April 2022 Wrap Up

I didn’t think that I would get through as much reading this month because I had a week long vacation at the end of the month. I actually got through quite a few books though since I’m on a graphic novel kick and I can get through those rather quickly. I love how graphic novels and middle grade books can easily pull me out of a reading slump. Titles will lead to a full review of the book, some reviews are still to come.

Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases by Lydia Kang, Nate Pedersen

A very timely history of disease outbreaks, from the authors of Quackery: stories of outbreaks (and their patient zeros), plus chapters on the science, culture, and cures for different types of epidemics and pandemics. Popular reading on a timely topic.

Heartbreak Symphony by Laekan Zea Kemp

Clap When You Land meets On the Come Up in this heart-gripping story about navigating first love and overcoming grief through the power of music.

Aarón Medrano has been haunted by the onstage persona of his favorite musician ever since his mother passed away. He seems to know all of Aarón’s deepest fears, like that his brain doesn’t work the way it should and that’s why his brother and father seems to be pushing him away. He thinks his ticket out is a scholarship to the prestigious Acadia School of Music. That is, if he can avoid blowing his audition.

Mia Villanueva has a haunting of her own and it’s the only family heirloom her parents left her: doubt. It’s the reason she can’t overcome her stage fright or believe that her music is worth making. Even though her trumpet teacher tells her she has a gift, she’s not sure if she’ll ever figure out how to use it or if she’s even deserving of it in the first place.

When Aarón and Mia cross paths, Aarón sees a chance to get close to the girl he’s had a crush on for years and to finally feel connected to someone since losing his mother. Mia sees a chance to hold herself accountable by making them both face their fears, and hopefully make their dreams come true. But soon they’ll realize there’s something much scarier than getting up on stage—falling in love with a broken heart.

How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox

Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, who loves her so hard, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was six. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface—normal okay regular fine.

But after what happens on the beach—first in the ocean, and then in the sand–the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. Dad disappears, and with him, all comfort. It might be easier, better, sweeter to float all the way away? Or maybe stay a little longer, find her father, bring him back to her. Or maybe—maybe maybe maybe—there’s a third way Biz just can’t see yet.

Scout Is Not a Band Kid by Jade Armstrong

A young girl in middle school will do whatever it takes to meet her favorite author–even if it means joining her school band! A contemporary graphic novel about making your dream come true–and the friends you make along the way.

When Scout learns that her favorite author is doing an exclusive autograph session at the end of the year, she’s determined to be there! She officially needs a plan…and when she finds out that her school’s band is heading to the same location for their annual trip, an idea takes shape. Being a band kid can’t be that hard, right?

As it turns out, learning how to play an instrument when you can’t even read music is much, much, MUCH tougher than expected. And it’s even harder for Scout when her friends aren’t on board with her new hobby. Will she be able to master the trombone, make new band friends, and get to her favorite author’s book signing? Tackling everything seems like a challenge for a supergenius superfriend supermusician–and she’s just Scout.

It Helps with the Blues by Bryan Cebulski

Jules leaves. Gabriel rages.
Estelle changes. Joshua hides.

In the aftermath of a classmate’s suicide, a boy embroils himself in a community of Midwestern teens, each doing what they can to cope as they stumble—together and apart—toward a life worth living.

vViIrRuUsS: I Never Forget by Jazalyn

A virus invades the lives of all humanity and causes a madness pandemic from the reminder of the past and the exposure of thoughts threatening to change everything, but then another virus attempts to erase the memories and recover the future, while a third virus scopes to save the new generations.

Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood


It will take the frosty terrain of the Arctic to show these rival scientists that their chemistry burns hot


Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn…

Hannah’s got a bad feeling about this. Not only has the NASA aerospace engineer found herself injured and stranded at a remote Arctic research station—but the one person willing to undertake the hazardous rescue mission is her longtime rival.

Ian has been many things to Hannah: the villain who tried to veto her expedition and ruin her career, the man who stars in her most deliciously lurid dreams…but he’s never played the hero. So why is he risking everything to be here? And why does his presence seem just as dangerous to her heart as the coming snowstorm?

Jordie and Joey Fell from the Sky by Judi Lauren

Twin brothers Jordie and Joey have never met their parents. Maybe it’s because they aren’t from this planet?

When another kid at school tried to force Jordie to show him the “crop circles” on his back that prove he’s an alien, it was Joey who took the kid to the ground. And when the twins got kicked out of their foster home because Joey kissed the other boy who lived there, it was Jordie who told him everything would be okay. And as long as Jordie and Joey are together, it will be. But when the principal calls their current foster mother about a fight at school, the boys know she’ll be done with them. And, from spying in their file, they also know they’re going to be separated.

Determined to face the world side by side rather than without one another, Jordie and Joey set off to find their birth parents. From Arizona to Roswell to Area 51 in the Nevada desert, the twins begin a search for where they truly belong. But Jordie’s about to discover that family isn’t always about the ones who bring you into the world, but the ones who help you survive it.

Atonement Camp for Redemption by Evan J. Corbin

Rick Harris finds himself back at a place he never thought he’d return—the Atonement Camp. With Marilyn now serving as camp director, Rick turns away from his empty home—and his equally vacant pursuits with headless online suiters—to accept a job teaching at the camp. With Garrett missing, Rick and his friends soon learn that there’s more to the jobs they were offered than they were led to believe.

