Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Review: Keeper by Kim Chance

Happy Book Birthday to Keeper and Kim Chance! This book comes out TODAY! What a gorgeous cover!

Book: Keeper
Author: Kim Chance
Publisher: Flux Books/North Star Editions
Publication Date: Jan 30, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Pages: 408
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
Book Depository | IndieBound | Books-a-Million |

About The Book: 

When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother.

After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book. But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic.

With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book.

About The Author:

KIM CHANCE is the YA Author of KEEPER (Flux Books: January, 30th, 2018). Represented by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway at LKG Agency. YouTuber. Teacher. Mommy of 3. Whovian. Gryffindor. Disney Princess. Creator of #Chance2Connect.

 Kim Chance is a high school English teacher and Alabama native who currently resides in Michigan with her husband and three children. Kim is also a YouTuber who has a passion for helping other writers. She posts weekly writing videos on her channel: www.youtube.com/kimchance1. When Kim is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and two crazy dogs, binge-watching shows on Netflix, fangirling over books,  and making death-by-cheese casseroles.



My Review: 

Keeper was an interesting and entertaining story with an abundance of comic book references and supernatural beings, with the main heroine Lainey being a witch, particularly a Keeper. In the beginning of the story, Lainey has an encounter with a 200-year-old witch called Josephine, whose parallel storyline from the past is gradually revealed to Lainey through visions. While Lainey's story is told in a first-person POV, most of Josephine's past is told in a third-person POV in her own chapters, until the two storylines eventually blend together. Lainey finds out that Josephine is related to her dead mother, and thus to her, through a special item that is revealed in the story. She discovers that she, like her ancestors, is a Keeper, a witch who has the power to unlock a powerful spell book called the Grimoire, and thus tries to protect it. There is an important reason why Josephine keeps popping up in Lainey's life, and it's because Lainey is now of age to try to steal back the Grimoire from the villain in the story, the Master, who wants to use the spell book for his own dark purposes.

Lainey's best friend is Maggie and she is definitely one of my favorite characters in the story. She has a fun vibe to her, is full of spunk, and is so animated it feels contagious! She loves comic books and tries to help Lainey out any way she can. Lainey also has a crush on a street fighter named Ty, but the romance in this novel doesn't play a huge part, as the supernatural aspect takes precedence in the story. So I wish there was a bit more romance. Lainey lives with her uncle Gareth and his girlfriend Serena, who is a psychic. They play a more prominent role towards the end of the book. Josephine was also another character I adored. I really loved reading about Josephine and her past, since it was so interesting to unravel the history behind the story. The historical aspect to Keeper was really well done and it really tied everything together.

The main storyline was also intriguing. Unlike some fantasy stories that are set in imaginary lands, this one is set in modern day Georgia. This made the story feel relatable. I liked how the heroine showed a lot of humanistic qualities and wasn't the ready-to-go witch, with already polished powers. Lainey develops identity issues and has trouble adjusting to now having superpowers as a witch, which she has no idea how to use. So there is definitely a learning curve factor. This made the story interesting, because you don't know how the ending will turn out. Will she defeat the Master or not? Will she steal the Grimoire back or not? All while having to deal with additional outside factors that try to falter her plan. It definitely made me want to root for Lainey, as she struggles with self doubt for the daunting task, while also showing courage.

While the beginning half of the story runs a bit slow to get to the part where Lainey discovers she is a witch, it picks up in the second half with a lot more suspense and action, which I loved. There is also usage of magic in the story, but I wish there was a lot more of it. But this is understandable and alleviated by the fact that there will be a sequel, which will most likely contain more magic at the heart of the story, as Lainey begins to better understand how to use it. There is also a twist at the end that will surprise you. So the ending was interesting.

Overall, Keeper is an enjoyable fantasy debut by Kim Chance with something for everyone, as it covers a variety of supernatural beings, not just witches. It is also heavy on the comic book culture, which will appeal to those people who love it. The history of the ancestry line of Keepers and the Grimoire was a fascinating part of the storyline. Also, magic is always fun to read about!

Set as a duology, we are in for an action-packed sequel, full of magic, as Lainey's powers will only begin to amaze us all as she masters them! She will definitely be a force to be reckoned with as the stakes will be greater and I can't wait to see how the story unfolds!

My Rating: 4 STARS

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Review: Tokoyo, The Samurai's Daughter by Faith L. Justice & Illustrated by Kayla Gilliam

Book: Tokoyo, The Samurai's Daughter
Author: Faith L. Justice
Illustrator: Kayla Gilliam
Publisher: Raggedy Moon Books
Publication Date: May 28, 2017
Genre: MG Fantasy; Historical Fiction; Illustrated Chapter Book
Format: Paperback
Pages: 122
Source: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Kobo | TheBookDepository | Audible |RaggedyMoonBooks 

About The Book: 

An adventurous girl!

