Review: The Winning Ingredient

The Winning Ingredient was a cute, clean YA romance read.

Bryce is a new student at George Washington High, and the new quarterback on the football team. Mia’s family owns a bakery in town. When Mia is asked to tutor Bryce in science and math, this unlikely duo wind up becoming friends.

I loved the bakery scenes and this definitely made me want to do some baking (I think some cookies might be in my future).

This story reminded me a little of a YA version of The Baker and the Beauty on Netflix. I do wish that the author had included a recipe for the cannoli cookies, because those sounded amazing!

Unfortunately I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and I did find the writing to be a little stiff at times.

As the past and the present collide, one baker and one quarterback team up.

The two might be the winning ingredient in a timeless recipe.

Mia DeSalvo is one tough cookie, who can throw a perfect spiral and bake a perfect biscotti. But, as George Washington High’s top student and ninth-grade class president, she’s thrown off her game when asked to tutor boarding school drop-out and secret-weapon-on-the-football-field, Bryce Fitzgerald. Despite his to-die-for dimples, he’s a total bore. Besides, her plate is already full, trying to save her family’s struggling century-old Italian bakery.

Determined to tackle her family’s business woes, Mia secretly devotes her free time to developing new recipes, with the help of her Sicilian great-great-grandmother’s handwritten cookbook. She soon discovers that blending her own innovations with her Nonna Antoinette’s history may be the key to the bakery’s success.

But Mia’s not the only one with a secret. As rumors swirl around Bryce’s lightning-speed exit from prestigious Chadwick Academy, she’s resolved to get to the bottom of it. Unfortunately, the star quarterback’s bad attitude, mixed with her flaming temper, is a recipe for disaster.

When Mia stumbles upon Bryce’s beautifully written journal, it’s clear his talents aren’t confined to the football field, and there’s much more to the hazel-eyed quarterback than she could’ve imagined. While the journal may hold all the answers she’s looking for, the weight of its heartbreaking words may be too much for her to carry.

With the future of the DeSalvo Bakery and the football State Championship hanging in the balance, Mia and Bryce might just have what the other is missing.

Armed with an antique cookbook and a football, this unlikely pair will discover the importance of embracing an enduring legacy and keeping cherished memories alive.

The Winning Ingredient is a lower young adult novel about unwavering friendship through loss and triumph and is the debut novel for this previously published author.


Kelly Swan Taylor is a Boston-based attorney and former laboratory scientist. As a competitive runner, racing from sun-drenched Hawaii to frigid Iceland, her first publishing credit was in Simon & Schuster’s best-selling book series, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Running for Good, highlighting her experiences in the historic 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathons. Growing up immersed in beloved “Teen” novels, Kelly now crafts her own sweet stories that bridge the gap between middle grade and young adult fiction that is so often forgotten but so sorely needed in the market today. She has a soft spot for the sincere yet flawed character with a kind heart who tries to do the right thing, stumbles along the way, but eventually becomes a hero in everyday life. In her free time, Kelly enjoys traveling and collecting snow globes and race medals from around the world. A proud alumnus of Syracuse University, she cheers her Syracuse Orange from both her sofa and the metal bleachers of the Carrier Dome. She resides in Providence, Rhode Island with her architect husband, Jonathan, and two spoiled geriatric kitties.

Review: Himawari House

Himawari House is a graphic novel for young adults that focuses on foreign exchange students in Japan. The students are learning Japanese in order to work, go to university, and connect with their roots.

I have never felt some many feelings while reading a graphic novel. Anxiety when the students are taking their exams, joy, happiness. I even wept in the two-page life story of their Obaachan neighbor.

I also appreciated that the author wrote the student’s English with an accent. Students of a new language aren’t going to speak it perfectly, and writing the students with an accent made the characters feel real.

Thank you to Turn the Page Tours and First Second Books for including me on this tour and for the finished copy of this book!

Book Description: 

A young adult graphic novel about three foreign exchange students and the pleasures, and difficulties, of adjusting to living in Japan.

Living in a new country is no walk in the park―Nao, Hyejung, and Tina can all attest to that. The three of them became fast friends through living together in the Himawari House in Tokyo and attending the same Japanese cram school. Nao came to Japan to reconnect with her Japanese heritage, while Hyejung and Tina came to find freedom and their own paths. Though each of them has her own motivations and challanges, they all deal with language barriers, being a fish out of water, self discovery, love, and family.

