Posts in Books
Flashback: The Merry Spinster, Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg

My boys and I are heading for warmer weather and some much needed R&R. So while I’m busy reading books on the beach, here’s a look back at some of my favorite books from 2018.

Those teeth!

Those teeth!

After reading and hearing so many good things about this book I couldn't wait for my hold to finally come in at the Library.  I actually finished this about a week ago when my youth department was still decorated for early spring/Easter.  Reading the short story The Rabbit while sitting at my desk eating lunch was a very creepy experience.  I swear all the stuffed bunnies were staring at me.  Like they knew what I was reading.  Like stuffed bunnies talk.  

The Merry Spinster, Tales of Everyday Horror is a short story collection that takes our well-loved and well-known childhood stories and makes them dark, creepy, and chilling.  The title story, The Merry Spinster is a play on the Beauty and the Beast tale.  In this version, it's Beauty's mother, not father who stumbles upon the Beast.  The mother, a rich executive, heads to the city to take care of some investments.  While on her way home, she became horribly lost and ran out of gas.  After wandering around trying to find help she stumbles across a great house that is all lit up but no one answers the door.  What does she do?  She walks in. 

Guess where this is going?

After helping herself to some dinner the mother decides to tour the house and grounds.  The bottle of wine that she drank at dinner may have helped with that decision.  Wine bottle in hand, she heads out to pick the roses that she promised to bring her daughter Beauty.  When the Beast, or Mr. Beale in this version, confronts her about stealing and trespassing, the mother is pretty unapologetic.  True to the tale, the mother has to give up Beauty to come live with Mr. Beale.  

Unfortunately for Mr. Beale, he didn't do any research on his new bride and he had no idea what he was getting in to.  

Not every story was a winner for me.  Not going to lie-The Thankless Child went right over my head.  

The Rabbit was deliciously creepy.  That one I enjoyed the most and I don't want to spoil any of it.  I don't think I'll look at stuffed animals the same way again.  Overall this was a great collection and I didn't realize how much I liked short story collections until I read this.  

Since this book was published the author has transitioned genders and now goes by Daniel Mallory Ortberg.  

You can get the book here: 

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The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Paris in 1889 is a dazzling backdrop to any story, but add in a magical heist and it becomes breathtaking.  Séverin Montagnet-Alaire was set to lead the House of Vanth until his birthright was taken from him. Dismissed by the other great Houses, Séverin creates his own fortune with his lavish and successful hotel, and by stealing back what rightfully belongs to him.  He and his crew of unlikely treasure hunters set out to reclaim the magical artifacts belonging to the House of Vanth, as well as creating trouble for the ruling order over all the Houses of France, the Order of Babel.

When another House leader offers Séverin the opportunity to reclaim his rightful place as head of his House, Séverin leads his team onto a dangerous journey that will test everyone’s skills and loyalties.  

This book has an amazing cast of characters and their magical, or forging, abilities are fascinating.  There’s Laila, born stillborn but crafted into a new body by magicians, has the ability to read all objects, except those forged, with her touch.  Zofia, a socially awkward and completely genius engineer, has a tendency to magically start fires and cause explosions. Tristan with his love of insects, especially large spiders, and his ability to forge incredible flowers. Enrique with his love of history and his disappointment at being unable to forge.  All members of Séverin’s team and bound to him through magical contracts. The group is such a tight knit family that completely accepts one another for who they are and without judgement.

The world building within this story is incredible.  The magical ability to forge dictates your place within a family and within society and abilities differ from person to person.  The way the character’s outfits and costumes can change with a sweep of a hand would be incredible to see on the big screen-or you know, the t.v. screen because it would be a great series.  Laila has a headband type piece that transforms into her entire costume and it sounds incredible. The story is fast paced with with plenty of action to keep the pages turning.

Political intrigue, mysterious artifacts, magical abilities-it’s all so amazing.  

I loved this story and I’m looking forward to what will come next in the series.  

If you would like to discover this world, and help support the site, you can grab a copy here:

Full disclosure time: I borrowed this copy from the Library. Don’t see it at your Library? Recommend it to your favorite Librarian. It’ll make them look really good when it gets checked out right away!

The Vampire of Maple Town by Kane McLoughlin

The Vampire of Maple Town is full of magic, mystery, vampires, and secrets.  How far would you go for love? Would you destroy an entire town?  Would you keep your loved ones locked away to keep them safe? Would you sign a contract that exchanges your life for another?   

