#MiniMoji TBR


Starting November 23 through November 30, I will be participating in the #MiniMoji Read-A-Thon! For information on the read-a-thon, including challenges and sprints, you can check out the hosts and the read-a-tons twitter account at the links below.





Emojiathon’s Twitter:

I haven’t been participating in much of anything this year, but I’m really hoping to do more read-a-thons in 2018 to help me crack down on my physical TBR. I thought this one would be a good jump start to get used to a more structured TBR (something I’m really, really terrible at doing).

A Book You Received As A Gift.

25760792For this one, I picked TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim. This was a gift from Mason… and it literally traveled all over my city before it actually reached me due to, uh, UPS incompetence.

This is a chunk of a book, so I’ll probably save this for last…

I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his past, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time.





A Book Set During Winter

18475593WINTERSPELL by Claire Legrand is the first book I thought of that is set in the winter… and I actually believe it starts on Christmas Eve!

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted—by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets—and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed—if she leaves at all.

Read A Book With Green On The Cover

1NOT A DROP TO DRINK by Mindy McGinnis. This one is also on my December TBR, so if I don’t get to it, I’m not sweating it that much.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

A Book That Has The Christmas Spirit

12219867In case you didn’t know, I am Hallmark Movie Christmas trash. Imagine my excitement when I found out that one of my favorite Christmas movies is a book! THE NINE LIVES OF CHRISTMAS by Sheila Roberts is an excellent book for all those cat and Christmas lovers out there.

When a guy is in trouble, he starts making deals with his Creator…and Ambrose the cat is no exception. In danger of losing his ninth and final life, Ambrose makes a desperate plea to the universe. He’ll do anything—anything!—if he can just survive and enjoy a nice long, final life. His prayer is answered when a stranger comes along and saves him—and now it looks like he has to hold up his end of the bargain.

The stranger turns out to be a firefighter named Zach, who’s in need of some serious romantic help. If Ambrose can just bring Zach together with Merilee, the nice lady who works at Pet Palace, it’s bound to earn him a healthy ninth life. Unfortunately for Ambrose, his mission is a lot harder than he ever thought. Merilee is way too shy to make the first move on a ladies man like Zach, and Zach thinks he’s all wrong for a nice girl like Merilee. Now it’s going to take all of Ambrose’s feline wiles—and maybe even a good old fashioned Christmas miracle—to make them both realize that what they’re looking for is right in front of their eyes.  

A Book With A Reflective Cover


Does any cover get more reflective than JANE, UNLIMITED by Kristin Cashore?

Jane has lived a mostly ordinary life, raised by her recently deceased aunt Magnolia, whom she counted on to turn life into an adventure. Without Aunt Magnolia, Jane is directionless. Then an old acquaintance, the glamorous and capricious Kiran Thrash, blows back into Jane’s life and invites her to a gala at the Thrashes’ extravagant island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.”

What Jane doesn’t know is that at Tu Reviens her story will change; the house will offer her five choices that could ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But every choice comes with a price. She might fall in love, she might lose her life, she might come face-to-face with herself. At Tu Reviens, anything is possible.

A Book With Red & White On The Cover

8152697WISHIN’ AND HOPIN’ by Wally Lamb. This is probably the shortest thing Wally has ever written… and I love Wally.

Wally Lamb, the beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much Is True, and She’s Come Undone, delivers a holiday treat with Wishin’ and Hopin’—an unforgettable novella that captures the warmth and joy of the holiday season. Poignant and hilarious, in a vein similar to Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story and David Sedaris’s The Santaland Diaries, Lamb’s Christmas tale focuses on a feisty parochial school fifth grader named Felix Funicello—a distant cousin of the iconic Annette!

New Year, New Book! Start A New Series.

444304I have been meaning to read THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES by Holly Black and Tony DiTerilizzi. Seems like a good time to get started.

The Field Guide sets up the story of the Grace children—13-year-old Mallory and 9-year-old twins Jared and Simon—who with their mother move into the dilapidated Spiderwick Estate only to quickly find themselves sucked into a dark and fascinating world of faeries.





And that is my #MiniMoji TBR! Are you planning to join? If so, let me know what your TBR is!

I’ll also be doing updates as I read on my Insta story, so you can check out my progress there and on twitter!




