Book Review: From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

BOOK INFORMATION

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

Genre: Family, Mystery, Realistic Fiction

Age Category: Middle Grade (MG)

Pages: 304

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

SYNOPSIS

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.

But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance.

MY TAKEAWAYS

I’m a huge fan of baking shows on the Food Network, and while I wouldn’t consider baking one of my main hobbies, I do like to get in the kitchen every once in a while. Therefore, I really enjoyed how the protagonist, Zoe, had an interest in baking and entering a kids baking competition as a sub-plot of the novel. But in reality, this realistic fiction story was about much more than baking.

The main conflict was when Zoe found a letter in the mail on her twelfth birthday . . . and it was from her father, Marcus, who she’s never met due to him going to prison when she was a baby. Although she’s skeptical about writing back to her father at first, she begins to build a relationship with Marcus through their back and fourth written conversations. He even gave Zoe a new R&B song for her to listen to in each of his letters, which Zoe dubbed “Little’s Tomato’s Playlist” after Marcus’ nickname for her. Cute, right?

I truly enjoyed Zoe and Marcus’ relationship throughout the entire novel, and it was really refreshing to have a book that contains representation of the many fatherless daughters (and sons) that are around the world, specifically so among members of the Black community.

Other topics like systemic racism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and other examples of racial inequality were addressed in a conversation between Zoe and her grandmother. But I admire Janae Marks’ ability to address these topics which can be hard to swallow in a tasteful yet informative way, making this book a great option for kids of all races to learn about the ins and outs of racism and its effect on people of color.

Throughout the story, Zoe had to keep her letters a secret from most of her family–except for her grandmother, whom she has a very close relationship with, and her best friend Trevor–in order to continue to get to know her father. I was rooting for Zoe throughout the entire novel to prove her father innocent of his crime. And while her actions of sneaking out to do so ended up coming back to bite her towards the end, when both her and her blended family’s secrets are revealed, the revolution of this inspiring tale was like the icing on the cake.

Overall, if you’re looking for a book that will tear your heart into pieces and glue it back together again, From the Desk of Zoe Washington is the perfect middle-grade novel for you. From the likeable characters, to the well-delivered hard topics, to the African-American author and protagonist, this heartwarming novel is an appetizing choice that most kids in their pre-teens and teens will happily relate to, while learning important lessons along the way!

Rating: ★★★★✯ (4.5/5 stars)

Recommended Age: for readers 11/12+


Although this novel happened to be a book that I stumbled upon during a trip to a book store, I’m so thankful to God that I gave it a chance! If anyone else has added this to their TBR list, or is contemplating doing so, I highly recommend that you give this novel a try, as well. But if you have already read this literature masterpiece, please tell me some of your thoughts on it–or some other book recommendations–down below!

Have a beautiful and blessed day everyone! God bless you all and I’ll catch you later! Bye, for now! ♡

Book Review #6: Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullay Hunt

BOOK INFORMATION

Publication Date: February 5th, 2015

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Category: Middle Grade (MG)

Pages: 320

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

SYNOPSIS

“Fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts.” —Kirkus Reviews

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label.

New York Times Bestseller! 

MY TAKEAWAYS

With her father deployed in the Army, Ally Nickerson has transferred to seven schools within the past seven years, and each time its the same story: her teacher asks her to read aloud to the class, she creates a distraction, and she gets sent to the principal’s office. Little does everyone know, Ally’s antics are only a method to cover up the fact that she doesn’t know how to read. But when Ally gains a new teacher, Mr. Daniels, who sees the super smart kid hidden behind her explosions, she begins to embrace the things that make her–and her classmates–unique.

The protagonist, Ally, could not be more relatable and realistic. Although she’s super creative and intelligent, which was put on display in the first-person POV, she started off lacking the vision of how awesome she really is. I think that most, if not all, kids have felt out of place at least once in their life, and Ally is a great representation of what it means to come from a place of wanting to be like everyone else to embracing not fitting in. Which in her case, is dyslexia.

"One thing's for sure. We're not gonna fit in, but we're gonna stand out. All three of us. You wait and see. You're going to be a famous artist and Albert is going to cure cancer or invent talking fish or something."

