also I got to see the characters get better which was something powerful.

7) The Darkdeep

The Darkdeep by [Ally Condie, Brendan Reichs]

Summary

Timbers is a small Washington State town with not much going on, or so it seems. The only exciting place in Timbers is Still Cove, the off limits place where the mythical creepy Beast lives. The cove is also home to other terrifying legends that no one wants to find out the truth about.

Except Nico Holland doesn’t get a choice, when popular kids send his drone over a cliff, and he ends up accidentally following, his friends Emma and Tyler rush to his rescue, even Opal Walsh who usually runs with the popular kids feels bad about the bullying and runs back to help only to find Nico in this strange situation.

The four soon rescue Nico from the cove’s icy waters and discover a mysterious island hiding in the murky, swirling mists below. Though it appears they are by themselves, something about the island isn’t exactly right.

The group is more suspicious about the island when they find an abandoned houseboat filled with all sorts of abandoned things from old weapons and maps, to mysterious things in jars. But the basement of the boat holds the darkest secret of all.

A pool that can bring to life their imaginings, but there is a price for using it not only can it detect their wishes but it can detect their fears, and before its over they will have to face down their darkest fears to put the ancient evil back in its place.

They will come face to face with unlikely allies to fulfill an ancient promise, but will that be enough to stop the mysterious monsters which are becoming stronger every time they face them.

Will friendship, and ancient magic and belief in themselves be enough to save the town they love?

Why I Dove Right In:

This whole series could literally be on this list, but there is a lot of magic and mystery and danger, which drew me in very quickly.

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Author Recommendations

Six Geese-a-Laying: 6 books with the best endings.

I’m going to put forward the fact that a lot of these books are good because they are cliffhangers. But some are good for different reasons because they are sweet or the problem gets resolved, I’ll explain why I like the ending with each one. So I will be spoiling endings as such SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

1)Greystone Secrets #2: The Deceivers

Greystone Secrets #2: The Deceivers by [Margaret Peterson Haddix]

Summary

This book is a mystery that will keep you guessing till the very end. After the first book, which I reviewed here both the Greystone kids and Natalie’s moms are trapped in the alternate world.

Everything in the other world is different, like a mirror image only darker, Evil. When their mother tried to fix an accidental kidnapping of kids with the same life details as the Greystone kids, a mix up that was caused by their mother trying to keep them safe. Their mother got trapped along with an ally, and Ms. Morales, Natalie’s mom.

Now the four kids must use all their skills from bravery to kindness to rescue everyone. But to pull of the rescue they have to go back to a world where telling the truth can be illegal and everything is done in code. Chess worries he’s not brave enough to face this other world and Emma wonders if she can crack the codes she needs to get them through this mess, and Finn, well he’s not sure if he can pretend to be okay.

As for Natalie it feels like they jumped to the past not another universe and the world contains some lies she wishes were true, but when faced with the truth will she know what to believe. The second book in this series doesn’t disappoint with the mysteries and the codes.

And examines the power of truth to twist the world.

Why I Liked the Ending:

Okay I need the third book right now. I love the ending because it was a great cliffhanger. You didn’t know who was evil until the end and secrets that were kept in the first book came to light and the fact that they are going back totally rocks! Can’t wait to read number 3!

Amazon:The Greystone Secrets: The Deceivers

2)The Science of Breakable Things

Science of Breakable Things Wednesday

Summary

Natalie’s mother is suffering from depression, and Natalie is suffering too because she doesn’t know how to fix her mom. She has ideas as to why all of this has happened. Her mom is (was) a botanist and got fired, sending her into her depressive state.

Natalie is angry at her dad for trying to pretend everything is okay, and even though she doesn’t want to admit it, she’s angry at her mom, because she feels like she wasn’t good enough, and that if her mom loved her she wouldn’t be depressed.

All this is set against the backdrop of Natalie’s seventh-grade science class. Natalie’s science teacher wants them to find a research question. When Natalie struggles he suggests that she enter an egg drop competition. Natalie is reluctant at first but realizes there is prize money attached and that this might be the solution to fix her mom.

Her mom’s botany work focused on miraculous Cobalt Blue Orchids–flowers that survive against impossible odds. The one they had at their house has died and Natalie is sure seeing the flowers will inspire her mom to want to be an active part of life again.