Meanwhile, Missy Bottom seeks revenge against Rick and those who thwarted her plan: to invalidate the New Revelation and gain her esteemed Luminary membership. Caught in the middle of warring factions of Luminaries and camp spies, Rick and his friends struggle to uncover Missy’s plans while concealing their true purpose at camp from those who begin to suspect their teaching credentials are somewhat lacking.

Old enemies become allies as Rick and his friends are forced to choose between those who would seek to invalidate the New Revelation and sacrifice all the newfound LGBTQ freedoms that came with it, and those who would leverage the ancient teaching for retribution. Rick faces an equally intractable decision—whom does he truly love? And why? Rick soon learns that the answer to those questions may be the key to solving more than one problem.

My Feet Don’t Touch The Ground by W. Lee Baker

Snatched from the safety of her day-to-day life, young Crysalline wanders in search of the world she has lost.
Alone, she searches for refuge in a wild land of the 1840s.
When her own deep, yet undeniable, yearnings begin to surface, she sets off into her life adventure. The new path only reveals itself after she takes the risk and seeks what lies ahead.
This is the story of a life richly lived.

Manu by Kelly Fernandez

Set at a magical school for girls, a funny and heartwarming middle-grade graphic novel adventure about friendship, defying expectations, and finding your place.
Manu and her best friend, Josefina, live at a magical school for girls, and Manu is always getting into trouble. The headmistress believes that Manu has the potential to help people with her magic, but Manu would rather have fun than fall in line. One day, a prank goes seriously wrong, and Josefina gets angry and wishes for Manu’s magic to disappear… and it does. Manu uses a dangerous spell to restore it, but it makes her magic too powerful and nearly impossible to control. Great power comes at a cost, and it may be a price that Manu isn’t able to pay!

Hotel Transylvania Graphic Novel Vol. 1: “Kakieland Katastrophe” by Stefan Petrucha, James Silvani (Illustrations)

The debut Hotel Transylvania graphic novel based on the movies! Horror author Stephen Cling visits Hotel Transylvania to try and prove monsters are still dangerous. Dracula, his daughter and her family, and the Drac pack are anything but! However, when a human child goes missing, it is up to Drac, Mavis, and the rest of the Hotel crew to locate the child before their monstrous reputation gets them chased out of town.

Hotel Transylvania Graphic Novel Vol. 2: My Little Monster-Sitter by Stefan Petrucha, Allen Gladfelter (Illustrations)

Based on the all-new television series focusing on the earlier teenage years of Dracula’s daughter Mavis and her three closest friends, Hank N. Stein, Pedro and Wendy Blob. With Dracula away on “Official Vampire Business,” Mavis finally sees her chance to show her father what she can do. With the help of her friends, she decides to put her brilliant ideas of how to run the Hotel into motion, but—enter Aunt Lydia, Dracula’s older and authoritarian sister. While Mavis and friends are ready to let loose and have fun, Aunt Lydia pushes for even more order and tradition at the Hotel.

The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

Part historical fiction, part magical realism, and 100 percent adventure. Thirteen-year-old Mei reimagines the myths of Paul Bunyan as starring a Chinese heroine while she works in a Sierra Nevada logging camp in 1885.

Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman’s daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan–reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch.

Anchoring herself with stories of Auntie Po, Mei navigates the difficulty and politics of lumber camp work and her growing romantic feelings for her friend Bee. The Legend of Auntie Po is about who gets to own a myth, and about immigrant families and communities holding on to rituals and traditions while staking out their own place in America.

The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

In the mountains of Northern China ancient custom demands that every man have a wife to keep him company in the afterlife.

Deshi Li’s brother is dead—and unmarried. Which means that Deshi must find him an eligible body before the week is up.

Lily Chen, sweet as a snakebite, needs money and a fast ride out of town.

Haunted by the gods of their ancestors and the expectations of the new world, Deshi and Lily embark on a journey with two very different destinations in mind.

They travel through a land where the ground is hard and the graves are shallow, where marriage can be murder and where Lily Chen is wanted—dead and alive.

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor

For fans of Caraval and The Night Circus, this decadent and darkly enchanting YA fantasy, set against the backdrop of a Belle Époque-inspired hotel, follows seventeen-year-old Jani as she uncovers the deeply disturbing secrets of the legendary Hotel Magnifique.

All her life, Jani has dreamed of Elsewhere. Just barely scraping by with her job at a tannery, she’s resigned to a dreary life in the port town of Durc, caring for her younger sister Zosa. That is, until the Hotel Magnifique comes to town.

The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel—appearing in a different destination every morning. While Jani and Zosa can’t afford the exorbitant costs of a guest’s stay, they can interview to join the staff, and are soon whisked away on the greatest adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets.

With the vexingly handsome doorman Bel as her only ally, Jani embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of the magic at the heart of the hotel and free Zosa—and the other staff—from the cruelty of the ruthless maître d’hôtel. To succeed, she’ll have to risk everything she loves, but failure would mean a fate far worse than never returning home.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind.

Armadillo Antics by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, and Nathalie Beauvois Blog Tour Post

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the ARMADILLO ANTICS by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, Nathalie Beauvois Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About The Book

Title: ARMADILLO ANTICS

Author: Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, Nathalie Beauvois (Illustrations)

Pub. Date: April 26, 2022

Publisher: Brown Books Kids

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 32

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, B&NTBD, Bookshop.org

Join the Armadillo on His Nightly Romp!