Most noble-born girls of Tokoyo’s age learn to sing, paint, and write poetry.

Not Tokoyo.

She’s the daughter of a samurai in fourteenth century Japan, Tokoyo’s father trains her in the martial arts. When he is away, she escapes to the sea where she works with the Ama—a society of women and girls who dive in the deep waters for food and treasure. But disaster strikes her family. Can Tokoyo save her father using the lessons she learned and the skills she mastered to overcome corrupt officials, her own doubts, and a nasty sea demon?

Book Preview:

Tokoyo Sample Chapters 1-5
Take some time to look through the sample of chapters and illustrations in the book! If you like what you read, feel free to look at the purchase links above!

About The Author:

FAITH L. JUSTICE got her degrees in Education from Ohio State University. Kiddie Lit was her favorite course because she got to re-read all her favorite childhood stories. She currently writes award-winning fiction in Brooklyn, New York. For fun, she likes to dig in the dirt - her garden and various archaeologicial sites. Sample her work, check out her blog or ask Faith a question at her WEBSITE.

Connect with Faith L. Justice!
Email | Website/Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook |

About The Illustrator:

KAYLA GILLIAM is an independent cartoonist living in the dense suburban forests of North Carolina. When she is not juggling her five dogs (Oreo, Domino, Max, Chewy, and Baby) she enjoys researching Japanese culture.

My Review: 

You are immersed in a sea of Japanese culture in the fourteenth century, through a story inspired by the Japanese folktale called "The Tale Of The Oki Islands." Tokoyo, The Samurai's Daughter goes into more depth than the original folktale by really capturing the essence of the Ama, Japanese pearl divers who are usually women, by incorporating them into the story in a way that makes them more prominent. Even the traditional Japanese clothing worn by the Ama is showcased, such as the fundoshi, a loincloth, and a tenugui, a blessed bandana. Tokoyo learns the skillful yet difficult art of diving for pearls and food with the Ama, and thus the ability to hold her breath for a prolonged period of time, which she ultimately utililizes later in the story for a different purpose. 

Tokoyo isn't the typical dainty, young Japanese girl who learns to paint and write poetry. She is the daughter of a noble samurai and is trained in martial arts. She is fierce. She is brave. She is extremely capable as a female. So when her father, samurai Oribe Shima, is banished to the Oki islands for a suspected curse against the Regent Hojo Takatoki, Tokoyo eventually goes on an incredibly dangerous adventure in search of her father, even encountering a sea demon, to try to save him and his honor. Her skills as a samurai's daughter and as an Ama prepare her for her journey. I really adored this book! The whole story was fascinating and such a delight to read. And I was very pleased with the ending. 

It was nice to see such a strong female lead with a strong backbone, especially in fourteenth century Japan. Even in the face of hardships, Tokoyo, as a young girl, does not lose hope, and has such immense courage and fearlessness, that even a samurai would be impressed by and proud of. I also loved that in this story, a daughter is treated no differently than a son would be in terms of honor and being taught the ways of the samurai and martial arts. There is a strong sense of prestige to be a samurai and for one's kin/descendants. In an Asian culture where a son is highly prized, this book takes a refreshingly liberal take, by a samurai holding his daughter in the same esteem as he would a son. This was very endearing and even though the book displayed a moment where this was deemed unacceptable by a Japanese guard, Tokoyo and her father overlooked this. Tokoyo's samurai father was very encouraging and loving to her. I also liked how Tokoyo had so much freedom during this time period to do something for herself, in order to seek out her definition of happiness. For Tokoyo, that was diving for pearls among the Ama. 

In terms of the nature of the Japanese culture, I felt that Faith L. Justice did a wonderful job displaying the utmost respect that Japanese people have towards their elders, as shown in the well-mannered dialogue. Also, meditation is practiced in the story, which is also a well-known technique in Japan. In addition, the samurai's prominence and noble nature in fourteenth century Japan, as well as the honorable duties of the Ama were well demonstrated. Japanese folktales are also a fascinating part of Japanese culture and I loved how this story was inspired by one. I also liked that a cultural notes page was added to the back of the book, which provided definitions to the Japanese terms that were mentioned in the book.

