REVIEW: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith


Alice buys a lottery ticket for her best friend, Teddy, for his 18th birthday. And it’s a winner. Over 140 million dollars!

Suddenly everything changes. Teddy’s spending money left and right. He’s on talk shows. Kids at school are hanging all over him – or jeering jealously behind his back.

And when Teddy tries to give half to Alice since she bought the ticket and picked the numbers, she turns him down, leading to their biggest fight in 9 years of friendship.

Alice’s life is upside down. Her best friend is living the high life, and she’s afraid he is headed for a big fall. Her aunt and uncle are encouraging her to consider other colleges when they know it is her dream to go to Stanford. And her cousin has broken up with his boyfriend even though they are obviously in love. A cute guy is asking her out but she can’t get past the feelings she has for Teddy. Through it all, she wonders if the choices she’s making for her life are really hers, or if she’s trying to do what she thinks her parents would have wanted.


While this is a lottery story, it is so much more. It’s about friends and family, money and charity, and the past and the future. All three of the main characters – Alice, Teddy and Leo – are driven by their past or fear of the future. Teddy goes overboard with the money because of how hard things were after his dad lost all the family’s money and ran off. Alice is trying to recapture a sense of home from before her parents died. And Leo is afraid of losing Max when they are both in college, maybe in different places. He’s seen Teddy and Alice face such hardships in life, and he’s afraid he is due for a personal disaster.

The money situation from the lottery win shines a light on the choices the teens are making. It also raises great questions about what to do with such a windfall. What’s fun and what’s practical? What’s responsible? How do you know whose motives to trust?

I liked that there were bigger issues addressed outside of the money. I liked the main characters and their families. The final money solution was great. It seemed reasonable for the situation. I’m not 100% sold on the romantic outcome. I liked Alice’s other option better. Overall this was a good story.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Assaulted Caramel

REVIEW: Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower


Bailey King puts her life as a chocolatier in New York aside to travel to Harvest, Ohio. Bailey’s Amish grandfather is sick. Even though she is up for a huge promotion at work, family comes first.

When she gets to Ohio, Bailey discovers that a developer, Tyson Colton, is trying to buy out her grandparents’ candy shop, Swissmen Sweets. After an argument with Bailey’s grandfather, Colton is found dead in the kitchen of Swissmen Sweets. As her grandfather’s health makes him too weak to be a viable suspect, Bailey becomes the sheriff’s top choice.

In order to stay out of jail, protect her family, and get back to New York to save her job, Bailey’s going to have to figure out who really killed Tyson Colton. There’s no shortage of suspects, from the other Amish store owners Colton tried to buy out to his own son. Bailey has her work cut out for her!


I loved this! It was a great cozy with interesting characters and some fun humor. Great all the way around.

The Amish pieces were a nice contrast to Bailey’s usual world in New York as well as the world of most readers. There was a great balance with Bailey as she understood the community because of her family, but at the same time she was outside it. I think Bailey’s struggle with issues of faith when faced with the faith of her grandparents and the Amish community could be a fascinating aspect of future books.

I really enjoyed the mystery. In general, I find mysteries stressful when the protagonist is the main suspect. But I liked the other pieces of this – the characters, the setting, the candy, the potential romance – so much that it balanced the tension well.

My only complaint is that I have a couple questions I don’t feel were answers in the solution to the mystery. I’ve gone back and re-read sections to be sure I didn’t just skim too quickly over something, but I still didn’t find complete satisfaction with the solution on the murder. Maybe this is because I read an unedited review copy. Perhaps this last 5% of the solution will be resolved when I read this in a final copy – which I will. I’m looking forward to spending more time with Bailey and her family and friends. I already have book two, Lethal Licorice, in my shopping cart to pre-order before its February 2018 debut.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Kensington for providing an electronic review copy in exchange for an honest review. I honestly adored this book!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥½

Guardians of the Gryphon's Claw

REVIEW: Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw by Todd Calgi Gallicano


After two weeks of dreaming about the desert, Sam London is over it! It’s the same thing over and over. Each time he gets a little farther into it, but he always wakes up before he can figure out what’s going on. Until now. This last time he had the dream, he found himself face to face with a gryphon – a mythological creature that’s a cross between an eagle and a lion.

