Review: A Day for Sandcastles

Title: A Day for Sandcastles
Author: JonArno Lawson, Qin Leng (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A dazzling wordless picture book celebrates creative problem-solving, teamwork, and the sun-splashed wonder of a day at the beach.

The creators of the acclaimed Over the Shop evoke a perfect summer beach day—and themes of creativity, cooperation, flexibility, and persistence—all without a word in this sun-warmed, salt-stained delight of a story. A busload of beachgoers spills out onto the sand for a day of fun and frolic. Three siblings begin work on a castle, patting and shaping the sand as the sun arcs over the sky. Time and again, their progress is halted: a windswept hat topples their creation; a toddler ambles through it; the tide creeps close, and then too close. Meeting each demolition with fresh determination, the builders outdo themselves time and again, until the moment arrives to pile back into the bus for home. An authentic portrait of sibling cooperation—and glorious inspiration for creative people of all ages—A Day for Sandcastles channels the thrill of surrendering expectations on the path to infinite possibility.

Review:

In this picture book, a family spends the day at the beach. Three siblings build a sandcastle, but things keep happening to destroy it over and over again. At the end of the day, the family packs up and leaves. 

This picture book didn’t have words on the page. I used to love picture books without words when I was a kid, because then I could make up the story myself. It can be different every time. The detailed images also depicted the people on the beach around the family, which shows that there is a larger world just beyond the story being told. 

A Day for Sandcastles is a beautiful picture book. 

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Hat Cat by Troy Wilson, Eve Coy (illustrator)

Have you read A Day for Sandcastles? What did you think of it?

Happy Pub Day – September 27

Happy Pub Day to these authors!

Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong

An Indiscreet Princess by Georgie Blalock

Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen

How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislinn Brophy

Before We Were Sorry by Kit Frick

Miss Peregrine’s Museum of Wonders by Ransom Riggs

Spells for Lost Things by Jenna Evans Welch

Talk Santa to Me by Linda Urban

Mere Mortals by Erin Jade Lange

Afterlove by Tanya Byrne

Lark and Kasim Start a Resolution by Kacen Callender

Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo and Dani Pendergast

Forestfall by Lyndall Clipstone

Secrets So Deep by Ginny Myers Sain

Creep by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Last of the Talons by Sophie Kim

Forest Hills Bootleg Society by Dave Baker and Nicole Goux

Next in Line by Jeffrey Archer

Where We End and Begin by Jane Igharo

Jacqueline in Paris by Ann Mah

Kingdom of the Feared by Kerri Maniscalco

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

The Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang

The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

Omega Morales and the Legend of La Lechuza by Laekan Zea Kemp

House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

Ways to Share Joy by Renée Watson

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

The Winners by Fredrik Backman

We Spread by Iain Reid

Is There Bacon in Heaven? by Ali Hassan

It Looks Like Us by Alison Ames

What books are you most excited for this week?

Review: Tokyo Ever After (Tokyo Ever After #1)

Title: Tokyo Ever After (Tokyo Ever After #1)
Author: Emiko Jean
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Macmillan Young Listeners
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Audiobook
Release Date: May 18, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity… and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?

Review:

Izumi Tanaka has always felt like she stood out as a Japanese American in her mostly white town where she lives with her mom. She has never known her father, but one day she finds a clue to who he is: the Crown Prince of Japan. Izzy travels to Japan to meet her father and learn about her Japanese heritage. She enters an entirely new life, with sparkly tiaras, sneaky cousins, judgmental press, and a handsome bodyguard. However, though Izzy didn’t feel like she fit in at home because she wasn’t American enough, she’s also judged for not being Japanese enough in Japan. Izzy must find a way to balance her two heritages before the weight of the new crown becomes overwhelming. 

This story reminded me of The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. That was one of my favourite series when I was a kid, so this book felt nostalgic. It’s fun to imagine that you can wake up one day and find out you’re a princess, but this story shows that it isn’t all glitz and glamour. 

I listened to the audiobook for this book and I really enjoyed it! I always find it helpful to listen to a book when it has words that aren’t in English. There were Japanese phrases and names in this book, which I wouldn’t have known how to pronounce if I had read a physical copy of the book. 

Tokyo Ever After is a fun story! I’m looking forward to reading the sequel! 

Thank you Macmillan Audio for providing a copy of this audiobook.

What to read next:

Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean

American Royals by Katharine McGee

Other books in the series:

  • Tokyo Dreaming (Tokyo Ever After #2)

Have you read Tokyo Ever After? What did you think of it?

Review: The Burglar’s Ball (Jane Austen Investigates #2)

Title: The Burglar’s Ball (Jane Austen Investigates #2)
Author: Julia Golding
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Lion Hudson
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 22, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Nancy Drew. Enola Holmes. Sally Lockhart. Move over girls, it’s Jane’s time!

Join young budding detective Jane Austen in her second investigation to uncover a devious diamond thief at the glitziest, most scandalous ball of the year! Inspired by Sense and Sensibility.

*
‘No one who had ever seen Jane Austen in her infancy would suppose her to be born to solve crimes. From her early love of sugar plums, and cleverness in hiding her expeditions into the pantry, her mother declared her far more likely to commit them. However, as Jane would counter, there was no better person to identify the culprit than the thief turned thief-catcher.’

When the headmistress invites her past favourite pupil to attend their end of term ball, Cassandra brings her younger sister, Jane, along too. Cassandra plunges into the feverish excitement of preparing for the biggest event of the year – the dresses, the dances and the boys expected from the neighbouring school.

Feeling rather excluded, sharp-witted Jane unearths the reason for the fuss – the headteacher wants to impress a rich family returned from India as the school is at risk of going bankrupt. Jane also befriends the dancing master’s assistant, a former slave, called Brandon, who is as quick to notice things as she. At the ball, a diamond necklace is stolen from a locked room and they are propelled into a race to uncover the burglar and save Brandon from gaol.

With the ever-present Austen spirit, Jane with notebook in hand, boldly overcomes the obstacles to finding the truth.

Review:

When the headmistress from their former school asks Cassandra Austen to attend their end of term hall, she brings her sister Jane along with her. They are excited to attend a fun event filled with dancing and fancy dresses. Jane befriends Brandon, the dance instructor’s assistant and a former slave. However, when a diamond necklace is stolen, Brandon is the first suspect. Jane is determined to prove Brandon’s innocence before he’s sent to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. 

The Jane Austen Investigates is a fun series because it reimagines a young Jane Austen as a detective. Jane encounters people who will later inspire her own novels. In this book, she meets Elinor and Marianne, among others, who will inspire her characters in Sense and Sensibility. 

Prejudice was an important part of this story too. Jane noticed right away that Brandon was being accused of the theft because he was Black. I don’t know how historically accurate it was for someone in Jane’s position to be able to defend someone against this kind of prejudice, but I’d like to imagine she would have done that in her real life. 

The Burglar’s Ball is a great Jane Austen Investigates mystery. 

Thank you Lion Hudson for proving a digital copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer

The Tigers in the Tower by Julia Golding

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Burglar’s Ball? What did you think of it?

Happy Pub Day – September 20

Happy Pub Day to these authors!

A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

Bone Weaver by Aden Polydoros

Seoulmates by Susan Lee

The 99 Boyfriends of Micah Summers by Adam Sass

Eternally Yours edited by Patrice Caldwell

Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland

The Getaway by Lamar Giles

My Second Impression of You by Michelle I. Mason

Each Night Was Illuminated by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The Killing Code by Ellie Marney

Other Ever Afters by Melanie Gillman

Fraternity by Andy Mientus

Stolen City by Elisa A. Bonnin

Direwood by Catherine Yu

Until We Break by Matthew Dawkins

Odder by Katherine Applegate

The Vanquishers by Kalynn Bayron

The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling

Dreamland by Nicholas Sparks

Something in the Heir by Suzanne Enoch

Cora’s Kitchen by Kimberly Garrett Brown

The Matchmaker’s Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore

Snowed In for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

All Is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne

The Road to Christmas by Sheila Roberts

Drunk on Love by Jasmine Guillory

Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Amanda Flower

Defend the Dawn by Brigid Kemmerer

Vanessa Jared’s Got a Man by LaQuette

Hello, Opportunity by Shaelyn McDaniel, Cornelia Li

What books are you most excited for this week?

Review: 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War (Graveyard Girls #1)

Title: 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War (Graveyard Girls #1)
Author: Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror, Paranormal
Publisher: Union Square Kids
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Meet Whisper, Frannie, Sophie, Gemma, and Zuzu, five friends who tell eerie tales by night and navigate middle school drama by day.
 
MISERY FALLS, OREGON, IS ABUZZ AS the 100th anniversary of the electrocution of the town’s most infamous killer, Silas Hoke, approaches. When a mysterious text message leads the girls to the cemetery—where Silas Hoke is buried!—life can’t get any creepier. Except, yes, it can thanks to the surprise storyteller who meets them at the cemetery, inspires the first-ever meeting of the Graveyard Girls, and sets the stage for a terrifying tale from Whisper that they’ll never forget.
 
This slightly scary, extremely addictive story is the first in a five-book series by New York Timesbestselling authors Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus.

Review:

Whisper, Frankie, Sophie, and Gemma are best friends who have a club where they tell each other scary stories. Their small town of Misery Falls, Oregon is having a celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the electrocution of their most infamous serial killer, Silas Hoke. Just as the celebration week is about to begin, all of the girls get a mystery text, inviting them to the cemetery where Silas is buried. This sets them off on a scary adventure to find out of Silas has come back to haunt the town. 

This was a fun introduction to a new middle grade horror series. The friends were distinct and had their own subplots as well as the main plot. Many of them had problems with their families and issues at school. One of the big problems I noticed throughout the book was adults not listening to the children. I think that would be relatable because that’s a common feeling as a preteen or teen. 

The friends in this story made up their own scary stories to share with the group. There was one full short story in this book which was about technology addiction in kids. It was creepy and exaggerated, but definitely relevant with how much everyone is addicted to technology these days. 

1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War is a fun and creepy story!

Thank you Union Square Kids for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Hush-A-Bye by Jody Lee Mott

    Have you read 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War? What did you think of it?

    Sponsored Review: Remy vs. Rome

    Title: Remy vs. Rome
    Author: Bonnie Callahan
    Genre: Romance, Contemporary
    Publisher: 113 Semper Street Press
    Source: Author
    Format: Paperback
    Release Date: September 13, 2022
    Rating: ★★★★★

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    Goodreads Synopsis:

    In the heart of the Eternal City, ancient secrets aren’t the only thing getting uncovered.

    Heartbroken, Remy flies to Rome—the site of her first kiss—to get over her ex and rediscover herself. On her first night in the city, she jumps into her new life by agreeing to a date with a smooth-talking Italian stranger who, as fate would have it, turns out to be a jerk…and a most wanted international criminal to boot.

    Implicated in the theft of an ancient amulet, Remy finds herself under house arrest and in the protection of Lorenzo Rossi, the infuriatingly handsome Sicilian detective in charge of the investigation. The case is a make-or-break situation for both of them, and together, they must solve a series of clues to track down the amulet and the bad guys—all while struggling to keep their finger grazes to a minimum and their partnership appropriate.

    Their investigation takes them on an intimate, two millennia treasure hunt through Rome, where Remy digs up more than she bargained for.

    Review:

    After breaking up with her fiancé, Remy Campbell decides to visit Rome, where she had her first kiss as a teenager. On her first night, she meets an Italian man who offers to show her around the next day. However, after they go to a museum, Remy is approached by the police as a witness in a huge robbery. The detective in charge of the investigation is Lorenzo Rossi, a handsome and serious man. To make sure Remy is safe during the investigation, Lorenzo brings her to his apartment to stay under police guard. Remy’s knowledge and love of Rome ends up being an asset to the investigation, so she assists Lorenzo. They hunt throughout the city to find the masterminds behind the robbery and possibly develop a romance along the way. 

    I’ve never been to Italy, but I feel like I have after reading this story. During her extensive stay, Remy visited all the tourist spots, as well as some more local places with Lorenzo. There were vivid descriptions of the architecture and art, as well as the wine and food, which made me so hungry!

    I think the best way to describe this book is The Da Vinci Code as a rom com in Italy. It reminded me of the art mystery in The Da Vinci Code, but it wasn’t as complex and had a lighter atmosphere like a rom com. 

    Remy vs. Rome is a fun story that will take you on a trip to Rome!

    Thank you Bonnie Callahan and Bookstagrammers.com for sponsoring this review!

      Have you read Remy vs. Rome? What did you think of it?

      Review: The Gingerbread Witch

      Title: The Gingerbread Witch
      Author: Alexandra Overy
      Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
      Publisher: Inkyard Press
      Source: Publisher via NetGalley
      Format: Ebook
      Release Date: September 13, 2022
      Rating: ★★★★★

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      Goodreads Synopsis:

      Maud has grown up in a house made of gingerbread, wanting nothing more than to be a witch like Mother Agatha. But just like all of Agatha’s creations—from the magical house made of sweets to the chocolate mousse squirrel, right down to the little sugar mice—Maud will turn back into gingerbread if anything ever happens to Agatha. After a terrible fight, Maud storms off only to return home to learn that Hansel and Gretel, a pair of witch hunters, have pushed Agatha into the cottage’s oven.

      To save herself and the other gingerbread creations, Maud will have to go into the dangerous forest of the Shadelands to find the First Witch’s spellbook. But with witch hunters on her trail and other people interested in the book for their own means, it’ll be far from easy. Can Maud claim the book and bring back the only mother she’s ever known…or will witch hunters capture her before she can save her gingerbread family?

      Review:

      Maud is a girl who was made out of gingerbread by her witch mother Agatha. If anything ever happens to Agatha, her creations will turn back into gingerbread, including the chocolate mousse squirrel and the sugar mice. After Agatha and Maud have a fight, Maud storms off into the forest. When she returns, she finds witch hunters in their home, standing over Agatha’s ashes. Maud runs away before they can catch her too, and she learns that the First Witch’s spell book has a spell that can bring Agatha back to life. To find the spell book, Maud has avoid the witch hunters and other dangers lurking nearby. 

      I loved the fairytale elements of this story. Maud, her animal friends, and her home were all made of gingerbread or sweets. She encountered witch hunters named Hansel and Gretel. There were also some twists along the way that really surprised me. 

      One of the major themes of this story was good versus evil. Maud believed that all witches were good, because her mom was a witch. She believed that all witch hunters were evil because they killed her mom. Meanwhile, the witch hunters thought they were on the side of good because they hunted witches who killed children. These lines between good and evil became blurred when Maud got to know the witch hunters. Not all witches were good, and not all witch hunters were bad. 

      The Gingerbread Witch is a great middle grade story!

      Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book.

      What to read next:

      The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody

      A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

      Have you read The Gingerbread Witch? What did you think of it?

      Happy Pub Day – September 13

      Happy Pub Day to these authors!

      The Gingerbread Witch by Alexandra Overy

      Remy vs. Rome by Bonnie Callahan

      In the Shadow Garden by Liz Parker

      The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum

      The Depths by Nicole Lesperance

      As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh

      The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber

      The Epic Story of Every Living Thing by Deb Caletti

      Wishtress by Nadine Brandes

      Quest Kids and the Dragon Pants of Gold by Mark Leiknes

      I’m the Girl by Courtney Summers

      The Theory of Crows by David A. Robertson

      All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

      The Book Haters’ Book Club by Gretchen Anthony

      The Enigma of Room 622 by Joël Dicker

      Apartment 713 by Kevin Sylvester

      Always the First to Die by R.J. Jacobs

      The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart

      Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon

      Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea

      The Winter Orphans by Kristin Beck

      The Make-Up Test by Jenny L. Howe

      Aces Wild: A Heist by Amanda DeWitt

      Unretouchable by Sofia Szamosi

      Bindle Punk Bruja by Desideria Mesa

      The Stars Did Wander Darkling by Colin Meloy

      What books are you most excited for this week?

      Review: In the Shadow Garden

      Title: In the Shadow Garden
      Author: Liz Parker
      Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary
      Publisher: Forever
      Source: Publisher
      Format: Paperback
      Release Date: September 13, 2022
      Rating: ★★★★★

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      Goodreads Synopsis:

      Three generations of witches must discover where their magic went wrong as secrets resurface that could solve a twenty-year-old mystery in this riveting debut, perfect for fans of Practical Magic and Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe.

      There’s something magical about Yarrow, Kentucky. The three empathic witches of the Haywood family are known for their shadow garden—from strawberries that taste like chocolate to cherry tomatoes with hints of basil and oregano. Their magic can cure any heartache, and the fruits of their garden bring a special quality to the local bourbon distillery. On one day every year, a shot of Bonner bourbon will make your worst memory disappear.

      But twenty years ago, the town gave up more than one memory for the year; they forgot an entire summer. One person died. One person disappeared. And no one has any idea why.

      As secrets from that fateful summer start to come to light, there must be a reckoning between the rival Haywood and Bonner families. But the only clue Irene Haywood has is in her tea leaves: a stranger’s arrival will bring either love or betrayal…

      Review:

      The town of Yarrow, Kentucky is filled with magic. The Haywood family has a shadow garden, where they take the bad feelings from people and feed them to the garden. The fruit from the garden goes to the Bonner bourbon distillery, though the Haywoods and Bonners don’t get along. The Bonner distillery has a festival every year where they invite people to give up one bad memory, so it’s gone from their lives. However, twenty-five years ago, the town gave up the memory of an entire summer. No one can remember anything from that summer, when a lot of life changing things happened. When the patriarch of the Bonner family dies, a stranger returns to town, sending the Haywoods on a path to remember everything. 

      This was incredible story of three families in a small town. They had a history of disputes, though the details of them were foggy. The way that everyone forgot an entire summer, when so many important things happened, was disturbing to me. Everything was explained and came together perfectly at the end, and all of the clues were meaningful to the plot. 

      This is the kind of book that it’s hard to describe without giving anything away. If you like stories of interwoven generations, you’ll love this. 

      Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of this book!

      What to read next:

      The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais

      The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

      Have you read In the Shadow Garden? What did you think of it?