#Zodiacbooks Readathon: Black Moon Spotify Playlist


We are SO CLOSE to the release of the final book in the Zodiac series! In a little under two weeks, Thirteen Rising will come out in hardcover and Rho’s final adventure will be released.

It has been a pleasure working on these playlists for Zodiac, Wandering Star, and sharing with you all today, Black Moon. There is a lot more that goes into selecting music for a book that I realized and it can be really hard too. The best course of action was just putting on Spotify for awhile, closing my eyes, and listening to the song radio for a favorite piece and waiting for the right song to jump out at me.

For the most part I’ve been picking instrumental songs because they felt more able to capture the wonder and the terror that the people of Cancer and then the rest of the Zodiac were going through as Ophiuchus/Ochus, the Marad, and the Master inspired fear and wrought their own brand of destruction across the galaxy.

When compiling the music the Black Moon’s soundtrack, I found myself splitting the music into two sections: songs with lyrics for more personal emotions I thought that Rho might be experiencing with her friends or those she loved and songs with instruments along for momentous occasions that encompassed a great number of people in the galaxy. There are times when the lyrics felt a bit more modern and “our Earth” than “Rho’s planet hopping world”, but the underlying feeling was in each of the songs I chose, I felt, and I hope that you’ll see where I was going with the collection I’ve assembled from a variety of albums.

As the final playlist before the release of Thirteen Rising, I wanted to make sure I left nothing out and I hope you’ll enjoy my selections as much as I had listening to them.


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 6 December 2016

Publisher: Razorbill

Category: Young Adult/Science Fiction/Fantasy

Book 3 in the breathtaking sci-fi space saga inspired by astrology that will stun fans of the Illuminae Files and Starbound series.

One final secret stands between Rho and the enemy. But will the devastating truth be enough to destroy her first?

Rho, the courageous visionary from House Cancer, lost nearly everything when she exposed and fought against the Marad, a mysterious terrorist group bent on destroying balance in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now, the Marad has disappeared without a trace, and an uneasy peace has been declared.

But Rho is suspicious. She believes the Master is still out there in some other form. And looming over all are the eerie visions of her mother, who died many years ago, but is now appearing to Rho in the stars.

When news of a stylish new political party supported by her best friend, Nishi, sends Rho on another journey across the galaxy, she uses it as an opportunity to hunt the hidden master and seek out information about her mother. And what she uncovers sheds light on the truth–but casts darkness upon the entire Zodiac world.

Spotify Playlist

Black Moon Soundtrack

The link above will take you to the Spotify playlist I created. If you don’t have an account, below you’ll find the track list. Please enjoy!

  1. “Rey’s Theme” by John Williams
  2. “UNIT” by Murray Gold
  3. “The Visit” by Regina Spektor
  4. “Episode 1 – Queen Amidala and the Naboo Palace” by John Williams, London Symphony Orchestra, and London Voices
  5. “Secret Love Song” by Little Mix, Jason Derulo
  6. “Kanada’s Death (Adagio in D Minor)” by John Murphy
  7. “Martha’s Quest” by Murray Gold
  8. “Happy” by Marina and the Diamonds
  9. “Light of the Seven” by Ramin Djawadi
  10. “This is Gallifrey: Our Childhood. Our Home” by Murray Gold
  11. “Where Do We Go (feat. Carah Faye)” by Lindsey Stirling and Carah Faye





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Chapter by Chapter Book Tour: The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember – Review & Giveaway


Julia Ember has fast become one of the authors I most look forward to reading a new story from. Ever since I picked up her first book, Unicorn Tracks, and most recently The Seafarer’s Kiss, I’ve been blown away by how she takes the ordinary or stories you think you know and makes her own unique and powerful fantasy out of the material.