If that wasn’t weird enough, then Sam sees the same desert location on the news that he has been seeing in his dream! He knows it’s crazy for a 12-year-old to run off across the state by himself, but he HAS to know if the gryphon is really out in Death Valley like he saw in his dream.

Sam’s dream encounter is only the beginning of his journey with mythical creatures. His whole world is in danger as forces converge to destroy the curse that hides mythical creatures from humans. And Sam is smack dab in the middle of everything.


This was a fun adventure story chock full of mythical creatures – gryphons, harpies, yeti, etc. Plenty I hadn’t heard of before. This reminded me of The Menagerie (Tui T. Sutherland) or the Percy Jackson series  (Rick Riordan), or the Imaginary Veterinary series (Suzanne Selfors). If you know a reader who enjoyed those books, have them check out this series!

The author does a great job of planting clues  and questions and then moving the reader along in the story, still wondering about those things. Some were addressed by the end of the book. Others were not. I was prepared for this to be a series for which I would read book one and then just tell folks about the rest. I was content with just know the beginning of this story. But the open questions guarantee that I will have to keep up with this series until everything is spelled out!

I loved the main character, Sam. While he feels like he is ordinary and not at all special, his care for others and determination make you root for him from start to finish. You know he is something special.

Thanks to Netgalley and Delacorte for providing an electronic review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

SW Phasma sept1

BOOK NEWS: August 29, 2017

Star Wars! Wonder Woman! Cookies! Dr Who! Dog Man! Just in time for the upcoming long holiday weekend, we have TONS of new books coming out this week! Let’s take a look:

Books for Kids

Dr. Ninth – I love the look of this adorable series for young – and older – Doctor Who fans.
Bad Seed – This seed has been bad for as long as he can remember – bad attitude, bad temper, and bad manners. I can’t wait to read this one and find out about this bad seed.
BB-8 on the Run – BB-8’s journey across Jakku after he is separated from Poe. You can tell that the Star Wars folks are really amping up for the fall with all the releases this week!
Little Elliot, Fall Friends – Two friends vacation in the countryside for fall.
Mary McScarey – Mary loves to scare everyone, but the one person she can’t scare – her cousin Harry – is the one she wants to scare the most.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures – A picture book biography of Dr. Temple Grandin, an amazing scientist diagnosed with autism as a child.
God’s Very Good Idea – A book about diversity and how all people are valuable to God.
What if You Had Animal Eyes? – The latest in a fantastic series of nonfiction books about animals!
A Leader Named Leia – An Early Reader about Princess Leia
Adventures of Caveboy/Caveboy is Bored – The first two books in a new series about a Caveboy. Part of the Read and Bloom line of early chapter books.
The Bad Guys in the Attack of the Zittens – Book 4 in the Bad Guys series. I haven’t been able to read one of these yet, but they look fantastic!
Tales of Two Kitties – Book 3 in the Dog Man series by the author of Captain Underpants. I haven’t read one of these yet, but they are wildly popular.
King and Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse – Book 2 in this series about a girl and her dog who solve mysteries.
Long Way Home – Book 2 of the Adventures of Henry Whiskers early chapter book series about a mouse family that lives in Queen Mary’s dollhouse at Windsor Castle. This sounds – and looks – so fun!
Stone Cold Age – Book 2 in the Lucy and Andy Neanderthal series about cave kids – from the author of the original Jedi Academy series. Great graphic novel series.
Science Comics: Plagues: The Microscopic Battlefield – I love this nonfiction graphic novel series that explores science for kids.
Art of Coloring Journey to Star Wars  The Last Jedi – I really enjoy this style of art for Star Wars. This looks like a darling coloring book for kids and adults alike.
Star Wars Made Easy – A friend of ours recently confessed that he has never seen a Star Wars movie. This would be the perfect book for him to get an introduction to the series. Everything a novice might want to know about Star Wars can be found here.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults


Angel – Book 46 in the Puppy Place series.
Auma’s Long Run – A girl in a Kenyan village is an amazing runner. Her skills could get her out of her village, but her father comes down with a new illness that is sweeping the village – AIDS – and Auma is torn between responsibility to her family and home and her hopes to find answers about this disease. This sounds like a heavy story, but an important one, too.
Ban this Book – A quiet fourth grader fights back when her favorite book is banned at school. This is at the top of my list!
Big Nate Good Old-Fashioned Wedgie – The latest Big Nate comics collection. My students adored these!
Boy Seeking Band (Sept 1) – When 8th grade bass player, Terence, moves from a performing arts school to a regular public school, he tries to put together a rock band as a way to make friends.
Emma Moves In – Book 1 in the American Girls Like Sisters series. Emma’s family is moving into an old family home with their relatives to start a bed and breakfast. While Emma is excited to be with her cousins, she’s not sure she is ready for all the changes coming with the move.
Guardians of Gryphon’s Claw – I’ll be reviewing this fun adventure about mythological creatures here on the blog tomorrow. Come check it out!
I Survived the American Revolution – Book 15 in this hugely popular historical fiction series for kids. Every one of these I have read was a winner!
Laugh out Loud – A kid starts a book company for kids run BY kids. This sounds fantastic and I love Chris Grabenstein’s work. I have this on my list.
Patina – Book 2 in Jason Reynolds’ middle grade Track series about four kids chosen for an elite track team. I enjoyed the first book in the series. Great addition for homes and classrooms looking to add stories with diverse characters.
The Secret Sheriff of 6th Grade – A boy carries a toy sheriff’s badge from his father as a reminder to try to make school a better place for everyone. This has been getting a lot of positive response on Twitter this summer. I can’t wait to read this!
Super Max and the Mystery of Thornwood’s Revenge – An electronics whiz in a souped-up wheelchair takes on a haunted house and an online campaign against her grandfather. I want to read this one because of the cool protagonist. She sounds awesome and spunky!
Star Wars The Force Awakens Graphic Novel – Back in April I posted about a graphic novel that covered all three of the Star Wars prequels. Now we have a stand alone for The Force Awakens. I absolutely adore the art style in these. If you have Star Wars fans in your home or your classroom or library, I think these would be great fun for them. Terrific birthday or holiday gifts, too.
Tumble and Blue – A magic gator, rumored to bring good luck to anyone who finds him, meets two people at once and the luck is split. Some descendants enjoy great luck while others are devastated by bad luck. Two kids in those families are determined to change their luck by finding the gator again. This isn’t my usual style of book, but there’s something about this that reminds me of Holes, and I am curious to see how the story turns out.
The Van Gogh Deception – A boy is found in the National Gallery, and no one has any idea who he is or where he came from. I can’t wait to tell you about this awesome mystery that includes some cool information and features about art. I’l be reviewing it next week.
Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories – A book on writing for the middle grade crowd. If I was still teaching, I would have put a copy of this in the library. It looks like a great resource for kids who love to write.
All Rights Reserved – New dystopian about a society that charges people for every word spoken or gesture made and a girl who chooses to remain silent. This sounds fascinating and maybe a little on the dark side. I’ll be putting this one on my library list to check out.
The Big F – When Danielle fails senior English, she loses her one college acceptance, too. Now she’s off to reclaim her trajectory by heading to community college. This sounds so fun, I’ve already requested it from the library!
Dazzling Heights – Book 2 in the Thousandth Floor series about 22nd century New York and a thousand-story super tower and five teenagers who call it home. I have had book one on my library wish list for awhile now. At least now when I get around to reading it, I can jump right two book two when I finish.
Wonder Woman Warbringer – Did you see the Wonder Woman movie this summer? I loved the character! This new YA novel is first in the DC Icons series (Don’t even get me started on the Batman book, Nightwalker! I am so excited! I don’t usually even like Batman.) starring Diana as a young woman who breaks Amazon law to rescue someone (not Steve Trevor yet) and the fall out from her choices. This one is getting a lot of positive buzz already. It’s on my list for certain.
You Don’t Know Me But I Know You – A girl who knows she is adopted, but who doesn’t feel ready to read a letter from her birth mother finds herself pregnant. This sounds fantastic.