22752127.jpgTitle: THE SERPENT KING
Author: Jeff Zentner
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Release: 3/8/16
ARC?: No.
TW/CW: Death of a major character, mentions of pedophilia, religion (Christian/Pentecostal), snakes, mentions of suicide and suicide ideation, child abuse.
Rep: Poverty, religion (Christian/Pentecostal; believing differently than parents), depression, mental illness, first generation college student, single parent household, parent in prison, child helping provide for the family.

Rating: 4.5/5

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia, neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending- one that will rock his life to the core.

Y’all. This book.

When this book first came in March 2016, I had a few friends who read and loved it. They also demanded I read it, too. But to be honest, between the synopsis and my friends’ descriptions of the book, I wasn’t that impressed and kept giving them that “Yeah, sure, maybe when my TBR isn’t so overwhelming.”

After YallFest, I decided to actually read it since I had purchased it months ago when it was on sale on Kindle. Plus, Zentner is going to be at Se-Ya Fest in March and I figured… maybe I’ll like it enough to want a hard copy signed. But in all honesty, I went in this with low expectations.

And I was so wrong.

It takes a lot for a book to immediately hook me. Like, unless you’re Becky Albertalli or Leigh Bardugo, I’m probably not going to be cheering at you on twitter until I’ve finished the book, but I was screaming THE SERPENT KING’s praises about 10 pages in.

The poverty rep in this book is probably the best I’ve ever read. Weeks earlier, I had threaded on twitter that poverty rep in YA was pretty meaningless to me because it generally involves someone who lives in a crumbling house but seems to have a fair amount of disposable income. I can only imagine that poor characters are written this way because the author has never been poor or had friends who were poor, but living in a crumbling house doesn’t equal poverty. There are plenty of impoverished people who live in decent houses. But the one thing nearly all poverty stricken people have in common is a lack of disposable income. Whenever I’m reading a book that is supposed to be poor but they have money for eating out with friends or expensive car repairs, I instantly disconnect from that character because I don’t know any poor person who has idle cash. Zentner does a great job in showing how valuable money is to Dill, how he faces struggles that his more privileged friends do not. There’s a great scene when Lydia asks Dill and Travis if they want to stop and eat somewhere. Dill makes a face and says “No, I’ll eat at home.” Another scene shows Dill through Travis’ eyes as he has to pay for a $70 car part and Travis notes that Dill looks physically pained to have to pay for it. Dill isn’t frivolous with money anywhere in the book. It’s mentioned several times that the food he and his mother eat are discards from the store, and in one scene, Dill makes a casserole with cheese that he had to scrape mold off of. THAT is poverty rep. That is what made this novel so real to me.

I also deeply enjoyed the religious rep in this book. While I don’t think Dill and his family were United Pentecostal, they were Pentecostal and that’s something that I rarely see. I enjoy stories where people grapple with the faith they grew up with and what they believe now, but Dill still believes in God throughout the book. It was interesting to see him fight with what he was taught (such as blindly obeying your parents) when he knows that his parents are leading him deeper into ruination. I liked that nothing was a simple answer for Dill and while worried for a while, I was glad that he chose what he chose for himself in the end.

The family dysfunction in this one is astounding and horrifying. Through the three set of characters, we get a wide variety of what life can be like between teenagers and their parents. Lydia’s parents are fully vested in her well being, Travis has an abusive relationship with his father and a deep bond with his mom, and Dill has basically been abandoned by both parents.

As mentioned above, there is a death that involves a main character.

If you like stories of friendship, dysfunctional families, and finding your way… THE SERPENT KING might just be for you!



Jeff Zentner is the author of the William C. Morris Award winning and Carnegie Medal longlisted book The Serpent King (2016) as well as Goodbye Days (2017). He lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.




When the news dropped last year that Becky Albertalli was writing a companion novel to her award winning debut, SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIANS AGENDA, I was shook. When we found out this novel was going to be centered around Leah Burke, Simon’s sarcastic, fat best friend… I cried.

If you follow me on any social media (or maybe you’ve seen my Leah shirt?), you already know that Leah won my heart super early on in SIMON. There’s nothing I love more than a tough girl with a soft center, and I will always be trash for fat characters.

I was lucky enough to see an early version of the cover and it was beautiful… but then the final cover was decided on and IT WAS BEAUTIFUL, TOO. Honestly, I can’t decide which one I love more but I am so stoked to have this one on my shelf when it comes out.

Without further ado…

LeahOffbeat Cover_sticker (002)



I am SO glad that we have a fat babe with an obvious attitude on the cover because anything less would have been cheating Leah out of what she deserves. I love the black speckles that totally match the ones on Simon’s book.