Today, as part of Chapter by Chapter’s Blog Tour, I’ll be sharing my review with you about Ember’s latest book, the first in her new Ashes of Gold series: The Tiger’s Watch, a book about Tashi, a non-binary character with a bonded animal companion in an Asian inspired fantasy world.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the Tiger’s Watch tour, including reviews, guest posts, interviews, and spotlights, by following this link: Chapter by Chapter Tour Schedule


The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember

Publication Date:  August 22, 2017

Publisher:  Harmony Ink Press

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

Before I begin, from the author’s website: Trigger Warnings: Animals used in a war situation, graphic violence.

Rating: 4 Stars

I don’t typically expect a book to engage me right from page one. I’d guess it’s usually about 30-50 pages before an author’s had the chance to introduce the characters, the setting, etc., and given me good reason to care about the people the story is about. Julia Ember has managed to get me to care about Tashi, the people, and the bond animals around them in the span of about 6-7 pages.

From page one, when Tashi and Pharo are fleeing the burning capitol city and the enemy Myeik on the back of their instructor’s bond elephant, there’s already a lot to process and I was pleasantly surprised to see how Ember managed to get me to feel so deeply about people I barely knew, a magic system that had only been introduced.

The themes that were woven into The Tiger’s Watch, first and foremost that of acceptance, were important to notice not only for how they played out in the book, but how they paralleled with our own world. Tashi has a moment of reflection when thinking about the Myeik invasion and how their people were so enconsced in their mountain homes that they weren’t concerned with what their Southern neighbors were doing, were suffering. This complacency was dangerous and bordered on privilege and naivety. Realizing their error and growing helps to shape Tashi, and by extension Katala, into better bondmates.

The friendship between Pharo and Tashi was one of my favorite things of the book because of how loyal Pharo was without being a caricature. He stood up for Tashi whenever anyone tried to use the wrong pronoun for then, even in the face of the enemy (slightly dangerous, but being willing to do so was brave).

The magic system, between the bond animals and the inhabitors, was an interesting relationship and more involved than some similar situations I’ve seen before. I was slightly unclear on some points, such as whether there was a concrete age when inhabitors had to bond with an animal or what happens to the bond animal if their inhabitor dies (although the reverse was, sadly, clear). The source of this magic and how it relates not only to inhabitor powers, but to that of the country of Thim (home of Tashi and Pharo) and of the Myeix was only just revealed near the end of the story, leaving more mystery to be uncovered in more of Ember’s books in the Ashes of Gold series.

While there is an excerpt of the next book at the end, it just isn’t enough! It looks like next time will be more Pharo p.o.v.-centric and I can’t wait to see what will happen. Will a certain stolen item be recovered? Can someone do that when they feel they’ve lost what defines them? Strength and trust continue to play defining roles in The Shadow Wolf (Ashes of Gold #2), out hopefully sooner rather than later!


About the Author


Originally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She spends her days working in the book trade and her nights writing teen fantasy novels. Her hobbies include riding horses, starting far too many craft projects, PokemonGo and looking after her city-based menagerie of pets with names from Harry Potter. Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black the cats currently run her life.

Julia is a polyamorous, bisexual writer. She regularly takes part in events for queer teens, including those organised by the Scottish Booktrust and LGBT Youth Scotland. A world traveler since childhood, she has now visited more than sixty countries. Her travels inspire the fantasy worlds she creates, though she populates them with magic and monsters.

Julia began her writing career at the age of nine, when her short story about two princesses and their horses won a contest in Touch magazine. In 2016, she published her first novel, Unicorn Tracks, which also focused on two girls and their equines, albeit those with horns. Her second novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss will be released by Interlude Press in May 2017. The book was heavily influenced by Julia’s postgraduate work in Medieval Literature at The University of St. Andrews. It is now responsible for her total obsession with beluga whales.

