Monday, February 27, 2023

*Top Ten Tuesday* Genre Freebie/Kid Picked Netgalley Request Roulette

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Joood - Hooligan of Platypire reviews bossed me into doing this, so I guess this is a thing I do now. 

This week’s theme is a genre freebie, where I'm supposed to pick a genre and build a list around it. As I was thinking about that, I landed on featuring books that I'd like to buddy read with my children (11 and 14), even though my children are not big readers like I am. The thought of looking through all my books to try and find ten books for that kind of list was overwhelming though, so I decided it would be a much better idea to turn it into a game of Netgalley Request Roulette instead, because that's such a smart idea for me right now. So I had each of my kids pick five books for me to request. The stipulations were that the books had to release after February, they had to be a books I'd have to request, and they had to be books my children genuinely want to read. I guided my daughter (11) towards the middle grade section, but said YA would also be an option. My son (14) had free reign with the exception of erotica (that was off the table) and he picked all of his books from the horror genre, which I haven't been reading much of lately so those will be a nice change of pace for me should I get approved. 

So not that all of that exposition is out of the way, let's see what books my kids picked for me, shall we?

Daughter's Picks

Title: Cat's Cradle: The Mole King's Lair
Author: Jo Rioux
Publisher: First Second Books
Release Date: June 20, 2023
Genre: Graphic Novel
Request: Approved


Suri the monster tamer is back for the second volume of this thrilling middle grade fantasy graphic novel trilogy!

Suri has what it takes to be a monster tamer―she just knows it! She’s even tamed her first monster…if you count Byron. He’s less like a monster, more like a giant dog. He needs a master that’s just his size, so Suri, Caglio, and Byron set off for the land of the giants: the Monster’s Cradle.

An epic journey like this requires money and provisions, which they don’t have. But the treasure at the heart of the mole king’s lair might be the solution to their problem!

Title: The One and Only Ruby
Author: Katherine Applegate
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's
Release Date: May 2, 2023
Genre: Middle Grade/Nature
Request: Approved


From beloved powerhouse author Katherine Applegate comes The One and Only Ruby, starring the adorable baby elephant from the Newbery Medal-winning modern classic The One and Only Ivan and its bestselling sequel, The One and Only Bob. This B&N Exclusive Edition features bonus content from Katherine Applegate, never-before-seen sketches from artist Patricia Castelao, and gorgeous foil stamping and embossing on the jacket.

Ruby’s story picks up a few months after the events of The One and Only Bob. Now living in a wildlife sanctuary, Ruby’s caretaker from the elephant orphanage in Africa where she grew up is visiting. Seeing him again brings back a flood of memories both happy and sad of her life before the circus, and she recounts the time she spent in the African savannah to Ivan and Bob.

In the timeless way that only Katherine Applegate could craft, this highly anticipated novel in verse is the perfect mix of heartfelt and humorous, poignant and sweet. Artist Patricia Castelao returns to the world of Ivan and his friends with gorgeous black-and-white interior illustrations to complete the story.

The One and Only Ruby features first-person narrative; author's use of literary devices (personification, imagery); and story elements (plot, character development, perspective).

This middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 8, for independent reading, homeschooling, and sharing in the classroom.

Don’t miss the film adaptation of The One and Only Ivan, now streaming on Disney+!


Title: The Witch of Woodland
Author: Laurel Snyder
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's
Release Date: May 16, 2023
Genre: Coming of Age/Fantasy
Request: Approved


A young girl preparing for her bat mitzvah discovers she has mysterious abilities in this magical contemporary coming-of-age story from the beloved author of Orphan Island.

Hi, whoever is reading this. I’m Zipporah Chava McConnell, but everyone calls me Zippy.

Things used to be simple—until a few weeks ago. Now my best friend, Bea, is acting funny; everyone at school thinks I’m weird; and my mom is making me start preparing for my bat mitzvah, even though we barely ever go to synagogue. In fact, the only thing that still seems to make sense is magic.

See, the thing is, I’m a witch. I’ve been casting spells since I was little. And even if no one else wants to believe in magic anymore, it’s always made sense to me, always felt true. But I was still shocked the day I found a strange red book at the library and somehow...I conjured something. A girl, actually. A beautiful girl with no memory, and wings like an angel. You probably don’t believe me, but I swear it’s the truth.

Miriam is like no one else I’ve ever met. She’s proof that magic is real. And, it’s hard to explain this part, but I just know that we’re connected. That means it’s up to me to help Miriam figure out what she is and where she came from. If I can do that, maybe everything else in my life will start to make sense too.