Author Bio:

Harmony Becker was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is the illustrator of George Takei’s graphic memoir They Called Us Enemy. She currently lives in Mexico City.

Book Title: Himawari House

Author: Harmony Becker

Publisher: First Second

Release Date: November 9, 2021

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Graphic Novel 

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Review: For All Time

For All Time will be a love story for the ages.

It took me a while to settle into Tamar and Fayard’s story and figure out what was happening. Initially I wanted more nitty-gritty details about the characters in the here and now, but after finishing the book, I’m glad the author didn’t bog down the beginning with details that would have become obsolete later.

The beginning of the book I also felt like the timeline bounced around a little unexpectedly, but at the same time, this puts the reader into the same dream-state unsureness of the main characters.

The romance between Fayard and Tamar is what had me coming back to this book, even when I was frustrated and confused by it. I wanted to know what happened to these two, let’s call them “star-crossed lovers.”

I will say, Shanna Miles absolutely breaks my heart in this book, in the way only a good romance can. But, no worries, there is a happy (but ambiguous) ending.

Thank you to Turn the Page Tours, Shanna Miles, and Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers for the advanced review copy and including me on this tour!


The Sun Is Also a Star meets Outlander in this vivid, utterly romantic debut novel about two teens who relive their tragic love story over and over until they uncover what they must do to change their fate.

Tamar is a musician, a warrior, a survivor. Fayard? He’s a pioneer, a hustler, a hopeless romantic.

Together, Tamar and Fayard have lived a thousand lives, seen the world build itself up from nothing only to tear itself down again in civil war. They’ve even watched humanity take to the stars. But in each life one thing remains the same: their love and their fight to be together. One love story after another. Their only concern is they never get to see how their story ends. Until now.

When they finally discover what it will take to break the cycle, will they be able to make the sacrifice?


“An unforgettable and artfully crafted romance right down to the very last page.” —Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’

“A romance for the ages. Fresh voices and original predicaments make this one perfect little novel.”

—Stacey Lee, award-winning author of The Downstairs Girl


Shanna Miles is an author, reviewer and librarian who lives in Georgia with her two daughters, and educator husband and advocates tirelessly for appropriate representation for marginalized people in children’s fiction. Her passion is Paranormal Romance, but she also has a deep affinity for diverse Science Fiction like that of Octavia Butler and Sherri L. Smith. “Willow Born” is Shanna Miles’ latest work.


Review: To Bleed a Crystal Bloom

I almost, almost, DNF’d this book. However, I’m so glad I didn’t! While the beginning of To Bleed a Crystal Bloom was slow and really had me questioning what I was reading, about half way through the action picked up and I could not put this book down! (Seriously, I would fall asleep with my glasses on and my Kindle in my hand!)

Orlaith was the soul survivor of a massacre that killed everyone else – being a 2 year old, she was rescued by Rhyodan, kept in a tower in his dark castle.

To Bleed a Crystal Bloom picks up with Orlaith 17 years later.

The first half of this book was spent setting up Orlaith’s back story, the world, and making the reader understand Orlaith’s emotions. However, it was a little slow for me and some parts felt unnecessary or left me with more questions than answers.

However, at about the 55 percent mark on my Kindle, the action picks up. There’s the Tribunal and the ball, and Orlaith learns more about what is happening outside of her Safety Line. 

The time and detail the author spent in the beginning to describe the world for the reader paid off to make the second half of the book move quickly.

While I did anticipate the one final twist, there are still so many unanswered questions that I cannot wait to read the next book in this series.

Thank you to author Sarah A. Parker and Turn the Page Tours for the copy of To Bleed a Crystal Bloom in exchange for my honest opinion.


Up for grabs, we have a $50 Amazon Gift Card. This giveaway will be open INTL and will run from August 28th to September 5th at 11:59 PM CST. One winner will be chosen. To enter, click the link below!

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TITLE: To Bleed a Crystal Bloom

AUTHOR: Sarah A. Parker
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
RELEASE DATE: July 24th, 2021

GENRES: ADULT FICTION—Dark Fantasy, Romance, Retellings > Rapunzel


“What a pretty flower to keep locked in a big, rocky tower.”

Nineteen years ago, I was plucked from the heart of a bloody massacre that spared nobody else.

Small. Fragile.

An enigma.

Now ward to a powerful High Master who knows too much and says too little, I lead a simple life, never straying from the confines of an imaginary line I’ve drawn around the castle grounds.

Stay within. Never leave.

Out there, the monsters lurk. Inside, I’m safe … though at a cost far greater than the blood I drip into a goblet daily.

