Book Review: A Constellation of Roses by Miranda Asebedo

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Title:
A Constellation of Roses
Author:  Miranda Asebedo
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magic Realism
Rating: ★★★

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Synopsis:

Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.

With lovable and flawed characters, an evocative setting, and friendships to treasure, A Constellation of Roses is the perfect companion to Miranda Asebedo’s debut novel The Deepest Roots.


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A Constellation of Roses is a well-developed contemporary novel that hints at magic, but provides a serious outlet and tone for realistic, young adult situations. After her mom fails to come back home one day, Trix takes the matter of survival into her own hands. Trix relies heavily on her gift as a undetected thief to take what she needs to survive. Without giving too many spoilers, Trix’s antics are not unseen and she is sent to live with some unknown relatives. 

Now surrounded by three generations of women who also have their own talents and gifts, Trix puts up a hard shell that’s not easy to crack. As Trix adapts to her new surroundings, makes new friends, and slowly starts trusting her newfound family, she begins to explore the truth about herself and her familial past. More importantly, she begins defining and understanding what family truly means. And as the story unfolds, Trix also begins acknowledging that everyone, no matter how happy they seem on the outside, are also going through their own personal struggles. 

Filled with emotionally-curing pie, a dash of magic, and teenage antics, A Constellation of Roses will have you swimming in emotions of heartache, laughter, tears, and swoons. This novel explores some very heavy issues, which makes these characters so realistic and so easy to connect and fall in love with.

Some favorite quotes:

“Fortune-telling isn’t a science. It’s an art. And sometimes art is messy.”

“Scars tell a story, even when we don’t want them to.”

“You know, there’s an old story that back when they founded Rocksaw, the McCabes were one of the first families here. And their daughters were so beautiful and so strangely gifted that people in Buffalo Hills thought they were witches and wanted to run them out of the area.”

“Love is promising Persian kittens. Love is American slang dictionaries for Scrabble. Love is Coke-and-cherry slushes as midnight. Love is watching the lights come on in town from law chairs on Cedar Mountain. Love is lemon-meringue pie on porch steps.”

“Yes, I have gotten what I always wanted. My deepest secrets. Not a perfect family, after all. But a constellation of women, connected by pie and fortunes and roses. And love.”

 

Blogger Note: Thank you so much to Wunderkind PR for sending me a free copy of A Cosntellation of Roses to read and review. 

Blog Tour: Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell

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Title: Songs from the Deep
Author:  Kelly Powell
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical, Mystery
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

A girl searches for a killer on an island where deadly sirens lurk just beneath the waves in this gripping, atmospheric debut novel.

The sea holds many secrets.

Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he’s one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.

Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too late—for humans and sirens alike.


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Songs from the Deep reads like the steady lyrics of a richly melodic song. Set on an island dependent on tourism and the sea, this novel delves into the a story of murder, mystery, friendship, and deadly sirens.

I found Songs from the Deep to be a constant page-turner. Kelly Powell’s lyrical writing and vivid scenic descriptions, create a very atmospheric setting that makes you want to curl up on the couch and drink warm tea as you read the story’s mysteries unfold. 

I enjoyed reading the reconnection of an old friendship and the subtle love story that unfolds throughout the pages, along with the thrill of the two main characters, Moira and Jude, solving the murders of local islanders. Moira and Jude are the perfect sleuthing pair; they balance out each other’s flaws and secrets, while also using their own ingrained abilities to help save the sirens from being wrongfully accused and then hunted.

As an entrancing novel of unsolved mysteries, dangerous sirens, and unraveled secrets, Songs from the Deep is must read. Along with the small-town lives of the islanders, the steady swooshing of the waves, the enticing song of the sirens, and the scent of the sea, you will easily be bewitched in the dark ambiance of this novel.

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Moira’s mom is a baker, and throughout small parts of the story, I kept craving yummy pastries. So as a great pairing with Songs from the Deep, I bought some scone mix, and decided to make some “Save the Sirens Scones.”

