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Book Review: Tristan Strong Keeps Punching

Tristan Strong Keeps Punching by Kwame Mbalia

Thank you to Rick Riordan Presents, Disney, and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The third title in the trilogy picks up shortly after the final events in book 2 – the gods and Alkeans are in the present world and scattered across the country. Tristan is on a family reunion in New Orleans when his “spidey-sense” is activated (the SBP with Anansi). King Cotton is back and as evil as ever and has his minions kidnapping children. This book is much darker than the previous two in that Tristan is able to see and feel the suffering of Black people of the past. King Cotton is growing more powerful and it’s up to Tristan and his friends to stop him.

While I truly enjoyed the previous two, this one was a bit of a slog for me. The plot seemed to meander before coming back to the central theme. I really wanted to like this book as much as the others but it just was not of the same caliber. Still worth the read if only to see the conclusion.

#TristanStrongKeepsPunching #RickRiordanPresents #NetGalley

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Book Review: Maya and the Return of the Godlings

Maya and the Return of the Godlings by Rena Barron

Thank you to HMH Books and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This sequel begins after the events of the first book. Maya is continuing her training to repair the veil with her father who is growing weaker by the day. It turns out that the Lord of Shadows stole his soul when he was in the Dark. Maya, Eli, and Frankie disobey the orisha council (again!) to go back to the Dark and retrieve her father’s soul. While there, Maya frees Zeran, an imprisoned Darkbringer, who may or may not be of help. Maya and her friends get to see how the people of the Dark live and work and still have to watch out for danger. This book lays the groundwork for the showdown to come in the next book. I would definitely recommend this book!

#MayaAndTheReturnOfTheGodlings #NetGalley

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Book Review: Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales

Beasts and Beauty by Soman Chainani

Thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Forget what you think you know about your favorite fairy tales! Soman Chainani takes twelve of these tales, like RapunzelPeter Pan, and Beauty and the Beast, and twists them in such a way you don’t see the end coming. These tales honor the original Grimm stories and some go a bit darker. Do NOT read these and expect a Disney ending – you will be sorely disappointed! I REALLY enjoyed reading this book and can’t wait for the physical copy so I can see the finished art. Highly recommend for grades 5 and up.

#BeastsAndBeautyDangerousTales #NetGalley

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Book Review: The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities

Thank you to Rick Riordan Presents, Disney, and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Rick Riordan Presents universe comes together for this collaboration of short stories/novellas. Let me preface this review by mentioning that I have read every current and some ARC’s of RRP so I was able to follow all the stories. Some are continuations of published works, others are “prequels” or subchapters within the original texts. Rick Riordan himself has submitted a new story, an introduction to a new story that will be out in the near future. I enjoyed every story! Some were a bit longer than typical short story entries, more like novellas, but still a quick read. It is best to know the other authors’ stories before reading this book but not essential. Most of the authors will give a brief overview of the hero and his/her powers. Because a couple of the stories were a bit dark, I would recommend this book for grades 5 and up.

TheCursedCarnivalAndOtherCalamities #RickRiordanPresents #NetGalley

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Book Review: Willodeen

Willodeen by Katherine Applegate

Thank you to Feiwel & Friends and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

“The earth is old and we are not, and that is all you must remember…”

Willodeen lives in the town of Perchance and loves all the creatures in the woods around her – especially the unlovable beasts. Her family died in a fire that swept through the town six years ago and now she lives with her foster parents. Perchance hosts an annual festival celebrating the hummingbear migration but the hummingbear numbers have been decreasing and this year none have returned. The town has also put a bounty on one of the more nuisance critters called screechers – think wild boar crossed with skunk and porcupine. Willodeen witnesses the killing of the last screecher and is inconsolable. When her friend, Connor, makes her one out of reeds and grasses, something magical happens and gives Willodeen the courage to speak up.

The quote above really sums up human existence on this planet. This story is relatively short and beautifully written. It gently emphasizes how humans must live in harmony with all the creatures on this earth, how everything is intertwined. Highly recommend for grades 3 and up.

#Willodeen #NetGalley

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Book Review: Pahua and the Soul Stealer

Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee

Thank you to Rick Riordan Presents and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

In this #OwnVoices fantasy/mythology, Pahua Moua is an 11-year-old Hmong girl who can see spirits. Her best friend is a cat spirit named Miv. Pahua’s father left when she was younger and her mother is very busy so she watches her younger brother, Matt, a lot. One day she joins a group of girls and goes into the woods to a haunted bridge. Because she can see spirits, Pahua accidentally frees the angry bridge spirit who then takes her brother’s soul to the Spirit Realm. On top of that, there are demons trying to kidnap her. Pahua joins up with moody and reluctant Zhong, a warrior shaman in training, and, along with Miv, travel to the various spirit worlds to find Matt’s soul before it’s too late.

I really enjoyed this latest entry in the RRP collection. It was very interesting learning about their culture and rituals. Some of the gods’ names and other Hmong words are not pronounced the way they are written so definitely bookmark the glossary. I’m sure there will be a sequel at some point and I will be looking forward to it. I would recommend this book for grades 4 and up.

#PahuaAndTheSoulStealer #RickRiordanPresents #NetGalley

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Book Review: The Endless Skies

The Endless Skies by Shannon Price

Thank you to Tor Teen and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

In this fantasy novel, the Leonodai people, winged lion shape-shifters, live on a floating island above the rest of the world, away from the brutal humans with whom they had been at war. There are other magical species – the sea-folk, bearking, and fox-kin who have been wiped out by the humans. The story is told in alternating POV – Rowan, who has just finished her warrior training; older sister Shirene, a sentinel on the king’s council; and Callen, a warrior and Rowan’s best friend who is also in love with her. A disease from birds is infecting and killing the Leonodai youth and the cure is found deep in the human’s territory. When warriors are sent in teams to find it, Rowan finds out more information that could put the mission in jeopardy. She and the other warriors-elect are supposed to stay and defend the city – Loyalty above all is the Leonodai motto – but will she risk a desertion charge to bring this new information to the warriors?

While I enjoyed this fast-paced adventure, I was a bit disappointed in the ending. This is a stand-alone novel but with the other magical peoples, there could be companion stories. I would recommend this book for grades 8 and up.

#TheEndlessSkies #NetGalley

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Book Review: The Champion

The Champion by Taran Matharu

Thank you to NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


The final book in The Contender series picks up as Cade is recovering from his battle with the Hydra Alpha. Unfortunately, Abaddon is throwing the humans into another battle on another world. There they find the missing Roman legion whom they enlist in their battle with the Greys (Tritons), a humanoid species that is more technologically advanced than Cade and his friends. Any more information here would be a spoiler. I was a tad disappointed in the ending (felt rushed) but otherwise enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it for readers of the series.

#TheChampion #NetGalley

This title will be available August 10, 2021.

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Book Review: Stowaway

Stowaway by John David Anderson

Thank you to Walden Pond Press and NetGalley for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This new science fiction middle grade duology is set some 30 years in the future. People of Earth learn they are not alone in the universe. The planet is visited by an advanced race called the Aykarians, who in exchange for their knowledge, begin drilling for a rare element, Ventasium, to aid space travel. Unfortunately, the Aykarians are at war with the Djarik and Earth suffers the consequences in the form of a devastating attack. Leo Fender, after losing his mother, now lives on the spaceship Beagle, with his older brother Gareth and his scientist father, Calvin. Dr. Fender is a specialist in developing Ventasium. The Beagle is attacked by the Djarik, Dr. Fender is taken prisoner, and the rest of the ship is left to drift. Shortly after the attack, the ship is boarded by space pirates looking for Ventasium. Since they have none, the pirates leave but not without Gareth sneaking Leo aboard to keep him safe. Leo is soon discovered by the crew and Leo convinces them to help him find his father.

I found this story to be quite fast-paced. I especially love when authors add in bits that the target audience probably won’t understand but the adult readers will, for example, David Bowie’s vinyl album Ziggy Stardust. Also, Anderson pay homage to Battlestar Galactica in adapting “naughty words,” – fracking in BG and freking in Stowaway. This is a great space adventure for sci-fi fans that will leave readers wanting more. I would recommend this book for readers in grades 4 and up.

#Stowaway #NetGalley

This title will be available August 3, 2021.

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Book Review: The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Sila Tekin, a once bubbly and energetic girl, is now sullen and withdrawn, rarely speaking in school. Her mother had to return to Turkey because of an “error” on her immigration paperwork. What was supposed to be eight days had turned into eight months and counting. Things start to change when Sila and her father meet Gio, a widower who also happens to be a recent Powerball winner. Shortly after they meet, Gio is inspired to rescue an elephant named Veda from a traveling circus that was closing down. Sila and new friend Mateo spend their summer helping Gio take care of Veda. The job gives Sila purpose and helps keep her mind off missing her mother. Mateo’s mother happens to be a lawyer and gets involved with the Tekin’s case.

I really enjoyed this middle grade novel. It was well researched and realistic in showing the care that goes into rescuing a large exotic animal. The characters are well developed and likeable as well. I would recommend this title for readers grade 4 and up.

#TheElephantInTheRoom