Monday, May 15, 2023

Book Spotlight - Pack Your Bags, Maggie Diaz Pack Your Bags, Maggie Diaz by Nina Moreno + Giveaway

About The Book:


Author: Nina Moreno, Courtney Lovett (Illustrator)

Pub. Date: May 2, 2023

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 272

Find it: Goodreads

This humorous and heartfelt middle-grade novel by Nina Moreno with illustrations by Courtney Lovett is perfect for fans of Celia C. PĂ©rez and Terri Libenson.

Spring semester is here and Maggie is killing it! Her grades are up, she’s loving outdoor track and field, and being a seventh grader means the awesome spring break trip to St. Augustine is almost here. She can’t wait for her first overnight trip away from her overprotective parents, lovesick sister, and busybody abuela. Nothing will get in the way of Maggie having the best time ever with her two best friends, Zoey and Julian!

But all of Maggie’s plans for their unforgettable trip start to fall apart as everyone gets carried away with the upcoming dance instead. Even Julian has a crush―throwing their group dynamic into turmoil when he asks the new girl to be his date. Zoey’s so stressed with school that her straight A streak is in trouble . . . and why can’t Maggie stop thinking about Eerie Eddie? The three best friends have been inseparable for years, but everything is changing as everyone splits into twos, leaving Maggie unsure of where―and with who―she still fits.


About Nina Moreno:

Nina Moreno was born and raised in Miami until a hurricane sent her family toward the pines of Georgia where she picked up an accent. She’s a proud University of Florida Gator who once had her dream job of shelving books at the library. Inspired by the folklore and stories passed down to her from her Cuban and Colombian family, she now writes about disaster Latinx teens & tweens chasing their dreams, falling in love, and navigating life in the hyphen. Her first novel, Don’t Date Rosa Santos, was a Junior Library Guild Selection, Indie Next Pick for teen readers, and SIBA Okra Pick. The companion YA novel featuring the same beloved town of Port Coral, Our Way Back to Alwaysis out now with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Her MG debut, Join the Club, Maggie Diaz, will be available from Scholastic in 2022. 

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Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of PACK YOUR BAGS, MAGGIE DIAZ, US Only.

Ends May 16th, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


The Chirpy Bookaholic

Guest Post or Excerpt/IG Post


A Backwards Story

Guest Post or Excerpt/IG Post


YA Books Central

Excerpt/IG Post (when available)


The Momma Spot

Guest Post or Excerpt


Two Chicks on Books

Guest Post or Excerpt/IG Post


#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Guest Post or Excerpt/IG Post


Cara North

Guest Post or Excerpt/IG Post


A Dream Within A Dream

Guest Post or Excerpt


A Blue Box Full of Books

Review/IG Post


Confessions of the Perfect Mom

Review/IG Post

Week Two:


Country Mamas With Kids

Review/IG Post



Review/IG Post



Review/IG Post


Review/IG Post


Books With a Chance

Review/IG Post


Not In Jersey

Review/IG Post


Author Z. Knight’s Guild

Review/IG Post



Review/IG Post



Review/IG Post


Two Points of Interest

Review/IG Post

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Book Review - Quests Aside by Brian Schirmer


Quests Aside: Adventurers Anonymous by Brian Schirmer is a graphic novel about a band of adventurers protecting their home against a dangerous outsider. The guests and personnel at the Quests Aside, a local watering hole, is known for their eccentricities. The staff at the bar are: an apprentice mage, a chef that’s a skeleton, and an exiled princess who works for a legendary warrior, Barrow. The graphic novel offers a small glimpse into each character’s backstory.

Barrow is well known among the people for his extraordinary abilities and feats. He has retired and decided to own a bar to connect with other adventurers while he settles down. Things were going well until someone from his past decided that they wanted the land the bar is on. Barrow must decide if he will take up his weapons again and fight for his home, or if he is willing to walk away from everything he has created.


The graphic novel was a quick and fun read that was filled with witty humor. The story line reminds me of role playing video games and board games that I played in my youth. The story was straightforward and easy to follow along. I thought the artwork was beautifully done. If you enjoy Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing games, then you will enjoy this graphic novel.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Book Review - The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel


The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel is about two people from different walks of life solving a decades old mystery that could change the trajectory of their lives. Brianna Kelly has spent her entire life at Ballymacool House and Boarding School. The headmistress Magee found Brianna on her doorstep when Brianna was an infant. The person who left Brianna on the school’s doorstep left no clues to indicate her lineage or her parents.

Brianna feels that since she spent her entire life as a servant at the school, she fears that she will most likely die in the same role. Although she feels that she is meant for something more, she lacks the power and money to alter her situation and circumstances. When Brianna isn’t working, she spends her time exploring the area surrounding Ballymacool. She looks for hidden treasures to add to her secret stash  that she has hidden underneath the floorboards of her room.