Because I did not bake these scones from scratch, I made sure to follow the directions on the scone mix bag. Along with the scone mix, I only needed butter and milk. After smashing the butter into the mix and stirring in the milk to make a clumpy dough, I formed the dough into a ball and then spread it out on a greased baking pan. I used a spatula to deeply score the dough into wedges. After baking for 17 minutes at 350 degrees F, I let the scones cool. 

If you decide to bake your own scones, be sure to you make yourself a cup of your favorite tea to pair with the pastry. With a scone and tea at hand, you will create the perfect reading setting to enjoy the mysterious and very atmospheric novel, Songs from the Deep.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

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About the author:

Kelly Powell has a bachelor’s degree in history and book and media studies from the University of Toronto. She currently lives in Ontario. Songs from the Deep is her debut novel.

 

 

 

 

 

Blogger Note: Thank you so much to Simon Teen/ Simon & Schuster for inviting me to host a “Raves & Craves” post on this blog tour and sending me a free copy of Songs from the Sea to read and review. 

Trick-or-Treat Yo Shelf: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

The Lady Rogue
Title:
The Lady Rogue
Authors: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Historical

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Synopsis:

The Last Magician meets A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this thrilling tale filled with magic and set in the mysterious Carpathian Mountains where a girl must hunt down Vlad the Impaler’s cursed ring in order to save her father.

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.


TOTYS TLR

Welcome to my second “Trick-or-Treat Yo Shelf” post of the season. All through September and October, I will be reviewing new releases and helping you decide if you should TREAT YO SHELF to the featured new release.

Today’s book choice is The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett, which released on September 3, 2019. And you guys, SPOILER ALERT, I’m just going to tell you right now: you need to TREAT YO SHELF to a copy of The Lady Rogue ASAP!

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I am a huge fanatic of Jenn Bennett’s YA contemporary novels, and I could not wait to read her historical book. And surprise, surprise: I adored The Lady Rogue so much. After reading this constant page-turner, I was raving to everyone on my social media outlets, insisting and demanding that everyone add Jenn Bennett’s historical, fantasy novel to their TBR NOW! The Lady Rogue gave me extreme The Mummy vibes (the best kind of vibes, in my opinion), and, of course, the angsty, swoon-worthy feels that are the epitome of Jenn Bennett’s novels.

This novel is definitely the perfect book to read this autumn. The Lady Rogue eloquently melds adventure, history, romance, Gothic scenery, cursed objects, and magic into the perfect historical tome. 

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Are you still wondering if The Lady Rogue is the perfect book to Treat Yo Shelf to? Well, my bookish friend, wait no further. If you like more than three things off this checklist, you best believe you need to add The Lady Rogue to your TBR list.

The Lady Rogue Checklist

♦ A fierce and sassy heroine
♦ A charming and dashing hero named Huxley Gallagher a.k.a. Huck
♦ Witty and angsty banter
♦ Treasure hunting for magical artifacts
♦ Trekking through the Romania wilderness
♦ Characters taking some unethical but daring risks
♦ Code-breaking and puzzle solving
♦ Unraveling tales and legends of Vlad the Impaler
♦ Adventurous travels through modes of trains and planes
♦ Secret societies and Gothic vibes
♦  SWOONS!

TLR TYS

Blogger Note: A huge thank you to Simon Teen for providing me an ARC to read and review. All statements and opinions are my own. 

 

Trick-or-Treat Yo Shelf: There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool

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Title:
There Will Come a Darkness
Authors: Katy Rose Pool
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

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Synopsis:

The Age of Darkness approaches.
Five lives stand in its way.
Who will stop it… or unleash it? 

For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations―until the day, one hundred years ago, when the Prophets disappeared.

All they left behind was one final, secret prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world’s salvation . . . or the cause of its destruction. As chaos takes hold, five souls are set on a collision course:

A prince exiled from his kingdom.
A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand.
A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart. 
A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone.
And a dying girl on the verge of giving up.

One of them―or all of them―could break the world. Will they be savior or destroyer? Perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Children of Blood and Bone, and An Ember in the Ashes.


TRICK OR TREAT YO SHELF There Will Come a Darkness


Welcome to my first “Trick-or-Treat Yo Shelf” post of the season. All through September and October, I will be reviewing new releases and helping you decide if you should TREAT YO SHELF to the featured new release. The first book choice up is There Will Come A Darkness by Katy Rose Pool, which releases today, September 3, 2019.

