Tag Archives: YA novels

Just City by Olga Tymofiyeva Review 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In an effort to gain the funds to help build a new startup with his friend, a young man will discover the unjust nature of life in another’s shoes through a realistic virtual reality game and begin a journey of morality that could drive apart his friendship forever in author Olga Tymofiyeva’s “Just City”.

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The Synopsis

Just City is a story of 21-year-old Nathan who dreams about creating a cool start-up with his friend Jack. To get money for the start-up Nathan starts playing a virtual reality game as part of a scientific experiment. The game forces Nathan to discover what it is like to be in the skin of somebody else, for whom the cards have been dealt differently. The depressing experiences of playing the game make Nathan question his belief in meritocracy and pick a fight with Jack. What is just and what do we really deserve? This is only the beginning of Nathan’s search for a new life credo that will have both love and reason at its core.

The Review

The author did such a stupendous job of crafting a YA read that felt both entertaining and enlightening all at once. The thought-provoking themes of social status and what it means to be human are quite profound throughout the novel and keep the reader invested in the narrative as the line between reality and virtual reality blur for the characters.

Bookbaby.com helping independents – whether authors, publishers, musicians, filmmakers, or small businesses – bring their creative efforts to the marketplace.

To me, the heart of this story rests in the loaded character development the author brings to life in the narrative. The evolution of Nathan’s journey was remarkable to see, as he begins as a pretty ignorant and closed-off-minded individual but through the events of the novel he finds his world opening up far greater thanks to this virtual world. The tension that stems from his friendship with Jack and the others in his group as he befriends others who share his new views were profound, and yet it was his bond with his grandmother who kept him grounded and gave him a great philosophical inner monologue throughout the novel that made his story so moving and engaging.

The Verdict

Hauntingly beautiful, entertaining, yet thought-provoking in its delivery, author Olga Tymofiyeva’s “Just City” is a must-read YA novel! The heart and passion for which the author wrote this book seeped their way into every chapter, and the profoundly moving themes elevated this narrative to new heights as each twist and turn in the plot kept the reader on the edge of their seat. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Olga Tymofiyeva, PhD, was born in 1981 in Kyiv, Ukraine. After having lived in Ukraine and Germany, she now lives in the US and works as an Associate Professor of Neuroimaging at the University of California in San Francisco. Just City is Olga’s first fiction book, which reflects her passion for science and critical thinking.

https://www.olga-tymofiyeva.com/

SPECIAL PLEDGE AND GOAL FROM THE AUTHOR

I’m writing this in August of 2022, as my home country is under a brutal, inhumane, and unjustified attack by Russia.

I pledge that as soon as the royalties from this book reach $5,000, this money will be donated to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Thank you for making your contribution to this goal.

If you’d like to make a direct donation, you can do it here:

https://bank.gov.ua/en/news/all/natsionalniy-bank-vidkriv-spetsrahunok-dlya-zboru-koshtiv-na-potrebi-armiyi

My Totem Came Calling by Blessing Musariri and Thorsten Nesch Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A teenage girl who begins to suffer from memory lapses and glimpses of a zebra that seemingly doesn’t exist journeys away from the city life she knows and seeks answers from her ancestral home and the grandmother who is more mysterious than she could have ever known in authors Blessing Musariri and Thorsten Nesch’s “My Totem Came Calling”.

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The Synopsis

Chanda is a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl in Harare, Zimbabwe, who suddenly starts suffering from memory lapses, which become even more worrisome when she starts seeing a zebra in all sorts of places. The trouble is, nobody else can see it. Afraid of being institutionalized in a hospital, she follows the advice of an old aunt and sets off for her ancestral village, a primitive settlement with none of the amenities she is used to in the city. But there she meets the rest of her family, including her strange and mysterious grandmother, and learns the hard way who she really is—not a superficial, rich city girl with foreign habits but someone who is somebody, whose name carries a history of her African people.

The Review

This was such a brilliant and captivating read. The authors did a remarkable job of blending YA drama with a unique perspective of culture and mythology that kept the reader invested. Diving into strong themes of cultural clashes between Western religions and Old World belief systems, as well as the idea of honoring those who came before us and discovering our own voices and identities was strongly felt in this narrative. The powerful imagery and equally strong atmosphere help to drive the classic story of the hero’s journey meets a coming-of-age novel.

The focal point of the narrative has to be in the balance of character growth and culture that the authors infused into the story. The way Chanda begins to grow and evolve throughout the novel as she connects with this other side of her background and history and the way the authors explore both teenage life in Zimbabwe and the impact of the spiritual world on those who practice the old ways made this story feel alive on the page.

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and mind-blowing, authors Blessing Musariri and Thorsten Nesch’s “My Totem Came Calling” is a wonderful blend of YA drama that meets African culture and mythology. The evolution of the protagonist and the rich narrative that stems from this unique and vivid setting will keep the reader invested in this vibrant world, and the thrilling conclusion will keep readers hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Blessing Musariri has published four children’s titles, two of which have won national awards. She writes short stories and poems, which have been published in various international anthologies and magazines. Some of her short stories were published in South African English textbooks for high schools, and have been translated for online magazines. She holds a Masters degree in Diplomatic Studies (with distinction) from the University of Westminster. She lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.

https://www.instagram.com/blessingmusariri/

Thorsten Nesch is an award winning German YA author. His first novel was nominated for Best German Debut. He has attended 1,500 readings at schools and in bookstores across Europe, and been on two tours on cruise ships. In 2017 he wrote and directed Derailed, a feature movie based on his novel. He lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, with his wife and children.

http://thorstennesch.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07X6N8YM4/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F44334116-my-totem-came-calling%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3D4aZYkj63XU%26rank%3D1&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Guest Blog Post: The best writing/life advice by K.E. Bonner

Preop is a hive of activity at 6:45am. Metal charts clink, heart monitors beep, and a mingled aroma of betadine, hand sanitizer, and rubbing alcohol wafts through the air. Nurses, aides, mid-levels, and doctors side-step one another as they check orders, see patients, and sign consents. 

