Friday, September 27, 2019

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

Title: The Beautiful
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date: October 8, 2019
Pages: 448
Source/format: ARC//BookishFirst and Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2
Synopsis (from

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien's guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

"New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead."

The opening of the novel is strong. Renée Ahdieh immerses readers in ornate folklore of New Orleans and how it’s known to be ruled by the city of the dead. Set in the late 1800’s, this historical paranormal novel dazzles readers with its intrigue, magic, and exquisiteness; The Beautiful is haunting yet hypnotic. Readers will be hungry for more. Marceline Béatrice Rousseau travels from Paris, France to New Orleans, Lousiana and meets a mysterious young fellow with gray eyes, not much older than she is.

Celine with six other girls are on sponsorship by the Catholic Church to receive training at the Ursuline Convent in New Orleans and they are expected to help run the attached hospital, teach the young girls who attended school there and assist in any efforts to raise funds on behalf of the diocese. I found the interaction between the girls such as Pippa and Anabel to be interesting since they all have different personalities. Pippa has grown to be a close friend of Celine and I am glad they have each other's backs.

With the death rate increasing in New Orleans, this historical paranormal shifts into a mystery where everyone is trying to uncover who the serial killer is. Celine reunites with the mysterious man, named Sébastien Saint Germain under undesirable circumstances involving the death of a couple young ladies. The two souls are more alike then they thought. However, another gentleman with the name Michael Grimaldi enters the picture trying to find the missing link to the puzzle. The balance between the "bad boy" and the "good boy" trope is definitely present here as well as an insta-love connection between two characters.

Celine is a strong-minded young woman who knows what she wants but she can be a bit reckless at times. She harbors a secret regarding her heritage yet she is careful to convey herself in a certain manner. Celine only shares her secrets with very few people because she doesn't know who she can trust. Yet, I find it crazy how she is willing to use herself as bait to catch the killer. I know she wants to catch the killer but she defies everyone's wishes for her safety. Celine's friendship with Odette Valmont is an exceptional one. Odette introducing Celine to La Cour des Lions is a good segway to where Celine seeks refuge when she is asked to leave the convent. Odette and Celine have a strong friendship made in an unusual way.

Odette is a lady who draws Celine into La Cour des Lions. Odette isn't joking when she offers Celine adventure for Celine turns down a handsome sum of money in turn for a handsewn tailored dress. Celine is intrigued for Odette quotes and loves Hamlet just like Celine does. And Odette wearing pants at the La Cour des Lions is priceless! How scandalous?! Odette is definitely a favorite character of mine.

Although the novel is depicted as a vampire novel, I expected more presence from the mysterious fanged creatures to be lurking about. Readers have insight with the killer's POV and there are descriptions of an inhuman creature lurking about but we hardly have the face-to-face interaction with the vampire serial killer. The Beautiful is more of a mystery where one needs to unearth who the killer is ala Jack the Ripper.

I find it bothersome when the novel mentions the shade of bronzed skin or the gray/gunmetal eyes too many times. The ending feels a little bit rushed to finalize the last "killing." There is definitely a lot of foreshadowing earlier in the book for the reader to figure who the killer is. I am looking forward to the next installment in this series. I would love to read a companion novel or spin-off series about Odette in the near future!

The Beautiful is an atmospheric novel and thought-provoking story for readers who are fans of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco and Enchantée by Gita Trelease. Enthusiasts of the TV show, The Originals, will be drawn to this novel because of vampires and NOLA's French Quarter. I foresee the paranormal genre making a comeback in YA literature which I am quite excited about.


“It doesn’t matter who you were,” her father had argued. “It matters who you are.”

"You wanted to know who I really am," She bit her lower lip. "I'm a girl who'd rather experience life than watch it pass by from my window."

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall 2019 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten books on their fall TBRs. The following titles are in no particular order.

1. Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and illustrated by Wendy Xu is a graphic novel about a teenage witch who works at a bookstore within New England. Also, she ends up reuniting with a childhood friend unexpectedly when she finds out that he is a werewolf. Yes, please! It's everything I want in a graphic novel!

2. Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao is on my definitely TBR list after I read American Panda and heard about this novel coming out. Ali is the only Asian person at her school in the middle-of-nowhere in Indiana until one day the new kid arrives. The new kid happens to be Taiwanese, just like her. Her parents don't approve of the relationship and that's when Ali finds out some secrets about her family.

3. Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell is the sequel to Carry On. Who doesn't want to read more about Simon and Baz? No spoilers but if you've read Fangirl, you will know that Carry On is the fanfiction that Cath wrote. Rowell came out with the Carry On story in book format and readers can now get their hands off the continuation of Carry On.

4. Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao takes place in the same realm as Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. It is about a poor physician's apprentice and a wealthy nobleman's daughter. The apprentice confesses his love to the nobleman's daughter and she shoos him away but later regrets it. However, the apprentice's soul becomes trapped in a flute due to a curse. Ony his true love can free him. I am ready to immerse myself into Dao's fairytale world again!

5. Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw is about haunted woods and witches! This will be an excellent read for the fall and winter months. First edition copies will have embossed book boards a la The Wicked Deep.

6. Becoming the Dark Prince by Kerri Maniscalco is a novella with Thomas Cresswell's point of view during the voyage on the RMS Eturia in Escaping from Houdini. For those who don't know, Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell is one of my favorite OTPs!

7. Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco is the fourth and last book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. The White City Devil is loose in Chicago's World's Fair and Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell are investigating the murders. I am currently reading this novel right now and I am in love!

8. The Star Sheperd by Dan Haring and MarcyKate Connolly is a middle-grade novel about a boy named Kyro, his dog and a baker's daughter. The trio live in a world where stars provide the light to keep the evil dark creatures away. The boy rescues falling stars just like his father who is a Star Sheperd. As the stars are falling in an alarming rate and to prevent the world plummeting into darkness, the trio must race to save the stars.

9. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern is Morgenstern's upcoming book that everyone is raving about. Zachary is a grad student in Vermont when a mysterious book is found in the stacks. A series of clues are found that leads him to a masquerade party and secret club in New York. This intriguing book is one of the most anticipated books coming out this year for most people and I can see why. I am very fortunate to get a ticket to attend the launch party on November 5th!

10. The Institute by Stephen King was released earlier this month and it sounds fantastic! Kids with special powers are sent to this facility and discover that the staff who work there are finding ways to extract these powers from the kids. The main character, Luke, is trying to find out way out but no one has ever escaped the Insitute before.

What books are you looking forward to this fall?

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication date: October 8, 2019
Pages: 416
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher


Synopsis (from

A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!

“A visceral, darkly haunting fever dream of a novel and an absolute page-turner. Liggett’s deeply suspenseful book brilliantly explores the high cost of a misogynistic world that denies women power and does it with a heart-in-your-throat, action-driven story that’s equal parts horror-laden fairy tale, survival story, romance, and resistance manifesto. I couldn’t stop reading.” – Libba Bray, New York Times bestselling author

Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

“They call us the weaker sex. It’s pounded into us every Sunday in church, how everything’s Eve’s fault for not expelling her magic when she had the chance, but I still can’t understand why the girls don’t get a say. Sure, there are secret arrangements, whispers in the dark, but why must the boys get to decide everything? As far as I can tell, we all have hearts. We all have brains. There are only a few differences I can see, and most men seem to think with that part anyway.”

Kim Liggett starts The Grace Year strong summarizing what a grace year is. It's supposed to be a time where young girls at the age of sixteen will release their magic into the wild in order to stop luring men from their beds, to stop making boys go mad, and to stop wives being driven with jealousy.