I’m in love, y’all.

Art/Design credits: art by Chris Bilheimer; design by @alisondonalty, David Curtis, Molly Fehr, and Michelle Cunningham.

LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT will be released on 4/24/18 but you can preorder now on Amazon, B&N, HarperCollins, IndieBound, and Chapters.

As the date for release gets closer, be on the look out for giveaways through this blog, my twitter, and the Leah Burke twitter account!

Also, today is Becky Albertalli’s birthday! Send her some love!

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.

She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.

It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.



13503214Title: CHICKADEE
Author: Louise Erdrich
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 224
ARC?: No.
Format: Paperback
Rep: Ojibwe
Rating: 5/5

Twin brothers Chickadee and Makoons have done everything together since they were born—until the unthinkable happens and the brothers are separated.

Desperate to reunite, both Chickadee and his family must travel across new territories, forge unlikely friendships, and experience both unexpected moments of unbearable heartache as well as pure happiness. And through it all, Chickadee has the strength of his namesake, the chickadee, to carry him on.

I love Louise Erdrich.

When I decided to order CHICKADEE, it was definitely an impulse buy based on two things: It was by Erdrich and the cover was cute as a button. I didn’t quite realize that it was part of THE BIRCHBARK HOUSE series or I would have read those first but thankfully this one definitely holds up as a standalone.

The story follows Chickadee and his family as spring rolls around once more. While his family is collecting maple sap, Chickadee is kidnapped by two men who are mad that Chickadee’s grandmother and brother insulted their very unlikable father. A series of incidents allows Chickadee to escape and he starts his long journey home. Along the way, he makes friends, is kidnapped yet again (this time by missionaries), and finds there is no place quite like home.

While Chickadee is making his way home, his family is rushing to find him. When they realize that Chickadee is missing and figure out who took him, the whole family heads across the plains to reclaim their boy. It was definitely refreshing to see such tight familial bonds in middle grade fiction. Most MG stories these days have distant parents or siblings who don’t get along but Erdrich really captures how much Native families stick together and how unbreakable those bonds are.

I was also pleased with how she presented the missionaries. Yes, not all of them were terrible, but all of them felt that they could “save the souls” of “the savages” and it’s very telling that that instead of trying to find Chickadee’s parents, they just snatched him up from a cabin. While I was reading this with my godkids, Sidda made the remark “It’s like they found a stray puppy and decided to take him home” and that’s exactly how the missionaries treat Chickadee. Like a stray, wild animal.

This has a happy ending that everyone will enjoy and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!



Author: Katherine Paterson
Publisher: Candlewick
Pages: 208
ARC?: Yes, provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Format: Paperback ARC
MG/YA/Adult: Middle grade- historical
TW/CW: Death (mentioned, non-graphic, non-detailed)
Rep: Cuban
Rating; 4/5

When thirteen-year-old Lora tells her parents that she wants to join Premier Castro’s army of young literacy teachers, her mother screeches to high heaven, and her father roars like a lion. Lora has barely been outside of Havana — why would she throw away her life in a remote shack with no electricity, sleeping on a hammock in somebody’s kitchen? But Lora is stubborn: didn’t her parents teach her to share what she has with someone in need? Surprisingly, Lora’s abuela takes her side, even as she makes Lora promise to come home if things get too hard. But how will Lora know for sure when that time has come? Shining light on a little-known moment in history, Katherine Paterson traces a young teen’s coming-of-age journey from a sheltered life to a singular mission: teaching fellow Cubans of all ages to read and write, while helping with the work of their daily lives and sharing the dangers posed by counterrevolutionaries hiding in the hills nearby. Inspired by true accounts, the novel includes an author’s note and a timeline of Cuban history.

When Candlewick asked if I wanted to review this book, I jumped at the opportunity. Katherine Paterson was one of my favorite authors growing up, even though her books (like BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and JACOB HAVE I LOVED) pretty much ripped my heart out.

Her newest book follows thirteen year old, Lora, a young girl living in Cuba. The story takes place right as Castro is coming into power. Lora signs up to travel to the country to teach people how to read and write.

Paterson, as usual, did a great job in creating a cast of characters that younger readers will actually care about. The story is engaging and moves along fast enough that I think even readers as young as 7/8 would be entertained.

