Review: The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill


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Published: 31 October 2017

Publisher: Oni Press

Category: Graphic Novel/Fantasy/Middle Grade/LGBT+

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever Aftercomes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

Rating:  4 Stars

As a lover of dragons, tea, and graphic novels, The Tea Dragon Society caught my eye with a charming cover and an interesting premise.

Greta, our main character, is being taught to be a blacksmith by her mother. She loves to do this, realizing how important and beautiful the objects her mother makes are, even if they’re not totally useful. Swords, for example, are not in much use anymore but they’re still an important project for a blacksmith and the process by which they are made must be passed down before it is forgotten.

One day Greta stumbles across a lost tea dragon. When returning it to its family, Greta is introduced to dragon tea and the caretakers of the dragons. Hesekial, the bonded owner of Jasmine the lost tea dragon, becomes a new mentor to Greta as she expresses interest in finding out more about the dragons and the tea they produce. Through him, she meets a diverse cast of characters, from Hesekial and his partner Erik to Minette, a ward of the Tea Dragon Society on whom it looks like Greta has a crush.

I loved seeing all the people play out on the page and how it’s all fantastical, from the dragons to the creature that is Hesekial, but it’s also ordinary. Nothing is a big deal, like Erik and his wheelchair, the different races that make up Greta’s hometown. It’s a loving environment that makes everyone comfortable.

The art is a display of Katie O’Neill’s talent. The light colors evoke happiness and the style of her characters, both humanoid and not, has a soft edge that doesn’t fail to make me smile.

What makes me rate this four stars instead of five is that the story itself felt cut short, like something was missing. For being called The Tea Dragon Society, we sure don’t hear too many details about this amazing creatures. Most of the stuff I did find out, like the different types, what tea they make, etc., was learned in an appendix to the book. Not having that incorporated organically into the story made me feel like this was a sampler rather than a full-on completed work. At this time it doesn’t look like there is more to Greta’s story than what’s on the page, not even in the web comic that this started out as. I hope there will be because this is a rich world full of magical creatures and fulfilling relationships that could be told.


This picture by Katie O’Neill, available to purchase a print HERE, shows some of the common types of tea dragons. If I were to pick one to raise myself, it would be the Hibiscus Tea Dragon, the pink one in the lower right hand corner. They’re highly sociable and have an easy going nature. This baby reminds me of Chansey, the Pokemon that often serves as a nurse in the anime. They’re all loveable, but there’s something extra sweet about the Hibiscus dragon to me.

Do you think you’d be able to raise a tea dragon? It’s a lot of work, but apparently well worth the effort. For fans of tender graphic novels and a good book for an afternoon, The Tea Dragon Society is a pleasant book for quite a range of audiences.




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.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we highlight a title we’re looking forward to reading. You can find their website here.


The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson

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Published: 6 February 2018

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Category: Young Adult

Sixteen-year-old Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth.

This can be scientifically explained (it’s called parthenogenesis), but what can’t be explained is how Elena is able to heal Freddie, the girl she’s had a crush on for years, from a gunshot wound in a Starbucks parking lot. Or why the boy who shot Freddie, David Combs, disappeared from the same parking lot minutes later after getting sucked up into the clouds. What also can’t be explained are the talking girl on the front of a tampon box, or the reasons that David Combs shot Freddie in the first place.

As more unbelievable things occur, and Elena continues to perform miracles, the only remaining explanation is the least logical of all—that the world is actually coming to an end, and Elena is possibly the only one who can do something about it.

Shaun David Hutchinson, who I first discovered when reading The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, certainly knows how to write a heartbreaking book. That book nearly broke my heart and yet I loved it, wanting to read more. I’ve since picked up We Are the Ants and will probably buy any of his back catalog that I can find.

All this is to say that Elena Mendoza sounds really good. Is there an Apocalypse coming? Is Elena some kind of saint that can save the world? Why did the girl she love get shot? There are a lot of questions and possible miracles that come up in the summary for this book that I want the answers to. February can’t coming soon enough!




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

Fantastic Flying Books Tours Presents: Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalo


The sequel to 2016’s Stalking Jack the RipperHunting Prince Dracula continues the story of Audrey Wadsworth, an intelligent young woman with a scientific mind and curious inclination who is recovering from the discoveries made in the previous book. Haunted by the memories of the events that occurred in London, she leaves for the Academy of Forensics Medicine and Science in Romania, the home of Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula). The castle the school is located in sets the tone for this dark sequel filled with pain and mystery as Audrey must uncover the truth behind the murders that occur there, inspiring one horrific question: is Dracula alive once more?



Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

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Published: 19 September 2017

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Category: Historical Fiction/Young Adult/Mystery

In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer…or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper’s true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe’s best schools of forensic medicine…and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life’s dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school’s forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again.

