Saturday, August 31, 2019

August 2019 Reading Wrap Up

Hey there, readers!
I'm still attempting to get back into the groove of writing here again and have mostly been sticking to reviews but here's a quick wrap up post!

The books I read and finished in August:
I'll have these reviews up asap! 

The chapter books / abridged classics I read out loud to my daughter:

Book reviews I've shared on the blog this month:
Disclaimer: I received some of these books (mostly the picture books) from the publisher in exchange for a review! 

I shared my reviews for Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes (sequel to You), Lock Every Door by Riley Sager, and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, all of which I enjoyed but Crawdads was my favorite of the three. 


My daughter and I read Nim's Island by Wendy Orr over the summer and I finally got my review up!
History's Weirdest Deaths by James Proud was sent to me by the publisher and was an entertaining little nonfiction book filled with unusual deaths.  


William Sheepspeare from the Wild Bios board book series by Courtney Acampora, and Big Cat by Emma Lazell were both cute and humorous. 

The Green Giant by Katie Cottle and It's Your World Now! by Barry Falls were both positive eco-tales that I personally loved!

We reviewed Bird's Eye View: The Natural World by John Farndon for Netgalley and loved it! It's gorgeous and educational and I want a copy for our shelves!
Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris was a fun ride as well!


Superheroes Are Everywhere by Kamala Harris is a picture book/biography with a positive message about doing what is right, and Don't Let Them Disappear by Chelsea Clinton is about 12 Endangered Species that may disappear in our lifetimes.

Speaking of endangered species, we read and reviewed Forgotten Beasts by Matt Sewell and Toby and the Ice Giants by Joe Lillington, both of which focus on the creatures that we have already lost to extinction. 

It's almost Halloween so I'm in a bit of a spooky mood! 
Here's what I've already started, have checked out from the library, or just hope to get to sometime in September! I'm joining in on a readalong for Teeth in the Mist with the Ladies of Horror Fiction and also plan on joining in on #Schwabtember!

Have you read any of these?
Do you read seasonally? If you don't read horror, what is your favorite genre or books for Autumn?

Happy reading, everyone!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (YA Fantasy Book Review)

Sorcery of Thorns 

by Margaret Rogerson

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
on June 4, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Length: 456 pages

Ages: 14 - 17 years

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer's Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery--magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power. 

Then an act of sabotage releases the library's most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth's desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. 

My Thoughts:

Sixteen-year-old Elisabeth Scrivener was raised in one of the Great Libraries where the most powerful grimoires are kept under lock and key. She desires to work her hardest and become a warden and protect the realm someday, but her chance is cut short when she wakes mysteriously one night to find a most terrible grimoire has escaped and killed her library's Director. Soon after, she is blamed with the death and carried off to await her judgment. She soon uncovers a plot against her life and her world while the only person who seems to care enough to help her is the Nathaniel Thorn, a sorcerer.

This was a fantastic fantasy with mystery, danger, and a hint of romance as well! It has sorcery and demons and magic libraries and grimoires that come to life and transform into monsters.
All the Harry Potter vs Shadow and Bone vibes!

The main character, Elisabeth, has grown up around the magical books in the Great Libraries listening to them sing and cry and wail. As a fellow bookworm, I was endeared to her and the setting right away. Elisabeth showed herself to be loyal, fierce, and pretty badass with a sword, making her a character I won't forget soon. 

There was a bit of a Pride and Prejudice element to the romance since Elisabeth had been taught to view sorcery as evil and originally thinks Nathaniel Thorn is cruel, but she unlearns her prejudices and begins to see him differently. It was a nice slow-burn romance nicely woven into a wonderful fantasy plot. 


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

History's Weirdest Deaths by James Proud (Children's Nonfiction Book Review)

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

History's Weirdest Deaths: History's Weirdest Ways to Die
by James Proud
Published by Portable Press
on June 11, 2019
Genre: Children's, Nonfiction, Short Stories, History
 Length: 128 pages

Death comes in many forms--sometimes peaceful, sometimes tragic, sometimes dramatic... and at other times just plain weird. In History's Weirdest Deaths, you'll read the true stories of more than a hundred people who met their end in a bizarre fashion. Each cautionary tale is unique. Meet the victims of stunts that went horribly wrong, ordinary people who made boneheaded blunders, and famous figures who realized too late that celebrity isn't a cure for stupidity. 

