Shadow Phoenix, Vol. 1, Episode 1

About

A young maid is catapulted into an inventor’s explosive world. Will a brazen tongue and a desperate attempt to save his life destroy her future?

Louisa balances on the cusp of two very different worlds, but as the bastard child of parents born of the social elite in London, she has no name and no future until one fateful night. Forced to act when her employer accidently blows up his lab, Louisa moves from the shadows to the spotlight.

With destiny upended, she hovers on the precipice of a new life. If she can manage to hold her tongue, and her un-lady-like curses, she could have everything her exiled mother dreamed for her – but is that what she really wants?

Juggling the layers of lies knotted into her existence, Louisa must face her future or die trying.

Thoughts

This series sounded really fun, and I’d been meaning to read it for some time. It’s a quick read, which was nice, because I was able to read the first episode during my break.

I already adore Louisa and Bennett. The episode was well paced, and I’m excited to continue on to the next.

I also really loved the cover, and the idea of setting this series up where it releases in episodes, like Charles Dickens original works. It adds a lot to the world building, and kind of feels like reading a graphic novel.

This is a really fun series and I can’t wait to continue!

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Let Me Save You – Review

About Seventeen-year-old Nila Izawa’s life in small-town Japan is orderly, simple, expected. On the walk home from school before winter break, Nila finally sees that […]

“Fantasy based stories aren’t usually my forte – BUT BOY! Am I sure glad I took a chance on this book!”

Vermin has received another wonderful review!

Fantasy based stories aren’t usually my forte, especially ones that are part of series which are still unwritten/ released – BUT BOY! Am I sure glad I took a chance on this book!

Ardin is an amazing storyteller! Though this is her debut novel, she uses good descriptions of actions taking place, good word choices, and the story flows wonderfully. I can envision the facial reactions of each character as described.

At the beginning, I will admit, I was a bit lost with the amount of characters that were quickly introduced. I found it hard to understand who was talking but that soon passed. I came to understand that it was necessary for the storyline to progress as the characters have different storylines taking place at the same time, eventually leading to one that comes together.

I loved the fact that the back stories of most characters were hidden and revealed along the way as the story progressed. Without giving too much away, I adored slowly finding out about what happened to Roland and his family, and also the history with him and Dianna.
Roland is an interesting character; we get sneak peaks into his past as it unravels. I would say he is the main character and discovering the hidden truths with him is something I hope to continue uncovering as the series progresses.
As readers, we were given just enough information to have us hooked and wanting more. I have many questions which I hope I get answers to in books 2 and…3?

There are many cute/ adorable moments between certain characters that I LOVED reading about. Certain scenes stuck out to me and will stick with me for time to come.
I am heavily invested in ALL of these characters (minus Peter, solely because he annoys me). Each page I turned, and each chapter I finished had me begging for more!

**Ardin, if this series gets dropped, I will be outraged!**

— Author, Lindsey-Anne Pontes

Thanks so much to everyone who has taken the time to post reviews, and who have shared them with me! And no worries, the series won’t be dropped. I’ll be doing an announcement on book two soon, I promise!


Read More about Vermin

April Novel Update

Back in October of 2020 I wrote a post about what real life books the cast of Vermin might have on their bookshelves. It was […]

We Have Our Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Vermin giveaway contest on Goodreads! We’re thrilled to announce that we have our four winners, and I personally […]

The Inflatables in Bad Air Day – Children’s Graphic Novel Review

About

The Inflatables don’t get pumped. They stay pumped! Flamingo, Cactus, Donut, and Watermelon may be forgotten waterpark floats who live at the lost and found, but these inflata-pals are about to make some big waves in a funny graphic novel series that’s perfect for fans of Dog Man and The Bad Guys!

Flamingo is destined to be a star! So when the opening of a new wave pool brings camera crews flooding to the park, his inflata-pals hatch a daring plan to make him famous. But will a flock of familiar faces from Flamingo’s past burst his bubble? Get ready, world — Flamingo is about to BLOW UP!