Rating: 4 Stars

Hunting Prince Dracula begins with a train journey that, of course, is anything but peaceful. There is the tension between Audrey Rose and Thomas; even with her chaperone Mrs. Harvey right beside them, albeit napping, there’s some flirtation that makes the compartment a bit full: of emotion, of romance even? Escaping for a brief walk, Audrey Rose mistakes a fellow passenger for her brother and later on stumbles upon the body of this man just outside her compartment.

What a way to open the book! There is, as I said, flirtatious tension and then that gets smacked aside for a murder. Right there on the Orient Express!


The first few chapters of the book aboard the train deal with Audrey Rose’s state of mind, her traveling to Romania, and then dealing with the murder of this man in a suspicious manner, reminiscent of the method used by Vlad the Impaler. Not a moment’s piece for this heroine. Attempting to assist in the collection of clues, Audrey Rose is confronted yet again by the expectations of male authority figures, who usher those in the corridor away from the body before anything useful can be ascertained.

HPD_Quote 5

That doesn’t mean that the situation is out of Audrey Rose’s head. Far from it, in fact, as she considers again the facts and the mistake she made in thinking this man was familiar to her. What sort of frame of mind is she in? Will she be able to make something of herself at the famed forensics school she’s on her way to?

I liked that the societal limitations of the time were included in Audrey Rose’s story. They weren’t hidden in order to make a more palatable story for the reader. We go along with our main character as she deals with pressures and expectations and prejudices. As a woman in the 19th century, she has a lot to contend with. Being more than capable mentally, she has to dodge the insipidness of those around her that doubt her abilities because of her gender.

Thomas was a bit of a challenge to like. I remember his character from the first book, but even so, he has a bit of grating personality, what with the constant teasing and making fun of Audrey Rose. She likes him quite a lot and I assume he reciprocates, but his manner of showing it was not really palatable.


There were many side characters that were introduced, though only a few that we got to know with an degree of familiarity. Anastasia, the ward of the headmaster of the academy, was a good friend for Audrey Rose in place of her dear cousin Liza, as was Daciana, Thomas’s sister. Anastasia could be more than a little “energetic” at times, pulling Audrey Rose into headstrong adventures that might not be 100% wise, but she tried her best to work with what she had in terms of allowances and freedom.

Moldoveanu, the headmaster, was such a pill and quite horrid towards Audrey Rose because of both a somewhat sexist attitude and, as Anastasia explains, a tragic loss that changed his view of the world at large. Radu, a teacher of folklore at the academy, was something of a funny character. He had moments when it felt like watching a train wreck, such as when he told Audrey Rose that she had a delicate constitution and hysteria was common for girls like her. I was mentally screaming at him the whole time he dug himself that particular grave.

The revelation of the person behind the “reanimation” of Dracula was a delightful surprise and the person’s connection not only to Dracula, but to another famous historical figure, was exciting. Their character was not one I would have guessed at being involved in such bloody things and that the author was able to keep that a secret until the very end was good writing. So often I find myself being able to pick up on easy clues and I don’t think I failed here, rather Kerri Maniscalco was just that good.

HPD_Quote 8

The aesthetics of the book were an attractive asset to the book. Throughout there are pictures of the places where the book takes place, such as a vista view of Bucharest, a castle like the one in which the forensics academy is located; there are also pictures of excerpts from antiquarian books that offer details about Vlad the Impaler and his legend, as well as a post-mortem room that adds a creepiness factor to the time that Audrey Rose is spending in the academy.

The chapter headers are not left out of the embellishments within the book. Each chapter is topped with a frightening looking scalpel, driving home that Audrey Rose has tools with which to work, but also emphasizing that these tools can be deadly and that this is not a happy-go-lucky novel.

I will admit that the writing style might be a bit sluggish in the middle. The events of the books happen at a relatively good pace, but it felt somewhat difficult to keep my attention during longer passages, such as the evening meals/meetings with Daciana, Thomas, and Audrey Rose or prolonged teasing/romantic interludes with Thomas and Audrey Rose. The intimate moments were alright, I’ll say, but I did feel like there were rather more that felt repetitive and thus affected the flow I had while reading.

Hunting Prince Dracula continued in much the same vein as the previous book in the series, with a brilliant main character who is not perfect. There are plenty of things haunting Audrey Rose from her previous foray into mystery solving, not to mention her attempting to move on from the familial tragedy and discovery in the previous novel. The romance aspect was pleasing and funny, lots of flirtation going on, though seriously frustrating at times due to Thomas’s behavior. The events of the book, the intelligence, the mystery, the adventure, all within the confines of a mountain retreat, made for a great read that will appeal not only to fans of Stalking Jack the Ripper, but fans of period “ghost”/mystery books as well.


HPD Author


Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside of NYC where her fascination with Gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cook all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finger points with her cats. Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.



September 20th

September 21st

Book Crushin – Review
Novel Ink– Favorite Quotes

September 22nd

YA and Wine – Review
Goldilox and Three Weres – Creative Post

September 23rd

That Artsy Reader Girl – Favorite Quotes

September 24th

The Clever Reader – Review
Books Boys, and Blogs – Creative Post

September 25th

Wishful Endings – Review
YA Under My Skin – Review

September 26th

Book Princess Reviews – This or That Interview
Life Within Pages – Review
    2 copies of Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula
    US & Canada Only
    No Giveaway accounts



I received a copy of this book as part of the Fantastic Flying Book Tour 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.

