Storm's Herald: Stormfall Chronicles Book 1 by J.W. Golan

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It’s been a quick minute since I’ve read in this genre, and I am kicking myself that I let so much time pass by! I love YA fantasy!! How could I forget that!? Thanks, J.W. Golan, for sending your book my way. It has reignited my passion.

spoiler alert

I love the team element of the story structure. It really opens up world-building possibilities and POV dynamics. The perspective transitions are smooth for the most part; I can only think of one place in the novel where I felt jolted out of the story flow due to the POV change.

My worst criticism of the story is Garth. He seems overpowered in my opinion. This character comes in during every conflict and dispatches the bad guys. It seems he’s there as the plot’s problem solver, a deus ex machina. But, he is very likeable. I have a small suspicion that this world’s hero, Garth/Gwythyr/Gyaltso, will give the ultimate sacrifice sometime later in the series.

Another point about Garth—I didn’t realize the title of the book was referring to him until the most of the way through the novel. I assumed the “storm’s herald” was referring to the girl on the cover, Lynette. She has some magical abilities which is noted to be rare for a human, but I did find the descriptive phrase “naturally gifted/attuned/talented” overused. Perhaps the author can find a different way to describe her in the upcoming books or, at least, harp on another trait of hers once in a while.

All in all, a lovely read. The story is very engaging. I fell in love with the characters, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next in their adventure!

Dissent: The Love Vanquishes All Series (Book 2)

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This is the first time I have reviewed in the genre of romance. I have always enjoyed reading love stories, but since becoming a mom, I find my bookshelves (and time) filled with picture books instead. After this indulgent read, though, I know I need to make time for myself. I so looked forward to bedtime, after the baby was down, and I could be swept up in Awa and Blaise’s journey.

When the author, P.J. Dean, sent me a blurb, I was instantly hooked on this novel’s concept. It. Is. So. Unique! I was quite backlogged on other review requests, but finally, I got around to breaking into this genre. It felt like coming home. The heart-pulls, shared excitement, blush-worthy moments, crestfallen characters. . . all the twists and turns of a great emotional roller coaster . . . this story is chock-full of them.

I use the term “chock-full” because it is a very long read, which is pretty atypical of a romance book. I was fine with that, though. It is a historical romance, and Dean paints a very detailed backdrop of 1500s France (and Africa). The cast of characters is large, too, but all of their rolls are important to drive the plot.

The length is not the only atypical feature of Dissent. The premise is founded on an African woman in an arranged marriage with a protestant Frenchman (when Catholicism was the majority religion). You don’t see that match-up very often in romances, do you? When you read this book, though, it is very evident that Dean did her research. The setting is intricately described all the way down to the renaissance era’s politics, phraseology, etiquette, clothing, foods, and other tidbits of culture. Bravo!

All in all, a good book. Thanks for sending it my way, Ms. Dean! I wish other authors would change things up and break down the usual cliches of the genre. It makes for an exquisite read!

The Suicide Tree by Shayla Raquel

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It is so incredibly hard not to be biased as this novel was written by one of my best friends. I will try to set aside my enormously proud and loving feelings I have for her as a person and give a neutral review of her work.

Get. This. Book.

If you want to feel transported to Italy -get this book. The reader follows the characters as they internationally travel, and the author describes such realistic settings that you will feel like YOU are the one taking the trip. I know for a fact Shayla Raquel went to the destinations mentioned in her story, and she wrote those settings from personal experience. How cool is that?!

If you want to satisfy your romance subplot itch -get this book. I literally could not contain my enthusiasm when Shayla had me (and the rest of our writing group) critique a chapter from this book, because it was then that she revealed to me that a couple of her characters. . . fall for each other! * squeal *

If you enjoy a dynamically varied cast of characters -get this book. I was trying to think of a mainstream example to draw a parallel here, and “Parks and Rec” came to mind. Each staff member of the Pawnee, Indiana Parks Department plays off each other and this enhances everyone’s character. The friends force each other to grow. They are funny, and definitely better together than apart. I think that describes the dynamic Shayla’s group has.

In summation. . . GET THIS BOOK.

Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

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This is one of the sequels to the original story, The Pout-Pout Fish. I believe there is quite a selection to the “pout-pout” series, but this particular board book is a perfect bedtime story. It is much shorter than the first book with one phrase on each page. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for my wiggle-worm of toddler. He loves short and fast reads like this one.

Pout-Pout goes through the typical bedtime routine your own little one does in real life, so there is a strong relatability to the story theme. He brushes his teeth, scrubs his face, gets his favorite toy/stuffed animal, reads a story, listens to a song, tucks into bed, and off to sleep he goes!

The creatures have that unique and familiar look as the same illustrator worked on this book as well as the original. I will say Pout-Pout’s toy is . . . off-putting. It verges on a little on the creepy, alien style. But! The artwork is still appealing to children, so that’s what matters.

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

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This book is over a decade old now, but still highly acclaimed, and I believe has become a children’s classic in those few years. It does have a wonderful message that I greatly appreciate as someone who struggles with mental health, confidence issues, and anxiety.

-You don’t have to accept things as they are, face-value (ba-du-dun… bad pun). Sometimes you just need a fresh and new perspective!

The pout-pout fish needed help in creating a new outlook on life; thank goodness the kiss-kiss fish came along to change his point-of-view! This story is still a bestseller for good reasons. It has catchy rhymes, unusual sea creatures, and funky words. Kids will have a blast reading along with, “blub, bluub, bluuub”!

Great read, lots of fun. I am thrilled my friend, Shayla sent this and the sequel to my baby. We love book mail!!

Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel by Adam Rubin

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I am so glad there’s a sequel to Dragons Love Tacos. My little family and I thoroughly enjoyed the first one, and you can tell just by the title, Dragons Love Tacos 2, the Sequel, that Adam Rubin hits it out of the park with his zany humor once again. The amazing duo teamed up again for this book, and I would be remiss if I didn’t compliment the funky illustrations by Daniel Salmieri.

The boy needs to help his dragon friends, because tragically the world has eaten every…single…taco. They are extinct, no more, kaput. (This is a play on the repetitive humor Rubin utilizes in the story.) Luckily, the boy has a spare time machine in the garage, so he and a few of the dragons travel to the past to save a taco “seed” to plant in the present. Along the way, though, they almost mess up their mission more than once: spicy salsa consumption, fire blasts to the time vehicle, traveling too far and going prehistoric, and visiting alternative time lines. There’s fun and laughs on every page, and I highly recommend pairing this book with the prequel.

Actually, we were given this book before buying or reading the first one. Guess what? It still works. We giggled at the silly dragons, and the recap “dragons love tacos” covered the necessities.

Making a Friend by Tammi Sauer

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I love anything by Tammi Sauer! Sweet and short stories that shoot straight into your heart; she always write wonderful books that leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. Speaking of warm and fuzzy. . .

Beaver has the very best intentions in his attempts to make friends with the forest animals. But, his efforts always fall flat. But he’s very good at constructing things, so he commits to (literally) making a friend out of snow. The helpful Raccoon comes along to offer his aide, and what should they discover? By the end of the story, both sad little animals have made a true friend.

Sigh, see? The warm fuzzies have overtaken you, right?

Nibbles, the Book Monster by Emma Yarlett

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Nibbles is a very cute, fast pace, and interactive story your young reader will want to read again and again. The title character eats his way into three classic children’s tales: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack in the Beanstalk. He causes quite a scene (and a mess!) in each story, but the Golden Goose from Jack in the Beanstalk comes to the rescue by capturing Nibbles and placing him back in his crate. BUT, as your child flips the extra pages, you find out he has escaped again! Nibbles ventures out to create more chaos in the world!

The interactive component comes from the “extra” pages that make up the three interrupted classics as well as Nibbles’s crate. The little monster also plays “hide-and-seek” on one set of pages. I know my son will be able to fully enjoy this book when he gets a little older and has stronger fine motor skills. For now, mommy turns the pages for him, and Luke happily follows along!

My aunt gave this book to my son on his first birthday. She said it was new, fun favorite of hers and her grandchildren. She is quite the bibliophile, and I always take her recommendation. And this time was no exception!

Wingbound by Heather Trim

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Cheers for Wingbound by Heather Trim! You know YA books are my jam, but it’s been a bit since I’ve sat down and read one. Usually reading picture books with my baby nowadays. So this fantasy story (book 1 of the series) was an overdue and refreshing change of pace for me. I was always pumped to dive into the World of Ellery when I could grab a rare spare moment.


I think children, both girls and boys, will be entertained, especially 4th-8th graders. There’s fighting, romance, dragons, flying people, a floating island, feuds (racial & familial), and so much more. This story has a fair amount of action, from 1-on-1 scuffles to a generational war between races. I will say, the pace of action slowed a bit when the kids are stuck on the floating island for the better part of a year. A coming-of-age book about a scrawny, scared boy still felt very relatable, even to me (a mom closing in on her 30s). Credit to the writer for her well-designed characters and immersive culture! I gotta say the part that snagged me is when the main character is joined in his homemade flying machine by his brother and friends. I realized this wasn’t going to be a lonely storyline just focusing on him and his harebrained pursuit, but actually a diverse group that grows individually from their journey together.


Heather Trim is a self-published author. I bought Wingbound after I attended her Facebook book-launch party. I was invited by my friend and Heather’s editor/marketer, Shayla Raquel. What are some indie pub books you like?

Wish List: A Holiday 'Poet-tree' Collection by Sara Marie

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Wish List by Sara Marie came to me as a wonderful surprise. The author reached out and asked if I would give an honest review of her poetry book in exchange for a free e-copy. This is a very typical transaction between author and book bloggers, but it’s only the second time I’ve been approached by an author seeking me out for a review. I started on this book blogger journey last year. I have been putting out reviews of picture books from my son’s little library with a few other genres thrown in for “mommy-breaks”. All this to say, I am having so much fun :) I love reading, and I love helping. So, if I can promote your hard, beautiful work and escape into a word-woven world. . . well, that’s a win-win situation if I ever saw one.

I can definitely see myself reading the Wish List every year at Christmastime. It’s broken into five sections: magic, healing, self-love, perspective, and hope. Sara Marie utilizes non-rhyming poems, and they still resonate with my soul. Each page brought forth a flurry of emotions leaving me thinking, “this is so relatable; it’s like she’s in my head”. I attempted to keep track of my favorites by noting down a couple at first, then a few more in the next chapter, theenn a good chunk of the next section. Regardless to say, I had written down way too many personal favorites to notate in my review. I can’t give away all the good stuff. . . which is like the whole book!

If you find yourself wounded and re-wounded by memories and past relationships, and you are in dire need of self-reflection and soft, loving words, please read this book. Even if you just enjoy analogies of the holiday season, then please, do yourself a favor, and pick up a copy! The snip-its of comfort and self-love Sara Marie encourages with every poem will surely have you feeling calmer and peaceful.

P.S. - Sara Marie has a second poetry book out now, Cat’s Game. You bet I am going to get myself that one, too!

P.P.S. -I have been following Sara Marie on social media, and everything she posts is a home-run with me! Word lover and cat lover?! She’s my new best friend :)