Thoughts

This book was both cute and fun. I loved the puns throughout, and I think Donut was my favourite character. I loved how all of the characters were so determined to help their friend, Flamingo fulfill his destiny, and that no matter what challenge they were faced with, they worked together to find a solution.

I thought this book was really funny, and loved the illustrations. It’s definitely something I can see my niece and nephew enjoying, and I’ll definitely be recommending it upon release.

Thank you Scholastic for sending me this ARC for review.

I’d highly recommend this to young readers who enjoy the concept of films like Toy Story, and comedies like Loud House.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

How to Get Free Books – Book Talk Episode 21

How does one go about getting free books?

Well, seeing as how I get free ARCs every week or so, I thought I’d share how this works, as well as giveaway contests, book fairies, and free libraries.

ARCS

Now, I’d like to start off by clarifying what an ARC is, because not everyone is aware, especially if they’re new to the world of reviews. An ARC is an Advanced Review Copy or Advanced Reader Copy. These can either be eBooks, or print proof versions of of books that are coming out in the near future. They are not final versions, and are sent out in order for books to gain reviews and generate discussion prior to their release.

I get eBook ARCs through websites such as Netgalley, and ARC Reviewers.

With Netgalley, the more reviews you share on your blog, booktok, goodreads etc…the more likely you are to be approved for the most anticipated upcoming releases. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you fill out your Netgalley profile completely, so that publishers know exactly what type of books you are looking for. I often get approved for manga review requests, because I read, and review them frequently on my blog and Goodread’s account. The same goes for children’s literature. With Netgalley, there is also a time limit for completing these books. Most ARCs expire by the books release date, or the week of, and depending on the demand, it can be hard to get approved for popular requests without prior reviews on your chosen platforms.

ARC Reviewers has a smaller selection of books available, but it is much easier to get access to new releases. Usually there are 3-5 eBooks to choose from, with a limit of 20 copies for each book. There is anything from romance, to sci-fi on the website, and it is a great way to build your review roster so that you can get approved for ARCs from larger, more competitive websites like Netgalley. ARC Reviewers also does not have a request system in place, so anyone can download an ARC. This is perfect for people starting out, as these ARCs do not expire after a specific time period, and reviewers can add these books to their reviews on Goodread’s, and other platforms to build a following.

Now onto physical ARCs. Physical ARCs have become much harder to come by in recent years, especially with the pandemic. The most common way to get them, is to work for bookstores like Indigo or Barnes & Noble. Publishers will often reach out to these stores directly when they are are looking for avid readers, to review ARCs because it helps to boost sales upon release. If employees at your local bookstore always seem to have read the latest releases, it is because publishers like Harper Collins, Penguin and Scholastic are reaching out to them with free copies of books, sometimes months in advance. By working at a bookstore, book lovers can get access to great programs, giveaways and much, much more.

This year, I became a Children’s and Middle Grade ARC Ambassador for Scholastic. As an ARC Ambassador, Scholastic sends me physical copies of books to read and review for these specific age groups. On occasion I will also receive books in other genres I enjoy, outside of young readers, such as Science Fiction. I get around 2-6 books to read every few weeks and usually these books are sent to me a few months before the actual release date, but sometimes I will get a recent release to review as well. These reviews I post here on my blog, as well as on Goodreads. I will also share my reviews with my team members, highlighting which customers I feel would enjoy reading that specific book. I always aim to add a personal touch to my reviews, especially when I connect well with a book, as I want my review to attract readers to their next favourite book.

ARC Review Etiquette

One thing to keep in mind is ARC Review Etiquette.

What do we do with DNF’d books or low ratings, if the book hasn’t hit the shelves yet?

