Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers Review

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Blurb:
Packed with high stakes mystery and tons of heart, this first installment in a new series introduces Kazu Jones-a spunky, scrappy detective who’s this generation’s Harriet the Spy.
When a string of dognappings grips her Denver neighborhood, Kazu Jones vows to track down the culprits. She can’t stand to see more dogs go missing-especially once her neighbors’ beloved pet is taken because of her gigantic mistake.
With the help of her gang-including her best friend and expert hacker, March; and her ginormous, socially anxious pup, Genki-Kazu uncovers evidence that suggests the dognapping ring is bigger than she ever imagined. But the more she digs, the more dangerous her investigation becomes. The dognappers are getting bolder, and Genki could be next.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: “In this spirited debut, Holyoak introduces an indefatigable heroine whose distinct voice and loyal canine companion contribute to her considerable appeal. The diverse allies, plot twists, and delightful dogs make this a memorable beginning for Kazu and her friends.”
KIRKUS:Holyoak creates a well-paced mystery with approachable characters and issues. The dognapping case and the go-get-’em attitude of Kazu provide just enough suspense and action without being too scary. Holyoak sprinkles in topics of growing up, including friendship, relationships with parents, mean people, and telling the truth.  A not-too-scary, diverse mystery for those who love action, dogs, and spunky heroines.”
Title: KAZU JONES AND THE DENVER DOGNAPPERS
Author: Shauna Holyoak
Pub. Date: April 23, 2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 320

Where Can You Find It?

GoodreadsAmazonKindleB&NKoboiBooksTBD

My Review:

This was definitely a five star read, I read about half of it out loud with my daughter, and we’ll continue to read it but I had to steam on ahead to finish for the review. She’s patiently waiting to find out just exactly was the Denver Dognapper! Truthfully Shauna gave us a great diverse cast of characters, not just in a beautiful blend of different backgrounds but each character stood on their own. Kazu Jones is our spunky fifth-grade detective with her dog Genki and her best friend March who is a meticulous academic and lover of technology to Madeleine Brown who Kazu has never gotten along with and CindeeRae who along with her love of musicals, loves her dog Lobster just as much. The kids have taken over, in a thread of The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew comes Kazuko Jones, written with an ease and a way that will entice children to pick it up and not put it down. Now there are actions that the children take, and much like Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys, it’s not an action a parent would like their kids to make in real life, but this is written for a child’s enjoyment and even I loved it Kazu makes some decisions and they may not be good ones but the author has Kazu grow during the book and her actions have consequences but you can’t keep a natural detective down for long. There is something just really promising about Kazuko Jones and the adventures that could lay in store for her past the case of the Denver Dognappers. I would say that this is a series to keep an eye out for because I feel this and a couple of others I have spotted lately are really going to be at the forefront of pushing the mystery genre into the modern day for children.

Honestly, I could gush on and on about this but at the end of the day this was a new favorite for my daughter and I and we hope to read more about Kazuko, her group of friends, and her Sleuth Chronicle adventures.

5/5 Cups of Coffee from the mini and I

About the Author:

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Shauna has been telling stories long before she could ride a bike, and some of them are even true! She writes for kids and teens and thinks it’s kinda the best job ever. Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers is her debut novel, and it will be released on April 23, 2019! She lives in Idaho Falls, ID with her husband, six of their seven children, and two naughty dogs.
Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway!

3 winners will receive finished signed or unsigned copies of KAZU JONES AND THE DENVER DOGNAPPERS, US Only.

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KAZU JONES AND THE DENVER DOGNAPPERS

Tour Schedule:

Week Two:

4/22/2019- BookHounds YA– Interview

4/23/2019- Eli to the nth– Review

4/24/2019- two points of interest– Interview

4/25/2019- The Caffeinated Reader– Review

4/26/2019- That Bookish Princess– Review

Crown of Feathers eARC Review


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GoodReads: 

I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

This book was intoxicating from the first chapter and to be fair I was ready to dive in after reading the blurb, no swaying needed.

I couldn’t believe just how complex and diverse a world Preto built, and I don’t mean just the characters I mean the lush history and even topography and geography. Preto has an amazing eye to detail and one that I really want to harp on while I write this. I love world building. I adore it, so, to me the building of the world and showing things off She used details from the past to enhance the present and interweaving them together flawlessly. We have a history of fierce queens and a past tale of sisters that mirrors a present tale.

I was nothing short of impressed. She made my heart drop to my stomach and soar back up, and it was the best emotional roller coaster I have ever ridden. I would certainly categorize this as one of the best books of 2019 and one of the best reads of the year for myself/ With books like this and Descendant of the Crane coming out this year, my GoodReads favorite shelf is going to be massive by December. 

You want to cheer for the Phoenix Riders and you are sitting on the edge of your seat when danger lurks near -and let me tell you that happens quite often-. You are given multi-faceted views of characters, and no one is left 2D, Preto has given us full characters, they may not always be relatable in what they do but their intentions are; well that’s debatable with Val but I won’t judge you if you uh, find yourself identifying with her…just…remind me not to upset you ever. Not to mention Preto had me nearly crying before I even really hit the 15% mark, I mean, seriously, that’s unheard of. 

Unable to put down the book, I stayed up until dawn, I needed to find out what would happen to ‘Nyk’ or Sev, to know what would happen next in the world,  to wonder what in the world Val was up to. And the ending had my jaw dropping to the floor. I don’t know how I am supposed to wait for book 2.

Seriously, one of the best fantasy reads for 2019 and one to go out and read if you have any inkling too.

U.K. Release Date: April 25, 2019, through B&W Publishing.

Pros:
– Well developed characters
– Amazing and expansive world building
– A perfect person that you love to hate
– Characters that are not always what they seem
– Great character growth as well, seriously, it’s impressive
– Phoenixes
– Baby Phoenix
– TWISTS. SUCH TWISTS.
– Phoenix Riders
– Magic

Cons:
– It’s so hard to not want to scream ‘NO’ or ‘WHY’ while reading
– This will cause you to stay up super late
– You will probably at least get teary-eyed if not full on ugly cry.
– You may not like how much world building there is, so I’ll say beware now
– This is not a relaxing read, please look to points 1 & 3 again.
– WHAT WAIT IS THIS FOR BOOK 2?!

Content Warning: There is the death of animals and people, and violence.

**I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.**

The Fourth Courier Review

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A Fast Paced Espionage Thriller for Alan Furst Fans Sent In Post-Cold War Poland.

It is 1992 in Warsaw, Poland, and the communist era has just ended. A series of grisly murders suddenly becomes an international case when it’s feared that the victims may have been couriers smuggling nuclear material out of the defunct Soviet Union. The FBI sends an agent to help with the investigation. When he learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.

Smith’s depiction of post-cold war Poland is gloomily atmospheric and murky in a world where nothing is quite as it seems. Suspenseful, thrilling, and smart, The Fourth Courier brings together a straight white FBI agent and gay black CIA officer as they team up to uncover a gruesome plot involving murder, radioactive contraband, narcissistic government leaders, and unconscionable greed.

Thank you Wunderkind PR, Arcade Publishing, and Timothy Jay Smith for the opportunity to read and review a final copy!

This book was published on April 4, 2019.
[So, just this month, if you’re looking for a new release to read in crime thrillers, this could be for you!]

[**I am giving my honest review in exchange, nothing less, nothing more!**]

So now you’ve read the blurb, and well if you like thriller novels and unique settings, this one may be the read for you!

Timothy Jay Smith gives us something unique by setting his story in post-cold war Poland, and it’s great to travel to Warsaw in the 90s through his prose. Not to mention it’s fun to watch how differently our FBI Agent Jay works compared to Kurt, our CIA man.

The plot is interesting and the pacing is really well done. It’s not often we get to see espionage in such an appropriate time in history as far as book settings go! I really enjoyed Smith’s narrative voice and honestly loved the ending.

I think my two issues were the only things holding me back from marking this as 4 Cups of Coffee. Firstly, I really didn’t like the women they way they were written, not so much Basia, she was not meant to be a ‘good’ character (as in morals), and that’s fine, always love someone you can loathe a little in a book but at the same time you get where she’s coming from. She’s a survivor, she doesn’t give a crap about your feelings. And secondly, I just wanted more espionage and less Jay going on dates 😉 I was happy for the man, but I’m always one to rally for more espionage over romance so while this might be a problem for me, it could also be the reason someone else reads it and I hope you all reading the review will give this a chance if this sounds enjoyable to you!

Another thing I found that I enjoyed and it was such a small detail that it surprised me, was the fact that Jay was separated from his children and he missed them, actively thought of them and people just forget that dads are capable of that too and I thought that was just a splendid small detail for Smith to add about Jay.

Once more I am so grateful for the opportunity to have read this, now please let’s all cross fingers that Timothy Jay Smith continues writing and gives us all the espionage too.

So end game rating: Three Solid Cups of Coffee.

[I know it’s not always clear what my ratings mean but 3/5 Cups means that I enjoyed reading the book and would certainly recommend it to others who liked the genre. And in fact tomorrow I’ll be diving more into critiquing and reading for my post!]

The City of Veils eARC Review


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Release Date: April 16, 2019

GoodReads Blurb: For the past three years, Brynna has been patrolling the streets of Forcadel as a masked vigilante, protecting the innocent and beating up bad guys. Her current target is Lord Beswick, a slumlord businessman who keeps the townsfolk in a vicious poverty cycle. But one fateful evening, she’s captured by Felix, the captain of the king’s guard, and told a shocking truth: her father and brother are dead, and she needs to hang up her mask and become queen.

Before long, she negotiates a deal with Felix: attend to her royal duties during the day and continue her vigilante mission to take out Lord Beswick at night – at least until her coronation. But the politics of Forcadel are as volatile as the streets, and Brynna isn’t sure whom she can trust in the castle. With two royals dead in less than a month, she must use all her wits to make sure she isn’t the third.

I really enjoyed the humor of this story and also, please, like I wasn’t going to read a book about a Princess Vigilante kicking ass and taking names and throwing the court into shock. Pfffft. This had my name all over it.