Vampire of Maple Town.jpg

After being rescued by a mysterious woman in a magical coach, Charlie finds himself the new resident of a mansion at 13 Chiaroscuro Lane.  Becoming the adopted son of the town’s mysterious doctor Victor Prowl isn’t as great as it seems. Unable to interact with the outside world, Charlie spends his time aimlessly wandering the mansion.  But living in comfort in the mansion doesn’t help lessen the loneliness Charlie feels until one day he discovers a magical friend. Aria, a bird made of paper, is able to fly and sing as any other bird may do and quickly becomes Charlie’s new companion.  Together, the two begin to spend their days exploring the village after Victor leaves for work each morning. They discover new friends, new love, and secrets that will threaten the entire village.

If you took a great vampire story and set it in an old-fashioned version of Wonderland, you would come very close to the feeling of this story.  There are magic dolls turned to life who broker magical deals with life altering consequences. Witches who aren’t allowed to show their magical talent.  Vampires who are also doctors and werewolves that should never be trusted. Witches who are learning their skills and witches who aren’t as dead as they seem. Not to mention blacksmith apprentices who may have powerful secrets of their own.  Village festivals, feasts, balls, blacksmith shops, and forests become the setting for both young love and revenge.

This was an interesting take on vampires.  Sunlight doesn’t affect them and Charlie goes most of the book without drinking any blood, let alone craving it when he’s around other people.  In fact, Charlie spends most of the story trying to figure how he could be one of the evil creatures that he keeps hearing about. He isn’t mean or cruel and seems to be a normal boy who just wants to find his place in the world.  

Really enjoyed this one.  The story moves quickly with plenty of twists and turns. Bonus-as of this posting, it’s only $2.99 for Kindle!

If you would like a copy, and want to help support the site, you can buy your copy here:

Full disclosure time:  I received a free copy of this book from the author through a LibraryThing giveaway.  All opinions are my own.

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
I Am Princess X.jpg

I have walked past this book countless times.  It has an eye-catching spine and intriguing title but it still took me forever to pick it up.  Even though I’ve read Cherie Priest’s steampunk thriller Boneshaker and know that she’s an amazing author, it took forever.  Even after placing the Rebecca Caudill 2018 award sticker on it’s spine, it took forever.  

What was I waiting for?  The right time to need a book about badass teenage girls who are going to bring down an evil genius.  Well, maybe not a genius but he is definitely evil.

This story is awesome!  May and Libby met on the playground in elementary school.  After bonding over a love of drawing and storytelling, they create brave and amazing character named Princess X and her magical world became their escape.  Together, they created an entire universe where Princess X lived in a haunted house and fought monsters. Until one day, Libby was gone. Libby and her mother died after their car drove off a bridge.  Days later, Libby’s body was finally found. The crash took more than May’s best friend, it also took away Princess X and the escape those books created.

But three years later, May notices a sticker on a shop window that will completely upend her world.  The sticker has a drawing of Princess X on it-her Princess X. Who found Libby and May’s books? Why now?  

With the help of computer hacking neighbor, May sets off to solve the mystery of Princess X and her connections to Libby.  What if Libby is still alive?

Some fan art from The Kid

Some fan art from The Kid

This story is amazing!  The characters are great and the story moves very quickly.  May has a lot to deal with-just like any other teenager. Her parents are divorced, friends are hard to make, and trust doesn’t come easily.  But May is smart and brave and goes to great lengths to solve the mystery of her missing friend. She teams up with Patrick, a young man who lives in her building and who recently lost a scholarship after he hacked into his school’s grading system and messed with an ex-girlfriend’s grades.  Patrick isn’t evil-he’s just impulsive and made a crappy decision. What he thinks will be a quick way to make some money fixing May’s computer quickly turns into something bigger when he hears about Princess X. He’s read all the webcomics and knows the details of the story. Together, the two of them face some pretty big obstacles in solving the riddles found throughout the story.  

I especially loved that the two were never romantically linked.  I really appreciate when authors keep friendships platonic and let young woman just be themselves around others.   

The writing is great, the story moves quickly, and there’s lots of action to keep the pages turning.  It’s also approved by The Kid. If this sounds like a book you’d enjoy, you can find a copy at your favorite Library like I did, or pick one up here and help support the site:

Full disclosure time:  I borrowed my copy from the Library.  Always check your Library first and suggest titles for your Librarian to order!  We like suggestions.

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave
Summoned to Thirteenth Grave.jpg

Summoned to Thirteenth Grave is the epic conclusion to the long running Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones. Told in the same wonderful sarcastic, witty, and oh so snarky style I have grown to love, Charley and Reyes take on the their biggest threat yet all while keeping their relationship ultra steamy and highly caffeinated. 

If you’re new to the Charley Daniels universe, I highly recommend starting from the beginning. This series is equal parts hilarious, snarky and steamy. If your an audiobook lover, this one is amazing on audio! Lorelei King is the perfect narrator for this series and does an outstanding job.

Charley is more than a private investigator, she’s the Grim Reaper. Yes, THAT Grim Reaper. With the help of her best friend and assistant Cookie, Charley solves missing person cases, catches cheating husbands, and solves cold cases with the help of some friendly-and some not so friendly-ghosts. Dealing with hellhounds, demons, and bratty child ghosts requires high doses of coffee and sarcasm. Throughout the series, Charley’s incredibly tight and loyal circle of family and friends grows to include daevas, hellhounds, and a magical guardian in the form of a ghost rottweiler.

If you’re interested in the series, start with book 1. There’s going to be some pretty massive spoilers so stop now if you want to start completely fresh.

After being sent to a hell dimension she not-so-affectionately names Marmalade for an eternity, Charley is back on earth with an even bigger problem. A hell dimension has opened on earth causing a deadly plague to spread rapidly. With the clock ticking, Charley and Reyes have to fight off demons, save their daughter, and keep their family and friends safe. But of course things don’t go smoothly. There’s a suspected serial killer to track down and in doing so, Charley discovers a long-lost relative to Rocket, a friendly ghost who keeps track of the departed. There’s also the ghost of a young boy who claims to be the son of a young woman who went missing a decade earlier. And if this isn’t enough for Charley to deal with, she only has three days to get it all done. Yep, just three short days to save the world so her daughter, most commonly known as Beep, can fight Lucifer and save the world herself. It’s kind of a lot to throw at one person!

The best part of this series is watching Charley interact with those around her. She is fiercely loyal, incredibly protective, and won’t think twice about making a snarky comment about you. Charley is brave and intelligent and has no problem with jumping in to a situation head first. And her husband? The two of them are so hot for each other they melted the Sahara desert. Really. It’s a lake of glass now. I have really loved going on this wild ride with Charley and the crew and Darynda Jones does an excellent job in wrapping it all up.

If you would like to jump in to this series, you can find copies and help support the site here:

Full disclosure time: I received an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The previous twelve books in the series I borrowed as audiobooks from my local Library. All rambling opinions are my own.

Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Søderberg

Hygge is a warm, gentle hug of a book that gives you all the wonderful feelings. It has gorgeous photographs, recipes, design ideas, and a very helpful Hygge Dictionary.

Very simply put, hygge is the Danish word that describes finding happiness and joy in the little things in life. Hygge is finding the time to take walks with friends, plan a simple dinner party, meet someone for drinks, or bake rolls in the morning. It’s incorporating more candles into your decor and curling up with a good book by the fire.

It’s really refreshing to read a book that is the opposite of the current trend on how to fit it all in and be the most time efficient in your day. It’s almost like an anti-productivity guide and I’m here for it.

Hygge is far from a new release-the copy I borrowed from the Library was published in October 2016-but it’s a new read for me. I knew a little bit about the concept so I did make sure to make a cozy reading nest-soft, fluffy blanket, a good beer, and a trio of little pups curled in my lap. It was one of the most pleasant and calming reading experiences I’ve had in a long time.

If you’re looking for an excuse to slow down, get your friends together, and enjoy more in life, definitely give this one a read. I found it to be a very thoughtful look at how we spend our time and how we can focus more on the little things. The little facts and tidbits about Denmark and it’s people were very interesting. The amount of candles they go through is astounding and I found their love of sweets endearing. Everything is made better with cake.

You can find a copy, and help support the site, here:

Full disclosure: I borrowed my copy from the Library. Always check your Library first, it makes Librarians happy when you use the Library. Librarians also like book recommendations so if your Library doesn’t have it, ask them to order it.

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

Isn’t that a great cover?


The Paragon Hotel is one of those books that makes you feel as though are standing right next to the characters as they live out their story.  You can feel the rattle of the train, hear the music of the nightclubs, and feel the fear as more characters are victimized.

Set in 1921, “Nobody” Alice James is on her way to the west coast to escape her ties to the New York Mafia.  Suffering from a bullet wound, Alice is helped to safety by Max, a porter on the train with a weakness for damsels in distress.  But that feeling of safety is short lived when Alice realizes where she is-The Paragon Hotel, the only all black hotel in Portland, Oregon.  There Alice meets Dr. Pendleton, who is not pleased about treating her, the owner of the hotel and decorated war hero. The hotel is managed by Mavereen, a strong and stern woman who protects her friends and family fiercely.  Last, but definitely not least, is Miss Blossom Fontaine, a cabaret dancer who is hiding some seriously big secrets. Together, the group has to survive the KKK, a missing child, a lynching, and bouts with the police. And secrets-so many, many secrets.

There is so much that goes on in this book that there is no way for me to summarize it more.  

I absolutely loved this book.  It moves very quickly with a lot of jumping back and forth in time and Alice’s backstory is very interesting.  Alice’s character has lived so much in her short life but remains incredibly strong and her quick wits save her far more than once. Blossom is hiding a huge secret that does get revealed in the end-and I nearly dropped the book when that was revealed!  I really loved how the author handles both Max and Dr. Pendleton’s time in the army. They were amazing soldiers who were incredibly brave and treated as heroes while still in France but all that was ignored when they came back to the States and were subjected to the cruelty of racism and hatred.  

There are a lot of tough topics, obviously, in this book.  Racism, interracial relationships, police brutality, found family, the treatment of women and so many others make an appearance.  I was unaware of how openly racist Oregon was a hundred years ago-and obviously, I have some more learning to do. To see how the police had zero cares about a small child disappearing was incredibly frustrating to read.   Blossom’s lifestyle is under constant scrutiny. It’s amazing to me, having lived now and not then, how women were treated as though any choice they made outside of marrying a man and having babies was so scandalous. She was a talented singer and dancer and for wanting to pursue a career in that automatically made her promiscuous or worse.  

I loved the characters, I loved the intensity of it, I loved how the big issues were handled.  It’s a great book and I can’t wait to see what others have to say about it. I don’t usually read Author’s Notes but I recommend you do with this one. Lyndsay Faye includes historical facts that were definitely new to me and provide the context for the story.

The Paragon Hotel comes out January 8, 2019 by Lyndsay Faye.  Thank you to Penguin Random House for an advanced copy, all opinions are my own.  

If you’d like a copy, and want to help support this site, you can get one here:

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

Back in the summer, I started a subscription to Book of the Month when they had a $5 promo deal.  I was so excited to find new books and authors and have a diverse selection of beautiful books lining my shelves.  But here’s the thing, I found that and more.

This is not an ad, it’s a confession.

I selected my books every month and often added in previous titles at the amazing discounted price.  I have beautiful books lining my shelves and even got a copy of Calypso that I can’t wait to bring with when I see David Sedaris at my local theater next month.   

Mermaid and Mrs Hancock.jpg

What I didn’t think about, which was very obvious, was how much time I really had to devote to reading another selection of titles.  I am so very lucky to have the opportunity to read books before they are published and select the titles for the Library. I literally sit in a building that has over 30,000 titles that I can pick up at literally every moment of my workday.  I buy books for myself every chance I get.

My physical TBR was made unattainable by starting BOTM.  It’s amazing. I love it and I love the books.

Back in September, one of my selections was The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar.  Set in 1785 London, we get to follow the lives of businessman Jonah Hancock, courtesan Angelica Neal and a mermaid, and how the three of them are thrust onto an unlikely path together.  After unexpectedly receiving a mermaid from one of his ship’s captains, Jonah is intent on making back the money lost by the captain’s foolish investment. Working with his niece Suki, they display the mermaid to great fanfare and it quickly becomes a sensation.  After catching the eye of local madam Mrs. Chappell, the mermaid is commissioned for display at her brothel. It’s at the opening night of the mermaid’s exhibit that Jonah meets the beautiful and desirable Angelica Neal. Newly single and in need of someone to care for her-or pay her bills, whatever-Angelica quickly latches on to Jonah.  But the evening doesn’t go as planned for anyone involved. What will follow is a story of lust, greed, and unexpected friendship.

This story was wonderful!  The writing is very witty and I really enjoyed getting glimpses of the everyday life of Angelica and the other courtesans.And poor Jonah.  That guy just couldn’t seem to catch a break. First his captain sells Jonah’s ship to buy a mermaid, then he has to make back his lost investments, deal with an unreasonable sister, and the whole time he just doesn’t want to make anyone mad.  Slight spoiler on Anglica-you were warned: Her character grows so much over the course of the book. She begins as this spoiled and arrogant person who needs to be surrounded by beautiful things in order to be happy. But she’s never really happy.  She is so out of tune with the world that she truly has no idea what trouble she is in or how to save herself that it’s almost sad. When she is finally offered a safe and happy home, she does an extraordinary amount of growing up and realizes that she can find happiness in simpler things.       

