Monday, March 27, 2023

*Top Ten Tuesday* Books I Want to Read Because I'm in a Mythology Retelling Phase

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Joood - Hooligan of Platypire reviews bossed me into doing this, so I guess this is a thing I do now. 

This week’s theme is books for people who liked Author X (where I obviously pick an author to build a suggestion list around). Well I won't be doing that because I suck at that kind of thing. I read a lot, but unless there's a pretty obvious similarity between stories I read, I don't relate books to each other, and I certainly don't have the brain capacity to put together a whole 10 book list of books that would be good to dive into if you liked one particular author. Instead, I'm going to feature ten books I want to read because I'm currently in a mythology retelling reading phase that started because The Shadow of Perseus by Claire Heywood was amazing. So here we go. 

Athena's Child by Hannah Lynn

Meduso by B.J. Irons

The Maiden and the Unseen by Jeanette Rose and Alexis Rune

Labyrinth of Shadows by Kyla Stone

Thief of Spring by Katherine Macdonald

Atalanta by Jennifer Saint

Nostos by Konstantinos Kapotsis

Electric Idol by Katee Robert

Pandora's Jar by Natalie Haynes

Ariadne by Zenobia Neil

There we go. Ten mythology retellings that I want to read because that's the phase I'm going through right now. I do own two of them, so I am likely to read a whole 20% of this list in maybe the near future. But if we're being honest here, I'm probably going to find a new hyper-fixation theme soon and won't end up reading any of them for a hot minute. 

Do any of these look good to you? Wanna make a guess on which two of these books I already own? If you're stopping by from the linkup, please leave a link to your post below so I can repay your visit this weekend when I have time to sit down and do that. - Katie 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

*Review* The Blue Glass Heart by Yona Zeldis McDonough


Genre: Children's 3-8 years
Published: May 2, 2023
Pages: 24

When Sarah accidentally breaks Bubbe’s blue glass bowl, she sets a heart-shaped piece of blue glass on an adventure, touching the lives of children around the world, until it finally—remarkably—finds its way back home.

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

This was a quaint story about the journey of a piece of glass. It starts out as part of a beautiful bowl in New York City, until the bowl is broken. Then because it looks like a triangle, the girl who accidentally broke the bowl picks it up to keep it. But she loses it at the beach the next day where its journey really begins. It travels for years and years and years until it ends up in the luggage of a girl moving from Israel to New York. 

The illustrations were very blue, which makes me happy. It also makes sense considering the primary setting of the book. I could probably read this book a few times before I got tired of it. Overall I give this book 3.86 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Yona Zeldis McDonough was born in Hadera, Israel, and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Educated at Vassar College and Columbia University, she is the author of eight novels for adults. Her short fiction, essays, and articles have appeared in many national and literary publications. She is the fiction editor of Lilith Magazine, a feminist, Jewish magazine.

Chiara Fedele was born in Milan, where she attended the Brera Academy. Her illustrations have appeared in many picture books, including Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam and The Rabbi and the Reverend: Joachim Prinz, Martin Luther King Jr., and Their Fight Against Silence. Chiara also teaches drawing and painting techniques. She lives in Pavia, Italy. 

*Review* Vanessa Nakate by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Genre: Children's 4-7 years
Published: April 11, 2023
Pages: 32

In this book from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the incredible life of Vanessa Nakate, the Ugandan climate-justice activist.  

As a kid, when little Vanessa heard about 
climate change, she thought it was something that happened on the other side of the world. As an adult, she saw how droughts in her own country led to crop failure that left families hungry. Inspired by other activists, Vanessa took a stand and began campaigning to save the Congolian rain forests. Soon, she was invited to take her campaign around the world.

In 2020, Vanessa participated in an important summit about climate change. But when she was cropped out of a photograph featuring other climate-change activists, it felt like not just her contribution to the movement had been erased, but that
 the needs of a whole continent had been disregarded.

It was a 
moment that shocked the world, but it spurred Vanessa on to raise her voice louder and to fight harder for climate justice for Africans. Today, she continues to be a leader in the climate-change movement and a voice of her generation.

This inspiring book features 
stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the incredible young activist’s life so far.

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

This is a book about a young woman who is working hard to save our planet and combat climate change, in spite of the fact that people didn't want to listen to her at first. And while I was reading this, I found myself wondering why I'd never learned about her in school. The answer is because I'm more than a decade older than she is, so her notable achievements happened after I was out of school, and her voice hasn't carried as far as Greta Thunberg's, or I'm living in a bubble (or both, it could be both). 

The illustrations were bold and colorful, with solid lines, showing the progression of events in Vanessa Nakate's life as they relate to her activism at least. I would definitely read this book more than once because I learned things from it, and that's always a good thing. Overall I give this book 4.63 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Maria Isabel S├ínchez Vegara, born in Barcelona, Spain, is a writer and creative director in constant search of new concepts for children’s books and the author of the multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series of picture books that explore the lives of outstanding people. Working for more than fifteen years for clients in top advertising agencies, her books combine creativity with learning, aiming to establish a new and fresh relationship between children and pop culture.

Olivia Amoah is an illustrator born and raised in northern Ontario. She completed her studies at Sheridan College where she received a BFA in Animation and proceeded to work as an animator and designer for TV. Now an illustrator, she aims to create humorous stories and illustrations, as well as work that serves as a connection to her African heritage.

*Review* The Spicy Ghost by Vy Lien


Genre: Children's 3-7
Published: April 22, 2023
Pages: 38

The Spicy Ghost is a rhyming adventure about sweet friendships and fiery foods. Blandon is no ordinary ghost. 

He loves eating spicy food! His reaction to food is something to behold and it often leads to messy misunderstandings. 

Follow Blandon on a fun rhyming adventure filled with a variety of foods and true friendships.

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

This was a cute rhyming story with some serious Casper the Friendly Ghost vibes to it. Blandon just likes to eat food that would give the average human a major ulcer (probably, I'm not a doctor). This leads to people thinking that he's angry, or scary, or just plain mean. But he's really just misunderstood because he likes his food to have some flavor, and that is a little odd for those of us that are as white as a ghost. 

The illustrations in this book were very bright and colorful, and I loved the font used for the narration, especially the way color and size was changed for emphasis. While I don't typically look for those things in novels that I read as an adult, for a children's book, it's a really nice touch that I appreciate. Overall I give this book 4.13 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Link will be added when it's available. 

There was no information available on Amazon for this author. 

*Review* Books Aren't for Bears by Mark Barry


Genre: Children's 3-7 years
Published: August 1, 2023
Pages: 32

When Bear finds a book in the woods, his world is changed. His friend Owl teaches him to read, and Bear wants more! Bear decides the city will offer him what he's looking for, but when he reaches the busy streets, he's sad to discover that some people think that "Books aren't for bears!" Can Bear find a place where books are for everybody?

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

This is a story about a bear who is quite content with his life, until one day he finds a book, and like everyone who discovers a love for reading, he is not content with just one book! So he starts searching high and low for more books, but never finds any more. One day he finds a bicycle and wants to return it to its rightful owner, so he heads off into the city on the bike so he can return it and hopefully find more books. He finds a school and stops in hoping to find not only the owner of the bike but also more books, but he is told by a teacher that books aren't for bears. He leaves the bike behind as he continues his search for more books. At a bookshop he is also told that books aren't for bears. He's getting very sad and is about ready to head back to his home in the forest when he finds a library. He reminds himself that books aren't for bears, when the librarian invites him in (because librarians are amazing) and tells him that reading is for everyone. 

The illustrations were very bright with bold colors and solid lines, showing the characters, particularly the animals, in a humanized way. I would definitely read this story to children more than once because the message is amazing and one that I wholeheartedly agree with because reading IS for everyone, they just need to find the right stories for them. Although I was a bit disappointed that the teacher and the bookseller discouraged Bear from reading. Overall I give this book 4.78 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Having worked in children's publishing for over thirty years as a both a designer and art director, Mark Barry can't resist the desire to write sometimes. Mark is a regular speaker at universities and illustration events. He lives in a small town in the South of England with his wife and two rapidly growing boys. When not at work or trying to improve as a writer, he can be found walking in woods with his dog Pip.

*Review*What Bear Likes Best by Erwin Moser


Genre: Children's 3-6 years
Published: April 4, 2023
Pages: 32

The first in the series of three adorable vintage books of rhymes from Erwin Moser featuring a comical crew of animals.

The eagle’s sitting on her nest. A walk is what the bear loves best.     

What do a sheepdog and fox, a stork and a leopard, and an octopus and an ostrich have in common? The solution is simple: Erwin Moser depicts them all with ingenious rhymes and portrays them in typical and unusual situations in eleven playful spreads. Above all, the great warmth and clever wit of Erwin Moser is spoken via his illustrations. Through juxtapositions of two animals on each spread, he tells a whole story.

Like no other, Erwin Moser mastered line art drawing. His style with the fine contours and bright colors and the sophisticated rhymes make these stories a great pleasure even for the youngest.

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

This book is filled with rhymes, and the flow to create them is very smooth. It's not really a story as there is no plot, it's just kind of a catalog of various animals and things that they do or simple facts about them. It is a good way to introduce children to animals, but doesn't have much educational value beyond that. 

The illustrations were soft and wispy, focusing on the animals themselves without a lot of background included. A few of the illustrations included fun non-animal related items (like a cane and a knife), but for the most part they were fairly straightforward animal pictures. 

Overall I give this book 3.27 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Erwin Moser was born in Vienna, Austria in 1954 and grew up in a village on Lake Neusiedl. He trained as a typesetter, and in 1980 began to create and illustrate his enchanting tales. For more than thirty years he published numerous children’s picture books, for which he received many awards and was shortlisted for the German Youth Literature Prize. His books, imaginatively written and illustrated, are remarkable for their warmheartedness and have earned their place in the canon of German-language literature for children and young adults. In 2014 the Erwin Moser Museum was opened in his home village of Gols. Erwin Moser died in 2017.

Alistair Beaton is a book author, playwright and translator, living in London. He speaks English, French, German and Russian.

*Review* Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau


Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: June 6, 2017
Pages: 432

From the author of the New York Times bestselling The Testing trilogy comes a sweeping new fantasy series, perfect for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sarah J. Maas.

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

I won a copy of this book through Goodreads. This is my honest review. 

I was so excited when I won this book through Goodreads, and then it sat on my shelf, unread, for years. And I'm a little bit mad at myself for that fact. The story sucked me in, teasing me with the mystery of Andreus' condition (pretty sure it's just asthma, which I can totally relate to but I live in a world where it's not considered a curse) and how that led to Carys acting the way she does. Then there's the mystery of which twin is the light and which is the dark. It seems obvious at first, but then other things happen that really put my assumptions on that score to the test. And that mystery is not fully resolved when the story is over. 

There were a lot of events that happened in this story that really frustrated me on a personal level. I think some of that frustration is because I still don't have a full grasp on the way this society is structured. Like I think I understand the way things work, but I don't really understand why changes couldn't/weren't made to make life happier if that makes sense. 

I'm definitely interested in reading the second book in the duology at some point, so I just gotta' try and catch it on sale on Amazon because that'll probably happen eventually, maybe. Overall I give Dividing Eden 4.38 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Joelle Charbonneau has performed in opera and musical theater productions across Chicagoland. She is the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Testing trilogy as well as two adult mystery series. Her YA books have appeared on the Indie Next List, the YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list, and state reading lists across the country. Her newest stand-alone YA thriller, Need, has been optioned for a feature film and is currently in development.