Rich in Variety Tours: A Review of Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman + Bonus Playlist



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Published: 26 September 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Category: Contemporary/Young Adult

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

Rating: 5 Stars

TW: emotional abuse by a parent, childhood sexual abuse, anxiety/panic attacks, racism.

I have to admit, reading some of this book was hard work because of how closely Kiko and her mother’s relationship mirrors that one I had growing up. Being belittled, even when that person doesn’t realize it and especially when they do, makes it difficult to survive sometimes. I had some flashbacks when Kiko’s mother was being narcissitic and petty, reminding me of the past. I will say that as painful as those moments were, and I’d caution those with emotional abuse in their past when reading Starfish, Akemi Dawn Bowman wrote them very authentically.

It’s easy to see the affect that Kiko’s mother’s treatment of her has on her everyday life, particularly one moment when she’s at a fair with Jamie, a childhood friend. He’s a photography major who’s practicing and, when she looks at a picture he takes of her that night, all she can see is the things “wrong” with her face: the shape of her nose, the shade of her hair, etc. She can’t not pick herself apart, even thinking about how it’s no wonder her mother has been telling her she’s going through a “funky” stage. These moments hurt and strike home with each page how badly things have gone in Kiko’s past and present.

The relationship that develops between Kiko and Jaime was a good one in that a) it didn’t feel like insta-love and b) it didn’t magically make Kiko’s problems go away. There have been some mental illness books and movies that make it seem like falling in love will make everything better, but Kiko doesn’t do that. She actually recognizes, when she’s with Jamie and considering the future that she’s be really dependent on him because of how he makes her feel and, while she believes she might love him, doesn’t want their love to be based on him taking care of her. It’s a hard choice for her to make, but she makes the decision to take care of herself first. There’s a RuPaul quote that’s perfect for this moment, I think:


Things aren’t magically better at the end with Kiko’s mother either and that was a powerful statement because things don’t always get better. You can try and reach out, but there are people that just can’t be helped. I really felt for Kiko when she kept trying to reach out to her mother, trying to get her to care about Kiko and her art, hoping that maybe this time will be different. Being able to break away from a toxic environment like that can be insanely hard, but she does it and starts moving forward.

I was happy for the epilogue wherein there was more closure than I was expecting. It gives a glimpse into the life that Kiko is creating on her own now. Learning to accept help, learning to love herself, and recognizing that doing all that doesn’t mean that her anxiety, the pressure she feels to please others and say sorry, will go away and that’s okay. It’s a one day at a time thing and she’s taking those steps.

To celebrate the release of Starfish and the blog tour, there is a giveaway for a signed and personalized copy of the book from author Akemi Dawn Bowman. See the Rafflecopter link below for more details.


Rafflecopter Giveaway

 a Rafflecopter giveaway


And now for the playlist! There were a few songs that really stood out to be as being appropriate for the themes of this novel. Some I had to search for and found, though I was a bit sad listening to them again because they brought to mind the feelings that I imagined the characters as having, particularly Kiko, Jamie, and Shugo.

Some of the songs have to do with abuse of one form or another. The instrumental pieces I thought blended well with lyrics of the others, in particular because they made me think that they might be songs that Kiko would listen to while painting or drawing.

  1. Jesus of Suburbia by Vitamin String Quartet
  2. Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) by Josh Groban
  3. Take Flight by Lindsey Stirling
  4. Dinner at Eight by Rufus Wainwright
  5. Pensiero notturno by Fabrizio Paterlini
  6. Andy Warhol – Live by David Bowie
  7. Piano Concerto in F: II. Adagio by George Gershwin
  8. One More Light by Linkin Park
  9. The Arena by Lindsey Stirling
  10. Follow Your Arrow by Kasey Musgraves

The last song might seem a bit out of place as it’s the only country song on the list, but the lyrics really sealed it for me. As Kiko starts her life as an adult, finding her art and moving away from toxic influences, she’s following her own path. Her own arrow, if you will.


Spotify Playlist


If you have a Spotify account, the link will take you right to the playlist. I’ve included the tracklist if you’d prefer to find the videos/lyrics/use-an-alternative-music-source yourself.


Blog Tour Schedule

Be sure to check out the variety of other posts celebrating the release of Starfish!


September 22, 2017


Candid Ceillie

Author Interview


Rattle the Stars

Aesthetic/Mood Board


Utopia State of Mind



Magical Reads

Author Interview


Life of a Female Bibliophile


September 23, 2017

Morgan + Allison

Take Me Away To A Great Read



Breeny’s Books

Author Interview


The Layaway Dragon



Books of a Shy Girl

Music Playlist


CT Callahan



The Hermit Librarian

Music Playlist



Author Interview

September 24, 2017


Green Tea & Paperbacks

Music Playlist



Music Playlist





Between the Pages

Author Interviews


My Fangirl Chronicles



Off-Color Literature

Author Interview

September 25, 2017


Chasing Faerytales



Cindy Baldwin Books

Author Interview


Bri’s Book Blog

Music Playlist


Audeamus. Let us dare.



Boricuan Bookworms



A History of Books

Music Playlist

September 26, 2017


Of Wonderland



Rooted in Fiction

Music Playlist


Introvert Problems

Author Interview


Too Much of a Booknerd



Rachie Reads

Music Playlist







I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley/Rich in Variety Tours 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.

Guest Post: Molly Ringle, Author of The Goblins of Bellwater

Guest Post by-

The Goblins of Bellwater is an eerie tale of what happens when supernatural creatures infringe upon the human world. Curses, treachery, and love come together to make up an engaging story that may put you in the mind of classic fairy tales.

Today I get to share with you a guest post from the author herself, Molly Ringle. I asked her what it was like for these two worlds, that of humans and that of goblins, to overlap. What might a terrible mistake, made in another country across the Atlantic, be like for the descendants of the person making that choice? Molly’s insight is invaluable to reading the book and I hope you enjoy her post.



If a goblin appeared and offered you a deal that would get you your heart’s desire in exchange for nothing but some gold, would you take that deal? In my book The Goblins of Bellwater, a young woman did exactly that, over a century ago, and her descendants are still feeling the consequences today.

The story takes place in “our” world, America as we know it (with a little bit in France, where the young woman made that deal), rather than a fantasy world, which actually makes the whole issue more problematic. After all, in the modern day, with the internet and our scientific savviness, who’s going to believe someone who claims to be under a goblin curse?

These are the kind of stories I like to write when I choose to write about the supernatural: our world with magical enhancements, maybe with portals into mysterious places. Not other worlds entirely, just other dimensions of our world that we lowly humans don’t usually get to glimpse. It’s one of the features I like about Harry Potter—Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic being tucked away unnoticed among the everyday buildings, concealed with enchantments. Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and others have also done this kind of thing brilliantly.
When I decided to stick goblins into modern rural Washington, along the shores of Puget Sound, I had some explanations to come up with. How did they get there? Were they always there? Are there other fae creatures too, different from the goblins? How is it that modern people don’t know about them? Or do they?

I settled on the notion that there’s a parallel fae realm wrapped into the natural world, in which many fae creatures live, some being native species to the region, and others more like invasive species who came from elsewhere. The goblins, I decided, are the latter. The backstory I gave them is that they’re from Europe, where they enchanted the great-grandmother of Kit Sylvain, a young man who now lives in Bellwater, Washington. As the fae do, they offered her a magical deal: if she brought them a certain amount of gold every month (goblins lust after gold), they could keep her sweetheart from marrying another woman. Foolishly, she agreed, and this deal, unbeknownst to her at the time, followed her bloodline, seemingly unbreakable, for the next several generations. The goblins themselves followed her descendants all the way to the West Coast of the U.S., demanding gold from one family member after another.

These days it’s down to Kit to get them their monthly ration of gold, which of course is an expensive proposition for a small-town mechanic. But if he doesn’t pony up, they might get angry and start assaulting his neighbors, if anyone happens to venture into their woods after dark…which is exactly what happens one winter night.

This being the modern day, who’s going to believe the young woman who falls victim to their strange curse? Who could Kit possibly tell about his goblin troubles in the first place? It’s a lonely existence, being under a spell, especially in a time and place where people don’t believe in that kind of thing and will simply think you’ve lost your mind.

What most of us read fantasy for, and what the real world lacks too often, is a sense of wonder. I like to imagine a world where we might yet stumble upon wonders that make our jaws drop open in awe—even if the wonders come with dangers. So my advice, as Kit warns his friends to do, is to just admire the glowing mushroom path and don’t actually follow it. Then you’ll be all right. Probably. But hey, in the woods at night, who knows? Weird stuff lives out there.



Have you ever had an experience with something otherworldly? Would you accept a deal with a Fae? What are some of your favorite fairy tales? Let me know in the comment section. 🙂




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

Review: The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 1 October 2017

Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing

Category: Fantasy (Urban)/New Adult/Romance

A contemporary romance inspired by Christina Rossetti’s eerie, sensual poem, “Goblin Market.” Four neighbors encounter sinister enchantments and a magical path to love in a small, modern-day Puget Sound town, where a fae realm hides in the woods and waters…

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out.

Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Unaware of what’s happened to Skye, Kit starts dating Livy, trying to keep it casual to protect her from the attention of the goblins. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kit, Skye draws his cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods, dooming Grady and Skye both to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever.

It’s a midwinter night’s enchantment as Livy, the only one untainted by a spell, sets out to save them on a dangerous magical path of her own.