Children will love the rhythm and rhyme that are hallmarks of the beloved author duo of Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 as they follow the adventurous armadillo through nighttime fun as dawn approaches.

Bill Martin Jr was the beloved author of more than three hundred books for children and teachers, including the classics Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

Michael Sampson taught kindergarten through fourth grade before meeting fellow literacy expert Bill Martin Jr at a conference in Tucson, Arizona in 1978. They established a lifelong friendship and collaborated on many bestselling and award-winning books for children, including Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?

Reviews:

“A wonderfully musical nighttime romp with stunning illustrations.” –Matt de la Peña, Newbery Medal-Winning, New York Times Bestselling Author

“Beauvois, whose elaborately textured, highly dimensional surfaces recognize the paper collage legacy of Eric Carle and Lois Ehlert, creates a series of striking contrasts to the repeating text’s simple rhymes. As the mammals appear, ready to “romp and play till the night is done,” they’re shown in deep jewel tones with patterning reminiscent of a Missoni sweater… tagging along with this self-possessed, graphically stylish critter and chanting its name as it leaps, digs, and dines makes for a memorable outing.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

“For a romping night in the life of a roly-poly armadillo, pick up Armadillo Antics!”–Parade Magazine

“This short rhyming story about a night in the life of an armadillo is cozy and soothing. Beauvois’s collage-style art, especially the armadillo curled up inside its next, gives Eric Carle vibes. A collection of eight facts on the final page will fascinate kids and grown-ups alike.”Parents Magazine

Review

Thoughts and Themes: The minute that this book arrived and I started reading it I fell in love with this book. I really enjoyed all of the pictures in this book and found that they would keep a child’s attention. I also liked the rhyming in this book since it doesn’t seem forced but it went with the story. I thought it was a great bedtime story for children ages 2 and up but also a great read for adults looking for something cute and fun. This is one that I wouldn’t mind reading out loud over and over because of how fun it was to read the first time.

Writing Style and Art Style: The pictures in this book have so many different colors and they all go well with each other. I like how the colors take us from day to night and to different settings throughout the book.

About Bill Martin Jr.

BILL MARTIN JR was the beloved author of more than 300 books for children and teachers, including the classics_ Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, which was illustrated by his friend Eric Carle, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, illustrated by Lois Ehlert. Bill was elected to the Reading Hall of Fame by the International Literacy Association. The Bill Martin, Jr Picture Book Award, which is the Kansas State award for best children’s picture book, was established in his name in 1996. Bill wrote Armadillo Antics with Michael Sampson when he moved to Texas, in honor of the fun, inquisitive creatures that roamed the woods outside his house. Visit Bill Martin Jr and Michael Sampson’s website at billmartinjr.com

Website |  Goodreads

About Michael Sampson

MICHAEL SAMPSON taught kindergarten through fourth grade before meeting fellow literacy expert Bill Martin Jr at a conference in Tucson, Arizona in 1978. They established a lifelong friendship and collaborated on many bestselling and award-winning books for children, including_Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3_and_Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? Sampson often speaks at schools, book festivals, and literacy conferences, where he is known for his high-energy, entertaining performances. Dr. Sampson is a Fulbright Scholar and a professor of literacy at St. John’s University in New York City. Visit Bill Martin Jr and Michael Sampson’s website at billmartinjr.com. You can also follow Michael on Twitter and Instagram @michaelsampson.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

About Nathalie Beauvois

NATHALIE BEAUVOIS has a graphic design background in advertising and has also studied industrial design. Nathalie started her career in the art departments of ad agencies and eventually transitioned into freelance illustrating. Since then, she has illustrated dozens of books and hundreds of magazines in countries all over the world. Her creations always start the traditional way — with paper and pencil. Depending on the visual task at hand, she mixes in techniques such as watercolor, collage, vector drawing and Photoshop coloring and texturizing. When not playing with the antics of armadillos, she is happily living and working in Argentina with her family. Visit her website at nathaliebeauvois.weebly.com. You can also find her on Instagram @tanebeauvois_illustrations.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway Details

1 winner will receive a finished copy of ARMADILLO ANTICS, US Only.

Enter Here

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

4/18/2022The book review crewReview/IG Post
4/18/2022onemoreexclamationReview/IG Post
4/19/2022Do You Dog-ear?Review/IG Post
4/19/2022Excuse Me, I’m ReadingReview
4/20/2022Girls in White DressesReview
4/20/2022Little Red ReadsReview/IG Post
4/21/2022Cindy’s Love of BooksReview
4/21/2022NerdophilesReview
4/22/2022@just_another_mother_with_booksReview
4/22/2022Just Another Teen Reading BooksReview

Week Two:

4/25/2022PickAGoodBookReview/IG Post
4/25/2022Jazzy Book ReviewsReview/IG Post
4/26/2022For The Love Of The PageReview/IG Post
4/26/2022BookHounds YAReview/IG Post
4/27/2022Unconventional Quirky BibliophileReview/IG Post
4/27/2022@mamaisbookedReview
4/28/2022Two Points of InterestReview
4/28/2022The Momma SpotReview/IG Post
4/29/2022Nonbinary Knight ReadsReview/IG Post
4/29/2022onemusedReview/IG Post

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor Book Review

Book Description

All her life, Jani has dreamed of Elsewhere. Just barely scraping by with her job at a tannery, she’s resigned to a dreary life in the port town of Durc, caring for her younger sister Zosa. That is, until the Hotel Magnifique comes to town.