Michael Wray is a member of the Ascendancy class and the son of a local gentry. His presence was requested at Ballymacool when his unruly cousin, Adeline,  started having behavioral problems and the staff was unable to deal with her. As Michael tries to get his cousin’s behavior under control, he finds himself in the company of Brianna often. After spending a few brief moments with Brianna, Michael feels himself drawn to her.


As the pair spends more time together, Micheal feels that there is something familiar about Brianna. When Brianna finds a piece of silver in the woods, she enlist Michael to help her find the origin of the platter. As they dig deeper, they find out a secret behind the platter that might change their lives.


I thought the book was an okay read. The novel moved very slowly with no story progression. The author spent more than ¾ of the book in the beginning to talk about Michael dealing with his cousin’s unruly behavior. And towards the end, when the story starts to pick up, Adeline just disappears. We don’t know if her behavior improves or is Adeline still a thorn in everyone’s sides.


I liked that the author weaved Irish phrases into the narration. It made me feel more immersed in the story. The book had a section in the back of the book that translated the phrases and gave readers a glimpse into the history of Ballymacool along with the author’s inspiration. I thought this was a delightful inclusion, but I would have preferred if the words were translated in story. I found it a bit annoying to move back and forth constantly to figure out what a specific word or phrase meant.


The ending did wrap up the story in a neat bow but I had a few questions that I don’t think were addressed. I felt that the author drew out the story and then didn’t fully address all the different storylines, such as: how did Brianna’s mother know Magee? Did Magee know about Brianna’s existence prior to finding Brianna? If you enjoy clean romance novels with a cozy mystery twist, then you will enjoy this novel.

**Disclosure - I received a free  copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion**

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Book Review - A Dark Interlude by Ryan O'Sullivan


A Dark Interlude by Ryan O'Sullivan is a graphic novel about the pending demise of the human race. The graphic novel follows a nameless hero on his quest to protect Fearscape and the human world from creatures who are born from fear. The story also follows Henry Henry, who doesn’t want his newest book published but someone will stop at nothing to get it published.

The graphic novel mentions that this isn’t a sequel to Fearscape and that they despise authors who create sequels.  However, I feel that there were nuances to the story that I missed because I didn’t read the previous book by this author. The storyline felt confusing and it was hard understanding what was going on and the different characters’ purpose. I felt like I was left with more questions than answers after I finished reading the graphic novel. I didn’t find this graphic novel enjoyable and I wouldn’t read any other books from this series.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Book Review - Dream Big: Overcoming Fear and Achieving Success by Napoleon Hill


Dream Big: Overcoming Fear and Achieving Success by Napoleon Hill is a compilation of speeches and articles that inspire and encourage success. Napoleon Hill is a renowned inspirational thinker and writer. He wrote many books to help people conquer their fears and, as a result, help to achieve their dreams and goals. 

The pocket size book contains advice that is helpful to readers who need inspiration or guidance about life in general. Some of the advice was outdated but it can still be applied to modern times. The book was organized by short chapters dedicated to specific topics.  It is a collection of pieces that were previously written by the author in the 1930s and does not include any new articles.


I found the book to be inspirational and informative. I like the chapters were short enough to be educational but also allowed the reader to continue reading the book or to take a few minutes to process what was learned. I found most of the advice to be helpful and encouraging. There were some bits that were from another era or not applicable to modern times, such as working hard and longer than you should be, working to the point of exhaustion, and giving up sleep to work. Overall, I was able to gleam a few helpful tidbits. I would recommend this book to anyone who feels stuck or needs an extra boost in life.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Book Review - This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede


This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede is the first book in the Last Finestra duology. Alessa has been the bride at three weddings and has had to attend three subsequent funerals. Alessa was blessed with a magical gift from the Gods. She is supposed to magnify her partner’s magic, but instead she kills every suitor she touches.


Alessa is a Finestra and along with her partner, a being called a Fonte, is supposed to protect their island from a swarm of demons that would devour everything that it comes in contact with. The signs of their pending arrival are becoming more prominent. She is running out of time to find a new partner to train with in order to defeat the demon army. It doesn’t help that all the villagers hate her or are afraid of her. Many of the eligible Fontes have fled the island to escape being married to a Finestra that kills all her Fontes.


Alessa is the island’s only hope but that doesn’t prevent her from having a target on her back. A powerful rogue priest is riling up fellow villagers to convince them that Alessa is an imposter, and that their only chance for survival is having Alessa killed so another Finestra will rise in her place. Even the guards and her consultants that are supposed to serve her have tried or planned to assassinate her.


Alessa is afraid and doesn’t know who to trust. She goes into the city’s dark underbelly to find a bodyguard. Alessa finds Dante, a feisty outcast that has the mark of a killer. She pleads with him to be her protector as she has no one else she can trust nor depend on.