Natalie’s friend Twig is the first to sign onto the team, soon called Operation Egg, along with a new boy from India named Dari. With their help Natalie might just have a chance of winning the contest and helping her mom, but what happens when things fall apart like broken eggs?

Having friends around to pick up the piece help Natalie learns that talking about things can start her on a journey of healing and that with help. Her family might never put the pieces back the same way, but that they might slowly but surely begin to heal with or without the Cobalt Blue Orchid.

Why I Liked the Ending:

Natalie has been dancing around her mothers depression the whole book, she can’t get a straight answer from her dad. Even though her hunt for the rare flower was really a hunt to get her mom back she got to finally talk to her mom about her mental health in the end and the two managed to regain a bit of a connection.

3)Skyhunter

Skyhunter by [Marie Lu]

Summary

The central character is Talin, who is a refugee from another nation, she’s also a Striker. A member of an elite force of fighters. They are the last defense for the only nation that has managed to stay free from the the Federation: Mara.

Talin might not be exactly welcome in Mara but she knows first hand to horrors of the Federation, they are a war machine with technology way beyond anything the other nations have, they leave nation after nation at their feet and are the architects of a terrifying army of mutant beast known only as Ghosts.

But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there is more to him than he’s letting on. He may be a spy, but she thinks he’s something else and is willing to go toe to toe with her fellow Strikers about it.

But only one thing is clear the Federation is coming for a fight, and Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers. But will this new prisoner be the key in saving them all? Or destroying them?

Why I Liked the Ending:

Another cliffhanger that left me literally googling the release date for the next book the minute I finished spoiler alert it’s still like 10 months away. But seriously the cliffhanger was killer, killer.

4)Three Keys

Summary

Mia thinks she’s going to have the best year ever. She and her parents are finally out from under the thumb of the controlling Mr. Yao and get to run the Calivista Motel the way they see fit, which includes helping out immigrants.

She also gets to run the front desk with her best friend Lupe, and she’s finally getting somewhere with her writing. But sixth grade it turns out isn’t exactly what she expected. It’s an election year and her teacher openly supports the anti-immigrant candidate who is running to the point she asks them to write about things like why immigration is bad.

Plus the teacher doesn’t think her writing is all that great, and unlike her teacher last year she finds herself receiving Cs instead of the As she thinks she rightly deserves.

But school isn’t Mia’s only problem, she’s a businesswoman too and the motel is struggling, in part because they are helping immigrants. The investors are threatening to pull back and sell their shares if Mia doesn’t do something, but Mia doesn’t want to give up on her values.

Especially with a new immigration law that is looming that if it passes will threaten the everything and everyone in Mia’s life.

5) Measuring Up

Summary

Twelve year old Cici loved her life back in Taiwan, especially the time she spent with her grandmother, or A-má. But when her family moves to Seattle so she can have better opportunities she has to leave her grandmother and friend behind.

It’s difficult and she has the usual problems fitting in at school, she quickly makes friends. Though she’s not sure how much of her Taiwanese life to show them.

Now she only needs one thing to make her happy being with her A-má on her seventieth birthday. It doesn’t seem possible. It’s too much money for them all to visit her, but Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There is just one problem Cici only knows how to cook the Taiwanese food she learned with her grandmother.

But after her pickled cucumber is mocked at lunch she is determinted to learn to cook the American way by channeling her inner Juila Child? Through cooking can Cici find a winning recipe to reunite A-má, while also showing both sides of her new self.

This is Lily LaMotte’s debut graphic novel.

Illustrator An Xu an Ignatz-nominated cartoonist and illustrator working in Baltimore. 

Why I Liked the Ending:

Because it showed the importance of not giving up, I also loved seeing the friendship between the two girls and the mixing of the cultures.

6) The Henna Wars

The Henna Wars by [Adiba Jaigirdar]

TW: Being Outed

Nishat was ready to come out to her family, or so she though, she wasn’t ready however for being iced out, being barely spoken to or being spoken about. She want to keep her family but she doesn’t want to hide who she is, and if the thought things were a problem when she was a lesbian theoretically. When childhood best friend Flávia walks back into her life and her school she falls for her instantly.

But things seem to get all tangled up, especially when Flávia and Nishat both decide to compete to showcase their talents as henna artists in a school competition to make your own business. Nishat calls cultural appropriation, Flávia doesn’t buy it. It doesn’t help that Flávia cousin is Nishat’s arch rival who has made fun of her for years.