REVIEW

Oh, where do I start? Told in five points-of-view, There Will Come A Darkness weaves the lives of five extraordinary characters into one story focused on duty, dire sacrifices, and survival. Once I got used to each point of view, I was highly invested in each character’s arc and their role in the final prophecy that is focused on a new prophet, a possible savior in the prediction of an Age of Darkness. 

This constant page-turner will have you entranced in the epic world-building, the elaborate magic of the four bodily graces, and of course the unfolding prophecies that will keep you on the edge of your seat. As a a fast-paced, fantasy novel melding the fates of five intricate characters, readers will be compelled by the twists and turns, and by the end of the novel, frantically wanting the next book of the series.

TRICK OR TREAT YO SHELF?

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Blogger Note: A huge thank you to the Fierce Reads for providing me an ARC to read and review. All statements and opinions are my own. 

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review & Favorite Quotes of Have a Little Faith in Me

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Title:
Have a Little Faith In Me
Authors: Sonia Hartl
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Religion, Realistic Fiction

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Synopsis:

“Saved!” meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that takes a meaningful look at consent and what it means to give it.

When CeCe’s born-again ex-boyfriend dumps her after they have sex, she follows him to Jesus camp in order to win him back. Problem: She knows nothing about Jesus. But her best friend Paul does. He accompanies CeCe to camp, and the plan—God’s or CeCe’s—goes immediately awry when her ex shows up with a new girlfriend, a True Believer at that.

Scrambling to save face, CeCe ropes Paul into faking a relationship. But as deceptions stack up, she questions whether her ex is really the nice guy he seemed. And what about her strange new feelings for Paul—is this love, lust, or an illusion born of heartbreak? To figure it out, she’ll have to confront the reasons she chased her ex to camp in the first place, including the truth about the night she lost her virginity


review and quotes

If you are in the mood to read a novel filled with girls supporting girls AND sex-positive messages, look no further, Have a Little Faith In Me is the book for you. Set out to win her ex-boyfriend back, CeCe decides to mend their relationship by attending a Christian-based camp with him. Unbeknownst to her, her camp experience becomes more about self-acceptance, finding friendships in the unlikely places, and learning about healthy relationships. 

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If you are a fan of very sarcastic and very direct characters, then CeCe will definitely win you over. Her personality comes off very honest, straightforward, and she has no filter. Although she is very opinionated and portrays some naive behavior, I liked that her story and personality evolve throughout the book, allowing CeCe to grow and understand the people and the world around her.

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Overall, Have a Little Faith In Me is a page-turner filled with empowering messages of consent and sex-positivity. This book is funny, feminist, and contains one of my favorite young adult themes that we don’t see too often: females supporting females. 

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giveaway

Win a finished copy of HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME by Sonia Hartl (US Only)

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about the author

AUTHOR
Sonia Hartl is a YA author who calls Michigan home, even though she’s lived in several different states. Her debut novel, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH IN ME is forthcoming from Page Street Publishing. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s enjoying pub trivia, marathoning Disney movies, or taking a walk outside in the fall. She’s a member of SCBWI and the communications director for Pitch Wars. She has been published in The Writers Post Journal and Boston Literary Magazine. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two daughters.

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Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Page Street Publishing for providing me an ARC to read and review for free in exchange of an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all quoted material is not final and may change in the final publication of the book.

Book Review: Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

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Title:
Iron and Magic
Author:  Ilona Andrews
Publisher: Nancy Yost Literary Agency, Inc
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Source: Netgalley e-arc from publisher
Rating: ★★★

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Synopsis:

No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.

Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she’s trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?

As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Hugh and Elara may do both.


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Oh boy, only Ilona Andrews could make me root for a villain that I passionately wanted Curran and Kate to destroy in the Kate Daniels series. As a spinoff of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, Iron and Magic is the “where is he now?” story for Hugh d’Ambray, one of their worst enemies. And now, here I am sitting at the sidelines rooting for his redemption arc to unfold. He’s murdered, captured, and tortured some of my most beloved characters, but after reading Iron and Magic, I am now ALL IN for Hugh being free of Roland’s rule and Hugh creating a new life with a kickass witch named Elara.

Set up as a marriage of convenience book, Hugh and Elara do not get along. At the beginning, their chemistry is a small flickering flame fueled by loathing and angst, but by the end of the book, their flame ignites. And I am looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops throughout the series.

In Iron and Magic, Hugh often comes off as a self-adsorbed badass, but throughout the novel, he starts wearing his heart on his sleeve, portraying acts of kindness and protecting those who are unable to protect themselves. His faithful counterpart, Elara, lives by the rules but she also wants to protect her people at any cost. I love that she stands up to Hugh all the time throughout the novel. But as they are butting heads, they also start compromising and working together. Overall, I am so glad Ilona Andrews is writing this spinoff series, because I am already addicted and need more.

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Note: A huge thank you to NYLA for providing me an e-ARC to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour: Review & Favorite Quotes of All the Bad Apples

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UK and US covers
Title:
All the Bad Apples
Authors: Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: August 27, 2019
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery

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Synopsis:

The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. ‘This will be really embarrassing,’ I kept saying to my family, ‘when she shows up at the door in a week or two.’

When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.

And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.


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Once again, Moïra Fowley-Doyle has created a beautiful atmospheric story filled with magic, mystery, and familial curses. All the Bad Apples includes twists and turns that are traced through letters, which provide details of the main character’s family history. A history sprinkled with cursed family members, also known as the bad apples. The letters include clues on how to break the curse placed on the family’s bad apples, but more importantly, the letters bring Deena one step closer to finding her missing, or thought-to-be dead sister, Mandy.

As an own voices novel, Moïra Fowley-Doyle fills the pages of All the Bad Apples with fictional but realistic accounts of unwed mothers, rape survivors, incest, abortions, racism, and the stigma encompassed in Ireland’s history and present day state. Deena’s story and the narratives of her ancestors are a bitter bite into reality; their stories and hardships reflect the oppression of women, orphaned children, and queer men that does not seem to go away over time.

As a contemporary novel embraced in history and elements of magical realism, Moïra Fowley-Doyle creates a jolting story—multiple accounts at that—filled with queer diversity, heartache, rage, feminism, and in the end, hope. Hope for change and a hope for equality across spectrums of sexuality, gender, and racism. All the Bad Apples will make your teeth clinch, your heart ache, and your eyes tear up—but overall it will leave a lasting impression that history is complicated. History is always changing but unfortunately forever repeating itself—a habit rooted in silencing those who do not conform or fit “traditional” standards.

Favorite Quotes:

“Sometimes you have to feel the past to believe it.”

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“Some loves ignite like forest fires, burn down entire towns before anybody’s noticed. . . Some loves smolder like a turf fire, are slow to start but will then burn bright and steady through entire winters.”

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“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

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“A good cup of tea is a witch’s brew,” the old women said together with wicked grins. “Heals all ills.”

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“This is what a curse does: It takes a truth and twists it. It punishes those who don’t conform. It sets the parameters of conformity so narrow that few can actually stick to them.”

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“You tell the story,” said Mandy slowly. “You tell your story and the story of your family. You speak your truth. You shatter the stigma. You hold your head up to the world and speak so that everyone else who was ever like you can recognize themselves. Can see that they aren’t alone. Can see how the past will only keep repeating itself as long as we’re kept powerless by our silence.”

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author (2)
Moïra Fowley-Doyle is half-French, half-Irish and made of equal parts feminism, whimsy and Doc Martens. She lives in Dublin where she writes magic realism, reads tarot cards and raises witch babies.

Moïra’s first novel, The Accident Season, was shortlisted for the 2015 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize & the North East Teen Book Awards, nominated for the Carnegie Medal & won the inaugural School Library Association of Ireland Great Reads Award. It received two starred reviews & sold in ten territories. Her second novel, Spellbook of the Lost and Found, was published in summer 2017, received a starred review from School Library Journal and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards.

 

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Note: Thank you to the The Fantastic Flying Book Club for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Penguin Teen for providing me an e-ARC to read and review for free in exchange of an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that all quoted material is not final and may change in the final publication of the book.