Toxic, unreciprocated love for a man who’s utterly unavailable.

My savior. My protector.

My almost executioner.

I can’t help but be enamored with the arcane man who holds the power to pull my roots from the ground.

When voracious beasts spill across the land and threaten to fray the fabric of my tailored existence, the petals of reality will peel back to reveal an ugly truth. But in a castle puddled with secrets, none are greater than the one I’ve kept from myself.

No tower is tall enough to protect me from the horror that tore my life to shreds.

To Bleed a Crystal Bloom is a dark Rapunzel reimagining full of immersive imagery and breathtaking angst. A unique new fantasy series perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Jennifer L. Armentrout, guaranteed to grip you from the very first page.


Sarah A Parker

Sarah is an international bestselling author who also writes under the pen name S.A. Parker.

She lives in Australia with her husband and children, and spends her days with her nose in a book or her mind in a world of her own creation.

Her genre of choice is epic fantasy romance, and she thrives off dreaming up complex characters and immersive worlds to get lost amongst.

TOUR: T-Rexes Can’t Tie Their Shoes

If parents are looking for a book to both teach the alphabet, as well as teach a great lesson, T-Rexes Can’t Tie Their Shoes is a great option.

The main story and illustrations of this children’s book shows what different animals can’t do – what is difficult for them (like giraffes can’t do gymnastics).

At the end of the book, there are two pages that highlights what the animals CAN do.

Its a great reminder that while you might not be great at everything, you are great at something.

Giveaway Information

Up for grabs is one (1) copy of T-REXES CAN’T TIE THEIR SHOES! This giveaway is limited to US readers only.

TITLE: T-Rexes Can’t Tie Their Shoes

PUBLISHER: Double Day Books For Young Readers

GENRES: Children’s, Picture book



A funny and encouraging alphabetic book about all the things animals CAN’T do but kids CAN! Every parent teaching their children new skills will be happy to have this super-positive picture book on hand.

Bees can’t ride bicycles, penguins can’t play ping-pong, and zebras can’t go zip-lining. No one is good at everything, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying! Here is a funny and encouraging picture book for any child learning how to tie their shoes, ride a bike, spell their name, or do a variety of new things.

Follow a hilarious alphabet of animals, and see all the things they can’t do but kids can—from doing gymnastics to flipping pancakes to playing a xylophone. Along the way, young readers will learn that it’s okay if they can’t do everything; they can still have a LOT of fun trying.


Anna Lazowski wrote her first picture book for a class assignment in the sixth grade and has been creating stories ever since. Now an award-winning radio producer, Anna has an MA (Journalism) from the University of Western Ontario and a BFA (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba.

Review: I Am the Shark

This is such a cute – and educational! – children’s picture book. I didn’t know all the shark facts that this book shares with readers.

The illustrations are just so sweet and the expressions on the sharks faces make me smile – especially Great White Shark’s emotions and faces throughout the book.

But I also love, love, love the message about being you and celebrating what makes you special.


Up for grabs we have ONE (1) physical copy of I Am The Shark by Joan Holub! This giveaway will be open from May 3rd to May 9th, 2021 at 11:59 PM CST. This giveaway is open to US entrants only. To enter, click the link below!


TITLE: I Am The Shark

AUTHOR: Joan Holub
Crown Books for Young Readers
May 4, 2021



What makes the great white shark (one of) the greatest fish in the sea? FIN-d out in this hilarious fish-out-of-water story that’s perfect for Shark Week and all year-round!

Hi! I am Great White Shark, and if you get this book, you’ll read all about ME“ the greatest shark in the sea!

Not so fast! Greenland Shark here, and as the oldest shark in this book, that makes me the greatest.

Did someone say fast? I’m Mako Shark, and I’m the fastest shark in this book! Eat my bubbles!

Wow, I’m Hammerhead Shark. You don’t need my special eyes to see that there are lots of great sharks in this book. Sink your teeth into it now!

New York Times bestselling author Joan Holub makes a splash with bestselling illustrator Laurie Keller to deliver an entertaining undersea story filled with the greatest shark facts in the ocean!


Joan Holub is the New York Times“bestselling author and illustrator of more than 140 children’s books, including Breakout at the Bug Lab, Who Was Babe Ruth?, and the Goddess Girls series. Prior to publishing her first title in 1992, she was an associate art director at Scholastic.