Tierney James is one of 33 girls who will leave for a grace year. As part of a promise of marriage, a boy will lift a veil of a girl of his choosing on Veiling Day. This year there are only 12 boys. However, Tierney doesn't want to get married. Those who are not paired up with a boy will live a life of hard work in a labor house. The girls must survive a year within the forest fending and foraging for themselves. After being purified, they can live a life as a wife who bears many children and takes care of her husband or to be a laborer in the mills, fields, etc.

Tierney is shocked but mostly furious when she can't set her life on her own terms. Tierney becomes the wild card. Besides not being able to live a life she wants, Tierney is stuck with mean-spirited and controlling Kiersten along with the other girls for a year. Kiersten rules with fear and the girls listen to her a la The Crucible. The madness spreads like crazy. However, Tierney is one of the girls who fights back. Tierney's decision for not giving into Kiersten's whim sparks a beginning of a rebellion. Women are pitting against each other in a catfight while trying to stay away from the poachers. It's the survival of the fittest.

Liggett's YA dystopian novel may be a break from her normal thrillers and horror novels but The Grace Year is poignant and thought-provoking. Her writing is gritty yet harrowing. There are hints regarding her love for horror sneakingly woven into the novel. The inklings of blood from the punishment tree to the madness the girls endure remind me of Liggett's previous books. After all she is the YA horror queen!

The novel does have some gruesome scenes that may not be for the faint of heart. Also, there is a teenage pregnancy present. Innocence is the color white during the childhood of a girl. Blood is the color red during the survival of a grace year. Death is the color black to the binding marriage that a woman endures. These colors are depicted in the hair ribbons in the females' hair.

If you are looking for a dystopian thriller that fuses classics with more contemporary novels, The Grace Year is for you. I agree with many other readers that The Grace Year is one part The Handmaid’s Tale, one part The Crucible, one part The Hunger Games, and one part Lord of the Flies. The Grace Year will become a new classic that will be read and liked by many generations to come.


“Someday, you’ll get a flower. It might be a little withered round the edges, but it’ll mean just the same. Love’s not just for the marrieds, you know, it’s for everyone,” she says as she slips a bloom into my hand. Uncurling my fingers, I find a deep purple iris, the petals and falls perfectly formed.

“Hope,” I whisper, my eyes welling up. I don’t hope for a flower from a boy, but I hope for a better life. A truthful life. I’m not usually sentimental, but there’s something about it that feels like a sign. Like its own kind of magic.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Unspoken Takeover Tour

I am so excited to be part of the Unspoken Takeover Tour! Shifters and wolves are making a comeback within YA fiction. Also, how fitting for Unspoken to be published near the full moon! Unspoken is Celia McMahon's debut novel and it's the first book in a trilogy. I look forward to reading the next two installments in the series.

Title: Unspoken
Author: Celia McMahon
Publisher: The Parliament House
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Purchase here: Parliament House | Amazon Kindle | B&N Nook


Princess Isabelle of The New Kingdom has lived her entire life in the confines of her palace. She spends her time hunting for the poverty-stricken Voiceless-people of the Old Kingdom who warred with her kingdom and ultimately lost-and dreaming of a world beyond the walls of her home. As the only remaining child of the king and queen, she is to be married off by her eighteenth birthday.

When Izzy witnesses the use of forbidden magic in the woods outside the palace, she is attacked, and saved by an unknown man. Soon after she discovers her rescuer is a Voiceless servant in the castle named Fray, she befriends him to seek out the magic users who tried to kill her. Fray agrees to help, but not before Isabelle discovers the servant boy harbors a secret the king has tried to bury-that he is a Gwylis, people of the old Kingdom who made a pact with the demons of the underworld for the power to transform into giant ferocious wolves. But to shift into a beast, Fray must be able to speak the words to do so. If he is to thwart the attackers from killing her entire family, Izzy needs to cure the ailment that took away his voice.