But even as they claim to hate each other they can’t seem to break their connection. And when someone outs Nishat and Flávia each must make their own choices about whether their potential relationship will work out or whether they will let things fade to rumors.

Will Nishat go back in the closet to please her family, will Flávia fight for the girl she likes?

Why I Liked the Ending:

Cute ending where the girl gets the girl and her family is supportive, come on you all, this had to make the list.

Amazon: The Henna Wars

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Author Recommendations, Recommendations

Five golden rings: 5 Books You Didn’t Get A Chance To Read

Your TBR got away from you, but there were a couple of books you wish you could have added to your read list before the end of the year. For me a lot of these were due to not having access to my regular library due to COVID, but I’ll find some way to get to them in the next year!

1) Miss Meteor

Miss Meteor by [Tehlor Kay Mejia, Anna-Marie McLemore]

I know people are going to make comparisons to Dumplin for this but I think it’s going to have it own different charm. This is another book that I’ve been waiting to come out since I heard about it on Twitter as well. It’s also a collaboration between two previously successful YA authors.

Two girls are looking to break the mold for the Miss Meteor beauty pageant, after all no one who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla has won in it’s entire history.

But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest and her ex-best friend Chicky want to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect it’s about being genuine and sharing who you are with the world-and being comfortable with parts of yourself no one else understands.

But to pull off this unlikely underdog story, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and prove that girls like them are more than enough, they are everything.

Amazon: Miss Meteor

2) Cleo Porter and the Body Electric

Cleo Porter and the Body Electric is especially timely considering the COVID-19 pandemic. In the book, humanity was almost wiped out by a pandemic. The solution, everyone lives in sealed units with no windows or doors, their food is dropped off by drones. They never get visitors. But they are safe. Safe from everything.

The trade off? They’re alone. So when they get a package clearly meant for someone else, a package that contains a substance critical for the strangers survival.

Cleo has a dilemma on her hands. As a surgeon in training she knows the clock is ticking on this woman’s survival. But people don’t leave their unit. Not ever

Until now.

Amazon: Cleo Porter and the Body Electric

3) A Place at the Table 

There is a cute sub-genre of middle grade fiction that I like to call cute food fiction. Think of Summer of 1000 Pies, Midsummer Mayhem, books where food is the focus and the plot happens around it. I always find them to be especially cute, and I think this one will fall onto the list.

Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth couldn’t be more different. Sara is Pakistani American and used to her small Islamic school, only this year she’s attending a newer bigger school. Elizabeth has her own problems, who is white and Jewish, has her own problems, like her mom struggling with depression.

The girls meet in an after school South Asian cooking class Elizabeth picked up the class because her mother stopped cooking. Sara is only there because she has to be, after all her mom is the teacher, but Sara hates to cook.

The two girls slowly become friends and come up with a plan to make an amazing cross cultural dish together, that will win them a spot on a local food show. The question is, they make good cooking partners, but can they be true friends?

Amazon: A Place at the Table

4) Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch

I’ve been waiting for this book to come out since the beginning of the year. For one thing it looks cute as heck, and for two the young witch reminds me of myself.

Eva Evergreen is determined to earn the rank of novice witch before her thirteenth birthday. If she doesn’t she’ll lose her magic forever. For most witches and wizards it’s a simple enough test. It has three steps.

One: Help your town, do good all around.
Two: Live there for one moon, don’t leave too soon.
Three: Fly home by broomstick, the easiest of tricks.

Eva has a problem though, she’s not exactly as magical as she would like and when her magic does work, it’s not always in the way she plans. She summons heads of cabbage instead of flowers, and gets sunburn instead of calling down rain. The worst of it, when she uses too much magic she falls asleep.

When she lands in the tranquil coastal town of Auteri, she’s not what the residents are expecting. But she’s determined to prove herself. So she sets up a magical repair shop to aid the citizens of the town, she may only be semi-magical but her fixes help the townspeople in ways they could have never imagined.

The only problem is Eva’s bit of magic might not be enough when the biggest magical storm in history threatens the town she’s grown to love. She must use all her magic, bravery and cleverness, if she wants to have any chance at saving Auteri or becoming a witch.