Really big spoiler-

Really big-

I still have no clue what the mermaid was at the end.  No clue. I reread and reread and someone please tell me what that was! Because-buckets?  Huh? And I’m very serious-what do you think it was?

But I loved this book and the characters and I really got drawn into the story and couldn’t put it down.

If you’re thinking of starting Book of the Month, I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed the experience.  If you’re looking for less commitment, you can get your copy, and help support the site, here:

The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix

This is another one of those books that you can buy for the amazing cover and not feel guilty because the story is just as incredible as the artwork.  Full of vibrant colors, captivating illustrations, and handwritten text, The Faithful Spy tells the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young pastor who set out to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a devout young pastor who felt compelled by God to put an end to World War II before it began.  The Faithful Spy gives us the complete picture starting with Bonhoeffer early years, his studies at Seminary school, and how he was able to make contacts with and help the resistance against the Nazis.  Hendrix is able to seamlessly weave together Bonhoeffer’s life story alongside the rise of both the Nazi party and the resistance providing a real depth to the story. Within the Author’s Note, Hendrix writes how he wanted to tell the story of how Germany was so easily swayed by Hitler and his atrocious ideas and he does an amazing job of doing so.  

This would be a great pick for your younger history buff-I wouldn’t go much below 12 years old because you know, Nazis are kind of a deep topic.  The artwork is absolutely incredible and really adds to the story. I really appreciate the “Research and Authenticity” section at the end. Hendrix provides some great information about why he included what information he did and also why he excluded the information that he did.  

Fun Fact-this is a Junior Library Guild pick, which I found out after I had already ordered a copy of this for the Library and then received a second copy in my JLG shipment.  But some goofs are just meant to be-this gave me the chance to purchase one of them for myself and I loved reading it. I even caught The Kid reading it one night even though it’s not a full on graphic novel.  It provided a great opportunity to have a conversation about power and hate.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:

The Ghost Portal by Cheryl J. Carvajal

When Joshua Forester’s mother dies of cancer, his entire life is upended.  His abusive father wants nothing to do with him. An uncle he never knew existed suddenly appears and whisks him away to another across the country.  Joshua is left with more questions than answers when he finds himself enrolled at a private boarding school where his uncle is dean.

And this private school is no place for rest and healing after his mother’s death.  He has mandatory church services to attend, difficult classes, teenage cliques to avoid, and nearly nothing to his name after leaving all of his possessions behind.  If having a loaded academic schedule wasn’t enough stress, Joshua is forced to try out for the football team even though he has never played before. But none of this is truly as frightening as Joshua’s gifts. He was able to see the cancer in his mother long before the doctors were able to diagnose her.  He can read minds and has prophetic dreams. All of this is made even more dangerous when a dark force pulls Joshua towards a portal to the ghost world and a deadly demon that guards the entrance.

Poor Joshua.  This kid just can’t catch a break throughout the entire book.  His father is abusive, his mother dies of a horrible illness and then he’s kidnapped by an uncle he’s never met.  I spent much of the book hoping that the uncle would come to some horrible end-he was such an irritating character and frustrating to read.  He knows that Joshua has special powers and refuses to give him any answers to his questions. Multiple times Ian, the uncle, uses his own power/ability to make Joshua feel drugged and sleepy so he’ll stop trying to figure out why he can read minds.  Ian also provides zero support for his grieving nephew. He enrolls him at the boarding school where he is the Dean but doesn’t let him bring anything with him. With almost no wardrobe, school supplies, or money, Joshua is just supposed to be grateful that he wasn’t left with his father.  The kids at his new boarding school are stuck up and his uncle overloads his class schedule leaving Joshua little time to himself or to complete his schoolwork.

But Joshua is able to make a few friends.  He’s able to forge a bond with the less than stellar players on the football team and together they help Joshua cope with his increasingly scary nightmares and weird ability to instantly read Latin.  Joshua also finds a friend in Jane Evans, a girl from school who can also read minds like Joshua. She also has a very handy ability to disappear when she doesn’t want to be seen. I really liked how the friendships were written-the kids are understanding of each other’s differences but also expect one another to hold up their end of the relationship.

I wish there had been more information on the portal and how Ian and his school played a part in it.  There are still a lot of questions that went unanswered. I’m not a fan of how the “local tribe” was introduced and used at the end-it felt too convenient.

Overall, it was a good read.  The story flowed well and the characters were well developed.  Joshua was very convincing as the hurt and angsty teenager. I hope it’s the beginning of a series and we can find out more about the shadowy groups behind the portal and how or why Joshua and his family have the gifts they do.  