Books for Adults

Assaulted Caramel – First book in the new Amish Candy Shop Mystery series. Yeah! Another mystery that will make me hungry! I love Amanda Flower’s work, and I am excited to be reviewing this book here on the blog later this week.
A Catered Costume Party – It seems fitting that #13 in the Mystery with Recipes series be a Halloween themed book! In this book, the catering sisters are hired by the deceased to find out what happened to him. What a great twist right from the start! This makes me want to check out the whole series. I’ve requested this one from the library just on that fun, twisty, premise.
A Knit Before Dying – Book 2 in the Tangled Web Mystery series. This seems to be the week for crafty cozy mysteries! This series stars the owner of a yarn shop, and in this book she discovers another shop owner murdered. I’d like to check out the first book in this series, Yarned and Dangerous.
Macrame Murder – Book 3 of the Cora Crafts Mystery series. This book has the crew at a craft retreat at the beach. If I need a vacation this fall, I might just settle for this book and imagine I am at this crafting retreat myself – minus the murder, of course.
Murder Wears Mittens – First book in the new Seaside Knitters Society series. I’m so looking forward to this fall story about a group of crafters who band together to help two seemingly-abandoned kids as well as solve a crime. I am sad that many publishers have started to shift their new series to hardcover instead of mass market paperback. I know it is a good business decision for them in many ways, but I can get more bang for my buck when I get paperbacks. This one is on my library list for now.
Oh, Fudge – Book 5 in the Candy-Coated Mystery series. This is the sort of series that makes me crave our local candy shop. I’ve read the first couple books in the series and really enjoyed them.
Rubies in the Roses (kindle) – This kindle mystery is the second in the Cornish Castle Mystery series. I have book 1, Death Plays a Part, on my Kindle and I’m eager to read it. It looks terrific.
The Silver Gun – First in the Art Deco Mystery series, this sounds great for fans of historical fiction and mysteries. This series centers on an assistant to Mayor LaGuardia in New York City, 1936, and a past that is catching up to her.
Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars The Last Jedi: Phasma (September 1) – Captain Phasma of the First Order was a key character in the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now we get to find out more of her story! I met Delilah Dawson at Phoenix ComicCon several years ago. I loved her personality, but I had a hard time finding a book of hers to try that would fit my style as a reader. This is the book I have been waiting for! There’s lots of buzz and excitement around this one.  Our whole family is planning to read this!
Mom Set Free: Find Relief from the Pressure to Get it All Right – Wow, what a timely book. I don’t know about other moms out there, but my friend group struggles with this pressure all the time. We second guess our choices – or spend months trying to make a choice – because we feel the weight of this pressure to get things right for our children. This one is on my list, too.
The Perfect Cookie – Yum. What more needs to be said – a cookbook about cookies!
Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed -In a world that posts the smallest minutiae of life on the internet for all to see, so much of the nitty gritty – the real things of life – are left unseen. But maybe that is the way God meant it to be – so He would be the one to see and know us in all those real life details. I have this one on my list. It seems timely for some of the work God seems to be pointing me to lately.

The Hate You Give

REVIEW: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


Starr feels like two different people at times. There’s the person she is at home and in her neighborhood. That’s the most genuine version. Then there’s the person she is at her mostly-white, suburban school. There she works to always speak in full sentences and complete words – no slang, always “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir.” She reigns in her feelings so she can’t be accused of ever being too angry or having too much attitude.