The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel—appearing in a different destination every morning. While Jani and Zosa can’t afford the exorbitant costs of a guest’s stay, they can interview to join the staff, and are soon whisked away on the greatest adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets.

With the vexingly handsome doorman Bel as her only ally, Jani embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of the magic at the heart of the hotel and free Zosa—and the other staff—from the cruelty of the ruthless maître d’hôtel. To succeed, she’ll have to risk everything she loves, but failure would mean a fate far worse than never returning home.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: The cover of this book kept calling to me so I finally had to read it. I got an advanced copy of this book on NetGalley and then I finished it on audiobook. I’m so glad that I decided to read this one because of how much I enjoyed so many parts of this. People compared it to The Night Circus and Caravel but I haven’t read those two so I wouldn’t know. If it is in fact similar to those then I have to get my hands on those books now too.

I tend to stay away from fantasy books because they take me a while to understand and get invested. In this book, though that was quite different, I was invested right from the first few pages, and because the magic system is slowly revealed I was able to keep up with the story and not get lost. There were little bits of explanation throughout the story which is what helped move the story along as it didn’t feel like there were moments where I was getting information without the story moving forward.

I loved when things unravel and you find out so much information closer to the end of the book as I didn’t see any of those things coming. I really enjoyed the world-building in this book and how we slowly find out more about the magic as our main character learns.

Characters: There are several characters that you get introduced to through their interactions with our main character, Jani. You get to meet several Summinaires who are staying at the hotel, her sister, and some others in towns that they visit.

There was so much that I really enjoyed about the characters and their relationships with Jani. I really liked how we learn more about each of the characters throughout the story and how we get their background slowly. I felt so bad for so many of the characters even the ones that you barely get to know. I even felt bad for some of the characters who are distant from Jani or who kept getting her into trouble.

I really enjoyed the relationship that develops between Jani and Bel. I loved how these two seem to hate each other from the minute that they meet. I loved that Bel has his reasons for trying to keep his distance from Jani and we only learn his reasons later in the story. I liked how their relationship is a slow burn and how their relationship isn’t the main point in the book.

Writing Style: This story is written in the first person from the perspective of Jani. I really enjoyed that everything was from her perspective as we learned things along with her. I also enjoyed this because we don’t know what is happening with the other main characters because she doesn’t know what happened to them. I liked only being able to see things as they happened in front of Jani especially when it came to her learning more about herself. I liked all of those things being a mystery to you as the reader because you could guess things. For me, I wasn’t sure of anything and I didn’t put many of the pieces together and was shocked when Jani learned things.

Author Information

Emily J. Taylor

Emily was born and raised in California and has since refused to stay put. She’s lived in four states and two continents, all of which have conveniently given her an endless amount of story fodder. She currently works as a creative director in Minneapolis, where she spends the long winters dreaming up glittering worlds to spin into dark tales.

Follow Emily on Instagram @emilycanwrite
https://www.instagram.com/emilycanwrite/ 

Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan

Book Description

Zara’s family has waited years for their visa process to be finalized so that they can officially become US citizens. But it only takes one moment for that dream to come crashing down around them.

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I don’t recall why I waited so long to read this book, I just know it has been on my shelves for a while before I decided to request the audiobook from my library. I’m glad that I finally got to this book because it covers a lot of important topics and I found that it handled those things quite well. There is the main plotline of this book in which a student, Tyler, is harassing Zara Hossain due to her race/ethnicity, and then there are side events that occur along with this.

This book covers Islamophobia, sexuality and religion, hate crimes, friendship, family, and more. While there is a lot going on in this book, I think that the transitions occur seamlessly and there is no moment in which you are overwhelmed with everything going on. Well you are overwhelmed because of events that happen just like the family in this story is overwhelmed but that makes you feel all the emotions of this book more.

I also really enjoy how this book discusses children following in the shoes of their parents due to their upbringing. I like how we get to see both discussions regarding this, with Zara explaining how she doesn’t agree that Tyler only did things because of his dad’s beliefs. I liked seeing how she points out how Tyler can think for himself and he only feels bad because he has gotten caught. I like that they point out how people of color are responsible for several generations when white people aren’t ever held responsible for their actions, it’s like there is always an excuse for the things that they do.

I also really like that we get to see white people’s reactions to Tyler and his actions including his attempt at an apology for his father’s actions. I thought it was important to see that alongside Zara and her family’s response as they aren’t able to just move past the events that took place. I also like that we get to see people who are on Zara’s side and those who believe her family deserved what happened. I thought it was good to see that these thoughts still exist even if people like to hide their beliefs and only let them out in microaggressions.

I really liked the way Zara has to explain why it was difficult for her to make a decision between staying in Texas or going back to Pakistan. I liked that she shows how it’s difficult regardless of what decision she makes. I think it was important that she shows if she stays in Texas she deals with racism but if she goes back to Pakistan she has to hide her sexuality and that is leaving a piece of her behind.