The beautiful black-and-white illustrations in the book really bring the story to life and are brilliantly done. They are not only aesthetically pleasing, showing fine craftsmanship and artistic talent, but also grasp intense emotion. The message they evoke is powerful and meaningful. Kayla Gilliam did a marvelous job! 

Faith L. Justice created an intriguing tale that was even better than the original Japanese folktale it was inspired by. It was outstanding! You are swept away not only by the beautiful storytelling, but also the wonderful illustrations. Tokoyo, The Samurai's Daughter is a remarkable illustrated middle-grade book that is incredibly inspiring and touching. I highly recommend reading it!

My Rating: 5 STARS

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

ARC Review: Beneath The Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Happy Book Birthday to Beneath The Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer, which releases today, January 9, 2018! Check out the gorgeous cover! It's truly spectacular!

Book: Beneath The Haunting Sea
Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer
Publisher: Page Street 
Publication Date: Jan 9, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy/Mythology
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 400
Source: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble, or Indiebound

About The Book:

Sixteen-year-old Talia was born to a life of certainty and luxury, destined to become Empress of half the world. But when an ambitious rival seizes power, she and her mother are banished to a nowhere province on the far edge of the Northern Sea.

It is here, in the drafty halls of the Ruen-Dahr, that Talia discovers family secrets, a melancholy boy with a troubling vision of her future, and a relic that holds the power of an ancient Star. On these shores, the eerie melody of the sea is stronger than ever, revealing long-forgotten tales of the Goddess Rahn. The more dark truths that Talia unravels about the gods’ history—and her own—the more the waves call to her, and it may be her destiny to answer.

About The Author:

Joanna Ruth Meyer wrote her very first story at the age of seven—it starred four female "mystery-solvers" and a villain in a gorilla suit, and remains unfinished to this day.

Since then, she’s grown up (reluctantly), earned a bachelor of music in piano performance, taught approximately one billion piano lessons, and written eight novels, many of them during National Novel Writing Month, an online writing challenge held every November. Beneath the Haunting Sea was first drafted during NaNoWriMo 2006.

Joanna hails from Mesa, Arizona, where she lives with her dear husband and son, a rascally feline, and an enormous grand piano named Prince Imrahil. When she’s not writing, she’s trying to convince her students that Bach is actually awesome, or plotting her escape from the desert. She loves good music, thick books, loose-leaf tea, rainstorms, and staring out of windows. One day, she aspires to own an old Victorian house with creaky wooden floors and a tower (for writing in, of course!).

Connect with Joanna Ruth Meyer on social media! 
Twitter: @gamwyn
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gamwyn 
Website: http://joannaruthmeyer.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16278742.Joanna_Ruth_Meyer

My Review:

Joanna Ruth Meyer is a 2018 YA debut author who has blown me away by her book, Beneath The Haunting Sea, which may very well be the fantasy debut book of the year, it was that PHENOMENAL!! Beneath The Haunting Sea was superb, exquisite, and complete perfection! This novel marks the launch of the YA division at Page Street Publishing and it was exemplary! If this is any indication of the level of YA books that Page Street is going to keep publishing, then it sets the bar very high and is definitely a great start to much success in the future. 

The caliber of Meyer's writing is extraordinary and she sweeps you away with prose that is so beautiful and sophisticated, that you are just in awe. Not only do the words entrance you like a sweet symphony, but the storytelling does as well, as it is breathtaking, utterly mesmerizing, and masterfully done. This is storytelling at its finest. I am tremendously moved by Meyer's work, a rare gem that only comes by every once in a while. 

Extremely impressive for a YA debut author, Meyer creates an extraordinary fantasy world that seamlessly weaves fascinating tales of mythology that include the Gods, the immortal Tree, the Star, and Rahn and the Hall, among others, into the incredible storytelling of Talia's journey to the Ruen-Dahr after being banished with her mother, her adventures there, and beyond into the sea. It is at the Ruen-Dahr that Talia finds her purpose, after being robbed of her destined status as Empress of Enduena by Eda. Her time here is filled with new discoveries that are relevant, as well as honest reflections. She must decide whether to accept fate or control her destiny, all while the sea is calling to her. Meyer brings the sea to life in a magical way with remarkable sea creatures and divine beings, such as the Billow Maidens, or Waves, who sing alluring, melodious music. It is said that the seductive and enchanting songs of the sea call to its listeners and beguile sailors into its depths, and those who cannot resist its charm. Music pertinently immerses itself into the plot in other ways as well, and provides a solid theme to bind the story together, in addition to the tales of mythology. 

Talia is a dauntless, resourceful, and compelling heroine full of willpower and the supporting characters are just as captivating. The character names are noteworthy as well, as they are unique and striking. The romantic elements of the story range from fervid affection to subtle, underlying love. 

The story ends beautifully and leaves enough freedom to continue the adventures among the other lands of the Enduenan Empire. I really hope we get the honor of a sequel or companion novel to Beneath The Haunting Sea, because it was beyond magnificent and a pure delight to read! One of the most stunning YA novels I have ever read, let alone the fact that it is a YA debut. That just makes it that much more special. This is a MUST read for all, and is definitely my new favorite YA debut. So BRAVO to Meyers! You receive a standing ovation from Bookish Delights!

My Rating: 5+ Stars

ARC Review: A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen

Happy Book Birthday to A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen!! This book releases today, January 9, 2018, so be sure to check out this book!

Book: A Taxonomy Of Love
Author: Rachael Allen
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: Jan 9, 2018
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 336
Source: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links: Abrams Books Website | Amazon | Barnes&Noble


The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . . something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette's syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too.

Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful.


Rachael Allen is a mad scientist by day and YA writer by night. She lives in Atlanta, GA, with her husband, two children, and two sled dogs. She loves homemade peach ice cream, having adventures all over the world, and stories that make her feel like she's been poured inside another person. Visit Allen at rachaelallenwrites.blogspot.com, You can also find her on twitter @rachael_allen. Also follow her on Goodreads:

My Review:

A Taxonomy Of Love was an enjoyable story to read! What made this book unique was its inclusion of Taxonomy, a scientific classification system for organisms. I liked how things were broken down into Taxonomy flowcharts. Spencer applies Taxonomy to aspects of his life and his relationships and looks at things in terms of classifications charts, which were so interesting to dissect! This was such a fascinating idea to revolve the story around and it made for a fun read, since I love Science! I liked how you got to go into Spencer's mind and see how he thinks. He loves Science so he tries to apply this to his love life, especially with Hope, his next-door neighbor, and it's interesting how it all unfolds.

The story is told in different formats of conversing, such as in person, through letters by mail, taxonomy flowcharts, notes passed around in class, texts, and postcards, which further personalized and externalized the characters' thoughts, so that was very refreshing and made for a captivating dynamic. It was a nice break from the norm.

What I liked was the portrayal of someone with Tourette's syndrome with honesty and humor. I liked that the author took a chance on creating a character with a medical disability that isn't the obvious protagonist that everyone is introduced to in many YA novels. I grew to love Spencer and was rooting for him the whole time. The book was realistic in terms of the insecurities of dealing with Tourette's syndrome as a young adult, which can be difficult to navigate, and the inevitable bullying one endures. Hope becomes an anti-bullying rock for Spencer since the beginning, and their genuine friendship blossoms from that. So this novel not only showed the downside, but also the upside where some people have enough patience, acceptance, and understanding of someone with Tourette's syndrome in order to become a good friend to them and stick up for them. This was very encouraging.

The romantic elements of the story were a mixture between cute and sweet, as well as more mature and experienced. The purity and innocence of Spencer liking Hope in middle school and then onto high school was adorable to read despite some not so peachy moments. Also, I forgot how fleeting romantic relationships can be in high school and even onto college-aged adults, as in the case with Hope's sister Janie, so it's interesting to see how it all plays out for each character. I think patience and perserverence is a key part of this book, and it goes beyond dating, and infiltrates into all aspects of one's life and goals. Even if things don't go your way at first, just stick with it because you never know how things will turn out.

Relationships among siblings, significant others, or parents in this story are not without heartache, grief, struggles, or setbacks. You get to see how certain characters cope and try to heal. But the courage to keep living and keep fighting for what you want is evident in this book. Hope, overcoming grief, self-discovery, and self-fulfillment are pertinent to this novel.

My only critique was the timeline of the book being too spread out, since each additional part/section of the novel continued the story one year later, so I felt I had to fill in the gaps and play catch up at times. This happens from the time Spencer is 13 years old through 19 years old. So this book can feel a bit jumpy at times and it disrupts the flow of the novel somewhat, but regardless of this, it does not affect the heart of the story.

Overall, I liked A Taxonomy Of Love. It had a lot of intriguing aspects to it, especially Taxonomy. And I liked how a young adult with Tourette's syndrome was highlighted in this novel. This story showed the ups and downs of friendships, relationships, family happenings, and trying to fit in when people categorize you as different. It also shows what a determined person is capable of despite limitations. This story was full of heart and told with a sincerity that was very endearing. It had an uplifting message and a nice ending. A Taxonomy Of Love is an inspiring read that you'll want to pick up.

My Rating: 4 Stars