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:  

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

This book has been all over the place.  For months now, I have seen this gorgeous cover on book lists, ads, and recommendation sites.  There is a reason-it’s just as good as everyone is saying.

Once Upon a River is a story of family, hope, and very dark secrets.  It begins in a small inn set on the banks of the Thames. Full of villagers and drinkers, the inn is the center of storytelling and local history for the area.  And gossip-so much gossip. When a large man enters the inn holding a large puppet the entire inn is left in a state of silent shock. Before the large man collapses to the ground, the puppet is placed in the arms of the son of the inn’s owners.  But it’s not a puppet-it’s a young girl who is very clearly dead and no one knows who she is.

But she’s not dead, and the girl-who-was-dead-but-is-no-longer is about to bring together a seemingly unconnected group of people.  There is the wealthy couple who live down the river and lost their only child two years before. A woman living in a lodging house and takes part in a scandalous profession.  The successful farmer with his large family and loyal animals. The unwed woman who cleans for the parson. The town midwife and healer who declares the little girl alive and knows instantly that she belongs with her.

There is little that can be said about this book without spoiling all of the amazing twists and turns.  It took a bit for me to get in to the story but once it clicked, I couldn’t put the book down. Who is this little girl?  Why did everyone think she was a puppet or a doll? Was she dead? Why does everyone want to be around her? So many questions in this book and there is an answer for all of them.  

The river is a huge part of the story and is written about so beautifully that it feels alive and like it’s a character itself.  There is history and magic but maybe the magic is just the effects of all the pain and struggle that the characters go through or maybe it’s real and it was there all along.  It’s an absolutely beautiful book and I absolutely loved it.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield is available December 4, 2018 from Simon & Schuster.

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book-all opinions are my own.  

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:

Girl Squads by Sam Maggs

If you think that female friendships are full of competition, catfights, and spite-then you can thank all the crappy writing that has filled our books and television screens for far too long.  Sam Maggs takes a deep dive into 20 awesome female friendships that helped change the world and make it a better place.

Covering five categories-athletes, political and activist, warrior, scientist and artist squads, Maggs tells the stories of some pretty amazing ladies who stuck together to create change throughout history.  Some are pretty well known ladies like Anne Bonny and Mary Read, as well as our three amazing ladies on the U.S. Supreme Court. Others were a joy to discover like the Haenyeo free divers who are continuing the 2,500 year-old practice of diving for the various sea creatures found on the sea floor or the Trobairitz who were active during the 12th century.  

Sam Maggs covers the globe and all of time to bring us some of the most fascinating female friendships that have helped shaped history.  I really enjoyed her points on how no matter how far back you go in history, women have worked together to bring about important change. It’s been through women working together, not alone, that brought about education and equality for women.  

Maggs writing is both informative and entertaining.  Her other titles look equally awesome and I’m looking forward to checking out more of her work.  I really enjoyed this book and it would pair really well with Brazen as a great holiday gift. Hint, hint.  

Big thanks to Netgalley and Quirk Books for the free digital copy-all opinions are my own.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:


Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu

Reader Friends-have you heard that boys won’t read books with girls on the cover? It’s baloney. You just have to hand them a book, tell them it’s amazing, and watch the magic happen. I borrowed this from the Library for me to read and once I brought it home, I had to repeatedly track it down because The Kid couldn’t put it down. Now, I’ve seen it shelved in various places at different Libraries. Some put it in Adult, some YA, and some just have dedicated graphic novel sections. According to the publisher First Second, it’s aimed at ages 14-18, well, The Kid is 10 and we don’t follow the rules.

Brazen covers the lives of 29 amazing and history-making women. There are some pretty well known women like Nellie Bly and Mae Jemison, as well as some that were new to me like Frances Glessner Lee and Sonita Alizadeh. I really enjoyed the section on Giorgina Reid, the woman who helped save a lighthouse in Montauk by terracing the side of the cliff it was built on to help prevent erosion. Like many of the stories, if men had taken her seriously, the world would be a much better place. And have less erosion.

The artwork is absolutely delightful. The story panels use a limited number of colors and they change from story to story. At the end of each section there is a two page drawing of the featured subject and I had to remind myself several times that I couldn’t rip them out and frame them-I don’t think the Librarian would be very happy with me. They are so bright and vibrant and just beautiful.

I really loved this book-it covers so many different women from different time points in history and places around the world. There are artists, scientists, activists, musicians, and athletes-a little something for everyone.

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Watersnakes by Tony Sandoval

The artwork in this book is absolutely stunning. Every drawing felt just slightly off-like there was just a little something not quite right- which added even more creepiness to the story.

