Life In Summary: Hard Stuff & Hope

I’ve been writing mostly book reviews on this blog for awhile now. That’s for several reasons. The first is that I am part of a great review team and reviews are fun. The second is because life has felt like a lot and putting it all down on paper has been hard and weird. But, I process through words and writing and we are sitting in a season of change so there are a lot of things to process.

Endings

In January, I stepped away from the Board of the Friends of the Library after six years. I loved every moment and I miss it a ton, but term limits are a thing, and they matter to keep the board fresh and ideas flowing. But, I miss the work AND the people immeasurably. I found myself in books and libraries, and the older I get, the more important I realize libraries are to communities and people. (Insert LONG DIATRIBE about necessary free third spaces here).

Come July 1, my employment with the Bloomington Academy of Film & Theatre will end as they merge with two other Bloomington Arts organizations to form a new entity, Constellation Stage and Screen. I am SO excited for the work the new org is going to do and for what it means for arts in our little town, but I am also so sad to lose a job I’ve done for years that I love. I think I am one of three remaining staff from when we first started, and it’s been one of the absolute joys of my life. While I won’t be on staff anymore, I’m looking forward to hopefully teaching again soon through their education program.

In addition to those changes, I just haven’t found creative outlets post-Covid! I haven’t been cast in any of the last few shows for which I’ve audtioned (from community theater to professional) and the role I was hoping to audition for this summer actually requires skills I don’t have.

Sickness and Death

The last two years have seen no shortage of sickness, Covid or otherwise, and deaths in the families of those I love. Sorry feels heavier these days – worry has so easily replaced peace and weariness has so easily replaced energy. We’ve said goodbye to lovely, strong, beautiful people. Both Tim and I have had Covid, we know people fighting cancer and other diseases.

Even our little dog, Madi, has not been spared. She is fighting cancer, congestive heart failure, a stage 6 heart murmur, and constantly in flux bowels. She looks like she just doesn’t feel good most days. I know we’re counting down the days and just waiting until she gets worse, and it’s hard. A friend lost her dog this week and it was a stark reminder that their time is fleeting.

Life is just Hard.

That’s it. That’s the entire sentence. 2.5 years into pandemic that doesn’t feel like it’s going to end, life full of weird changes and stressors, a job that is hard on the good days and really hard on the bad days, and not a lot of places or spaces for peace. But, I’m fighting hard for my mental health (even if my therapist is moving and I have to start COMPLETELY OVER with somone new), fighting to find joy, and fighting to be the good in this world that I so desperately want to find in others.

But Hope Remains.

No matter how hard the days have been, I have held on to hope with a tenacity I didn’t know I had. There have been days when that hope has been no bigger than a poppyseed, and there have been days when it’s been big and taking up most space in my head and heart.

I’ve lost opportunities I’ve loved, sure. But new ones will come around. I will be designing playbills for Constellation’s new season, and I am still serving on a committee with the Library. I will keep auditioning and believe a new opportunity will come my way soon. I am meeting with a couple people from our local writer’s guild next week to explore some opportunities. I published my first book on Kindle Vella and one of my absolute favorite authors is helping me dig in and clean it up and make it even better than it was before. Maybe I’ll even submit it for publication one of these days!

I’ve learned we can’t avoid sickness. But we can survive it. Tim getting Covid threw me for a loop, because he’s the most germ-conscious person I’ve ever met. We’re vaxxed and boosted and I feel like doing the right things, but it didn’t matter. But, we’re on the other side of it, hopefully no more worse for the course of the disease. And hey, my house is CLEAN right now.

Madi is a very sick puppers. But she’s ours. We still have her and she’s still here and I’m trying to soak up all the good days I can with her.

Work is hard. But it’s hard because I’m trusted and hard because change is hard. It will get better. And being part of the team matters so much to me.

Mental health is a journey. I’ve learned so much in my two rounds of therapy, and I’m sure I’ll find another therapist soon to help me even more.

Joy is worth the fight. Kindness is worth the risk. Hope is worth holding on to.