It lost a star for me because while Paterson does a good job describing the way of life and the big things happening in Lora’s life, without the context of what the political climate was like in Cuba during that time, it falls slightly flat. I read this with my 3 oldest godchildren and they were pretty confused about why there was such upheaval. A chapter or even a foreword about the changing regime in Cuba would have been a nice, needed touch.

Since I personally don’t know much about the rise of Castro, I can’t comment on the accuracy of this story. Lora does mention her friend’s family fleeing after Castro takes control of the government, but he is looked at in a positive light throughout this novel. I’m not sure what the feeling in Cuba was during this time and welcome any reviews from Cuban readers!


TBR Beatdown

November TBR: Happy Native Heritage Month!

th3ESBN5CW.jpgHappy Native American/Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month!

November is always a pretty lousy time for me to try and set a concrete TBR. Between YallFest, NaNoWriMo, and my godkids’ various school activities… I usually don’t have much time to read. However, I’m still uncertain about NaNoWriMo this year and I’ll have time to read in the evening at YallFest, so I wanted to go ahead and share some of the books I really want to read this month. All of the books listed below are by Native/Indigenous authors.


It happened in the long ago. . . . So begin many folk tales in this wonderful collection of traditional legends and recent writings by Ojibwe elder storyteller Anne Dunn. The short pieces range from folk tales of Native American origin myths (the antics of Beaver, Rabbit, Otter, Bear, and others) to nature writing and contemporary stories of peace, justice, and environmental concern. Brimming with insight, vibrant with strength and beauty, these indeed are stories to live by, for all ages. Divided into the four seasons of the year, and set in the mostly in the Minnesota northwoods near Lake Superior, many of the stories are perfect to be read aloud to children. Anne M. Dunn is an Ojibwe storyteller from the Leech Lake area of Minnesota.

13503214CHICKADEE by Louise Erdrich

Twin brothers Chickadee and Makoons have done everything together since they were born—until the unthinkable happens and the brothers are separated. Desperate to reunite, both Chickadee and his family must travel across new territories, forge unlikely friendships, and experience both unexpected moments of unbearable heartache as well as pure happiness. And through it all, Chickadee has the strength of his namesake, the chickadee, to carry him on.

1569141SPIRITS DARK AND LIGHT by Tim Tingle

In the Native American tradition, a strong connection exists between the spirit world and the natural world. What happens in one has direct and often reciprocal impact on the other. In this collection, Choctaw storyteller Tim Tingle draws from the rich heritage of the Five Civilized Tribes – the Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole nations – and brings tales from the spirit world into our world. These spine-tingling stories not only entertain but provide a window into the native customs and beliefs of these still-vital communities. In “Eagle Slayer,” calamity befalls a Cherokee village when one member violates tradition. The Seminole story “Hungry for Meat” illustrates the premium the once-migratory people place on respecting the remains of the dead – and the penalty for doing otherwise. And the Creek story “Two Friends” takes a horrifying twist on the teaching that we be true to ourselves: trying to be something else violates the natural order and brings a lifetime of pain and isolation. Owls, rabbits, deer, eagles – all of these spirits and more are here, shifting shapes in dizzying sequence and illuminating the values, beliefs, hopes and fears still embraced by the Five Civilized Tribes. These Native American stories will teach readers the importance of courage, resourcefulness and respect.

34649348THE MARROW THIEVES by Cherie Dimaline

In a futuristic world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America’s Indigenous people, and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world. But getting the marrow, and dreams, means death for the unwilling donors. Driven to flight, a fifteen-year-old and his companions struggle for survival, attempt to reunite with loved ones and take refuge from the “recruiters” who seek them out to bring them to the marrow-stealing “factories.” 


This eagerly awaited non-fiction debut by acclaimed Native environmental activist Winona LaDuke is a thoughtful and in-depth account of Native resistance to environmental and cultural degradation.LaDuke’s unique understanding of Native ideas and people is born from long years of experience, and her analysis is deepened with inspiring testimonies by local Native activists sharing the struggle for survival.On each page of this volume, LaDuke speaks forcefully for self-determination and community. Hers is a beautiful and daring vision of political, spiritual, and ecological transformation.All Our Relations features chapters on the Seminoles, the Anishinaabeg, the Innu, the Northern Cheyenne, and the Mohawks, among others.


And that’s my TBR for November! Short and sweet but filled with authors I love and authors I hope to love! I hope this gives you a little encouragement to celebrate Native Heritage month with me and pick up a few books by Native authors!

And here’s a thread I made with lots of Native authors and books!