Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Book Spotlight - The Shape of Time (Rymworld Arcana Book One) by Ryan Calejo + Giveaway

About The Book:


Author: Ryan Calejo

Pub. Date: September 12, 2023

Publisher: Amulet Books

Formats:  Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 304

Find it: Goodreads

Thirteen-year-old Antares De La Vega is a natural born adventurer. He dreams of journeying across burning deserts, trekking through wild and uncharted jungles, sailing the furthest reaches of the seas—and yet, he’s never even stepped foot outside of South Florida . . . But that all changes when strange creatures come leaping out of lightning bolts to kidnap him. Locked away in a secret prison in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle, Antares meets 13-year-old Magdavellía, a mysterious and iron-willed girl who opens his eyes to a shocking truth: that this world is a far different place than he’s been led to believe. He learns of the existence of The Flat Earth Society, an ancient secret order, whose main function is to keep the world beyond the great Ice Wall a mystery—a land known as Rymworld. But Rymworld is in trouble. Led by a nameless evil, a sinister group of mystics seek to seize control over its only truly resource: time itself.

Antares and Magdavellía must set out beyond the edges of any map to discover the undiscoverable: a lost and forgotten island where there is rumored to exist a legendary artifact: a mythical compass that just might hold the key to foiling the mystics’ plans. Following a series of intricately concealed clues left behind by Magdavellía’s parents (clues Antares seems to be the key to unlocking), they must wield both geometry and alchemy, outsmart molemen and mermaids, and outrun fiendish outer space aliens––all while attempting to solve a riddle as old and mystifying as the sun.





About Ryan Calejo:

Ryan Calejo is an award-winning author born and raised in sunny south Florida. His critically acclaimed Charlie Hernández series has been featured in half a dozen state reading lists and has earned starred reviews from Booklist and Kirkus, was a Texas Bluebonnet Master List Selection, and won an International Latino Book Award, a Sunshine State Young Readers Award, and a Florida Book Award (Gold Medal). He lives in Miami.


Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon


Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a finished copy of THE SHAPE OF TIME, US Only.

Ends October 3rd, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt/IG Post


Cara North

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Two Chicks on Books

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Rajiv's Reviews

Review/IG Post

Week Two:


Kim's Book Reviews and Writing Aha's

Review/IG Post


Review Thick And Thin

Review/IG Post



IG Review/TikTok Post



TikTok Post



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Week Three:


Lifestyle of Me




IG Review



IG Review



IG Review


The Momma Spot


Week Four:






Review/IG Post


Two Points of Interest




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The Litt Librarian

Review/IG Post

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

September 2023 Empties!


I finished so many things this month that I am excited! I am can't wait for the cooler weather and the new Fall skincare goodies. I finished a lot of skincare stuff this month and barely any makeup since it was so hot that I didn't want anything on my face...not like it would have lasted with how much I was sweating.

I finished a few hair products but my favorite was the Magiforet Argan Oil Shampoo. It makes my hair smell so amazing! Even after three days of washing my hair still smells good. I finished the Laneige Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Moisturizer. It had a gel creme consistency and smoothed on so easily. It left my skin feeling soft and smooth. While the square jar can be cute, I wish they made the font size and color easier to read. 

I recently discovered Evolve Beauty from my local organic and natural beauty store. I tried a few new products this and both worked well. The Radiant glow Mask smells like chocolate and leaves skin looking radiant and glowing. The Daily Renew Facial Cream didn't have any delicious smells like the mask but left skin feeling so soft and smooth. It wasn't heavy and didn't leave skin feeling tacky or sticky. It was a great day cream to wear during the hotter months.

I had the Skin Regimen 1.85 HA booster on my countertop for a while and forgot about it. I was excited to try it but was sorely disappointed. I followed the instructions but the booster left my skin irritated and I got a rash all over my face after using. Since it was a full bottle and expensive I ended up using it on my hands and legs which ended up itchy but bearable. 

I heard so many good things about the Peach and Lilly Glass Skin Serum. I was pretty disappointed. I didn't notice my skin looking any different when using. I was surprised on how much I liked the Herbivore Phoenix Facial Oil. It wasn't greasy and left my skin feeling soft and moisturized. The oil does has a strong scent and it might not be for everyone.

Did you finish anything this month that you enjoyed?

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Book Review - A Sweet Misfortune (Virtues and Vices of the Old West, #2) by Maggie Brendan


 A Sweet Misfortune by Maggie Brendan is about a young woman who was kidnapped by a stranger and her life in the aftermath of the kidnapping.  Rachel Matthews  knew that she couldn’t rely on others to take care of her. She has always tried to take care of herself the best she knows how. She is destitute and alone, after her parents died in an accident and her brother leaves town to try to make enough money to buy back the family homestead.

Rachel is determined to make enough money to support herself even if it means taking on an unsavory job prospect. She becomes a dance hall girl and works for tips from the bar patrons. The women who work at the dance hall or saloons, are sometimes given the name of “soiled doves”, meaning that they do more than just dance for money. 

When her brother, Preston, hears of her circumstances, he writes to a friend to help her out as Preston is in California searching for gold and isn’t close enough in proximity to help his sister. Preston is unable to leave his current location because he left to earn money to buy back the family ranch. He asks John McIntyre, a widely admired cattle baron to help rescue her. 

The last thing John McIntyre wants to do is to help Rachel and go into a saloon. He is more focused on his fledgling business and buying more property. He lives to take care of his property and his grandmother, Estelle. However, John is a man of honor and would never refuse a friend in need. So, he strides into the saloon and picks up Rachel right off stage and takes her to his house by horse.

As one can imagine, Rachel didn’t take too kindly to being kidnapped from her job. However, while still upset at John, she still stays with him in hopes that Preston will make the trip down for her. After months go by, Rachel isn’t sure how much longer she can take advantage of John’s and Estelle’s kindness. She isn’t sure how  long she can spend with John after finding out that Preston borrowed money from him and John holds title to her family’s property.  To complicate matters, Rachel starts to feel attracted to John even though she still can’t quite forgive him just yet about her family’s ranch and for kidnapping her. Will Rachel be able to save up enough money to get back her family farm?

The book started off okay but it was a boring and predictable read. I didn’t really care for any of the characters and the story felt dull.  Rachel was confusing as a character. She kept saying how she was proud of her job and was more than happy to go back to it but then she couldn’t wait to leave the saloon. She mentioned that being a dance hall girl is a job that only desperate women take but, then claims the job paid well that she didn’t mind it. I feel like she was trying to convince herself or others that the job isn’t as bad as they think it is but it really is a terrible job to have.  

Annabelle, the housekeeper on John’s farm,  would switch from speaking “proper” English then switch to broken Southern English. It was confusing at times and hard to imagine what this character was like. I did like reading her and Estelle’s lines the best though.  I also didn’t understand why Preston never visited or even attempted to help his sister. He claims that he cares for her but it is later revealed that they barely had any communication when he was searching for gold.

The characters just do wild and bizarre things that makes me question how viable the storyline really is. When Rachel reads a note from someone, she decides at that very moment she needs to go out during horrendous weather to talk to that person. She wasn’t even properly dressed and didn’t even consider how terrible the weather was. John, who is still recovering from a treacherous medical ailment, had an easy time to go out and get her without even seeming to struggle. They made it seem that even the smallest task would be too much for him to handle but apparently riding the freezing blizzard and carrying another person on horseback was no big deal.

The book would go on for pages with no progression to the story.  I wonder if the title was reflecting my feelings on how much it was a misfortune that I was stuck reading the book. It was definitely a relief when I finished the book. Given how boring and predictable this fluff piece was, I don’t think I would be in a rush to read another book by the author.


Friday, September 15, 2023

Book Review - Suddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz


Suddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz is about a group of high school students who take a trip together to celebrate their graduation.  Izzy Morales attends an elite private school, where her fellow students are kids of prominent and rich families. She always felt like an outsider because her family is impoverished and her mother works as a teacher in the school.

The only person that Izzy feels has her back is Kassidy, another student at the school. So when Kassidy invites Izzy to an all expenses paid trip to a glamorous manor, she has a hard time saying no. Izzy usually avoids accepting Kassidy’s offers to go on trips together as she doesn’t want to take advantage of Kassidy’s generosity.

This time Kassidy sweetened the offer by inviting Izzy’s crush, Marlow, along with a few of their other friends.  When they arrive Kassidy surprises the group by letting them know that they will be dressing up in vintage clothing and no modern conveniences like cellphones will be allowed. The group gets into some minor squabbles with each other but for the most part, everyone is having a great time, until Kassidy’s boyfriend ends up dead.

His death was ruled a murder and investigators were called to the scene of the crime. Every guest is a suspect. Kassidy is in despair and shocked by his death. Everyone is suspicious of everyone else and is wary that they might be next. However, things look especially bad for Izzy, as she was the one who bought the murder weapon with her on vacation.