My rule as a reviewer is, when it comes to Netgalley, send a direct message to the publisher with my concerns about an unreleased book. In these cases I will choose not to leave a public review, because I don’t feel it is fair to the author, and their team to publically slam an unreleased book. I contact them directly out of respect for the people behind the book, in hopes that any concerns I had with the book would be addressed and corrected before the final version was released. The last time I did this, was to address the descriptions of POC in a debut novel I’d gotten an ARC for. I had been extremely excited to read the book, but once the POC character’s were introduced, I noticed a lot of problematic descriptions, that I don’t believe the author or publisher even noticed as potentially harmful. Unfortunately these issues were not addressed, and the book received poor reviews and ratings. As you might notice, I’m not sharing the title of this book out of respect for the author and publisher. I’ve never posted my review either. To me, if I didn’t even finish the book (DNF) I don’t feel it is fair to post that review publically until after the marketing campaign is over. Although this book has been out for over a year now, I feel there are enough reviews on it, which address the thoughts I expressed in my direct message to the editor and publisher before the release. All I’ll say about that situation is, that there are certain tropes, stereotypes and descriptions that definitely need to be retired, and hopefully the author’s next book is a success. As a reviewer I like to be mindful and will always spend time determining whether or not a public review is necessary. If I do leave a public review, for a book I didn’t enjoy, I like to be as polite as possible. You can still be kind, while providing criticism or sharing your opinion. I don’t like chocolate ice cream, but I would never say “this is trash!” to my sister, who absolutely loves it. Just because I don’t enjoy something, doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Sometimes, it just isn’t for you, which brings me to my next point: with low ratings, it is proper review etiquette to provide readers with an explanation, as it’s unhelpful to those who rely on reviews to simply see a 2 star rating, without any reasoning behind it.

Now, everything I mentioned above in terms of Review Etiquette is something that reviewers often debate when it comes to ARCs and book tours. I always reevaluate this whenever I read a book I wasn’t fond of, and try to take into consideration the people behind the book, the amount of work they did, and whether or not what I have to say is thoughtful and worth contributing to the conversation. To completely trash a book during it’s release month or even worse, on the release date is just seen as poor review etiquette, at least amongst reviewers I follow and admire. This is why at times, you’ll see videos made say, three to six months after a book releases titled, “books I DNF’d.” Everyone however, has their own approach to this, but I do encourage people to really reflect before posting a review.

Giveaways

Now onto giveaways.

How does one find book giveaways?

Well, there are many places to look. A lot of giveaways are hosted by authors, publishers, bookstores and even reviewers. I follow the newsletters of several of my favourite authors, and they will announce giveaways a couple times a year, especially for new releases or special editions of books. These can be incredibly cool, and it’s always nice to win free stuff. It’s also beneficial to follow author newsletters because closer to the holidays, they might offer neat treats to their fans. One author I follow gave away Halloween themed goodies, designed by an artist friend of theirs since their novel took place in a haunted mansion!

Author Kami Garcia recently did a giveaway on Instagram for bundles of her novels, and the DC graphic novel series she’s been writing based on the Teen Titan’s characters.

Publisher giveaways tend to be hosted on a variety of social media platforms. Sometimes they’re done in collaboration with specific booksellers, or authors. Other times, it’s just a fun campaign for bookish peeps to check out. Some publishers will also give away tote bags with book related goodies, and exclusive content. I usually see these giveaways on Instagram, but have stumbled across a handful on Goodreads and Twitter over the years. I recently saw a very cool giveaway for Heartstopper to celebrate the film adaptation!

You can also type in #giveaways or #freebooks in the search bars of your favourite social media apps to find some neat stuff, however always be sure to read the details and guidelines of these contests carefully, and make sure that the host isn’t asking for anything sketchy in return. You should never be asked to pay a fee to enter a giveaway (unless it’s a raffle to raise money), or provide information such as your credit card.

One of the best ways to constantly find giveaway’s for books is Goodreads. I’ve entered lots of giveaways through the site, and recently hosted one for Vermin. It’s very easy for people to enter, and it’s also fun to scroll through and see what books are available. All that is required is a Goodread’s account, and Goodreads will of course send you a reminder to leave a review of the book once you’ve finished it.

Book Fairies and Free Mini Libraries

Earlier in this post I mentioned book fairies. Book fairies are very special, magical beings, who leave books around in public places for people to keep and take home. They are more common in the UK, and I’ve yet to catch a book fairy in action, however when I was little one often frequented my local Starbucks. Sometimes a book fairy will leave little notes or wrap the books to keep the contents inside a surprise for the reader! I heard a rumour that Emma Watson is actually a book fairy! Shh…it’s a secret though. The main goal of a book fairy is to provide books to those who may not have access to new books, but to also spread joy and the love of ones beloved stories to others. Perhaps one day I’ll meet one? Or…maybe I’ll find out I was one all along?

Lastly, free mini libraries. There are so many of these in my neighbourhood, and they’re absolutely adorable! The purpose of these is similar to that of the book fairies. Neighbours can take a book to borrow or keep, and can also leave books inside to share with others. It always makes me happy to see what books are in these tiny libraries, and it’s a lovely way to give back to your community. For those like myself, who are avid readers and constantly running out of space, it is also a wonderful place to donate gently used books to those who might not have access. I highly recommend visiting one if you get the chance, and if you have the means to do so, perhaps donate some children’s, middle grade and teen books to mini libraries located near under funded school districts. Some new parents, and young families may also appreciate seeing baby board books, and books for early readers as well! In my neighbourhood, people always donate children’s books, and the free mini libraries are close to the park. This is great because not everyone has access to transportation, but these are within walking distance of their house.

Another thing to keep in mind is that with book fairies, and free mini libraries, reviews are not a requirement. The goal is to merely share books with fellow bibliophiles, and to spread joy. I think that once I have a place of my own, I would love to set up a free mini library…perhaps book fairies will visit me? I’d love it if they did.

How to Get Free Books – Book Talk Episode 21

I hope that through my reviews you find stories that you absolutely adore, and that this post will also lead you to other ways to not only get your hands on a free book for yourself, but also introduced you to new ways to share books with your community as well.


More Book Talk Episodes

YA Faves

As YA week comes to a close, I’ve found myself reminiscing over some of my old favourite books that I read during my teenage years. […]

Mimi and the Cutie Catastrophe – Children’s Graphic Novel Review

ABOUT

Talented illustrator and author Shauna J. Grant, of http://www.shaunadraws.com/ introduces young readers to Mimi, a fun, fantastic little girl with a very big problem: everything thinks she’s just too cute!

Mimi wants others to see the other things about her, that make her special, and with the help of her magical toy dog Penelope, she does everything she can to try and change their minds…

Will she be stuck in this cute-astrope forever, or will others see her for who she truly is?

But that’s not all! She’s also a loyal friend and fun playmate, who has the best adventures with

THOUGHTS

Thank you Scholastic for providing this ARC.
I absolutely loved the illustrations for this book! When I saw the cover, I was immediately reminded of Pretty Cure, which was one of my favourite series as a kid.
The story itself was wonderful, especially since Mimi is super relatable. I can recall when I wondered whether being considered “cute” was a bad thing, and tried to make myself seem more “cool” like my older cousins and friends…even though I absolutely adored my stuffed animals and other cute things.
I think that exploring the thoughts and emotions that Mimi faces in this graphic novel, is an excellent way for young readers who are most likely facing similar situations, to try and understand what they’re going through.

I know I would’ve loved having a character like Mimi when I was growing up, especially since many of the books and films I grew up on weren’t much in favour of the cutesy aesthetic, and leaned more towards encouraging young children to be strong, as if those two things couldn’t go hand in hand. Here, Mimi proves the opposite, that you can still love what you love, and be loyal, strong, and brave! I think that’s a very important message for young children (and grownups too). We are more than what others perceive us as.

Another thing that I really want to mention is how precious Mimi’s friendship is with Penelope!

I had my very own Penelope growing up, who I used to take everywhere with me. To this day, I still have her.

Mimi shares her thoughts and feelings with Penelope, and even considers that in order to stop having others perceive her as cute or baby-ish she needs to stop playing with her favourite toy.

I can recall being teased about my stuffed animal by some kids in my class, and placing her in my trash bin (super dramatic I know), but then I felt lonely without her, and decided to rescue her. I didn’t care what the other kids thought about her anymore, because she was important to me. See, I used to be incredibly shy, and she helped me feel comfortable when I changed schools, or whenever I struggled to make friends. Just knowing she was close by in my backpack, was enough. She was…is…dear to me, and despite being a toy, really gave me an outlet to work through some complex emotions and situations as a child. I changed schools four times during our move between grades 3-4, and had to keep remaking friends, which at the time was extremely difficult for me. I wanted nothing more to go back to my old house and school, where my teachers all knew me and people actually pronounced my name properly haha.

Another thing that really got me was that Mimi has bubbles in her hair! As a kid, I absolutely adored these, and recently I found a doll with bubbles in her hair for my niece and went bonkers. Like, bubbles and beads were my favourite because it was like fashion for my hair…and until high school…and really more-so into my adult years, we weren’t really encouraged to experiment with our natural hair. It was always pulled back into a tight bun…but when I got to wear bubbles in my hair–I had these orange ones with teddy bears that had googly eyes–my mom would give me Pippi Longstocking braids…or that’s what I called them. It was my favourite thing in the world. Seeing Mimi with her hair like that on the cover made my day!

Mimi is such a sweet character, and I loved seeing how she grew throughout the story, and interacted with her friends, family and neighbours. I can’t wait to see what adventures she has going forward, and I look forward to seeing this book on shelves this July 2022!

RATING

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Perfect for ages 6-8!


Cheeky Brat Vol. 1 – Manga Review

About

Basketball club manager Yuki has a secret-she’s in love with the team captain! But when Naruse, her cheeky kouhai, discovers her big secret, she’s in a tight spot! Just how long is he going to keep teasing her about it!? Stupid pretty playboy… — Goodreads

Thoughts

This book was recommended to me by a handful of people, so I thought I’d check it out. It was super cute! I really enjoyed Yuki, and all of the characters in this manga, including the random unnamed members of the basketball team.

I’m not sure why, but the artwork reminded me of a two series I liked when I was around 11 or 12, Monkey High and Lovely Complex. I should note, that I was a few years too young for these series, but I borrowed them from my local library, and I don’t think they themselves understood the manga age ratings at that time. I still go back and watch the Lovely Complex anime every now and then haha.

The character designs, and the relationship dynamics definitely gave me a nostalgic feel, so when the series was recommended to me by a couple of high school kids I was assisting at work, I figured, “Wow I rarely get book recs from customers! I should give it a shot!” and I absolutely loved it.

I’m fighting myself not to buy the next volume just yet because I’m trying to save money, and I have a bunch of ARCs to read this month for books releasing May – August, but once I’m halfway through my pile I’m jumping on it!

I’ve thankfully been super lucky with my reads recently, nothing’s disappointed me or fallen short of my expectations, and for that I’m super grateful. There was a while there previously, where I was in a bit of a reading slump because I read a handful of books that I had high expectations for that just weren’t my cup of tea. I’m also so happy because this was recommended by a group of kids who frequent my work when school lets out, and I’m usually recommending them my favourite new series haha.

I wish more customers would recommend books to me. Well, actually, I have gotten lots of good recommendations from our younger customers, around 3 and 4. It’s almost always Peppa Pig, but I appreciate it.

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Check out my other manga reviews and recs!