In August 2017, her third novel and the start of her first series, Tiger’s Watch, will come out with Harmony Ink Press. In writing Tiger’s Watch, Julia has taken her love of cats to a new level.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | TumblrGoodreads


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  • Two (2) winners will receive a signed paperback of The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Embers (INT)


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I received a copy of this book from the publisher (via NetGalley)/the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Release Day Blitz: The Hummingbird Heart by A.G. Howard

I am so excited that THE HUMMINGBIRD HEART by A.G. Howard is available now and that I get to share the news! As a fan of her young adult series Splintered and her newest work inspired by the Phantom of the Opera RoseBlood, her New Adult series Haunted Hearts Legacy with ghosts and love opened up a whole new world of reading material.
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author A.G. Howard, be sure to
check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a 5 AMAZING Prizes courtesy of A.G. and Rockstar
Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
About The Book:
Author: A.G. Howard
Pub. Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Golden Orb Press
Pages: 339
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Set 19 years after The Architect of Song:
Shortly after escaping a circus tragedy, young Italian orphan, Willow Antoniette, seeks refuge at The Manor of Diversions—a holiday resort in England
born of a ghost story. For eleven years, she’s raised alongside the children of the resort’s owners: Julian, his twin brother, Nick, and their younger sister
Emilia. Now that Willow is of marriable age, she’s determined to escape finishing school along with everyone’s efforts to make her a proper lady. The
only man she wants to spend her life with is Julian, after all. Yet how can she tell him, when he thinks of her as nothing but a friend?
As a machinist and engineer, Julian Thornton prefers a governable life. He can’t allow his ever-deepening attraction for Willow to distract from his amusement park plans to lure a younger, wealthier clientele to their family’s resort. In hopes to escape Willow and find investors, Julian sets off on a transatlantic ocean liner headed for the St. Louis World’s Fair, unaware Willow has secretly stowed away on the same ship.
A tiny, mute orphan named Newton and a pair of haunted Italian shoes bring Willow and Julian face to face on deck. Forced to work together to solve the mystery of Newton and his vindictive, ghostly companion, Julian and Willow can no longer fight their untapped passions. However, time to admit their true feelings is running out, for the ghost and her murderer have enlisted them as unsuspecting pawns in a karmic game of cat-and-mouse that could cost all of them their lives.
Grab book 1!


Author: A.G. Howard
Pub. Date: August 15, 2016
Publisher: Golden Orb Press
Pages: 425
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: AmazonGoodreads
A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower – intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the
name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book gothic saga following the generations of one family as – haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts – they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.


New Adult: Recommended for ages 17+.


In the dream, Willow was a child again. With each barefooted step around the stacks of baggage in steerage, she found them taking on new shapes: pyramids of clowns, bears, horses and feathered performers, all balanced atop one another. She was back at the circus, albeit a much hazier and dimmer rendition than she remembered. She skipped along the center ring, excited to be home at last. Grit and discarded trash snagged between her little toes. A spotlight clicked on to illuminate a trunk. From within came a thumping sound, and girlish giggles.
“Tildey!” Willow cried out, racing across the distance to find her doll, her pigtails slapping her face and neck upon each bounding step. The creak of abandoned trapezes swung overhead, cutting intermittently through a thick cloud of fog. Yet it wasn’t fog. It was tobacco—a stench that seeped into her leotard, her tights, her very pores, until she could taste it coating her tongue like bile.
The spotlight shifted from the trunk to a trapeze just above her where a shape took form in the light: a graceful silhouette in a shimmery leotard and glistening tutu.
“Mama?” Willow whispered in the dream, forgetting Tildey for the chance to see her mother perform once more.
The trapeze vanished into thin air but the aerialist continued a controlled descent toward her, held in place by harnesses attached to the center pole. A face came into view, painted white like a clown, with bloody eyes and a hollow of a mouth—stretched wide on a perpetual scream. Willow yelped and squeezed her lashes shut, willing away the creature … for it was not Mama.
When she opened them again, the freakish performer exploded into a flock of hummingbirds made of ink. They skittered around Willow, buzzing wings scraping her skin and hair, imprinting tattoos everywhere they touched. She screamed and stumbled backwards, bumping into the trunk which was somehow right behind her. A tinkly, off-key lullaby drifted from inside the giant box. The lid shook and shuddered, as if something wanted out.
Whimpering, Willow tried to back away, but her feet grew heavy. She looked down and ballet shoes, covered in steel spikes, swallowed them up. The empty harness that had held the ghastly aerialist slithered toward her like a snake, coiling itself around her legs and arms to hold her in place.
On the final haunting strains of music, the trunk’s lid popped open, and out from the midst rose a hunched old man, holding Nadia’s haunted shoes upside down. Blood and water gushed out of them—a stench of copper and stagnancy—and the man laughed with a voice that gnawed into her bones like a thousand snarling wolves.
About A.G. Howard: 