“Hi, I’m Karen, and I’ll be your anesthetist this morning,” I say as I enter the preop bay. An elderly man is lying on a stretcher. He answers my questions and I turn back to the chart to double check his paperwork. 

“Young lady,” he rasps, and reaches out his liver-spotted hand out.  I take it. Wrinkles crisscross his face like a cracked desert landscape. “I need to tell you something.” 

After a long career in healthcare, I’ve learned to listen to my patients. Our eyes lock and he squeezes my hand.  

“You will never be able to accomplish everything that you want to accomplish without a life of sobriety.” An impulse flickered between us, an undeniable shared action potential. 

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“Okay,” I nod, taken aback. Why would he say this to me? Did I look like a heavy drinker? 

His matter-of-fact way of speaking stayed with me. There was no possible way that this man knew that I was struggling to accomplish my goals.  At that point I’d been writing, editing, and re-writing my first novel, not to mention that I was working long shifts at the hospital, raising two young children, and struggling to keep my marriage and our finances together. I wasn’t a heavy drinker, a few glasses of wine over dinner to unwind after a long day. What did he see in me that compelled him to speak his truth? I chewed on his words but wasn’t ready to quit drinking, yet.

One Sunday morning I lay in bed with a large bottle of Gator-aide praying for the nausea and pounding headache to recede. It was my day to write, and I could barely lift my head from the pillow. This hangover is a waste of my time, I fumed. I thought about my adoptive mother, and how she steadily drank herself into dementia. I spent most of that day on the couch lamenting the loss of the most precious thing that I possessed: time. I couldn’t write while I was drinking, and my hangover rendered me completely useless. This was the beginning of me developing a distaste for alcohol. 

Clarity followed sobriety. My energy skyrocketed, I was writing more consistently, and better. I reasoned that I’d unknowingly been in a constant state of dehydration. My scale started a downward trend as I began to exercise, which increased oxygenation to my brain, and increased my energy even more. I began to see how much time I had wasted by drinking, and to understand that I had been self-medicating with wine. 

Most people are not ready to hear my patient’s words, and in truth, it took me ten years to process and act on them. These days I drink half a glass of wine on special occasions, but I write every day. Time is precious and limited, make every effort to use your to the fullest.

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About the Author

K. E. Bonner, author of Witching Moon,was always the first kid to sit down during a spelling bee. It wasn’t until she was an adult that she was diagnosed with dyslexia, which explained why she always had to study three times harder than her peers. Being dyslexic taught her perseverance and kindness, her two favorite attributes. She lives in Georgia with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. When not writing, she loves to read, swim, explore new places, and meet fascinating people. If you have a dog, she would love to scratch behind its ears and tell it what a good pup it is.

Learn more about K.E. Bonner on her website or follow her on Instagram @kebonnerwrites. 

You can purchase a copy of Witching Moon on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add Witching Moon to your Goodreads reading list.

Blog Tour Calendar

December 19th @ The Muffin
Join WOW as we celebrate the launch of K.E. Bonner’s blog tour of Witching Moon. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book!
https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com


December 20th @ Mindy McGinnis’s blog
Stop by Mindy’s blog to read “Release the Idea of Getting Rich or Published and Focus on Your Craft.” by K.E. Bonner
https://www.mindymcginnis.com/blog

December 20th @ Rockin’ Book Reviews

Join us as Lu Ann reviews Witching Moon.

http://www.rockinbookreviews.com

December 21st @ All the Ups and Downs

Join Heather as she spotlights Witching Moon. Enter to win a copy of the book!

https://alltheupsandowns.blogspot.com/


December 23rd @ Michelle Cornish’s blog
Visit Michelle’s blog to read her review of Witching Moon.
https://www.michellecornishauthor.com/blog

December 24th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra as she features a spotlight of Witching Moon.
https://www.astorybookworld.com/

December 27th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews blog
Join Lisa for an interview with K.E. Bonner.
https://lisahaselton.com/blog/


December 28th @ Author Anthony Avina’s blog
Join us today for author Anthony Avina’s review of Witching Moon.
http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 30th @ Author Anthony Avina’s blog
Revisit author Anthony Avina’s blog to read “The Best Writing Advice I Received” by K.E. Bonner. 
http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com


January 4th @ Bev Baird’s blog
Join us on Bev’s blog as she reviews Witching Moon.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

January 5th @ The Knotty Needle
Stop by for Judy’s review of Witching Moon.
http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

January 6th @ Bev Baird’s blog
Meet us back at Bev’s blog for “Ideas are Everywhere” a guest post by K.E. Bonner.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com


January 6th @ Look to the Western Sky
Join Margo as she reviews Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner.
https://margoldill.com/

January 7th @ Chapter Break

Visit Julie’s blog where she interviews author K.E. Bonner about her book Witching Moon.

https://chapterbreak.net/

January 9th @ Sue Edwards’s blog
Visit Sue’s blog to read “Magical Realism Surrounds Us” by K.E. Bonner.
https://suebe.wordpress.com/


January 10th @ Celtic Lady’s Reviews
Visit Kathleen’s blog and read her review of Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner.
https://celticladysreviews.blogspot.com/

January 10th @ World of My Imagination
Stop by Nicole’s blog where K.E. Bonner is a guest for “Three Things on a Saturday Night.”
https://worldofmyimagination.com