Rating: 4 Stars

A haunting story of love, bewitchment, and what a human can do in the face of supernatural forces, The Goblins of Bellwater has the hallmarks of a classic faerie story and a modern darkness that will surely appeal to readers of such books as In the Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

Kit’s family is cursed to serve a goblin clan that followed his great-grandmother over the Atlantic from France. He bears this burden as well as he can, but when a miscalculation in his tithe leads to the goblins acting out against someone close to him, it’s more important than ever to find a way to break the curse and save not only himself, but his descendants and the residents of Bellwater, Washington.

The very start of the novel, involving what Kit’s life is like and why he has to serve the goblins, reminded me of classic warnings against dealing with faeries of all kinds. Seeing them lure Skye in and how she tries to battle against the “deal” with nearly clever and yet devastating consequences for Grady was a tense time, knowing what’s coming but unable to look away.

About halfway through I noticed that things felt like they were lagging a bit. A lot of scenes started feeling like they were being repeated: encounters between Livy and Kit, Skye and Grady, that sort of thing. There were enough variations in each one to make it seem like things were progressing, but upon reflection I don’t think they really were. It was understood that Skye and Grady were now cursed, I knew from the beginning that Kit was (family obligation to the goblins), and these things kept happening: being reminded of these events, seeing little glimpses of connection, but not much development.

The story did pick back up shortly thereafter, though, and it became thrilling. The revelation of the good fae, the “locals”, and how there’s only one person to save everyone under really difficult conditions, might seem like a typical “good MC saves the world” but it didn’t feel like a rehash. Livy’s adventures, Skye and Grady’s “relationship”, and Kit’s despair was fun to read to the end.

On the topic of relationships, Skye and Grady were a difficult situation and I wasn’t sure how the author would handle it. They have a lot of really intimate moments, but there was the question in the back of my mind as to whether it was a true partnership considering they were under an enchantment the whole time. It did get addressed in parts throughout, with Skye’s thoughts that she couldn’t voice, and resolved at the end when she and Grady were finally able to vocalize what they’d been feeling for the past several weeks and what they’d do now. Was it love, was it real, etc…those were the questions I needed answered because they seemed like they could be great, except for the bewitchment.

With the goblin treachery, curses to be broken, and difficult interpersonal relationships, The Goblins of Bellwater was an enjoyable, well-paced read that reminded me not only of Holly Black stories, but of classic Grimm ones as well.

If you’d like to read Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti for yourself, the Poetry Foundation has it here.

Also,  be sure to check back later today around 12:00 PM EST for a guest post by the author herself, Molly Ringle. In it she talk about her world building and how the goblin world meets our own.







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.

Chapter by Chapter Blog Tour: Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan – Guest Post by the Author + Giveaway!


Cinderella Necromancer Cover

Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan

Publication Date:  September 5, 2017

Publisher:  Month9Books

Tour Date: September 4-22, 2017

Goodreads  –  Tour Schedule

Purchase Links:

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

Darkness can only be controlled by those with the darkest of hearts.

Ellison lost her mother at an early age. Now, sixteen, her father has found love again. He’s happy and doesn’t quite notice that Ellison does not get along with his new wife or her vicious daughters.

When Ellison discovers a necromantic tome while traveling the secret passages of her father’s mansion, she wonders if it could be the key to her eventual freedom.

Until then, she must master her dark new power, even as her stepmother makes her a servant in her own home. And when her younger brother falls incurably ill, Ellison will do anything to ease his pain, including falling prey to her stepmother’s and stepsisters’ every whim and fancy.

Stumbling into a chance meeting with Prince William during a secret visit to her mother’s grave feels like a trick of fate when her stepmother refuses to allow Ellison to attend a palace festival where she might see him once more.

But what if Ellison could see the kind and handsome prince again? What if she could attend the festival? What if she could have everything she’s ever wanted and deserved by conjuring spirits to take revenge on her cruel stepmother? And what if she actually liked watching her stepmother suffer?

As Ellison’s power grows, she loses control over the evil spirits meant to do her bidding. And as they begin to exert their own power over Ellison, it becomes harder to tell whether it is she or her stepmother who is the true monster.

CINDERELLA NECROMANCER is CINDER meets ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD and was inspired by a real medieval grimoire of necromancy from 15th-century Germany

Thank you for joining me today to celebrate the release of Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan. Published 5 September 2017, it tells the story Ellison, the Cinderella character, who by chance discovers a book of necromancy and learns to harness a dark power. When things start to go wrong, from her brother falling ill to losing control of the spirits, she has to face the possibility that she’s becoming more monster than even her wicked stepmother.

F.M. Boughan, creator of this new retelling of the classic story, was kind enough to write a guest post today detailing their “Top 5 Reads”. That’s always a tough question for me to answer! Let’s see what titles come up.

As you might imagine, I read a lot of books. And during 2017 in particular, I’ve read a ton of YA and MG debut novels in an effort to help support my fellow debuts as we all navigate this journey together.

