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Reading 2019: Best of Middle Grade, Young Adult, LGBTQIA+, Manga, ARCs





Book Reviews

Book Review: “Unicorn On A Roll” by Dana Simpson

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Phoebe and Her Unicorn #2
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


ABOUT: Been to school and paid my dues
Feel like I’ve gone and lost my clues
Unenthused and all confused
What have I really got to lose?

My unicorn’s my newest muse
She taught me now to lose my blues
From her I’ll chose to take my cues
And take a snooze without my shoes

What’s more magical than a unicorn on roller skates? Phoebe and Marigold Heavenly Nostril’s friendship! They’re on a roll in this second adventure as they share their finest finery, their most secret secrets, and their most magical mysteries.


My Review:
I honestly picked up this book because it had a unicorn on it. Unicorns as characters in fiction are always amazing – and Phoebe’s best friend and unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostril, certain is an amazing character. Phoebe is amazing. Their friendship is amazing! The two friends really compliment each other and I did laugh out loud a lot at some of their shenanigans and the dialogue between characters.

There’s no real story. It’s a slice-of-life comedy compacted into several mini stories that take place over the course of a year. The benefit of this form of storytelling is you can just relax and live in the moment with the characters. Dana Simpson does a good job bringing presence into the story.

Book Reviews

Book Review: “Swing It, Sunny” by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm, Watercolor by Lark Pien

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Sunny #2
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


ABOUT: Summer’s over and it’s time for Sunny Lewin to enter the strange and unfriendly hallways of . . . middle school. When her Gramps calls her from Florida to ask how she’s doing, she always tells him she’s fine. But the truth? Sunny is NOT having the best time.

Not only is the whole middle school thing confusing . . . but life at home is confusing, too. Sunny misses her brother Dale, who’s been sent to boarding school. But when Dale comes back, she STILL misses him . . . because he’s changed.

Luckily Sunny’s got her best friend and a mysterious new neighbor on her side . . . because she is NOT going let all this confusion get her down. Instead, she’s going to remain Sunny-side up!


My Review:
Book 2 felt more like an impasse. Not much happened, very little action. You basically follow Sunny’s emotional journey as she tries to understand her brother’s drug problem and how it’s changed him. There’s little within the story that has to do with Sunny’s first year of middle school, which I was interested in also seeing more of.

As before, I liked the art and how certain scenes were conveyed. I think book 2 is meant to set up something bigger to happen in book 3. While I didn’t like this book as much as I did the first book I do plan to read book 3.

Book Reviews

[My 200th] Book Review: “Glow of the Fireflies” by Lindsey Duga

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


ABOUT: Briony never planned to go back to the place she lost everything.

Firefly Valley, nestled deep within the Smoky Mountains, is better kept in her past. After an unexplained fire gave Briony amnesia, her mother disappeared and her dad moved them to Knoxville.

But now her grandmother needs a caretaker and Briony’s dad volunteers her to help. The moment she returns, her whole world shifts. She feels a magical connection to this valley, as if it’s literally part of her somehow.

And when she meets a hot guy who claims he was her childhood friend but now mysteriously keeps his distance, Briony starts piecing together her missing past…and discovers her mother didn’t leave to start a new life somewhere. She’s trapped in the hidden world within the valley.

Now, Briony will do whatever it takes to rescue her, even if it means standing up against dangerously powerful nature spirits. Even if it means giving up her first love.


My Review:
Glow of the Fireflies is a must read, new young adult fantasy book. I adored the story, loved the characters, and thought the writing was captivating.

The cover is absolutely gorgeous and, I will admit, was what first piqued my interest. I love fireflies; they’re so pretty. Combined with the aesthetically pleasing artwork and you get one resplendent cover art.

It’s been a long time since I’ve fallen deeply in love with a story’s plot. Glow of the Fireflies was put together so well. I like how the book starts out so seamlessly innocent inciting incident and then quickly turns into chaos.

Briony thought she might get some answers to questions that have haunted her for years. Well she gets that and so much more than she (or the reader) could have ever guessed. Once Briony and Alder, her long-ago childhood friend, come to a major decision, it took too long to get to something new. Things got repetitive.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by all the plot twists but I was and pleasantly so. Glow of the Fireflies had the right amount of tension, the right amount of danger, and the right amount of romance. This was a good read that I wish there had been at least another 30-50 pages more of. The book is a magically perfect YA fantasy standalone novel. I want to read more books by Lindsey Duga.

Books of the Month

[December 2019] Book of the Month: “The Blacksmith Queen” by G.A. Aiken

Image via Goodreads

Title: The Blacksmith Queen
Author: G.A. Aiken
Series: The Scarred Earth Saga #1
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Kensington Books
Recommended?: Yes

Goodreads Summary: When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken.

The Old King Is Dead

With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals.

Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned …

Bookish Memes Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday – 11/20/19

Welcome to another Waiting On Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, where you spotlight a highly anticipated book.

This Wednesday I am waiting on The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. It’s expected publication is March 17, 2020.

Image via Goodreads

ABOUT: Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvernboo, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

TBR Lists

TBR At A Glance – 11/18/19

Royalty Free Image via Pixabay | Edited in Paint


  • Shadow Frost by Coco Ma



  • Angelbound by Christina Bauer

  • Glow of the Fireflies by Lindsey Duga

  • Heartsong by TJ Klune






Bookish Memes Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday – 11/6/19

Welcome to another Waiting On Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, where you spotlight a highly anticipated book.

I am waiting on the publication of The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune (Mayr 19, 2020).

Image via Goodreads

ABOUT: Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

About Books Anticipated Book Releases Bookish Lists

November 2019 – Upcoming Anticipated Book Releases


The Deep by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes

Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.


Snow White with the Red Hair (Volume 4) by Sorata Akizuki

Manga, Graphic Novel, Shojo, Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy

A romantic retelling of a classic fairy tale about a beautiful herbalist and a lovestruck prince.

Shirayuki is an herbalist famous for her naturally bright-red hair, and the prince of Tanbarun wants her all to himself! Unwilling to become the prince’s possession, she seeks shelter in the woods of the neighboring kingdom, where she gains an unlikely ally—the prince of that kingdom! He rescues her from her plight, and thus begins the love story between a lovestruck prince and an unusual herbalist.

Shirayuki is determined to help Kiharu and her bird Popo prove their necessity to the kingdom. She even goes so far as to risk her life to see Popo home! When she succeeds, Zen kisses Shirayuki for the first time! Now she can’t get that kiss out of her head. Will she be able to keep her cool around the man she’s falling for?



Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin

Young Adult Fiction

Winnie Friedman has been waiting for the world to catch on to what she already knows: she’s hilarious.

It might be a long wait, though. After bombing a stand-up set at her own bat mitzvah, Winnie has kept her jokes to herself. Well, to herself and her dad, a former comedian and her inspiration.

Then, on the second day of tenth grade, the funniest guy in school actually laughs at a comment she makes in the lunch line and asks her to join the improv troupe. Maybe he’s even . . . flirting?

Just when Winnie’s ready to say yes to comedy again, her father reveals that he’s been diagnosed with ALS. That is . . . not funny. Her dad’s still making jokes, though, which feels like a good thing. And Winnie’s prepared to be his straight man if that’s what he wants. But is it what he needs?

Caught up in a spiral of epically bad dates, bad news, and bad performances, Winnie’s struggling to see the humor in it all. But finding a way to laugh is exactly what will see her through.



The Little Book of Big Feelings by Maureen “Marzi” Wilson

Graphic Novel, Nonfiction, Self-Help

We’ve been conditioned to think that the most acceptable response to “How are you?” is, “I’m fine.” But our emotions are much more complicated than that! Sometimes we feel a little annoyed, or elated, or afraid. And you know, that’s okay!

In The Little Book of Big Feelings, Maureen “Marzi” Wilson takes us on a journey of self-acceptance and validation. After all, our emotions are only reactions to experiences that we can learn from; there’s no such thing as a “bad” emotion. It’s okay to be scared, it’s alright to feel hopeful, and it’s perfectly fine to feel both at the same time. There is a wide range of human emotions, and it’s time we start embracing each one!


A Cowboy Like You by Donna Grant

Adult Contemporary Romance, Western, Fiction

In the Heart of Texas, a heartthrob cowboy may get his second chance at love…

Danny Oldman, the handsome Lone Star sheriff, is still single. He tells himself, and anyone who asks, that he is married to his job―and what matters most is keeping the people of his beloved Texas hometown safe. The truth? Danny still hasn’t gotten over his high school crush. She moved away after graduation and took Danny’s heart with her.

Skylar Long never thought she would have to flee Houston and return home―where it all began for her. But that’s what happened after the man of her dreams turned out to be an actual nightmare. Now, Skylar is desperate to escape her obsessive boyfriend. Nothing shocks her more than seeing Danny again and realizing that their long-ago attraction is more powerful than ever. But can she and Danny find a way to fight against Skylar’s wealthy, powerful ex who is dead set on tearing them apart?

Books of the Month

[November 2019] Book of the Month: “The Lightning-Struck Heart” by TJ Klune

Image via Goodreads

Title: The Lightning-Struck Heart
Author: TJ Klune
Series: Tales From Verania #1
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQ Romance, MM Romance
Recommended?: Yes

Goodreads Summary: Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.

Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King’s Wizard, Morgan of Shadows.

When Sam is fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.

At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.

Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.

Or so he thinks.

My Reviews:
The Lightning-Struck Heart – book 1
A Destiny of Dragons – book 2
The Consumption of Magic – book 3
A Wish Upon The Stars – book 4

More by TJ Klune:
Wolfsong – Green Creek #1
Ravensong – Green Creek #2