Claw Enforcement by Sofie Ryan | Book Review

Claw Enforcement is my latest library read! I’ve really wanted to dive into different genres, and Cozy Mysteries seems like a fun area to explore. This truly kept me guessing from start to finish!

Claw Enforcement | Book Information

Claw Enforcement by Sofie Ryan. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1568418789l/45484024.jpg

Claw Enforcement by Sofie Ryan
Genre: Mystery
Length: 285 pages
Publisher: Berkeley
Book 7 in the Second Chance Cat Mystery series
Release Date: January 28, 2020

Synopsis

Sarah Grayson owns a delightful secondhand shop in the small town of North Harbor, Maine, where she and her rescue cat, Elvis, are always finding themselves up to their whiskers in trouble. With the help of a quirky group of senior citizens—who call themselves Charlotte’s Angels and work out of the store—they solve crimes both new and vintage.

Local squabbles about property development have the town in quite a state of drama. It seems like someone may even be upset enough to kill. When a local man involved in the real estate quagmire falls over dead at a reception to celebrate the harbor front’s redevelopment, Sarah gets roped in to investigate by her own IT expert, Mr. P., who has long known the victim’s stepfather. Between Sarah, Elvis and Charlotte’s Angels, the killer is sure to have claws for concern.

Claw Enforcement | My Review

This is such a fun, light-hearted story! Claw Enforcement features Sarah, a thrift store owner who solves murders with Charlotte’s Angels. In this installment, Sarah seeks out to solve the murder of Christopher Healy, who died unexpectedly after a social gathering.

Sarah Grayson covers all her bases in solving this murder. She interviews every possible suspect, as everyone has an alibi. Sarah’s cat Elvis also keeps her company during this mystery!

Additionally, Sarah’s community is very close knit. While I didn’t read this series from the beginning, I love the close connections this small town holds. I certainly feel the bond between Sarah and her brother Liam as he seeks a firm footing. I enjoy the chemistry between Sarah’s grandmother and Mr. P, curious as to how their connection began.

In spite of my limited knowledge of North Harbor’s history, I found the plot concise and to the point. Sarah discovers Christopher Healy’s death while socializing, and takes it upon herself to solve the case. Many family and friends within the community were present, so anyone could have carried out the sinister deed! Community gossip certainly left me wanting more!

Furthermore, Sofie Ryan’s writing style hits that comfort spot! She blends in mystery and romantic chemistry, as Sarah speaks with a potential love interest. This is a fun break from solving the crime at hand!

In conclusion, Claw Enforcement is both heartwarming and engaging. I certainly wanted more from Sarah and Elvis upon finishing the book!

Rating: 4 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Would you place Claw Enforcement on your list? Feel free to share below!

Looking for more reviews? Presenting my thoughts on The Dutch House!

WWW Wednesday | November 18

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by A Daily Rhythm. It is now maintained by Sam by Taking On a World of Words. Click here to view Sam’s page.

WWW Wednesday. What are you currently reading?
American Spy by Lauren WIlkinson. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1534064514l/40274582.jpg

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

An action packed mystery novel for my library’s book club! Since I started this today (with two days before the zoom call), it should be a fun time!

WWW Wednesday. What did you finish reading recently?
Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer. LInk: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1469406118l/30324816.jpg

Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer

My Cozy Mystery adventure is underway! Thus far, Kneaded to Death is a lovely intro to Ivy Culpepper’s life. She meets the dynamic and storied Santa Sofia community! Indeed, Ivy finds herself into romance and history while solving Jackie Maker’s death!

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun is the first book in the Between Earth and Sky series. This is the B2Weird November book pick. Want fearless women and Crow gods fighting in an indigenous world? This is the story for you! I was certainly hooked from start to finish!

WWW Wednesday. What do you think you'll read next?
Memorial by Bryan Washington. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1603828065l/48902303._SY475_.jpg

Memorial by Bryan Washington

Memorial focuses on relationships, as well as the events that could impact them. I’m hearing so many things about this book!

Finally, how is your WWW Wednesday progress? Have you come across an awesome read? Feel free to share below!

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‘The Hollow Gods’ by A.J. Vrana | Book Review

The Hollow Gods is A.J. Vrana’s debut contemporary fantasy. It highlights three perspectives: Kai, Miya, and Mason, as they weave through the web of Black Hollow. They also fight their inner demons while running from dark secrets.

It’s my stop on The Hollow Gods Blog Tour! Many thanks to MTMC Tours for allowing me to participate. For more information, click on the banner below!

‘The Hollow Gods’ Book Information

The Hollow Gods by A.J. Vrana
Series: The Chaos Cycle Duology (Book 1)
Publisher: Parliament House Press
Genre: NA Contemporary Fantasy
Release Date: July 28, 2020

Amazon | B&N | Website | Goodreads

Synopsis

Black Hollow is a town with a dark secret.

For centuries, residents have foretold the return of the Dreamwalker—an ominous figure from local folklore said to lure young women into the woods and possess them. Yet the boundary between fact and fable is blurred by a troubling statistic: occasionally, women do go missing. And after they return, they almost always end up dead.

When Kai wakes up next to the lifeless body of a recently missing girl, his memory blank, he struggles to clear his already threadbare conscience.

Miya, a floundering university student, experiences signs that she may be the Dreamwalker’s next victim. Can she trust Kai as their paths collide, or does he herald her demise?

And after losing a young patient, crestfallen oncologist, Mason, embarks on a quest to debunk the town’s superstitions, only to find his sanity tested.

A maelstrom of ancient grudges, forgotten traumas, and deadly secrets loom in the foggy forests of Black Hollow. Can three unlikely heroes put aside their fears and unite to confront a centuries-old evil? Will they uncover the truth behind the fable, or will the cycle repeat?

The Hollow Gods: Author Information

AJ Vrana

A. J. Vrana is a Serbian-Canadian academic and writer from Toronto, Canada. She lives with her two rescue cats, Moonstone and Peanut Butter, who nest in her window-side bookshelf and cast judgmental stares at nearby pigeons. Her doctoral research examines the supernatural in modern Japanese and former-Yugoslavian literature and its relationship to violence. When not toiling away at caffeine-fueled, scholarly pursuits, she enjoys jewelry-making, cupcakes, and concocting dark tales to unleash upon the world. Her published works include The Chaos Cycle Duology: The Hollow Gods (2020) and The Echoed Realm (2021)  from The Parliament House Press, and a short supernatural horror story, These Silent Walls (2020), printed in Three Crows Magazine.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

My Review

**I received The Hollow Gods through MTMC Tours, in exchange for an honest review.**

The Hollow Gods is such an amazing debut from A.J. Vrana! I was immediately drawn in to Black Hollow and its characters. Additionally, Kai, Miya and Mason are truly people grappling with dilemmas of their past. I appreciated that this novel is written in multiple viewpoints. It brings out each person’s struggle in their journey. What I most enjoyed that our three travelers weave into each others’ lives. While they come from separate paths, they find ways to work together among the dark environment.

I really loved the world A.J. Vrana gives us! Black Hollow is ominous and thrilling. Our three characters travel through a land ruled by its dark story. It’s a place that intrigued me until the very end!

I recommend The Hollow Gods for those searching for dark, urban fantasy. Black Hollow and its travelers will keep you turning pages!

The Hollow Gods’ Book Offer!

The Hallow Gods Book Photo

The Hollow Gods will be discounted to $1.99 via Bookbub on November 10! Make sure to snag a copy!

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win a The Hollow Gods character poster!

Rafflecopter Link

Tour Schedule

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The NaNoWriMo Experience | Book Blogger Hop

NaNoWriMo is on every aspiring writer’s ‘to-do’ list! For example, writers plan and outline their stories for this moment in November: National Novel Writing Month! Whether you wish to draft a complete book, or get your creative juices flowing, NaNoWriMo is the time to shine!

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme created by Coffee Addicted Writer. Each week we answer a bookish prompt. Then, we read other member’s answers! You can read Billy’s intro post here!

Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? If yes, how did it go? (submitted by Kristin @ Lukten av Trykksverte)

I took part in (and won) NaNoWriMo in 2018. I drafted a family drama, with two sisters as the main characters. My story also had a close friend enduring an addiction. Since I was a ‘pantser’ (one who doesn’t outline their story), my novel was all over the place! Perhaps I’ll pick it up again and edit it more.

