Hey everyone! So May was a bit of a crazy month for me (as far as work goes), so I was not able to read everything I needed to read. I was not able to review a couple of books in my TBR pile for the site, so they are a bit late getting up on the blog. But no worries…I am reading them now!
I know that most avid readers read between 3-6 books a month. It is a bit unheard of for someone to read between 10-12 books a month (or more). Anything under 10 books is a bit of a slow month for me, especially when a couple of these were children’s books that I got through in about 20 minutes.
I will say that every book I read last month was great, except two. The Envious Siblings was morbid and I did not understand what I read. Behold the Sign was an old book I picked up at a library sale that I found interesting in the occult section. It’s that Supernatural girl in me that wants a bunker library like the Men of Letters do in the show. That’s why I picked it up.
So the annual collecting of my Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) took place over the last three days of May. I headed to the Book Expo, which is designed for industry people to meet with publishers and to discuss business. The Book Con takes place right after the Expo, and that event is for everyone else (i.e. all of the bibliophiles and book lovers out there).
I picked up over 150 titles. Yes, I will be busy.
Before the Expo, a mother of twin 10 year old girls told me about her dilemma with getting one of her daughters to read. She only reads comic books. It drove her mom crazy, because she wanted her to read books like her sister. But the girl’s response was, “But why would I give up pictures books?”
It made me think that maybe as bibliophiles we should not discriminate when it comes to how people choose to read. If comics and graphic novels get them to read, then we should be encouraging them to read more comics. Perhaps some comics will lead them to read books.
It’s keeping that in mind that I decided to expand on the types of reading material I review. I will be reviewing comics and graphic novels along with the other 150+ ARCs I picked up.
Over the last few weeks, I began research to determine the direction this site should go. I spoke with publishers and readers to determine what they want. One thing I discovered is that we are in need of content warnings on books. Not everyone will agree with that, but the people who do need it agree with this concept profusely.
So I decided to blog about books differently. I want to start listing in my reviews warnings about books that may have triggers. I am going to try to use the warning system below to help those readers who need the warnings. Everyone else can just ignore the notations.
If there is a trigger not listed in the graphic above that you would like included, please comment below. I will do my best starting in the June reads and reviews to list these triggers so that you will have a better understanding of what you are getting into when you pick up a book.
What Should Be Wild – This book is literally a modern day Grimm’s fairy tale…the scary kind. This isn’t the kind of book where you can guess what the outcome will be or what is going on. You have to leave the details to the writer. Julia Fine masterfully tells this story from beginning to end.
It is a very strange tale, but this is the kind of story that will stay with you like most Grimm’s fairy tales stay with you (especially the scary ones). I enjoyed this book. I did find it to be a bit of a strange story, but my heart went out to Maisie. Imagine spending your life never being touched, hugged or held, because your touch could kill them. I am happy that the author at least threw her a bone and let her have a dog that did not expire when she touched him.
There are so many elements in this story that make it scary. It’s not just Maisie’s touch of death. It’s the woods, evil people, shadows, and the people that have gone off into the woods, never to return. Maisie is the one that has to navigate through all of that to cure the woods (and herself) of the curse that plagues them.
Content Warning: [A, AC, D, K, S and V]
The Gown – What a marvelous book! I really enjoyed this one. Set in post-WWII era, in a time when people are trying to move forward with their lives. We are introduced to three main characters: Heather (present day), Miriam Dassin and Ann Hughes (1947). Heather is the grand-daughter of Ann Hughes. When this story begins, Ann has just passed away and has left her grand-daughter a box containing old photos and embroidered samples (that upon further searches online, she discovers they are from Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown). She is perplexed as to why her grandmother had these things saved for her. Where did she get the samples? Surely it was not clipped from the gown itself.
Ann never told her daughter or her grand-daughter about her life in England or that she was one of the embroiderers of Princess Elizabeth’s gown. Heather seeks out help from the only known clue she has – a photo of Ann with the famous artist Miriam Dassin.
The book switches between present day and the past to explain the special relationship between two women during one of the most important moments in British history. But instead of focusing on just the big wedding day, the story focuses on the women who helped create the beautiful gown and their own personal challenges. The book was absolutely beautifully done. I loved it from start to finish.
[Content Warning: D, R]
Good Omens – I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved this story. I wanted to get through this book as quickly as I could because Amazon Prime was premiering the show on May 31. The book (and the show) did not disappoint. This is a humorous tale of an angel and a demon issuing in the apocalypse, only to discover they completely screwed everything up because they lost the anti-christ.
Who knew that an angel and a demon could become friends? They are on two separate sides, but then they realize that there is a third side…their own side, the one that loves their lives among the humans. If an apocalypse blows everything away, then all of the things they’ve grown to love about Earth will disappear. What a terrible universe that would be…for them.
They decide to ban together to save humanity, even though heaven and hell does not want that.
The Ghost Manuscript – You may start to see a theme with some of the books I am reading these days. That theme has everything to do with King Arthur. This is a new title from Kris Frieswick. I really loved this book more than I thought I would. It’s like The Librarians meet Indiana Jones (and a female Indiana Jones at that). I also find it ironic that our heroine’s last name is Jones, so it adds to the Indiana Jones effect. There are a lot of strong female characters that put the men to shame in this book. It’s a nice change. I highly recommend this book. This is book one in a series.
[Content Warning: D, S, V]
CHILDREN & YA
The Gilded Wolves: Loved this story. I loved being transported to Paris in an alternate 19th century where people can forge objects in a magical way. I loved the character struggles, each one developing independently. The adventure to restore Severin’s claim to House Vanth and new friendships from a patriarch that is in desperate need of friends, makes for an interesting tale. So much involved, but weaved together beautifully.
The ending though will rip you apart. I can’t wait for the next book.
[Content Warning: A, AC, D, SH, V]
The Third Coin – This was an excellent story. I had a hard time putting it down. While Rick Riordan seems to have the market down on the gods and the demi-gods, J.A. Howard has opened up a new door to the Mists of Avalon/King Arthur world for young adults. What makes this series unique is that J.A. Howard focuses on young girls taking the lead in this story.
We see the caste system inside a girl’s school between the popular girls (Top Pops), almost popular girls (Almost Pops), the girls that focus on their expertise (i.e. science, musical talents, etc.), and then the outcasts. Bea, being new to the school, has got the Top Pops down and quickly works her way into the popular group. In her science class, she is teamed up with Nisha, the gypsy girl.
Nisha lives across the street from Bea. Her Aunt Faye runs a Fortune Teller shop. She tries to stay hidden and out of sight from the Horribles (i.e. the Top Pops) because they like to bully her. So when Bea discovers that she can communicate with Nisha without saying words, a door opens for them to become friends.
Which leads us to The Third Coin. Along with the weird skateboarder boy that tends to stalk the front of Bea’s haunted mansion, they set off on a doomsday adventure. They have until their 13th birthday (Bea and Nisha share the same birthday) to find the Third of Five Coins (the Coin that balances the other 4 coins) and return it to Avalon.
This adventure was so much fun to read. What I enjoyed the most were the strong female characters. I loved seeing a popular girl that is intelligent, loves science and books. I also loved the emotional side of Nisha. She is fearful, because she knows she is different. But a good friend will fight to be the light in that darkness. And then there’s Indy. I loved that the author chose that name, because it says a lot about the character. He’s like a younger version of Indiana Jones, so you know the story is going to be good (especially if you are a huge Indiana Jones fan). He is the person that binds the two girls together.
I highly recommend this book if you love Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series or J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. I can’t wait for the next books in the series.
Beneath the Bed and Other Scary Stories – This is one of the children’s books I read in May. I really liked this story. If your child likes scary stories, this is a cute set of tales they will enjoy.
The author’s introduction explains why he created these tales. He received a box with different object in it (as well as around it). The note was from the village children asking him to create a story based on each of the objects.
And that is what he does here.
This book is a nice segue into introducing them to Bunnicula and R.L. Stine’s books. It is a safe scary level for young children who love scary stories. [To Be Released: September 3, 2019]
The Envious Siblings – This is one of those books where I was completely perplexed as to what I was reading. Was this for adults or children? Like the title suggests, it is MORBID. I went ahead and handed this book off to a 4-year old girl that loves scary stuff. Maybe she will understand it and enjoy it. For me, because I was confused as to what exactly I was reading, I am going to have to give this a low rating. Maybe when the little girl gets back to me on what she thought, then maybe I can change this rating. [To Be Released: October 8, 2019]