Characters: I really love all the characters that are introduced throughout this book as I felt that they were all well-developed and added something to the story. In this book, you get to meet several characters through their interactions with Zara. You get introduced to her family, her friends, her girlfriend, some teachers and staff at the school, as well as the kid who is bullying her.

I really loved the relationship between Chloe and Zara that you get to see developing through the beginning of the book. I liked how Zara was able to introduce Chloe to her family and they talked about coming out to their families. I also liked how both of their experiences with their queerness is different because of their family’s beliefs. I thought it was great to see Chloe try to explain how her parent’s religion dictates how they respond to things that she does. I also really like how while Zara doesn’t understand how Chloe’s religion impacts her being queer, Chloe will never understand what it’s like being a person of color.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Zara and all of the adults that are in her life. I liked seeing how much support she has from her family as well as other people in her life. I liked learning about the SJC and the instructor who is responsible for hosting them. I love the moment in which Zara’s mother defends her daughter against someone else talking about her daughter’s sexuality. I really liked how people come to Zara’s defense when it comes to her sexuality and religion, it was great to see what support should look like for LGBTQ+ youth.

Author Information

Sabina Khan is the author of the upcoming YA novel MEET ME IN MUMBAI, as well as ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE and THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI. She is an educational consultant and a karaoke enthusiast. After living in Germany, Bangladesh, Macao, Illinois and Texas, she has finally settled down in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, two daughters and the best puppy in the world.

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sabina_Writer
and Facebook:
www.facebook.com/SabinaKhanAuthor/
Find out more at
https://sabina-khan.com/ 

Jordie and Joey Fell from the Sky by Judi Lauren Book Tour Post

Book Description

Jordie and Joey Fell From the Sky by Judi Lauren

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Publishing Date: April 19, 2022

Synopsis:

Twin brothers Jordie and Joey have never met their parents. Maybe it’s because they aren’t from this planet?

When another kid at school tried to force Jordie to show him the “crop circles” on his back that prove he’s an alien, it was Joey who took the kid to the ground. And when the twins got kicked out of their foster home because Joey kissed the other boy who lived there, it was Jordie who told him everything would be okay. And as long as Jordie and Joey are together, it will be. But when the principal calls their current foster mother about a fight at school, the boys know she’ll be done with them. And, from spying in their file, they also know they’re going to be separated.

Determined to face the world side by side rather than without one another, Jordie and Joey set off to find their birth parents. From Arizona to Roswell to Area 51 in the Nevada desert, the twins begin a search for where they truly belong. But Jordie’s about to discover that family isn’t always about the ones who bring you into the world, but the ones who help you survive it.

Book Links

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Indiebound

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I really enjoy reading middle-grade books so when I was given the chance to be on the book tour for this one I was quite excited. I really enjoyed this story and how so much is packed in not so many pages. This book touches on the foster care system, family, friends, belonging, and more.

This whole time you know that it is very unlikely that the boys are actually aliens but you are wondering what else could explain the things that Jordie is saying. I wonder if other adults may have picked up on the signs and knew what was coming before I did. I certainly didn’t see the explanation that happens at the end of the book and I was hurting right alongside Jordie as he learns information that was missing from his memories.

I really liked the adults that are included in the later portion of the book. I like how they show Jordie and Joey what it means to have a sense of belonging in the world and what it feels like to be wanted. I can’t give too much away but by the end of this story, you get a sense that Jordie and Joey both found what they were searching for at the start of this book.

Characters: There are several characters that you get introduced to in this story through their interactions with Jordie and Joey. You get to meet their best friend who goes along the journey with them in search of their birth parents. You get to meet their social worker who has tried her best to make sure they stay together. You get to meet some of the people whom Jordie and Joey cross while on this trip and more.

At first, I wasn’t too interested in any of the characters but once I got about 50% of the way I was invested in the well-being of Jordie and Joey. These boys have been through so much as they go from foster home to foster home and all they both want is a place in which they belong. Joey would do anything to protect his brother which includes keeping some memories locked away until he is ready to learn about them. I really liked how this book showed the love between these brothers and showed them being affectionate with each other. I also really liked how they were allowed to have feelings, they allowed each other to have real emotions and the adults in their lives also were prepared for that.

Writing Style: This book is written in the first person from the perspective of Jordie. The book also includes snippets from an online blog that Jordie follows regarding alien encounters along with information that he may have been searching for regarding other topics that become important later on in the story.

I really enjoyed this being told through Jordie’s perspective as he is missing memories from several years of his life. As he is missing those years so are you as the reader and that makes it so much more believable when he thinks that they came from aliens. I like how Jordie seems to be a lot younger than Joey and we learn why that is throughout the story. There are so many scenes in which my heart breaks for these boys and I just want to protect them the way so many others they meet want the same.

Author Information

Judi Lauren was born in the Midwest and misses those winters. She now resides in an area where the bugs are way too large. She has an unnatural obsession with Chicago, Dean Winchester, and Friends (the TV show.)

Judi is represented by Heather Cashman of Storm Literary Agency, where she writes books for kids and teens about family, friendship, and surviving impossible things.

In her spare time, she also works as an editor at Radish Fiction. You can connect with her on Instagram @judilauren.