One night at a party in her neighborhood, shots ring out. Starr’s childhood friend, Khalil, gets her safely away from the violence and the party. But on their way home, they get pulled over by a police officer. The officer is belligerent about pulling them over; Khalil is indignant. After the officer pulls Khalil out of the car to pat him down (three times) and goes to run his license, Khalil comes back to the car to check on Starr. Three shots are fired. Khalil dies in the street in Starr’s arms.

Suddenly everything in Starr’s life changes. She questions her relationships and her two personalities. She watches as her two worlds respond to the shooting, and she wonders what, if anything, she can do for Khalil, for his family, and for her community.


Wow, this was so good. It was challenging, too. It challenged me to examine my biases and assumptions. There were cultural pieces and slang that I didn’t understand (not enough to impact my understanding of the story as a whole). And the topic itself – white officer kills unarmed black teen – is timely and difficult. But so important to think about and talk about.

I loved Starr. She’s not perfect. Her friends and boyfriend challenge her choices in the midst of her double life at home and school as well as the situation with Khalil. But she’s honest. She’s 16 and wrestling with big questions about home and identity. She wonders what her responsibility is to herself, her family, and her neighborhood. And there are no easy answers.

This is terrific food for thought – and discussion. If you are looking to add some diversity to your reading life or your high school classroom library, try this book. (language, violence)

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Unicorn of Many Hats

REVIEW: Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper


Kelsey McKenna is a wedding planner. Destination weddings to vacation spots like Mexico are her specialty. And if she can keep herself from strangling the mother of the bride, she’s going to give Nicole and Vince the wedding of their dreams.

When one of the bridesmaids keels over during the ceremony and dies, the mother of the bride says it is Kelsey’s job to take care of it, including cleaning up the woman’s belongings and arranging for the body. And when the sister of the bride is arrested, Mrs. Abernathy seems to think it’s Kelsey’s job to fix that, too.

A wedding planner with a limited Spanish vocabulary is not particularly well-suited for solving a murder in Mexico. But Kelsey likes Nicole and Vince. She wants to help them have a happy ending to their wedding that has not gone at all to plan. So she’ll keep appeasing Mrs. Abernathy to get to the bottom of this murder – even if it puts Kelsey herself in harm’s way.


This was a fun, fast read. I liked Kelsey and Brody as a sleuthing team. They seem to have a long term relationship and that felt genuine. The fact that Brody is gay means there’s no romantic tension between the two to complicate the relationship which kept things simple on that end.

Plenty of the other relationships in the story are complicated, though! There were several good suspects and motives for the crime to keep me guessing. The mother of the bride made me crazy, and I longed for someone to put her in her place. But she works well as a plot device to keep a wedding planner investigating a murder.

The theme for this cozy – destination wedding planner – is great. It gives options for awesome settings, diverse characters, and plenty of murderous shenanigans. Book 2 is Dying on the Vine and I am adding it to my TBR list!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥


REVIEW: Sidetracked by Diana Harmon Asher


Joseph is a worrier. If there’s something to worry about, Joseph has been thinking about it and stewing over it for awhile. But it’s just one of the things that makes Joseph the target of bullies. He has ADD and receives services in a resource room. He’s not athletic, and in sports like soccer, he’s afraid of the ball. Joseph has accepted these things as his lot in life.

Until he meets Heather. She’s confident, athletic, and she’s not afraid of a bully. As Heather and Joseph become friends first and then cross country teammates second, she challenges his self-perceptions and his expectations. Joseph will always have his quirks, but maybe he’ll surprise himself with some grit, determination and confidence in himself.


This was delightful! From start to finish, I adored Joseph and Heather. The friendship is mutual. Heather helps Joseph, but he gets to help her, too. They bring out the best in each other without needing a romantic subplot. Just awesome friends.

Joseph is trying to overcome a lot. And it all felt genuine – the struggles and the triumphs when he had them. I especially loved how the cross country team came together for him in the last race.