The book started off interesting but it ebbed and flowed between interesting to dull. The chapters were told from each character’s points of view. While this was interesting, I felt like this could have been used more to progress the story. Instead, when the police were investigating the murders, Izzy found a secret hideout and found out a lot of secrets other characters were keeping after listening into their interviews. I believe the author was using this method to give the readers new information but I would have preferred to read it from each character’s perspective instead. 

I felt that there were a lot of coincidences and things that came out of nowhere. I still don’t understand why Izzy thought it was a good idea to bring a knife on vacation. The author mentioned the reason but Izzy’s entire plan didn’t really make sense, as a reader. It just seemed like another cheap ploy to make you wonder if she is the murderer or was she being set up. Then one of the investigators who was involved in the case only became involved because they are connected to someone at the manor. I did find one of the investigators interesting and wished they had their own series, but the other one seemed too bumbling to even be a detective.

The ending came out of nowhere and was a bit too unrealistic. The author seemed to portray the character one way and the ending seemed so out of character for them. The book was a bit predictable to who the murderer was but their ending also seemed weird and also too dramatic. Overall, the book was an okay read if one suspended some beliefs on certain elements of the story.


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Book Review - Starting Over on Sunshine Corner by Phoebe Mills




Starting Over on Sunshine Corner by Phoebe Mills is about a single mom who made a split second decision to hook up with her best friend one night, and that decision ended up changing both of their lives. 

Rebecca (Becca) Hayes has been so focused on raising her daughter, Sofia, and furthering her finance career that she feels her life is missing companionship. She decides that she wants to start dating again but she isn’t sure how to go about it. She hasn’t been on a date since her daughter was born a few years ago. She hasn’t talked to a romantic partner in a while either and she is afraid of embarrassing herself on a date. 

The only man she has been talking to or is close with is her best friend, Jackson Lowe. Becca knows that Jackson is objectively very attractive but she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship. She has always put her feelings for him on the back burner. Until one day, she asks Jackson to help her get back into the dating game. One thing led to another and the pair ended up spending the night together. A few weeks later, Becca realizes that she is pregnant with Jackon’s baby. She knows she was able to count on him before but she doesn’t know if he is mature enough to be a father.

Jackson isn’t sure what he wants to do in life. He certainly wasn’t ready to be a father. He thought he was going to spend his days working as team lead at his family’s landscaping business and spend his free time surfing while being a bachelor. However, for years he has been secretly in love with Becca but he felt that he wasn’t good enough for her. She was also the real reason why he never settled down with anyone else. He felt that no one could compare to her.

After finding out that Becca is pregnant, Jackson realizes that he wants to have a life with Becca. He wants to have a family and grow old with her. Jackson knows he will need to put in the work if he wants to become the father and man Becca needs him to be.

The book was a quick and cozy romantic read. There was some mention of adult themes but the love scenes were behind closed doors. I thought the book was an okay read. I wish the author had given more details about how the main characters’ relationship had changed after spending the night together. It was like they talked about it and the story mentioned the time spent but that was about it. I wanted to know: how did they feel after the night together? Was it something they wished happened sooner?

I didn’t really understand why Becca was being so hard on Jackson. He was a single adult that had no responsibilities. If he wanted to spend his day on a job that was relatively stress free and enjoyable to him so he can spend his free time surfing, why was it a big deal for her? When he found that she was pregnant, he continued trying to be present for her and her daughter, though Becca said she was surprised at how much she could rely on him throughout the book. The book spends so much time going over the same thing about Jackson not being responsible enough and the last few pages is their blowup argument that just seemed like a token conflict scene before the book ends.

Another thing that confused me was that Jackson seemed very considerate of Becca’s feelings. He would try to arrive early to drive her to events because she didn’t like driving long distances by herself. He would also babysit her daughter when she had to do something. He seemed to get along with kids and enjoyed playing with them. I felt like Becca judged him for not being mature without realizing he never had the reason to be that way and when he did step up or try to, she had her own preconceived notions that were hard to get past.

I also didn’t see why Jackson was so loyal to Becca. He bent over backwards and consistently tried to better himself to be a good partner to her. When he was asking for support for something he was passionate about and did try to put in the work (but mentioned that he had some details to iron out), Becca immediately dismissed him. It just didn’t seem like they weren’t on fair or equal ground when it came to emotionally supporting each other. 

