Blog Tour Review: The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities by Rick Riordan

Hello, friends! I’m thrilled to be taking part in my first blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours for The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities: New Stories about Mythic Heroes by Rick Riordan, Carlos Hernandez, Roshani Chkoshi, J.C. Cervantes, Yoon Ha Lee, Kwame Mbalia, Rebecca Roanhorse, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Sarwat Chadda and Graci Kim.

Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY (US only, sorry international friends)—details are at the end of my post, and don’t forget to check out the other blogs on tour in the schedule posted after my thoughts!

Special thanks to Rick Riordan Presents for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities
Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents
Publish Date: 28 September 2021
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents ten new stories–including one of his own–about beloved heroes that sprang from the imaginations of some of the best middle grade authors working today.

A cave monster . . . an abandoned demon . . . a ghost who wants to erase history . . . a killer commandant . . . These are just some of the challenges confronting the young heroes in this highly entertaining anthology.

All but one of the heroes previously starred in a popular book from Rick Riordan Presents. You”ll be reunited with Aru Shah, Zane Obispo, Min the fox spirit, Sal and Gabi, Tristan Strong, Nizhoni Begay, Paola Santiago, Sikander Aziz, and Riley Oh. Who is the new hero? Read Rick Riordan”s short story to find out!

Ten bestselling and award-winning middle grade authors contributed to this collection: Roshani Chokshi, J.C. Cervantes, Yoon Ha Lee, Carlos Hernandez, Kwame Mbalia, Rebecca Roanhorse, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Sarwat Chadda, Graci Kim, and Rick Riordan, who also served as the editor.

The cultures represented by these own-voices stories are: Indian, Mesoamerican, Korean, Cuban, Black American, African, Navajo, Mexican, Mesopotamian, and Celtic.

There’s something for everyone in this collection of fast-paced and funny adventure stories that show what it takes to be a hero in any time, setting, and universe.

GET A COPY:

Click on the author names to be taken to their websites!

TL;DR: For readers who are new to the worlds found in Rick Riordan Presents books, this will give you a wonderful taste of what lies in store when you finally dive into them head first! For those who are returning, these stories will take you on fun (mis)adventures with some of your favourite characters from your favourite stories! This was such a fun collection full of magic and it’s rich in diversity and cultural representation! Highly recommended for all readers but especially those who love action-packed (mis)adventures, an abundance of magic, diverse mythology, most likely demons and ghouls, and lots of cheeky and witty humour! 😊

I was completely immersed from the moment I set foot into this Multiverse Mansion and I was itching with eagerness to open each door to the different worlds held within. These stories are rich with diverse cultures and a wild kind of magic courses through each of the pages that hold you enthralled as the characters and their stories unfold. Honestly, these are the kind of stories that I wish had been available to younger me because it would’ve meant so much to see parts of myself in characters who look like me and have roots in parts of the world I’m from. Not to mention that it would’ve been amazing to learn about the different mythologies, too! Luckily, they’re stories that adult me can read and greatly appreciate and it makes me so happy knowing that such diverse heroic tales are available for younger generations to read and identify with!

We get small glimpses into magnificent worlds and we meet many new characters that I was eager to learn more about the minute their story ended. What makes me love a short story is when the story comes full circle, the questions are answered and it can essentially stand on its own, and the majority of stories in here did that! I often found myself going into deep(ish) dives on the interwebs to read up about the mythologies and creatures and I love when a story can pique my curiosity in that way because it makes the experience that much more unforgettable. While I enjoyed all of the stories my top three are: The Demon Drum by Rebecca Roanhorse, My Night at the Gifted Carnival by Graci Kim, and… it’s a tie between The Initiation by Yoon Ha Lee and Bruto and the Freaky Flower by Tehlor Kay Mejia (sorry, I really can’t choose)! 😜

Although I had only met the characters from one of the stories in this collection (Gum Baby forever!), I had no trouble following along with the adventures, so it’s okay to go into this without prior knowledge of the stories. I think it would be perfect for readers who want to get a taste of the worlds found in the Rick Riordan Presents books and I can guarantee that it will leave you wanting more as soon as possible!