And as you might expect, it’s really hard to narrow down my favorites, because:

  1. I love them all.
  2. I don’t like playing favorites!

So, what I’m going to do is select five books that were extremely memorable but which fall into different categories!

5) Soulmated – Shaila Patel (YA Paranormal Romance)

I don’t read a lot of paranormal romance, but the description of this particular story drew me in right away—and I’m so glad I took the time to read Soulmated, because Shaila’s ability to write romance is spectacular. It’s evocative, lyrical, and demonstrates the perfect balance of emotional and physical reaction for teenagers falling in love. I also loved the combination of Irish hero and Indian heroine, which brought a fun and sweet element of culture clash that added depth to the budding relationship.

4) Kat and Meg Conquer the World – Anna Priemaza (YA Contemporary – with humor!)

This is a story about friendship, and I wish we had more of this type of book in the world! Two teenage girls become friends due to a shared love of a particular game, and the entire story revolves around this friendship, how they navigate their differences, and how they support each other even when one of them takes their obsession too far. It’s filled with humor and heart, and I found it incredibly relatable. I wish I’d had this book when I was a teen.

3) Allegedly – Tiffany D. Jackson (YA Contemporary – but with a thriller/mystery-eqsue angle!)

“Mary Addison killed a baby… allegedly.” I mean, does that not pull you right in?! I picked up this book and was gripped from the first page. It’s such a heartbreaking story, but filled with bittersweet moments, tears, and gut-wrenching honesty. The story kept me guessing through to the end because I was never sure whose truth to trust, and that’s essentially the whole point. The ending had me gutted in the best way, and I’m still not okay. Read it!

2) The Skeleton Tree – Kim Ventrella (Middle Grade)

I’m not sure how to label this one genre-wise, but the general gist is that a boy and his sister discover a skeleton growing in their backyard. His little sister becomes obsessed with the skeleton, but at the same time, she’s also growing more and more ill. Are the two related? I won’t say more than that, but this story basically tore my heart out of my chest, smooshed it into a little ball, and shoved it back inside. And I love it for that. It was a beautiful, shattering story that is going to be so, so helpful to children dealing with grief. I can’t say enough good things about it.

1) The Last Namsara – Kristen Ciccarelli (YA Fantasy)

Know what I love? I love kick-ass chicks with huge weapons who take on challenges that they’re most certainly unprepared for. Who tackle problems with grit, fortitude, and determination—all for the right reasons—but who need to grow throughout the course of the story before they find the right path and the right approach to what they need to do. And in this particular book, there are dragons and stories and forbidden love and horrible dudes and courageous girls, and it’s simply marvelous.


And there you have it! Five more books to add to your TBR list! I wish I could have added more books to this list, but we’d be here all week.

Have you read any of these? What are some of your top reads for 2017?

For my part, I have read Allegedly and can confirm that the ending is one heck of a sucker punch. It was a fabulous book that I read in one night! Kat and Meg Conquer the World is on my Kindle right now courtesy of Edelweiss and I can’t wait to start it. The Skeleton Tree  is now on my TBR because I have to know what is going on with that story. A bone that grows into a skeleton that’s a tree? Only kids can see it? Whaaaat?

I hope you’ll add some of these books, and especially Cinderella, Necromancer, to your TBR. Thanks for stopping by, and thank you to F.M for your guest post today!

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About the Author

F.M. Boughan

F.M. Boughan is a bibliophile, a writer, and an unabashed parrot enthusiast. She can often be found writing in local coffee shops, namely because it’s hard to concentrate with a cat lying on the keyboard and a small, colorful parrot screaming into her ear. Her work is somewhat dark, somewhat violent, somewhat hopeful, and always contains a hint of magic.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads



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

Waiting on Wednesday: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we highlight a title we’re looking forward to reading. You can find their website here.


Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble

Published: 13 March 2018

Publisher: Knopf

Category: Young Adult/Contemporary

Cosplay, comic shops, and college applications collide in this illustrated novel, perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and Noelle Steveson!

Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

I became a fan of Whitney’s after reading her book You’re Welcome, Universe about a graffiti artist who is deaf and has to deal with being ratted out for her art and is summarily transferred to a non-specialized school. The prose she used to craft a contemporary world full of color, art, and emotion was a great read.

I consider myself a big geek and when I saw that her next novel would be centered around a female cosplayer dealing with trolls and a misogynistic comic shop owner, I was intrigued. It sounds like this book is going to be packed with nerd culture, much like Jen Wilde’s Queens of Geek. Any book that can make me appreciate this world even more is one I want to get my hands on!

There’s also apparently a lot of Dungeons & Dragons in the book, something I never got into because, sadly, there weren’t any players around that I could meet up with (anixety problems aside). I look forward to living vicariously through Cameron.




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

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall TBR List


Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find the prompts here.

How is it autumn already in my part of the world? It feels like summer evaporated in the blink of an eye! I read some great books, so that’s something, but I’m being totally honest here: I hate summer. It’s too hot and there are BUGS. Blech. However, it is (apparently) autumn now and that means all the things I like.