Some NaNoWriMo Facts:

  • During NaNoWriMo, participants write 50,000 words in 30 days (the entire month of November).
  • It began in 1999, yet became a non-profit organization in 2006.
  • Additionally, it runs Camp NaNoWriMo, a writing prep program, in the summer (typically July).
  • For more information, check out their Info Page!

What about you? Have you participated? Feel free to share below!

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First Lines Friday: November 6

First Lines Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Wandering Words. Each week we judge a book not by its cover, but through their opening lines. For more information, click on Wandering Words’ post here.

This Week’s First Lines

‘I grip her hand. Dirt clings to her small palm and makes caked half-moons under her nails. I squeeze her against my side, a shield against the drizzle’.

First Lines Friday Purple Leaf

Any Guesses?

First Lines Friday: a woman shrugging her shoulders.
First Lines Friday Purple Leaf
Jada Pinkett Smith saying 'No idea'
First Lines Friday Purple Leaf
Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1509387961l/36504901._SY475_.jpg

Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

A young girl’s disappearance ties two women struggling with the meaning of motherhood and love. This is Rea Frey’s debut fiction novel!

Synopsis

Gripping, emotional, and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?

First Lines Friday Purple Leaf

What are your thoughts on Not Your Daughter?

Do you have any First Lines you would like to share?

Feel free to comment down below!

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Also, a previous Friday post!

‘Those Who Prey’ By Jennifer Moffett | Book Review

It’s my tour stop on the Those Who Prey blog tour! Many thanks to Turn the Page Tours for letting me participate. For more information, check out their Launch Post.

‘Those Who Prey’ Book Information

Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett. A young woman standing in a crowd.

Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett
Publisher: Atheneum/Simon & Schuster
Genre: YA Contemporary Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: November 10, 2020

Bookshop

Synopsis

Sadie meets The Girls in this riveting debut psychological thriller about a lonely college freshman seduced into joining a cult—and her desperate attempt to escape before it’s too late.

College life isn’t what Emily expected.

She expected to spend freshman year strolling through the ivy-covered campus with new friends, finally feeling like she belonged. Instead, she walks the campus alone, still not having found her place or her people so far away from home.

But then the Kingdom finds her.

The Kingdom, an exclusive on-campus group, offers everything Emily expected of college and more. They bring acceptance, friends, a potential boyfriend, and a chance to spend the summer in Italy on a mission trip. But the trip is not what she thought it would be. Emily and the others are stripped of their passports and money. They’re cut off from their families back home. The Kingdom’s practices become increasingly manipulative and dangerous.

Also, someone ends up dead.

At times unsettling and always riveting, Those Who Prey looks at the allure of cult life, while questioning just how far we’re willing to go to find where we belong.

‘Those Who Prey’ Author Information

Those Who Prey: Author Jennifer Moffett

JENNIFER MOFFETT grew up in Arkansas, where she spent her childhood playing in creeks and climbing trees while dreaming up stories about faraway places. A college study abroad program sparked her lifelong passion for travel. After working in children’s television in New York City, she received an MA in Creative Writing and wrote book reviews for regional publications. Her short stories and poems have appeared in various literary journals, including New Orleans Review and descant. She teaches creative writing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where she enjoys kayaking, gardening, reading outdoors, and planning trips to new places (preferably with great local yarn shops and bookstores).

My Review

Those Who Prey is a thrilling story that could happen to anyone. Jennifer Moffatt writes Emily’s tale with raw honesty. She is both shy and brand new to the college experience. Also, she wants to share in friendship and first love that being alone in school entails.

No doubt we’ve all come across a new group, with the promise of adventure and connections. I remember my first year in college…there were many instances when I relived the uncertainty of finding kindred spirits!

Sometimes we discover groups that are truly genuine. We share and learn from one another. However, the opposite also occurs. Emily is drawn into The Kingdom and its temptation. As a result, she’s led away from the familiar comforts of home. I found myself going alongside Emily as she embarks on a new adventure: free herself from The Kingdom.

In conclusion, Those Who Prey is certainly an eye opening account of a student swept up into dark secrets, under the cloak of promises. It’s the Dark Academia story that you’ll truly enjoy!

Thank you so much to Turn the Page Tours for gifting me a digital copy for review!

One more thing…click on the banner below to view the other fabulous presenters!

Those Who Prey Banner

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‘The Rage of Dragons’: Book Review

‘The Rage of Dragons’ is the October B2Weird Book Club pick. We follow Tau, a man out for vengeance!

‘The Rage of Dragons’ Book Information

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1553927196l/41952489.jpg

‘The Rage of Dragons’ by Evan Winter
Length: 544 pages
Publisher: Orbit Books
Genre: Fantasy
Book 1 of ‘The Burning’ Series
Release Date: July 16, 2019

Synopsis

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society is built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war. Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, yet carries an escape plan. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance. Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live. A man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

‘The Rage of Dragons’: My Review

If you’re looking for an action-packed fantasy, ‘The Rage of Dragons’ is your best bet! This story has both an intricate magical system and a feminine power structure. Our main character Tau fights for vengeance. His father is murdered due to a misunderstanding. As a result, Tau’s journey takes him to train as a Ihashe sword fighter.

Tau trains around the clock as he works toward his goal. Along the way he learns about the inner workings of Isihogo, the underworld. Tau uses this knowledge to his advantage as he perfects his sword fighting skill. Thus, Tau becomes highly respected, and feared.

Character Development

Tau begins with a single goal: kill the people who murdered his father. Throughout the novel, this remains a constant. However, Tau learns to trust in his military brothers as they advance in the competition. It takes time for Tau to learn that one cannot reach a feat alone.

I do wish that we learned more about the female characters in the book. While The Rage of Dragons has a matriarchal magic system, its women are rarely seen. I hope that we view more female perspectives in Book 2!

Worldbuilding & Plot

The Rage of Dragons sets the scene for a stunning world. Indeed, you’re drawn in from the beginning! Everything about Tau’s world (Magic system, Class system, laws) is very unique. Evan Winter truly creates a active world! Moreover, we’re clear about Tau’s goal from the start. Although he has his bumps during his training period, we dive deep into the nature of both Isihogo and the walking world.

Engagement & Logic

Was I interested in The Rage of Dragons? Of course! While certain parts slowed momentum (there are one too many training montages for my taste), this book drew me in from beginning to end. Also, the twists in this book are indeed shocking!

‘The Rage of Dragons’: Final Thoughts

In conclusion, ‘The Rage of Dragons’ is a captivating epic fantasy story! I recommend this novel for people searching for a vengeance tale in a diverse world. Additionally, there are three more books to follow! Plenty of room for women to take prominence!

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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‘Story Magic’ by Laurel Gale | Author Q & A

‘Listeners, I have a story that may interest you…’

Kaya speaks these words in Story Magic. Despite her village preventing girls from casting, Kaya indeed gets it done! When her brother goes missing, Kaya relies on quick thinking as she travels through unfamiliar land. With the help of stories, of course!

Today I’m here with Laurel Gale, the author of Story Magic. She shares her writing process, as well as the awesome gift of writing strong, magical female characters! You’ll certainly be excited to pick up your copy!

‘Story Magic’ Book Information

Story Magic by Laurel Gale. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1581012277l/51136406._SX318_SY475_.jpg

Story Magic by Laurel Gale
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Release Date: October 27, 2020

Synopsis

Girls are forbidden to practice story magic. Only bad things happen when they do. Everyone knows this, but that doesn’t stop twelve-year-old Kaya A’Dor from learning the basics from her older brother Hob. The trick is to sense a listener, one of the magical beings that inhabit the world, and tell it a story. If the listener likes the story, it will allow the storyteller to work magic.

Although Kaya knows the risks, she attempts a little story magic to impress Hob. When Hob is taken prisoner in Prima, the faraway capital city, Kaya is convinced it’s her fault. Either because someone discovered what she was doing, or because the bad luck has found her.

Desperate to save her brother, Kaya will do anything to make it to Prima, including story magic. With each story she tells her ability to wield story magic grows. She soon begins to wonder if her brother’s imprisonment was really her fault or something else entirely. Thus, each story brings her one step closer to finding Hob and leaving everything she’s ever known behind.

‘Story Magic’ Author Info

Story Magic, Laurel Gale author photo. Link: https://www.laurelgale.com/p/about-me.html
Photo by Tal Miles

Laurel Gale writes books for children. Her middle grade novels include Dead Boy and Story Magic. She lives with her husband and their ferrets in Washington. In addition to writing, she enjoying hiking, playing board games, and reading. She loves animals and is easily distracted by squirrels.
Visit Laurel online through her Website or Twitter.

Website | Twitter

Author Q & A

1. Cathleen: How are you and your family during this time? I think we’re all ready for 2020 to end!

Laurel Gale: Thanks for asking! We’re doing well, but yes, we’re ready for 2020 to end.

2. C: Congratulations on the release of Story Magic! It’s such a heartfelt story!

LG: Aww, thanks! I’m super excited to share this book with everyone.

3. C: How did your love for writing begin?

LG: It’s hard to say because I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember! It started with poems and short stories when I was a kid. I’ve always loved to read, and I’ve always found that writing is the most natural way for me to express my ideas. I’m happiest when I’m writing something.

4. C: What inspired you to create ‘Story Magic’?

LG: Story Magic started with the magic system. I was talking to my husband and how magic systems are used in fiction, and this sparked an idea for a magic system based on storytelling. From there, I came up with the main character and the listeners, and the rest followed.

5. C: Kaya is truly fearless in her use of magical storytelling. What made you create such an empowering character?

LG: Kaya is very brave, but at the same time, she does experience quite a bit of fear. I think that’s what makes her empowering – she pushes past her fear to do what’s right. That’s certainly something I aspire to.

'Story Magic', Jolly Fish Press Promo photo.

6. C: While searching for her brother, Kaya faces many harsh truths in society. She goes through many growing pains!

LG: She starts off being a bit naïve, but she learns so much on her journey. This can be hard for her, but she finds her inner strength and grows. I think this is something a lot of middle grade readers can relate to. Even if they’re not going on magical adventures, they are learning more about the world at that age.

7. C: I love how Kaya sticks to her intuition throughout the book. Is she created after a particular figure in your life?

LG: I didn’t base Kaya on any particular person. I wanted to make her a realistic twelve-year-old who has a lot of doubts and sometimes messes up, but who is also very strong and tries to do the right thing.

8. C: Themes such as girl power and fighting intolerance are strong in ‘Story Magic’. Have you always wanted to carry this message in your writing?

LG: In Story Magic, only members of the Story Magicians Guild are allowed to practice story magic, and girls are never allowed to join the guild. This is a way for the guild to control who has power. I don’t think I could have done this concept justice without exploring themes of girl power and tolerance.

When I write a book, my main goal is to tell an entertaining story, but I think the message matters, too. Kindness, fairness, courage, and tolerance are important themes in my writing because those are important ideas in life.

9. C: Which authors inspire your work? It can be Middle Grade, YA, etc.

LG: There are so many amazing writers out there, and I think it’s important for writers to read widely.

When I was kid, I was obsessed with Christopher Pike books, and I think that’s where I really developed my taste for speculative fiction. Neil Gaiman has also been an inspiration.

10: C: What advice do you have for those starting their writing career?

LG: Persistence is key. I think a lot of new writers feel like they have to get published immediately, but it’s not a race. I spent a few years and wrote several manuscripts before I got my first book deal, and looking back, I’m glad those early manuscripts were never published. I still trunk manuscripts occasionally.

It takes time to learn the craft of writing, and not everything you try will work. Just keep pushing yourself to be better, and if you really want to make a career out of writing, focus on your long-term goals.

Also, please don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time on something just because you never publish it. As long as you’re learning and improving, you’re not wasting your time. You wouldn’t expect a musician to start performing concerts immediately! It takes practice to master any skill that’s worthwhile, and that’s normal.

Thank you, Laurel, for your time! ‘Story Magic’ is certainly thrilling! It’s available today, so get your copy! You won’t be disappointed!

Contact Cathleen!

‘Merci Suarez Changes Gears’: Book Review

Merci Suarez Changes Gears definitely broke my reading slump!

While I read for book clubs and tours these past few months (and surely enjoyed them), I needed a read for ‘me-time’. This middle grade read was calling my name since purchasing in Doylestown months back.

Want to know what I think? Keep reading…

Merci Suarez Changes Gears | Book Info

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina. A curly haired girl riding a bike. Palm trees and pink buildings are in the background. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1561068468l/38185346._SX318_.jpg

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Length: 355 pages
Source: Hardcover
Release Date: September 11, 2018

Synopsis

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different. However, she had no idea just how different! For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. Also, they don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition.