Mila is a loner whose summer is about to take a dramatic turn when she meets Agnes, a beautiful girl who claims her teeth are ghosts who travel the world and have adventures. Thinking her slightly crazy, Mila agrees to meet up with her next day to hear the full story of Agnes’ teeth. What she finds instead is a wild adventure starting with a kiss gone weird, a sea king, and an amazing female army ready to battle. But Agnes still has one major secret-she’s a ghost. And not just any ghost, she holds the spirit of a sea king and her teeth are the king’s soldiers. Mila has to help the warriors save the sea king and return him to his people.

This book is wild-absolutely bonkers wild and I really enjoyed it. The artwork is incredible and the story is great. Mila is such a teenager-all emotions and confused feelings-but she steps in when it counts. The female warriors are completely badass and the fight scenes are amazing with all the swords and flying blood.

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Watersnakes by Tony Sandoval is available November 20, 2018 from Lion Forge.

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City of Broken Magic by Mirah Bolender

If you liked the Jackaby series, you’re going to love this one!

City of Broken Magic by Mirah Bolender is an action packed magical ride of monsters and mobsters.

Laura Kramer is a Sweeper apprentice working hard to keep her city safe from the magical infestations that are killing residents. Her boss and Head Sweeper, Clae Sinclair, grew up in a Sweeper family and has been battling manifestations his entire life. Together they make up the entire Sweeper force of the city of Amicae and work alongside the police department in an uneasy alliance.

When Laura and Clae are hired by the wealthy wife of a notorious mob family, they find more than malevolent amulets. They find a mysterious young man enslaved by the Sullivans who appears to have magical abilities. Clae, ever clever, rescues the young man under the guise of payment in exchange for ridding the Sullivan house of evil amulets. Now the young man, Okane, is free from the torture and enslavement of the Sullivans and free to begin training as a Sweeper apprentice.

Now a team of three, the Sweepers have a ritual to prepare for, a city to protect, and evil manifestations getting their way.

This book was so good! It’s fast paced, full of action, and the characters are fantastic. Clae is prickly and unsociable but as the story goes on, you completely understand why. There is more than one skeleton in his closet and a long line of deceased Sweeper apprentices. With mysterious parts of his shop completely off limits and a quest for lasagna, he has the mysterious boss persona down. Laura is young, smart, and wants only to prove her worth. Growing up unwanted by her parents, she is raised by her single aunt and lives in one of the poorer parts of town. Longing to learn more about the world outside her walled city, she snatches up scraps of movie posters found along streets and alley walls. And Okane. Poor Okane. Born with magical abilities and tortured his whole life by the Sullivans, he lives his life in fear of everything.

I really enjoyed the city of Amicae. It’s one of several cities mentioned in the book but is the setting for the bulk of the book. The city is contained by high walls that the residents believe keep them safe by preventing evil magical infestations. Unfortunately for the residents, that is completely false. There is a complex system of magic and amulets that can be both helpful and harmful depending on their creation. It takes place 500 years ago but I don’t think it ever tells where that 500 years ago was-and it doesn’t matter. You get dropped into this amazing world and everything fits perfectly.

I loved this one-it’s amazing and I’m looking forward to more books in the series.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:  

Sunday Library Love

Like many people this time of year, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks around here. On the heels of a chaotic Halloween week we attended the first of several winter holiday parties and need to plan future ones that we’re hosting. Meetings, school events, and just everyday housework always seem to be more work when it’s cold outside. The dining room construction is at the true messy stage and it’s starting to impact my last minute jelly making for Christmas gifts.

But it’s not all work. We had business to attend to in the same town as our favorite comic book store so of course a visit was in order. We finally got to meet the Bear at A Boy and His Tiger in Macomb. It’s an overall great shop-great service, great selection, and a great doggo. The Kid picked out a few new books and comics and I managed to keep myself to only one new book.


All of the home construction, holiday cooking, and constant clean up has had one amazing perk-I’ve listened to 3 audiobooks just this last week. All have been Library loans and paired with our overwhelming DVD selection-ALL my holds came in at once- from the Library, it’s been a Library Love type of week. That’s right-we rarely purchase or rent movies, we borrow nearly everything from the Library. Thanks to our wonderful interlibrary loan network, we have access to nearly every title and usually have a very short wait.