But I can’t go without mentioning the best friends that Ally makes on her journey to self esteem. Introverted Albert, who is basically a human encyclopedia who gets teased for being “nerdy”, and fun-loving Keisha, a girl with a passion for baking who happens to be the only black person in her class, form a bond with Ally because of their differences. Don’t get me wrong: I absolutely love Ally as a character. . . but Albert and Keisha stole the show, for me.

They were both involved in little sub-plots of the book, but I really liked how they all related to a common theme. And honestly, the entire novel wouldn’t be the same without the trio’s wholesome friendship. I could see both Keisha and Albert being the main character of their own novel.

Ally also faces bullying throughout the course of the novel by a girl named Shay, and I will give the author props that she did a great job with making her unlikeable. Let’s just say that Shay will probably remind you of a girl or two that we’ve all had in our class. But I really appreciate how Ally learns to rise above the bullying by holding her an olive branch. It was almost like when Ally learned how to love herself, she began to embrace other people–even those who did her wrong–that much more. And that was a sweet addition to this novel that I couldn’t help but appreciate.

“You know, a wise person once said, ‘Everyone is smart in their own way, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking that its stupid.'”

If you’ve been here for a while, you already know how I’d been raving about the book Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. And while that book is great, and all . . . I think I may officially have a new favorite! I would agree that for tweens and teens who are fans of classic stories like Wonder, Out of My Mind, or any other story about “the underdogs” learning to love what makes them unique, Fish in a Tree is an absolute must-read!

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5 stars, and if I was able to give it 6 stars, I would!)

Recommended Age: for readers 11+


So that was my review of Fish in a Tree, and I’ve got to say that it was such a great read! I may even have to read it again, in the near future! If you’ve already read this masterpiece, I’d love to hear some of your takeaways and thoughts on it! But if not, I highly encourage you to give it a shot!

Thanks so much for stopping by! God bless you all, and I will catch you later! Peace in! ♡

Graphic Novel Review: Guts by Raina Telgemeier

BOOK INFORMATION

Publication Date: September 17, 2019

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Category: Middle Grade (MG)

Pages: 224

Publisher: Graphix

SYNOPSIS

A true story from Raina Telgemeier, the #1 New York Times bestselling, multiple Eisner Award-winning author of SmileSistersDrama, and Ghosts!

Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. Her mom has one, too, so it’s probably just a bug. Raina eventually returns to school, where she’s dealing with the usual highs and lows: friends, not-friends, and classmates who think the school year is just one long gross-out session. It soon becomes clear that Raina’s tummy trouble isn’t going away… and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What’s going on? Raina Telgemeier once again brings us a thoughtful, charming, and funny true story about growing up and gathering the courage to face — and conquer — her fears.

MY TAKEAWAYS

I remember the moment I got the first two editions of this triology, Smile and Sisters, when I was nine years old. To make a long story short, I fell in love immediately, and I still re-read them every now and then to this day. On a recent trip to Barnes & Nobles, I finally got my hands on Guts, a highly-anticipated graphic novel for all of Telgemeier’s loyal fans–and let me tell you, it was all worth the wait! Guts is an absolute masterpiece!

At the beginning of this gem for tweens and teens, Raina (who is the author when she was in 4th grade), catches the stomach flu that had been spreading in her family. And when her stomach problems continue, she develops the fear of getting sick and throwing up (emetophobia) to the point where she is worried about catching something from her family and classmates. Eventually, her family signs her up to see a children’a therapist, and she progresses throughout the story learning how to face her fear while making new friends along the way.

Raina is such a quirky, fun, and relatable protagonist, so its not hard to take a liking to her character within the first few pages of the story. She seems like someone that I would’ve liked to be around back in elementary school. And believe me, having the protagonist be someone who I actually like as a person is critical to me when I read a novel for the first time.

While I thank God that I’m not a victim of anxiety, there are so many young people who struggle with their mental health, even if they fear something small like the dark or going to the doctor. Stories like Guts are not only relatable to a large range of audiences, but they also teach us that while fear is a normal feeling, we shouldn’t let the things that scare us take over our lives. And like any trial, fears can be conquered.

Like always, the vibrant illustrations on each page of this masterpiece illuminated the story, making it that much more entertaining for readers of all ages. Even though the topic of mental health among youth was discussed throughout the course of this story, the funny, light-hearted moments within the book didn’t fail to put a smile on my face.

Overall, Guts is a must-read for bookworms–and even non-bookworms–of all ages! I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it!

Rating: ★★★★✯ (4.5/5 stars, 5 being the best of the best)

Recommended Age: for readers 9+


I’ve got to admit that I am very pleased with Guts. It was one of the three books that I got for my birthday, earlier this week, and I’ve got to admit that I made some pretty good choices. Be on the look out for the book reviews for the other two novels of my choice; they’re coming soon!

If you haven’t read this book already, I hope my opinion will encourage you to give it a try! However, if you already have this book in your collection, tell me your thoughts on it in the comments!

Have a wonderful rest of your day/night, everybody! God bless you all and I’ll catch you later! Peace in! ♡

Paperback vs. Hardcover Books: Where Do I Stand? ♡

What’s up, my fabulous followers! This is Princess Q (a.k.a. Q’Zion) and welcome to my blog! ♡

Now, to all of my fellow book fanatics, there’s really no such thing as a bad way to read a good book. From audiobooks, to hardcovers, there are so many different ways to read! And while all bookworms love a good story, we each have our own preferences for how we like to read. One of the largest debates among the bookworm community is the simple question: Are paperback or hardcover books better?

Although it may seem silly to most people, a majority of bookworms have a preference between the two. Honestly, I have both paperback and hardcover books in my collection, and as long as I have a book that I can hold, I’m a happy camper! But I thought it’d be cool if I had a little discussion about what I like about each, and whether or not I have a true preference between the two. Let’s go!

Paperbacks

I think we can all agree that paperbacks are probably the most convenient when compared to hardcovers. They’re cheaper, lighter, easier to transport while traveling, and they take up less space, which is super helpful for those of us who have hundreds of books in our collection.

I have to admit that if I put a book in my purse to take with me while I go out, it’s most likely going to be a paperback. They just have this classic “homey” feeling when holding them in my hands; and since I love to read while getting comfy in my bead or on the couch, that is a huge bonus!

Hardcovers

Whenever I get a hardcover book, the one thing that I can think is “fancy.” If you’re someone who highly values the aesthetic of your bookshelf, these are probably the way to go. Hardcover books last longer, are harder to stain due to dust jackets–or those little thick wrappers that wrap around the cover–and make for a much more luxurious reading experience.

It would be a lie for me to say that I don’t love all of my hardcover books. Not only is the cover art absolutely gorgeous, but they are also so nice to look at on a shelf. Although, when I’m reading them they are a lot heavier to hold, which isn’t the best as someone who likes to be comfortable while reading. And even though I adore dust jackets for their function and how they look, I almost always end up setting them to the side while I read. Despite these few drawbacks, I can’t deny that the fact that hardcover books are so gorgeous makes up for them.


Okay, so I know that you guys are still waiting for me to answer the question. Which type of book do I like the most: paperbacks or hardcovers? But to be honest with you, I’d have to say neither. At the end of the day, they both have their pros and cons. As long as it’s a good book–and preferably one that I can physically hold–I couldn’t be happier.

Well, I’ve already told you all where I stand in the paperback vs. hardcover debate. But what about you? Do you prefer paperbacks, hardcover, eBooks, or audiobooks? In fact, do you have a preference at all? I would love to hear from all my fellow bookworms in the comments!

Have an awesome rest of your week, everybody! God bless you all, and I will catch you later! Peace in! ♡

The Best Ways to Celebrate National Book Lover’s Day ♡

A/N~I’ve got a small announcement to make. Today is the last day of me posting every single day on my blog–as I mentioned that I would do in my 1 year blogiversary post. From now on, I will be posting every two days, meaning I post today, skip tomorrow, post Thursday, and the cycle goes on. Besides that, there will be no other changes to my blog or content. Okay–you are free to read the actual post now!