Review: Twelfth

Theater sleep-away camp, murder mystery, and the power of friendship combine in this sweet story from Janet Key.

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About the Book:

Better Nate Than Ever  meets The Parker Inheritance in this heartwarming mystery about finding your people and accepting others as they are.

Twelve-year-old Maren is sure theater camp isn’t for her. Theater camp is for loud, confident, artsy people: people like her older sister, Hadley—the last person Maren wants to think about—and her cinema-obsessed, nonbinary bunkmate, Theo. But when a prank goes wrong, Maren gets drawn into the hunt for a diamond ring that, legend has it, is linked to the camp’s namesake, Charlotte “Charlie” Goodman, a promising director in Blacklist Era Hollywood.
 
When Maren connects the clues to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, she and her new friends are off searching through lighting booths, orchestra pits and costume storages, discovering the trail and dodging camp counselors. But they’re not the only ones searching for the ring, and with the growing threat of camp closing forever, they’re almost out of time. 

Review
Maren’s sister is struggling with depression after her first year of college. Maren feels like a burden to everyone, but that doesn’t mean she really wants to spend the summer at her sister’s favorite summer camp. But, when she’s dropped off, she is dropped into a mystery maybe only she can solve – is there a ghost at camp? Is there someone out there trying to find a mysterious treasure that might save the camp from financial ruin?

As a theater kid myself, I thought this was a fun summer mystery that will keep kids entertained but won’t scare them too much. Listed as middle grade, I would definitely say it’s for older middle school kids. It deals a great deal with identity, gender fluidity, and finding who you are. I thought the main story of Maren, Theo, Graham and their goofy friendship and hunt for the treasure were great fun. Incorporating Charlie’s story provided a solid background for the camp, the treasure, and the real jewel of the story – finding and embracing who you really are.

About the Author:

When Janet Key was twelve, she sang and danced onstage in the background of musicals, stayed up too late reading Shakespeare, and had a closet full of themed, handsewn vests.

This is her first novel. 

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Review: Dead End Girls

How far would you go to leave behind the life you’ve known for the life you’ve only dreamed of having? Thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours for the ARC of this fast-paced and provacative story.

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The Story:

In one week, Maude will be dead. At least, that’s what she wants everyone to think. After years of research, Maude has decided to fake her own death. She’s figured out the how, the when, the where, and who will help her unsuspectingly.

The why is complex: revenge, partly. Her terrible parents deserve this. But there’s also l’appel du vide, the call of the void, that beckons her toward a new life where she will be tied to no one, free and adrift. Then Frankie, a step-cousin she barely knows, figures out what she’s plotting, and the plan seems like it’s ruined. Except Frankie doesn’t want to rat her out. Frankie wants in. The girls vault into the unknown, risking everything for a new and limitless life. But there are some things you can never run away from. What if the poison is not in the soil, but in the roots?

This pulse-pounding thriller offers a nuanced exploration of identity, freedom, and falling in love while your world falls apart.

Top 5 Reasons to Read Dead End Girls:

The writing! There is so much beautiful wordplay in this story. Especially from Maude, who wants to leave behind the sham of her life and has thought long and hard about what life means and what living it means. It would be so much easier for her to decide to just deal with life until she graduated and could move on, but she doesn’t. But, when Frankie makes a muck her plans, she drops such beautiful sentences as this: “My whole body is my heartbeat, furious and hurt.

Dead people. Seriously, this is not a book for the faint of heart. In their quest for freedom, Maude and Frankie make some not great friends and some not great choices. Plus, they want everyone they know to think they’re dead, too. So, yeah, if death bothers you, this is not the book for you.

Someone might be trying to kill someone for money. There is more going on than meets the eye as we look past what we think we know about Frankie and Maude. One of them might just be in too deep and need help getting out – but who can she trust?

Family who can’t see past their own noses. Dead End Girls definitely plays into family drama, especially fancy people family drama. There are a few cliches here: the overly pompous grandmother, the ne’er do good son, the possibly just in it for the money new wife…

Pronouns! There is a subtle pronoun shift toward the end of the book as a character comes to grip with their sexuality that isn’t explained or pointed out – it just happens, and it’s beautiful!

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About the Author:

Wendy Heard is the author of two adult thrillers: The Kill Club and Hunting Annabelle, which Kirkus Reviews praised as “a diabolically plotted creep show from a writer to watch.” She’s Too Pretty To Burn, which Kirkus called “a wild and satisfying romp” in a starred review, marks her YA debut. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America, is a contributor at Crimereads.com, and co-hosts the Unlikeable Female Characters podcast. Wendy lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Review: Lemon Drop Falls

Love, Loss and Hope combine as our heroine, Morgan, discovers how to turn the sour parts of life into the sweet parts after the death of her mother. Thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours for the ARC of this sweet story.

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About the book:
Brave the sour to taste the sweet.

Morgan is devastated by her mother’s sudden death. Before, Mom’s amazing organizational skills kept the family on track, and her bowl of lemon drops was always on hand to make difficult conversations easy, turning life’s sour into sweet. After, there’s no one to help Morgan navigate her new role caring for her younger siblings, her worries about starting junior high, and her increasingly confusing friendships. All she can do is try to fulfill her mother’s final request: Keep them safe, Morgan. Be brave for them. Help them be happy.

When Dad insists on taking the family on their regular summer camping trip, and Morgan’s efforts to keep her promise to Mom seem doomed to fail, Morgan’s anxiety spirals into a panic attack, and Dad treats her like she’s impossibly broken. Unable to share her fears and needs with Dad, and desperate to prove she’s got the strength to hold the family together, Morgan sets off alone to hike a flooding canyon trail. But somewhere on that lonely and dangerous journey, Morgan will encounter the truth about the final words her mother left her, the power in finding her own voice, and the possibility of new beginnings.

My Review:
I’m always a little nervous when it comes to books about kids having to be the grownup when a parent passes, but this one hit all the right spots. At times beautiful and at times just sad, Lemon Drop Falls would be a great resource for kids dealing with grief without it feeling overly preachy or prescribed. Morgan is a relatable protagonist, and you totally understand why she has to run away to find herself. The book is careful to walk that line and not making running away sound like a good thing, but also explains why Morgan feels like it’s the choice she had to make.

As a middle-grade book, the content is age-appropriate and should help kids have a way to talk about hard things in their lives.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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About the Author:
Heather Clark grew up near the Rocky Mountains of Canada, then followed the mountain range south, to her current home in Utah, where she lives with her husband and three children who inspire the books she writes. Heather’s work as a writer, photographer, and teacher helps her see the beauty and unique value in every person. After dealing with her own childhood anxiety and OCD, Heather is passionate about representing neurodiverse children powerfully in fiction. When she’s not working, you can find Heather camping, hiking, boardgaming, or reading and celebrating books at MGBookParty.com. You can learn more about Heather and her books at HeatherClarkBooks.com. LEMON DROP FALLS is her debut novel.

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Review: The Witch, The Sword and the Cursed Knights

Merlin. Arthur. The Knights of the Round Table. One Unsuspecting 7th Grader. One Would-Be Witch. All combined to make a hilarious, wonderful romp through the 25.5 realms in The Witch, The Sword, and the Cursed Knights. Thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours for the ARC!

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SYNOPSIS:
Twelve-year-old Ellie can’t help that she’s a witch, the most hated member of society. Determined to prove her worth and eschew her heritage, Ellie applies to the Fairy Godmother Academy—her golden ticket to societal acceptance. But Ellie’s dreams are squashed when she receives the dreaded draft letter to serve as a knight of King Arthur’s legendary Round Table. She can get out of the draft—but only if she saves a lost cause.

Enter Caedmon, a boy from Wisconsin struggling with the death of his best friend. He first dismisses the draft as ridiculous; magic can’t possibly exist. But when Merlin’s ancient magic foretells his family’s death if he doesn’t follow through, he travels to the knights’ castle, where he learns of a wicked curse leeching the knights of their power.