Amazon: Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch

5) Quintessence

The plot focuses on twelve year old Alma who recently moved to the town of Four Points, since being there she’s been having panic attacks that haven’t stopped. Even though she’s told her parents they have, feeling homesick and friendless, every day she feels less and less like herself.

But things change when she finds a telescope in the town’s junk shop and Alma watches a star that looks like a child fall from the sky an into her backyard. Knowing what it’s like to be lost and afraid, she knows it’s up to her to save the star. But she’ll have to enlist some new friends from the Astronomy Club.

As Alma finds a way home for the star she sets out on a quest that will take a some science, magic and her whole heart.

Amazon: Quintessence

Come back tomorrow for our day about fantastic endings!

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Uncategorized

Four calling birds: Shoutout to 4 people/organizations you respect as bloggers

1 ) @CaitGAuthor

I admire Cait because she shows you can be both a Spoonie an an author. She is an Autistic/disabled author, plus-sign plus the Editor of @SpoonieAuthNet, host of #SpoonieAuthChat, co-editor of the award-nominated @NWUAnthology

You can also find her at caitgordon.com

2) The Quiet Pond

CW ran one of my favorite challenges this year, Pondathon. I love the style of their blog and really admire them as a blogger. You can find The Quiet Pond here and on Twitter at @thequietpond.

3) Middle Grade Carousel

Middle Grade Carousel

Another Middle Grade book resource they basically put out bingo style cards that you can follow along with with your books and have a fun challenge. They also put up cool new middle grade books and other resources. You can find them. At Middle Grade Carousel or on Twitter at @kindeladies.

4)Middle Grade Book Village

MG Book Village

Not only do they keep a running list of the release dates of Middle Grade Books coming out, they also have a book club and a podcast as well as their own blog. They are a great resource and a lot of help for this blog, so I really appreciate and admire everything they do. You can find them here at Middle Grade Book Village or their book club on Twitter as @MGatheart

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Author Recommendations

Three French Hens: Your Favorite Trilogy

This one was a little tough and I had to make an exception to the rule of everything being published in 2020. But in the end the clear winner was The Witch Boy Series.

This is the first thing I reviewed for the blog so except some really basic content when you read the first review, the later reviews are a bit better. You can find them below:

The Witch Boy

The Hidden Witch

The Midwinter Witch

In short the reason I like the series so much is Aster defies gender norms and that makes him the hero. I also love Aster’s friends who also don’t let gender norms or their past get to them. This series is I think about forging your own path and it’s beautiful and great and queer and that’s why it’s so important.

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Author Recommendations, Reviews, YARC

Two Turtledoves: Your favorite pair

My favorite pair was Red and Talin from Skyhunter. Of course some of her fellow Strikers were great pairs too so they get an honorable mention. For those of you who haven’t read Skyhunter,

Skyhunter

Skyhunter by [Marie Lu]

So I’ve never been able to get interested in any of Marie Lu’s other books. Nothing against her the plots just never spoke to me. Skyhunter made up for it.

Summary

The central character is Talin, who is a refugee from another nation, she’s also a Striker. A member of an elite force of fighters. They are the last defense for the only nation that has managed to stay free from the the Federation: Mara.

Talin might not be exactly welcome in Mara but she knows first hand to horrors of the Federation, they are a war machine with technology way beyond anything the other nations have, they leave nation after nation at their feet and are the architects of a terrifying army of mutant beast known only as Ghosts.

But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there is more to him than he’s letting on. He may be a spy, but she thinks he’s something else and is willing to go toe to toe with her fellow Strikers about it.

But only one thing is clear the Federation is coming for a fight, and Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers. But will this new prisoner be the key in saving them all? Or destroying them?

Review

So I’ve found that a lot of authors in general have a hard time writing male leads I actually give a damn about. I give a damn about what happens to the male lead here. She also does a great job with the men in Talin’s Striker group. Really Lu makes sure I care about everyone. And when it’s time to hate people, and believe me there is plenty to go around she make it so I hate who I’m supposed to, but I have complex emotions about everyone and that’s just really good writing.

I really like a lot of the characters in the book especially Talin’s mother. How the issue of PTSD is dealt with is masterful as well.

To give the book anything less than 5 stars would be a crime, sequel now please.

The sequel is due out September 28th 2021.