My Thoughts:

Did you know you can die from water intoxication just from drinking too much water in too little time? Or that there was a king that died on a toilet (and I'm not talking about Elvis!)?

This cute but macabre little book is a collection of stories of unusual deaths that have occurred to people throughout history and is 
basically one big cautionary tale. There are 127 pages of strange deaths and facts about death to help you avoid ending up in the same sinking ship but also to remind you that we can't always control or avoid it.

Death can be such a fascinating subject but also sobering and overlooked for obvious reasons. History's Weirdest Deaths does a great job of keeping the subject light and educational while sharing interesting facts about deaths throughout history. 

  If you have an odd fascination with the macabre, or perhaps just want to know all the ways to die and learn from other's mistakes, this may be the book for you!

This was a fun little read-aloud that had my listeners contemplating all the dangers to avoid in life! 


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Toby and the Ice Giants by Joe Lillington (Nonfiction Picture Book Review)

Toby and the Ice Giants
by Joe Lillington
Published by Flying Eye Books
on September 1, 2015
Genre: Children's Nonfiction, History, Animals
Length: 32 pages
Ages: 5 - 7 years

Join Toby the Bison in this fact-filled adventure as he explores the Ice Age Tundra and meets some of the giants that roamed its icy surface. Ten-thousand years ago, the Earth was in the grips of what paleontologists call the Last Glacial Period, but what you and I have come to know as the Ice Age. The inhabitants of this frozen landscape lived in some of the coldest conditions the earth has ever experienced. But before these giants grew to their great size, they were young and, like Toby, very, very inquisitive.
Our Thoughts:
Join Toby the baby bison on his journey into the past! 

Nearly 20,000 years ago, the Earth was in the 'last glacial period' when giant animals roamed, some of which still exist today, like Toby the bison.

On Toby's journey, we run into a bunch of Ice Age animals such as the Woolly Mammoth, a woolly rhino, the Megatherium sloth bear, and even homo sapiens (or humans).

Each animal that Toby encounters includes helpful information as well as a size comparison to help give us an idea of what we'd be facing if we were alive back then! It tells us what their diets consisted of, what their habitats were like, where they lived, and when (if) they died out.

The front end pages have a full color world map that helps show the regions or continents where they creatures traversed.
We especially loved the size comparison chart that helps us see how we measure up to these creatures from the past. 

On a personal note, we visited a museum last year that had skeletons and displays of just about every animal listed in this book, including a giant woolly mammoth skeleton, so it was fun to make that connection and share photos that we took there. It made this all the more real for my kiddo! 


Monday, August 26, 2019

Forgotten Beasts by Matt Sewell (Children's Nonfiction ARC Book Review)

We received a free physical copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Forgotten Beasts: Amazing Creatures That Once Roamed the Earth
by Matt Sewell
Published by Pavilion Books
on October 4, 2018
Genre: Children's Nonfiction, Animals, History
Length: 96 pages
Ages: 7 years

Matt Sewell's follow-up to the mega-hit Dinosaurs is a beautifully illustrated large-format look at the amazing beasts that time forgot--from the relatively well known, such as the saber-toothed tiger and woolly mammoth, to the obscure monsters that walked the earth millions of years ago--many now forgotten. New findings are being made every year, and research is showing us exactly how these beasts looked and lived.

Less celebrated than the dinosaurs, the range of beasts is equally impressive, every one a scary, amazing creature that actually stalked the planet. Like the dinosaurs, these beasts are awe-inspiring in their variety, with amazing details not seen on animals today and in a variety of furs, feathers, and colors, making for a stunning collection of illustrations. 

Our Thoughts:

Forgotten Beasts features extinct creatures from Earth's past, using colorful watercolor illustrations to depict their interesting likenesses. These creatures span from the Cambrian period more than 500 million years ago and up to just 80 years ago when the Thylacine (or Tasmanian Tiger) went extinct.

This educational collection shares the size, weight, diet, and time period of each of the forty-five creatures featured, as well as a paragraph or two explaining more about their names, eating habits, and what other species they can be compared to. A lot of these creatures are very similar to animals we thankfully still have around today which makes it easier for little ones to imagine them!