Book Feature: All Kinds of Other

Book Title: All Kinds of Other

Author: James Sie

Publisher: Quill Tree Books

Release Date: May 4, 2021

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance

Goodreads link:

Book Purchase link:

Book Description: 

In this tender, nuanced coming-of-age love story, two boys—one who is cis and one who is trans—have been guarding their hearts to protect themselves, until their feelings for each other give them a reason to stand up to their fears.

Two boys are starting at a new school.

Jules is just figuring out what it means to be gay and hasn’t totally decided whether he wants to be out at his new school. His parents and friends have all kinds of opinions, but for his part, Jules just wants to make the basketball team and keep his head down.

Jack is trying to start over after a best friend break-up. He followed his actor father clear across the country to LA, but he’s also totally ready to leave his past behind. Maybe this new school where no one knows him is exactly what he needs.

When the two boys meet, the sparks are undeniable. But then a video surfaces linking Jack to a pair of popular transgender vloggers, and the revelations about Jack’s past thrust both Jack and Jules into the spotlight they’ve been trying to avoid. Suddenly both boys have a choice to make—between lying low where it’s easier or following their hearts.

Author Bio:

JAMES SIE is the author of STILL LIFE LAS VEGAS (St. Martin’s Press, 2015), a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best Gay Fiction, and the YA novel ALL KINDS OF OTHER (Quill Tree Books, 2021) He is an award-winning playwright of literary adaptations, receiving a Joseph Jefferson Citation for his adaptation of ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS, and an After Dark Award for the original work THE ROAD TO GRACELAND. He has contributed essays for The Rumpus, Pen USA, FSG’s Book Keeping and The Advocate. In addition to writing, Sie can currently be heard as a voiceover artist in animation and audiobook narration.

Author Links:


Enter to win one finished copy of All Kinds of Other by James Sie! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.

Giveaway starts: Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Giveaway ends: Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST

Direct link:

Author Interview: M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

LeannReadsBooks: What was your inspiration for this uncle/nephew mystery-solving duo?

Sam: It was really important to us that Harrison had a kind and encouraging mentor for his adventures – and someone who would ignite his lifelong love of trains. A travel writer seemed like the perfect choice. Uncle Nat is curious about the world, respectful towards others, and happy to help Hal discover the joys of travel. I’ve always felt uncles are a great fit for adventures – they can be weird, mysterious and exciting, but aren’t in your life most of the time. Hal and Nat’s relationship is one of my favourite things about the series.

M.G.: I am a fan of likable adult characters. Too often in stories for children, the adults have to be bad, die or be got out of the way before the action can happen. In my Beetle Boy books I have an understanding and supportive uncle called Max. I think Uncles, Aunts and Cousins are under used and provide wonderful opportunities for drama. Uncle Nat and Hal are a perfect example of the kinds of adventures that are possible with the right kind of grown up.

LRB: How do you come up with the mysteries in your books?

Sam: I’ve always enjoyed inventing games and puzzles – and I used to have a company that designed bespoke murder mystery treasure hunts for adventurous Londoners. For me, there’s no finer mystery plotter than the Queen of Crime herself, Agatha Christie – so I always like to draw inspiration from her. We always aspire to have the puzzle pieces slot into place at the end of the story with a satisfying click. The mystery needs to be complex enough to be challenging, but simple enough so that when you see the solution it all instantly makes sense without needing to be over-explained. It’s a tough balance to strike, but incredibly fun.

M.G.: Each book features a different type of adventure. We wrote a long list of all of the kinds of adventures we could think of and worked out which crimes would work best with the locations we were planning to write stories about. Sam is a veritable encyclopedia of mystery stories and always has brilliant ideas about who could have done it and how. I am very interested in character motivation and how action comes from the behavior of and relationships between the people on the train

LRB: I love the high stakes adventure on trains! What’s your ultimate bucket list trip by train?

Sam: As a lifelong train fanatic, this is an incredibly tricky question for me! But I think the undisputed beast of railway journeys that I would love to experience is the Trans-Mongolian Express, which takes 7 days to travel from Moscow to Beijing. I’d stop off in snowy Siberia to see the Ural Mountains, hike round glassy Lake Baikal, and ride camels in the desert in Ulan Ude. It’s one of the world’s great engineering masterpieces and one of the finest railway adventures there is.

M.G.: I have always wanted to travel around India by train, experiencing the dusty, overcrowded, carriages with people sat on the roofs, and then contrast of this with a luxury train journey, like the Maharaja Express, they kind aimed at wealthy tourists.