Ima Koi Vol. 1 – Manga Review

About Sometimes the greatest romantic adventure isn’t falling in love—it’s what happens after you fall in love! After missing out on love and dating because she […]

Anonymous Noise Vol. 2 – Review

About Nino Arisugawa, a girl who loves to sing, experiences her first heart-wrenching goodbye when her beloved childhood friend, Momo, moves away. And after Nino […]

Ima Koi Vol. 1 – Manga Review

About

Sometimes the greatest romantic adventure isn’t falling in love—it’s what happens after you fall in love!

After missing out on love and dating because she was too shy to confess her feelings, high school student Satomi blurts out how she feels the next time she gets a crush—and it’s to her impossibly handsome schoolmate Yagyu! To her surprise, he agrees to date her. Now that Satomi’s suddenly in a relationship, what next?

Even though she can hardly believe it, Satomi is dating Yagyu. Being in love as part of a couple is now Satomi’s everyday reality. With how fast everything has gone and with Satomi still clueless about how dating is supposed to work, can she actually enjoy being in love?

Thoughts

This manga was incredibly cute, and totally worth the wait. I’d seen Shojo Beat advertising for it for a while, and had been desperating trying to get my hands on an ARC, but ended up buying it on release day at the store!

I fell in love with the character’s instantly, and I can’t wait until the second volume comes out!

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I thought I posted this review in March, and realized today that I saved it as a draft versus scheduling the post…oops! Anyway, I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you’ve read manga like Honey So Sweet.


Check out my other manga reviews and recs!

We Have Our Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Vermin giveaway contest on Goodreads! We’re thrilled to announce that we have our four winners, and I personally can’t wait to mail out their books.

Hosting a giveaway always seemed a bit scary to me, but I’m glad I did. I will definitely host another closer to the release of book two, so be on the lookout of that, if you’re interested.

Again, congratulations! I hope you enjoy reading Vermin, and thank you for entering the contest.

It’s my Birthday!

It’s my BIRTHDAY!

Hooray!

Sometimes I don’t feel very old…and then I feel SUPER OLD. Obviously, I’m still a youngish person, seeing as how my mom calls people my age “kids” but I pay taxes, and have life insurance and…like those were things I never had to think or care about when I was a teenager. I kind of miss not caring about my dental coverage.

Being an adult isn’t terrible. It’s not easy, but I know for a fact that I would never choose to be like 13 again. I absolutely hated being 13.

In other news, but still somewhat birthday related, today I got some really cute Vermin themed merch in the mail that I am so excited about. They’re adorable! I love them. I don’t know if my excitement is coming across as I type, but for the record my face hurts from smiling.

Speaking of books, I got another free ARC on Thursday that came with a letter from the author! I was like “WHAT? A LETTER? FOR ME?” and I read it aloud. It made me want to read the book even more. The cover is also beautiful. I’m already in love with the story, and can’t wait to share my review. I’m only on the 2nd chapter, but I already love this one character to pieces, and if anything happens to them I will cry and hug Mr. Buckwheat who, if you’ve ever seen my instagram is featured fairly often.

This is what he looks like! He’s from the show Goblin, which had a name change or something but it’s a K-Drama my sister and I were obsessed with. We have 3 of the plushies from the show. I added a bow his hair that I got from my Nana. He’s my nieces fave plushie to borrow and snuggle with when she visits me.

This month I’ve gotten a lot of great ARCs through work, so I’m totally set reading wise…although I always welcome book recommendations.

I was recently recommended the new Star Wars book series by my co-worker, and I am so excited to check them out. I haven’t read a Star Wars book since…I think it must’ve been 8th grade? I read it around the same time I was reading the Halo series books. All my buddies were super into Halo at the time, and I read the books because I didn’t have an Xbox. That…sounds so sad.

I’d like to get some work done on my manuscript before any festivities start, so I think I’ll stop my post here and get to work.