There is a helpful scale of time at the beginning of this book to show us the millions of years between these creatures' existence, as well as a table of contents in case you want to 'time travel' rather than follow the path of time while discovering these 'forgotten beasts'. 

About a year or so ago we visited a museum of natural history that had lots of these creatures in it (as skeletons), including a great big woolly mammoth and the massive Megatherium (which is a giant sloth)! This book has brought up those memories and made us extra excited to make a return trip to pair up the illustrated creatures in this book to the skeletons there! 


Friday, August 23, 2019

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Adult Book Review)

Where the Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons
on August 14, 2018
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Length: 370 pages

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | BookDepository

Literary Awards:
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2018)
Edgar Award Nominee for Best First Novel by an American author (2019) 

A novel about a young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open. 

For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens.

My Thoughts:
When Kya was six years old, her mother put on heels, left home, and never returned. One by one, her older sisters and brothers left as well, leaving her alone with her father on the edges of a North Carolina marsh where she spends most of her time, barefoot, learning from the world what she knew she couldn't in a schoolroom.

Isolated and lonely, she wishes for friendship with her Pa and with Tate, the friend of her kindest brother, Jodie, who had taught her a little about taking care of herself.  Still, no one seems to stick around Kya long but everyone needs someone to love. Fast forward a few years when the local golden boy Chase Andrews is found dead, all fingers point to the Marsh Girl.

This is a very 'hyped' book right now and I'd been seeing such polar-opposite opinions about it that I decided that I just had to read it myself. After a considerable wait on hold at my library, I dug right in and had a hard time putting it down. It's worth the hype, in my opinion. I love stories with outdoor/natural settings as well as historical fiction. There is also a mystery element to this story that gave it a little something extra.

Kya is abandoned by her family when she is just a little girl. She lives on her own, off the land, immersing herself in the wonders of the natural world around her. Her story is raw and emotional. She is tough and resilient and thrives in her solitude but eventually, she longs for love and companionship and that is where her world gets turned upside down.

My only issue with the book was that courtroom settings aren't really my cup of tea, so I didn't love the portion of the book that included a murder trial but it was woven into the story quite well.

This book has an incredibly interesting characters, a wonderfully described setting, complicated romance, and a hint of mystery to tie it all together. I found it relatable, enjoyable, and even a bit of a tearjerker at times! 


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Don't Let Them Disappear by Chelsea Clinton (Children's Nonfiction Book Review)

Don't Let Them Disappear: 12 Endangered Species Around the Globe
by Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by Gianna Marino
Published by Philomel Books
on April 2, 2019
Genre: Children's Nonfiction, Picture Book, Animals
Length: 40 pages
Ages: 4 - 8 years

From the author of the #1 NYT bestseller She Persisted comes a beautiful book about the animals who share our planet--and what we can do to help them survive. 

Did you know that blue whales are the largest animals in the world? Or that sea otters wash their paws after every meal? The world is filled with millions of animal species, and all of them are unique and special. Many are on the path to extinction. 

In this book, Chelsea Clinton introduces young readers to a selection of endangered animals, sharing what makes them special, and also what threatens them. Taking readers through the course of a day, Don't Let Them Disappear talks about rhinos, tigers, whales, pandas and more, and provides helpful tips on what we all can do to help prevent these animals from disappearing from our world entirely. 

With warm and engaging art by Gianna Marino, this book is the perfect read for animal-lovers and anyone who cares about our planet. 

My Thoughts:

This realistically and adorably illustrated picture book introduces us to twelve endangered species from around the world and urges us to not let them disappear. 

From giraffes in South Africa to polar bears in the Arctic, animals across the globe are becoming more and more scarce, posing the threat that these animals might become extinct if we don't act and change things soon.

This nonfiction picture book has a map of the world with convenient animal shapes on the continents they come from and a key that shows us the risk of extinction at the beginning of the book. Each animal spread shares the range of location and endangered status as well as why they are endangered. The pages in the back go into more detail about the reasons why these animals are endangered. There are also some ideas for 'what you can do' to help and a list of International holidays dedicated to these Endangered species! 

 More from this author: