[Review] SKETCHES OF LIFE by A. Gavazzoni, 4⚝

Lily Campbell’s family is falling apart. Her older sister, Adele, was kidnapped by a Nazi Captain. Her father, afraid of putting them in more danger, sends her and her mother to America while he stayed in France to look for Adele. To say that life in America had been tough for Lily is an understatement. She was forced to adapt and grow-up quickly, instead of enjoying her teenage years. Ninon, on the other hand, is a dancer in a French cabaret. For some reason, she has been recruited by a patron to be a special agent. After months of rigorous training, she becomes an adept sniper and begins to work on secret missions. With the setting of the Second World War, Sketches of Life by A. Gavazzoni will make you cry, fall in love, and never give up on life.

This is a story of love and survival, and an emotionally heavy one at that. The book alternates between Lily and Ninon’s points of view. We can all agree that multiple POVs can be tricky to write and as I progressed, I found it hard to follow the story. Looking back, it was a great plot nonetheless and the revelation in the end was jaw-dropping. The romance was not forced, although some scenes were a bit exaggerated. This is such a feminist book and I love how A. Gavazonni created the characters of Lily and Ninon. They were both strong and versatile women amidst adversities. Trigger warnings include cancer, dementia, violence, mental health stigma, cheating, and suicide.

This book was reviewed for Readers’ Favorite. For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: InstagramGoodreads, and Twitter.

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] CHARLIE HERNANDEZ AND THE CASTLE OF BONES by Ryan Calejo

About the Book

Title: CHARLIE HERNANDEZ AND THE CASTLE OF BONES (Charlie Hernández #2)
Author: Ryan Calejo
Pub. Date: November 12, 2018
Publisher: Aladdin
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 608
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleAudibleB&NiBooksKoboTBD

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Blurb

Inspired by Hispanic folklore, legends, and myths from the Iberian Peninsula and Central and South America, this bold sequel to Charlie Hernández & the League of Shadows, which Booklist called “a perfect pick for kids who love Rick Riordan” in a starred review, follows Charlie as he continues on his quest to embrace his morphling identity.

Charlie Hernandez still likes to think of himself as a normal kid. But what’s normal about being a demon-slaying preteen with an encyclopedic knowledge of Hispanic and Latino mythology who can partially manifest nearly any animal trait found in nature? Well, not much. But, Charlie believes he can get used to this new “normal,” because being able to sprout wings or morph fins is pretty cool.

But there is a downside: it means having to constantly watch his back for La Mano Peluda’s sinister schemes. And when the leader of La Liga, the Witch Queen Jo herself, is suddenly kidnapped, Charlie’s sure they’re at it again.

Determined to save the queen and keep La Liga’s alliances intact, Charlie and his good friend Violet Rey embark on a perilous journey to track down her captors. As Charlie and Violet are drawn deeper into a world of monstruos and magia they are soon left with more questions than answers—like, why do they keep hearing rumors of dead men walking, and why is Charlie suddenly having visions of an ancient evil: a necromancer priest who’s been dead for more than five centuries?

Charlie’s abuela once told him that when dead men walk, the living run in fear. And Charlie’s about to learn the truth of that—the hard way. 

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Recap for
CHARLIE HERNANDEZ AND THE LEAGUE OF SHADOWS (Book 1)

Title: CHARLIE HERNANDEZ AND THE LEAGUE OF SHADOWS (Charlie Hernández #1)
Author: Ryan Calejo
Pub. Date: October 23, 2018
Publisher: Aladdin
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 330
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleAudibleB&NiBooksKoboTBD

“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.

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.

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Excerpt

It was raining frogs. That’s the first thing I noticed when we stepped through la bruja’s mirror. Fat ones, green ones, black ones. They tumbled from the sky, bounced off the road, clunked off mailboxes. They croaked and chirped and peeped. They hopped through the tall grass like punch-drunk boxers.

One plopped down on the toe of my sneaker, glared at up me with its bulging beady eyes, and said, “Rrriiiibbbbbiiitt!” 

I stared at it for a moment, frowning, then squinted up at the dark churning clouds from where the slimy amphibians were falling in bunches. In knots.

My name is Charlie Hernández, and over the last few months, my life has been all kinds of freaky; I’d grown horns, sprouted feathers, teleported from South Florida to northwest Spain, made a quick stop in the Land of the Dead, and even faced off against one of the most famous and feared brujas in all of human history—but raining frogs . . .? Yeah, that was new for me.

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About the Author

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

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Giveaway

2 winners will win a signed hardcover of CHARLIE HERNANDEZ AND THE CASTLE OF BONES, US ONLY. Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule (Week 5)

Dec 9: She Just Loves Books
Dec 10: Life Within The Pages
Dec 11: Books_andPoetrii
Dec 12: Two points of interest

Click the banner below to know more about Rock Star Book Tours.