3 WINNERS (US ONLY) WILL WIN A FINISHED COPY OF THE CURSED CARNIVAL AND OTHER CALAMITIES!

Tour Schedule

Week One:

9/1/2021YA Books CentralExcerpt
9/2/2021Kait Plus BooksExcerpt
9/3/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
9/4/2021@CurlygrannylovestoreadReview

Week Two:

9/5/2021#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee BlogReview
9/6/2021A Dream Within A DreamReview
9/7/2021Nonbinary Knight ReadsReview
9/8/2021The Bookwyrm’s DenReview
9/9/2021Log Cabin LibraryReview
9/10/2021Lifestyle of MeReview
9/11/2021Emelie’s BooksReview

Week Three:

9/12/2021@pagesofyellowReview
9/13/2021Locks, Hooks and BooksReview
9/14/2021More Books Please blogReview
9/15/2021Little Red ReadsReview
9/16/2021Don’t Judge, ReadReview
9/17/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview
9/18/2021booksaremagictooReview

Week Four:

9/19/2021The Phantom ParagrapherReview
9/20/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
9/21/2021Cindy’s Love of BooksReview
9/22/2021dinipandareadsReview
9/23/2021hauntedbybooksReview
9/24/2021Books a Plenty Book ReviewsReview
9/25/2021Books and Zebras @jypsylynnReview

Week Five:

9/26/2021The Momma SpotReview
9/27/2021Zainey LaneyReview
9/28/2021@fictitious.foxReview
9/29/2021Two Points of InterestReview
9/30/2021PopTheButterfly ReadsReview

Have you read The Curse Carnival and Other Calamities or is it on your TBR?

Mini Reviews: Swoony Steamy Romance Novellas!

I’ve been in a pretty big romance mood over the last few months and that has led me to discovering quite a few books, authors and series that I’m eager to explore further. I’ve also read a surprising number of novellas that have worked for me and that I ended up really enjoying so I thought I’d share mini-reviews for three of them!

I Think I Might Love You (Love Sisters #1)
Publication Date: 25 April 2019
Genre:
Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Jaclyn Love is a magnet for trouble – it seems to follow her wherever she goes.

Unfortunately for Kadan Davenport, she also seems to be a magnet for him – even after a disastrous first impression that leaves him – literally – black and blue.

Jaclyn is busy trying to find some sort of balance, and Kadan is just trying not to get swept up in the chaos.

In a small city like Blakewood, it’s hard to avoid each other… especially when each additional encounter makes them wonder if they really want to.

“I Think I Might Love You” is a first-in-series novella.

This had me laughing out loud pretty much from the first scene! Jac and Kadan’s meet-cute was hilarious (although painful for him) and it was so bizarre but it set the tone perfectly for our characters and how the rest of the book would go.

Jac is a notorious rule-breaker in this small-town and she has a fairly long history of getting on the wrong side of the law, but she’s doing her best to set up a calmer life for herself. She’s bold, sassy and had such great energy on the page! Kadan was pretty much Jac’s direct opposite, and well, it’s no wonder that there’s a little animosity between them considering how they first meet! 😂 He’s a vet and overall a pretty stand-up guy who’s trying to build a solid and quiet life for himself, which isn’t working out well for him since he finds himself very attracted to Jac’s “bold personality and attitude problem”. I wouldn’t say theirs is an “enemies-to-lovers” romance, it’s more “hate to love” thanks to their disastrous meet-cute but their banter was so good! It’s the kind that comes across as dislike when, in reality, nobody is fooled and they know it’s attraction.

There are cats in bowls of chicken, dairy-free ice cream mix-ups, (disturbingly funny) farting disasters, a bit of fake dating and a whole lot of sizzling chemistry! I’ve never read a novella series before but this was the perfect palette cleanser between reads and I’m keen to read on about the other sisters!


My Dirty Duke: A Victorian Novella
Publication Date:
07 June 2021
Genre: Historial Romance, Erotica

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Violet knows that her father’s best friend, the Duke of Ravensthorpe, is the most powerful man in all of London with a reputation for sin.

But nothing can stop Violet from wanting to shed her wallflower ways and fulfill her darkest, most forbidden desires…even if it means seducing a man twice her age.

“Shupe is a true queen of filth, expert at spinning heartfelt love stories alongside tantalizingly wicked scenarios.”
—Entertainment Weekly


Note: My Dirty Duke was originally published in the Duke I’d Like to F… anthology.

I’d never heard of this author before but Twitter romance led me to this book and I can’t say that I’m mad about it! I’m gonna be honest, I read this for the smut and it definitely delivered! 😂 This is an age-gap taboo romance, which is not something that I normally ever read (for no particular reason just don’t feel that it really interests me) so I wasn’t bothered by it in this story.

As this is a novella there’s not much in the way of character development or a strong plot, and their relationship to each other is already an established thing. I liked the Duke and Victoria. I thought they were both interesting characters and that the author handled the emotional and moral struggle (especially on his part) pretty well. I liked that Victoria was the one who pursued him—this girl knew exactly what she wanted and she managed to be bold despite being a little shy. I enjoyed reading about her passion for photography and of course, I liked how photographs had a role in their play, but I also liked how the Duke supported and encouraged the pursuit of her passion. Obviously, I liked the steamy bits and it did get quite steamy pretty quickly. The Duke ticked that dirty-talking hero box and so if that’s your thing, I would definitely recommend checking this out (especially if you have Kindle Unlimited)!

Were there some questionable moments in the characters’ actions and the progression of the plot? Sure, but I also didn’t really expect much to be developed or expanded upon in a novella, so I didn’t think too much about it. Overall, I enjoyed this and would be curious to check out more by this author in the future! If you’ve read her books, what’d you recommend checking out next?


Surrender: An Erotic Short
Publication Date: 16 August 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Erotica

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

“In twelve years unless we’re with other people I’ll fly you somewhere and you’ll give me two nights…”

The pact was so ridiculous, Yara forgot about it soon after it was made.
What were the odds she and Lennox would still be single in twelve years?
What were the odds they’d still have the hots for each other?
Practically zero, right?
Until they weren’t.
Yara is tempted to decline when Lennox emails her plane tickets and a reminder she promised him two nights for the full exploration of her body, but her curiosity gets the best of her.
What follows is more than either of them could ever bargain for and Yara learns that sometimes the key to indescribable pleasure is to surrender.

I picked this up immediately after seeing this terrifying yet hilariously thirsty image on Nick’s review. Her reviews have yet to steer me wrong and I’m glad I picked this up! It was fun, fast and super steamy and the perfect transition read to my next (presumably less erotic) romance.

This is basically about two people who come together to fulfil a sex pact they made after uni. Yara and Lennox promised each other that if they were single after 12 years they’d get together for two nights and wow hey, here they are and it was F-I-R-E! Despite only being 52 pages long, I was still able to get a good feel for both characters’ personalities and I loved them. Plus, the chemistry was intense and the sexual tension was almost palpable! Yes, there’s a lot of sex in this book but they (surprisingly) don’t just bang the day away and we see them reconnect as friends but also explore the potential of this connection they have being more serious than a sex pact. But, the steamy is definitely worth the build up! 😉

I hadn’t read anything by Rilzy Adams before this but I’ll be looking their books up now and I’m keen to check out more.

Have you read any of these novellas or are they on your TBR? Do you have romance novella faves to recommend? I’m definitely keen on trying more novellas soon!

Book Review: Sing Anyway by Anita Kelly

Goodreads: Sing Anyway (Moonlighters #1)
Publisher: Anita Kelly
Published: 01 June 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

After a lifetime of failed relationships, non-binary history professor Sam Bell is committed to a new (non)romantic strategy: Thirst Only. It’s the actual drinking where things get too complicated, where Sam inevitably gets hurt.

Sam is good at being thirsty, though, especially when it’s karaoke night at The Moonlight Café, otherwise known as Moonie’s to its largely queer regulars. Moonie’s is fun. Comfortable. Safe. Except for tonight, when one by one, all of Sam’s friends abandon them. Disappointed, they prepare to leave—until their #1 karaoke crush catches their eye…

For Lily Fischer, karaoke at Moonie’s is the only time she can step outside of her quiet shell. When there’s a mic in her hand, she’s no longer merely a receptionist harboring big dreams. At Moonie’s, Lily can pretend to be someone else: someone bold, who takes what she wants. And tonight, what Lily wants is the way Sam looks at her across the room as she sings her signature opening song, like they see her exactly as she wants to be seen. Like Moonie’s Lily is real.

As the night progresses, both Sam’s and Lily’s personal fears are tested, and the real world outside of Moonie’s looms. But maybe sometimes, the real world should be a little more like karaoke. It’s not always about knowing all the right words or having the perfect voice. Maybe all Sam and Lily need is a little courage to pick up the mic, and sing anyway.

Read More »

ARC Review: Up All Night: 13 Stories between Sunset + Sunrise edited by Laura Silverman

Special thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Up All Night: 13 Stories between Sunset + Sunrise
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publish Date: 13 July 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

When everyone else goes to bed, the ones who stay up feel like they’re the only people in the world. As the hours tick by deeper into the night, the familiar drops away and the unfamiliar beckons. Adults are asleep, and a hush falls over the hum of daily life. Anything is possible.

It’s a time for romance and adventure. For prom night and ghost hunts. It’s a time for breaking up, for falling in love—for finding yourself.

Stay up all night with these thirteen short stories from bestselling and award-winning YA authors like Karen McManus, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nina LaCour, and Brandy Colbert, as they take readers deep into these rarely seen, magical hours

BUY A COPY:

TL;DR: Up All Night is a wonderful collection of inclusive and diverse stories with rich LGBTQ+, disability, and POC representation. The stories were a good mix of various genres and they ranged from uplifting and heartwarming, to heartbreaking and achingly bittersweet, and even to the chillingly spooky, but all were tied together with themes of love, friendship, family, and coming-of-age. I really enjoyed a lot of these stories and I would happily add this anthology to my shelves to revisit in the future if ever I want to read some heartwarming and nostalgic short stories!

To say I went into this anthology with a little trepidation would be an understatement as I generally don’t have a good track record with the anthologies that I’ve tried. This is definitely more of a ‘me’ thing as I tend to have difficulties connecting with or getting into short stories. That’s why it was such a surprise when I found myself really enjoying all of the stories in this collection! There were a few that were “just okay” and didn’t leave a big impression on me, but there were more that I really liked and even loved, and none that I gave less than 3/5 stars to (and no matter what you think, 3/5 is not a bad rating!). Many of these authors’ books are still on my TBR but I’m now even more excited to pick them up as soon as I can!

Up All Night is a wonderful collection of inclusive and diverse stories with rich LGBTQ+, disability, and POC representation. The stories were also from a good mix of genres including contemporary, romance, light SFF (superheroes!), thriller/mysteries, and horror. They ranged from uplifting and heartwarming, to heartbreaking and achingly bittersweet, and even to the chillingly spooky, but all were tied together with themes of love, friendship, family, and coming-of-age. I found myself experiencing strong bouts of nostalgia as most of these stories are set in the final year(s) of high school when the air is charged with that electric feeling of change and possibility that makes you feel brave enough to take chances—it’s simultaneously nauseating and thrilling and those feelings really came through in the stories. That feeling was also compounded by the stories being set in the night-to-dawn hours when possibilities not only feel endless but the world even feels a little bit more magical.

Individual story ratings:

  • Never Have I Ever: 4/5 (CW/TW: murder)
  • Like Before: 3.5/5
  • Old Rifts and Snow Drifts: 4/5
  • Con Nights, Parallel Hearts: 5/5 (CW/TW: mentions of parental abuse—physical and sexual)
  • Kiss the Boy: 4.5/5
  • Creature Capture: 4/5
  • Shark Bait: 3/5 (CW/TW: racist slur, infidelity, car accident)
  • A Place to Start: 3/5
  • When You Bring A Dog to Prom: 3.5/5
  • Missing: 4.5/5
  • What About Your Friends: 3.5/5 (CW/TW: racism, bigotry)
  • Under Our Masks: 5/5
  • The Ghosts of Goon Creek: 3.5/5

Out of the 13 stories, my favourites were: “Con Nights, Parallel Hearts“, “Under Our Masks”, “Kiss the Boy”, and “Missing”. Ha, trust me, The Ultimate Chicken™️, to end up liking the spookiest story in the collection! 😂 Was I thoroughly creeped out while reading Missing”? Absolutely! My heart was still racing and the back of my neck prickling uncomfortably as I started on the next one but I can appreciate a well-spun tale! “Con Nights, Parallel Hearts absolutely broke my heart and had me unexpectedly crying by the end. It was emotionally raw and powerful. I haven’t read many superhero novels but I was delighted by “Under Our Masks” and the tentative sweet romance that blooms. “Kiss the Boy” filled me to overflowing with nostalgia thinking back on the final days of senior year—absorbing the novelty of the last school event(s), acknowledging secret crushes and taking chances with your heart, mischief-making with the best of friends surrounding you… This was such a delightfully heartwarming story!

Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable anthology and I’m so glad that I gave this a try!

Have you read Up All night or is it on your TBR?