Category: Lola’s Blog Tours

Blog Book Tour | My #25PagePreview for “Love and Other Moods” by Crystal Z. Lee featuring an Extract and short Q&A from the author

Posted Monday, 22 March, 2021 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in [2018] before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By [2020] as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. I am thankful I can continue to host and feature tours by this touring company from 2020-forward.

I received a complimentary copy of “Love and Other Moods” direct from the author Crystal Z. Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Whilst I didn’t get the chance to interview the author directly myself – she happily provided keen insight into her writerly process for this novel through a series of Q&A topical questions revolving round ‘transporting the reader’ into “Love & Other Moods” – which I felt you might benefit from knowing as well.

Love and Other Moods is based in Shanghai,
a city you had once lived and worked inside. What’s your favorite thing about Shanghai?

Lee responds: I love that Shanghai is a city of contrasts. You can see its history and modernity coexisting everywhere in that metropolis. There are ancient temples right alongside skyscrapers, traditional food stalls outside of fancy restaurants. It’s a city that attracts people from every walk of life, from all corners of the globe.

There are many, many delicious Chinese dishes
mentioned in your novel. Do you have a favorite?

Lee responds: In Love and Other Moods, one of the characters is a magazine food editor, one is a restaurant and bar owner, and one cooks as a hobby. Naturally there are many gourmet meal scenes in the book! Here is a sampling of some of the dishes that appear in the novel: Shanghainese truffle-flavored xiao long bao dumplings, Chongqing style liangfen spicy noodles, glutinous zongzi rice stuffed in bamboo leaves, lotus root pork bone broth, sticky niangao rice, Taiwanese oyster pancake, Peking duck and hairy crab. My favorite would be xiao long bao dumplings!

A favorite scene you enjoyed writing?

Lee responds: Chinese New Year is probably the most significant holiday in the Chinese-speaking world. In Love and Other Moods, there is a whole chapter that takes place in Nanjing and Shanghai during Chinese New Year, where some major developments happen to the characters. I relished writing this scene, and not just because it’s full of drama. I also enjoyed sharing all the cultural details of this holiday!

Were the romantic relationships in the book based on people you had known in Shanghai?

Lee responds: Somewhat. Almost every character and situation were inspired by something that had happened in real-life. For example, I had known people in China whose family were opposed to them dating a Japanese person because of what had happened during World War Two. I also knew some Joss and Tay types, where the second generation was loosely connected to the government in some capacity yet decided to date outside of their circle. I also knew many Logans in China—western men who had moved to Shanghai and treated the city as their personal playground. Although many foreigners have left China recently ahead of the pandemic, there is still a sizable expatriate contingent in Shanghai. Many of my friends are still there, and have married or are dating somebody from China.

Why did you decide to write the story in multiple third-person point-of-views?

Lee responds: I struggled whether to write the novel this way, but ultimately I wanted this book to mirror a city, with viewpoints from the multitude of characters you would meet in a sprawling metropolis. Therefore, in Love and Other Moods, there are POVs from the expats, the Shanghainese socialites, the corporate executives, the working class, the entrepreneurs, the doorman, the maid, the millennials, the aging parents. To me, all of their perspectives are essential to the story, and is what makes a city like Shanghai come alive.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading your novel?

Lee responds:Although Love and Other Moods is billed as a Romance read–and there are many romantic moments in the book–there are also the more serious issues which many of us experience, particularly as women of color, such as racism and sexism.

Growing up, I adored reading rom-coms, but often felt I couldn’t relate, because the characters didn’t seem to endure some of the same issues I faced.

In writing this book, one of my greatest hopes is that some of my readers will feel less alone in their struggles, and feel more seen and heard.’

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From the first moment you open the Prologue – she has found a way to knit you inside the city she’s chosen as a setting in such a way as to be provocatively acute in understanding how to connect you to the place as much as the allure of why so many journey to the city in search of what they cannot find elsewhere. It is a powerful start to the story – similar in strength to how Matthew McConaughey gave an evoking spoken word speech at the start of his fundraiser for Texas over the weekend.