A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would’ve happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.


When she’s not writing, A.G.’s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century
graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

Giveaway Details: All International
(1) Grand prize: Signed set of The Architect of Song & The Hummingbird Heart PB
(1) First Place prize: Signed The Hummingbird Heart PB
(1) Second Place prize: Signed The Hummingbird Heart poster
(3) Third – Fifth Place prizes: Signed The Architect of Song
& The Hummingbird Heart swag pack sets





Ends on August
22nd at Midnight EST!

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Review: My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen by David Clawson


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Published: 2 May 2017

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Category: Young Adult/LGBT+/Romance/Contemporary

Chris Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like a maid than part of the family. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love . . . with each other.

With the help of a new friend, Coco Chanel Jones, Chris learns to be comfortable in his own skin, let himself fall in love and be loved, and discovers that maybe he was wrong about his step-family all along. All it takes is one fairy godmother dressed as Diana Ross to change the course of his life.

My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen is a Cinderella retelling for the modern reader. The novel expertly balances issues like sexuality, family and financial troubles, and self-discovery with more lighthearted moments like how one rogue shoe can launch a secret, whirlwind romance and a chance meeting with a drag queen can spark magic and light in a once dark reality.

Rating: 1 Star

The concept of a drag queen fairy godmother sounded like it could be fun. Retellings are usually the type of story I can get behind. My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen, however, turned out to be a disappointment.

The first 20% or so I’d say was not bad. The main characters were introduced, the supporting characters were given their roles to play, etc. It started as little things, really, that kept cropping up that made me realize this book wouldn’t end up be a happy ending for me.

Chris, the Cinderella of the story, uses some potentially problematic phrases early on when he meets Duane/Coco. I thought that perhaps this was because of his lack of experience or exposure to drag queens and could have accepted that if he’d grown and learned. This doesn’t happen, though, and is reflected when, even after Duane explains that Chris isn’t his type, Chris has some kind of internal angry flare-up about how could a drag queen not like him? If Duane doesn’t how could J.J.? He was very frustrating from here on out and I think needed a good shaking.

J.J. (read Prince Charming) felt a bit one dimensional. This may have been on purpose for a lot of his presence because he’s a closeted man whose familial obligations and political aspirations have him pretending to be someone “perfect”. I never connected with him and wondered if he and Chris were actually a good match, as they felt a bit pretentious when they were chatting about their love of classic literature, name dropping Austen and Shakespeare, Anna Karenina, and so on.

Kimberly, the stepsister, was an odd character. She definitely did things I didn’t like (slipping her mother Xanax multiple times). The woman was a social climber of the highest order, but you just don’t do that. Setting that aside for a moment, I felt bad and almost sympathetic toward her because her relationship with J.J. was entirely fake. The whole time he’s secretly dating Chris, her step brother, and while she admits she’s not in love with J.J., it’s still an enormous betrayal. Her potential hurt is never addressed because the story cuts off right after J.J. and Chris’s very public outing. I hated that she got no justice; a brief apology before he kisses Chris on camera is it.