Everything clicked for me in this book – the story, the kids, the adults, the things that were resolved and the things that weren’t There’s awesome humor as well as heart-tugging moments. It was perfect.

Thanks to Netgalley and Amulet books for providing an electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Wedgie and Gizmo

BOOK NEWS: August 22, 2017

August is always a weird month here because while it is still technically summer, school has started, so it feels like summer is over. Thankfully, there are plenty of new books out this week to keep you busy whether you are still enjoying summer or you are back into school mode!

Books for Kids


Anne of Green Gables – Part of the Baby Lit line of board books, focusing on the people and places of Anne of Green Gables.
I’m Scared – Book 4 in this comic book/board book series by the creators of Babymouse. I have yet to see one of these in person, but I am on the look out because I love the art style of these!
Danza – This picture book biography focuses on dancer and choreographer Amalia Hernández. This is a perfect book to add to your collection of books about diverse individuals in history or for Hispanic Heritage month (September 15-October 15).
Duck & Goose, Honk! Quack! Boo! – Best friends Duck and Goose are back in a new Halloween story. I have adored their previous books, first as a parent and then as a teacher/librarian. They are great fun to read aloud. I’m eager to read this new one.
Mermaid – The latest book from Jan Brett, the story is a unique version of Goldilocks. I loved using Jan Brett’s books in my fairy tale unit when I was teaching. This would have been a perfect addition to my collection!
Welcome to Super Hero High – This Early Reader focuses on the characters from Super Hero High including Wonder Woman. Great way to introduce younger kids to the characters so they can enjoy the other books as they develop as readers.

Books for Older Kids/Teens/Young Adults

American Girl – Growing Up with Aloha/Hula for the Home Front/Prints in the Sand – Three stories starring Nanea, the newest American Girl. The books take place around the events of Pearl Harbor and WWII. Prints in the Sand is a choose your own ending-style story.
Beast & Crown – A new middle grade fantasy about a boy trying to find a new life for himself and his friends by attending a magical ritual. I love middle grade fantasy! I’m going to be checking this one out.
First Rule of Punk – A girl tries to stay true to herself and gather other “misfits” to help them all find their place at school. I’m looking forward to this one.
Friendship Code – Book 1 in the Girls Who Code series. I can’t wait to read this series about a group of girls working on computers together. I started another series about coding for kids, and I found the first book disappointing. There wasn’t enough story to balance out the coding. I have HIGH hopes for this series to balance the STEM message with solid story telling!
Gregory and the Gargoyles – A boy is sent back in time to the 17th century when gargoyles and sorcerers and magical beings lived in harmony. Sounds like a fun new fantasy series.
Kat Green Comes Clean – A girl faces a boy-crazy best friend, the school play and her mom’s worsening OCD. I’m looking forward to reading this one.
Sidetracked – I loved this story about a boy with ADD and some anxiety who joins the cross country team at his school. I’ll be posting my review tomorrow, and I hope you will check it out!
Things that Surprise You – A girl entering middle school deals with a changing family, changing friends, and a sister battling an eating disorder. I love books like this that look at kids dealing with the transitions that come as they grow up. This one sounds great.
Vanished – Book 2 in the TOAST series by James Ponti. I reviewed this last week (I loved it!), and you can read my review here.
Warrior Princess of Pennyroyal Academy – Book 3 in the Pennyroyal Academy series about a training academy for princesses and knights that is under attack by witches and evil forces. I have the first book in my TBR pile.
Wedgie and Gizmo – It’s eager, barky dog vs evil genius guinea pig in this story about rival pets and schemes to take over the world. Sign me up for this one!
A Smart Girls Guide: Digital World – From the folks at American Girl, this shows upper elementary and middle school girls how to negotiate the online world including social media, cyber bullying, and online safety.
What Is Rock and Roll? – Covers the history and major influences in the development of Rock and Roll.
Who Was Fidel Castro? – biography
Going Viral – Third and final book in the Potion Diaries series. I enjoyed the first two books in the series – you can see my review here – and I’m excited to see where the story goes next!