Listened to:

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

This was great on audio-the narrator was really good and there is no way I would have pronounced the main character’s names correctly. From the Publisher: Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself; his wife, Neni; and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty - and Jende is eager to please. Clark's wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses' summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers' façades. When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende's job - even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

Who Thought This was a Good Idea?  By Alyssa Mastromonaco

Read by the author, this was another great listen that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.  Funny, honest, and not at all gossipy, this book takes us behind the scenes of political campaigns, the inner workings of the White House, and how incredibly stressful it is to work in Washington.  Mastromonaco gives advice throughout the book on how to prepare for job interviews, the do’s and don’ts of negotiations, and how to not be your own worst enemy. It’s a lot like listening to a really great friend over a glass of wine.  A definite listen for those who would like to reminisce about the time we had intelligent, capable, and caring people in the White House.

Some Enchanted Eclair by Bailey Cates

If you want mouthwatering descriptions of food, some light witchcraft, a murder mystery, and southern accents-this is your series. From the Publisher: When Hollywood invades Savannah's historic district to film a Revolutionary War movie, magical baker Katie Lightfoot and her witches' coven, the Spellbook Club, take a break from casting spells for casting calls. One of the witches snags a part as an extra, while Katie's firefighter boyfriend, Declan, acts as on-set security. Katie and her Aunt Lucy decide to stay out of the action, but after the movie's "fixer" fires the caterer, the Honeybee Bakery comes to the rescue, working their magic to keep the hungry crew happy. But when someone fixes the fixer - permanently - and a spooky psychic predicts Katie will find the killer, the charming baker and her fellow conjurers step in to sift through the suspects - before someone else winds up on the cutting room floor.


Paddington 2

Super cute and funny.

Father Figures-The Boys picked this one.

Yeah, The Boys picked this one too.


Charlie Hernández & The League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo

This was a really great middle great adventure filled with Latino and Hispanic mythology.  I purchased it for the Library and snuck it out before the kids saw it.

Paperback Crush by Gabrielle Moss

Luckily for us, author Gabrielle Moss hit a personal and professional rut in 2016 and in an act of wanting to remove herself from reality for a bit, she purchased a crate of Sweet Valley High paperbacks on eBay. Her birthday gift to herself put her on a path to give us the perfect present-Paperback Crush is an absolutely delightful walk down nostalgia lane.

Moss takes a deep dive into the impact the early days of YA fiction had on our expectations of friends, family, and school. She lets us in on the secrets and life lessons those early novels taught us as we followed the antics of the Babysitter Club. How we learned that young love is both amazing and frustrating and if you’re not careful, you may end up kissing just like those in a Judy Blume novel. Moss does an incredible job of covering everything related to these wonderfully awkward tweenie series-the novel covers, character diversity, life lessons, and how the story lines evolved over the decades. What began as sweet little stories in the post-war boom of the 40’s, by the 80’s, readers were learning how incredibly scary the real world is.

Paperback Crush also has author interviews from YA authors Candice Ransom, Rhys Bowen, Caroline Cooney, and Christopher Pike. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes look at how many of those iconic covers were created and how the models were chosen.

I found Paperback Crush to be a fun and honest take on the novels that so many of us grew up with. It’s an absolutely delightful read and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.

You can get your copy, and help support the site, here:  

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller

Feel free to jump on this book for it’s cover alone-it’s just as stunning as the story itself. I got sucked in to this book a few days ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it.

After the world finally turns against us, leaving the earth covered in water, a floating city in the Arctic Circle is constructed. Geothermal heating and greener, more sustainable sources of energy are now the new normal. But even with all the amazing technology that allows humans to survive in the ocean, humanity still has it pretty rough. Living spaces are hard to come by and most are too expensive for everyday people with Landlords holding rents high to stay rich. Added to the stress of poverty is a mysterious illness called the breaks, that is spreading throughout the city and causing those inflicted to get lost in the memories of others.

Everything changes the day a woman is seen approaching the city on the back of an orca whale. With a polar bear.

Yep. Riding an orca whale with a polar bear.

Her arrival draws together four individuals who seemingly have nothing in common but once they meet, they begin a defiant battle against the political corruption of the city.

Reading Friends-this book is completely bonkers and I loved every single minute of it. There is political intrigue, mob syndicates, shady landlords, and genetic manipulation. Once again I’ve fallen into a book about the disastrous effects of unchecked climate change and it’s not a pretty picture of our future. I want nothing to do with living on a floating city in the Arctic Circle. No. Thank. You.

But noodle stands? I want those, and their frequent mentions made me very hungry.

This book offers a very interesting look in to what actually makes people a family and how lifetimes of deceit, regret, and abandonment can still allow for hope. How people can be so different from one another and still have so much in common.

I loved this book. It keeps popping into my thoughts with it’s incredible and terrifying world building.

Loved it.

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