Aside from the characters I disliked and those I felt got no justice in the end, I want to touch on the language of the book. 

Most of it is fairly subtle, but I noted more than a few homophobic comments that we’re brushed aside or excused. Chris’s step sister and brother admit to making jokes with derogatory language, but excuse it because they were trying to let him know they were okay with his sexuality. Chris and J.J. trade f** and f****t back and forth in one scene as if it’s not offensive. 

There were also instances of slut shaming (Kimberly and Duane) and fat shaming (Kimberly: explained away as being “helpful”/Chris: insulting a PR agent because she was being blunt toward Kimberly and of course that’s the best way to get your point across).

There is also a careless comment Chris makes, after his heart is broken, about taking his stepmother’s Xanax and never waking up. It smacks of a “suicide joke”; even if this wasn’t what Chris meant, I think the author was careless with their language. 

The final linguistic problem I had was an instance in which the author’s used asexual as a descriptor in a manner that felt wrong to me. The quote “It was like the asexual version of the meeting between Anna Karenina and Count Vronksy, although hopefully with happier results.” It feels as if, in context of Kiki the PR agent and Coco sharing a meaningful glance, platonic would’ve been a better choice. This may not be a problem overall or to other ace individuals, but on top of everything else in the book, it felt only right to include my uncomfortableness with this passage.

In summary, the concept of the book was a good one and could’ve been a fun, modern Cinderella story. Due to characterization, poor language, and slow pacing, sadly I don’t think it lived up to it’s potential.





I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: The Perfect Game (Arlington Aces #3) by Elley Arden


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 24 July 2017

Publisher: Crimson Romance

Category: Romance/Sports

Fans of TV’s Pitch will love this wrap-up to the charming world of the Arlington Aces baseball team.

Arlington Aces’ backup catcher Ian Pratt lives every day to the fullest, focusing on having fun with the three Bs: babes, booze, and baseball. Life’s too short not to go out with a smile on his face.

For Pauly Byrne, being the only female starting pitcher in professional baseball means she’s determined, deliberate, and always staying one step ahead of the naysayers. Facing a difficult choice, she must decide whether to hang up her cleats to become the first woman to coach an NCAA baseball team or hold on to the unlikely dream of becoming the first to play in the Major League. Either way, she needs to win this season’s championship.

When Pauly’s usual catcher fails a drug test going into playoffs, Ian is thrust into the starting role, where their differences—and an unlikely attraction—threaten to derail their season. Their futures are on the line, but can these two total opposites find enough common ground to win the big game and a shot at happily ever after?

Sensuality Level: Sensual

Rating: 3 Stars

I’m not a big sports fan, but baseball is one of the few that I can understand pretty well without having to do a ton of research on rules, yard lines, whatever. I remember seeing the commercial for the show Pitch and when The Perfect Game was comped with that, I thought I’d like to check it out.

Pauly is a very dedicated person to baseball and it was easy to feel that throughout the book. Her knowledge of stats was amazing, as was her commitment to the sport.

Ian started out as kind of a douchebag, which was the point I think. His drinking and womanizing was a much talked about point on the team and I wasn’t sure how he and Pauly would ever work out, whether professionally or personally.

The relationship that did develop was a bit confusing, as I couldn’t really connect with it. Even though they had been teammates for a few years now, the more personal and physical relationship happened really quickly and became more serious than I’d have expected in such a short period of time.

As to side characters, the most developed one were Ian’s father, though more were introduced including other teammates and members of Pauly’s family. Ian and his father, Ray, had an intense history and the troubles they went through in The Perfect Game was interesting. It’s ending was a bit sad, but I thought the author did a well thought out job of dealing with Ray’s alcoholism and it’s effect on his life.

There were moments of tension regarding Pauly and her career, but as important as these events are, they didn’t feel like a big deal within the context of the story. What tension they brought up didn’t last long or leave much of a real mark on the story.

There were definitely some steamy scenes between Pauly and Ian, which should satisfy those looking for the romance aspect of the story. As I said before, I didn’t care for the rapid development of their relationship, but I can see that there will be reader that enjoy those scenes, as well as the happily ever after once The Perfect Game concludes.

This was a good story, if not among my favorites. There were aspects I didn’t care for, but I think other readers may well. I liked the baseball aspects, even if I wasn’t quite familiar with the set up of major league, minor league, and club teams. There’s a little of something for quite a few classes of reader and I do hope others will enjoy Pauly’s rise in the sport.




I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Release Week Blitz: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Lee



Author: F.C. Yee
Pub. Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 336
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: AmazonBarnes&NobleiBooksTBDGoodreads

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…


Now, I’d done my best to describe this guy to the police. They pressed me hard for details, as apparently this wasn’t the first group mugging in recent weeks.

But I’d let Officers Davis and Rodriguez down. Nice eyes and a winning smile weren’t much to go by. I was too frazzled to notice anything before, which meant this was my first decent look at the boy without the influence of adrenaline.

So a couple of things.

One: He was short. Like, really short for a guy. I felt bad that my brain went there first, but he wasn’t even as tall as Mrs. Nanda.

Two: He was totally okay, physically. I didn’t see how anyone could be up and about after that beating, but here he was, unbruised and unblemished. I felt relieved and disturbed at the same time to see there wasn’t a scratch on him.

And his mint condition just made Point Three even more obvious.

He was . . . yeesh.

Nothing good could come of our new classmate being that handsome. It was destructive. Twisted. Weaponized. He had the cheekbones and sharp jawline of a pop star, but his thick eyebrows and wild, unkempt hair lent him an air of natural ruggedness that some pampered singer could never achieve in a million years of makeup.

“Argh, my ovaries,” Yunie mumbled. She wasn’t alone, judging by the soft intakes of breath coming from around the room.

“Arrived from where?” said Mrs. Nanda.

Quentin looked at her in amusement. “China?”

“Yes, but where in, though?” said Mrs. Nanda, trying her best to convey that she was sensitive to the
regional differences. Fujianese, Taishanese, Beijingren—she’d taught them all.

He just shrugged. “The stones,” he said.

“You mean the mountains, sweetie?” said Rachel Li, batting her eyelashes at him from the front row.

“No! I don’t misspeak.”

The class giggled at his English. But none of it was incorrect, technically speaking.

“Tell us a little about yourself,” Mrs. Nanda said.

Quentin puffed out his chest. The white button-down shirt and black pants of our school’s uniform for boys made most of them look like limo drivers. But on him, the cheap stitching just made it clearer that he was extremely well-muscled underneath.

“I am the greatest of my kind,” he said. “In this world I have no equal. I am known to thousands in faraway lands, and everyone I meet can’t help but declare me king!”

There was a moment of silence and sputtering before guffaws broke out.

“Well . . . um . . . we are all high achievers here at SF Prep,” said

Mrs. Nanda as politely as she could. “I’m sure you’ll fit right in?”

Quentin surveyed the cramped beige classroom with a cool squint. To him, the other twenty-two laughing students were merely peons on whom his important message had been lost.

“Enough wasting of time,” he snapped. “I came to these petty halls only to reclaim what is mine.”
Before anyone could stop him, he hopped onto Rachel’s desk and stepped over her to the next one, like she wasn’t even there.

“Hey! Quentin!” Mrs. Nanda said, frantically waving her hands. “Get down now!”

The new student ignored her, stalking down the column of desks. Toward mine.

Everyone in his way leaned to the side to avoid getting kicked. They were all too flabbergasted to do anything but serve as his counterweights.

He stopped on my desk and crouched down, looking me in the eye. His gaze pinned me to my seat.
I couldn’t turn away. He was so close our noses were almost touching. He smelled like wine and peaches.