Another aspect of the story that gave me pause was that I felt like all of Becca’s and Jackson’s friends all had kids. They failed to remember that if you are not a parent or caregiver for a child, you might not know or have all the parenting skills that they seem to think that everyone needs to have to be a parent. 

The book is part of a series but can be read as a standalone. If you like straightforward romance novels, then you would enjoy reading this book.


Sunday, September 3, 2023

Book Review - This Is Where It Ends by Cindy K. Sproles



This Is Where It Ends by Cindy K. Sproles is about an old woman who is coming to terms with nearing the end of her life and a secret that makes her question everything she holds dear. Minerva Jane Jenkins married when she was just 14 years old. She loved her husband, Stately Jenkins, very much. So much, that when he moved her to an isolated part of the mountains, she didn’t have any objections. She went along with his plans like she believed a good wife should.

When Stately Jenkins passed away fifty years later, he made her promise that she wouldn’t tell anyone about the small box he kept hidden. He told her it was filled with gold and that’s all Minerva knew about it. She promised Stately that she wouldn’t tell a single soul about the box and the treasure within.

Minerva is now ninety four years old and she feels that she is nearing the end of her life. She feels happy that she is going to die because she leads a lonely existence.  She is proud that she managed to keep Stately’s promise of keeping the box a secret, which proved to be harder when a journalist showed up to her door.

Del Rankin is a reporter and wants to know about her story and Stately’s involvement in the gold that went missing.  He promises Minerva that he is only interested in the people involved in the story.  Del’s friend, Colton, made it obvious that he is only interested in finding the location of the gold by any means necessary. Both men think that Minvera is a pushover and would tell them what they need to know, but little did they know Minvera is a firecracker and will stop at nothing to protect her promise to Stately.

The book took a bit for me to get into. Minerva narrates the book in her Appalachian dialect and I had a hard time understanding what she was saying at times. A few times, I would have to go back and reread the same sentence over and over again. The story was slow and plodded along without much happening. However, there were a few heartwarming moments between Minvera and Del that caused me to tear up. The book did have a few surprises and twists towards the middle and end of the book. It also had some humor sprinkled throughout the book. I am glad that I decided to stick it out and not give up halfway through like I originally planned on doing. If you like Christian fiction that takes place in the Appalachian mountains, then you might enjoy this one.


Friday, September 1, 2023

Book Review - I Like Me Better by Robby Weber


I Like Me Better by Robby Weber is about Zack Martin’s summer plans going awry after he makes a split second decision.  Zack is excited for the summer to begin. He is a junior at school and is a soccer all star. His mentor, Ryan, is graduating which means Zack might be the next soccer captain. It was something he’s worked his entire life for.

He feels that soccer is the only thing he is good at. It is also the only time his family shows up for him and don’t bicker at each other. So, when Ryan pulls a prank and causes the whole soccer team to get in trouble, Zack decides to take the blame for the prank to prevent the whole team from being punished.

Zack thought that Ryan would admit to the prank before the summer ends and Zack would look like a savior and team player to the other players. He also thought it would give him the extra boost to get elected to team captain. All Zack needs to do is accept the punishment and wait until it’s a good time for Ryan to admit the truth, right?

As part of his punishment, he has to volunteer at a seaside conservation center. He crosses paths with another volunteer, Chip, who Zack thinks is cute. However, Chip, who turns out to be Ryan’s cousin, isn’t interested in being friends with Zack. Chip found out Zack pulled that prank and doesn’t want to be connected to anyone who treats animals like that.  As Chip continues to pull away from Zack, Zack can’t help but fall for him.

Zack’s love life isn’t the only thing that isn’t going exactly to plan. While he is waiting for Ryan to admit the truth, he realizes his friends and fellow players are pulling away from him also. Zack is struggling to get his life back to the easy going way it was before he had taken the blame for the prank. Will Zack be able to get his life back on track?

I thought the book was an okay read. I didn’t really care for Zack at first but I eventually softened my stance on him a bit. His personality was hard to grasp as he was both the all star jock but then also shy. I felt that he didn’t really think through his impulsive decision and it cost him a lot more than he expected. He did have some character growth but I wish he reflected more on his decisions.

I felt that the book moved a bit slow at times and didn’t really have much going on. I did like reading about Chip’s and Zack’s budding friendship and their interactions. I thought they were cute and fun to read. If you like clean young adult novels, then you might like this one.