Hot chocolate. Knitting weather. Cool breezes bringing me the scent of apples (I live across the street from a farm). It’s my most wonderful time of the year and boy do I have a TBR to fill all that glorious time.


Not Your Villain by C.B. Lee

Release date: 5 October 2017

Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants, and if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most-wanted villain.

After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges. Everyone is in danger. Between college applications and crushing on his best friend, will Bells have time to take down a corrupt government?

Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.

C.B. Lee wrote a fantastic book that I reviewed on my old blog. Not Your Hero was a diverse, fun, exciting read that kicked out the Sidekick series. This book, Not Your Villain, sounds like it might even top its predecessor. The main character is genderfluid (THANK YOU!) and is a the country’s most wanted villain.

Are all villains bad, though? That’s debatable. I mean, the Dregs from Six of Crows are technically criminals and loads of people love them. I’m curious to see what Bells will be like in this book.


Protected by Claire Zorn

Release date: 3 October 2017

I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty-one days old.

Hannah’s world is in pieces and she doesn’t need the school counsellor to tell her she has deep-seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn’t have problems?

Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn’t afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?

In a family torn apart by grief and guilt, one girl’s struggle to come to terms with years of torment shows just how long old wounds can take to heal.

This is going to be a heart breaker from the sound of things. Protected deals with grief, loss, and Hannah’s future after years of dealing with both and a family that seems too broken to ever put back together. I’m usually pretty good with painful books, so we’ll see how this goes. ;_;


Slider by Pete Hautman

Release date: 12 September 2017

Competitive eating vies with family expectations in a funny, heartfelt novel for middle-grade readers by National Book Award winner Pete Hautman.

David can eat an entire sixteen-inch pepperoni pizza in four minutes and thirty-six seconds. Not bad. But he knows he can do better. In fact, he’ll have to do better: he’s going to compete in the Super Pigorino Bowl, the world’s greatest pizza-eating contest, and he has to win it, because he borrowed his mom’s credit card and accidentally spent $2,000 on it. So he really needs that prize money. Like, yesterday. As if training to be a competitive eater weren’t enough, he’s also got to keep an eye on his little brother, Mal (who, if the family believed in labels, would be labeled autistic, but they don’t, so they just label him Mal). And don’t even get started on the new weirdness going on between his two best friends, Cyn and HeyMan. Master talent Pete Hautman has cooked up a rich narrative shot through with equal parts humor and tenderness, and the result is a middle-grade novel too delicious to put down.

I have to admit, the premise of a kid training for an eating contest sounds hilarious and is probably why I picked this up in the first place. There are hints of deeper meaning though, especially in regards to the main character’s brother who is autistic, but his family doesn’t believe he is? Or they don’t use that label? I’m not sure what that’s going to be like; here’s hoping the rep will be good.


Greetings From Witness Protection by Jake Burt

Release date: 3 October 2017

Nicki Demere is an orphan and a pickpocket. She also happens to be the U.S. Marshals’ best bet to keep a family alive. . . .

The marshals are looking for the perfect girl to join a mother, father, and son on the run from the nation’s most notorious criminals. After all, the bad guys are searching for a family with one kid, not two, and adding a streetwise girl who knows a little something about hiding things may be just what the marshals need.

Nicki swears she can keep the Trevor family safe, but to do so she’ll have to dodge hitmen, cyberbullies, and the specter of standardized testing, all while maintaining her marshal-mandated B-minus average. As she barely balances the responsibilities of her new identity, Nicki learns that the biggest threats to her family’s security might not lurk on the road from New York to North Carolina, but rather in her own past.

From the look of the cover this looks like it will be fairly comedic. I have so many questions, though, that are going to have to be answered! How did Nicki get a job with US Marshals? What did this family do to require witness protection? Who exactly is Nicki?


Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Release date: 3 October 2017

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

Anna-Maria McLemore has written some beautiful books and her premise for this one sounds like something out of a fairy tale. Not all fairy tales are good, though, and it sounds like some tears and hard decisions will make an appearance. Family curses are always such an interesting plot point. Can they be lifted? Should they be lifted? What will happen when the main characters are faced with that decision? So many facets to this story. 😀


Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers by David Stabler

Release date: 10 October 2017

The series that includes Kid Presidents, Kid Artists, and Kid Athletes now chronicles the lives of Kid Authors! Here are true tales of famous writers, from long before they were famous–or even old enough to drive. Did you know:
– Sam Clemens (aka Mark Twain) loved to skip school and make mischief, with his best friend Tom, of course!
– A young J. R. R. Tolkien was bitten by a huge tarantula–or as he called it, -a spider as big as a dragon.-
– Toddler Zora Neale Hurston took her first steps when a wild hog entered her house and started chasing her!
The diverse and inclusive cast includes Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, J. K. Rowling, Langston Hughes, Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll, Stan Lee, and many more.