To break the curse, Ellie and Caedmon must pass a series of deathly trials and reforge the lost, shattered sword of Excalibur. And unless Ellie accepts her witch magic and Caedmon rises to become the knight he’s meant to be, they will both fail—and the world will fall to the same darkness that brought King Arthur and Camelot to ruin.

Review:

To say I loved this book would be a huge understatement. It was a COMPLETELY enjoyable read from start to finish. Ellie is the most ridiculous, hopeful, charming heroine who just wants to be loved and be a fairy (not a witch!). Ellie is hopeless and hopeful all in one, and her voice is pitch-perfect as a young girl trying to come into her own and find her way in the world. Especially when her world is suddenly as a mythical Knight of the Roundtable…if only she can beat the trials, hide her magic, and hope for the best. Oh, and her beautiful sister is getting married, her mom wants to hide her from the world, and there always seem to be an abundance of toads…

Caedmon is still in mourning for the loss of his best friend back in the “real” world when he gets chosen to be a Knight – knights that shouldn’t exist in realms he’s never heard of. Caedmon is also written perfectly – angry and confused and scared and wanting things to be normal even as he’s thrust into the weirdest world imaginable.

I read this book in about two sittings on my way to vacation, and it was the PERFECT book to get my mind of the world and get immersed in something fun and fantastical. It’s older middle grade with just enough action and mystery to keep even reluctant readers entertained.

MY RATING: 4.5/5 Stars!

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About the Author:

After receiving her master’s degree at City, University of London for her non-fiction book on the romantic mythology of Paris, she acted, modeled, and wrote in Los Angeles. Eventually, she discovered she preferred drizzly days to eternal sunshine, and that she didn’t want anything to divert her time from writing.

Now the Wisconsin native lives in Edinburgh with her husband and dog, in eternal search of excuses to visit Paris.

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Book Review: Passport by Sophia Glock

Join me on a journey through a young girl’s discovery of the truth with TBR and Beyond Book Reviews! Get the full tour schedule here!

About the Book:

An unforgettable graphic memoir by debut talent Sophia Glock reveals her discovery as a teenager that her parents are agents working for the CIA

Young Sophia has lived in so many different countries, she can barely keep count. Stationed now with her family in Central America because of her parents’ work, Sophia feels displaced as an American living abroad, when she has hardly spent any of her life in America.

Everything changes when she reads a letter she was never meant to see and uncovers her parents’ secret. They are not who they say they are. They are working for the CIA.

As Sophia tries to make sense of this news, and the web of lies surrounding her, she begins to question everything. The impact that this has on Sophia’s emerging sense of self and understanding of the world makes for a page-turning exploration of lies and double lives.

In the hands of this extraordinary graphic storyteller, this astonishing true story bursts to life.

MY REVIEW:

Passport is a fun, quick journey through just a few months of author Sophia Glock’s life. As she struggles to fit in in school, navigate first crushes, sibling rivalry, and more, she learns that there is something truly unique about her parents and the role they play in the world. At times poignant and funny and at times dark and sad, Passport is a journey through life and what it means to find yourself in the middle of the world.

3.5/5 stars.

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About the Author:

Sophia Glock is a cartoonist who lives in Austin, TX.

Sophia’s comics and cartoons have been published in The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, Narratively, MUTHA Magazine, and Time Out New York. Her work has also been featured in various anthologies including, Ink BrickSuspect Device, Quarter Moon, DIGESTATE, Rabid Rabbit, and Kilgore Quarterly. Her collection of comics Born, Not Raised was selected to be included in The Society of Illustrators Cartoon and Comics Art Annual 2016 and her short comic The Secrets in My Mother’s Nightstand was shortlisted for The Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of the Year in 2016.

In 2008 she was a recipient of a Xeric Foundation Grant for her comic, The Deformitory. She is also the author of The Lettuce Girl, SemiSolid, Over Ripe and Passport: Fig. You can pick up her mini comics at indie-friendly stores across the country, or from Bird Cage Bottom Books.

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Review: The Secret Garden on 81st Street

Join me on a journey through one of my favorite gardens in this updated version of a timeless story with TBR and Beyond Book Reviews! Get the full tour schedule here!

About the Book

The Secret Garden with a twist: in this follow-up to Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, this full-color graphic novel moves Mary Lennox to a New York City brownstone, where she and her very first group of friends restore an abandoned rooftop garden…and her uncle’s heart.

Mary Lennox is a loner living in Silicon Valley. With her parents always working, video game and tech become her main source of entertainment and “friends.” When her parents pass away in a tragic accident, she moves to New York City to live with her uncle who she barely knows, and to her surprise, keeps a gadget free home.

Looking for comfort in this strange, new reality, Mary discovers an abandoned rooftop garden and an even bigger secret…her cousin who suffers from anxiety. With the help of her new friends, Colin and Dickon, Mary works to restore the garden to its former glory while also learning to grieve, build real friendships, and grow.

My Review

To say I adored this retelling would be putting it lightly. The Secret Garden has been a favorite story of mine for a long time, and this updated version retails all the joy, heartache, mystery, and love of the original, while giving it a modern twist. Our updated Mary is living a life of detached luxury before her parents are killed in a tragic accident and she’s moved to New York City to live with her mysterious uncle Archie. Instead of Archie, she meets the people who surround his life – his housekeeper, his cook, the mysterious Ben and Dickon, and eventually her cousin, Colin. Together, they discover the garden on the roof, abandoned since the death of Archie’s husband, a relic of a time of love and hope that doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

Author Ivy Noelle Weir updated this story with more than just a location, eliminating some of the darker parts of the original story, giving Archie a husband instead of a wife, and Colin now has anxiety instead of his hunched back and other illnesses. All of these changes help streamline the story and make it more accessible to younger readers – the people who are the target audience for this book. The illustrations are simple but vibrant, and it’s a truly beautiful way to tell the story of a forgotten garden brought back by love.

4.5/5 stars!

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About the Author

Ivy Noelle Weir is a writer of comics and prose. She is the co-creator of the Dwayne McDuffie Award-winning graphic novel Archival Quality (Oni Press), the upcoming The Secret Garden on 81st Street (Little, Brown for Young Readers), and her writing has appeared in anthologies such as Princeless: Girls Rock (Action Lab Entertainment) and Dead Beats (A Wave Blue World). She lives in the greater Boston area with her husband and their two tiny, weird dogs.

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Review: Edie in Between (+ Giveaway)

Magic + Romance + Destiny + Fighting Destiny all crash together in this great new read!

Check out the whole Tour with TBR and Beyond Tours!

Content Warnings: Parental death.

A modern-day Practical Magic about love, loss, and embracing the mystical.

It’s been one year since Edie’s mother died. But her ghost has never left.

According to her GG, it’s tradition that the dead of the Mitchell family linger with the living. It’s just as much a part of a Mitchell’s life as brewing cordials or talking to plants. But Edie, whose pain over losing her mother is still fresh, has no interest in her family’s legacy as local “witches.”

When her mother’s teenage journal tumbles into her life, her family’s mystical inheritance becomes once and for all too hard to ignore. It takes Edie on a scavenger hunt to find objects that once belonged to her mother, each one imbued with a different memory.

Every time she touches one of these talismans, it whisks her to another entry inside the journal—where she watches her teenage mom mourn, love, and hope just as Edie herself is now doing. Maybe, just maybe, Edie hopes, if she finds every one of these objects, she can finally make peace with her loss and put the past to rest for good. But this journey to stake her independence from her family may actually show Edie who she truly is…and the beautiful gifts that come with being just a little different.

Tinged with a sweet romance with Rhia, who works at the local occult shop, Edie in Between delivers all the cozy magic a budding young witch finding her way in the world needs.

Get Your Copy Here!
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Giveaway (US Only)
One winner will receive a finished copy of Edie in Between and some swag. The giveaway starts on August 23rd and ends on August 30th.
ENTER HERE

Five Reasons You Should Read Edie in Between

I weirdly love all books that have anything to do with magic, especially family magic. There isn’t much I won’t read in this genre, so I was SO excited to be picked for this book tour. So, without further ado, here are five reasons you should add Edie in Between to your TBR!

Grief is a thing we all are experiencing

While we’re not all experiencing grief in the same way, the last 18 months have made it very obvious that we’re feeling and managing grief in so many ways. For Edie, she’s grieving the loss of her mother, doesn’t know her dad, and grieving the loss of her home. It’s a lot. Edie’s journey is something you will find yourself in if you’re experiencing grief in any way.

Friends become family

There are two people in her life that she’s not related to, but are closer than family: Tess and Rhia. Their friendships (and friendship +) ground Edie when the magic she’s tried to deny her whole life becomes something she can’t fight any longer. Trusting her friends with who she is – all of who she is – is a risk she has to take to survive.

Magic. Magic. Magic.

Edie comes from a long line of witches, even if she doesn’t want to admit it. From the very first page, we see how magic is part of Edie’s life, even when she wants to ignore it. While she’s said she’s not interested in the “family business,” the family business isn’t done with her. Magic seeps from the pages with a slow burn that keeps you coming back for more.

Magic woods.

The perpetual woods. I want to live there. Read it and see how wonderful it is!

Full Circle

Edie in Between comes full circle as it explores grief, first love, power, corruption, hate, hope, and everything in between. This is a book that feels complete, but you still want more when it’s over. It’s a lovely journey through what it means to be more than human in a world where magic is very real and very much not understood. Is magic something you’re just born with? Can it be learned? Is it a little of both?

Final Thoughts

This book reminded me so much of some of my other favorites. Pick it up today and you won’t regret it. It’s a great read and a great book club read. 4.5/5 stars!

About the Author

After a career in undergraduate counseling, Laura Sibson pursued an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing in a local coffee shop, you can find her running the neighborhood streets or hiking with her dog. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and their two sons. Laura is available for school visits, book clubs, workshops and conferences. She can speak on the process of writing and publishing to audiences from middle school into adulthood. With her background in one-on-one counseling, giving presentations and facilitating both panels and writing groups, Laura brings both warmth and professionalism to all of her endeavors.

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Review: Down to Earth

Soft, slow, and sweet, Down to Earth asks you to slow down and experience the unexpected.

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About the Book:

Counting by 7s meets See You in the Cosmos in this heartwarming coming-of-age story perfect for the budding geologists and those fascinated by the mysteries of the universe.

Henry has always been fascinated by rocks. As a homeschooler, he pours through the R volume of the encyclopedia to help him identify the rocks he finds. So, when a meteorite falls in his family’s field, who better to investigate than this rock enthusiast–with his best friend, James, and his little sister, Birdie, in tow, of course.

But soon after the meteorite’s arrival, the water in Henry’s small Maine town starts drying up. It’s not long before news spreads that the space rock and Henry’s family might be to blame. Henry is determined to defend his newest discovery, but his knowledge of geology could not have prepared him for how much this stone from the sky would change his community, his family, and even himself.

Science and wonder abound in this middle-grade debut about an inquisitive boy and the massive rock that came down to Earth to reshape his life.

My Thoughts:

I loved this book. From the first sentence, it feels distinctly middle-grade, and it is. It’s slow and simple and immediately engaging. And I don’t mean slow in a bad way at all – the writing has a lyrical quality that demands that you slow down your eyes and read a little different than you might normally (I’m an expert skimmer/speed reader). Henry is complex and methodical, wanting to know whether or not he’ll be able to carry on his family’s legacy as a dowser, while also introducing the readers to his eclectic and entertaining family.

When something streaks through the sky one cold February night, Henry’s whole life changes before his eyes. There is something a little magical, a little mystical about the meteorite that crashes onto the hill behind his house.

As Henry learns more about the meteorite and how it changes his whole world, the reader is introduced to a town it seems like time forgot. Henry’s hometown is full of honest people who are a little resistant to change. The only even minor glimpse that proves that this book isn’t set too far into the past is a quick exchange about computers and email. Otherwise, Down to Earth could be set 50 years ago – or 50 years in the future.