So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy!

Things aren’t well at home, either. Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately. He forgets important things, falls from his bike, and gets angry over nothing. No one tells Merci what’s going on, so she’s left to her own worries, while also feeling all on her own at school.

In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change of middle school–and the steadfast connection that defines family.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears | Author Info

Meg Medina. Photo Credit: Petite Shards Production. Link: https://megmedina.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/meg-medina-headshot-2-2016-535x800.jpg
Photo Credit: Petite Shards Production

Meg Medina is a Newbery award-winning and New York Times best-selling author. She writes picture books, as well as middle grade and young adult fiction. Her works are called ‘heartbreaking’, ‘lyrical’ and ‘must haves for every collection. She lives with her family in Richmond, VA.

My Review

Merci Suarez Changes Gears is a tale rich in diversity and community. Merci’s family works hard for their success. While lacking material things, Merci is wealthy with her family’s love. Their family setup reminds me of my living situation growing up. Similar to Merci’s family’s ‘Casitas’, my family lived in a multi-family unit. It was truly an inter-generational household! Additionally, elders and older relatives looked after the younger generation.

Also, this features a strong and positive tale with a Latinx family. Given that I’m also Latinx (Puerto Rican), I can certainly relate to their family arrangements!

This is an emotional yet powerful coming of age story. Merci handles big changes when she begins middle school. Friendship dynamics shift, and social circles blend in accordance to gender roles. Despite her attempts to contribute in school, Merci’s intelligence is ridiculed by her peers. She learns to seek support through change. In addition to group changes, Merci handles her first crush!

In Merci Suarez Changes Gears, our main character makes it clear that her family works for their status. Merci’s parents instill the value of a good education through sacrifice. This strong work ethic is passed down to Merci as she does jobs with her father. Already she thinks differently than most of her peers, such as Edna Santos. While Edna passes through intimidation, Merci relies on her quick wit and thinking skills.

Also, Merci handles the gradual change of Lolo. He experiences the changes Alzheimer’s disease cause. He fails to recognize family members. Familiar trips turn into vague memories. Indeed, Merci struggles to adapt to this sudden change in life.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, Merci Suarez Changes Gears is a wonderful Middle Grade story. Meg Medina beautifully writes about middle school friendship, family, and community. I certainly recommend for those seeking a diverse, coming of age story!

More Review Links With Diversity

Cemetery Boys: Reflection & Review

Lobizona by Romina Garber

‘The Archive’ by Dan Fitzgerald | Cover Reveal

‘The Archive’ continues ‘The Maer Cycle’ adventure! We see new threats and shocking twists as our group ventures on an exciting quest!

Here is the Cover Reveal for The Archive by Dan Fitzgerald! Many thanks to Storytellers on Tour for letting me participate!

‘The Archive’ | Cover & Book Information

The Archive by Dan Fitzgerald. 'The Maer Cycle' Book Two

‘The Archive’ by Dan Fitzgerald
Series: ‘The Maer Cycle’, Book 2
Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing
Genre: Fantasy
Age Group: Adult
Release Date: December 4, 2020

Synopsis

In Hollow Road, three companions discovered the monsters of legend were all too real…

Rumors among the Maer tell of an underground library called the Archive. This place houses a wealth of knowledge and terrible magics that could be used to start the biggest war seen since the Great Betrayal. A mixed group of humans and Maer set off on an historic quest to find the Archive and protect it from those who would use it to destroy everything they hold dear.

As the cold of winter bears down upon them, they trek through forbidding mountains beset by dangers they could have never imagined. They follow a set of ancient clues deep into the Silver Hills, forging surprising alliances and making new enemies.

The humans and Maer are linked by more than their quest to find the Archive and stop an insidious war. A mystical surrogacy may bridge the gap between two peoples. As a result, many hearts entwine as their adventure hurtles toward its bloody conclusion.

‘The Archive’ Author Information

Dan Fitzgerald.

Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy writer living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music. His debut fantasy novel, Hollow Road, published in September by Shadow Spark Publishing. The Archive comes out on December 4. The Maer Cycle Trilogy concludes with The Place Below in March 2021.

Books and merchandise are available at https://shadowsparkpub.com/dan-fitzgerald.

Find out more about Dan and his books at his Website, or on Twitter and Instagram.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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