But curing Fray holds more danger than she ever thought possible. The lies of her parents and the risk of putting her own life on the line deems as destructive as falling for the servant boy. If Isabelle is to save herself and Fray, she’ll need to face enemy Gwylis, cross paths with usurper kings and princes, and decide what side she is on-human or wolf-or lose her kingdom forever.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Isabelle Rowan is a princess of Stormwall but she defies what her mother says. With her father off beyond the Archway at war, a brother who passed away during the war, and an overprotective mother, Izzy finds solace in the little things. Izzy enjoys being in the company of her cousin, Lulu; talking to her brother, Henry, at his grave; and escaping through the servants' entrance to go hunting in the forest with a bow and arrow.

Izzy is snarky, speaks her mind and loves archery. Henry taught her archery, hand to hand combat and basic survival skills. However, Izzy can be annoying at times when she doesn't listen to anyone. When someone tells her no, she wants to do the things that are forbidden even more. At least she acknowledges this stubbornness. Izzy's mother matches her with Prince Ashe Paratheon of the Peek Islands and hopes Izzy will marry him. However, Izzy has a fondness for the Voiceless servant, Fray Castor.

What Izzy doesn't know is the harrowing secrets that her family holds. The House of Rowan has been conquering land for quite a while. When a group of people of the old kingdom dabbles in magic to overcome the House of Rowans, they are poisoned by the opposition. This group loses their voice and are now known as the Voiceless. The royal family sees the Voiceless or the Gwylis as a disgrace. However, Izzy falls in love with Fray and seeks redemption along with the creator of the poison.

Izzy's friendship with Lulu is strong. Lulu is Izzy's only female friend she confides in. Pyrus, a healer, is another one of her close friends who she often visits. Izzy is close with her bodyguard, Crim. She first learned to sign with the Voiceless through Crim. While others in the new kingdom avoid the Voiceless like the plague, Izzy tries to help them as much as possible.

Izzy knows there is magic in the air but she has no proof besides what she sees with her very own eyes. However, she soon finds out that people do know about the magic but often denies it exists. I assume they believe in the idiom, "out of sight, out of mind." Izzy feels betrayed when those close to her are harboring secrets. While her father seeks to conqueror all the lands and its people, others seek to take advantage of Izzy and the Rowan family.

The worldbuilding is definitely a strong point in Unspoken. The way the Gwylis transform into wolves is very unique. They must recite a certain phrase in order to shift into wolf form. However, without a voice, they remain human. I would have loved more intricate character development. However, since there are two more books in the series, I hope to see growth within the characters. I am not one for insta-love or love triangles but then again, everyone's loyalties lie differently. The pacing of the book started off slow but ramped up quickly at the end.

Celia McMahon has penned a fantasy novel with a dash of magic, a dash of paranormal and forbidden love. If you are looking for a novel about a princess, a prince, messenger crows, and wolves, check out Unspoken.

Although this quote is not one of Izzy's, I find it quite memorable:

"A woman may be forgotten. But a queen lives on forever."


Celia McMahon is a devourer of books and coffee. She lives in Italy for the time being as a full time author and mother to a strapping young knight. If she’s not busy buying more books than she can read or discovering new ways of being tired, you can find her scouring the world for book ideas.

Website | Twitter Instagram | Goodreads

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Things to Eat/Drink While Reading

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their favorite things to eat/drink while reading.

I love books and I love food. Why not combine the act of reading and eating together? Although there can be mishaps with food or drink getting on the pages of your wonderful book, it's always fun to curl up with a blanket and to munch on something or drink something while being immersed within a good read. Some of my favorite drinks and things to eat while reading can be found below.


1. Hot tea is my favorite all time drink but it's a little hard to drink it during the warmer months. But during the colder months, I love curling on the couch with a toasty blanket, a mug of hot tea and a book in hand. It's the best way to enjoy a good book.

2. Sparkling water is my go to when water doesn't cut it. I often drink this between glasses of water during the summer time. It's still refreshing but without the sugar and calories that soda has.