Books for Adults

Y Is for Yesterday – Book 25 in the Kinsey Millhone mystery series. I read the first few of these but didn’t keep up with it. I’m curious to see how the author moves into these last couple letters of the alphabet and what that means for her characters. This book looks at a case of assault at a private prep school 10 years earlier.
Real Food Heals – I am fascinated (but overwhelmed) by the research of what real, whole foods can do for our health. I’m eager to take a look at this book and see if it is simple enough for everyday use.
Slow Down – A celebration of motherhood from Christian singer, Nichole Nordeman. Includes quotes from other writers as well as journaling space and practical tips.

Best. Night. Ever.

REVIEW: Best. Night. Ever by Jen Malone (editor)


The middle school dance is a HUGE event for the seventh graders in this story:

  • Carmen is missing it – and the TV debut of her band, Heart Grenade – for a family wedding.
  • Genevieve is going to be the lead singer for Heart Grenade in Carmen’s place. And she’s terrified.
  • Ellie is going with a date.
  • Ellie’s soon-to-be step-sister, Ashlyn, is grounded, so she’s going to do Ellie’s babysitting gig so Ellie can go the the dance.
  • Ryan is there with his best friend, Mariah, but he wishes there was more between them. But she asked Leif to the dance instead.
  • Tess, the drummer for Heart Grenade and Mariah’s nemesis, also asked Leif to the dance. He said “whatever” to both girls which they took as “yes.”
  • Jade doesn’t even go to this school. But she thinks Heart Grenade stole her band’s chance at the Battle of the Bands. She’s at the dance for revenge.

Seven authors. Seven perspectives on one eventful night. All kinds of fun.


So many of the authors for this book are MIX authors, and I have many of their books on my TBR. That made this a must-read for me, and I was not disappointed.

It’s not unusual any more to read books that tell one story from different perspectives. But this is different because 7 authors got to dig into one character each and tell that character’s version of this story.

There’s a lot going on in this story. There’s the band piece and the dating piece. Then there are the kids not at the dance and the things going on outside the school. And everything comes together so well!

I loved the characters. I think Ellie is my favorite. I would love more story from her perspective.

In general, I felt like the kids seemed like 15-year-olds more than 7th graders. At least. they didn’t “sound” or act like the seventh graders I know. But I think this story is a great bridge story that would work for upper elementary and middle school readers. The themes of friendship, family, and dating work for teens while also keeping things “clean” for younger readers.

Thanks to Netgalley and Aladdin for an electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Daughter of Sherlock Holmes

REVIEW: The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg


A young woman visits 221b Baker Street after the suspicious death of her brother. The police think it’s a suicide which is confirmed by one witness. But there’s a second witness, Joanna Blalock, and her statement contradicts the first.

Dr. Watson, the original partner of Sherlock Holmes, and his son, John, are investigating. And when they meet Joanna, they add her brilliance to their team. Watson recognizes it. She is just like her father, Sherlock Holmes. He shares the news with John, but they keep it secret from Joanna. They even tell Lestrade (son of the original inspector) that she was a student of Sherlock Holmes in order to explain her amazing skill at deductive reasoning.

Watson, John, and Joanna will need all of their skills and expertise to corner a killer who keeps eliminating co-conspirators in ways that look like accidents.


This was fantastic! The three main characters clicked in a natural way. They’re likable, they work well together, and they appreciate what each person brings to the team. The budding romance between John and Joanna is sweet.

The mystery is terrific. It’s complicated and they are working against investigative “professionals” who accept whatever explanation is simplest for each death. The deductions from the team are logical. I didn’t feel like the author was “reaching” to explain how Watson and company could deduce the things they do.

The Sherlock Holmes references aren’t too “inside.” I’ve never read any Holmes, but I know the Adler and Lestrade and Moriarty references from movies and TV. There’s nothing to get in the way of any mystery lover checking out this book. I highly recommend it.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