Friday, May 20, 2022

The Guide by Peter Heller (Adult Mystery Thriller Book Review)


The Guide
by Peter Heller
Published by Knopf
on August 24, 2021
Genre: Adult, 
Length: 272 pages

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Synopsis:
The best-selling author of The River returns with a heart-racing thriller about a young man who, escaping his own grief, is hired by an elite fishing lodge in Colorado, where amid the natural beauty of sun-drenched streams and forests he uncovers a plot of shocking menace. 


My Thoughts:

Jack thinks he's found the perfect guide job at the prestigious Kingfisher Lodge, with it's beautiful stretches of river nestled in the Colorado mountains; especially with his first client being the beautiful and talented signer, Alison K, who also happens to be a natural fisherwoman. But when they're shot at on a neighboring lodges' property line, Jack starts to notice the little things that don't quite add up about the lodge, it's employees, and it's patrons.  

 Though the main character is clearly suffering from the recent death of a friend and family member, The Guide starts us off with this seemingly perfect, peaceful little slice of Colorado and all seems right with the world despite that this is set during the height of the covid pandemic.

This ended up being the perfect, peaceful read for me. I really enjoyed the setting and the outdoorsy nature of the story itself and it reminded me of being in the mountains, which is exactly what I needed and was looking for. 
On the other hand, this is the first fiction novel I've read set during covid times and I thought it might deter me from enjoying the story but it ended up being a well-woven part of the overall story and I enjoyed it nevertheless. 

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys outdoorsy stories (specifically about fishing) or anyone looking for a covid-based mystery or thriller.


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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Sorceline by Sylvia Douyé & Paola Antista (MG Fantasy Graphic Novel Review)

 I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


Sorceline
by Sylvia Douye
Illustrated by Paola Antista
Published by Andrew McMeel Publishing
on May 17, 2022
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Length: 144 pages
Ages: 9 - 12 years

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Synopsis:
Welcome to the Island of Vorn, where mythical creatures roam free and only the brightest students are invited to study them. In Book 1 of this riveting new middle-grade graphic novel series, a gifted young cryptozoologist-in-training must learn to tame powerful beasts--including her own inner demons. 

For as long as she can remember, Sorceline has had a knack for the study of mythical creatures. Now a student at Professor Archibald Balzar's prestigious school of cryptozoology, she's eager to teest her skills and earn a spot as one of Balzar's apprentices.

But for all her knowledge of gorgons, vampires, and griffins, Sorceline is mystified by her fellow humans. 

When one of her rivals suddenly disappears, Sorceline must set aside her anger and join the quest to find her. But the mystery deepens, leading Sorceline on a journey far darker and more personal than she expected...


My Thoughts:


Welcome to the Island of Vorn, where everything is super fantastically spooky, just the way Sorceline likes it. She studies cryptozoology under a zoologist named Archibald Balzer, a grouchy old man who acts as professor to her and a few other budding cryptozoologists. 
When her classmates start to turn disappear, Sorceline joins in on the mystery and ultimately realizes that she might just have something to do with what's happening, or so she thinks.

This MG graphic novel is perfect for fantasy lovers! 
It's filled with cryptids, or creatures that people claim to have existed but can't be proven, such as fairies, pixies, unicorns, vampires, etc. Unfortunately, a serious mystery is affecting these cryptids and Sorceline and her classmates must figure out what it is before it's too late for them all! 

I loved everything about this from the illustration style to the characters to the plot. It's a bit of a dark fantasy for young readers and has a lot of mystery and magic.

The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous! You can get a good idea from the creatures on the cover but that is really just a small sampling of the brilliance in this book.

This is the first installment in a series that was originally published in French! I can't wait for the sequels!

Many thanks to the publisher for the chance to read this! 


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Monday, May 16, 2022

Be Thankful For Trees by Harriet Ziefert (Children's Nonfiction Book Review)

 

Be Thankful For Trees:
A Tribute to the Many & Surprising Ways Trees Relate to Our Lives
Words by Harriet Ziefert
Illustrations by Brian Fitzgerald
Published by Red Comet Press
on March 29, 2022
Genre: Children's, Picture Books
Length: 80 pages
 Ages: 4 - 8 years

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Synopsis:
What gives you a seat, a floor for your feet?
A place you can sit with your family to eat?
The pum-pum of a drum, a guitar's twangy strum...
Tree wood makes music zing, ping, and hum.

Using lilting, rhyming couplets, this book explores the many items that are made from trees. But it doesn't stop there! Kids will also learn about the many uses of live trees--and the environmental danger to trees posed by forest fires, floods, and deforestation. Kids are encouraged to be kind, not only to one another, but to the environment as well. 

This book is printed on responsibly sourced, 100% recycled PSC paper. 


Our Thoughts:

Happy Love A Tree Day!

Be Thankful For Trees is a beautifully illustrated tribute to the many ways trees relate to our lives, from the furniture we sit or sleep on to the musical instruments we play to the books we read and more. Would life even be possible without trees?

Broken down into seven main messages, the rhyming couplets in this picture book remind us of the food, shelter, comfort,  recreation, and more that we obtain thanks to trees and what life would be like without them. 
Can you think of all the ways trees improve our lives? 

This seems like a longer read for its age group with eighty pages but the text is very minimal with only a few words per page for most of the book and no more than a sentence or two on a few others.

Be Thankful For Trees would make a great read-aloud for outdoor storytime or 'wildschooling'. 




Similar reads: 




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Friday, May 13, 2022

Took: A Ghost Story (Graphic Novel adaptation) by Mary Downing Hahn & more (Middle Grade Graphic Novel Review)

 


Took: A Ghost Story Graphic Novel
Story by Mary Downing Hahn
Adapted by Hank Jones, Jen Vaughn, & Scott Peterson
Published by Etch / Clarion
on March 1, 2022
Genre: Middle Grade, 
Length: 160 pages
Ages: 8 - 12 years 

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Synopsis:
Daniel doesn't believe the woods behind his new home are haunted by an evil witch and her terrifying beast. But then his little sister disappears...and it's up to him to find her. 

This chilling graphic novel version of Mary Downing Hahn's popular page-turner will thrill readers who love spooky stories.


My Thoughts:

Hard times fall on Daniel's family of four and they move from Connecticut to an old, derelict farmhouse in West Virginia where the townsfolk say a seven-year-old girl named Selene disappeared--or was 'took'--fifty years before. When Daniel's little sister, Erica, disappears too, he must do and believe what he didn't think possible to win her back. 

 This middle grade graphic novel is well-suited for those that love spooky stories with dark, atmospheric visuals. There are witchy elements, a creepy, talking doll, and a monster named Bloody Bones for starters! The story soon develops into a high-stakes rush to win back Daniel's little sister and rid the town of it's most sinister citizen.

I haven't read the original story but Mary Downing Hahn was one of my favorite authors as a kid and I'm currently on a graphic novel kick so I borrowed it and dug right in. My only issue with it is that I don't feel like the cover really fits the story so don't let that creepy doll turn you away! 

This graphic novel adaptation is perfect for young horror or paranormal fans that want a quick, fun read!


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Wednesday, May 11, 2022

We Belong by Laura Purdie Salas & Carlos Velez Aquilera (Children's Picture Book Review)

 We received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

We Belong
Words by Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrated by Carlos Velez Aguilera
Published by Carolrhoda Books
on March 1, 2022
Genre: Children's, Picture books, Poetry
Length: 32 pages
Ages: 7 - 8 years

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Synopsis:
We all belong! 

You and I, we're alike,
but we're different too.
That's not good.
That's not bad.
It's just what is true.


Explore and celebrate who you are and who others are too! Rhyming verse by Laura Purdie Salas invites others to notice the diversity of our world and affirm that we all belong, just as we are. Bright illustrations by Carlos Velez Aquilera feature a diverse group of children, playing and learning in an urban setting. 


My Thoughts:

We Belong is a beautiful poem that celebrates our differences AND similarities and reminds us that it's ok to be just as we are, whatever and wherever that may be. We all belong.

This inclusive picture book is perfect for young readers and includes lots of onomatopoeia and fantastic rhymes that help the reader realize their own importance in the world. 

With amazing illustrations featuring an incredibly diverse cast of background characters, including different races, religions, and physical abilities, We Belong will help readers from all walks of life feel like they matter! 

We read this for Mental Health Awareness Week! 


More from this author:


Water Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas



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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Fossil Hunter: How Mary Anning Changed the Science of Prehistoric Life by Cheryl Blackford (Children's Nonfiction Book Review)

 We received a digital copy of this children's nonfiction from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Fossil Hunter:
How Mary Anning Changed the Science of Prehistoric Life
by Cheryl Blackford
Published by Clarion Books
on January 25, 2022
Genre: Children's, Nonfiction
Length: 128 pages
Ages: 10+ years

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Synopsis:
A fascinating, highly visual biography of Mary Anning, the Victorian fossil hunter who changed scientific thinking about prehistoric life and would become one of the most celebrated paleontologists of all time. Perfect for children learning about women scientists like Ada Lovelace, Jane Goodall, and Katherine Johnson. 

With engaging text, photographs, and stunning paleoart, Fossil Hunter introduces this self-taught scientist, now recognized as one of the greatest fossilists the world has ever known. 


Our Thoughts:

Mary Anning is one of the world's most celebrated paleontologists, known for discovering fossils--such as the ichthyosaurus and plesiosaurus--that would end up studied by scientists and displayed in museums. Despite all her discoveries, Mary Anning lived a life full of adversities and wasn't always accepted in the scientific community just because she was a woman. Nevertheless, she continued her studies, sketches, and searches for fossils and helped expand the understanding of our world for generations to come.

We have been reading picture books about Mary Anning for years thanks to my daughter's love of dinosaurs and determination to become a paleontologist. This nonfiction chapter book gave us a much more in-depth look at Mary's life and life's work.  

This book has a beautifully illustrated cover, endpapers, and chapter headers. The images within are mostly a collection of paintings and paleoart from Mary Anning herself (plus some stock photos) with italicized text in blue boxes/bubbles to explain each. 

Includes a timeline, glossary, and a list of places to see Mary Anning's fossils! 


Many thanks to the publisher for the chance to read this engrossing children's nonfiction biography on Mary Anning! 


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Monday, May 9, 2022

Walking Toward Peace: The True Story of a Brave Woman Called Peace Pilgrim by Kathleen Krull (Children's Nonfiction Picture Book Review)

 We received a temporary digital copy of this picture book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Walking Toward Peace:
The True Story of a Brave Woman Called Peace Pilgrim
by Kathleen Krull
Illustrated by Annie Bowler
  Published by Flyaway Books
on March 23, 2021
Genre: Children's, Nonfiction, Biography
Length: 40 pages
Ages: 4 - 8 years

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Synopsis:
She gave up everything: her home, her possessions, even her real name. She called herself Peace Pilgrim, put on her sneakers, and started off on her quest to walk thousands of miles all around America. Step by step, mile after mile, Peace Pilgrim traveled tirelessly, inviting everyone she met to consider a world where each person and each nation chooses peace. 

   This true story about a little-known woman who sacrificed everything for her convictions inspires us to step not for what we believe in, gathering others to join us along the way. 


Our Thoughts:

There once was a woman who decided to give up all her worldly belongings, including her name, to walk the country spreading kindness and friendship. She would become known as Peace Pilgrim. She started her journey in California, walked all the way to the East Coast, and returned only to start all over again. With a beginning goal of twenty-five thousand miles, Peace Pilgrim beat that and went on to walk and spread good cheer for twenty-eight years, meeting and keeping many new friends along the way!

Walking Toward Peace is a beautifully illustrated children's biography that highlights the personal journey of the woman known as Peace Pilgrim, sharing her long treks across the United States. Spreading peace wherever she went, Peace Pilgrim made a big impact on those she met and became friends with many who would go on to follow in her footsteps.

This children's biography features a unique and inspiring woman who found a way to make a difference in the world, travel to new places, and meet tons of new people while doing it. This would be a fantastic addition to anyone looking for more books about peacemakers!



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