3. Lemonade is the one of the best summer drinks when you need a little kick in your drink. It's great when you are sitting on the deck or porch when you are reading.

4. Iced Tea is delicious during the summer when you are kicking back and relaxing on a nice summer day. It's a great alternative to hot tea during the warmer months.

5. Water is plentiful and always available. Hydrating is always key to staying healthy. You can exercise your mind while reading and keep your body hydrated while you are at it.


1. Cookies, preferably Snickerdoodles, are my jam when it comes to eating a snack while reading. I also enjoy a glass of milk when I have any type of cookie. Snickerdoodles are my favorite cookie to eat and bake. It also doesn't hurt that Snickerdoodles remind me of To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han!

2. Hazelnut M&M's are my favorite new chocolate based candy. They are so addicting and I always have to limit myself to a small handful to eat.

3. Gummy Bears are juicy and delicious when I want a fruity and sugary treat.

4. Pretzels and hummus are fairly healthy compared to snacks like chips. I sometimes will dip raw peppers in hummus as well.

5. Charcuterie with cheese, meats and crackers on a fancy board is always nice for a light lunch or a snack. The mixture between crunchy, creamy and savory is the best snack for someone who can't make up their mind about what they feel like eating. I also like including things like fig jam, grapes, apple slices, etc. to the board.

What are some of your favorite things to eat or drink while reading? Do we share any favorites?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Permanent Record Blog Tour

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for inviting me to be part of this amazing blog tour! Not only am I excited to share more about Permanent Record with everyone reading this post, but I hope you are able to read Mary H.K. Choi's debut, Emergency Contact, as well. Choi's novels are character-driven and are the perfect reads if you are looking for YA/NA novels. It's very hard to find books about college-aged individuals and I am happy to see that Choi is closing the gap.

Title: Permanent Record
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: September 3, 2019
Pages: 400
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher



From the New York Times bestselling author of Emergency Contact, which Rainbow Rowell called “smart and funny,” comes an unforgettable new romance about how social media influences relationships every day.

On paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.

Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, step-and-repeats, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.

When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Lee and Pab turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Permanent Record is a coming-of-age story that is relatable. This contemporary novel seamlessly blends the woes of young adults. Readers encounter financial struggles, family expectations, how social media affects lives, life after high school and how to live a meaningful life.

Mary H.K. Choi includes a male POV in Permanent Record which I am grateful about. I love reading from a male perspective in YA novels because YA is dominated with female voices within the novels. Diversity is important in this novel as finding your identity. Pablo Rind is half Korean and half Pakistani and he learns what it means to be mixed. He conquerors who he is and who he wants to become. I enjoyed reading his internal monologues even though he may be uncertain about himself. He struggles regarding what to do with his life. This is exactly what we see in young adults today! There is too much pressure for young adults to make the "right decision." However, sometimes, they need a break from societal expectations and they need to focus on self-care.

Pablo meets Leanna Smart, who is half Mexican and half White, at the bodega and they click despite their many differences. Pablo is currently working a graveyard shift in order to pay back student loans and credit card debt. He drops out of college in order to take care of his debt but is debating whether to go back to NYU. Leanna, on the other hand, is a celebrity who is social media famous. Sometimes opposites attract. Although this pairing is not common in the real world, this can meeting can happen.

Choi writes about financial struggles which I enjoy seeing in a book because nowadays, young adults are struggling to make ends meet. Cost of housing, food, college loans, etc. are rising to the point where young adults are willing to work more hours, cut down on meals and make huge sacrifices but at what cost?

Permanent Record is the perfect read for those who want to know more about the time bridging high school and college. If you are a fan of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell or Emergency Contact by Mary H.K Choi, you will enjoy this novel.


