quotes Elisquared likes

"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green



I am very excited to be a part of the blog tour from Rockstar Book Tours for this middle grade debut, Ghostcloud by Michael Mann.  Check out the excerpt below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway! 

Book Information

Title: Ghostcloud
Authors(s): Michael Mann
Publication Date: September 27,
Edition: Paperback, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook; 320 pgs
Publisher: Peachtree
SourceRockstar Book Tours
PurchaseAmazon - Kindle - Audible - B&N - iBooks - BAM! - Kobo - 
TBD Bookshop.org
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.  Please note the purchase links above are affiliate links.

Tour Schedule

Week One
9/19/2022 - Eye-Rolling Demigod's Book Blog - Review/IG Post
9/19/2022 - laura's bookish corner - Review/IG Post
9/20/2022 - Nerdophiles - Review
9/20/2022 - Beers Books Boos - Review/IG Post
9/21/2022 - More Books Please blog - Review/IG Post
9/21/2022 - @jael_and_jenessa_reads - Review/IG Post
9/22/2022 - Two Points of Interest - Review 
9/22/2022 - Lisa-Queen of Random - Excerpt/IG Post
9/23/2022 - @ablueboxfullofbooks - IG Review
9/23/2022 - onemused - IG Spotlight

Week Two
9/26/2022 - Eli to the nth - Review/IG Post
9/26/2022 - GryffindorBookishNerd - IG Review
9/27/2022 - The Momma Spot - Review/IG Post
9/27/2022 - YA Books Central - Excerpt
9/28/2022 - PopTheButterfly Reads - Review/IG Post
9/28/2022 - @jacleomik33 - IG Review
9/29/2022 - The Bookwyrm's Den - Review 
9/29/2022 - Laurenreads._ - IG Review
9/30/2022 - Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - Review/IG Post
9/30/2022 - One More Exclamation  - Review/IG Post

The Summary

A riveting, magical escapade about finding friendship and the courage to set yourself free against all odds.

Kidnapped and forced to shovel coal underground, in a half-bombed power station, 12-year-old Luke Smith-Sharma keeps his head down and hopes he can earn his freedom from the evil Tabitha Margate. Then one day he discovers he can see things that others can’t. Ghostly things. A ghostly girl named Alma, who can bend the shape of clouds to her will and rides them through the night sky. With Alma’s help, Luke discovers his own innate powers and uncovers the terrible truth of why Tabatha is kidnapping children and forcing them to shovel coal. Desperate to escape, Luke teams up with Alma, his best friend Ravi, and new girl Jess. Can Luke and his friends get away before they each become victims to a cruel and sinister scheme?
Debut author Michael Mann delivers a wildly imaginative middle grade fantasy set in a smoke-stained world that’s sure to entertain readers who are eager for an adventure with paranormal superpowers.


By Michael Mann

Excerpt for Rockstar Book Tours


This book is set in London, but not as we know it. It is a London where Big Ben beeps and Battersea Power Station belches out smoke; where bustling river markets float on the rising water and kidnapping is rife; where the Channel Tunnel lies closed, ever since the old war ended. 

And far below, hidden underground, children are shoveling . . . 

Coal Dust

Shovel down. Scoop up. Lift. Pass forward. 

Luke Smith-Sharma lived beneath Battersea Power Station. It was a gloomy place with towering chimneys and blackened bricks. A treacly darkness oozed from its walls, and at night the corridors were stalked by shadows. 

“Come on, speed up!” hissed Ravi, from behind. “You’re spilling the coal.” 

“Sorry, I was thinking.”

“Well, don’t. Less sleuthing, more shoveling, mate.”

Luke was a shoveler for the station’s first chimney. He kept the fuel coming in the great furnace room, feeding the fires till they glowed white-hot. Lines of children, one hundred kids long, snaked across the hall to the hungry flames, each passing coal dust to the child in front. Hidden from the millions of people above, they powered all of London: from Big Ben’s beep to the robot-horse carriages, from Buckingham Palace to London Zoo. 

“You know, I miss homework. And detention. And Brussels sprouts.” 

