My Rotten Stepbrother . . . Did What???

Anyone who has ever read a fairy tale knows that step-family members are nothing but trouble. Wicked stepmothers, horrible stepsisters, the list just goes on and on.

Fairy-tale-loving Maddie has a stepbrother who is rotten. Horrible. Simply unbearable. Holden does whatever he can to ruin Maddie’s life.

You may remember that Holden ruined Maddie’s Halloween—and the story of Beauty and the Beast—in My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Beauty and the Beast. I’m delighted to have the chance to review the other books in the My Rotten Stepbrother series!


The series starts with My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Cinderella. When Maddie gives a class presentation on her favorite fairy tale, Cinderella, Holden points out to the class that Cinderella’s feet would be sore and swollen after walking home from the ball. He also questions whether someone’s foot size is a good way to identify them, demonstrating with a poll of raised hands that half the class wears the same size shoe as Maddie.

That night, Maddie and Holden discover that Holden’s pointed questions did more than ruin Maddie’s presentation. They ruined Cinderella! Maddie and Holden are magically sucked into the story of Cinderella. It’s the day of the wedding, but instead of marrying Cinderella, the prince is marrying one of her stepsisters! Cinderella’s feet were swollen from walking home and wouldn’t fit into the glass slipper—but one of her stepsisters had the same size feet as her. The prince mistakenly believes the stepsister is his true love. Can Maddie and Holden fix Cinderella?

I have to admit that, just like with the question raised by Holden about Beauty and the Beast, Holden’s questions about Cinderella never occurred to me. Holden is one of the most creative (and skeptical) kids I know!


By the time Holden ruins Aladdin (in book three of the series), Maddie and Holden are experts at the ruined fairytale! In fact, this time, Holden deliberately puts himself and his stepsister into the story of Aladdin.

Not only do Maddie and Holden have to share a home now, but they also share a birthday. Maddie is having a great birthday—her stepmother has helped create an Aladdin theme for her sleepover party. Holden, on the other hand, is having the worst birthday ever. To top it off, he doesn’t receive the hoverboard he really wanted for his birthday present.

After pointing out all of the problems in Maddie’s most recent annoying fairytale, Holden storms off to his room. A few hours later, he sees a picture of Aladdin riding a hoverboard. He realizes that if he and Maddie go into the story of Aladdin, he will get to be Aladdin.

Once magically sucked into the story of Aladdin, Maddie and Holden again have to work together to fix the fairytale Holden has broken. I have to say, this is definitely the funniest of the fairytale situations that Maddie and Holden have found themselves in!

Snow White

The fourth book of the series starts a little differently, with Maddie finding the plot holes to Snow White. Could it be that with Holden out of town, she is actually missing her rotten stepbrother?

Snow White gives Maddie and Holden a chance to examine their own family and their relationship, as they watch the way the seven dwarf brothers act together. They also compare the relationship between Snow White and her stepmother and father to the one they have with their parents at home and realize how fortunate they are.

Over the course of the four stories, Maddie and Holden’s relationship grows from intense dislike to grudging acceptance. They begin to recognize that they need each other, and they get better and better at working together to solve the fairytale challenges before them. (Of course, they still have a lot of work to do, leaving the door open for plenty more installments in this series!) Holden also goes through a journey of self-examination and maturation over the four books.

This series is one of my new favorites, and I’m looking forward to seeing many more from author Jerry Mahoney. Thanks to Mr. Mahoney and Capstone for the opportunity to read these books!

Have you read any great books lately?

The Wife Between Us – GIVEAWAY!!!


A quick jump into the adult fiction world for this fantastic psychological thriller by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen! The publisher’s description of the novel is a superb set-up for a discussion of the book:

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage – and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies.

Despite the warnings, it is hard not to assume you know what’s happening as you follow along the twists and turns in this tale. It begins with the stereotypical story of a successful wealthy husband throwing aside his middle-aged wife for a younger beauty. The ex-wife has been left with nothing after the divorce. She is pitied by her former friends and has begun working in a low-paying job to make ends meet. But The Wife Between Us brings a far more complex drama than this stereotype.

As she tells her story in first person narrative, it is easy to feel conflicted about ex-wife Vanessa. We see her as predator, stalking her prey—the replacement wife. We see her as betrayed, beaten down, and broken—begging ex-husband Richard not to marry the new woman. She gets ever more desperate as the wedding day approaches.

In chapters that alternate with Vanessa’s story, we also meet Nellie, who is getting ready to marry Richard. Their story is romantic and fairytale-perfect. Nellie is young, sweet, and innocent. She works as a preschool teacher for three-year-olds.

But Nellie is scared. She has been receiving hang-up calls. She jumps at noises and sees people in shadows. Is it Richard’s ex-wife?

The Wife Between Us is Greer Hendricks’s first novel after a career of more than two decades as an editor. Her work as an editor included work by co-author Sarah Pekkanen, an internationally bestselling author. This duo transformed their author-editor relationship into that of co-authors. The resulting novel is a tremendous success! (You can hear more about their partnership in a Meet the Authors video on the St. Martin’s Press website.)


The Wife Between Us will be released on January 9, 2018.

I have a free copy of The Wife Between Us to giveaway to one lucky reader (thanks St. Martin’s Press!). Or, if you’re nervous about counting on a giveaway to snag your copy, you can place a pre-order at

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!

Have you read any great books lately?

The Dragon With A Chocolate Heart

It’s almost a week after Halloween—is anyone sick of chocolate yet? Well, I can assure you that none of the chocolate you’ve been sneaking out of your kids’ Halloween stash is as delicious or as life-changing as the chocolate in Stephanie Burgis’ new book!

Dragon with a Chocolate Heart

Aventurine longs to leave her dragon family’s cave and explore the world. She is dismayed when her mother tells her that she must wait another thirty years for her scales to harden to a protective shell before she can venture outside. Feeling claustrophobic, and ready to prove that she is capable of taking care of herself, Aventurine waits until the adults are asleep and leaves the cave.

After hours of unsuccessful hunting, Aventurine finds a human singing by a fire in the forest. Prepared to strike and bring her prey home to share with the other dragons, Aventurine pauses when she smells the most delightful scent wafting up from a pot. The human prepares hot chocolate for Aventurine, but enchants it with a spell that turns Aventurine into a human around twelve years old.

Unable to return to her cave in human form, Aventurine travels to the nearest city. Once in Drachenburg, Aventurine searches for her place in her new human world.

Aventurine discovers there is much more to chocolate than simple hot chocolate, she learns about friendship and family, she finds there are humans who fit the stereotypes that her family described for her and there are those who do not, and, most of all, Aventurine discovers her passion.

This is a fun tale that weaves together the excitement of dragons, the thrill of solving a challenge that will help others, and the lessons of persistence, friendship, and loyalty. It has something for everyone, and keeps the reader wanting “just one more chapter.”

Stephanie Burgis is the author of many books and short stories, both for children and adults. Her other middle grade books tell the story of Kat Stephenson in a trilogy (plus a novella). One of the characters from The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart will appear in Ms. Burgis’ next middle grade book, The Girl with the Dragon Heart, coming in 2018. You can find Ms. Burgis online at her website and blog at

Have you read any great books lately?