Mary H.K. Choi is a writer for The New York Times, GQ, Wired, and The Atlantic. She has written comics for Marvel and DC, as well as a collection of essays called Oh, Never Mind. Her debut novel Emergency Contact was a New York Times bestseller. She is the host of Hey, Cool Job!, a podcast about jobs and Hey, Cool Life!, a podcast about mental health and creativity. Mary grew up in Hong Kong and Texas and now lives in New York. Follow her on Twitter @ChoitotheWorld.


August 26th– Vicky Who Reads

August 27th– Adventures of a Book Junkie

August 28th– Utopia State of Mind

August 29th– Read by Tiffany

August 30th– Rich in Color

August 31st– Your Tita Kate

September 2nd– Books on Pointe

September 3rd– Andi’s ABCs

September 4th– Book Scents

September 5th– Twirling Pages

September 6th– Bookshelves & Paperbacks

September 9th– YA Bibliophile

September 10th– Mary Had A Little Book Blog

September 11th– Chasing Faerytales

September 12th– Nicole’s Novel Reads

September 13th– Mel to the Any

Monday, September 9, 2019

Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows Blog Tour

Thank you to Rockstar Book Tours and Ryan Calejo for hosting this wonderful blog tour. If you love middle grade novels, this is one not to miss! Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows is the first book in the series. Definitely check out the second installment, Charlie Hernández & the Castle of Bones, which comes out on October 22, 2019.

Don't forget to check out a chance to win a signed hardcopy of Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows at the bottom of this post.

TitleCharlie Hernández and the League of Shadows
Author: Ryan Calejo
Pub. Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: Aladdin
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 330
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, The Book Depository


Charlie Hernández has always been proud of his Latin American heritage. He loves the culture, the art, and especially the myths. Thanks to his abuela’s stories, Charlie possesses an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the monsters and ghouls who have spent the last five hundred years haunting the imaginations of children all across the Iberian Peninsula, as well as Central and South America. And even though his grandmother sometimes hinted that the tales might be more than mere myth, Charlie’s always been a pragmatist. Even barely out of diapers, he knew the stories were just make-believe—nothing more than intricately woven fables meant to keep little kids from misbehaving.

But when Charlie begins to experience freaky bodily manifestations—ones all too similar to those described by his grandma in his favorite legend—he is suddenly swept up in a world where the mythical beings he’s spent his entire life hearing about seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Hispanic folklore and into his life. And even stranger, they seem to know more about him than he knows about himself.

Soon, Charlie finds himself in the middle of an ancient battle between La Liga, a secret society of legendary mythological beings sworn to protect the Land of the Living, and La Mano Negra (a.k.a. the Black Hand), a cabal of evil spirits determined to rule mankind. With only the help of his lifelong crush, Violet Rey, and his grandmother’s stories to guide him, Charlie must navigate a world where monsters and brujas rule and things he couldn’t possibly imagine go bump in the night. That is, if he has any hope of discovering what’s happening to him and saving his missing parents (oh, and maybe even the world).
No pressure, muchacho.


“This is a perfect pick for kids who love Rick Riordan’s many series, particularly for those eager for mythologies beyond Greek and Roman stories.” —Booklist (starred review)

“A winner for all kids, but it will be especially beloved by Latinx and Hispanic families.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

The Lightning Thief meets the Story Thieves series in this middle grade fantasy inspired by Hispanic folklore, legends, and myths from the Iberian Peninsula and Central and South America.

Ryan Calejo was born and raised in south Florida. He graduated from the University of Miami with a BA. He’s been invited to join both the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Golden Key International Honour Society. He teaches swimming to elementary school students, chess to middle school students, and writing to high school students. Having been born into a family of immigrants and growing up in the so-called “Capital of Latin America,” Ryan knows the importance of diversity in our communities and is passionate about writing books that children of all ethnicities can relate to. His first novel was Charlie Hernández & the League of Shadows.

Simon & Schuster Webpage| Twitter| Goodreads

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Move over, Percy Jackson. Charlie Hernández is here with a story for you all to hear. For those readers who like to read about mythology, you will love reading Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows. Charlie's parents disappear all of a sudden and his house burns down. He starts to see he has sprouted a set of horns and a coating of feathers. What can this mean?

Charlie always enjoyed listening to his abuela's stories about creatures and monsters. Little did he know that the Latin American and Spanish folklore and myths are based on reality. Charlie and his friend, Violet, hop on an adventure to locate his parents.

Ryan Calejo's writing is fun to read and full of action. Charlie's voice actually sounds like an authentic middle schooler's voice which is great! With twists and turns, Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows is chock full of adventure. Calejo introduces readers to a plethora of folktales they have never heard before but readers will be immersed.

Charlie Hernández and the League of Shadows is relatable. With the We Need Diverse Books movement, I am delighted to see more books that more people can see themselves in. Calejo does just that with this novel.


1 winner will win a signed hardcover of CHARLIE HERNANDEZ AND THE LEAGUE OF SHADOWS, US only. Nicole's Novel Reads is not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Good Luck!

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Week One:

8/19/2019- BookHounds YA- Interview
8/20/2019- Savings in Seconds- Excerpt
8/21/2019- Twirling Book Princess- Excerpt
8/22/2019- Country Road Reviews- Review
8/23/2019- Lifestyle Of Me- Review

Week Two:

8/26/2019- Rhythmicbooktrovert- Review
8/27/2019- Wonder Struck- Review
8/28/2019- Two Chicks on Books- Interview
8/29/2019- Aunt Addie's Bookshelf- Review
8/30/2019- The Desert Bibliophile- Review

Week Three:

9/2/2019- The Layaway Dragon- Review
9/3/2019- Random Bookish Banter- Review
9/4/2019- Eli to the nth- Review
9/5/2019- Novel Novice- Guest Post
9/6/2019- Fyrekatz Blog- Review

Week Four:

9/9/2019- Nicole's Novel Reads- Review
9/10/2019- Marshmallow Pudding- Review
9/11/2019- Nerdophiles- Review
9/12/2019- PopTheButterfly Reads- Review
9/13/2019- two points of interest- Review

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Thank You Book by Mary Lyn Ray

Title: The Thank You Book
Author: Mary Lyn Ray
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: September 4, 2018
Pages: 32
Source/format: Hardcover/Library

Synopsis (from

Perfect for fans of Margaret Wise Brown and Pat Zietlow Miller’s Be Kind, The Thank You Book explores the many ways of being thankful that can fill a child's day. Timely, wise, and accessible, the poetic text and tender illustrations celebrate the powerful impact gratitude can have on our lives.Thank you isn't just for learning manners.It's also for when something wakes alittle hum—a little happy hum—inside youand you want to answer back.The Thank You Book explores the many ways we can be thankful for the pleasures great and small that await us every day. Tender and poetic, it reflects on the role gratitude can play in our lives and celebrates the powerful impact it can have on us.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

The Thank You Book is pleasing to the eyes with muted soft colors for the fall. Mary Lyn Ray's story telling is simple and full of thanks. She teaches children that saying "thank you" isn't just for learning manners. It's about appreciating what you are given and have every day. Thank you for the sun to start the new day. Thank you for teaching me something new. Thank you for nature's bounty. Or even thank you for the zipper on a jacket. The Thank You Book teaches about choosing kindness and loving each other. It promotes peace between everyone.

Stephanie Graegin's illustrations include children spending time with cuddly critters. Animals such as porcupines will spend time eating with a skunk and a bird. Children are spending time with dogs and cats relaxing in the grass. The book promotes spending time indoors and outdoors with animals and each other. I also appreciate how the children of the picture book are of different genders as well as races. In this day in age, it's nice to see multiple types of people represented in a picture book. The Thank You Book is relatable for any age and it reminds people to give gratitude for even the smallest of things that they have.