“You!” he said.

“What?” I squeaked.

Quentin gave me a grin that was utterly feral. He tilted his head as if to whisper, but spoke loud enough for everyone to hear.

“You belong to me.”

About F.C.:


F. C. Yee grew up in New Jersey and went to school in New England, but has called the San Francisco Bay Area home ever since he beat a friend at a board game and shouted “That’s how we do it in NorCal, baby!” Outside of writing, he practices capoeira, a Brazilian form of martial arts, and has a day job mostly involving spreadsheets.

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Review: Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis (Author), Laura K. Horton (Illustrator)


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Published: 1 August 2017

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Category: Middle Grade/Fiction/Magical Realism

A colony of honeybees mistakes seventh-grader Zinnia’s hair for a hive ― and that’s the least of her problems. While Zinnia’s classmates are celebrating the last day of seventh grade, she’s in the vice principal’s office, serving detention. Her offense? Harmlessly yarn-bombing a statue of the school mascot. When Zinnia rushes home to commiserate with her older brother and best friend, Adam, she’s devastated to discover that he’s gone ― with no explanation. Zinnia’s day surely can’t get any worse . . . until a colony of honeybees inhabits her hive-like hair! Infused with magical realism, Danielle Davis delivers a quirky, heartfelt debut, exploring both the complex life of a young loner and a comical hive of honeybees. Together, these alternating and unexpected perspectives will touch anyone who has ever felt alone, betrayed, or misunderstood.

Rating: 4 Stars

Zinnia is a young girl whose mother is overbearing, her brother has disappeared under the pressure, and a colony of bees has made their new home in her hair! This middle grade novel has just the right amount of magical realism and teachable moments to make it a good read for not just the 9-12 year old age group, but for others as well.

The bees, normally creatures that I wouldn’t want to be near because I don’t care for insects, became sympathetic characters here. The group was formally transported from crop to orchard and so on as professional pollinators. Never having been in a wild hive or having had to fend for themselves, when a car accident sets them free they have to make the best of a bad situation. In a town with few trees, worker Bee 641 is the bee elected to find a new place to go and follow their collective dreams, taken from stories passed down from bee generation to bee generation. The bad part? That new home is Zinnia’s hair, with a smear of mint chocolate chip ice cream to attract her new “friends”.

Zinnia also has her fair share of problems. Her mom doesn’t seem to understand her or her knitting/yarn bombing tendencies, activities that she deems “non-useful”. Her brother, whose interests also lie in the arts, has left after escalating arguments with their mother about his future. Add this to the loss of her closest group of friends and her summer is looking pretty dim.

Reading Zinnia’s story, her working through her problems and her summer days, including reluctantly making friends with her neighbor’s nephew and walking her mom’s new dog, was always interesting. Zinnia has a pleasant voice, even as she was navigating a difficult time. Her interest in knitting and yarn bombing made her very relatable to me and, I think, somewhat unique. I almost never see main characters that knit like she did; artistic skills like drawing and painting seem to be more popular.

There were alternating chapters and the others not told from Zinnia’s first person perspective were told from that of the bees. That was fascinating because, as I mentioned before, I’m not a fan of insects. Reading the activity I’ve seen going on in the real world from a more personable perspective made it a unique experience. They were friendly creatures, telling the story of going from crop to crop until the day they break free and have to figure out what to do with their new found freedom. Going off “family” stories and, eventually, Zinnia’s kindness and knitting know-how, they find their place and worker Bee 641, originally mocked for her lack of hive finding abilities, redeems herself and is revealed as the voice of the bees from the beginning.

Zinnia learns a lot about grieving, about distancing herself from her friends while trying to cling too tightly to another important person, and about being true to yourself, even at the risk of losing everything. From the cover and from the description, one might not think that this novel has as much depth as I discovered it did, but rest assured that Danielle Davis did a masterful job of communicating important values while weaving a magical story.




I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.