Rating 4/5 stars. Well executed. Fun. Simple. I only wish it were a bit longer. I want to know what happens next!

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Betty Culley’s debut novel in verse Three Things I Know I True, was a Kids’ Indie Next List Top Ten Pick, an ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee, an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick, and a Junior Library Guild selection. Her first middle-grade novel Down to Earth, is inspired by her fascination with meteorites, voyagers from another place and time. She’s an RN who worked as an obstetrics nurse and as a pediatric home hospice nurse. She lives in central Maine, where the rivers run through the small towns.

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Review: They Met in a Tavern (And Giveaway!)

Ready for some Adult Fantasy? Jump in with “They Met in a Tavern” by Elijah Menchaca as part of the TBR and BEYOND TOUR!

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About the Book!

The band is getting back together—and they really wish they weren’t.

The Starbreakers were your classic teenage heroes. Using their combined powers and skills, they were the most successful group of glintchasers in Corsar. But that all changed the day the city of Relgen died. The group went their separate ways, placing the blame on each other.

Brass carried on as a solo act. Snow found work as a notorious assassin. Church became a town’s spiritual leader. Angel was the owner of a bar and inn. And after overcoming his own guilt, Phoenix started a new life as a family man.

Years after their falling out, a new threat looms when bounty hunters attack the former heroes. Phoenix tries to reunite the Starbreakers before everything they have left is taken from them. But a lot can change in seven years. And if mending old wounds was easy, they would have done it a long time ago.

My Thoughts:

It took me about .2 seconds to remember this wasn’t a YA book (my normal review) due to some very colorful language at the beginning. But, after that, it was easy to settle in to the storytelling and life of the Starbreakers – after they have split up and gone their separate ways.

We never really talk about what happens after the heroes in all those YA books move on? What happens when the get a life, fall in love, get married, start their own families, etc?

The Met in a Tavern explores not only those questions, but a far more menacing one – what happens when the past comes back to haunt you – and wants you dead.

I’ll admit it took me a bit to get into this one. The story jumped back and forth between the present and the past quite a bit, and there are so many characters and narrators, it was hard to keep straight. I was reading a preview Kindle copy, and I think, like most fantasy, I would have had an easier time going back and forth in a paper copy as I tried to follow the story (ask me about attempting to read GOT on my Kindle first sometime. DISASTER).

But, at the end of the day? They Met in a Tavern has all the things I love about fantasy – magic, mayhem, complicated characters, unlikely heroes, adventure, and secrets that have to come to life. If you love a good fantasy adventure, this one is for you. There is enough open-ended at the ending to make a sequel possible, and I would definitely want to see what happens with the Starbreakers next, especially Snow & Angel, my two favorite characters (the disembodied robot head is also a lot of fun and deserves a novella of their own). This is one of the few books I wished was a series instead of a standalone, for sure. There is enough to explore that was introduced here to keep the world built for several books!

Final Verdict? 3.5/5 stars. Definitely fun and definitely worth reading.

Where to Find They Met in a Tavern

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IndieBound

About the Author:

Elijah Menchaca was born and raised in Bakersfield, California and has been writing and telling stories since he was five. After seeing his first short stories on his grade school classroom’s bookshelf, he knew he was destined for greatness. To chase that greatness (and a girl), he attended the University of Louisville where he minored in Creative Writing, discovered a love for Dungeons and Dragons, and got engaged.

Now, based in Ohio, when he isn’t exploring the world he’s created with more stories, he’s making new memories around the virtual table with his old friends, pondering the worlds of fantasy and superheroes on his YouTube channel, and playing the role of devoted partner to a woman far too good for him.

Website: https://elijahmenchaca.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhoenixAgent003
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp0yc20uVdW1J4kFDbPy3Jg
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/phoenixagent003/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21157787.Elijah_Menchaca

Giveaway (US Only):

One winner will receive a finished copy of They Met in a Tavern. The giveaway starts on August 9th and ends on August 16th.

ENTER HERE!