January 12th @ Life According to Jamie
Join us as Jamie reviews Witching Moon
http://www.lifeaccordingtojamie.com


January 14th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion
Join Linda as she interviews author K.E. Bonner.
https://bootsshoesandfashion.com

January 15th @ Fiona Ingram’s author blog 

Stop by Fiona’s blog to see her spotlight feature of Witching Moon

https://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com

January 16th @ the Freeing the Butterfly blog
Visit Freeing the Butterfly to read “Life is Short, Do What You Love” by K.E. Bonner.
https://www.freeingthebutterfly.com/blog

January 18th @ Jill Sheets’s blog 

Stop by Jill’s blog to read her interview with K.E. Bonner. 

https://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman who has always sought something more in life saves a man from a shipwreck, and discovers a new path that leads away from her comfortable home and into the world of immortals in author K.E. Bonner’s “Witching Moon”.

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The Synopsis

Every once in an eon, when the Earth eclipses the moon on a winter solstice, an immortal is born under a witching moon. Anne has always had the strangest feelings—memories she couldn’t place; strangers she inexplicably yearned for. After she rescues the enigmatic Phillip from a shipwreck, her comfortable life on the island of Cusabo is shattered, and the mystery of her destiny starts to fall into place. Anne leaves behind the life she’s always known and sets out with Phillip on an arduous journey to Amaranth, where her ancient family awaits her. But the path is dark and daunting, and Anne’s powers have only just begun to manifest.

The Review

This was an incredible blend of YA Historical Fiction meets YA Sword & Sorcery Fantasy! The world-building the author goes through in this book is incredible, as the author delves both into the tail-end of the American Civil War in South Carolina and quickly delves deeper into this fantasy world of magic and power beyond imagination. The imagery and adventurous tone the author strikes keep readers on the edge of their seats as the story becomes more and more engrossing. 

The way the author was able to capture the era for which this narrative hails and balance it with fantastic character development was what really kept me invested in this story. The wonderment that protagonist Anne views this new world through after leaving behind the only place and life she’s ever known made this story so profound, and the coming-of-age tale of this young woman discovering her power was both inspiring and entertaining to read and see come to life on the page.

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and harrowing, author K.E. Bonner’s “Witching Moon” is a must-read fantasy meets historical fiction YA novel. The magical nature of the narrative blends well with the protagonist and her historical era upbringing, and the twists and turns in the character’s arc will keep readers glued to their books as the story winds down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

K. E. Bonner, author of Witching Moon,was always the first kid to sit down during a spelling bee. It wasn’t until she was an adult that she was diagnosed with dyslexia, which explained why she always had to study three times harder than her peers. Being dyslexic taught her perseverance and kindness, her two favorite attributes. She lives in Georgia with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. When not writing, she loves to read, swim, explore new places, and meet fascinating people. If you have a dog, she would love to scratch behind its ears and tell it what a good pup it is.

Learn more about K.E. Bonner on her website or follow her on Instagram @kebonnerwrites. 

You can purchase a copy of Witching Moon on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org. You can also add Witching Moon to your Goodreads reading list.

Blog Tour Calendar

December 19th @ The Muffin
Join WOW as we celebrate the launch of K.E. Bonner’s blog tour of Witching Moon. Read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book!
https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com


December 20th @ Mindy McGinnis’s blog
Stop by Mindy’s blog to read “Release the Idea of Getting Rich or Published and Focus on Your Craft.” by K.E. Bonner
https://www.mindymcginnis.com/blog

December 20th @ Rockin’ Book Reviews

Join us as Lu Ann reviews Witching Moon.

http://www.rockinbookreviews.com

December 21st @ All the Ups and Downs

Join Heather as she spotlights Witching Moon. Enter to win a copy of the book!

https://alltheupsandowns.blogspot.com/


December 23rd @ Michelle Cornish’s blog
Visit Michelle’s blog to read her review of Witching Moon.
https://www.michellecornishauthor.com/blog

December 24th @ A Storybook World
Join Deirdra as she features a spotlight of Witching Moon.
https://www.astorybookworld.com/

December 27th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews blog
Join Lisa for an interview with K.E. Bonner.
https://lisahaselton.com/blog/


December 28th @ Author Anthony Avina’s blog
Join us today for author Anthony Avina’s review of Witching Moon.
http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 30th @ Author Anthony Avina’s blog
Revisit author Anthony Avina’s blog to read “The Best Writing Advice I Received” by K.E. Bonner. 
http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com


January 4th @ Bev Baird’s blog
Join us on Bev’s blog as she reviews Witching Moon.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

January 5th @ The Knotty Needle
Stop by for Judy’s review of Witching Moon.
http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

January 6th @ Bev Baird’s blog
Meet us back at Bev’s blog for “Ideas are Everywhere” a guest post by K.E. Bonner.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com


January 6th @ Look to the Western Sky
Join Margo as she reviews Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner.
https://margoldill.com/

January 7th @ Chapter Break

Visit Julie’s blog where she interviews author K.E. Bonner about her book Witching Moon.

https://chapterbreak.net/

January 9th @ Sue Edwards’s blog
Visit Sue’s blog to read “Magical Realism Surrounds Us” by K.E. Bonner.
https://suebe.wordpress.com/


January 10th @ Celtic Lady’s Reviews
Visit Kathleen’s blog and read her review of Witching Moon by K.E. Bonner.
https://celticladysreviews.blogspot.com/

January 10th @ World of My Imagination
Stop by Nicole’s blog where K.E. Bonner is a guest for “Three Things on a Saturday Night.”
https://worldofmyimagination.com


January 12th @ Life According to Jamie
Join us as Jamie reviews Witching Moon
http://www.lifeaccordingtojamie.com


January 14th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion
Join Linda as she interviews author K.E. Bonner.
https://bootsshoesandfashion.com

January 15th @ Fiona Ingram’s author blog 

Stop by Fiona’s blog to see her spotlight feature of Witching Moon

https://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com

January 16th @ the Freeing the Butterfly blog
Visit Freeing the Butterfly to read “Life is Short, Do What You Love” by K.E. Bonner.
https://www.freeingthebutterfly.com/blog

January 18th @ Jill Sheets’s blog 

Stop by Jill’s blog to read her interview with K.E. Bonner. 

https://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

How to Be a Goldfish by Jane Baird Warren Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two kids discover the meaning behind found families and friendship as they search for a way to save a neighbor’s farm in author Jane Baird Warren’s “How to Be a Goldfish”. 

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The Synopsis

When her class is assigned a family tree project, Lizzie knows hers will become fodder for Scotch Gully’s town gossips. It’s 1981, and she’s the only one with an unmarried mom. So she turns to her neighbour Harry for advice, but he has problems of his own. A stranger has turned up, claiming to own his farm, and Harry is being forced out.

For David, the new owner’s son, everything is riding on this. The farm is his chance to escape the city and his bullies at school. And maybe even get his mom away from her horrible new fiancé. But he wasn’t expecting to find someone else living there.

Lizzie and David become surprising allies, and as their family stories crack wide open, they uncover the keys that could save Harry and his farm. But sharing long-buried secrets has a cost too. Can they trust themselves — and each other — to find the way forward together?

How to Be a Goldfish is a gripping story about lost and found family, fierce friendship, warm griddle cakes, and finding the courage to be who you were always meant to be. 

The Review

This was such a fun and unique read. The author did a great job of crafting a narrative that felt vibrant and alive on the page, while also infusing elements of nostalgia with the unique setting of the 80s. The thing that immediately stood out to me was how the author managed to incorporate several different styles of genres into the book, ranging from children’s books to Middle School age and even some YA elements as well. This made the story feel relevant to all types of readers and gave some heart to the larger themes of the story.

The balance between the author’s character development and the larger themes mentioned previously was so well done in this book. The relatable and reliable protagonists Lizzie and David made the story feel more engaging as the narrative kept turning, and the complex stories woven into the fabric of the novel kept all the characters interesting, even the narrow-minded and hateful Bethany. Yet it was the emotional way the story lent itself to the themes of family that is found rather than already had, and the importance of friendship and acceptance of oneself that made the whole book really come together.

The Verdict

Stunningly relatable, entertaining, and empowering, author Jane Baird Warren’s “How to Be a Goldfish” is a must-read novel of 2022 for children, middle-aged kids, and YA fans alike! The book moved at a quick pace, and yet held so much character composition and impactful themes that helped the narrative shine brightly through. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy on October 4th, 2022! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

A first-generation Canadian, Jane is a writer with an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. Her writing has been featured on CBC radio and in more than a dozen literary magazines in North America and the UK. She is represented by Elizabeth Bennett at Transatlantic Literary Agency. elizabeth@transatlanticagency.com 

Jane also works freelance as an editorial consultant and volunteers as a developmental editor for emerging writers. 

https://www.janebairdwarren.com/

The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad by Natasha Deen Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman fully immersed in her Caribbean ancestor’s traditions seeks to find love for herself while also dealing with an overbearing older brother who has just become a widower in author Natasha Deen’s “The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad”.

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The Synopsis

From award-winning, #OwnVoices author Natasha Deen comes a new funny, honest, YA novel following one girl as she tries to win over her crush before she leaves for college.

Let’s be clear. No matter what her older brother, Robby, says, aspiring screenwriter Tuna Rashad is not “stupidstitious.” She is, however, cool with her Caribbean heritage, which means she is always on the lookout for messages from loved ones who have passed on. But ever since Robby became a widower, all he does is hang out at the house, mock Tuna for following in their ancestors’ traditions, and meddle in her life. 

Tuna needs to break free from her brother’s loving but over-bearing ways and get him a life (or at least, get him out of hers!). Based on the signs, her ancestors are on board. They also seem to be on board with helping Tuna win over her crush, Tristan Dangerfield. The only hiccup? She has to do it before leaving for college in the fall. A ticking clock, a grief-stricken brother, and a crush who doesn’t believe in signs. What could possibly go wrong? 

The Review

This was a heartwarming and emotional YA read. The balance of drama and contemporary romance that makes its way into this YA novel was great to see, as the narrative left plenty of room for both humorous dialogues between the cast of characters and profound, meaningful moments that defined the themes of grief, respect for one’s ancestors and culture, and romance and love in all its forms. Including LGBTQ-driven romance in the narrative with one of the characters added another level of depth to the emotional backstory and journey one character underwent. 

The novel was definitely a character-driven narrative. The heart and unique character traits that protagonist Tuna gave the reader were fun to read, as she infused her unique brand of humor and wit into her relationships, showcasing her desire to define her own life while respecting and caring for those around her. The importance that her Caribbean culture had on her character development was so interesting and made for such a memorable reading experience.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, thoughtful, and entertaining, author Natasha Deen’s “The Signs and Wonders of Tuna Rashad” is a must-read YA contemporary romance of 2022. With a diverse cast of characters and truly emotional narrative beats that will keep the reader invested throughout this narrative, readers are going to both love and care for the protagonist and this cast of characters deeply, making this one book you won’t want to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

NATASHA DEEN writes for kids, teens, and adults, and believes the world is changed one story at a time. As a Guyanese-Canadian and a child of immigrants, she’s seen first-hand how stories have the power to shape the world. When she’s not writing, Natasha enjoys visiting schools, libraries and other organizations to help people to find and tell the stories that live inside of them. She also spends an inordinate amount of time trying to convince her pets that she’s the boss of the house. Natasha is the author of the Lark Ba series, the Guardian series, and In the Key of Nira Ghani. Visit Natasha at www.natashadeen.com.

Breaking Time by Sasha Alsberg Review 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman finds her world turned upside down when a handsome stranger enters her life from another time, and together they discover fate’s plans for them when a rogue threat targets her for a power she never knew she had in author Sasha Alsberg’s “Breaking Time”.

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The Synopsis

Romance, Celtic mythology, and adventure swirl together in this time travel fantasy by #1 New York Times bestselling author, booktuber, and popular Outlander social media influencer Sasha Alsberg.

Fate brought them together. Time will tear them apart.

When a mysterious Scotsman suddenly appears in the middle of the road, Klara thinks the biggest problem is whether she hit him with her car. But, as impossible as it sounds, Callum has stepped out of another time, and his arrival marks the beginning of a deadly adventure.

Klara soon learns she is the last Pillar of Time—an anchor point in the timeline of the world. After being unable to protect the previous Pillar, Callum believes he’s fated to protect her. But now a dark force is hunting the Pillars—and Klara and Callum are the only two standing in the way. They’ll have to learn to trust each other and work together…but they’ll need to protect their hearts from one another if they’re going to survive

The Review

This was such a powerful and entertaining new read! The author did such an incredible job of world-building in this narrative. Each scene felt vibrant and alive on the page, thanks to the author’s incredible handle on imagery in her writing and the atmosphere she builds as the narrative progresses. The striking balance the author struck between the rich mythology of the world she created and the intimate and emotional character growth was superb. As a huge fan of mythology in general, I was immediately drawn into this narrative, but what was really fun was being introduced to new mythological figures and stories, and the intricacies of Celtic mythology definitely drew me into the story so much that I’ll be researching the mythos myself, really adding to the author’s ability to draw readers in. 

Yet it was the rich character development that really drew me in further and further into the story. The multiple POVs were great to have, as they added depth to both Callum’s and Klara’s stories. Their backstories and the eras from which they hail and the instant chemistry and discoveries they make about themselves along the way were truly inviting to behold on the page. Even the antagonist, who emerges from the shadows and strikes into the heart of these two protagonists, was chilling and haunting to behold and did a great job of becoming the hero’s foil in the narrative. 

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and brilliantly written, author Sasha Alsberg’s “Breaking Time” is a must-read YA Historical Fantasy meets Time Travel story and one of my top picks for best reads of 2022. The author does a great job of traversing the influences of other series such as Outlander and The Mortal Instruments, and yet feels so original and authentic on its own at the same time, bringing magic back into the Historical Fantasy meets Highland genre. With a twist ending that left this reader eager to read more, you guys won’t want to miss out on this spectacular story. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Sasha Alsberg is the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Zenith, the first book in The Androma Saga. When Sasha is not writing or obsessing over Scotland, she is galavanting across social media with her two dogs, Fraser & Fiona. Sasha lives in London, England.

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.sashaalsberg.com/ 

Twitter: @sashaalsberg

Instagram: @sashaalsberg

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sasha.alsberg 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15100575.Sasha_Alsberg 

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Time-Sasha-Alsberg/dp/1335284893 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/breaking-

time-sasha-alsberg/1140332910 

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335284891 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Breaking-Time/Sasha-Alsberg/9781335284891 

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/ch/audiobook/breaking-time/id1591477301 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sasha_Alsberg_Breaking_Time?id=5TlHEAAAQBAJ 

Please enjoy this excerpt from Author Sasha Alsberg’s “Breaking Time”

Excerpted from BREAKING TIME by Sasha Alsberg, © 2022 by Sasha Alsberg, used with permission from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins.

Callum

1568

“Thomas!” Callum yelled as he left the pub. The wall of crisp night air dizzied him, causing him to stumble over cobblestones that seemed to shift beneath his feet. Drunken laughter muff led as the door slammed shut behind him. 

“Where the hell are ye?” he shouted. His voice echoed through the deserted streets. 

No answer came. 

Lanterns flickered along the main road, setting the heavy fog aglow. In a wee town like Rosemere, the slightest whispers could be heard a mile away. They carried farther than that, Callum knew; the windows around him were shuttered, but candles burned low just inside. How many prying eyes watched from behind the slats? How many would speak of his friend, the disgraced fighter, in hushed voices at tomorrow’s market, over bread bought with the coin they’d won betting on him mere weeks earlier?

Callum clenched his fists. The whole pub had shouted and jeered while Thomas got pummeled that night. Sounds still rang in Callum’s ears: the thud of fist and flesh, the sickening crunch of bone. It was the third time this month that Thomas had lost—only the third time, in two years of fighting.

Brice would be angry.

Master, keeper, devil, father. Brice MacDonald was all of these things to Callum and Thomas. Whatever Brice’s wrath tonight, Callum could not let Thomas face it alone. Not when Thomas had looked after Callum for so long, raised him up from a nipper as well as a real older brother would.

But he would not abandon Thomas like his mother had abandoned him.

The thought sobered Callum. He called again, lowering his voice to a taunt.

“Thomas! You owe me three shillings!” Thomas could usually be drawn out with a jab.

Callum paused, straining his ears for a response but was met with unease instead. An owl watched from its perch atop the baker’s roof, golden eyes unblinking against the dark night sky. The shining orbs fixed on him.

He tore his gaze from the bird and walked on, moving away from the firelight and into shadow.

Even more worrisome than Brice was the fact that Thomas had given Callum his most treasured item earlier that night: his notebook, small sheaths of vellum bound in leather. When he first began carrying it around, Thomas claimed to have stolen it from the apothecary when he went in for a poultice. 

He had kept it on him, always, and had never let Callum lay eyes on what was inside. Yet he had pressed it into Callum’s hand, just before the match tonight. He said something to Callum when he did, but his words were inaudible within the roar of the pub. Then after, he disappeared from the pub without even a goodbye.

Now Callum was wandering the streets, alone.

It was unlike Thomas to behave so strangely, to lose so badly. The Thomas he knew—boyish and rowdy, tough as leather but never mean—had fallen away with the autumn leaves these past months. Instead of spending evenings at The Black Hart Inn, weaving stories he’d learned as a child of selkies and sailors for red-cheeked barmaids until the sun rose, Thomas began to disappear for days, weeks at a time—stretches too long for Callum to explain to Brice. He took a beating or two for it, too. When Thomas returned, he was sullen, sometimes violent, and consumed by a strangeness Callum had no words to describe. His eyes stared but did not see, as distant as stars burning in his skull. If he spoke at all, he told tales of the demons that terrified them as children: like the Sluagh, spirits of the dead who wandered in flocks, flying around the sky like soaring reapers and stealing souls, flesh hanging off them like blackened rags. Or the bean-nighe, banshees, messengers from the Otherworld and omens of death, who lingered in lonely streams, washing the clothes of doomed men. Normally Callum heard of such dark creatures within the stories of heroes, but Thomas’s stories didn’t end in life…but death. He fixated on that fact, as if it were coming for him.

I saw her, he’d said of the bean-nighe. I refuse to die. 

It worried Callum, but just as his worry morphed into confrontation, Thomas would come back to himself. This was enough to comfort Callum as he watched Thomas return to tales of ancient heroes and kings. Maybe he accepted his relief too soon since the nights of those stories were fewer these days, and more often Thomas’s speech would turn dark again. He would speak of strange visions, of men who leaped from one world to the next.

They’re coming, Cal, you’ll see. It’s as simple as stepping through a veil.

Who’s coming, Thomas? What veil? Callum asked, and Thomas would laugh.

It was no tale that Callum knew. He’d warned Thomas not to tell it. He didn’t like the wary looks it earned him. It was one thing to be a bard who told these stories for a living, but it was another thing to speak like a madman of evil spirits and fairies as if they were tangible things away from the lyrics of a song or the pages of a book.

Callum reached the end of the main road—the turn for Kelpie’s Close. If you wanted trouble, you found it in Kelpie’s. The narrow backstreet edged Rosemere like a blade pressed against the town’s throat.

A chill clung to his skin. Here, there were no lanterns to light the way, his only guide sparse slivers of moonlight. The wind picked up suddenly, lifting his hair and reaching under his woolen cloak. He tried to shake off visions of the Sluagh hovering above him, raking their cold fingers down his neck.

“It’s as dark as the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat,” he mumbled.

Callum reached for the dirk tucked under his arm and found the carved handle concealed under layers of wool, feeling a sting of guilt. It was Thomas’s knife. Callum had slipped it away from him before the match, worried about what his friend might do in the crowded pub if he got enough drink in him. He tapped it, drawing enough strength to plunge into the darkness.

“Scunner!” he cursed, meaning it. “Where are you?”

A cry pierced the quiet.

Callum’s heart pounded as he followed the sound farther down the alley. He pulled the dirk from under his arm, certain now that he’d need to use it.

“Thomas?”

Unease, cold and metallic, crept up his spine. The alley appeared empty—strange, for this time of night—but the silence was thick, alive with a feeling Callum couldn’t name. He pushed on, deeper into the gloom. “Thomas?”

Another strangled cry, ahead.

Callum broke into a run.

A single lantern flickered a short distance away, casting a wan glow over a lone figure slumped against the wall. A sweep of red hair, bright even in the dim alley.

“Thomas, ye bastard, do ye ken what—”

The insult lodged in his throat. Thomas lay on the ground, his legs splayed at sickening angles. Blood seeped through his shirt, blooming like ink on paper. Callum rushed to his friend and knelt beside him. He dropped the dirk and pressed his hands against the deep slice that marred his friend’s torso. A knife wound.

“Dinnae fash, Thomas, dinnae fash,” Callum repeated, voice tight and panicked. He glanced up, searching for friend or foe, and found no one. “We’ll be back to the pub before Anderson kens we havna paid our tab.” 

Thomas stared up at him with glassy blue eyes. With each shuddering breath, more blood spilled through Callum’s fingers. He ripped the cloth stock from his neck and pressed the fabric onto the wound. It did little to stem the flow of blood. Within a few heartbeats, the cloth was soaked through, red and dripping.

If he pressed any harder, would it be doing more harm than good? Should he call for help, though it might draw the attacker? Callum hadn’t a clue. He wished suddenly, ferociously, that he’d had a proper mother, one whose wisdom he could call upon to calmly guide his hands. However, Thomas was the only family he had.

His only family was dying.

Thomas opened his mouth, but instead of words, a wet cough came out, splattering red across his pale face.

“Dinnae move, Thomas,” Callum shushed him. His uncertainty gave way to desperation, burst from his throat. “Help! Help us!”

His words dissolved into the night air, leaving behind only a tightness at the center of his chest. If he hadn’t taken Thomas’s dirk, he would have been able to defend himself, he wouldn’t be dying in Callum’s arms—

Thomas gasped, but it seemed as if no air reached his lungs.

Lowering his head, Callum gripped Thomas’s hands, though his own were shaking. “I will find the man who did this, I swear—”

Then the world flipped sideways. A blow had hit Callum like a runaway carriage, throwing him against the alley wall opposite Thomas.

Pain exploded along his ribs. Grasping the mossy wall for purchase, he struggled to his feet and wiped blood from his eyes, scouring the darkness for his attacker—and found no one.

“Show your face,” he growled.

A cruel whisper cut through the quiet. “Are you certain?”

The man emerged from the shadows as if he had been one with them. He wore a dark black cloak, in stark contrast to his unkempt, pale hair. Deep set in his face, a pair of amber eyes seemed to emit their own light. Callum’s gaze was drawn to a glinting shape in the man’s hand.

A dagger, dripping with blood.

Thomas’s blood.

Callum’s heart pounded like a war drum in his ears.

The man sighed. “Move along. Unless you’d like to meet the same fate as your compani—”

Callum lunged forward, cutting off the man’s speech with a guttural cry, striking with the speed of a viper.

The man ducked. He whirled around as Callum charged again. He overreached with the arc of his knife, and Callum used the moment to surge upward with a punch. His fist took the assailant in the chin—

And the force knocked Callum back.

He stared. A blow like that would have laid out the toughest fighter, yet the man stood and smiled, rubbing his chin with a gloved hand.

“I’m going to have fun with you,” the stranger whispered. “I like a man with a bit of fight in him. It’s more fun to play with your prey, don’t you think?”

Callum didn’t see the blow coming, only felt the pain searing across his temple as he was thrown to the ground again. 

He lifted his head, vision blurring. He blinked it clear, took in his friend’s ashen face. The sight flooded Callum with rage.

Whoever said to never fight with anger fueling your fists was a fool. Thomas’s best fights had been powered by emotion. Callum wasn’t fighting for money now. Or for Brice. He was fighting for Thomas. Because Thomas was—

“Stay down, little man,” the attacker’s voice hissed.

Callum dragged himself to his feet. His body, corded with muscle from a lifetime of training, screamed for him to stop. Instead he stood, swaying.

“I dinnae believe I’m going to Heaven,” Callum said, raising his fists once more, drawing strength from the familiar ache that radiated through his arms. “But I cannae wait to bring you to Hell with me.”

Lunging forward again, Callum poured everything he had into a single strike. He swung, landing the punch more out of luck than skill, half blinded by blood and dirt.

The man merely flinched, then caught Callum easily by the throat. A grin curled over his face.

How could that be possible?

“My, my, you are a feisty one,” he hissed.

The man lashed out, and pain flared along Callum’s torso. He released Callum and stepped back, red-tinged silver shining in his fist.

Callum touched his side, and his fingers came away wet with blood. He watched as crimson spread across his shirt. He tried to take a step, only to crumple to the ground beside Thomas, whose head rested limp against his chest.

Callum had never feared death, but now as he looked into its eyes, terror seized him. 

“Many thanks for the entertainment,” the man said.

To Callum’s horror, he bent low, holding a vial to the spreading pool of Thomas’s blood. He was gathering it.

“If you’ll excuse me, there’s one last Pillar I must find.”

Pillar?

The unearthly amber eyes melted into darkness as his opponent backed away and turned, disappearing into the shadows once more. Softly hissed words echoed in the alley. Àiteachan dìomhair, fosgailte dhomh, Àiteachan dìomhair, fosgailte dhomh…

The words the man spoke were Gaelic, but Callum’s fading mind couldn’t make out their meaning. A dark, mist-like substance rose from the ground and curled around the man’s feet, nearly indistinguishable from the dim of night. Like a sudden fog had rolled in.

Callum sputtered a curse, lacking the strength to spit. He tried to lift himself, but with each breath, pain flared in his side like a web of fire.

“I’m sorry, Thomas,” he croaked. Tears fell freely down his face, mingling with blood and sweat. He pressed his forehead against his friend’s. Grief washed over him at the still-warm press of his skin.

Thomas was gone, and Callum would soon follow.

A shiver raked his body. His eyes drifted shut.

Take me already, he pleaded to the darkness.

And the darkness answered.

No, not the darkness—Thomas’s voice, a memory now, though it was solid as stone.

“Get up, scunner.”

The warmth of the words turned electric, spreading through Callum’s body like wildfire. His eyes shot open and he gasped, breathing in a shock of cold air still sharp with the smell of blood. His fingers found the dirk he’d dropped earlier.

Grief and agony and pain and rage lifted Callum onto his feet, thrumming in him as he charged after Thomas’s murderer, knife raised and eager for flesh. He grabbed blindly, finally grasping a handful of fabric—the man’s cloak. Turning, the man’s eyes widened, making two white rings of surprise in the dark. Callum’s hand grabbed the man’s neck and aimed his dirk at the pale slash of his throat.

Suddenly, they froze. Callum could not move. His hand remained around the man’s neck, the tip of the dirk pressed against his vein. Light flowed around them. It’s not time for sunrise, he thought. Dimly, he noticed markings along the man’s collarbone. Knots carved into his skin.

The man cried out—not in pain, but in anger—but then, the cry was stifled by a rush of silence, so thick Callum thought he might drown in it. His stomach turned violently as the ground seemed to drop out from under him, forcing him to squeeze his eyes shut. He was falling, flying, falling.

I must be dead in the alley. The man must have killed me. This must be death.

A bright glow burned against his lids. He closed his eyes tighter and welcomed whatever might follow, only hoping he’d find Thomas there. A wall of light had formed above, descending as if the sun were pulling him through the sky. His body rose into its searing embrace.

He waited for the long drop to the ground, but it never came.

Callum kept soaring.

Not just through the street.

Not to death’s embrace. 

But somewhere else.

Leaping to another world, like the man in Thomas’s story, Callum thought.

So he leaped. 

Amethyst (Ambrosia Hill Book 1) by Rebecca Henry Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young girl struggling with her identity and her parents impending divorce finds her birthright and power with the help of her aunts in author Rebecca Henry’s “Amethyst”, the first book in the Ambrosia Hill YA series. 

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The Synopsis

She was sent away because of her feelings for another girl. But what she discovered at her aunts’ lake house was a birthright of magic.

Thirteen-year-old Zinnia is about to turn fourteen when her life is flipped upside down. With her parents on the brink of a divorce, Zinnia is sent to spend the summer with her eccentric great-aunts at their lake house away from her home in Manhattan. Zinnia arrives at her aunts’ massive Victorian house with a heavy heart after a recent falling out with her best friend Charlotte, who betrayed her trust by showing the meanest and most popular girl in school a letter Zinnia wrote confessing her feelings for Charlotte. The aunts rely on practical magic, acceptance and old family friends to help heal their great-niece in more ways than one.

What Zinnia discovers on Ambrosia Hill is more than just her birthright to magic—she meets Billie, a girl who conjures feelings inside Zinnia that she can no longer deny.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of homophobia and mild peril.

The Review

I instantly fell in love with this story. The author did such an incredible job of crafting a unique and beautiful world that felt real and yet held incredible magic that kept the paranormal and fantasy elements of this narrative alive. The sheer volume of backstory and narrative the author was able to pour into this fairly quick read was breathtaking to behold, as were the little bits of mystery and suspense that the author peppered throughout the read, especially with a tease of future storylines in the next book in this series.

Yet it was the heartfelt character development that really played well in this story. The magic and wonder of the world the author crafted only elevated the emotional story of these characters, from the backstory and history of Billie, who brings a sense of edge and pain to her meeting with Zinnia. Then there is Zinnia herself, who not only struggles with the pain of her family falling apart due to her parents impending divorce but the struggles to feel accepted for her LGBTQ status. 

What I love about the story is that the author doesn’t portray Zinnia as someone in doubt necessarily of who they are, but struggling because she does know who she is and who she loves, and wants the world and those around her to accept her as she is. I feel there are so many people, especially teens, in this world who feel the same who could use an inspirational protagonist like Zinnia to connect with and follow, and I applaud the author for this amazing story development for the character.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, emotional, and magical, author Rebecca Henry’s “Amethyst” is a must-read novel of 2022 and the perfect first entry into this brilliant paranormal and fantasy YA series. The balance of realism and magic, along with the positive outlook on witchcraft and magic that is often overlooked in the world, made this world stand out, and the positive exploration of LGBTQ themes made this a home run in my book. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy on April 26th, 2022, or preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Rebecca Henry is an American author living abroad in England. She is a devoted vegan who gardens, practices yoga, crafts, travels the world, and bakes. Rebecca’s favorite holiday is Halloween, and she is obsessed with anything and everything witchy! Besides writing fiction, Rebecca is also the author of her vegan holiday cookbook collection and green living lifestyle book. Her love for animals, baking with her family, having a plant-based diet, and cruelty-free, green lifestyle inspired her nonfiction novels. You can find all Rebecca’s books on Amazon.

https://www.rebeccahenryauthor.com/

The Clash Inside Me by John Moondragon & Kelly Alblinger Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young man living with dissociative identity disorder finds himself the witness to a horrific crime, and must determine if one of his alters was responsible in author John Moondragon’s “The Clash Inside Me”. 

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The Synopsis

THE CLASH INSIDE ME opens with a young man perched on a ledge and contemplating an unusual predicament: did he or did he not commit murder? And if he did, which of his alter-personalities will ultimately be held responsible?

The young man, who remains nameless throughout the tale, recounts the story of his life and the diagnosis of his mental illness –dissociative identity disorder – with refreshing candor. Speaking directly to the reader, he describes his personal history in a manner that is both relatable and engaging. Despite the obvious disadvantages of coping with multiple personalities, he is not a victim of his circumstances. He is a survivor with expectations of a bright future, including a tender romance. There are moments of fear and anguish, but his is not a story of despair; rather it is a tale of ongoing courage to define oneself while coping with a serious mental illness.

The Review

The author really found the perfect harmonious balance between entertaining narrative and emotionally-driven character growth under the umbrella of understanding mental health more clearly. The narrative was definitely character-driven, focusing on the protagonist and his alters in vivid and gritty detail. The fast-paced narrative and the imagery that was conjured with the author’s words made the reading experience fun yet thought-provoking.

The theme and message of the narrative surrounding mental health, in general, was a fantastic choice. The discussions and education that the narrative brings about mental health, despite the fictional aspect of the narrative, really do a phenomenal job of furthering our understanding of mental health and DiD in particular. The examination of the protagonists alters and the jarring experience of losing the control you would typically have over your own body was mesmerizing to behold.

The Verdict

Memorable, engaging, and thoughtful in its approach, author John Moondragon and Kelly Alblinger’s “The Clash Inside Me” is a must-read fiction thriller with a mental health focus. The intrigue and suspense of the main plot when combined with the emotional journey of the main character and his struggle with his mental health makes for such an amazing read, so be sure to grab your copy of this amazing story today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

John Mondragon is a self-published author of his first novel “The Clash Inside Me” and a caring father and husband.

He is passionate about helping people understand the importance of mental health matters, and encourages others to speak up and speak out.

Author Website: https://www.subscribepage.com/theclashinsideme

Book Purchase Links: https://books2read.com/theclashinsideme/

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