Amazon: Skyhunter

Image by Rothart from Pixabay

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Author Recommendations

A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Favorite Stand Alone Book

Now I waffled over this how could I pick one single book as my favorite, there were lots to love and lots I wanted to spend more time in. It literally almost a coin toss between the final two, but in the end Niki Smith’s The Dark and Deep Blue won out! I just loved the way the magic system was used, and except for during some parts of the book, I’d love to be there to try it for myself. For those who don’t know the story or haven’t heard of the title, here is my review.

Below are spoilers for the book

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Synopsis

Twins Hawke and Grayson are part of a noble house, their grandfather is about to name their cousin the new head of the house. When a political coup happens and another family member takes over, the two boys have to flee.

The hide where no one would expect them, in an order of women, called the Communion of the Blue an order of magical women. Within the Communion, they are Grayce and Hanna, but while Grayce seems to take to the order like a fish to water, Hanna has a hard time. Grayce has never been comfortable being seen as a boy, and being in the Communion of the Blue feels like coming home for her. She learns how to spin the magical blue wool that controls the different elements in their world and finally finds her place.

Meanwhile, Hawke is having a tough time settling in, he meets an old friend who recognizes him from when they were children. She notes he needs to shave if he wants to keep up his disguise and she informs him that the family member who is responsible for the coup is coming for a blessing from the Communion of the Blue. Before they are officially made head of the noble house.

The twins know that the family member is really after a magical tapestry which shows the real heir of each noble house. The Communion of the Blue has a copy of the tapestry burned during the coup. Through this tapestry, they learned their cousin may be alive and hatch a rescue to take back their house and their family. Grayce though is reluctant to go back.

Their friend from childhood points out that Hawke hasn’t realized the change in Grayce, how she’s finally happy with who she is, the way she never was back when she was thought of as a boy.

Hawke apologizes to Grayce, and Grayce despite her reluctance goes with Hawke to help him find their cousin and help him take back his place as heir. But things are more complicated as they seem, and the Communion of the Blue may be involved.

When it comes down to proving who is the rightful heir before their relative is crowned, Grayce’s new skills she learned in the Communion of the Blue will prove to be the key to saving everything.

Review:

Literally so SWEET. The Communion of the Blue is where Grayce flourishes and the way it was described made me want to join. A sisterhood of magical women dying and spinning yarn that can cause magic in the world. Sign me up! But I think my favorite thing is the fact that Sister Marta the leader of the order is accepting of Grayce even after she is outed as being born male. The magical tapestry even changes to reflect who Grayce truly is, its so wonderful.

Five Favorite Things:

Sister Marta provides a great representation of a woman of color in power. In fact, the sisters of the Communion of the Blue are very diverse and Grayce and Hawke’s friend from childhood is also a person of color.
Grayce’s whole character. She’s so genuine.
The information about what the Communion of the Blue does, I love a well explained magical system.
The magical tapestry acknowledging Grayce’s gender.
The fact that Grayce gets to be the hero at one point.

Amazon: The Dark and Deep Blue

Image by Antonios Ntoumas from Pixabay

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Challenges

12 Days of Christmas Challenge

It’s that time of the year where we wrap up the year, do our last challenges, push for our goals. It that spirit I’m doing the same challenge I made up last year. I’d going off the song the 12 Day of Christmas, and though there are some arguments about when the 12 Days of Christmas are, my challenge will run from December 12th through December 24th. I’m being a bit more generous since I read a lot of backlog, these can be either books you read in 2020 or books that came out in 2020.

The challenges are:

A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Favorite Stand Alone Book

Two Turtledoves: Your favorite pair (doesn’t have to be a couple).

Three French Hens: your favorite trilogy/or friend group or three etc.

Four calling birds: Shoutout to 4 people you respect as bloggers/who are in your circle and want to thank

Five golden rings: 5 Books You Didn’t Get A Chance To Read

Six Geese-a-Laying: 6 books from 2020 with the best endings.

Seven-Swans a Swimming: 7 Books You Dove Right Into Reading

Eight Ladies Dancing: 8 Best Female/Non Binary Characters

Nine Lords a leaping:9 Best Male or Non Binary Characters

Ten-Ships-A-Sailing: 10 Books You didn’t Finish (If you finish all your books do your lowest rated)

Eleven-Pipers-Piping: 11 Best Side Characters that outshone the MC.

Twelve-Bells-a-Ringing-Your 12 Best Reads of 2020.

Please link your posts for this challenge back to this post so I can read and comment on them!

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay