Thursday, July 18, 2024

*Review* Coraline by Neil Gaiman

 

Genre: Middle Grade Horror
Published: April 24, 2012
Pages: 212


This edition of New York Times bestselling and Newbery Medal-winning author Neil Gaiman’s modern classic, Coraline—also an Academy Award-nominated film—is enriched with a foreword from the author, a reader's guide, and more.

"Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house...."

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous.

But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

Neil Gaiman's Coraline is a can't-miss classic that enthralls readers age 8 to 12 but also adults who enjoy a perfect smart spooky read.



This is one of the rare books that I simply bought and read (eventually, because according to Amazon I bought the Kindle edition in June of 2016, and only just recently read it). I was also far more familiar with the film adaptation before I even picked up the book (or rather my phone) to read. This means I had very distinct images in my head to go with the story based on the movie. From what I remember of the movie, it stays pretty true to the book overall. 

While this book was written with children in mind, I was unfortunately already an adult when it was published. I say that because this is exactly the kind of book I would have loved as a child. It's creepy and a little bit scary and reminds me a bit of the Goosebumps and Fear Street books I loved growing up. 

This book was (obviously) an easy, fast read for me, as it should be considering that I am an actual adult (legally speaking). But that also made it a great palate cleanser after two months of focused reading. Sometimes it's nice to just have a quick, simple read, amiright? 

Overall I give Coraline 4.8732 out of 5 stars. - Katie 




Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Norse Mythology, Neverwhere, and The Graveyard Book. Among his numerous literary awards are the Newbery and Carnegie medals, and the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Will Eisner awards. He is a Professor in the Arts at Bard College.

*Review* The River That Flows Beside Me by Charlotte Guillain


Genre: Children's 4-7 years
Published: October 24, 2023
Pages: 20


This richly illustrated concertina book takes the reader from the top of a mountain spring, through varying landscapes, and follows a river's journey from its source to the seaWith a focus on the important role waterways play in human and environmental survival, The River That Flows Beside Me explores the changing landscapes along a river's journey and the habits and ecosystems that call the river their home.

A follow-up to 
The Street Beneath My FeetThe Skies Above My Eyes, and The Sea Below My Toes, this visually stunning book finds the river in the rocky peaks, and tracks it as it winds its way through coniferous forest, gushes through v-shaped valleys, and roars down magnificent waterfalls. Further downstream, readers will journey with the river past beaver dams, floodplains, oxbow lakes, paddle-boarders, bridges, and more.

On your journey, 
meet the animals that call the river home, including:

  • White-tailed deer
  • Grizzly bears
  • Otter
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Dragonflies 

With a primary focus on the river's ecosystems, wildlife, and geological processesThe River That Flows Beside Me also explores the way that humans interact with the river landscape, using it both to survive and also to enjoy. The beauty and variety of river landscapes are bought to life by Jo Empson's rich illustrations. 

This book is part of the 
Look Closer series, a set of concertina books that help teach us about the mysteries and wonders that are found in the world around us.



I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This is a story about the trip water takes from the top of a mountain all the way to the ocean, and all the things you can see along the way. It covers animals encountered, changing riverbed characteristics, and surrounding scenery. There were loads of different things to look at and name within the illustrations. 

My issue with the book was that it was annoying to read the way it was formatted for digital use, so I'm happy to see, that's not even a purchasing option, because it was honestly kind of awful. Otherwise, the book was very informative and the illustrations really helped to show all the different things one would encounter if they were actually following water from its source to it's end destination. Overall I give The River That Flows Beside Me 4.1875 out of 5 stars. - Katie 




Charlotte Guillain lives in Oxfordshire, UK, with her husband and co-author Adam and their two children. She writes fiction and non-fiction for children, including the picture book Spaghetti with the Yeti, which was shortlisted for Oscar’s First Book Prize 2014 and has featured in CBeebies Bedtime Stories. Her first book in collaboration with illustrator Yuval Zommer, The Street Beneath My Feet, was shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2018 and named an ALSC Notable Children’s Book 2018 in the All Ages category, as well as being selected by the Guardian as one of 15 ‘modern classics’. Charlotte and Yuval’s follow-up title, The Skies Above My Eyes, continues with the innovative concertina format of their first book, this time looking up at the sky and universe above us.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

*Review* Hell On High by Michael Clark

 

Genre: Horror
Published: March 9, 2023
Pages: 443


Prepare for adventure as Juliana, a nineteen-year-old Brazilian, finds herself forced to run from an occult overlord, leaving her sister in peril. Temporarily safe, Juliana works to save money for Vilma’s rescue—and along the way, meets Patrick, a rich-boy mountain climber with friends in high places.

Angus Addison wants to see his corporate flag on the summit of Mount Everest—carried there by the first woman in history—but the Himalayas are no joke. Failure could cost both sisters their lives.

Juliana weighs the risks and rewards—for even if she raises the cash, she still must figure a way to free Vilma from the same man she ran from—a man known to his disciples as 
The Farmer.


I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

If you like books with short chapters, this is a great book for that. I think some of the chapters were a single sentence long. That is partially because the book rotates through the POVs of several characters. Initially, it is not at all clear how some of the characters are connected for the story arc, but the scenes do set the mood for those characters' morals.

I didn't ever really feel particularly invested in the story or in the characters lives beyond wanting Juliana to get away from her monster of a father. Once that happened, I'd pick the book up here and there to read a bit, but I no longer needed to know what happened next. The short chapters were great for that though. 

Overall I give Hell on High 2.7382 out of 5 stars. - Katie 




Michael Clark thinks "eerie" is the best horror emotion and writes stories with this in mind.

He has written four novels:

"The Patience of a Dead Man - Book One"

"Dead Woman Scorned - The Patience of a Dead Man - Book Two"

"Anger is an Acid - The Patience of a Dead Man - Book Three"

and "Hell On High" published by Brigids Gate Press

Autographed bookplates are available for free (worldwide): email michael@michaelclarkbooks.com

sleek.bio/michaelclarkbooks

*Review* Bad Hair Day by John Phillips

 

Genre: Children's 3-6 years
Published: October 24, 2023
Pages: 32


Yo, what's up, Fuzznut? Sing along with the viral TikTok song Bad Hair Day in this riotous journey through the world's worst bad hair day EVER! 

You won't be able to stop 
laughing, or dancing, along to this extraordinary tale. Have you ever woken up with hair that looks like the back end of a chicken? Well, let our hilarious chicken sidekick lead you through the WORST bad hair day, from hair that turns GREEN, to dreaded SCHOOL PHOTOS!

Both hilarious and heart-warming, 
Bad Hair Day pairs a story everyone can enjoy with the iconic 'Bad Hair Day' song lyrics and dance moves so that you can either read, dance, or sing along with this only too relatable tale! You can even scan the QR code on the back to sing and dance along with the accompanying lyric video. 

Mousse ain't stickin', water ain't slickin',
It looks like a feather from the back end of a chicken.
I ain't gonna use no silly hair spray…
I’m havin' such a bad hair day.

Authored by the Bad Hair Day song creator and New Zealand primary school teacher, 
John Phillips, and humorously brought to life with Jennifer Jamieson's quirky illustrations, this is an endlessly entertaining picture book to be enjoyed by children and adults alike!

Full of whacky hair-dos, silliness, chickens, and ultimately 
a message of joyful inclusivityBad Hair Day is the perfect picture-book adventure. Is having a bad hair day really the worst thing in the world?


I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review.

This is a cute rhyming story about a kid who wakes up on school picture day with one of the worst cases of bedhead ever. And nothing they try helps to tame their locks. I feel like that's something most of us can relate to to some extent. 

The illustrations were very bold and colorful, and the rhyming was so fun that I wouldn't mind reading this book several times over. Overall I give Bad Hair Day 4.3784 out of 5 stars. - Katie




John Phillips is a teacher of over 34 years who has written and recorded many classic songs for children. He has developed a writing style that weaves fun, family adventures and humour with catchy melodies. Living and working in Nelson, New Zealand, John is passionate about unleashing his student's hidden musical talents – providing them with positive performance experiences and copious amounts of fun! 

Jennifer Jamieson is a freelance Illustrator and Designer living in sunny England surrounded by beautiful forest. She loves creating quirky characters and bringing their wonderful personalities to life. She has a passion for inclusiveness and is a strong advocate for representation in children’s books. She loves the idea that we can change the world by the books we read and create.

*Review* Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

 

Genre: YA Romance
Published: January 21, 2020
Pages: 365


A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper
, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — 
people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.


I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. This is my honest review. 

This story had a Romeo and Juliet meets Gossip Girl vibe. The main characters go to an elite private school in New York filled with competition to be the best and pad their transcripts for college. Like me, Pepper moved to town and started there as a freshman. Jack had been going to school with the same kids his whole life, but lacking the popularity of his twin brother, eh feels like an outsider. 

Pepper and Jack's lives intersect in so many ways, many of them not immediately obvious. This leads to some serious misunderstandings, throwing up roadblocks to their obviously budding relationship. When they agree to work together on a business tweet war, since it led to some major popularity for Jack's family's hometown deli and Pepper's mom insisted she continue tweeting for their big national burger franchise, things really ramp up for them personally. 

I loved the banter between the two of them and couldn't help but root for them to get together. And every single misunderstanding felt devastating from the offended party's POV, even with the knowledge of what really happened. And this story is told in dual POV, which gives us some insight into each character on a personal level. 

Overall I give Tweet Cute 4.7832 out of 5 stars. - Katie 




Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, lots of love, and a copious amount of grilled cheese.

Monday, July 1, 2024

*Monthly Update* May and June 2024

 You may have noticed that I did not post a monthly update post at any point in June, and there is a very good reason for that. It's because I realized I still needed to do it on like the 20th, and at that point, I might as well just wait another week and a half and combine two months into one. Although it's more likely that you didn't notice, because frankly, you've essentially forgotten I exist as a blogger, which is fair considering how inconsistent I've been at posting the past couple years. It's fine, I'm not going to hold that against you. Anyway, in May I had wanted to read 22 books and I failed...I only read 21 (although I was less than 100 pages from finishing book 22, and a significant amount into three others that had I spent any of the time I read those books on book 22, I would have met my goal, so it almost counts). 

In June I wanted to read strictly LGBTQIA+ books, and I did read a fair number of books that qualify (although I read a couple that don't). I also only read 13 books in June, which is a drastic reduction that I'm attributing largely to the fact that I stopped listening to audiobooks while driving to and from work, and also to the fact that I started doing my walks on the treadmill in my basement with a book in front of me instead of at the Nature Center with an audiobook (because it got hot!) I don't read as fast as I listen, but that's okay. By the end of the year, I would like for audiobooks to only account for 33% of my reading for the year anyway, and they're currently at like 42% so I've got some work to do to adjust that imbalance. 

Finally, in May I'd said that I was going to aim to write more reviews than books I read. That didn't happen at all. As in I didn't write a single review the last two months (oops!) Review writing was even part of why I was slowing down on book reading in June (well that was at least my intention). So now I'm even further behind on my review writing, but I get a weeks paid vacation from my job in July and with some slight dedication, I can use that time to at least put a dent in the reviews I need to write. If I say it's going to happen often enough, that'll make it true, right? Right? Anyway, lets do a quick recap of the books that I read in May and June before I lost you completely. 

Books Read In...

May

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Our Vengeful Souls by Kristi McManus
Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa
Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope
Ladies' Day by Lisa Williams Kline
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
How To American by Jimmy O. Yang
No Land's Man by Aasif Mandvi
The Shining by Stephen King
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
Counting the Cost by Jill Duggar Dillard
Damsel by Evelyn Skye
The Many Worlds or Albie Bright by Christopher Edge
The Other Side by Juan Pablo Villalobos
Pucking Around by Emily Rath
Becoming Free Indeed by Jinger Duggar Vuolo
Things I Should Have Said by Jamie Lynn Spears
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

June

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris
Verity by Colleen Hoover
The Women by Kristin Hannah
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
Leather and Lark by Brynne Weaver
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Momma Cusses by Gwenna Laithland
The Haunting by Natasha Preston
Think Twice by Harlan Coben
The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor

And there you have it, all the books I read in the past two months. I do plan on slowing down on the number of books I'm reading because I'm going to start reading more longer books (like I have 8 books from the Outlander series and want to start it for instance), and since I've already met my reading goal of 100 books for the year, I don't feel as much pressure to read books quickly, which means I can take my time with those longer books. I've also got a really good head start against my arch-nemesis on the reading challenge, so I'm feeling pretty confident about my chances of reading more books than her this year at this point. Like the last few of these posts I've made, I'm really going to try to make a dent in the number of reviews I have to write in July (and with slowing down on number of books finished, I might even succeed). Wish me luck. - Katie 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

*Monthly Update* April 2024

 Listen, before we get started, I want to make sure we're all on the same page and pretending that I'm not writing this just a few short hours before midnight on the 8th of May. This whole post was written and posted a whole week ago, and something just went wrong with the internet and the date, okay? 

Anyway, April is obviously over and I don't think I succeeded in keeping my reviews to be written list from getting longer. I read 21 books in April, and while I did get 10 book reviews posted to the blog (and one set of discussion questions), and I have a few more handwritten that I just need to get blog posts built for, I'm 99% sure I don't have eleven reviews written in my notebook right now. But I did get some reviews written, so my list is at least not 21 books longer than it was. So still kind of winning. 

As I said last month, I'm taking a couple months off of my focused history/heritage month reading and it's been nice just picking up whatever strikes my fancy. It's also helpful for my three bookclubs, which do not adhere to my themes like at all. This month I even get to do two re-reads for book club meetings (fortunately they are both books I very much enjoyed the first time around so I don't mind the idea of re-reading them). May is Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage month, and I am currently reading Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, but that will likely be my only themed book for the month. 

Books Read in April

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
The Woman in Me by Britney Spears
Don't Turn Around by Jessica Barry
Hotel 21 by Senta Rich
The Boy in the Red Dress by Kristin Lambert
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones
The Merciless by Danielle Vega
The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker
A Hard Day for a Hangover by Darynda Jones
The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore
I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott
Blood Debts by Terry J. Benton-Walker
Push, Then Breathe by Luissa Kiprono
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Under This Red Rock by Mindy McGinnis
Every Wish Way by Shannon Bright

Once again I'm going to aim to write more reviews this month than books I read, but I'm also hoping to read 22 books in May, to include half an hour a day of non-fiction reading (I'm currently behind on that because I had a couple days where I just didn't read much at all, but I can still easily get caught up). If I'd stop picking up a shift at work each week, I might have more luck as the days I pick up shifts have historically been days I had big plans for getting blogging stuff done so...But you know what, eventually I will have all my reviews written, and if I really work at it, it will even happen this year. Maybe May will be my month to just get caught up. I might also win a major lottery, making it so I don't have to work anymore and can devote all my time to reading. Both things are equally possible, if we're being honest. 

But that's pretty much it for my update. I'm going to go for now because I have books to read and reviews to write. - Katie 

Monday, April 15, 2024

*Review* MoneyWise Mabel's Bursting Bank by Kalee Boisvert

 

Genre: Children's Ages 4-6
Published: September 19, 2023
Pages: 32


What should Mabel do now that her piggybank is full to the brim? Buy lots of candy? Spend it all on that toy she’s been eyeing? Finally get that unicorn sprinkler that sprays water from its horn?

When Mabel pulls her piggy bank out from under the bed, it’s stuffed. She can’t fit one more coin inside–Piggy is 
bursting!

What should Mabel do with all that money? Buy candy? Toys? Games!? Mabel’s so excited that her bed becomes a trampoline and she wants to spend it 
all. But then her mother explains that money doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket—a lesson that sends Mabel on a journey to learn what it means to become “moneywise.” Follow her as she takes her first steps to independence by opening a bank account!

Teach your school-aged kids fundamentals about money management with this approachable, fun, and charming debut from Kalee Boisvert, full of colorful illustrations and easy-to-understand concepts.


I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This is a fun story about a girl who has filled up her piggy bank with coins and wants to use her money to buy candy, like most kids would. Her mom talks her into opening up a savings account with the money instead and she learns about what happens with money at the bank. Then she decides that she wants to save up her money to take her mom on a beach vacation. 

If I thought that reading this book to my children multiple times would brainwash them into wanting to take me on a beach vacation with their savings, I would read it to them every night (although they're past that age at this point, so I'm basically a day late and a few thousand dollars short). It was a pretty informative story with language that would be easy for kids to understand though and does explain the benefits of saving your money. 

The illustrations were fairly simple but colorful keeping the focus more on the message than the pictures. Overall I give this book 3.9854 out of 5 stars. - Katie 




www.kaleeboisvert.com Instagram: @kaleeboisvert

Kalee Boisvert has been in the financial industry for over fifteen years, but her love of money began very young. Growing up in a single parent household, she watched her mom struggle with finances and wished there was something she could do to help. She wasn’t going to allow her circumstances to define her, and thus her own journey into financial literacy and wealth management began. Kalee now has an MBA in Finance from the Haskayne School of Business and is a financial professional whose focus remains on sparking healthy and positive conversations around wealth and investments. She is also a proud mom to eight-year-old Ivy and new baby Jax. She lives with her family in Calgary, Alberta. MoneyWise Mabel’s Bursting Bank is her first book for children. Her self-help title Make Money Your Thing will be released by RE: Books in Spring 2023.

*Review* Don't be Mean to 13 by Douglas Harris

 

Genre: Children's ages 3-10
Published: October 12, 2023
Pages: 24


Thirteen is feared and disliked for no good reason, while Twelve has always been so popular! When Thirteen and his friend Friday get together -watch out for friggatriskaidekaphobia! Explore the ancient historical roots of these popular superstitions while encouraging children to use evidence-based, critical thinking with our friend, Thirteen!


I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This is a cute and informative story about the number 13 and why people think it's so scary. It's got some fun facts about the real name for the fear of the number thirteen and why 12 is perfect. It also discusses where the fear of the number likely came from and some other common superstitions. 

I don't know that I'd want to read this book all the time, but I wouldn't be bothered by reading it a few times. The illustrations were fun and somewhat colorful, really drawing the eye in. Overall I give Don't Be Mean to 13 4.00734 out of 5 stars. - Katie 




Douglas is the co-author of the award-winning children's books My Name is Stardust, Stardust Explores the Solar System, Stardust Explores Earth's Wonders and Elle the Humanist. His upcoming book, Don't Be Mean to 13, will be released on Friday, October 13th, 2023!

Douglas co-authored the Stardust Book series with his 17-year-old daughter, Bailey Harris. My Name is Stardust is the first in their series of children's illustrated science storybooks and features a foreword by renowned evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins. Book two in the series, Stardust Explores the Solar System, was released in 2018. Book three, Stardust Explores Earth's Wonders, was released in 2019.

Douglas co-authored Elle the Humanist with his 12-year-old daughter, Elle Harris. Elle the Humanist is a beautifully illustrated book presenting humanist ideas and ethics in a way that's warm, welcoming, and accessible for young readers. It features a foreword by renowned philosopher and author Daniel Dennett.

In partnership with the Center For Inquiry and the Translations Project, Elle The Humanist and the three books in the Stardust Book series are available for free in Urdu, Arabic, Farsi and Bahasa Indonesia – languages chosen by the Translation Project to help make scientific and humanist literature more available in Muslim-majority countries, where access to such literature can be very limited.

Douglas was a featured expert panel speaker at the 2017 BookCon in NYC on Science and Education. While releasing his book at BEA/NYC in 2017, he was interviewed by Helen Little for The Public Library Podcast on iHeartRadio about science, education and literature.