Author Links

Website ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads

Tour Schedule

https://tbrandbeyondtours.com/2022/02/03/tour-schedule-jordie-and-joey-fell-from-the-sky-by-judi-lauren/

Atonement Camp for Redemption by Evan J Corbin Book Tour Post

Book Description

Rick Harris finds himself back at a place he never thought he’d return—the Atonement Camp. With Marilyn now serving as camp director, Rick turns away from his empty home—and his equally vacant pursuits with headless online suiters—to accept a job teaching at the camp. With Garrett missing, Rick and his friends soon learn that there’s more to the jobs they were offered than they were led to believe.

Meanwhile, Missy Bottom seeks revenge against Rick and those who thwarted her plan: to invalidate the New Revelation and gain her esteemed Luminary membership. Caught in the middle of warring factions of Luminaries and camp spies, Rick and his friends struggle to uncover Missy’s plans while concealing their true purpose at camp from those who begin to suspect their teaching credentials are somewhat lacking.

Old enemies become allies as Rick and his friends are forced to choose between those who would seek to invalidate the New Revelation and sacrifice all the newfound LGBTQ freedoms that came with it, and those who would leverage the ancient teaching for retribution. Rick faces an equally intractable decision—whom does he truly love? And why? Rick soon learns that the answer to those questions may be the key to solving more than one problem. 

Book Links

Amazon

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I had been seeing the first book in this series all over Instagram but I hadn’t read it since I don’t really read adult books since I am scared I won’t understand it. I decided to give this a chance though because of what it is about, when I struggle with my religion and faith all I want is books that tell me something different than what I have been hearing. I keep thinking what would happen if the world really did move in this direction and not just some parts of the world but mainly the Catholic portions of the world.

There was so much parts of this book along with the first book that I really enjoyed and winded up highlighting so much of the book because of that. I kept highlighting a lot of points because they resonated with me as Rick is finding out who he is now that he is out as a Gay man and what he wants when it comes to a relationship.

There was a portion in the start of the book that did make me almost put it down but that quickly turned around because what I believed was wrong when it came to that character. I am so glad that I continued reading because I got what I wanted from this book.

Characters: There are many characters who are introduced throughout this book and I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep track of them all. Don’t worry about that though, they all have their unique quirks which makes it easier to separate them. I think that Rick probably has a harder time separating each of them in his head than we readers do and when you read this you’ll see why I say that.

Something that I found a little frustrating was how quickly Rick moved on from one guy to another. I thought it was unrealistic how quick that transition was for all of his partners as well and how no one really communicated their feelings. I also was a little concerned with how his relationships felt very shallow because of all of this even if he insisted he loved Jimmy and had strong feelings for Ryan. I also thought that the transition from ex to friends was also really quick and I know this is the norm for queer relationships but I felt that some wouldn’t so quickly turn to friends after the feelings they supposedly had.

Writing Style: This book is written in third person with a narrator that follows around each of the characters. I was a bit hesitant about this at first but in the end I feel that this is a great way to keep you in the loop as to what is happening on all parties sides. I also think that we don’t get a lot of the interactions that Missy is having or any of the luminaries so the story isn’t entirely ruined when we get a glimpse into what they are up to.

Author Information

Evan is a member of the LGBTQ community who fancies himself as a playboy socialite, living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Between work and lucid moments of sobriety, he writes a little.  His debut novel is a light-hearted work that still manages to confront religious hypocrisy and contemporary LGBTQ struggles to balance their loss of culture with new-found civil rights.  His friends say the book is great!  Hopefully, you will as well.

How it Feels to Float by Helena Fox Book Review

Book Description

Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, who loves her so hard, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was six. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface—normal okay regular fine.

But after what happens on the beach—first in the ocean, and then in the sand–the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. Dad disappears, and with him, all comfort. It might be easier, better, sweeter to float all the way away? Or maybe stay a little longer, find her father, bring him back to her. Or maybe—maybe maybe maybe—there’s a third way Biz just can’t see yet.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I had this one on my shelves for a while without really knowing what it was about. It was available at my library on audiobook though so I decided why not give it a chance. From the minute I started listening to it, the narrator drew me in and I loved the characters. I was able to instantly relate to Biz even before the event that changes her happens.

There is so much in this book that I really enjoy as it covers so many topics. I liked the way this book deals with grief and different forms of grief as Biz lost her father but at some point she loses pieces of herself and who she used to be. I also liked how this book handled mental health and how that not only affects the person who is dealing with it but also those around them. I also really liked that we got to see what Bix thinks of the words that everyone is saying in an attempt to “fix her.”

I like the way we get to see Biz’s inner thoughts take over to convince her of negative things. I thought that was very realistic for mental illnesses and it reminded me of how hard it can be to tell the anxiety and depression that they are wrong. I thought that it was good that we also got to see some of the time in which Biz is in-patient treatment. I liked how it seemed that she is confused and things are happening around her but she doesn’t know why or how.

Characters: In this book you get to meet several characters through their interactions with our main character, Biz. I liked seeing all of Biz’s interactions with the different people in her life. I liked seeing how each of them react to her being depressed differently, most of the people in her life don’t know how to respond and then others are just there for her.

I liked getting to see her relationship with her mom and how that shifts throughout the course of the book. I liked getting to see how they both are trying to help each other without knowing what the other person needs. I also like how we get to see how their emotions are affecting each other.

I also liked getting to see Biz’s relationship with Jasper and how that develops through the course of the book.