I’m most curious to learn about these authors because all I usually read about is what they were like when they started writing, which is usually as adults. What kind of past brought writing to them? Were there stories in their past that influenced their works? It helps that more than a few of the featured authors are some of my favorites.


The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

Release date: 17 October 2017

When the music stops, the dance begins.

Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has never known.

But when flashes of memories, memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading, start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.

There have been a lot of dancing books on my TBR lately. That, and the fact that the synopsis for this put me in the mind of The Phantom of the Opera, makes The Midnight Dance a tantalizing story.


Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

Release date: 22 August 2017

A magically inspiring tale of a man who is reincarnated through many lifetimes so that he can be with his one true love: Death herself.

What if you could live forever—but without your one true love? Reincarnation Blues is the story of a man who has been reincarnated nearly 10,000 times, in search of the secret to immortality so that he can be with his beloved, the incarnation of Death. Neil Gaiman meets Kurt Vonnegut in this darkly whimsical, hilariously profound, and wildly imaginative comedy of the secrets of life and love. Transporting us from ancient India to outer space to Renaissance Italy to the present day, is a journey through time, space, and the human heart.

I’ve heard of people going to extreme lengths to be with their true love, but this book takes it to another level! Reincarnation is one thing to be with your love (Fallen, The Fountain), but the main character here is in love with Death! Does she love him back? Is immortality a possibility so they can be together? What kind of consequences will there be for such a journey? And how does he remember all of his lives?!


A Thousand Rooms by Helen Jones

Release date: 20 October 2016

You don’t wake up expecting to die…

Katie is thirty-two, single, and used to work in advertising. She’s also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying, trying to find her way to… wherever she’s supposed to be.

And whoever she’s supposed to be with.

Heaven, it seems, has a thousand rooms. What will it take to find hers?

I went through a chick-lit phase earlier this year and came into possession of a lot of titles to read, this being one of them. It sounds like it’ll be fun. I don’t expect an in-depth search of afterlife theories or anything. How many rooms is Katie going to get through and are they anything like the ones in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey? Those were weird. O.O


My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

Release date: 31 October 2017

Charlotte “Charlie” Donovan knows what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz. He’s a star athlete, in the National Honor Society, invited to every party, and contributes to the school paper (where Charlie is co-editor). Basically, he’s exactly the type of guy Charlie’s looking for. The only problem—he barely knows she exists.

But Charlie has a plan: Rig the paper’s Secret Santa and win his heart with five perfect gifts. Enter J.D. Ortiz—Teo’s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He’s easy going, laid back, unorganized, and spontaneous—the exact opposite of Charlie (and Teo). But he knows what Teo wants, so she’s stuck with him.

Yet the more time Charlie spends with J.D. the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?

Christmas movies and books are usually a surefire comfort read. This one sounds kind of funny in a semi-hate-to-love sort of way.

Are any of these books on your autumn tbr? Which one do you think you might add if it isn’t already on your radar?

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

Review: We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 1 August 2017

Publisher: Dial Books

Category: Young Adult/Contemporary

A ripped-from-the-headlines novel that explores the power of being an ally—and a friend—when a kidnapped boy returns to his hometown.

Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.

Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor.

And as Sam starts to confide in Josh about his past, Josh can’t admit the truths he’s hidden deep within himself: that he’s gay, and developing feelings for Sam. And, even bigger: that he never told the police everything he saw the day Sam disappeared.

As Beth and Josh struggle with their own issues, their friends and neighbors slowly turn on Sam, until one night when everything explodes. Beth can’t live in silence. Josh can’t live with his secrets. And Sam can’t continue on until the whole truth of what happened to him is out in the open.

For fans of thought-provoking stories like The Face on the Milk Carton, this is a book about learning to be an ally—even when the community around you doesn’t want you to be.

Rating: 4 Stars

Books about missing kids returning home are terrifying. There are so many questions in a case like that and it’s never certain that the child that went missing is really the one that comes home. Then again, there are cases where the kidnapping isn’t what it seems and the abductor isn’t what/who you’re being led to believe. I’ve read similar books in the past, such as Emmy & Oliver which I did not care for, but the comparison to The Face on the Milk Carton was something that made me curious about We Now Return to Regular Life.

Told through multiple perspectives, including those of Sam’s sister Beth and his friend Josh, the story of Sam’s disappearance and reemergence three years later comes to light. There is a range of feelings from those affected by this initial loss and return, from guilt to confusion to anxiety and, I felt, an underlying bit of terror when confronted with all these feelings. There’s even grief from one character, which was fascinating because that I did not expect.

The pace of the book was a good one in that it didn’t drag like I feared it might. Paired with a character intense narrative, We Now Return to Regular Life was a good book for a weekend read it was that fast. It’s difficult to find books that can stand up under the intensity of burrowing into a book for a limited time read, but while it has some sad/tense moments it was still enjoyable. Be warned that you might have some heart-aching moments while seeing Sam come back different from before and how those around him come to terms with what happened and their part in it and the things that came after Sam’s return.








I received a copy of this book 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.