LRB: Do you have a bucket list of travel destinations or things you want to do? What are some places/items on your list?

Sam: Maya and I would both love to travel together to help find inspiration for the future books in our series. We’re both very keen to explore India by train – I would love to ride the narrow gauge steam railway up to Darjeeling in the misty peaks of the Himalayas. But at this moment in time, I’d settle for taking a train into central London. With strict lockdowns here in the UK, I’ve hardly been out of my flat for months!

M.G.: If Sam and I got to go on all the train journeys we plan to write about, I would be very happy. I still haven’t travelled on the California Zephyr (Sam did), so that would be the first train journey I would want to take.

LRB: Do you have any writing quirks? Or any superstitions while you’re working on a book?

Sam: The more I write, the fewer quirks and superstitions I let myself have. I used to be incredibly picky about how and when I would write, or feel that the ambience needed to be perfect otherwise the words wouldn’t come. But the truth is, when you’re being paid to deliver a manuscript to a tight deadline, you find out that you can write anywhere! Writing is my job, and so I try my best to treat it like one. 

M.G.: I journal extensively, keeping a record of the amount of work I’m doing each day, week and month. It’s very easy to feel like you’re not making progress when you’re doing hours of work. It helps to remind yourself that this is a job and you must put the hours in to produce a good book. If you have a record of the hours, you know you’re doing it, even if the book isn’t coming together just yet. I have written more than ten books now, and I’m finding myself falling out of love with the computer. I’ve started writing more and more with a fountain pen and on paper, and it’s very pleasing. I am planning for the first draft of my next book to be written entirely on paper, and then I’ll type it up.

LRB: What made you want to write middle grade fiction?

Sam: I studied creative writing at university and it left me with the impression that the only writing worth doing was about serious and important issues. I’ve done a lot of different writing in my life – I’ve been a poet, a journalist, a playwright. But it was only when Maya and I began coming up with ideas for The Highland Falcon Thief that I realized how much joy I’d been missing out on in my writing. It was like a dam had burst, and all the things that gave me joy in my childhood came rushing back. These days I write for the ten year old boy I used to be – the boy that knew how to have fun. I write books to make people happy. And I think that’s the most important thing there is.

M.G.: My first book, Beetle Boy, was, I thought, for grown ups. It turned out that my narrative voice is about twelve years old, as is my sense of humour. It took me a while to understand that I gravitated towards writing children’s adventures because, inside, I still feel like a child. And, I love writing middle grade fiction. It has the best readers. They will tell you exactly what they think, and if they like what you’re doing, you feel pretty special.

LRB: What authors or books do you draw inspiration from?

Sam: Although all of our books are mysteries set on trains, each one follows a new railway journey somewhere around the world – so all the stories have quite a different feels. We like that readers get to have a taste of a different country and culture whenever they pick up one of our adventures. It also means the books have different inspirations. The Highland Falcon Thief feels like an old-fashioned Agatha Christie novel, but Kidnap on the California Comet feels much more like a thriller by Graham Greene. The book we’re writing at the moment, Danger at Dead Man’s Pass, was inspired by The Hound of the Baskervilles. We try to draw our inspiration from as wide a range of books as possible.

M.G.: Everyone from Shakespeare and Dickens to Neil Gaiman and Susannah Clarke. I love stories and have read widely in many genres. Two of my favourite books are Dune by Frank Herbert and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I draw huge inspiration from non-fiction books on many subjects and love a good poem. I’m a fan of Cressida Cowell, Phillip Pullman, Erin Morgenstern and Jessica Townsend. I love reading, but I also believe that after a few chapters if a story isn’t for you, you should put the book down and find a new one.

Book Title: Kidnap on the California Comet (Adventures on Trains #2)

Author: M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Release Date: February 23, 2021

Genres: Middle Grade, Mystery, Adventure

Goodreads link:  

Book Purchase link:

Book Description: 

In this second book of the middle-grade Adventures on Trains series, amateur sleuth Hal Beck travels to the U.S. with his uncle to ride a famous train–the California Comet–and stumbles on a new mystery to solve, in M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman’s Kidnap on the California Comet…

After his adventure on the Highland Falcon, amateur sleuth Hal Beck is excited to embark on another journey with his journalist uncle. This time, they’re set to ride the historic California Comet from Chicago to San Francisco.

Hal mostly keeps to himself on the trip, feeling homesick and out of place in America. But he soon finds himself drawn into another mystery when the young daughter of a billionaire tech entrepreneur goes missing!