But honestly, I loved Brynna just being, well, Brynna. She’s rough around the edges and always wanting to push for action, she makes mistakes and keeps trying so, and so stubborn. So. Stubborn. Almost feel bad for Felix for having to watch over her, almost. It’s his own fault he’s stuck with her. 😉

I don’ want to give too much away but the reason Brynna doesn’t act as much like a Princess (and I mean attitude and manners, not Batman-ing it at night) is that her past led her down a different path.

Brynna comes to this line in the sand and though she doesn’t feel she gets a choice on whether to cross the line or not, she always makes a choice she thinks is right -for better or worse and damn the consequences!-.

Thrust into the role of to-be Queen, Brynna agonizes over the thought of no longer masquerading at night as the defender of her city, but she has those in her corner to help her along the way.

So what does a soon to be Queen really want? To take down the biggest organized crime leader in the city. No biggie.

Brynna is also juggling learning how to deal with the council, not pushing allies away, and oh yea, possibly being poisoned by maybe an ally or someone in close contact in the castle.

The ending had me like:

Like possibly even exactly like that, I mean I always have snacks.

Pros:
– HUMOR
– Felix
– Brynna has the best Sister-in-law ever. Ever. I love her, she’s a nugget.
– In this world there is no prejudice against sexuality, so Brynna gets to meet her Uncle and his husband and there’s not an eye to bat at it in the city.
– She’s basically Batman. But you know, slightly cooler because she’s also a Princess. [But I guess if you gave me Bruce Wayne in a tiara I’d be equally satisfied.]
– The Council exists. So this Princes doesn’t just get to do whatever sh wants, there are people she’s forced to listen to and who can override her, I like it because it feels a bit more true to life like that.
– Sleazy Crime Lord
– Cool but probably evil lady in the woods who I will not talk about more to avoid spoilers.
– Well placed drama
– You could get this feeling shit was going to hit the fan and you may have had an inkling but man when it hit, it hit.

Cons:
– I felt like sometimes the characters were smothering Brynna for no reason, but I don’t know if that’s an actual con or me wanting to protect my little Vigilante Princess and beat up the others.
– Sometimes the pacing felt off as I wasn’t sure how much time had passed, so it caused a little confusion on my end. But! This could just be me!
– Brynna, hold thy tongue. [Okay not an actual con, but I am allowed to complain about my fave princess of the month aren’t I?!]

[***I was given this digital copy by the Author, and freely, in exchange, I have given my honest review!***]

BRING ON BOOK 2

About the Author: 

S. Usher Evans

“I’ve always known S. Usher-Evans is an author to watch.” – Deirdre Riordan Hall, author of Sugar and Pearl

S. Usher Evans was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida. After a decade of fighting bureaucratic battles as an IT consultant in Washington, DC, she suffered a massive quarter-life-crisis. She decided fighting dragons was more fun than writing policy, so she moved back to Pensacola to write books full-time. She currently resides with her two dogs, Zoe and Mr. Biscuit, and frequently can be found plotting on the beach.

Work Evans is the author of four five series and one standalone.

The Razia Series is a space opera comprised of four novels Double Life (2014), Alliances (2015), Conviction (2015), and Fusion (2016). Also in 2015, Evans published a standalone fantasy novel Empath. Evans’ fantasy romance series, The Madion War trilogy, started as a successful Kickstarter for The Island (2016), followed by successful releases of The Chasm (2016), and The Union (February 2017). Evans’ young adult series, The Lexie Carrigan Chronicles, is her first young adult effort, with Spells and Sorcery (2016) and Magic and Mayhem (April 2017) releasing to high praise. The final two books, Dawn and Devilry (October 2018) and Illusion and Indemnity (January 2019) are forthcoming. Finally, the newest addition to Evans’ lineup is an adult urban fantasy, Demon Spring. Resurgence (February 2018), Revival (May 2018), and Redemption (August 2018) are forthcoming.

S. Usher Evans 2018 Media Kit Interview and Story Ideas Evans gave the commencement address at George Mason University in 2007, so she’s no stranger to public speaking or media engagement. To wit, she’s been asked to sit on many panels at the various comic book and literary conventions she’s attended since 2014. She has been interviewed by local video and print news, as well as various podcasts and YouTube shows.

In addition to speaking on topics related to writing, self-publishing, realistic characters (of the female and not-female variety), an interview with Evans offers numerous angles and story opportunities including:
• The quarter-life-crisis: How Evans went from a US Department of Defense consultant to a freelance writer
• The writing business: Evans started Sun’s Golden Ray Publishing in 2014 utilizing her experience as a project manager and web developer
• Building an author platform: With a background in strategic communications and a brief stint at the BBC, Evans can speak to using a variety of marketing and promotion activities to build a viable platform
• Mental Health: Evans’ book Empath is an allegory to her struggles with anxiety and depression. She can speak to writing the book and how it helped her come to terms with her mental illness. Evans also will talk about how great the city of Pensacola, FL is to anyone who’ll sit still long enough.