Anyway, it’s worth a try.


Title: Secrets and Sidekicks (Katie the Catsitter)
Author: Colleen AF Venable
Publisher: Random House Children's
Release Date: May 2, 2023
Genre: Graphic Novel
Request: Pending


What’s better than BFFs? Super sidekick BFFs! Katie can’t wait to have Beth join her for sidekick training! Until . . . it turns out Beth might be a way better sidekick than Katie! And now Beth and Marie are hanging out all the time, Jess is acting super weird, and Katie still needs to tell her mom about being a sidekick. Oh yeah, and giant robots are attacking the city. So. That’s not great.

Can Katie and 217 super-unusual cats work together to save the city (and seventh grade)? Or is Katie about to be in super trouble? 
Bonus: includes instructions to make your own friendship bracelet!

Looking for more cats and more fun?! Don't miss 
Katie the Catsitter and Katie the Catsitter: Best Friends for Never!

Title: Princess Private Eye
Author: Evelyn Skye
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: May 2, 2023
Genre: Royalty/Detectives
Request: Pending


The Princess Diaries meets Nancy Drew in this middle grade novel about a New York foster kid who discovers she's actually a long-lost princess—and must solve the mystery behind a threat to the crown. Twelve-year-old Gen Sun has bounced around New York's foster care system ever since her parents died in a car crash ten years ago. No one seems to know anything about her birth family, and the only link she has to them is a baby blanket embroidered with her name. But that's all right. Gen is savvy and self-reliant, using her keen sense of justice and her ability to go unnoticed to solve mysteries in her neighborhood. She's in the middle of solving one such mystery when her life changes forever: suited strangers reveal that Gen is actually the long-lost princess of a small, obscure country overseas. In no time, Gen is whisked away to the kingdom of Raldonia. But becoming a princess overnight isn't easy, and Gen's American ways and no-nonsense demeanor don't exactly endear her to the royal court. Before long, there are whispers that a legendary curse has been awoken by Gen's sudden appearance. And when plague-like events start befall the small country, Gen realizes she'll have to crack her biggest case yet: catching the culprit out to dethrone her. And who knows? She just might find her place in the kingdom along the way. Evelyn Skye brings a blend of wit and adventure to this middle grade series that asks: what truly makes a princess? And what makes a home?

Title: Frozen Peaches
Author: Erin Soderberg Downing
Publisher: Holiday House
Release Date: April 4, 2023
Genre: Children's Mystery
Request: Read Now (Picked before she understood Netgalley)


A frozen family “business trip” to Sweden’s Ice Hotel sets the Peaches on a new grand adventure. 

The third book in The Great Peach Experiment, great for fans of The Penderwicks and The Vanderbeekers.

Cashing in on his family’s recent good-luck streak, ten-year-old Freddy Peach has been entering his family in a bunch of sweepstakes, but he doesn’t really expect to win. And then he does—a free family trip to the Ice Hotel in Sweden!

Since the Peaches are now the proud owners of their own bed-and-breakfast, they decide they can’t pass up on the opportunity. It’s research. They'll learn more about what it takes to operate a successful hotel from one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world.

But what the Peaches don’t know is that five families from five frozen locations have been brought together to compete for the honor of frozen best. They’ll face-off in a series of challenges from dog sled racing to ice carving to an ice-cold cook out. But when the going gets tough, the Peaches have always come together in the past? Why should this time be any different?

The third book in the Great Peach Experiment series, 
Frozen Peaches is a sweet treat, mixing humor, adventure, warmth (despite the cold) and a lot of heart to make another great book readers will be delighted to devour.

Son's Picks

Title: Hell on High
Author: Michael Clark
Publisher: Brigids Gate Press
Release Date: March 9, 2023
Genre: Horror
Request: Approved


Prepare for adventure as Juliana, a nineteen-year-old Brazilian, finds herself forced to run from an occult overlord, leaving her sister in peril. Temporarily safe, Juliana works to save money for Vilma’s rescue—and along the way, meets Patrick, a rich-boy mountain climber with friends in high places.

Angus Addison wants to see his corporate flag on the summit of Mount Everest—carried there by the first woman in history—but the Himalayas are no joke. Failure could cost both sisters their lives.

Juliana weighs the risks and rewards—for even if she raises the cash, she still must figure a way to free Vilma from the same man she ran from—a man known to his disciples as 
The Farmer.

Title: Isle of the Undead
Author: C.L. Werner
Publisher: Aconyte Books
Release Date: May 2, 2023
Genre: Horror
Request: Approved


Necromancers and dragons stand between a heroic knight and victory over the zombie outbreak chewing its way through the fantasy realm of Zombicide Black Plague

The Black Plague’s terrible toll never ends, unleashing a new wave of zombies with disastrous consequences. Low on hope, Knight Alaric von Mertz and his companions flee their crumbling sanctuary, and soon come under the unlikely wing of murderous pirates. There, they learn of a legendary artifact called Mournshroud that could destroy swathes of the undead, but to claim it they must defeat an evil sorceress on an isolated island. Guarded by a dragon! A knight’s honor demands he defend his kingdom, no matter the cost. Yet, as the undead hordes close in on them, a familiar evil waits in the shadows, plotting revenge on Alaric and everything he holds dear…

Title: Dead of Winter
Author: Darcy Coates
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Release Date: July 11, 2023
Genre: Horror
Request: Approved


From bestselling author Darcy Coates comes Dead of Winter, a remote cabin in the snowy wilderness thriller that will teach you to trust no one. There are eight strangers. One killer. Nowhere left to run.

When Christa joins a tour group heading deep into the snowy expanse of the Rocky Mountains, she's hopeful this will be her chance to put the ghosts of her past to rest. But when a bitterly cold snowstorm sweeps the region, the small group is forced to take shelter in an abandoned hunting cabin. Despite the uncomfortably claustrophobic quarters and rapidly dropping temperature, Christa believes they'll be safe as they wait out the storm.

She couldn't be more wrong.

Deep in the night, their tour guide goes missing...only to be discovered the following morning, his severed head impaled on a tree outside the cabin. Terrified, and completely isolated by the storm, Christa finds herself trapped with eight total strangers. One of them kills for sport...and they're far from finished. As the storm grows more dangerous and the number of survivors dwindles one by one, Christa must decide who she can trust before this frozen mountain becomes her tomb.

Title: A Good House for Children
Author: Kate Collins
Publisher: Mariner Books
Release Date: July 4, 2023
Genre: Horror
Request: Approved


The dazzling debut novel from Kate Collins—a feminist gothic mystery spanning decades, in the vein of Mexican Gothic and The Essex Serpent.

Once upon a time Orla was: a woman, a painter, a lover. Now she is a mother and a wife, and when her husband Nick suggests that their city apartment has grown too small for their lives, she agrees, in part because she does agree, and in part because she is too tired to think about what she really does want. She agrees again when Nick announces with pride that he has found an antiquated Georgian house on the Dorset cliffs—a good house for children, he says, tons of space and gorgeous grounds. But as the family settles into the mansion—Nick absent all week, commuting to the city for work—Orla finds herself unsettled. She hears voices when no one is around; doors open and close on their own; and her son Sam, who has not spoken in six months, seems to have made an imaginary friend whose motives Orla does not trust.

Four decades earlier, Lydia moves into the same house as a live-in nanny to a grieving family. Lydia, too, becomes aware of intangible presences in the large house, and she, like Orla four decades later, becomes increasingly fearful for the safety of the children in her care. But no one in either woman’s life believes her: the stories seem fanciful, the stuff of magic and mayhem, sprung from the imaginations of hysterical women who spend too much time in the company of children.

Are both families careening towards tragedy? Are Orla and Lydia seeing things that aren’t there? What secrets is the house hiding? A feminist gothic tale perfectly suited for the current moment, A Good House for Children combines an atmospheric mystery with resonant themes of motherhood, madness, and the value of a woman’s work.

Title: The Sweet Scent of Liver
Author: Eli Wilde
Publisher: BooksGoSocial
Release Date: January 30, 2023
Genre: Horror Short Stories
Request: Read Now (Sis got to pick one so he did too)


The Sweet Scent of Liver is an anthology of eight short stories that span 100 years. Each story is linked by infected humans called the sharded. Synthetic replicants, clones, and humans are all touched by the actions of the sharded, but it is the darkness of the soul that determines the path each of us takes.

This is the first black and white illustrated edition.

Title: The Broken Places
Author: Blaine Daigle
Publisher: Wicked House Publishing
Release Date: March 24, 2023
Genre: Horror
Request: Read Now (Was in bed before I realized what happened)


When Ryne Burdette inherits his family's old hunting cabin deep in the Yukon wilderness, he wants to say no. Nothing much is left in that place except for unpleasant memories and the smoke of old burns. But after a tragic year, he sees a weekend trip to the cabin with his best friends as a way to recuperate and begin again. But there is something strange about these woods. As a winter storm moves in, the animals begin acting strangely, and the natural laws of the wilderness seem to fall apart. Then, the soft voices start whispering through the trees. Something is watching them. As the storm gets worse and the woods get darker, the three friends must dive into the darkest waters of the Burdette family lineage. Because the horrible truth is deep, resting in the shadowed places no one wants to look.

My Pick
(Because I still needed to request 10. It's the RULES!)

Title: Wrath Becomes Her
Author: Aden Polydoros
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: October 10, 2023
Genre: Horror
Request: Approved


Vera was made for vengeance.

Lithuania, 1943. The Nazis have killed Ezra’s daughter. He can’t bring Chaya back from the dead, but he can craft something in her image—a golem, infused with pointed rage, to avenge Chaya’s death. A Nazi killer made with kishuf, an ancient and profane magic.

When Vera awakens, she can feel her violent purpose—her reason for existing—thrumming within her. But she can feel other things, too: glimpses of a human life lived, of stolen kisses amid the tragedy, and of a grisly death. And when she meets Akiva, she recognizes the boy with soft lips that gave warm kisses. But these memories aren’t hers, and Vera doesn’t know if she gets to have a life beyond what she was made for. If she 
deserves one.

Vera’s strength feels limitless—until she learns that there are others who would use kishuf for means far less noble than avenging a daughter’s death. As she confronts the very basest of humanity, Vera will need more than what her creator gave her: not just a reason to fight, but a reason to live.

And there we go, ten plus three books that my kids (mostly) picked for me to hopefully read. And with luck, they'll read them too. Any of these look interesting to you? 

What theme did you use for this weeks freebie? If you're stopping by from the linkup, please be sure to drop a link to your post below (I can't always return visits until the weekend, so those links really help!) so I can stop by and check out your list. - Katie 

*Review* New Dad, Same Bad Jokes by Slade Wentworth

 Genre: Joke Book
Published: October 18, 2022
Pages: 128

Q: Why is that baby still in diapers?
A: I’ll give you two reasons: number one and number two.

Calling new dads! Cackle and eye-roll your way through baby’s first year with 365 hilariously horrible dad jokes for parents who have no idea what they’re in for. Classically corny plus new cringe, these jokes help first-time dads take a load off, tickle their loved ones, and give baby their first giggly groan. 
New Dad, Same Bad Jokes won’t make it easier to be a new parent, but it will soften the blow with some hearty LOLs, new-dad tips, and prompts to document the messy, endearing, and hilarious moments of first-time fatherhood. While baby might still be little, this dad joke book is full-groan!

Inside, Dad will find:
  • A joke a day for baby’s first year! Baby jokes and a whole lot more. 365 classic puns, one-liners, and Q&As to give you a zing when that coffee won’t quite cut it.
  • Hilariously useful Dad Hacks. Stop pee mid-air? Wrap baby like a burrito? Help mom eat one-handed? Tips you didn’t know you needed to survive year one.
  • Space to record early memories of baby. Prompts to jot down the sweet, the silly, the stinky as baby grows from swaddled to swindler.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

So I'm not the target audience for this book as I am neither a father, nor the parent of a newborn. I have been the parent of a newborn in the past though, so I can still appreciate the humor surrounding newborns to an extent. I also have a friend who loves a good pun, which is what dad jokes tend to be. So I went into this book looking for jokes I could share with her. 

I am a person who in high school, used to subscribe to several joke a day emails and I actually had the time to read them and learned lots of new jokes, to the point that whenever someone tried to tell a joke, I usually already had the punchline. I was a bit unbearable in high school and I'm not sure that's changed. Now most of those jokes weren't baby-centered, so there were a fair number of jokes in this book that were at least newish to me. There were others that I've seen floating around Facebook for a while, but those did not make up the majority of jokes included, and they were more generic jokes to begin with. 

I would definitely recommend this book for any dad joke aficionados or new fathers looking to become experts at telling dad jokes. You might just find a good joke or two to bring a smile to your partner's very sleep-deprived face in those early days, and as the jokes are short, you should be able to find some time to read a joke a day. Overall I give this book 4.32 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Slade Wentworth is a dad-writer-cook who cracks jokes like he cracks eggs, often making a mess of both. As a father of two boys and a husband to one wife, Slade found a passion for writing parenting essays and dad jokes as soon as his firstborn first pooped in the tub. He later began sharing them on social media, building a community of involved parents and a following on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

A native Floridian, Slade has lived in New York and Seattle and currently resides with his family in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He’s enjoyed a 25-year career in publishing, advertising, education, and technology. He’s currently the learning and development director for a financial technology firm, as well as the founder/content creator of The Dad Briefs LLC, a social media marketing company.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

*Review* Mermaid Day by Diana Murray


Genre: Children's 4-8
Published: July 4, 2023
Pages: 32

Hooray! Hooray! It's Mermaid Day! From the best-selling creators of Unicorn Day comes a mer-tastic celebration as all sorts of sea creatures celebrate Mermaid Day!

On Mermaid Day, the mer-queen throws a fin-tastic party! She decorates her underwater castle and creatures of all kinds swim inside to celebrate together. Dolphins dance, narwhals play ring toss, and as night falls, the guests prepare to say goodnight to a mer-mazing day. But are all welcome to celebrate under the sea?

This heartwarming and inclusive story is the perfect companion to the bestselling Unicorn Day!

Hooray Hooray!

It's Mermaid Day!

Shake your tail fins!

Splash and play!

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This was a fun rhyming story about a mermaid throwing a fun party. The rhymes didn't feel forced and there were only a couple spots where the flow was just a little teensy bit off to make the rhymes work. There wasn't a whole lot of meat to the story itself, although it did have a message of acceptance towards the end when the shark who just wanted to dance but was shy showed up. But it was pretty superficial as far as stories go. 

But the illustrations are why I love this book. They were so bright, and colorful, and BUSY. There was so much going on in pretty much every single one of them, and I'm half blind from the neon glow of the various colors used. It was almost Lisa Frank vibes without seeming like a Lisa Frank knockoff, and I'm an 80s baby so I get seriously nostalgic for anything that reminds me of Lisa Frank. 

It was an easy fun read, so I'd have no problem reading a few times if asked. Overall I give it 4.28 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Diana Murray is the author of One Snowy Day of which the Tulsa Book Review wrote: “Youngsters will love this book and so will the adults who read it to them." Diana grew up in New York and still lives nearby with her family. Visit her online at

Luke Flowers is an illuminator of the imagination that spends his days (and most nights) in his cozy creative cave illustrating and writing children’s books. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado and you can find him online at

*Review* Rise to the Sky by Rebecca E. Hirsch


Genre: Children's 5-10 years
Published: April 4, 2023
Pages: 32

Trees are the tallest living things on Earth. But how do they grow to be so tall? Science writer Rebecca E. Hirsch presents a poetic introduction to the tree life cycle in Rise to the Sky. Accompanied by Mia Posada's detailed collage illustrations, this book features the tallest tree species from around the world, including the coast redwood, the Sitka spruce, and the giant sequoia.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This was an educational book about how trees grow, especially about how they grow to be so tall. While I already had a rudimentary understanding of the process, I can't say that I really knew that them growing in places with mild climates and not a whole lot of wind was a thing. The language in the book is simple enough that young children should be able to understand it, and it did feel pretty informative. 

The illustrations were like pieces of colored tissue paper were glued onto another piece of paper to create the images, giving depth and texture to the images. It's a method that I don't feel like it's used a lot, although I feel like I've seen it somewhat frequently in the books I've been reading lately, so maybe it's a current trend that I just don't know about. 

Being an educational book, it was a bit dry in tone, so I'm not sure I'd really want to read it many times, but being educational, multiple readings would also be more beneficial. Overall I give this book 3.97 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Rebecca E. Hirsch is an award- winning children's author with a PhD in plant biology. Her picture books include Plants Can't Sit Still and Night Creatures: Animals That Swoop, Crawl, and Creep while You Sleep. She lives with her husband and three children in State College, Pennsylvania. You can visit her online at

Mia Posada grew up in Minneapolis, then studied art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also studied art in Florence, Italy, and illustration at Academy of Art College in San Francisco, California. Mia has written and illustrated numerous books including: The Long, Long Journey: The Godwit's Amazing MigrationWho Was Here?: Discovering Wild Animal Tracks, and Summer Green to Autumn Gold: Uncovering Leaves' Hidden Colors. She illustrated Plants Can't Sit Still which was named a Kirkus Best Children's Books and won the NCTE Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts Award. She lives in Golden Valley, Minnesota with her husband and their three kids.