I also really enjoy getting to read about Biz’s relationship with her dad which is a ghost. I like how she relies on him a lot and doesn’t really know how to live without his presence there. I like how he seems to disappear when it seems that she doesn’t need him but she takes it differently.

Author Information

Helena Fox lives in Wollongong, Australia, where she runs creative writing workshops for young people. She’s a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.
She has travelled widely, living in Peru, Spain, the U.K, Samoa, and the US. Of all her adventures, Helena is proudest of the work she has done helping young people find and express their voice.


How It Feels To Float is her debut novel.

Scout is Not a band Kid by Jade Armstrong Book Tour Post

Book Description

Scout is Not a Band Kid by Jade Armstrong

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Graphic Novel

Publishing Date: April 5, 2022

Synopsis:

A young girl in middle school will do whatever it takes to meet her favorite author–even if it means joining her school band! A contemporary graphic novel about making your dream come true–and the friends you make along the way.

When Scout learns that her favorite author is doing an exclusive autograph session at the end of the year, she’s determined to be there! She officially needs a plan…and when she finds out that her school’s band is heading to the same location for their annual trip, an idea takes shape. Being a band kid can’t be that hard, right?

As it turns out, learning how to play an instrument when you can’t even read music is much, much, MUCH tougher than expected. And it’s even harder for Scout when her friends aren’t on board with her new hobby. Will she be able to master the trombone, make new band friends, and get to her favorite author’s book signing? Tackling everything seems like a challenge for a supergenius superfriend supermusician–and she’s just Scout.

Book Links

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Indigo ~ IndieBound

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I love reading graphic novels as I find they are a great way to immerse yourself in whatever you are reading. I really liked how this book mixed academics, band, and fandom together to create the story. I liked how we get to see the expectations that Scout’s old friends have of her and how they expect her to like new things now that they have “grown” up. While Scout hasn’t let go of her favorite things, she does keep her interests away from her friend group and only lets her true self out while amongst her online friend, Lou.

Characters: This story introduces you to several characters as they interact with our main character, Scout. I really love the way each of them is introduced to the reader as it feels like you are playing a video game. I also like how we get not only their stats but name and pronouns for each character as well. I found that there was a lot of diversity among the characters that are included in this story.

I loved the friendship that develops between Scout and Merrin throughout this whole book. I liked how their friendship first was forced because they both played the same instrument within the band but then it became a choice. I loved how Scout is the first real friend that Merrin has and isn’t deterred by her personality, and how Scout is able to be herself around Merrin, unlike her other friends.

Writing/Art Style: I really enjoy the art style of this book and would love to see the whole thing printed in color. I love how you can tell which character is whom and there is no point in time in which I was confused about the character’s identities. I also really loved the variety in the clothes that all of the characters wear depending on their setting.

Author Information

My name is Jade Armstrong, and I am a non-binary cartoonist. I was raised in a little town called Almonte, Ontario, before heading off to Toronto to work in comics and animation. I’ve worked as background painter in television for 4 years. At the moment, I float between Toronto, Almonte and Montréal.

More than anything I love to make comics. You can check out my full CV here!

My debut middle grade graphic novel, SCOUT IS NOT A BAND KID, is set to be published by Random House Graphics April 5th, 2022.

I’m also a member of the comics collective HELLO BOYFRIEND. We are a bunch of pals who love comics and make comics together!

Author Links

Website ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads

Tour Schedule

https://tbrandbeyondtours.com/2022/02/21/tour-schedule-scout-is-not-a-band-kid-by-jade-armstrong/

Heartbreak Symphony by Laekan Zea Kemp Book Tour Post

Book Description

Heartbreak Symphony by Laekan Zea Kemp

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance

Publishing Date: April 5, 2022

Synopsis:

Clap When You Land meets On the Come Up in this heart-gripping story about navigating first love and overcoming grief through the power of music.

Aarón Medrano has been haunted by the onstage persona of his favorite musician ever since his mother passed away. He seems to know all of Aarón’s deepest fears, like that his brain doesn’t work the way it should and that’s why his brother and father seems to be pushing him away. He thinks his ticket out is a scholarship to the prestigious Acadia School of Music. That is, if he can avoid blowing his audition.

Mia Villanueva has a haunting of her own and it’s the only family heirloom her parents left her: doubt. It’s the reason she can’t overcome her stage fright or believe that her music is worth making. Even though her trumpet teacher tells her she has a gift, she’s not sure if she’ll ever figure out how to use it or if she’s even deserving of it in the first place.

When Aarón and Mia cross paths, Aarón sees a chance to get close to the girl he’s had a crush on for years and to finally feel connected to someone since losing his mother. Mia sees a chance to hold herself accountable by making them both face their fears, and hopefully make their dreams come true. But soon they’ll realize there’s something much scarier than getting up on stage—falling in love with a broken heart.

Book Links

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Indigo ~ IndieBound

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I decided that I had to read this book as I loved the author’s debut novel. I was so pleased to find that while this book is also a romance like the first one it was significantly different but just as great. There are so many sections of this book that I highlighted on my kindle because of how these lines spoke to me.

Something that I really enjoyed about this book was how our main characters communicate with each other and the world through music. It reminded me of how I use songs to convey my feelings and sometimes only songs or books completely understand the way that I am feeling. I liked that these two main characters were able to pour themselves into music and how music shapes their lives.

Something else that I loved about this book was the way that it handled grieving and how we see different ways in which people are handling grief. I thought it was great to see both guys and girls dealing with grief, and how both Aaron and Mia lost their parents in different ways. I think because of the way that they lost their parents, the grief that they experience is different and while one of each of their parents is alive, they still are grieving because it is the loss of the parent they had before.

I really enjoyed how this book added the musician into the story and how he was an important part of Aaron’s life and grieving process. I thought it was a great way to show how everyone can have mental health issues and I loved the way he took care of himself. I don’t want to spoil that for you so I’ll let you read to see more about him.

Characters: There are several characters that you get to meet through their interactions with our main characters, Mia and Aaron. You get introduced to Mia’s siblings, friends, and family, and Aaron’s family and friends too.

I loved reading the interactions that Mia has with her brothers and how they try to heal each other. I liked getting to see how they raised her and also getting to see each of them show their grief in a different way. I really liked getting the chance to see how one of her brothers was healing through poetry but how he was still hiding and he only gets the courage to present to show her that it is possible.

I also really enjoy the theme of found family in this book which you really see through the people in the neighborhood. I loved getting the chance to meet Mr. Barrero who takes care of both Mia and Aaron when they need an adult figure in their lives. I really liked seeing how this man has shaped both of these people’s lives and how important he is to them. I also like how we get to see his back story as well to understand why he feels the way he does about Mia.

Writing Style: This story is written from a dual point of view that goes back and forth from our main characters, Aaron and Mia. I really liked getting to read this story from both of their perspectives since I think they both add different things to the story. I really liked getting to go back and forth between these two characters because they had things going on in both of their lives that weren’t intertwined with each other.

Author Information

Laekan Zea Kemp is a writer living in Austin, Texas. Her debut novel, Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet was a 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Recipient. In addition to writing she’s also the creator and host of the Author Pep Talks podcast, as well as a contributor to the Las Musas podcast. She has three objectives when it comes to storytelling: to make people laugh, cry, and crave Mexican food. Her work celebrates Chicane grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health.

Author Links

Website ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads

Tour Schedule

https://tbrandbeyondtours.com/2022/02/15/tour-schedule-heartbreak-symphony-by-laekan-zea-kemp/

So This is Ever After by F.T. Lukens Book Review

Book Description

Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.

With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: Once I finished reading In Deeper Waters, I knew I had to get my hands on this book so I pre-ordered it. Thankfully I winded up getting the chance to read an advanced reader’s copy through Netgalley because I didn’t want to have to wait for this book.

This book does have a slow start because they have to introduce the characters to you, the world, and the magic that is involved. This being said the slow start was perfectly fine with me as I loved learning about these characters, their magic, and the new kingdom that they are tasked with running.

The book does pick up around the 50% mark as you get to see a lot more action happening with fighting scenes and also scenes where the team is introduced to new people. I enjoyed reading the scenes in which the team was in danger as this made me want to continue reading to see if they got themselves out this time and how they managed to do this. I liked getting a chance to see them all in action as a team and see how their strengths work with each other to defeat anything/anyone they come across.

Something I really enjoyed about this book was the theme of found family, I just think that the book captured the feelings of this quite well. I really enjoyed seeing each of the character’s relationships with each other and how supportive they are of one another. I also really liked how they all felt like a family and it felt like they had known each other their whole lives.

I really enjoyed getting to learn about the magic that was involved in this new kingdom and how the magic affected the king. I liked learning alongside each of the characters because the reader’s reaction sometimes mirrors Arek’s reactions as he finds out more about what he got himself into.

Characters: In this book, you are introduced to several characters as they are the team that is working with King Arek to run this kingdom. You get to meet his best friend Matt, Sionna, Rion, Lila, and Bethany, each of which I winded up loving from the moment that you meet them. It’s really easy to see why King Arek keeps these people around and why he is so scared to lose them.

I loved all of the characters and their relationships with each other. I liked getting to see how Arek interacted with each of the people on his team and to see him stumble through trying to woo anyone. I really enjoyed getting a chance to see each of the characters on their own to see their traits, characteristics, and abilities shine on their own. I thought it was great to have moments in which each of them was able to provide Arek with something that another person wouldn’t be able to provide.

Something else I enjoyed about the characters was the number of Queer characters that were included in this book. I don’t believe any sexualities were ever named but you see who each of the characters end up dating and/or who they attempt to have relationships with.

Writing Style: This story is written in the first person through the perspective of King Arek which I thought was great. I really liked getting to see everything through his perspective even if there were times that I wanted to know what others thought about certain things that were happening. I really would’ve liked to see some of the stories unfold through Matt’s perspective but I think if that was included certain scenes wouldn’t have been as impactful to the reader.

Author Information

F.T. Lukens is an award-winning author of Young Adult fiction. A sci fi enthusiast, F.T. loves Star Wars and Star Trek and is a longtime member of their college’s science-fiction club. F.T. holds degrees in Psychology and English Literature and has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and writing. F.T. lives in North Carolina with their spouse, three kids, three dogs, and three cats.

F.T.’s urban fantasy novel The Rules and Regulations For Mediating Myths & Magic won several awards including the 2017 Foreword INDIES Gold Award for Young Adult Fiction, the 2017 IPBA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best Teen Fiction and the 2017 Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction. It was also named to the 2019 ALA Rainbow Book List.