Dante acquiesces and decides to be her bodyguard. Alessa is overjoyed by this. She hopes that he will turn into a friend and someone she can trust. She tries to get close to Dante, but Dante refuses to let his walls down. As the rebellion led by the rogue priest happens closer to home, Alessa realizes Dante might be keeping a deadly secret that may ultimately lead to her downfall. Will Dante be able to help her master her gift or lead her to her demise?


The novel was an interesting read. I enjoyed reading how Alessa came into her own. She went from someone who was shy and needed constant guidance, to someone who followed her own heart and judgments. As she was learning to control her abilities, she learned how to use her emotions to help forward her mission, instead of dwelling in her own misery.


I like that Alessa went from someone who felt like a trapped animal to someone who had friends standing beside her. It was fun watching the playful banter evolve between Dante and Alessa. The relationships and bonds in the book felt realistic and made me empathize with Alessa and her plight. The supporting characters were all unique and I enjoyed reading about them bonding with each other.


The novel was a bit of a slow burn in terms of story progression and the budding romances. The ending came fast and quick. I felt like it was over in a blink of an eye. The novel does leave an opening for the second book in the series. I can’t wait to read the final book to see what happens.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Book Review - The Body by the Sea by Jean-Luc Bannalec


The Body by the Sea by Jean-Luc Bannalec is the eight book in the Brittany murder mystery series. There is a small commune town on the sea named Concarneau whose nickname is Ville Bleue, or Blue Town. The town has three harbors and visitors come from all over to view the scenery and explore the neighboring businesses. In the past, the harbors also served as a barrier for the village and its inhabitants from attacks from outsiders.

Commissaire Georges Dupin calls this town home because of the scenic and easy going vibes. The town also has his favorite restaurant, the Amiral. The restaurant is loved by many, and well known because a famous author wrote a book based on the town while eating at the restaurant. The restaurant will become an integral part of the story.

The police station that Dupin works at is currently undergoing construction. It is also Pentecost, a prominent holiday in Europe, and many of his colleagues are gone for the long weekend. He’s drawn the short straw to be on call, and Dupin is looking forward to his vacation before his in-laws come to visit.

Things go awry when the body of Doctor Chaboseau is discovered. Chaboseau fell from his window to his death but was it an accident, or was he pushed? Dupin is called to the scene to help investigate the death but his job is made more difficult because the team is short staffed. He tries to reach out to them to no avail. He has to rely on his new associates for help with the investigation. Will Dupin and his colleagues find the murderer before they strike again?

The book is a cozy murder mystery. The novel  is an easy read and can be read as a standalone. I liked that the book included ample descriptions of the food and scenery. It made me feel that I was right there with Dupin while he was trying to solve the mystery. However, at times there were phrases that weren’t translated well and it was confusing to understand what it was referring to. I wish that the author included a translation or an explanation behind the phrases.

The ending did come as a bit of a surprise and I didn’t expect the motive behind the murders. The book introduced a ton of characters and it was hard keeping track of them and their purpose in the story. The novel does move very slowly but has some humor sprinkled throughout the book. If you enjoy cozy murder mysteries that have detailed descriptions, then you would definitely enjoy this book.

Monday, May 1, 2023

May 2023 Empties


I thought the best way to start the new month was to do an empty post. I haven't really finish much last month and I been slacking. I am not sure what I was using but it caused me to get a full body and face rash so the last few weeks I been recuperating. I can't wait to start using my new Summer products though. 

I finished a few bars of soap and my favorites were from Bath and Body Works and Varina soaps. Both soaps are creamy and had a generous lather. I like that both soaps had a floral scent. I have tried a few scents from both brands and none of the scents disappoint.

I love the scents from Nectar Bath Treats and I have bought a few products from them recently. However, their Foaming Bath Salts is disappointing. It's almost $9 a tube and I had to use the entire tube before I smelled anything or got any foam. I think I would rather stick to bubble bath.

The Facetory Soothin' Vibes Body Serum was okay. I used to buy a lot of their products when they used to import a lot of their inventory. It seems now they are focusing on producing their own stuff like MemeBox did before they kind of fading away. I used to subscribe to their boxes as well but I might have to get rid of my subscription as the items are starting to get repetitive and are not that great. The body serum is very thin and has a faint scent. It's neither pleasant or unpleasant. The serum is a bit sticky and leaves my skin tacky for quite some time. It's not very hydrating either.

The Herbivore Moon Fruit sleep mask is a retinol alternative. It has a pleasant fruity scent and it was a pale purple gel cream consistency. It smoothed on easily and absorbed quickly. It didn't leave my skin feeling tacky or sticky. After a few weeks of consistent use, my skin felt softer and smoother. I like that it didn't dry out my skin or make it sensitive.