“Focus, Luke.” Ravi wiped his glasses. “They say she’s visiting today. She’s giving amber tickets to the hardest shovelers . . .”

“. . . and it’s our only way home. I know. I know.”

Luke tightened his grip on the rust-iron shovel. He ignored the chafe of his sackcloth collar and the tickle of sweat on his neck and brow. He had to keep shoveling. Nobody ever stopped shoveling. Not unless they wanted to be fuel themselves. 

Iron scraped carbon. Lungs panted hot air. Dancing flames hissed and crackled. These were the sounds of the furnace room. The same sounds he’d heard for over two years. But each week, on Sunday, he heard a different set of sounds. And you had to be ready. 

A door creaked. A deliberate creak he knew well. It was followed by a hush that rolled up the line, silencing guards and children alike, then the echo of heels on a hot stone floor. 

“Don’t look back,” Ravi said. “Keep your eyes on the shovel!” Shovel down. Scoop up. Lift. Pass forward.

Black nails tapped on a black clipboard. A black lab coat swished over black leather boots. A black heart beat closer each second. 

Shovel down. Scoop up. Lift. Pass forward. 

Excerpt from Ghostcloud / Text copyright © 2022 by Michael Mann. Reproduced by permission from Peachtree Publishing Company Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

About Michael Mann:
Michael’s first writing success was for a poem about potatoes - in a competition run by a Yorkshire school catering company. As a ‘reward’, he had to shake hands with a giant potato mascot in front of his entire school. It would be many years before he dared write again.

These days, Michael is a teacher by day, dad by night, and mostly writes when he should be sleeping. He owes the idea for his middle grade novel, Ghostcloud, to his coal-mining grandad and a lifelong love of cloudspotting. He’s half-Indian and passionate about diversity in children’s literature, and loves books that keeps kids turning the page.

He has a first-class degree in anthropology, lives in East London with his (very patient) partner and their (less patient) toddler, and can be found playing board games when he’s not busy losing his wallet. Michael was an Undiscovered Voices 2020 finalist, and his debut middle grade novel Ghostcloud will publish with Hachette in October 2021.

1 winner will receive a finished copy of GHOSTCLOUD, US Only.




I am very excited to be a part of the blog tour from Rockstar Book Tours for this middle grade graphic novel, Ghoster Heights by Corey Landsell, Kelly Mellings, & Lisa Larose.  Check out my review below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway! 

Book Information

Title: Ghoster Heights
Authors(s)/Illustrator(s): Corey Landsell, Kelly Mellings, & Lisa Larose
Publication Date: September 27,
Edition: Paperback, eBook; 208pgs
Publisher: Wonderbound
SourceRockstar Book Tours
PurchaseAmazon - Kindle - B&N - iBooks - BAM! - Kobo - 
TBD Bookshop.org
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.  Please note the purchase links above are affiliate links.

Tour Schedule

Week One
9/12/2022 - Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - Review/IG Post
9/13/2022 - hauntedbybooks - Review/IG Post
9/14/2022 - hodophile_z - IG Review
9/15/2022 - Jazzy Book Reviews - Guest Post/IG Post
9/16/2022 - Two Chicks on Books - Guest Post
9/17/2022 - @jaimerockstarbooktours - IG Spotlight

Week Two
9/18/2022 - YA Books Central - Guest Post
9/19/2022 - Eli to the nth - Review/IG Post
9/20/2022 - @allyluvsbooksalatte - IG Spotlight
9/21/2022 - One More Exclamation - Review/IG Post
9/22/2022 - A Dream Within A Dream - Guest Post
9/23/2022 - BookHounds YA - Guest Post/IG Post
9/24/2022 - RiverMose-Reads - Guest Post

Week Three
9/25/2022 - The Real World According to Sam - Review/IG Post
9/26/2022 - Nerdophiles - Review 
9/27/2022 - Novel Novice - IG Spotlight
9/28/2022 - @jacleomik33 - IG Review
9/29/2022 - The Bookwyrm's Den - Review 
9/30/2022 - Two Points of Interest - Review
10/1/2022 - A Blue Box Full of Books - IG Review

Week Four
10/2/2022 - @enjoyingbooksagain - IG Review
10/3/2022 - @thebookishfoxwitch - IG Review
10/4/2022 - The Momma Spot - Review/IG Post
10/5/2022 - booksaremagictoo - Review/IG Post
10/6/2022 - GryffindorBookishNerd - Review/IG Post
10/7/2022 - Mom with a Reading Problem - Review/IG Post

The Summary


Eight-year-old Ona has lost just about everything: her home, her possessions, her mother, and almost her life. When she and her father move into her Baba’s apartment complex after these traumatic events, they had hoped for a clean start. But a mysterious specter follows her, and Ona befriends the ghost she discovers haunting the boiler room. When her new friendship starts allowing her to see other ghosts—the ghosts who haunt the other residents of her building—she decides to use her ability to help her new neighbors face their troubles and free themselves from their specters. In doing so, however, Ona must eventually come face to face with a much darker foe—her own trauma and grief. The earnestness of Judy Bloom meets the raw emotion of I Kill Giants in this beautifully hopeful story of childhood tragedy.

An original graphic novel for middle grade readers about grief, loss, and the ghosts that haunt us all.

For fans of Sheets by Brenna Thummler, Small Spaces by Katherine Arden, and Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier.

My Review

Ghoster Heights by Corey Landsell, Kelly Mellings, and Lisa Larose was an adorable kick-off to my Fall reads!  Bold, graphic art with a spooky, but heartfelt, story makes this graphic novel a fun read for younger kids, and the young-at-heart!

Eight year old Ona and her dad have to move in with her grandmother due to a tragic event.  Uprooting her entire life, Ona is not having the best time.  She is also targeted right away by the apartment complex's bully, which makes her transition even harder.  But one day, when she is trying to capture one of her grandmother's wandering cats, Ona discovers a ghost--a friendly ghost.  Haunty, as the specter is dubbed, leads Ona to discover her own strength and find a place for herself in her new home.

The concept of this book is great.  How Ona is able to help her neighbors via Haunty was really original.  I loved the sense of family that was created within the apartment complex, and that Ona got to see people have layers and explanations behind their actions/attitudes.  The lessons taught are important for kids to learn, and I think the vehicle of ghosts and graphic novel works well to convey that.

I wouldn't consider this book middle grade, but upper elementary level. While the topics that are being dealt with are serious, they are explored at the surface level from the understanding of an eight year old, albeit one who has experienced tragedy already.  The plot is not quite clear in a few places.  That may have been purposeful for the mystery aspect of the book, but I found it distracting, and it would pull me out of reading as I had back track what happened.  Also, this is probably dating myself, but I didn't know Tamagotchis were a thing again (Ona has a digital pet, which looked very similar to old school Tamagotchis).  So that made my eyebrow go up, as it was unexpected for the assumed time period.

However, the book was entertaining, and the art was adorable.  I felt it was eye-catching, and fit the tone of the book.  Bright colors gives it youth, and a light-hearted tone to sometimes difficult situations.  Ghoster Heights was a quick read, and one I think developing readers will gravitate.  Pick up a copy to start off your Fall reading list!

Final Rating


About the Creators

About Corey Landsell:
Corey Lansdell is a multiple award-winning illustrator and animator. He is a skilled communicator, expert storyteller and passionate collaborator. Corey heads up a SCBWI illustrators group in Edmonton, Alberta.

About Kelly Mellings:
Kelly Mellings is an award-winning art director, illustrator, and designer. His work has
appeared in comic books, TV commercials, magazines, apps, museum exhibits, and video
games. He is the co-writer of Ghoster Heights and illustrator of the Canadian best-selling
graphic novel, The Outside Circle. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

About Lisa Larose:
Lisa LaRose is a pop surrealist painter, illustrator, and comics artist in Vancouver, Canada. She is best known for her paintings: Bizarre and Colourful artworks. She creates lively and exciting colour palettes and is always making something a little weird. Lisa loves middle-grade fiction (books, comics, cartoons, you name it) and so she also moonlights as a middle-grade comics artist.

2 winners will receive a finished copy of GHOSTER HEIGHTS, US Only.





I am very excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Undead Truth of Us, the debut novel from Britney S. Lewis.  Check out my review below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway! 

Book Information

Title: The Undead Truth of Us
Authors(s): Britney S. Lewis
Publication Date: August 9,
Edition: Hardcover, eBook; 368pgs
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
SourceRockstar Book Tours
PurchaseAmazon - Kindle - B&N - iBooks - BAM! - Kobo - 
TBD Bookshop.org
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.  Please note the purchase links above are affiliate links.

Tour Schedule

Week One
8/1/2022 - Wanderingwitchreads - TikTok Review/IG Post
8/2/2022 - BookHounds YA - Excerpt/IG Post
8/3/2022 - Lisa-Queen of Random - Excerpt/IG Post
8/4/2022 - Author Z. Knight's Guild - Excerpt
8/5/2022 - Lifestyle of Me - Review/IG Post
8/6/2022 - Brandi Danielle Davis - IG Post

Week Two
8/7/2022 - Celia's Reads - Review/IG Post
8/8/2022 - The Momma Spot - Review/IG Post
8/9/2022 - YA Books Central - Excerpt
8/10/2022 - 100 Pages A Day - Review
8/11/2022 - booksaremagictoo - Review/IG Post
8/12/2022 - @jypsylynn - IG Review
8/13/2022 - Kait Plus Books - Excerpt/IG Post

Week Three
8/14/2022 - @jacleomik33 - IG Review
8/15/2022 - A Dream Within A Dream - Review/IG Post
8/16/2022 - onemused - Review/IG Post
8/17/2022 - @ReaderOfTheWrittenWord - IG Review
8/18/2022 - A Bookish Dream - Review/IG Post
8/19/2022 - @drewsim12 - IG Review/TikTok Post
8/20/2022 - @lexijava - Review/IG Post

Week Four
8/21/2022 - @bujos_n_books - Review/IG Post
8/22/2022 - @amysbooknook8 - IG Review
8/23/2022 - pluvioreads - Review/TikTok Post
8/24/2022 - Eli to the nth - Review/IG Post
8/25/2022 - Eye-Rolling Demigod's Book Blog - Review/IG Post
8/26/2022 - Momfluenster - IG Review/FB Post
8/27/2022 - Cocoa With Books - Review/IG Post

Week Five
8/28/2022 - @just_another_mother_with_books - IG Review
8/29/2022 - Lisa Loves Literature - Review/IG Post
8/30/2022 - The Clever Reader - Review/IG Post
8/31/2022 - PopTheButterfly Reads - Review/IG Post

The Summary

Death was everywhere. They all stared at me, bumping into one another and slowly coming forward.

Sixteen-year-old Zharie Young is absolutely certain her mother morphed into a zombie before her untimely death, but she can't seem to figure out why. Why her mother died, why her aunt doesn't want her around, why all her dreams seem suddenly, hopelessly out of reach. And why, ever since that day, she's been seeing zombies everywhere.

Then Bo moves into her apartment building—tall, skateboard in hand, freckles like stars, and an undeniable charm. Z wants nothing to do with him, but when he transforms into a half zombie right before her eyes, something feels different. He contradicts everything she thought she knew about monsters, and she can't help but wonder if getting to know him might unlock the answers to her mother's death.

As Zharie sifts through what's real and what's magic, she discovers a new truth about the world: Love can literally change you—for good or for dead.

In this surrealist journey of grief, fear, and hope, Britney S. Lewis's debut novel explores love, zombies, and everything in between in an intoxicating amalgam of the real and the fantastic.

Praise for The Undead Truth of Us:
"Britney Lewis has really nailed it with this one. I loved this striking, suspenseful, and deeply heartbreaking debut about a Black girl named Zharie on a quest to discover the truth about her mother and the darker parts of life and family! Spooky good.”―Jay Coles, author of Tyler Johnson Was Here and Things We Couldn't Say

"Deeply healing and impossible to put down, The Undead Truth Of Us, is an affecting portrait of grief’s many shades, and an affirming reminder to live.”―J. Elle, New York Times best-selling author of Wings of Ebony

"The perfect blend of emotion, sweet romance, and creepy imagery, The Undead Truth of Us is a journey you won’t soon forget."―Lauren Blackwood, New York Times best-selling author of Within These Wicked Walls

"THE UNDEAD TRUTH OF US is a revelation of a story, both macabre and magical, full of heartache, hope, and the infinite mysteries of love. I adore this book."―Rebecca Podos, author of Lambda Award-winning novel Like Water

The Undead Truth of Us is unlike any book I’ve ever read before. In this eerie and otherworldly story, Britney Lewis layers explorations of grief and love on the page like bright colors of paint on a canvas.”―Elise Bryant, author of Happily Ever Afters and One True Loves

“A devastatingly poignant tale of grief, healing, and the monsters we make of ourselves and of others. In American popular culture zombies have been used to represent our greatest fears and what do we fear more than losing the people we love? In Zharie, Lewis has created a perfectly imperfect character―someone who is learning to navigate grief and love and friendship all at once. Her moments of vulnerability feel familiar as do her moments of healing and joy. This story is an emotional and gripping take on the classic zombie archetype. A must read for lovers of genre bending horror.”―Kalynn Bayron, best-selling author of Cinderella is Dead

“A lament, but with fireworks.”―Nafiza Azad, author of The Wild Ones

“A wonderful book full of lyrical prose, but also grief―and the painful, sometimes beautiful, steps we take to get through it.”―Jessica Lewis, author of Bad Witch Burning

“Britney S. Lewis explores love and death in a debut that is tender, poetic, and wholly original.” Zoraida C√≥rdova, award-winning author of Labyrinth Lost

My Review

Warning: this is not your typical zombie book.  Which is one of the things that makes The Undead Truth of Us by Britney S. Lewis stand-out.  At the heart of it, this is a contemporary story dealing with grief and the multitude of ways that grief impacts someone's life.  But it is also a story about rebirth.  Grief, death, hope, and rebirth: if those aren't perfect topics to feature zombies in, I don't know what are.

Our main character, Zharie, lost her mother, the most important person in her life.  But prior to her mother's actual death, Zharie was seeing zombies.  She even saw her mother transform into one before the EMTs took her body away.  Then zombies are popping up everywhere Zharie turns, and she doesn't understand why she is the only one who can see them.  This brings Zharie to question things, as she navigates surviving the grief that has taken over, and forging a path to find her purpose again.

My favorite part of this book was the lyrical writing and the mirroring of post-impression art through Van Gogh himself.  This book is character-driven, which is very different from most zombie books, most of which are action-driven.  Zharie's use of viewing her reality through Van Gogh's art and questioning if what she is seeing is real or a hyper-reality is crafted with a deft hand.  I would caution that this book has a deep threshold into it, and will definitely not be for every reader.  However, if you do start reading, it will be worth it.  Britney S. Lewis does such an amazing job crafting Zharie, and bringing her grief to life, that the slightly more complicated aspects of the book are not a barrier for long.

The Undead Truth of Us by Britney S. Lewis is not a normal zombie gore fest, which was such a breath of fresh air.  Definitely a great debut, and makes me intrigued to read more books from her!

Final Rating



FIVE DAYS. FIVE . That was how long it took for Mama to turn  into a zombie. 

Day one she was stoic. She refused to move from the couch, even  after I turned off the TV in the evening. I still remembered how frigid her face looked in the dimness of the flickering candle before I blew it out. The spaces above her cheeks were sunken in, eyes bulged away  from her face. A wiggle under there, only slightly, but it did. I saw it  move. I saw it twist. 

And her brown skin looked frail and thin—any wrong move, and  I was afraid it would tear away in small slits, revealing the tissue  beneath.

“Mama . . .” I whispered, creeping closer to her in the darkness.  One foot after the other, the floorboards creaking with each step. I  wanted to know if she was okay, if she was even awake, but she didn’t  say anything. Looked at her again, waited. She released a deep breath,  the air cracking on its way out. Sounded like something was in there,  inching its way up her trachea. 

I left it alone. Kissed her clammy head, pulled a blanket over her, and tucked her in, hoping she’d be fine in the morning. And she would be fine. She always was. 

Day two was strange. It began with her golden-brown eyes. They  glazed into a cynical gray like cataracts, and the brightness that  used to be in them dissipated like smoke in the wind. When she  spoke, her sentences were short and sloth-like—every word a complete struggle—almost as if someone had stuffed cotton beneath her  tongue. 

On day three, her veins oozed a thick green sludge under her skin.  They pulsed and vibrated, not quite right. And her shoulders slouched  inward, like they were weighed down by a thousand invisible moons,  causing her inner tide to disrupt entirely. 

As she inched closer and closer to the invisible abyss, her dark cloud  of sadness stripped away the caramelized flesh from her face, leaving  her disfigured. 

By the fourth day, every breath came with a creaking croak. It was  like watching a sped-up time lapse of a fire burning out. Everything  I loved about her was gone.

We didn’t dance. 

We didn’t sing. 

She wasn’t the bleeding sunrise anymore—she was the deep, deep, dark ocean. 

And on November 4, before daybreak, her last breath rolled up her  throat and turned her into the undead thing that I feared. It was the worst day of my life. 

I found her on the floor in the kitchen, and my throat swelled.  Her body lay in the fetal position, her right hand below her heart,  crumpled like an old rose. 

But I didn’t get it. Zombies weren’t supposed to die so easily, yet  Mama did. 

When the EMTs came, I tried to tell them, but the words wouldn’t  come out. They couldn’t see that she wasn’t only dead—she was  undead

I—I, uh, my thoughts stammered, all I could do was stare blankly.  How could they not see it? How was I the only one? 

And she . . .she needed more time. We needed more time. I didn’t understand. What was wrong? How did she die? Was she really dead? But they rushed her out, and I couldn’t move from that spot in the  kitchen where I’d found her. 

Couldn’t force the air out of my lungs. Couldn’t take any more  steps forward. 

I tried to hold myself, but a sharp pain in my navel forced me to  my knees. I curled into a ball on the laminate floor, and the smell of the brewing coffee nestled in my nostrils, reminding me of how she  was just here, alive. 

She was alive. 

Closed my eyes, warm cheek against the cold tile now. And she was  gone. I knew she was because of the permanent goosies on my arms. When Mama died, I think her soul shattered into a Postimpressionist painting filled with yellows and blues. We were the zigzagged, black  lines in that painting, the birds. And I swore I flew with her soul that  day, the wind still fresh between my fingers, but I couldn’t reach her.  Didn’t matter how fast I flew, she flew farther, and the sapphire horizon created a million miles between us. It swallowed her. They later told me that her heart exploded in her chest. Exploded. I  didn’t know how that could be humanly possible, but when they told  me, I saw those colors again. 

She was yellow. I was blue. 

She was dead and undead, and now the earth was flooded with  zombies, drowning me with the constant reminder of Mama. Why? I didn’t know why. 

But why? 

I didn’t know why. 

But I terribly, terribly, terribly wanted to.


About the Author

About Britney S. Lewis:
Britney was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas where she fell in love with storytelling and the idea that magic moved and breathed in our world. After getting her Bachelor’s of Arts and Science, she worked in the world of marketing and communications for a few years before accepting a position as an editor for greeting cards where her job is to make sure to get the best words on paper. When she isn't daydreaming about new stories, Britney can be found binge-watching TV shows with her husband and pup or practicing West Coast Swing in one of her local dance studios. The Undead Truth of Us is her debut novel. For more information, you can follow her on social media @britneyslewis or visit her website at https://www.britneyslewis.com

1 winner will receive a finished copy of THE UNDEAD TRUTH OF US, US Only.
Ends 9/6/2022, midnight EST.




I am very excited to be a part of the blog tour for the latest release from author Diane Zahler, Goblin Market.  Check out my review below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway! 

Book Information

Title: Goblin Market
Authors(s): Diane Zahler
Publication Date: August 16,
Edition: Hardcover, eBook; 256pgs
Publisher: Holiday House
SourceRockstar Book Tours
PurchaseAmazon - Kindle - B&N - iBooks - BAM! - Kobo - 
TBD Bookshop.org
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.  Please note the purchase links above are affiliate links.

Tour Schedule

Week One
8/8/2022 - YA Books Central - Excerpt
8/8/2022 - GryffindorBookishNerd - IG Review
8/9/2022 - hauntedbybooks - Review/IG Post
8/9/2022 - Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers - Review/IG Post
8/10/2022 - Lifestyle of Me - Review 
8/10/2022 - @allyluvsbooksalatte - IG Post
8/11/2022 - BookHounds YA - Excerpt/IG Post
8/11/2022 - Kait Plus Books - Excerpt/IG Post
8/12/2022 - Lisa-Queen of Random - Excerpt/IG Post
8/12/2022 - onemused - IG Post

Week Two
8/15/2022 - Nerdophiles - Review 
8/15/2022 - Two Points of Interest - Review
8/16/2022 - Beers Books Boos - Review/IG Post
8/16/2022 - Celia's Reads - Review/IG Post
8/17/2022 - Littlefreelibrarygrahamnc - IG Review
8/17/2022 - The Momma Spot - Review/IG Post
8/18/2022 - A Backwards Story - Review/IG Post
8/18/2022 - @jypsylynn - IG Review
8/19/2022 - @amysbooknook8 - IG Review
8/19/2022 - Eli to the nth - Review/IG Post

The Summary

One sister must save the other from a goblin prince in this rich, spooky, and delightfully dark fantasy!

Lizzie and Minka are sisters, but they’re nothing alike: Minka is outgoing and cheerful, while Lizzie is shy and sensitive. Nothing much ever happens in their sleepy village—there are fields to tend, clothes to mend, and weekly trips to the market, predictable as the turning of the seasons. Lizzie likes it that way. It’s safe. It’s comfortable. She hopes nothing will ever change. 

But one day, Minka meets a boy. 
A boy who gives her a plum to eat. 

He is charming. He is handsome. He tells her that she’s special. He tells her no one understands her like he does—not her parents, not her friends, not even Lizzie. He tells her she should come away with him, into the darkness, into the forest. . . .

Minka has been bewitched and ensnared by a zdusze—a goblin. His plum was poison, his words are poison, and strange things begin to happen. Trees bleed, winds howl, a terrible sickness descends on Minka, and deep in the woods, in a place beyond sunshine, beyond reality, a wedding table has been laid. . . .

To save her sister, Lizzie will have to find courage she never knew she had—courage to confront the impossible—and enter into a world of dreams, danger, and death.

Rich world-building inspired by both Polish folklore and the poetry of Christina Rossetti combines with a tender sister story in this thrilling novel from Diane Zahler.

Praise for Goblin Market:

"Lush. . . Dreamy. . . Breath-quickening."—The Horn Book

"Resonates with emotion."—BCCB

"Believably wrought."—Publishers Weekly

"Will entice readers looking for some chills."—Kirkus Reviews

My Review

I really love when classic books and poetry are adapted for a different audience, so I was really interested to see how Diane Zahler reinterpreted Christina Rosetti's poem "Goblin Market" for middle grade in Zahler' latest release, Goblin Market.

Set in a fantasy world that is reminiscent of Poland, our story follows two sisters: older, outgoing Minka, and younger, shy Lizzie (or Elzbieta).  Lizzie and Minka have a strong connection, with Minka being one of the few people who believe Lizzie when she says she can "see" sounds.  Lizzie has synesthesia, which is when a person experiences one of their senses through another.  And while the reader finds out this is a strength, it has "othered" Lizzie in a sense.

The fantasy aspect of this book is great.  There are a lot of interpretations of Rosetti's original poem, but it can also be read as an actual fantasy poem, which is the direction this story takes  (Diane Zahler talks about this in a guest post on the School Library Journal blog).  The more Polish roots lend very well to the story, giving the world a darker, deeper feel.  The villains of the story, the zdusze (goblins) come from Slavic lore, and just fit into the deep forest that surrounds the girls' town.  Emil, the goblin boy who bewitches Minka, is sinister in a very subtle way.  Emil's interactions with Minka, and even Lizzie, read as a type of seduction, but one of dream fulfillment; nothing racy here, this is a middle grade after all!

But besides the fantastical aspects, the heart of this story is the connection between the sisters.  The love that Minka and Lizzie share is beautifully depicted.  In true fairy tale fashion, love conquers all.  In this case, the love of a sister.  Being extremely close to my older sibling, I appreciated that Lizzie was able to grow within the older sister/younger sister dynamic she and Minka share; Lizzie is able to develop into a stronger person because her sister needs her.  While both girls experience character growth, you really see Lizzie come into her own.  Zahler also utilizes Lizzie's synesthesia in a very pivotal way, bolstering her confidence even more.

Goblin Market by Diane Zahler is a great fantasy story, perfect for heading into the autumn season.  I think readers who know the Rosetti poem while be delighted to see the hints of it throughout the story, but anyone can enjoy this journey.  Danger, magic, and the power of love make for one dynamic book!

Final Rating


Chapter 1

Market day was Lizzie’s favorite day of the week. 

Not because she loved going to the market—the few times she’d been there, she’d hated it. There were so many people she didn’t know, from villages and farms clear on the other side of Elza. So much noise, such constant comings and goings, so many smells and colors! It was overwhelming, terrifying. Each time she’d ended up hiding in a doorway at the edge of the square, trembling, until Mother and Minka came to find her. 

Now Minka went to market on her own. 

Mother was delighted that Minka was old enough to go alone: she could stay home and attend to the chores. And Lizzie was delighted that she could steal into the Wood for an hour or two when she was done helping Father in the fields. 

In the Wood, Lizzie always went to the same place, a little stand of birch trees beside a trickling stream. If it was warm and the sun shone down onto the circle of grass inside the grove, she would lie and look up at the sky. She could feel the breath of the Wood as the wind rustled the birch leaves. She could hear the Wood’s chuckle in the water running over rocks. Sometimes she felt as if the Wood’s heart thrummed inside her body. Her own pulse matched the Wood’s, beat for beat. 

If it was cold, she would wrap up in her shawl and walk to stay warm, just listening—to bird songs, to the creak of branches rubbing together, to the rustle of rabbits and squirrels in the underbrush. 

For Lizzie, each sound was a color. When she was younger, seven or eight, she’d sat at the kitchen table and tried to paint what she heard, but Minka laughed and pointed at her painted trees, saying, “Leaves aren’t gray, silly! And those don’t even look like trees. They look like sticks with clouds on top.” Minka loved to paint. She did it whenever she had a few minutes free of chores, and sometimes instead of chores. She mostly used watercolors, but if she had a few extra coppers, she would go into Elza and buy a tube of oil paint—cerulean blue, or chartreuse, or violet—and paint the whitewashed walls of the cottage with flowers and intricate designs, inside and out. Her lips were always tinted blue or green because she chewed on her brushes when she thought about what to paint. 

“We don’t have any silver paint,” Lizzie said. “I had to use gray.” 

“Leaves aren’t silver, either,” Minka pointed out. “They’re green. Or red and orange in the autumn.” She took the paintbrush, dipped it, and in a few moments there was a tree on the paper, brown and green and almost as real as life. 

“But the sound the leaves make is silver,” Lizzie protested. “In springtime, anyway.” 

Minka rolled her eyes. “What does that even mean?” she asked. “The sound the leaves make is silver?” 

“It’s the color they make when they rustle together,” Lizzie said. “When the breeze blows. You know, the wavery lines of silver?” 

Minka’s face was blank. 

“You don’t see that?” Lizzie was confused. The idea that other people didn’t see what she saw was new to her. 

“You do see that? Actually see it?” 

Excerpt from Goblin Market / Text copyright © 2022 by Diane Zahler. Reproduced by permission from Holiday House Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

About Diane Zahler:
Diane grew up reading children's books and never wanted to do anything but write them. Now she’s the author of six middle-grade fantasy novels and a historical novel, Daughter of the White Rose. She lives in the country with her husband and slightly neurotic dog in what is aptly nicknamed the Bug House. Visit her website at www.dianezahler.com.

1 winner will receive a finished copy of GOBLIN MARKET, US Only.


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