Happy Tuesday, y’all! This is Q’Zion and welcome back to The Joys and Trials of a Christian Teen. To all my fellow bookworms and bibliophiles, we all know that there are few–if any–gifts that we can get in life that are better than a good book. After all, literature is like the foundation for learning just about anything. A world without books would be like a world without color. Just plan boring.

So in celebration of books and all the people around the world who love them, July 9th is proclaimed as Book Lover’s Day. And I’m going to share a few creative ideas for how we bookworms can celebrate to the fullest. Let’s get this show on the road!

Reorganize Your Book Shelf

Almost every bookworm has a shelf that’s just about filled with books. And as we constantly read and add to our vast collection, it can be easy for our books to get mixed and matched. If your bookshelf needs a little tender love and care, today is the perfect opportunity to make it look as neat as a display in a bookstore.

Make a Book Mark

I remember doing a craft a couple years ago where I made my own colorful bookmark, and I had so much fun with it that I had to make an entire series of custom-made bookmarks afterwards. The more books we get, the more bookmarks we need. That means that there’s no such thing as having too many bookmarks. So getting a little crafty and personalizing bookmarks of your own–especially while using colors that match with a particular book–would be an awesome way to celebrate being a bookworm.

Visit your Local Library

Honestly, this one is like muscle memory to anyone who loves books. However, going to the library to borrow a few books–and maybe even sit down and read for a couple hours–will likely give any bookworm some entertainment.

Recommend Some of Your Favorite Books to Someone Else

There aren’t many things that I love to do more than I love reading. But I have to admit that it always puts a smile on my face when I’m able to share some of the novels that I love the most with family and friends. Reading is a gift from God, and it is truly a great experience to be able to see others embracing it. So try showing some of your favorite books to a friend of yours–you never know; they might just turn them into a bookworm, too.

Try an eBook

If you’re like me, you have a huge preference for physical books. You know, the ones that you can feel, smell and hold. But if there’s anything that many of my books have taught me, it’s that sometimes it can be good to try new things. Whether you are used to reading books in the physical or digital world, it can be a great experience to try buying an eBook or purchasing a physical book from a bookstore for a change. Even if you end up switching to your preference afterwards, it’s always good to explore the different ways to read.

Create an Account on Goodreads

Are you looking for a digital platform where you can discover new books, write reviews for books you’ve read, and connect with other bookworms? Well then you might want to check out Goodreads. While I’ve never actually made an account of my own, I often look to Goodreads when I am looking for ratings and opinions on books that catch my interest. So Goodreads is a good option if you are someone who likes eBooks and/or you are on a mission to read more books.

Replace Your Screen Time for Reading Time

I know, I know. For most teenagers, our phones are like an extension of our arms. But every now and again, it’s really healthy to take a break and do something that doesn’t involve a screen. Instead of playing video games all Friday night when you finish your homework after school, reading could be a really productive way to wind down before bedtime–or any time, for that matter!

Join a Book Club

I’ve participated in a handful of clubs over the last couple years, and I’ve got to say that Book Club is one of my favorites. Not only is this a wonderful option for those who need an extra push to read more novels this year, but it’s also a great way to connect and interact with people who love books just as much as you do. And as a bookworm, that’s almost always a bonus!


I hope you all enjoyed these tips for making the most of National Book Lover’s Day–which if you think about it, is everyday. I thank God for books and how much He has taught me through them. Hopefully, you all found a great way to celebrate.

Have a happy rest of your day or night, everyone! Peace in! ♡

My TBR List for the Second Half of 2022

What’s up, y’all! Happy Tuesday! ♡

The first half of this year has already went by so fast, and my goal to read a total of 12 books before next January still stands. Lately, I’ve been reading many of the books in my own collection, and speeding through them within a few day’s time. But as a bookworm, I always feel the need to add more novels to my shelves.

Today I will be sharing a few of the most-anticipated books on my TBR (aka to be read) list for the second half of 2022. Let’s get started!

As some of you all know, one of my older cousin’s happens to be deaf. That has inspired me to take American Sign Language as one of my electives for my upcoming freshman year. And aside from the gorgeous cover art, I couldn’t help but love that the protagonist of this book is a deaf girl who is trying to navigate in a school with all-hearing kids. She also has a goal to make a song for a whale. Let’s admit it: cute animals are always a bonus.

Lately, I’ve been more interested in reading books with black protagonists, especially those that address racism and discrimination in a way that is appropriate for younger audiences, like myself. This middle-grade book starring the 12-year-old protagonist, Shayla, seems like a really good place to start. I’ve heard lots of good feedback regarding The Good Kind of Trouble, including how it address the issue of racism, but it also contains much diversity in the characters and a message of finding yourself, friendship, and standing up for what’s right. I can’t wait to test this book out for myself!

Fish in a Tree

You all know how much I loved the novel Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. I’ve been eyeing this book for a while now, and it seems to have a pretty similar plotline. What really attracts me to this novel is that it seems to focus on the subject of belonging, speaking up when you need help and coming to a point of loving yourself and the things that make you different. The protagonist is a girl with dyslexia, and although I’ve heard of the condition, I think this book will give me a better look on what it is and how it can effect a person.

Honestly, just by looking at the cover you can tell that this is a super cute book. Magic Poindexter is the daughter of an incredibly famous NBA player, and her dream is to become an athlete and join her school’s cheer squad, the HoneyBees. The overall plot of the book seems pretty promising, and, once again, I love the diversity of the characters. Oh, and did I mention the book takes place at a summer camp? For obvious reasons, I’ve been in the mood to read summer stories, lately.

Yep, I still haven’t read it. During my visit to Barnes and Nobles last month, I looked for the most-anticipated novel on my list–the sequel to Out of My Mind–but I didn’t see it anywhere. Still, my excitement to read the next adventure of Melody in this novel has not faltered. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one!


Hopefully, you had fun seeing the books on my TBR list as much as I enjoyed writing about them. You all know that my bookish posts are always my favorites, lol.

LET’S CHAT!~Tell me, do you have any highly anticipated books on your TBR list and/or any books that you recommend for me? Let me know in the comments. (P.S. middle grade and lower YA are highly preferred)

Have a beautiful and blessed day, everybody! Peace in, y’all! ♡

7 Things to Give Away to Those in Need

What’s up, peeps! I hope your day or night has been fantabulous! ♡

Do you have some things in your house that are just sitting around? As time goes by, chances are we will all stop using things here and there. It’s just a part of growing up. But just because we don’t use certain things anymore, doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone else out there who really needs it. Instead of just throwing what we don’t want in the garbage, finding ways to give it to someone who could put them to good use is always a better option.

I just found out that it’s National Give Something Away Day, and since God loves a cheerful giver, I thought I’d take the theme of today and run with it.

If there’s any time to finally give away some of the things that are good quality but have done nothing but sit on a shelf, it’s today. Whether you are looking to bless a family member, a charity or nonprofit, a neighbor, a friend, or any one else that God has placed on your heart, here are 7 ideas for what you can give away to anyone in need. Let’s get started!

1. Clothing and Socks

For those of us that God has blessed to have closets full of clothes, including myself, clothing and socks are everyday objects that we use to keep us both warm and stylish. But the sad truth is, there are many people out there who don’t have access to these necessities. And since the cool seasons of fall and winter are right around the corner, the demand among the needy for warm clothing will soon be on the rise. So, if you have some clothes that you have outgrown, don’t want anymore, or have never worn, there is always someone else out there who could really use them to get back on their feet.

2. Food

As human beings, we can only go so long without food. That’s why volunteering in food drives or nursing homes to serve food, or simply giving away some eatables to a local charity is such an amazing way to help those in your community. For many of us, eating a nutritious meal is another everyday blessing that we are fortunate to have on a regular basis. The least that we can do to show our gratitude for that blessing is by giving towards others who don’t have that privilege.

3. Books

If you’re a bookworm like myself, you might have a few books from your childhood that you never seemed to give away. Reading is a way that many people learn, grow, and relax after a long day. Without books, the world simply wouldn’t be the same. Therefore, many of the old books that we no longer use could be a wonderful gift to a child or person to whom you want to spread the spirit of reading.

4. Money and Gift Cards

One of the most classic ways to give to people in need is through financial donations. And while they might seem cliche to some, they can be really helpful for many families around the world. A gift card or cash to go toward a popular gas station, a local restaurant, or anywhere that the person who you bless chooses could be the key to getting someone in need to a more comfortable space in their life.

5. Toys

One of the most memorable aspects of our early childhood is the toys and stuffed animals that we loved the most. And while some of them may hold a sentimental value, we tend to grow out of others over time. Every child deserves to have fun toys to play with, so giving away some of our older toys to a nonprofit, a church, or a charity meant specifically for kids is a great way to keep our memories with our beloved toys alive.

6. An Automobile

Yes, you read it correctly: an automobile. While some people cannot afford to give away a vehicle that they use as their main method of transportation, a person with multiple vehicles–and one that they don’t use anymore–might be able to use that opportunity to bless someone else. Many single mothers and fathers balance parenting, working and even going to school on a regular basis. Therefore, an automobile of their own would definitely be a large help compared to having to make it to the bus stop, every morning. Sure, an automobile is a big donation, but if you can afford to give one away, why not show a little kindness by giving it to someone in need?

7. Blankets (they’re awesome)

Come on, now. Who doesn’t love a warm blanket on a cold winter night? Winter clothing and blankets are some of the most requested items in homeless shelters. And for good reason–everybody wants to be cozy and warm while its chilly outside. Therefore, any well-kept winter clothing and blankets that we don’t need anymore is another example of a fantastic donation to a local shelter in your city.


Helping people by giving is truly a blessing from God. Not only does it help someone who is in need, but it’s a good feeling when you know that you did something to make a difference in someone else’s life. I hope that this list gave you a few options for what you can do to brighten someone’s day.

LET’S CHAT~Do you have any other ideas for things you can give to people in need? Feel free to share your thoughts down below.

Have a beautiful and blessed day, everybody! See you next time! ♡

Fun in the Sun Book Tag ☀️

I don’t know why, but today I just felt like writing about something book related–I just didn’t know what. That’s when I saw some of the summer book tags on WordPress Reader–and I really loved some of the prompts. But instead of doing a book tag that’s already been created, I decided to make my own: The Fun in the Sun Book Tag.

I find these types of posts super interesting to read, so I’m excited to share another one of my own. To check out my first book tag, you can click HERE. Otherwise, let’s get started!

Rules:

  • Provide a link to the original creator Princess Q’Zion @ajoyfulchristianteen
  • Reiterate this list of rules before your responses.
  • Answer each question with one of your favorite books.
  • Nominate some of your blogger friends.
  • Have fun!

1. Ice Cream: A Sweet Book

Although I haven’t read this one in a while–probably about 2 years–I remember really enjoying it. This short, lower middle grade novel is about a girl named Taylor who has recently moved to Roxbury Park. She decides to join a local Dog Club, which begins to face competition with a luxury dog groomer right across town. Meanwhile, she faces the struggles of being the “new girl” as she experiences bullying at school. Overall the plot is really simple and straight to the point. But the adorable dogs and long-lasting friendships make for a really short and sweet read.

2. Hydrangea: A Book with lots of Character Development

An intriguing trait of the Smile series is that it is based on the teenage years of the author, Raina Telgemeier. I think that automatically adds a lot of originality to this graphic novel. After she gets braces due to a sudden trip, she struggles with learning to love herself, becoming comfortable in her own skin, and identifying who her real friends are. In the end, she develops to be more confident in herself, and smile bigger than ever before. This is definitely a book that I would recommend for all tweens and teens; it’s one of my favorites to this day.

3. Starfish: A Book with a Unique Concept

Twintuition is a series authored by actress twin sisters Tia and Tamera Mowry about twin sisters–Cassie and Caitlyn. As the two city girls–who’ve lost their closeness over the years–move to a small town in the large state of Texas, they soon discover their newfound power to see the future when they touch another person. This is a really cute read that has diverse representations with a unique concept and a sweet delivery of the theme of sisterhood.

4. Airplane: A Book that Started off Slow but Rose Beyond Your Expectations

Recently, I wrote a book review of Witchlings, one of the newest additions to my bookshelf. After the initial introduction of the main characters, the plot seemed to lack in action for a little while. However, once the gears finally started spinning, and the pieces of the puzzle began to connect, this has easily become one of my favorite fantasy novels.

5. Blazing Sun: A Book that Takes Place in the Summer

Soon after I finished reading the first addition to this series, All Four Stars, I knew that I had to get the sequel. Although I’ve just began to continue reading The Stars of Summer after a long break, I’m loving it so far. Considering that it takes place on a summer camp, with the 12-year-old protagonist (Gladys) being a food critic for the New York Standard newspaper on a mission to find the most delicious hotdog in New York, I feel as though it’s the perfect story for the summer.

6. Roller Coaster: A Book that Gave You the Giggles

DOAWK is one of my favorite series from my early childhood, mainly because the author Jeff Kinney never holds back with all of the humor. In this book, Greg learns what it’s like not to have electronics (like in the olden days), when he goes to Hardscrabble Farms for a week, where everything is old-fashioned. Although this book doesn’t take place in the summer, it gives me summer camp vibes. Plus, it’s a great option if you want to read something that’ll keep you laughing.

7. Sandcastle: A Book that Feels like a Fairytale

Grimmtastic Girls is a series set in Grimmlandia, the residence of a large scale of modernized fairy tale characters, including Cinderella (who prefers to go by Cinda), Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Rapunzel, Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Goldilocks, etc. While this is a book that I read years ago–therefore I recommend it for elementary schoolers–it was still a fairy tale with many modern twists that I really enjoyed.


I hope you all liked this Book Tag just as much as I did. But to be fair, any post relating to books is one of my favorites.

As for my nominees for my Fun in the Sun Book Tag, I choose EVERYONE who is has read this post to give this new tag a try. If you post these questions on your blog, please provide a link to the post in the comments. I would absolutely love to see all of your responses.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a beautiful and blessed day, and I’ll see you next time! ✨

Book Review #4: Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega

BOOK INFORMATION

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Genre: Fantasy

Age Category: Middle Grade (MG), roughly for kids between 10 to 14 years old

Pages: 352

Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

SYNOPSIS

Every year, in the magical town of Ravenskill, Witchlings who participate in the Black Moon Ceremony are placed into covens and come into their powers as full-fledged witches.

And twelve-year-old Seven Salazar can’t wait to be placed in the most powerful coven with her best friend! But on the night of the ceremony, in front of the entire town, Seven isn’t placed in one of the five covens. She’s a Spare!

Spare covens have fewer witches, are less powerful, and are looked down on by everyone. Even worse, when Seven and the other two Spares perform the magic circle to seal their coven and cement themselves as sisters, it doesn’t work! They’re stuck as Witchlings―and will lose their magic.

Seven invokes her only option: the impossible task. The three Spares will be assigned an impossible task: If they work together and succeed at it, their coven will be sealed and they’ll gain their full powers. If they fail… Well, the last coven to make the attempt ended up being turned into toads. Forever.

But maybe friendship can be the most powerful magic of all…

MY TAKEAWAYS

The purchase of this middle grade novel during a long-awaited visit to my favorite book store (see that post HERE) was very impulsive and based on three factors; I loved the cover art, I loved the synopsis, and I saw the stellar reviews. But it was a quick decision that I’m very grateful I made.

I honestly loved Witchlings a lot more than I expected to. A story filled with important lessons, tons of funny moments to keep readers laughing, and wholesome, well-developed characters, I think many more bookworms of all ages will find this a very rewarding read.

While I loved so much about this book, I have to admit that after the character introduction and Seven, Thorn, and Valley (the Spare coven) were assigned with their impossible task, the plot was a little uneventful and flat for a while–maybe the first 100 pages or so. Even so, I really wanted to keep going to see if the plot would enfold. And I wasn’t disappointed, as the fantasy adventure soon got off the ground.

There are a few epic magic duels, but I like how the author kept them family appropriate and fairly brief—even while using them to keep the novel action-packed and exciting.