Some writers have a way of placing you into the contextual landscape of a specific setting with such acute clarity – it feels as if you’ve been there yourself even if you’ve never physically have spent anytime there at all. Lee captures Shanghai in a way only she could tell similarly to how McConaughey changed your perspective about Texas within only a few minutes of an address as they both share a passion for words and the expressive nature of connecting to their audiences.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Blog Book Tour | My #25PagePreview for “Love and Other Moods” by Crystal Z. Lee featuring an Extract and short Q&A from the authorLove and Other Moods
by Crystal Z. Lee
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, finding strength, and discovering one’s place in the world.

Naomi Kita-Fan uproots her life from New York to China when her fiancé’s company transfers him to Shanghai. After a disastrous turn of events, Naomi finds herself with no job, no boyfriend, and nowhere to live in a foreign country.

Amidst the backdrop of Shanghai welcoming millions of workers and visitors to the 2010 World Expo, we meet a tapestry of characters through Naomi: Joss Kong, a Shanghai socialite who leads an enviable life, but must harbor the secrets of her husband, Tay Kai Tang. Logan Hayden, a womanizing restaurateur looking for love in all the wrong places. Pan Jinsung and Ouyang Zhangjie, a silver-aged couple struggling with adapting to the ever-changing faces of their city. Dante Ouyang, who had just returned to China after spending years overseas, must choose between being filial and being in love. All their dreams and aspirations interweave within the sprawling web of Shanghai.

This multilayered novel explores a kaleidoscope of shifting relationships—familial friction, amorous entanglements, volatile friendships—in one of the most dynamic metropolises of the twenty-first century.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, New Adult Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1913891015

Published by Balestier Press

on 8th December, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 324

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Ahead of reading my reactions to “Love and Other Moods”
ENJOY this short extract of the novel:

Naomi had packed four suitcases from New York, and right now they were stacked unevenly on top of one another in the hallway, forcing the front door to open only halfway, just tight enough for her to slide in sideways. She couldn’t remember the last time she had lived by herself. The lonely apartment was mildly depressing.

She felt like walking aimlessly. She passed by wrinkled men playing a game of Chinese chess, teenage girls in designer sunglasses taking photographs of each other, a woman gesticulating wildly as she yelled into her cell phone, tourists examining a guide book, a cloud of second-hand smoke drifting from outside a cafe, Uighur men selling kebabs, well-heeled shoppers clinging to their purchases, two men in yarmulkes talking heatedly, shrieking children competing with the racket from honking vehicles, and the sea of commuters gushing out of the Huangpi Nan Lu metro stop. Naomi let herself be swept up into the human river, bodies crushing against each other, arms brushing and shoving, no apologies no offense taken. Being in this city meant your senses were constantly accosted.

A man approached her with a flier featuring images of iPhones, Rolexes, LV handbags, and said that their shop was just ahead in an alley. She declined and quickened her pace. She spotted an empty bench by a bus stop and flopped down. Barely noticing as the traffic whizzed by, the racy selfie on Seth’s phone resurfaced in her head. A steady stream of downpour coaxed pedestrians to open a colorful array of umbrellas, or duck into convenience stores, boutique shops, malls entrances. Naomi felt wholly unequipped and unprepared, again, by this city.

Her hair was stuck to her face and her forehead was damp. She was relieved that the inclement weather matched her mood, for tears had started forming and slithering beneath her eyes, blending with the droplets of rain running down her face. She wiped it away with her sleeve. She just wanted to throw up all the fury and regrets that were lodged in her stomach, she wished it could all be flushed out of her head.

It was starting to hit her, the reality of having no boyfriend, no job, and nowhere to live.

She wondered if the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai was too small to co-exist with her ex-fiancé.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Published by: Balestier Press (@BalestierPress)

Converse on Twitter via: #ContemporaryRomance & #NewAdult
as well as #LoveAndOtherMoods and #CrystalZLee

About Crystal Z. Lee

Crystal Z. Lee

Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She was formerly a public relations executive who had worked with brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and automotive industries. Love and Other Moods is her debut novel. She’s already hard at work on her next novel and a children’s book.

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Posted Monday, 22 March, 2021 by jorielov in 21st Century, Blog Tour Host, China, Contemporary Romance, Equality In Literature, Lola's Blog Tours, Modern Day, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, New Adult Fiction, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Romance Fiction

This #CrimeFicFridays I have a #CosyMystery Blog Book Tour | feat. “Death and Decluttering” (Book One, Sparks and Joy Mysteries) by Nancy McGovern

Posted Friday, 22 January, 2021 by jorielov , , , , 1 Comment

#CrimeFicFridays banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in [2018] before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By [2020] as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. Thereby it was with the Dream Horse Adventures series I decided to mark my return and was quite thankful this was a series she was celebrating through her touring company.

I received a complimentary copy of “Death and Decluttering” direct from the author Nancy McGovern in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

It was meant to be a Cosy kind of ending to 2020:

I quite wickedly stumbled into an online event called: #12DaysOfCozies (you’ll find the badge and links to this in my blog’s sidebar) wherein Cosy Mystery authors & readers were readily able to engage directly with each other during 12 wicked wonderful days of December wherein a Cosy Mystery devout reader, blogger and social motivator (Angela @ Cozy Mystery Book Club) brought us all together – for chats and bingo cards and the best bit of all – the chance to unwind into a spontaneously spun chat wherein we ‘met’ #newtomeauthors of Cosy Mysteries, found new stories and/or series to add-on to our library hold queues and dearly gave us a wickedly delight of a start to December after such a hard-won year!

I had fully planned to read a sampling of those authors stories & series during the second half of December (if not over the Christmas & New Year’s holidays directly!) whilst curating some #25PagePreview posts rolled into my #blogmas schedule! However, December had other plans for me and sadly, despite being able to fetch a sleighfull of books from those lovely authors from two different libraries (ie. local and regional alike) I had to push forward those plans into January (and most likely February at this junction!) as my holidays were an insanely rescheduled affair after my Mum worked over 135+ emergency shifts at work as she’s in home health! Our holidays were not calm & festive but we found small joys and little ways of ringing in Christmas & New Year’s despite the adverse ways in which the holidays were unconventionally celebrated this year.

I even had to postpone my favourite binge reads for #ChristmasReads which (as I’m eyeing the calendar,…) I still aim to accomplish by releaseing a few last #blogmas posts before February springs itself on me!

Thereby whilst I awaited the arrival of “Death and Decluttering” my entire mindset in December was blissfully set in a Cosy kind of headspace because I was *devouring!* the #12DaysOfCozies chats and scouring my libraries card catalogues online to see what I could to put into queue next! I even found the group read book for the Cozy Mystery Book Club! Top cheers to Jorie, eh!

If you’ve been a follower and/or fervent reader of Jorie Loves A Story, you know I generally disappear off into the Cosy Historical Mystery worlds of intrique moreso than Contemporary Cosies – however, in recent years that has been changing – with my passionate love of Love Inspired Suspense novels with Mum, my JOY of discovering the witchy Cosies by Leanne Leeds and the quirkified world of the Wonky Witch (my dearly beloved Alf!) and the Wonky Inn — you could definitely say I have a stronghold on the Cosies which are keeping me wickedly entertained and heartily in love with Indie Cosies!

It is my absolute joy in welcoming the Sparks and Joy Mysteries to Jorie Loves A Story and I cannot wait to knit together my remarks on behalf of the series already in progress of being read as I itch towards #Witchathon & #WyrdAndWonder this New Year, 2021!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This #CrimeFicFridays I have a #CosyMystery Blog Book Tour | feat. “Death and Decluttering” (Book One, Sparks and Joy Mysteries) by Nancy McGovernDeath and Decluttering
Subtitle: A Spark and Joy Mystery : Book One
by Nancy McGovern
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

Joy Russo loves chaos. From her life as a busy reporter to her brawling, coffee-obsessed Italian family, there’s nothing she loves more than her messy, little life. Then the weird, slightly out-of-this-world Aurora Sparks arrives, whose life seems to revolve around creating order out of chaos.

The two of them have somehow ended up as roommates in the small Upstate New York town of Bent River, and the old adage that says “opposite attract” couldn’t be further from the truth! Sparks fly & tempers flare as each young lady tries to deal with the other’s eccentricities while not compromising their own values. Much easier said than done.

But when a man is found dead and Joy’s father is the prime suspect, the two must put aside their differences if they want to help him. They soon find that Joy’s tough, no-nonsense demeanor and Aurora’s ordered, structured nature perfectly complement each other when it comes to ferreting out clues. And, thankfully so, as the danger threatens to escalate unless they can sort through the facts and solve this mystery in a hurry!

Death & Decluttering is the first cozy mystery adventure
in Nancy McGovern’s new series, "Sparks & Joy”!

Genres: Amateur Detective, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8656529341

Published by McGovern Books

on 29th June, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 222

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Sparks & Joy Mysteries:

Notice the ostrich? Due take stock of the bird! Quite a pivotal side character!

Death and Decluttering by Nancy McGovernAlibis & Arranging by Nancy McGovernSuspects and Sorting by Nancy McGovern

Death and Decluttering (book one)

Alibis and Arranging (book two)

Suspects and Sorting (book three)

I will be reading the second & third book in this series post-tour!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Ahead of reading my reactions to “Death and Decluttering”
ENJOY this short extract of the novel:

Joy shot up out of bed as she heard the phone ring. The digital alarm clock beside her bed read 3:04am. Ricci House was one of the few houses in Bent River to still have a landline, mainly because her Nonno had insisted on it. He’d liked the fact that it was tied down in one place. A mobile phone was far too easily lost in the mountain of clutter all around the house.

Now, Joy realized with a sigh that the phone was still in her Nonno’s room. The room she’d hardly ever entered after he died. The room she’d thoughtlessly let Aurora settle into earlier that day.

The ringing stopped. Joy shrugged on a robe and tied the belt around herself. Her hazy mind had begun to clear, and panic was marching its icy feet down her spine. A call at 3am could only mean bad news. Gearing herself up mentally, Joy walked down the hallway and rapped on what was now Aurora’s door.

Aurora swung it wide open almost immediately. Her eyes were wide and panicked. “Joy…it’s…it’s for you.” She pointed behind her and Joy raced to pick up the phone. She closed her eyes for a second and took a breath – the fear that something bad had happened was now certainty.

“Joy, sweetheart.” It was her mother. Oh no. “Something terrible has happened.”

“It’s Dad, isn’t it?” Joy’s throat was so tight she could barely talk. Aurora came up behind her and put a sympathetic hand on her shoulder.

“It’s…me, actually,” her mother said. “I’m calling from the police station. Oh, Joy…could you come? Quickly? I think I might need a lawyer, too. I just…”

“You’re at the police station?” Joy blinked. “What?

“I’m being questioned,” her mother said. “Joy…it’s not looking good.”

You? Questioned by the police?” Joy was baffled. “At 3am?”

“Chip Goggins is dead.” Her mother’s voice was strangely emotionless and flat.

“Where’s Dad?” A new suspicion had begun to dawn on Joy.

“I don’t know. The police have gone to get him, too. Joy, can you please just come? Tell Uncle Pietro and the others, will you?”

“Sure. Sure. Of course,” Joy said. “Don’t you worry, Mom. We’ll sort everything out soon. Just stay strong.”

“Your time is up,” an official sounding voice said in the background.

“Just one more min-” Joy heard her mother protest just as the phone was cut off.

Aurora gave her a questioning look as Joy placed the phone down.

“I have to go,” Joy said, pushing past her and rushing to the door. No…wait…she had to call her uncles first. Struggling to remember where she’d put her purse, Joy ran to her room and began searching around. Her phone, wallet and keys – she really needed them right now.

Right. Now.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This is a Self-Published Cosy Mystery series!

Converse on Twitter via: #CosyMystery OR #CozyMystery
as well as #SparksAndJoyMysteries and #IndieAuthor

About Nancy McGovern

Nancy McGovern

I'm a mother, wife, homemaker, pet lover, teacher, student, reader, writer, drinker of tea & wine (depending on the time of day) and sleep-deprived dreamer. I live in Northern New Jersey with my husband (a veterinarian and writer), our three children and too many furred & feathered friends to list!

Please visit my website for more information about my books and to sign up for my newsletter!

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Posted Friday, 22 January, 2021 by jorielov in Amateur Detective, Blog Tour Host, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Indie Author, Lady Detective Fiction, Lola's Blog Tours

#FuellYourSciFi Book Spotlight | The Flyght series by S.J. Pajonas with the author discussing how she’s included Sign Language into the series!

Posted Friday, 11 December, 2020 by jorielov , , 6 Comments

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

When I first signed on to this blog tour, I wanted to host a guest feature in order to delve a bit more into the series and to seek out a bit more information about how the author approached writing it. Uniquely, the author had a few topics already in mind and one of them stood out to me because I have been wanting to become more fluent in Sign Language since I was in high school. I first learnt my ABCs in ASL (ie. American Sign Language) off my classmates and from there, I learnt more signs through a church program to teach limited conversational sign language when I was in my early twenties. I was a quickstudy and thinking this was a blessing it turnt out to be a hardship as I wasn’t able to stay in the class. I apparently learnt the signs and conversational combinations too fast for the class to keep up with me!!

I did try to seek out private instruction and tutors – however, in my local areas and regions, I couldn’t find a teacher willing to teach me to where I could be conversational fluent including seeking out resources for the deaf as apparently if you didn’t immediately know if you wanted to be translator and/or seek a University degree in Sign, you weren’t able to study it. I still have the passion for signing and I can get by a bit by what I originally learnt but it always has bothered me I never could take the short skills I had and develop them into being fluent in a language outside of my own.

Linguistics was a field I felt I would go into as an adult as I loved hearing different dialects and I felt learning languages would be wicked fun as a learner who likes to challenge herself. However, the one key issue I never felt I’d have as a roadblock is being dyslexic and finding that language itself was an uphill climb throughout all the years I went to school. Even as a writer, I had to develop my own short-cut through a written style wherein I combine certain language usage and phrases from both American and British origins – to where I call this mash-up AmeriBrit.

Thereby, when I saw the author had written about her own history with Sign Language and how this plays a strong role in the series she’s written, I knew this was the guest feature I was meant to share for the blog tour! It simply spoke to me and I wanted to share it because even in my early forties, I still hold out hope I’ll be able to master the art of ASL and become better prepared to converse with those who are deaf or partially deaf as I am only able to do so now in limited capacity. I hope you’ll enjoy this guest feature as much as I did and perhaps it will give you a reason to seek out the series to read!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

#FuellYourSciFi Book Spotlight | The Flyght series by S.J. Pajonas with the author discussing how she’s included Sign Language into the series!First Flyght
Subtitle: The Flyght series
by S.J. Pajonas

Her future is brighter than the stars. But one betrayal will change everything…

Vivian Kawabata can’t wait to claim her privileged destiny. But when the heir to the family agricultural empire finds her bank account empty while shopping for expensive shoes, she’s horrified to discover that her own brother has financially stabbed her in the back. To stand a chance of restoring her rightful place in the universe, the honest and rule-following Vivian may have to break a few intergalactic laws.

After securing an old ship from her aunt, Vivian takes on two new roles: a sexy heiress collecting eligible husbands and a hard-nosed captain rebuilding a lost fortune by any means necessary. Completely out of her depth, she’d be sunk without the help of a relationship broker, a handsome ex-boyfriend, a hacker with a heart of gold, and the other potential partners she meets along the way. With a business that runs the razor’s edge between trade and smuggling, can the former high-society socialite get the money she needs or will her brazen ambition lead to a deadly crash landing?

FIRST FLYGHT is the first book in the Flyght Series of sci-fi reverse harem romance. If you like action-packed space operas and a universe full of twists, then you’ll love S. J. Pajonas’s interstellar adventure.

Note: This is a slow-burn romance series!

Genres: Feminist Science Fiction, Romance Fiction, Science Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1940599571

ASIN: B07V6LN2YW

Published by Onigiri Press

on 6th September, 2019

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

The Flyght series banner provided by Lola Blog Tours and is used with permission.

→ IF you can read ebooks, check out the SURPRISE announcement the author kindly shared with me about how to get a digital copy of “First Flyght” on the 16th of December!! ←

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Converse on Twitter via: #ScienceFiction, #SciFiRomance
as well as #ScienceFictionRomance and Reverse Harem

About S.J. Pajonas

S.J. Pajonas

Stephanie (S. J.) is a writer, knitter, amateur astrologer, Capricorn, Japanophile, and USA Today Best Selling author. She loves foxes, owls, sushi, yoga pants, Evernote, and black tea. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing or spending time outside, unless it’s winter. She hates winter. Someday she’ll own a house in both hemispheres so she can avoid the season entirely. She’s a mom to two great kids, one feisty dog named Lulu Ninja Assassin, and lives with her husband and family outside NYC. When it comes to her work, she writes about everyday women and uncommon worlds.

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Posted Friday, 11 December, 2020 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Blitz, Book Spotlight, Indie Author, Lola's Blog Tours

#WyrdAndWonder Middle Grade Graphic Novel Book Review | “Ultra Squad: Adventures under the Strangebow” (Book Two of the Ultra Squad series) by Julia Devillers, illustrated by Rafael Rosado

Posted Tuesday, 19 May, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in [2018] before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By [2020] as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. Thereby it was with the Dream Horse Adventures series I decided to mark my return and was quite thankful this was a series she was celebrating through her touring company.

I received a complimentary copy of “Ultra Squad: Adventures under the Strangebow (Graphic Novel)” direct from the author Julia Devillers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Why I felt this would be a good series to showcase during #WyrdAndWonder:

I participated on my first Graphic Novel blog tour during #IndieApril – wherein I was first introduced to the Ultra Squad series. I felt the series had some positives going for it and a few choices within the context of the story which I felt were either irrelevant or missed the mark a bit for me. For instance – it has the marketing of being a diverse universe and thereby a diverse cast leads us into the stories themselves but there isn’t a lot of development within the characters (at least in book one) to where you can see those individualistic qualities and distinctions; each of the girls’ nearly collide into each other visually because their own voice wasn’t as strong as I had hoped they would become.

Also – there was a maze for the reader to solve in the middle of the story – which to me felt out of context with the overall vibe of the story itself. I hadn’t remembered those being inclusive of the previous graphic novels I’ve read in the past and how it was inserted just struck me as being rather odd. However, it did have a few strong points too – about friendship, finding leadership and living outside your comfort zones.

Part of hosting the original blog tour – I was given the option to read the sequel – which is why  I elected to run it during my #WyrdAndWonder showcases. The key reason is because this is a bit of a genre bender – it is part Science Fiction and part Fantasy; wherein I would deem this #SciFantasy as it has a few bits from both genres to give readers something to contemplate as their reading the series. It is also a perfect blend of ‘wyrd and wonder’ if you think about the origins of our event and why we started hosting it. It isn’t quite like what you’re expecting to find and it is in of itself a wholly new way of seeing a story come to life.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

What my takeaways were about the first Ultra Squad story:

There is definite cheeky humour – although also a few words I think had a few liberties taken with their usage – as studenting might have raised a few brows for me as a middle grade reader. The humour itself thought was how Devillers was referencing the danger imagery and how she was anchouring the foreshadowing into the action of the present within the series itself.

Ooh my dear ghouls – when the secretary requests the presence of the four girls’ in her office – this is when Ultra Squad meets Galaxy Quest! In such a stroke of genius really – as similar to what you love about the film transitioning seemingly regular and quite ordinary humans into outer space to counter-act against a reptilian terrorist – you now find yourself at the mercy of ULTRA and what this entails for the girls’ being recruited to aide in their missions!

The segue into meeting the girls’ families was lovely because you had the chance to see their different backgrounds – including how one of the girls’ has a military family. It also showed a bit of back-history of the Ultra Squad as it was implied this was a legacy appointment and not just a random bit of good news in the middle of an ordinary school day where your not expecting much except homework, class-time and a disappointing lunch!

There is a lot of verbiage in the storyline which is slightly more urban slang than contemporary cool – mostly as the context has to be understood before you proceed with reading it. I was never the kind of kid who was clued into contemporary slang or acronyms as they were difficult for me to process as a dyslexic reader and learner. Therefore as an adult dyslexic reader entering into this series – I’d have to say, if I were to give this to a middle grade reader I’d ask them a few questions about shortcuts in contemporary language patterns and if they knew shorthand for certain phrases as the wordplay is altered and is attempting to come across as ‘clued in’ to the language of younger children although for me, I felt it fell a bit short on that end of it. I almost thought the author was trying a bit too hard to pull that off and should have just kept the girls’ speaking in a language pattern which was more reflective of their own personalities than what would be considered the ‘best’ en-vogue collection of terms and phrases.

Where the story grows in empathy is showing how each of the girls’ have their own strengths and weaknesses – which proved to be a learning curve for their ‘sidekicks’ which were really quite the awkward collection of aliens! Their superhero strengths played off their own individual talents on Earth and thereby gave them superhuman qualities in space! I liked how the girls’ acted their actual age and showed how they still needed a bit of guidance to understand new situations and new experiences where they might have felt a bit overwhelmed by the circumstances.

The ending reminded me a heap of what happens in Back to the Future Part II – in fact, that was one of the films I loved watching at the age I would have naturally picked up this to read. There were some moments where I wish we could have understood more about the girls’ themselves – what made them unique and different from one another – I know the story focused on their individual talents and weaknesses, but I wanted a bit more back-story about the girls’ themselves. I would have preferred a lot less slang and shorthand as well – as again, even as an adult dyslexic reader I find half of that distracts from the story as I am constantly trying to sort out what the abbreviations are referencing and referring to whilst if the story just said what it had meant I would have been able to follow the story a bit easier.

Overall, the biggest surprise was really the unmasking of the villain which reminded me why we always looked forward to that reveal during an episode of Scooby Doo. I felt Ultra Squad borrowed a lot from other pop cultural stories and superheroes – wherein, it was struggling to have its own identity from the crowd. There are some good moments between the sidekicks and the girls’ but there was a bit of a downside in having them stay in-scene and not sound ridiculous too. I think this would be good for readers who might be even a bit younger than projected for the story itself as it is definitely geared towards newer readers who are not actively reading every week or month but might occasionally pick up a story.

-quoted from my review of Ultra Squad (Book One)

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#WyrdAndWonder Middle Grade Graphic Novel Book Review | “Ultra Squad: Adventures under the Strangebow” (Book Two of the Ultra Squad series) by Julia Devillers, illustrated by Rafael RosadoUltra Squad
Subtitle: Adventures under the Strangebow
by Julia Devillers
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

An evil, strange rainbow! A former nemesis! And four girls who look exactly like the UltraSquad! It’s an epic battle on an alternate universe for the UltraSquad, a secret superhero team, with a mission to save the universe through teamwork, positivity, and justice. Can the girls and their sidekicks, the Pallies, once again save the world and make it a better place through teamwork, positivity, and unstoppable fierce girl power?

Genres: Action & Adventure Fiction, Children's Literature, Graphic Novel, Illustrated Stories, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade, Superhero Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1732703025

Also by this author: Ultra Squad

Also in this series: Ultra Squad


Published by Justice Studios

on 12th November, 2019

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 96

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The Ultra Squad series:

Ultra Squad (Book One) by Julia DevillersUltra Squad Under the Strangebow by Julia Devillers

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Ultra Squad (book one) – (see also Review)

Ultra Squad: Adventures Under the Strangebow(book two)

Ultra Squad: Galaxy Dance Off (book three)
← *forthcoming 1st March, 2021

Ultra Squad: Time After Slime (book four)

Available formats: Trade Paperback

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Converse via: #UltraSquad, #GraphicNovel & #SuperheroFiction
as well as #MiddleGrade, #MGLit and #diverselit or #WeNeedDiverseBooks

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Posted Tuesday, 19 May, 2020 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, Book Review (non-blog tour), Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Indie Author, Juvenile Fiction, Lola's Blog Tours, Middle Grade Novel, Science Fiction, Soft Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event