[Review] WHEN MOTHS BURN by John Eidswick, 5⚝

James Strait, a former FBI agent, is starting a new life with his girlfriend, Jessie Brightwater. He had been falsely accused by jealous officemates and had lost his job because of that. Despite being ousted, Strait has kept his friendship with his best buddy, Graham Footer. He and Footer once tracked down a racist cult and saved several children in the process. This incident made him a hero in Pine River, attracting admirers and haters alike. One day, after his long walk, a bomb blows up his girlfriend’s church and kills her. He swears to find the criminals and punish them himself. But a girl named Edie suddenly turns up in his place saying that her life’s in danger and is asking for help. When Moths Burn by John Eidswick gave me a roller coaster of emotions and I’m not complaining. 

This book is definitely a winner. The plot was well-thought-of and was developed in great detail. I loved the idea of Jessie’s character – a liberal pastor. Today, we live in a world where religion clouds progressive thinking and Jessie is just what we need to believe that a person can have religious beliefs while keeping an open mind. The first chapter with Sandy Yarrow was a bit off for me because it gave the impression that Sandy was a primary character. I was looking for her in the next chapters but she was only brought back to the story when the ending was close. I liked that this book raised awareness for Meniere’s disease, and that plot twist in the end got me. John Eidswick’s When Moths Burn is worthy of recommendation to all the thriller lovers out there. Trigger warnings include racism, hate crimes, violence, drugs, abuse (sexual, child), graphic injuries, pornography, pedophilia, animal cruelty, murder, and bombing.

This book was reviewed for Readers’ Favorite. For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.

[Review] REVERIE by Ryan La Sala, 4/5

Kane Montgomery got himself into an accident and is being held accountable for arson and possible death of an old woman. He is currently being questioned by the authorities, but the thing is, he can’t remember what and how everything happened. There are a lot of things that just don’t seem to fit. Was he being framed or did he really commit these crimes? He feels terribly lost and finds no one to turn to – not even his dear sister.

Then out of the blue, a drag queen-slash-witch, Dr. Poesy, appears. He suddenly feels hopeful because finally, there is someone who seems to understand his situation. He also learns about “The Others” – a group who knows the truth about what really happened to him. Reverie by Ryan La Sala is a thrilling YA book about made-up realities that will both comfort and haunt you.

This book is such a good package. There is mystery, there’s humor, and then there’s romance too. The best part about the romance was that it showed love in all forms. There’s a boy loving another boy, a girl loving another girl, a boy loving a girl, and a brother loving his sister. The book is feminist and LGBT-friendly. I loved the fact that as soon as it was clear in the book that Poesy identifies herself as female, all the pronouns changed from ‘he’ to ‘she’ and ‘him’/’his’ to ‘her’. There is so much power and respect in a way you address a person based on his/her choice, even when society might find it unacceptable.

I would also like to commend the author for writing a wonderful debut novel and for the fresh concept this novel has introduced. There were some parts that got me confused and that’s the reason why I’m giving this a 4 instead of a 5. Trigger warnings include memory loss, bullying, guilt, and graphic injuries.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

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For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] THE WEIGHT OF A SOUL by Elizabeth Tammi

About the Book

Title: The Weight of a Soul
Author: Elizabeth Tammi
Publisher: Flux
Release Date: December 3rd 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | B&N | Google Books

Watch the trailer here.

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Blurb

When Lena’s younger sister Fressa is found dead, their whole Viking clan mourns—but it is Lena alone who never recovers. Fressa is the sister that should’ve lived, and Lena cannot rest until she knows exactly what killed Fressa and why—and how to bring her back. She strikes a dark deal with Hela, the Norse goddess of death, and begins a new double life to save her sister.

But as Lena gets closer to bringing Fressa back, she dredges up dangerous discoveries about her own family, and finds herself in the middle of a devastating plan to spur Ragnarök –a deadly chain of events leading to total world destruction.

Still, with her sister’s life in the balance, Lena is willing to risk it all. She’s willing to kill. How far will she go before the darkness consumes her?

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About the Author

Elizabeth Tammi was born in California and grew up in Florida, but is currently double-majoring in Creative Writing and Journalism as an undergraduate at Mercer University in Georgia. When she’s not writing, you can probably find Elizabeth at work for her university’s newspaper and literary magazine. Her other interests include traveling, caffeinated beverages, and mythology. You can find Elizabeth online on Tumblr at (annabethisterrified), Twitter at (@ElizabethTammi), Instagram at (elizabeth_tammi), and at elizabethtammi.com.

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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Giveaway

Prize: 1 finished copy of THE WEIGHT OF A SOUL by Elizabeth Tammi (INT)
Starts: 3rd December 2019
Ends: 17th December 2019

Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Click the banner to see the complete schedule and to learn more about the Fantastic Flying Book Club.

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] STORM OF SECRETS by Loretta Marion

About the Book

Title: STORM OF SECRETS (Haunted Bluffs Mystery #2)
Author: Loretta Marion
Pub. Date: November 12, 2019
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 312
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleB&N, IndieboundiBooksKoboTBD

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Blurb

A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a grisly murder, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.

A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.

While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of the killer.

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Praise for STORM OF SECRETS

“Modern and historic mysteries collide in Marion’s bittersweet storytelling.”   

Kirkus Reviews  

“[A] gripping sequel…Marion seamlessly weaves the multiple story threads together. Fans of tales of regional intrigue will be satisfied.”

Publishers Weekly

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Recap for HOUSE OF ASHES (Book 1)

Title: HOUSE OF ASHES (Haunted Bluffs Mystery #1)
Author: Loretta Marion
Pub. Date: November 13, 2018
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 336
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindle, B&N, IndieboundiBooksKoboTBD

A family patriarch’s dying proclamation, an enigmatic disappearance, and a century-old curse converge in the shadows of a majestic home on Cape Cod’s craggy coast.

Thirty-seven-year-old painter Cassandra Mitchell is fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, a brooding Queen Anne home originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies that have swept the generations. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it’s by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home to mounting debt and the machinations of her dream-weaving ex-husband.

Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property with the promise of companionship and much-needed help―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what’s happened to the young couple…even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent who pushes the boundaries of professionalism―Cassie can’t help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family’s dark curse destroys everything in its path?

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Excerpt

Whale Rock Village, Massachusetts     

     On the short walk to my car, a sparkle caught my eye on the ground near a temporary dumpster behind La Table, the new location of my old flame Billy Hughes’s catering business.

     Later, I reflected on how different things would have been had I not been so curious.

     What if I hadn’t had the dress fitting today? What if I hadn’t parked in Archie’s space? What if I hadn’t gone out the back door of his shop? What if I hadn’t gone over to examine what was glittering next to the dumpster?

     “The what ifs and should haves will eat your brain.” It was a quote of John O’Callaghan’s, from his book of poetry entitled, Sincerely, John the Ghost—ironically, a gift from Zoe, who’d always eschewed the notion of Percy’s and Celeste’s spirits.

     The point is, if I hadn’t done all those things, then I wouldn’t have seen that glint on the ground and gone over to check out what it was. Most crucially, I would never have noticed a hand through the rusted-out hole in the dumpster.

     A very dead hand.

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About the Author

An author of fiction, Loretta’s writing bridges the genres of women’s fiction, mystery and suspense, always with hints of romance and humor, sometimes delving into the psychological and paranormal. She creates strong but flawed and struggling characters as appealing as the rich atmospheric settings in which the stories take place.

Loretta has loved reading and creating with words since she was a young girl. And that affection for the written word followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she put pen to paper crafting marketing and advertising copy, educational brochures and newsletters. But her passion for writing fiction evolved from the unlikely world of hospice. As a volunteer, she set out to establish a Legacy Story program to honor and preserve the rich heritage of the fascinating people who were soon to leave this world. The meaningful experience inspired her to create her own interesting characters and stories.

Though born and raised in the Midwest, Loretta fell in love with New England and has made it the setting for much of her writing. When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey, and their beloved Mr. Peabody, a sweet, devoted and amusing “Corgador” (Corgi-Labrador cross).

Represented by Jill Grosjean Literary Agency

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads 

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Giveaway

1 winner will receive a one signed first edition copy of each book in the Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series – HOUSE OF ASHES &  STORM OF SECRETS in a book bag with book marks, US Only.

1 winner will receive an ebook of THE FOOL’S TRUTH, International.

Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Dec 2: Books_andPoetrii
Dec 3: Mythical Books
Dec 4: BookHounds
Dec 5: Two Chicks on Books
Dec 6: DelightingDelilah

Following me and the other tour hosts will increase your chances of winning in the giveaway. Click the banner below to learn more about Rock Star Book Tours.

[Wrap-up] NOVEMBER 2019

November just ended and now, we say hello to December. Time for a wrap-up, loves! I read 9 books this month. What about you?

At first, everything seemed to be all 3-stars for me but somehow a few 4 and 5-stars appeared. Yayy!⁣ ⁣

5⁣ 🌟
DESPERATE FOREST by Cece Louise (MY FAVORITE FOR THIS MONTH!)⁣
UNIVERSAL THREAT by Killarney & Margaret Traynor⁣ ⁣

4⁣ 🌟
A FLAME THROUGH ETERNITY by Anna Belfrage⁣
A KILLER’S HEART by Matthew Randolph⁣

3⁣ 🌟
SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT by Sara B. Larson⁣
THE DATE FARM by Jack Winnick⁣
A WIZARD’S CHOICE by Maya Tyler⁣
SINS OF THE SON by Frank Lucianus⁣
THE FIRST BALANCE BRINGER by Debra Kristi⁣ ⁣