After Seven and Valley–who was once her bully–decided to put their differences aside and work together, the entire story seemed to take flight through its many surprises, cliffhangers, and plot twists that kept me at the edge of my seat. Literally though, I was unable to put it down towards the end and read the final 150 pages—if not a little more—in one sitting. At this point in the journey I really came to an understanding of the meaning of each noted character and event–everything begins to click to create an impactful (yet heartfelt) ending.

The amount of character development among each of the main characters was a really great element of the story. As Seven’s bond with Thorn and Valley gets stronger, she seems to drift away from her former best friend Poppy, who stopped talking to her since she got into House Hyacinth, the coven of Seven’s dreams. It really proved that we can form the strongest bonds with the most unlikely (or different) people, and other times, friends go onto different paths. And that’s okay! If and when that happens, we should move on in love.

Me and the characters alike learned the importance of selflessness, never giving up (even through fear), facing intolerance head-on, forgiving and learning to love those who have hurt you, speaking up when you see someone you love being mistreated, and to cherish every moment as if its your last. I would agree that the protagonist, her friends, and her family serve as great role models to kids.

As my conclusion, Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega is a humorous, exciting, and magical adventure that kids and adults alike can enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am praying that a sequel will come out in the next couple years. If you are a fan of the show The Owl House, the Harry Potter series or other teen prodigy magic-filled adventures, this one is for you.

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5, 5 being the best of the best)

Recommended Age: for readers 10 or 11+

Thank you so much for reading, my fellow bookish friends! God bless you all, and peace in! ♡

Never Have I Ever: Bookworm Edition

While I was brainstorming some more blog post ideas, a Never have I Ever post popped in my head. If you don’t know what this game is, Never Have I Ever is a party game where you list several experiences, and you have to say whether or not you have done it. Except, this time it includes some of the common experiences of bookworms.

Although it was a really random idea, it’s something fun that I’ve never done before. So, why not give it a shot? You get 1 point for each thing that you have never done. Feel free to follow along and answer the questions with me.

1) Smelled a new book….

Absolutely. In fact, I do this whenever I get a new book. Especially graphic novels. They have this distinct smell that I love, for some reason. It’s just like a piece of paper that just came out of the print

2) Took a picture with an author…

Although I’m a little sad to say it, I have not. Though I’d really like to meet Sharon M. Draper one day. She’s a really great children’s book author. If poet Maya Angelou was still with us, I would want to meet her, too.

3) Named a pet after a book character…

Never. I’ve had several betta fish in my life…Peace, Easter and Joyus. Two boys and one girl. But we’ve named them based on their personalities and words that we like. Never a character.

4) Joined a book club…

I was in my school’s book club for 8th grade–which I have now graduated from–and I plan to join again for the next school year.

5) Hugged or kissed a book…

I do this all the time. Hug my books, at least. Especially my favorites.

6) Cried while reading…

I’m not that much of an emotional person. Like all people, I cry sometimes, but that alone is very rare. I’ve been on the verge of crying if there is a really sad or heartwarming part, but I don’t think it’s ever gotten to the point where I actually cried.

7) Attended a book signing…

Unfortunately, no I have not. But I hope that I’ll be able to go to one someday–and host a few of my own when I become a NY Times Bestselling author.

8) Fell asleep while reading...

Never. I’ve definitely read while I was tired before, but I always put my book away when I know that it’s time to go to sleep. I take my beauty rest seriously, lol.

9) Bought an eBook…

I’m not the biggest fan of reading books that I can’t physically hold, even though it’s kind of old school. However, I do have about 3 books in which I purchased on my iPad, so the answer is yes.

10) Laughed out loud while reading…

All the time. I love to laugh, and hence I love reading books that have lots of humor, even in the most intense moments. In my opinion, an author that has the ability to make readers laugh has one of the best secret weapons for writing there is.


I scored a total of 5 points, meaning that there were 5 things on this list that I have never done. Pretty good, if you ask me. Overall, these questions were a lot of fun to answer. It really let me reflect on my many years of loving literature.

LET’S CHAT~Now I’m curious. How many points did you get? Don’t be afraid to comment your score, as well as the numbers that you haven’t done below in the comments.

Have a beautiful and blessed day, everybody! See you next time! ♡