Along with new friends–spunky 13-year-old Mason and his younger sister, Hadley–Hal races against the clock to find the missing girl before the California Comet reaches its final destination.

Author Bio:

M. G. Leonard is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Beetle Boy books. She works as a freelance digital media producer for clients such as the National Theatre and Harry Potter West End. She lives in Brighton with her husband and two sons, all of whom are crazy about trains. She is the co-author of the Adventures on Trains series.

Sam Sedgman is a novelist, playwright, and award-winning digital producer. He works as a digital project manager for the National Theatre, where he also hosts and co-produces their podcast. He grew up with a railway line at the bottom of his garden and has been fascinated by trains ever since. He is the co-author of the Adventures on Trains series.

Author Links:


Enter to win one (1) set of finished copies of The Highland Falcon Thief and Kidnap on the California Comet by M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.

Giveaway starts: Monday, February 22, 2021

Giveaway ends: Monday, March 1, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST

Review: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

I spent this entire book wanting to reach through the pages and give Charlie the biggest hug possible.

That said, this is the book every teenage girl needs to read. It’s about body positivity and believing in yourself – even when others doubt you or want you to look or act a different way.

I loved reading Fat Chance, Charlie Brown and cheered on Charlie through all her ups and downs.

Thank you to Turn the Page Books and Holiday House for the review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Description: 

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.

Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.

Author Bio:

Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA (Holiday House), will be released on Feb. 2, 2021.

By day, she is a social media manager working in higher ed, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, the internet, and being extra.

She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog.

Author Links:

Review: Unchosen

“You will not choose my end, for this heart is mine.”

I don’t even know where to begin with this book. I was absolutely sucked in from the get go, Blair’s writing hooked me and left me breathless. I found myself getting to the end of a chapter and having to take long deep breaths every time.

Oh, and those chapters – almost always ended on a mini cliff hanger so I felt like I HAD to keep reading because gah! This story!

I loved how badass Charlotte is. I want to be her! But I also appreciate that she’s given flaws, and because of those flaws she feels real.

I don’t want to give too much away, either – but there were enough twists and turns in the book that I just couldn’t stop reading. And some of the twists I didn’t see coming! 

Unchosen has definitely given me one heck of a book hangover and I’m still thinking about the adventure and the magic of this book.

Thank you to Turn the Page Tours, Kathryn Blair and Epic Reads for a copy of Unchosen in exchange for my honest opinion.


Enter to win one of two (2) signed finished copies of Unchosen by Katharyn Blair! Open USA only. There will be 2 winners.

Giveaway starts: Monday, January 25, 2021

Giveaway ends: Monday, February 1, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST


Katharyn Blair crafts a fiercely feminist fantasy with a horrifying curse, swoon-worthy sea captains, and the power of one girl to choose her own fate in this contemporary standalone adventure that’s perfect for fans of The Fifth Wave and Seafire, and for anyone who has ever felt unchosen.

For Charlotte Holloway, the world ended twice.

The first was when her childhood crush, Dean, fell in love—with her older sister.

The second was when the Crimson, a curse spread through eye contact, turned the majority of humanity into flesh-eating monsters.

Neither end of the world changed Charlotte. She’s still in the shadows of her siblings. Her popular older sister, Harlow, now commands forces of survivors. And her talented younger sister, Vanessa, is the Chosen One—who, legend has it, can end the curse.

When their settlement is raided by those seeking the Chosen One, Charlotte makes a reckless decision to save Vanessa: she takes her place as prisoner.

The word spreads across the seven seas—the Chosen One has been found.

But when Dean’s life is threatened and a resistance looms on the horizon, the lie keeping Charlotte alive begins to unravel. She’ll have to break free, forge new bonds, and choose her own destiny if she has any hope of saving her sisters, her love, and maybe even the world.

Because sometimes the end is just a new beginning.

Author Bio:

I live in LA, drink way too much coffee, and write all day long — because I’m crazy blessed to do what I’ve been doing for fun since I was a kid hiding in my garage loft writing terrible, terrible vampire stories. Glitter enthusiast. Bethyl shipper. Pluviophile. Ask me about my Dean Winchester obsession. John 1:5.

I’m wife to Ross and mom to Aryn, Liam, and River Grace. Also, mom to Cricket (a dog, not an insect), Maximus Dogimus Meridius (a ferocious cuddlebug) Maggie Rhee (cat, not the bad ass from The Walking Dead), and Kovacs (no parenthetical needed for him).

Author Links: