BOOK BLITZ: When We’re Thirty by Casey Dembowski

I am so excited that WHEN WE’RE THIRTY by Casey Dembowski is available now and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book, be sure to check out all the details below. 

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a signed copy of the book courtesy of Casey & Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, check out the giveaway info below.


Author: Casey Dembowski
Pub. Date: April 27, 2021
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Pages: 297
Formats: Paperback, eBook 

Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo


Two friends. One pact. The performance of their lives.

Hannah Abbott is stuck in a dead-end relationship and at a job she loves but that barely pays the bills. The four walls of her tiny New York City apartment have never seemed so small. She’s barely toasted her thirtieth birthday when her old college friend Will knocks on her door with an unexpected proposal.

Will Thorne never forgot the marriage pact he made with Hannah, but he also never imagined he’d be the one to initiate it. One ex-fiancée and an almost-career-ending mistake later, however, he finds himself outside Hannah’s door, on bended knee, to collect on their graduation-night pinky promise.

With both of their futures at stake, Hannah and Will take a leap of faith.

Now, all they have to do is convince their friends and family that they’re madly in love. As long as they follow the list of rules they’ve drafted, everything should go smoothly. Except Will has never been good with rules, and Hannah can’t stop overthinking the sleeping arrangements. Turning thirty has never been so promising.


Casey Dembowski loves to write stories that focus on the intricacies of relationships–whether they be romantic, familial, or friendship. Her novels focus on the inner workings of women and how everything in their lives leads them to exactly where they are, whether they like it or not.

The first story Casey remembers writing was in the second grade, though it wasn’t until she turned twelve that she started carrying a battered composition notebook everywhere she went. Since then, there hasn’t been a time when she isn’t writing.

Casey lives in New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and their two cats. She has an MFA in Fiction from Adelphi University and currently works in corporate marketing communications. In her (limited) spare time, she enjoys reading, baking, and watching her favorite television shows on repeat.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


1 winner will receive a signed finished copy of WHEN WE’RE THIRTY, US Only.
1 winner will receive an ebook of WHEN WE’RE THIRTY, International.

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BOOK TOUR: Willa of Dark Hollow by Robert Beatty

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the WILLA OF DARK HOLLOW by Robert Beatty Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


Author: Graci Kim
Pub. Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 336

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, KindleAudibleB&NiBooks, KoboTBD,


Young nightspirit Willa discovers an ancient, powerful magic deep in the forest in the enchanting companion to Robert Beatty’s instant #1 New York Times best-seller, Willa of the Wood.

This enchanting companion to Robert Beatty’s instant #1 New York Times bestseller Willa of the Wood is perfect for any reader who cares deeply about the natural world. 

Willa and her clan are the last of the Faeran, an ancient race of forest people who have lived in the Great Smoky Mountains for as long as the trees have grown there. But as crews of newly arrived humans start cutting down great swaths of the forest she loves, she is helpless to stop them. How can she fight the destroyers of the forest and their powerful machines?

When Willa discovers a mysterious dark hollow filled with strange and beautiful creatures, she comes to realize that it contains a terrifying force that seems to be hunting humans. Is unleashing these dangerous spirits the key to stopping the loggers? Willa must find a way to save the people and animals she loves and take a stand against a consuming darkness that threatens to destroy her world.Praise for Willa of the Wood:
Willa of the Wood will grip readers from its first page… Willa is… an admirable protagonist.”—Culturess

“A moving, atmospheric journey of hope.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Beatty conjures up a resourceful, compassionate heroine. Full of atmospheric details and richly described magic… this well-paced tale asks insightful questions about the relationship between nature and humans.”—Publishers Weekly

“The heroine is an appealing character… and her anguish is clear as she wavers between frightened self-preservation and her desire to help her friends.”—School Library Journal

“Willa is a strong and likable creature of the natural world, and seamlessly represents themes of loyalty, tradition, family, and stewardship of the Earth in this engaging story.”—School Library Connection


2018 Goodreads Choice Awards: Middle Grade, finalist

2018 Cybils Award, Elementary Middle Grade Speculative Fiction Nominee

Amazon: Best Children’s Books of 2018, ages 9-12

Imagination Soup: Best Middle Grade Chapter Books of 2018

BNKids: July’s Best Books for Young Readers, selection (2018)

Brightly: 9 Middle Grade Books for Environmentally Conscious Kids, selection (2018)

PopSugar: The Best books for Kids in 2018, as Voted by Actual Kids and Parents Who Read Them, selection

A Mighty Girl: 2018 Books of the Year, ages 9-12


Willa of the Wood and Willa of Dark Hollow are being adapted into a multi-season, live-action television series!


The Great Smoky Mountains


The world is neither flat nor round.

It’s mountains.


Willa pivoted toward the sound. The sharp, popping cracks of fracturing wood rolled like thunder through the forest air. Then came the rain-like noise of a thousand snapping branches and tearing leaves crashing down. When the massive trunk finally struck the ground, the earth shook beneath her bare feet. A gust of wind swept through the forest and blew through Willa’s long bark-and-moss-colored hair. And as the realization of what had just happened sank into her mind, her chest filled with pain. The human loggers had cut down the great hemlock tree that lived at the bend of the river.

She stood frozen like a young deer.

It was a tree she had sat beside on sunlit mornings, watching the river flow past its roots, a tree she and her twin sister had curled up in on misty nights, gazing up through its outstretched branches toward the Great Smoky Mountain and the moon above. The trees of the forest had shrouded and sheltered her all her life. They had consoled her when her sister was killed. They were her earth and her soil, her sunlight and her song.

But now she heard the axmen chopping and sawing and shouting to each other, their harsh, barking words circling through the treetops like quarreling ravens. The quills on the back of her neck went up and a burst of heat flashed through her body. She knew she should flee this killing ground or blend her green skin into the leaves of the undergrowth and disappear from the coming human eyes. She must run from their tromping feet and escape their cutting blades.

But how could she run away when her friends were dying? How could she just leave them?

She had to stop the loggers, but she had no sharp claws or long teeth. She had no weapons or ability to fight. She didn’t hurt living creatures, she helped them.

The human loggers had jagged metal saws, axes, knives, guns, animals in chains, vast metal contraptions for dragging murdered trees from the forest, and black, steaming beasts that rolled on long gleaming tracks. She was a lone thirteen-year-old Faeran girl without a clan. How could she fight the men of iron?

The crash of another tree broke like a wave through the forest, the wind of it brushing her cheek.

Her heart pounded in her chest.

She knew she couldn’t protect the trees the way they had protected her. She couldn’t shroud them or shelter them or hide them from the world.

But she couldn’t just abandon them, either.

She took a few uncertain steps, her legs trembling. Her eyes watered with burning tears.

And then she ran toward the sound of the falling trees.


Robert Beatty is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Serafina series and the Willa of the Wood series published by Disney Hyperion. Loved by young readers and adults alike, the Serafina and Willa books are being taught in over a thousand classrooms nationwide and have been translated into over 22 languages. Robert lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and three daughters. He writes full-time now, but in his past lives, Robert was one of the early pioneers of cloud computing, the founder/CEO of Plex Systems, the co-founder of Beatty Robotics, and the chairman/CTO of Narrative magazine. In 2007, he was named an Entrepreneur of the Year. When asked about the inspiration for his books, Robert said, “The Serafina and Willa books grew out of my desire to write stories about unusual and heroic young girls for my three daughters.”

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon


3 winners will win a finished copy of WILLA OF DARK HOLLOW, US Only.

Rafflecopter link:


Week One:

5/1/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt

Week Two:

5/2/2021Log Cabin LibraryExcerpt
5/4/2021YA Books CentralExcerpt
5/8/2021Amani’s ReviewsReview

Week Three:

5/9/2021Little Red ReadsReview
5/10/2021The Bookwyrm’s DenReview
5/11/2021A Court of Coffee and BooksReview
5/12/2021Emelie’s BooksReview
5/13/2021Books and ZebrasReview
5/14/2021Kait Plus BooksExcerpt

Week Four:

5/16/2021two points of interestReview
5/17/2021History from a Woman’s PerspectiveReview
5/18/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
5/19/2021Lifestyle of MeReview
5/20/2021Haunted By BooksReview
5/21/2021The Momma SpotReview
5/22/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview

Week Five:

5/23/2021The Try EverythingExcerpt
5/24/2021Musing of SoulsReview
5/29/2021A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt

Week Six:

5/30/2021Lady HawkeyeExcerpt
5/31/2021Do You Dog-ear?Review

Book Tour: The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE LAST FALLEN STAR by Graci Kim Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


Author: Graci Kim
Pub. Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Pages: 336

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, KindleAudibleB&NiBooks, KoboTBD,


Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Graci Kim’s thrilling debut about an adopted Korean-American girl who discovers her heritage and her magic on a perilous journey to save her witch clan family.

Graci Kim does such an amazing job of blending Korean mythology into the modern world, I am now wondering how I ever lived without knowing all this cool information.”–New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan

 Riley Oh can’t wait to see her sister get initiated into the Gom clan, a powerful lineage of Korean healing witches their family has belonged to for generations. Her sister, Hattie, will earn her Gi bracelet and finally be able to cast spells without adult supervision. Although Riley is desperate to follow in her sister’s footsteps when she herself turns thirteen, she’s a saram–a person without magic. Riley was adopted, and despite having memorized every healing spell she’s ever heard, she often feels like the odd one out in her family and the gifted community.

Then Hattie gets an idea: what if the two of them could cast a spell that would allow Riley to share Hattie’s magic? Their sleuthing reveals a promising incantation in the family’s old spell book, and the sisters decide to perform it at Hattie’s initiation ceremony. If it works, no one will ever treat Riley as an outsider again. It’s a perfect plan!

Until it isn’t. When the sisters attempt to violate the laws of the Godrealm, Hattie’s life ends up hanging in the balance, and to save her Riley has to fulfill an impossible task: find the last fallen star. But what even is the star, and how can she find it?

As Riley embarks on her search, she finds herself meeting fantastic creatures and collaborating with her worst enemies. And when she uncovers secrets that challenge everything she has been taught to believe, Riley must decide what it means to be a witch, what it means to be family, and what it really means to belong.

Praise for The Last Fallen Star

The Last Fallen Star folds Korean culture as well as diaspora feelings into a magical adventure. The way Graci Kim takes traditions and lore and incorporates them into an exciting contemporary fantasy setting makes my heart soar as a Korean reader. This fantastical story is filled with heart and humor. Readers who love magical adventures, complex family relationships, and sisterhood—not to mention food!—should pick up THE LAST FALLEN STAR immediately!”—Kat Cho, internationally best-selling author of Vicious Spirits

“Korean mythology gets a modern twist in this rollicking adventure by debut author Graci Kim. From entering a secret temple by way of the fried chicken counter at H-Mart to summoning a goddess at the Santa Monica Pier, every chapter of this novel delights and surprises. At times laugh-out-loud hilarious, at times heartwarming and poignant, The Last Fallen Star will capture the imaginations of readers for years to come!”—Axie Oh, author of Rebel Seoul and Rogue Heart

“Reading The Last Fallen Star is like taking a course in Korean mythology taught by your favorite teacher ever—while riding a gigantic roller coaster beneath a sky filled with shooting stars! I loved following Riley’s thrilling adventures, and pass the bulgogi tacos, please.”—Linda Sue Park, Newbery Medalist for A Single Shard

“Like a true magician, Graci Kim intertwines Korean mythology with an all-too-relatable sister story in her heart-stopping adventure that’s sure to capture the heart of anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. You can’t help but root for plucky Riley Oh as she engages on a quest to find belonging and acceptance.” —Jessica Kim, author of Stand Up, Yumi Chung!

“I wish I could go back in time and hand this book to young Ellen. I would have loved it so much, because this was what I was missing in my life. Thank you, Graci, for writing it!”—Ellen Oh, author of The Dragon Egg Princess and the Spirit Hunters series

The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim absolutely shines. Riley Oh’s positive voice is infectious and will have readers wanting to follow her adventures long after the last page is turned.” — Zoraida Córdova, award-winning author of the Brooklyn Brujas series



My Family of Healing Witches

So here’s the thing.

There are only two days left until my sister’s initiation ceremony. In two sleeps, Hattie will turn thirteen, and she will have to prove to the entire congregation of gifted clans in Los Angeles that she has what it takes to become a witch. A healing witch. A real Gom.

And she’s gonna be amazeballs, of course. I mean, it’s her birthright. Healing magic flows in her blood, as it flows through our parents’ blood, because we, the Gom clan, are descendants of the Cave Bear Goddess—the patron goddess of service and sacrifice.

Well, except me.

Sigh. Yep. My own thirteenth birthday is only a month away, but unlike my eomma (that’s my mom) or my appa (that’s my dad) or my sister, I’m a normal, non-gifted person without a lick of magic. I’m a saram.

I was adopted. And don’t get me wrong. My parents try super hard to make me feel part of the gifted community, and I love them so much for it. But the truth is, the harder they try, the more I realize how much of an outsider I really am. I’m different.

Hence why I’m here, sitting behind the reception desk of the Traditional Korean Medicine Clinic that my parents run, doing mind-numbing data entry instead of practicing healing spells like my sister.

The bells chime on the clinic’s door, and I jolt up in my chair as an old, dark-haired man limps in. He looks like he could be Korean, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him at temple.

“Welcome to the clinic!” I say. “How can I help you?”

“Good morning,” he says, wincing as he wobbles up to the desk. “My name is Robert Choi. I’ve just moved here from New York, and I was told to ask for a James or Eunha Oh. I think I’ve sprained my ankle.”

He slides his wrists together, and the water in his Gi—the cylindrical glass charm on his bracelet—sloshes a little as it rubs against his skin. An image of two suns and two moons appears on his right wrist with the motion, and the symbol glows green.

Ah, he’s a Tokki—an infusing witch. All witches get the same gifted mark on their wrists when they do magic, but it reveals itself in different colors depending on which clan they belong to. The mark is also how we can tell which patients are gifted and which are saram. If they’re saram, we have to make sure they don’t know we heal with magic. The infusers make special memory-erasing potions for that.

I know what you’re thinking: Why would you keep such an awesome skill secret from the world? Well, Appa says if

My Family of Healing Witches

the saram found out about the gifted clans, that would bring grave danger to our community. People don’t like what they can’t understand. It scares them, and scared people do foolish things. I guess that makes sense.

“You’ve come to the right place,” I say, smiling brightly. “James and Eunha are my parents. And sorry to hear about your foot, Mr. Choi. Appa has just finished up with a patient, and there’s a free slot for you now if you’d like it.”

“Ah, you must be Hattie.” He nods knowingly at me. “I hear you have an initiation ceremony coming up. I hope you are well prepared.”

I shake my head. “Hattie’s actually my sister. I’m not… Well, I can’t…” I trail off, and Mr. Choi frowns.

“That’s odd. They said the Ohs only had one daughter.”

Oof. The comment spears right through my chest, but I stay silent and put on a well-rehearsed fake smile. What I’d really like to do right now is take out my Gi bracelet (if I had one) and heal his ankle right here and now, to prove how much of an Oh I really am. Or at least stand up for myself and tell him I’m part of this family, too. That’s what Hattie would do if she were in my place.

But I’m not my sister. I’m not brave like she is. I prefer to keep my head down and stay out of trouble. Trust me, it’s easier this way.

A warm hand squeezes my shoulder, and I look back to see Appa standing behind me. I didn’t hear him come to recep­tion. “This is Riley, most definitely our daughter, and the most dedicated Gom I know.” Appa beams at me, and then extends his hand to Mr. Choi. “Welcome to our humble clinic, Robert.

And welcome to LA. Come with me, and let’s get that ankle looked at.”

Appa leads the hobbling Mr. Choi down the hallway, and a stinging heat builds behind my eyes. Sigh. Yet another day in the life of Riley Oh—the wannabe witch living in an exclusive gifted world.

“Riley!” Hattie runs up to the reception desk, puts her elbows on it, and rests her chin on her palms. Her rounded cheeks are pink, and her hair is damp with sweat. “Please come save me. Eomma is driving me up the wall. She’s making me repeat the incantations a billion times, and I don’t know what they mean anymore. I mean, honestly, what are words even?”

“She just wants you to do well at the initiation.”

Hattie rolls her eyes, but she knows I’m right.

A successful initiation ceremony is the most important rite of passage in a witch’s life. She’s got to perform three spells that satisfy the elders in the gifted clans council, and then say her vows in front of the whole congregation at temple. That’s hundreds of people from five different clans, not to mention our patron goddess, who will be watching from the Godrealm.

Then, and only then, will Hattie get to wear her Gi around her wrist without adult supervision. Without it, she can’t do any magic. So yeah, basically, it’s a big deal. I mean, no pres­sure or anything.

Hattie fiddles with the earth-filled charm that’s attached to a gold chain around her wrist. Eomma usually keeps my sister’s Gi in her enchanted safe, and Hattie only gets to wear it when she’s practicing spells with our parents. “Okay, but can you come with me anyway? Eomma’s all cranky and flustered, and I need moral support. Please?”

I make a serious face and pretend to be preoccupied with the patient database. “I’m kinda busy.”

“Pretty pleeease?” She gets all up in my face and makes big puppy-dog eyes at me. “You can have my favorite sweater. And I’ll do all your chores for a week. Come on, Rye, have a heart!”

I hold off as long as I can before laughing. “Okay, okay, you twisted my arm.” I push her sweaty mug away. “Just wanted to see you beg. Looks good on you.”

“You’ll pay for that!” She slaps me on my shoulder but grins, and then drags me out of my chair and down the hallway to Eomma’s consultation room.

Eomma is inside, pacing back and forth while holding the family spellbook up to her nose. Her glasses are foggy, and her black perm is bouncing like a halo around her head. “Hattie, there you are! Now come back and practice the wound-closing incantation again.” She points her finger at a Korean word in her spellbook. “And remember this time that the p is aspirated, so don’t be shy—put your whole diaphragm into it. Puh! Puh! See? Like this—puh!”

Hattie drags her palms down her cheeks and gives me an exasperated look. I stifle a laugh. Eomma is in fine form today. She pulls off the plugged-into-a-power-socket and rest-is-for-the-weak! looks better than anyone I know.

As Hattie reluctantly follows Eomma’s lead to aspirate her puhs, I study their two faces. And, for the billionth time, I wish I looked more like them.

I’m told my biological parents were of Korean ethnicity, too. But that’s about where the similarities end. Where my Gom family are round, petite, and unblemished, I’m tall and freckled. I’m all pointy chin and high cheekbones, with more angles than curves. I’m the one people raise their eyebrows at when they look at our family photos.

Before I know it, my eyes are burning and I quickly wipe them, embarrassed. Ugh. Classic me. This is what my best friend, Emmett, calls my “leaky-bladder eyeball problem.” You see, I have a slight issue controlling my tears. When I’m sad, I cry. When I’m angry, I cry. When I’m frustrated, I cry. I’m basically really talented at crying.

Hattie says it’s a good thing—that I’m in touch with my feelings (more like drowning in them…). And Eomma and Appa say I’ll grow out of it. But let’s face it—compared to my confident-and-composed family, I’m flawed. It’s yet another piece of evidence that I’m not a true Oh. That I’m weak and don’t belong.

Eomma has now prompted Hattie to practice her vows, and my sister reluctantly obeys. “I vow on the name of Mago Halmi, mother of the three realms, mother of the six god­desses, mother of mortalkind and all creation”—Hattie’s lisp is making an appearance, which only happens when she’s tired or stressed—“to carry out my sacred duty to heal those in need. To uphold the Gom clan motto of service and sacri­fice… and…and…”

She trails off, forgetting the words, and I finish the sen­tence for her. “And I understand that with my gift comes great responsibility—to my clan, to the gifted community, and to our ancestor, the Cave Bear Goddess, who blesses us with her divine power.” I might not have a Gi or magic running through my veins, but I know my stuff.

Hattie gives me a grateful look. Thanks, she mouths. She puts her hands on her hips. “See, Eomma? Riley is so much more ready for an initiation than I’ll ever be. Have you spo­ken to Auntie Okja about Rye being allowed to do one, too?”

I stick my hand in my pocket and squeeze my onyx stone to calm my nerves. It’s shaped like a curved teardrop, and it’s the only thing my biological parents left me. Hattie thinks it might be a family heirloom or something, but I just like how hard and real it feels in my hand. It’s only a stone (and not nearly as cool as a Gi), but sometimes I carry it with me, because touching it reminds me that I came from some­where, too.

“Sorry, girls. Your appa and I have been trying to find a good time to tell you….” Eomma sighs. “Auntie Okja tried really hard, but the other elders just won’t budge.”

I lower my eyes, mostly to hide the new trickle of disap­pointment forming on my eye line. My stupid leaky-bladder eyeballs fail me again. “Oh… That’s okay,” I say, even though that’s far from the truth. “Thank you for trying.”

Hattie raises her eyebrows at me. “No, it’s not okay.” She turns to Eomma. “You and Appa are always pushing for more inclusivity in the gifted community. This is the perfect oppor­tunity to make a statement, isn’t it?”

Eomma looks sheepish. “You’re absolutely right. But change takes time. Some of the clans aren’t as progressive as we are. They’re arguing that, without a Gi, Riley wouldn’t be able to cast the spells anyway. And if the council can’t witness the spells during the initiation, they can’t make a fair assessment.”

I shrink, but Hattie pushes back. “But that’s the whole point. Rye knows the words to all the healing spells, back to front. If the council just gave her a chance to prove herself, maybe the goddess would be convinced and grant Rye a Gi, too.” She rolls her eyes. “They’ve got it all backward.”

“I understand, sweetheart. You know I do. But the other elders think it’s asking too much of the Godrealm to bless a saram with magic. That it would be impertinent of us. Dis­respectful, even. Your auntie is only one voice among five.”

Hattie raises her hands in exasperation, and I want to melt into the floor and disappear. I hate being the reason they argue. “Seriously, it’s okay, Hat—” I start, trying to calm my sister.

“What’s disrespectful is not even giving Riley a chance,” Hattie continues. “If she tanks the initiation and the Cave Bear Goddess doesn’t give her a Gi, then fine. Or if Riley doesn’t want to do it, then that’s also fine. But not giving her the freedom to choose? That’s wrong on so many levels.”

When Eomma doesn’t respond, Hattie squeezes my hand, and a determined look appears on her face. I call it her boss face, because no one in their right mind would mess with Hattie while she’s wearing that expression. “As soon as I’m old enough,” she says, “I’m gonna run for Gom elder. And when I do, mark my words, I’m going to shake up that place. The whole secret-society thing is so outdated.”

“I have no doubt you will achieve that, and so much more,” Eomma says, and I totally agree. I mean, why stop at council elder? Hattie for president! I can see the enamel pins already.

I squeeze Hattie’s hand back and feel a warmth spread through my chest. For everything I don’t have, I definitely won the jackpot as far as my sister goes. She is literally the Best. Sister. Ever.

“It’s a shame you can’t just do a spell to share your magic,” I joke, trying to lighten the mood. “One where the recipient doesn’t need a Gi. That would solve all our problems.”

A grin spreads over Hattie’s face. “Crowdsourced magic. Now that would jolt the clans into the twenty-first century, right, Eomma?”

We both look to Eomma, and she laughs nervously.

Hattie and I share a glance. Eomma only laughs like that when she’s hiding something.

No. Way,” Hattie says. “There actually is a spell for sharing magic with a saram, isn’t there?”

My jaw falls to the ground. Impossible!

Eomma mumbles something under her breath but still avoids our eyes, and that is a dead giveaway. “It’s not that simple, girls,” she finally admits. “It’s dangerous, and even if it worked, it wouldn’t be permanent. The spell would have to be redone again and again—”

“What’s the name of the spell?” Hattie interrupts. “And where can we find it?”

And were you ever going to tell me about it? I silently ask, my gut rolling into a tight knot.

Eomma closes the spellbook in her hands with a decisive thud. “This conversation has gone on long enough.” She looks at the clock on the wall and gasps. “And we’re going to be late for temple! Quick, go get your appa. We’re leaving in two.”

She hurries us out of her consultation room, and I get my butt moving. I wouldn’t miss temple for anything.

“Rye!” Hattie stops me in my tracks and grabs my arm. “Did you see Eomma glance at the book when I asked where we could find the spell?”

I shake my head. I hadn’t noticed. I was too busy wonder­ing why my parents had kept this from me when they knew how badly I wanted to become a witch.

“I know that book’s only supposed to have healing spells in it,” Hattie continues, “but maybe Eomma just told us that so we wouldn’t snoop. Maybe the magic-sharing spell is in there, too. In fact, I’m sure it is. Where else could it be?”

I frown. We’re not allowed to touch the family spellbook—not until Eomma and Appa deem us ready. And besides, breaking rules makes me erupt in hives.

“But, Hat,” I start, “you know I was joking before, right? Even if the spell is in there, I could never ask you to share your magic. Besides, Eomma said it was dangerous. She wouldn’t lie about something like that.”

She snorts. “Who said I wanted your permission? Didn’t you hear me drone on about choice before? If I want to share my magic with you, who are you to stop me?”

I stare at her, wondering what I ever did to deserve such a selfless and fearless sister.

Hattie lowers her voice, and there’s an excited twinkle in her eye. “Looks like we need to get our sticky hands on a cer­tain spellbook, wouldn’t you say?”

As she drags me to Appa’s consultation room to fetch him, I hear a small voice in my head.

Could I actually become a healing witch—a real Gom? Could this be my chance to do my parents proud and prove to the gifted community that I belong?

I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up. It’d just be a recipe for disappointment.

But here’s the real crux of the problem, folks: I, Riley Oh, have a sweet tooth.

And hope? Well, hope tastes sweeter than candy.


