Cover Reveal – The Great Forest by Valinora Troy

It’s my great pleasure to be a part of the cover reveal for The Great Forest (Lucky Diamond #3) by Valinora Troy. I’ve read the first two books of the series (The Lucky Diamond & Revenge of Queen Rose) and can wholeheartedly recommend them for fans of classic, middle grade fantasty, so I’m excited to see what book 3 brings! Find out more for yourself below and big congrats to Valinora Troy!

The Great Forest

“Everything here hates you. The trees long to consume you, the ground to swallow you, the plants to poison you, and as for the creatures who live here… Your only chance of survival is to do exactly as I say. Clear?”

Twins Cathy and Alan are thrilled to be asked by the king of the Diamonds to enter the Great Forest on their eleventh birthday to complete the cleansing of the land. After all, Queen Rose is dead and all darkness gone from the trees. But when their home is attacked by a horde of vicious boars, and Alan and Cathy unwillingly taken to the Great Forest, the twins realise that evil remains there. Now they are faced with a terrible choice: escape from their captors and take their chances at survival, or find out who is waiting for them in the centre of the forest, and why?

Cathy and Alan are about to face the deadliest battle of their lives, against the forest, the monsters, … and each other.

The exciting conclusion to The Lucky Diamond trilogy

About the author

Valinora Troy has been writing since she was a child. Her first story popped into her head when she was 5 or 6, about a little girl who found a magic diamond. Recently she completed a M.A. in Creative Writing, specialising in Children & Young Adult fiction. Her short stories for adults have appeared in numerous venues. She has also served as a panellist for the CYBILS award, visits schools and libraries, and occasionally run writing classes for talented young authors. She hails from Blackrock, Co Louth, Ireland, and after living in Dublin for a number of years, recently returned to Louth to live in a magical writing cottage. Find out more at Valinora Troy – Children’s Fantasy Writer

Cover Art by Phan Duy

The Great Forest will be published on 21st June 2023. The ebook is currently available here for pre-order at a special price of .99 cent/.99 pence!

As always, thanks for reading!

Book Review – Revenge of Queen Rose

Another fun middle-grade adventure with the same elements that made the first one so enjoyable. There’s adventure, magic, a fantastical world, and quite a few twists and turns to keep the characters on their toes. I did miss the journey element from the first book, but I liked continuing to get to know the large cast and seeing all of their adventures weave together through their different POVs.


I love me a good, classic middle-grade adventure.

Thanks for reading!

Book Blogger Novel of the Year Award Feedback – The Gatekeeper of Pericael

This is my second time entering the BBNYA and honestly first off, I’d just like to recommend it to all small press and indie authors. With an entrance fee of €20, it’s relatively affordable compared to most contests, and they do a wonderful job of getting their entrants exposure even if you’re not a finalist. Also, if you don’t make it to the finals, you can still get the judges’ feedback on your excerpt. (2k words for the first round and 10k words for the second)

Odriel’s Heirs was a fifth place finalist in the 2021 BBNYA, so it got in on blog tours and reviews, but since The Gatekeeper of Pericael was only a semifinalist in 2022 BBNYA, they sent me feedback on my first 10k words. And I really love it because I think it showcases how differently people can feel about the same book. So I wanted to share it because I think it really emphasizes the need for more than one beta reader or critique partner, and I also think it helps give perspective when you get rough reviews, because yeah, your books not for everyone. But some people will love it, and that’s still amazingly cool.

What our panelists thought

(To be clear, each judge wrote one bullet in each section):
Writing Style

  • Good, enjoyable. Gets stronger/better as it goes on.
  • Nice use of description. The language used for some of the descriptive passages is beautiful and really evokes the feelings of the magical jungle.
  • A little shaky at the start with a bit of extra ‘explaining’ thrown in, but settled down later in the extract
  • So good. I was sucked into this story right away, and even though a lot of information was introduced, it was done so well that I constantly understood everything that was happening without any confusion, brilliant!
  • Easy to read, very descriptive, easy to get drawn into.


  • Definitely feels unique and intriguing
  • Feels a little old for mid-grade in some parts but too young for teens in others
  • I wasn’t sure at the start but was gripped by the end of the extract
  • Quite interesting
  • I really enjoyed this and felt so engrossed in the story throughout.  It’s very original and so interesting! I’m desperate to find out what happens next, especially as the excerpt finished in the middle of a dramatic scene
  • Loving the story so far. I’m curious about the worldbuilding and the magic system. The story feels original so far. Would read on


  • Porter as a MC is a bit flat right now, but I’m invested
  • Anyone knows when summoning ANYTHING, you don’t insult them. Porter should have known better. This annoyed me.  Ames is fun though
  • I really liked Porter
  • Excellent characters
  • Good characters and they are all different.  Especially enjoy the different characters reacting to each other

Emotional Response

  • I don’t really feel that invested in the story. Perhaps I’ve picked up Porter’s distaste for the magical land. If the MC doesn’t care, it’s hard for the reader.
  • I cared about what was happening with Porter and Ames
  • Characters made for you to easily emotionally respond too
  • I just loved this so much.  It felt exciting, compelling and interesting too.


  • Good balance of various elements, intriguing storyline, feels like a refreshing portal fantasy.
  • I’d like to give it a higher rating, but we have been given a whole lot of worldbuilding very quickly with not a lot of motivation or emotion.
  • An interesting book that has great characters
  • A good solid book.
  • So good!!  Would rate higher if I could. It’s so brilliant, I enjoyed it so much 🙂

Thanks so much to the BBNYA for this amazing feedback, and I can’t wait to hear what the judges think of Idriel’s Children this year!

Upper Middle Grade is so hard to market, so I’m so incredibly grateful for any feedback. Thanks again, BBNYA

Book Review – The Captain’s Daughters

The Captain’s Daughters by Doreen D. Berger is a charming middle-grade sci-fi that follows two twelve-year-old girls on their (mis)adventures aboard their adoptive father, Captain William Marsh’s, starship. This book absolutely reads like the Star Trek: Enterprise meets middle-grade adventure, and it’s a lot of fun.

The girls, Robin and Diane, both read like authentic MG characters with big personalities that manage to get themselves into and out of trouble on a regular basis. Their love of geology, horses, exploration, and independence are all aspects I would definitely have been able to connect to as a young reader. And honestly, who wouldn’t want to live aboard the Polaris and explore new worlds?

Captain Marsh definitely gets the *cool but firm* Dad award, and it was sweet to see his dedication and love for the girls through his POV. And the plot of a kidnapping gone wrong into a parallel universe was a cool twist that I really enjoyed.

The writing flows super easily and is well-suited to the MG crowd or even confident chapter-book readers. My only real critique, is there are quite of lot of flashbacks throughout the POVs showcasing the relationships between the interstellar family, which weren’t really my cup of tea, but that’s totally just my subjective opinion.

Themes of adventure, consequences, and the bonds of family are strong here, and I think this would be a fun sweet read for any middle grade sci-fi fan (ESPECIALLY for Star Trek fans.) Thanks so much to the publisher for the free ARC!


I want to live on the Polaris too! Capt Marsh, please adopt me!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – This Last Adventure

This is one of those middle grade novels that makes me want to read more middle grade. This Last Adventure follows Archie as he navigates eighth grade while his grandfather and role model is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As his grandfather’s condition worsens, Archie grapples for ways to help him hold onto his memories, learning about his grandfather’s triumphs, tragedies, and regrets along the way.

Beautifully told, This Last Adventure is about family, bravery, and what it means to be a good person. Archie comes across as a very believable eighth grader—dealing with crushes, school projects, peer pressure, as well as the weight of his grandfather’s illness. But I love how the story never underestimates Archie, and his emotions and realizations come across as thoughtful and heartfelt.

Neither too heavy or too light, the poignancy of this coming-of-age tale leaves you with a feel-good ending and plenty to think about. I’d definitely recommend to upper MG readers and those looking for a reflective tale that fully captures the uncertainty of growing up.

Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publisher for the free ARC! This Last Adventure comes out 1 Feb 2022, and you can preorder here. (OMG – I actually read a book before it came out, I know we’re all shocked.)


Excellent middle grade can be a tough balance – but this one’s definitely a winner!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review – People of the Sun

People of the Sun follows cautious John and adventurous Sarah on their third adventure through time. With their first journey to ancient Egypt, and their second to ancient Rome, I was curious to see the young siblings dive into the the Aztec civilization.

While the first two were definitely stand-alone adventures along the lines of magic treehouse, I felt like this story tried to weave together an overarching plot through their adventures. Instead of getting thrown back in time, and fighting to get home, John and Sarah had a new, grander purpose in this book.

While I really liked the concept that there’s now a bigger reason behind their travels through time, I felt like in the first half of the book we got bogged down with the details of time travel, with rules that were both specific and yet also leaned heavily on the “advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” philosophy, which made it feel inconsistent.

As always, I really enjoyed the effortless style of writing as well as the historical detail of the Aztecs, although I wish they had been able to spend more of their time there and get to connect the Aztec characters a little more. I thought John and Sarah’s moral dilemmas that come along with time meddling were an interesting touch as well, but with the sticky time traveling logic they were following, I don’t think it quite resonated as well I would have liked.

Overall, I think fans of the first two books will really enjoy the third installment of the Eye of Ra series as it continues John and Sarah’s high-stakes historical exploration, and I’m curious to see where they go next! People of the Sun launches 1 Feb 2022, and is available for preorder here.

Thanks so much to the publisher for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review!


Perhaps not quite as frightening as the Eye of Sauron, but the Eye of Ra still gives off a pretty intense vibe.

Thanks for reading!