Graci Kim is a Korean-Kiwi diplomat turned author who writes about the magic she wants to see in the world. The Last Fallen Star is her middle grade debut. In a previous life she used to be a cooking show host, and she once ran a business that turned children’s drawings into plushies. When she’s not lost in her imagination, you’ll find Graci drinking flat whites, eating ramyeon, and most likely hugging a dog (or ideally, many). She lives in New Zealand with her husband and daughter. Follow her on Twitter @gracikim and Instagram @gracikimwrites.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon


3 winners will win a finished copy of THE LAST FALLEN STAR, US Only.

Rafflecopter link:


Week One:

5/1/2021YA Books CentralExcerpt

Week Two:

5/4/2021Amani’s ReviewsReview
5/5/2021Little Red ReadsReview
5/6/2021The Bookwyrm’s DenReview
5/7/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
5/8/2021A Court of Coffee and BooksReview

Week Three:

5/9/2021Kait Plus BooksExcerpt
5/13/2021History from a Woman’s PerspectiveReview

Week Four:

5/16/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview
5/17/2021Haunted By BooksReview
5/19/2021The Momma SpotReview
5/21/2021Bookwyrming ThoughtsReview
5/22/2021Book BriefsReview

Week Five:

5/23/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
5/25/2021Emelie’s BooksReview
5/26/2021Eli to the nthReview
5/28/2021Books and ZebrasReview
5/29/2021YA Book NerdReview

Week Six:

5/30/2021two points of interestReview
5/31/2021Lifestyle of MeReview

Book Tour: High School Musical: The Road Trip by Melissa de la Cruz

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE ROAD TRIP by Melissa de la Cruz Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Pub. Date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 272

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD,


An original novel inspired by the hit Disney+ television series HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL, by the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Descendants series, Melissa de la Cruz.

Join everyone’s favorite Wildcats from the Disney+ smash hit original series High school Musical: The Musical: The Series in this novel by New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz.

On the heels of their wildly successful run of High School Musical, the gang learns of a can’t-miss opportunity—a High School Musical convention in the next state. There’s something for everyone: panels about mounting your next hit show, cafeteria-tray-dance workshops, Wildcat cosplay, and even a special appearance from the pooch who played Sharpay’s dog (well, one of her puppies, that is).

Ready to hit the road, the crew immediately begins making plans. Nini can’t wait to use the weekend to show how much she cares for Ricky (especially since they just got back together). Kourtney debates signing up for a singing workshop (especially if she’s maybe, just maybe, considering auditioning for the next show), and Gina and Ashlyn decide it’ll be the perfect trial run for living together (especially because Gina has never actually had a friendship last this long). Carlos can’t wait to help Miss Jenn prep for the spring musical, even if Seb has to stay behind to help with the family farm. But car breakdowns, late starts, and a lost E.J. throw a wrench in their plans. 

Will the East Highers get the weekend getaway of their dreams? Or will the bumps on the road get the better of them?


A breezy and fun read, the book contains chapters that offer pithy first-person accounts from each character, including quirky Miss Jenn; Carlos and his boyfriend, Seb; recently reunited couple Nini and Ricky and their BFFs, Kourtney and Big Red; popular senior E.J. and his songwriter cousin, Ashlyn; and talented triple threat Gina. The plot includes references to the series and themes straight from the musical: nurturing your talent, showing others how much they matter, and acknowledging the importance of teamwork. Although race isn’t mentioned overtly, the characters are cued as racially diverse, following the casting of the TV show. Fans will appreciate the inside jokes, but explanations in the text make it accessible even to those unfamiliar with the program.

A lighthearted and charming read.—Kirkus Reviews.




Let me bring you up to speed.

High School Musical: The Musical—over. Huge success. HUGE. Kiss-and-cry backstage, then in the foyer with all our dumbstruck parents still waving their glitter signs and autographed programs, their hair crazy with Robotics Club confetti.

Cast-party time. Plan A is go crazy at Ashlyn’s—part deux—but cast + crew + hangers-on = way too many people. Wouldn’t want anything smashed, broken, or spilled. So Miss Jenn suggests we do what East High musical casts have always done: go to Denny’s on West 500th and pretend it’s a diner on the corner of Hollywood and Vine.

If we can make our school gym into a theater and a skateboarder into our star, then we can turn a Denny’s in Salt Lake City into Radio City Music Hall—especially when E.J.’s father is paying for all the milkshakes and onion rings.

We’re all there (in this together, right?) screeching and singing and making Miss Jenn do her Is that the last apple? line again when my phone dings. It’s not my sweet Seb, because he’s holding court nearby—still in his Sharpay makeup—reprising his big number with the help of some built-in plastic seating and E.J.’s knee.

It’s something much, much better. An HSM alert!

Picked out the colors for your dressing room yet?

One week till the HSM Convention in Jackson Hole!

What. The. Wildcats.

How did I miss this? I’ve been so consumed with our own show—choreography, drama, homecoming, Miss Jenn almost getting fired, the theater burning down, break-ups, make-ups, more drama, having to go on as a last-minute understudy and say things like bro—I haven’t been paying attention to my HSM alerts. I didn’t want to mess with the flow and now: Oh no!

“Miss Jenn.” I grab her arm and she twirls so fast she takes out half the basketball team with her mermaid waves. “We have to do this.”

She stares at my phone, her blue eyes wide.

“Next weekend?” she says, and pulls out her own phone. It has a green cover to remind her of when she was the understudy for Glinda in Wicked—I think it was in Peoria. Miss Jenn is pretty speedy with Google searches: You’d never guess she grew up in the old flip-phone days when people still used paper maps and never took pictures of their food.

“Panels,” she says, scrolling with one pink fingernail. “Vocal workshops. Choreography workshops. Cosplay. And . . . oh! Oh!”

“What is it, Miss Jenn?” She looks like she’s about to faint. That, or hyperventilate.

“Lucas Grabeel,” she whispers. “Lucas Grabeel is going to be there, in person. Not a dream, Carlos. Actually in person!”

“Um, a dream?” I ask, and Miss Jenn whips her phone away.

“I have to go.”

“Now?” There are more curly fries coming. Nobody leaves a party when curly fries are on the way.

“I mean, we have to go. To Jackson. Help me up.” Miss Jenn elbows Seb off his perch and waves her hands to get everyone’s attention. This doesn’t work.

“Hey! Everyone! Quiet!” E.J. shouts in his best captain-of-everything voice, but that also doesn’t work. Some of the chorus-line tap-dancing doesn’t work, though it does bring the manager out to ask us to “Mind the floors, kids.” And Gina leaping so high in the air she practically brushes the ceiling with her fingertips—no, that doesn’t work either.

Finally Kourtney clambers up next to Miss Jenn and starts singing “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” at the top of her voice. Everyone’s whooping and clapping and then Kourtney stops mid-line.

“Miss Jenn has something to say.”

“Speech! Speech!”

“Not a speech,” says Miss Jenn. I haven’t seen her face this pale since the day the principal wanted to fire her. “An opportunity. You know how I always say to trust the process?”

More clapping and whooping. We have to shush everyone all over again.

“Well, sometimes you have to trust providence as well. You have to trust fate. You have to trust that the universe will provide.”

“Has she got a Broadway callback or something?” Seb mutters in my ear.

“You’re not leaving, Miss Jenn?” calls Nini. It’s the first time she’s taken her eyes off Ricky since we got here.

“Not leaving, Nini. Going. We’re all going.”

“To Disneyland?” asks Big Red, and everyone laughs.

“To Jackson Hole,” Miss Jenn announces, and no one’s laughing or whooping now.

“Skiing?” someone says, but no one looks too enthusiastic. They’re all thinking about the curly fries, which are—let’s face it—more exciting than Miss Jenn’s announcement. She’s selling it the wrong way.

“You guys, wait!” I shout. “It’s a High School Musical convention—in Jackson Hole. Next weekend!”

Now everyone’s talking. People are practically bouncing off the walls. I wish they’d put this amount of energy into their dance rehearsals.

“It would be the most amazing thing ever,” Ashlyn says. “Meet-and-greets with some of the original cast and crew? Wow.”

“But how would we get there?” Natalie asks. I hope she’s not planning to bring her emotional-support hamster. The last thing we need is for that thing to escape in another state.

“Yeah,” says Ashlyn. “I mean, E.J. can drive because he’s old, but—”

“I can drive the school van,” says Miss Jenn. “Mr. Mazzara gets it all the time for his robotics whatnots. I’ll send permission slips to all your parents. I mean, they have to say yes. After seeing you all on the stage tonight—”

“Well, the gym,” says Natalie. “Strictly speaking.”

“It’ll be a theater field trip,” Miss Jenn continues. “A celebration of our amazing show. Research and nourishment for our creative souls.”

She starts wobbling on her high heels with excitement, and Ricky helps her down from the chair. He’s beaming so wide, his face almost splits in two.

“We have to make it happen,” he tells her, and the dog tag around his neck glints in the fluorescent light. Since when does Ricky Bowen wear necklaces?

“Do you think Principal Gutierrez will agree?” Nini asks. Her face is still shining from the night’s success. I mean, we did kill out there tonight. “Will we have to take time off school?”

“We really can’t,” Natalie tells Miss Jenn. “We have tests, and after school we have to rehearse every day.”

Natalie’s a killjoy, but she’s right. We’ve promised to do a charity show on Christmas Eve to raise money; we have to help rebuild the school’s burnt-out theater, after the fire that was (whisper) caused by Miss Jenn and Mr. Mazzara.

“And it will take us so long to get there,” Natalie says.

“Five hours,” E.J. reads from his phone. “That’s the driving time. It’s nothing. I’ve driven farther for archery lessons.”

“Plus two hours when we get stuck in the snow,” says Ashlyn. “You know, after the blizzard rolls in.”

“We’re driving a few hours north,” I tell her, “not taking the Donner Pass.”

“So we leave right after school next Friday,” says Miss Jenn, eyes fixed on some distant spot, as though she’s about to begin a power ballad. “And if we limit ourselves to one rest stop, we’ll make it in time for some of the opening sessions that night.”

“It ends on Saturday night,” Kourtney says, scrolling down the site that practically every one of us is reading right now. “That’s a shame. The final session is a group sing-along.”

“We don’t need to sing it,” Ricky agrees, grinning at Nini. “We just lived it.”

For someone who totally missed the boat on the phenomenon that is HSM—i.e., did not grow up watching it with his mom, singing it in the car, and reenacting dance moves on the down-low in our high school cafeteria—Ricky is all about it now. I used to think his feet were glued to his skateboard. Maybe it’s because being in the musical brought him and Nini back together, and he’s already thinking about the spring musical and his next chance to stare into her eyes under the spotlight. He better watch out: E.J. may be over his selfless kick by then. Seniors in their last semester can get grabby with roles. They come over all sentimental about leaving school and this being their Last Chance Ever. Ricky should be on his guard. I mean, hasn’t he seen HSM3?

Miss Jenn mutters something about going back to work right away to e-mail all our parents and break into the admin office to book the van. I hope she’s joking about that last part. She’s out the door before we can stop her.

“There’s even a songwriting workshop,” Ashlyn says to no one in particular, smiling at her phone. “I have to do that. I have to.”

“I don’t see any stage-makeup workshops,” Kourtney says, and Nini mock-punches her.

“You need to go to one of the singing workshops,” she tells Kourtney. “People need to hear your voice. You know what Miss Jenn told you—she said you were the best singer in Utah.”

Northern Utah.” Kourtney rolls her eyes. “And she didn’t say anything about southern Wyoming.”

“Gina, you can come?” Nini says, and hugs her close. Things are way more chill between the girls these days. That’s the magic of musicals, people! “You don’t have to go back to DC right away, do you?”

Gina does some weird thing with her head that makes her look like one of those fake head-bobbing dogs in the back of old people’s cars. She and Ashlyn exchange glances.

“Maybe,” she says. “I hope so.”

“Road trip!” shouts Big Red, and everyone starts leaping around and shouting again. At this rate they’ll have no voices for the convention next weekend, whether they want to join the sing-along or not.

It’s only then that I notice something strange. Seb hasn’t said a word, and he’s not looking at his phone.

“Can you go?” I ask him. Seb looks down at the floor.

“I don’t know,” he says. “It’s a really busy time on the farm now. We have the last stock sale of the year on Saturday. It was a big deal for so many of my family members to come see the show tonight. I don’t know if they can spare me that day.”

Just like that, my excitement disappears. Not even an HSM convention will be fun if Seb isn’t there to hang out with.

“Hey,” he says, and takes my hand. “Maybe something’ll work out. Remember what Miss Jenn always says.”

“ ‘Trust the process’?”

“Nope.” He shakes his head and smiles up at me. “ ‘Is that the last apple?’ ”

We both laugh, but what I think is this: How can all these Cinderellas go to the ball? We’ve got to make some magic happen, people. This isn’t a game. It’s High School Musical.

Okay—it’s High School Musical: The Convention. We’re going to Wyoming, not a palace, and we need a van, not a pumpkin coach. A boy can dream, can’t he?


Melissa de la Cruz ( is the author of the #1 New York Times best-selling Descendants series, as well as many other best-selling novels, including all the books in the Blue Bloods series: Blue BloodsMasqueradeRevelationsThe Van Alen Legacy, Keys to the Repository, Misguided Angel, Bloody Valentine, Lost in Time, and Gates of Paradise. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads | Amazon


Giveaway Details:

3 winners will win a finished copy of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE ROAD TRIP, US Only.

Rafflecopter link:


Week One:


Week Two:

5/2/2021YA Books CentralExcerpt
5/3/2021Living in a BookworldExcerpt
5/4/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
5/5/2021Perusewithcoffee (blog)Review
5/6/2021Musing of SoulsReview
5/7/2021Kait Plus BooksExcerpt
5/8/2021The Book ViewReview

Week Three:

5/10/2021Lifestyle of MeReview
5/11/2021Emelie’s BooksReview
5/13/2021Fire and IceReview
5/14/2021Shelf LoveReview or Excerpt

Week Four:

5/16/2021Margie’s Must ReadsReview
5/17/2021Amani’s ReviewsReview
5/18/2021two points of interestReview
5/19/2021Haunted By BooksReview
5/22/2021The Reading WordsmithReview

Week Five:

5/25/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
5/26/2021Struck by StoriesReview
5/27/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview
5/29/2021Do You Dog-ear?Review

Week Six:

5/30/2021A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt
5/31/2021Lady HawkeyeExcerpt

Book Tour: Runaway Train

It is my pleasure to be a part of the book tour for Runaway Train by Lee Matthew Goldberg. Thank you to YA Bound Book Tours for inviting me to participate.


Runaway Train
(Runaway Train #1)
by: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Release Date: April 29, 2021
Genre: YA


They told me I was an out-of-control train about to crash…

Everything changed when the police officer knocked on the door to tell me – a 16-year-old – that my older sister Kristen had died of a brain aneurysm. Cue the start of my parents neglecting me and my whole life spiraling out of control.

I decided now was the perfect time to skip town. It’s the early 90’s, Kurt Cobain runs the grunge music scene and I just experienced some serious trauma. What’s a girl supposed to do? I didn’t want to end up like Kristen, so I grabbed my bucket list, turned up my mixtape of the greatest 90’s hits and fled L.A.. The goal was to end up at Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, but I never could have guessed what would happen along the way.

At turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and laugh out loud funny, Runaway Train is a wild journey of a bygone era and a portrait of a one-of-a-kind teenage girl trying to find herself again the only way she knows how.




B & N:

Book Depository:


Indie Bound:


Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE ANCESTOR, THE MENTOR, THE DESIRE CARD and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. His first YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is forthcoming in 2021 along with a sci-fi novel ORANGE CITY. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at








Giveaway: Signed paperback copy of Runaway Train – US Only