Monday, September 26, 2016

Behind the Blog: A Look at my Read List

If you follow the book community at all on Twitter, you will most likely have noticed a recent uptick in the members discussing the need for more diversity in books.  That there needs to be more books with people of color (PoC) as the main characters, more LGBQTIA main characters, more main characters with disabilities, etc.

Along with increasing the diversity, the discussions have also been about reading books that are "own voices."  An example of what they mean by "own voices" is quite simply, if the main character is a member of the LGBQTIA community, the author is also.  That way, we the reader can really see those characters for what they are and are not subject to stereotypes and or shoddy research.

There was a lot more to these conversations and discussions on Twitter, but for the purpose of this discussion these are the points I am going to focus on.

I will be the first to admit that I don't participate too much in these discussions, but they definitely got me thinking.  And this thinking led me to take a closer look at my read list on Goodreads where I have been tracking the books I have read for the last 6 years.  I went on there with the idea to create an "own voices" shelf to mark those that I have read and to hopefully help others find them.

So I started looking at what I have read.

And I kept looking.

See I have over 600 books listed as read on my Goodreads account.  I personally think that is a lot, though I know others have way more than I do.

But the important point here is that I have over 600 books on Goodreads.  600!!

And I had to keep looking for own voices titles.

I am so ashamed to admit that I found only 5 titles that I know of to be own voices on my read list.  There may be more on there, I have never really paid attention to the background of authors before.  Usually I pick a book up because it has a pretty cover or because I have been hearing about it over and over and over again and curiosity has finally caught up to me.

But guys, I don't need to tell you that 5 out of 600 books is a very dismal amount.  You don't have to be good at math (and I am not) to see that it is low.  So low.  It almost doesn't exist.

And then, while I was looking for the own voices titles on my read list, I had PoC main characters in the back of my mind and was mentally noting them.  Um.  I that number may be even lower than the own voices total.  This actually surprised me.  I know I have read many books with PoC in them, but you know what I realized?  I have read so very few where they are the main character.

I am so disappointed in myself.  

Like I said before, I never really paid attention to things beyond the cover or the buzz I was picking up about a book and I think this is a portion of the white privilege that I hear about in news, on social media, and many other aspects of life.  That I never HAD to think about it.  And as a consequence, most of my books have only had a PoC, or someone belonging to the LGBQTIA community, or other minority, as a side character and not as a main character.

And I need to fix this.  And I will fix this.  

Honestly, the majority of the books that are own voices that I have read have been read since I became a book blogger (many thanks to Irish Banana blog tours actually!)  And it has also only really been since getting into blogging that I have read more LGBQTIA books (and that number on my shelf is low too).  And I want to keep this trend going, and I am going to make that effort to keep it going.

I am going to make a point of putting more these books in my path and to read them.  I am going to continue blogging about them and sharing them with others in hopes that by putting them into their paths they too will read them.

So, I will ask you to help me put more of these books in my path.  Please use the comments section to tell me authors and/or titles to read! 

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Night Voyage by Daria Song


Title: The Night Voyage
Author: Daria Song
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Source: Blogging for Books


Oh my goodness.  Daria Song has done it again.  She has brought us yet another gorgeous adult coloring book to fill up our evenings with fun and relaxation.

And she really brought her game with this one.

Like her other coloring books, The Night Voyage also tells a story.  The story is about a little girl.  It is the night before her birthday and the thing she wants the most is for her parents to be home on their birthday, as they are gone on a business trip.  She is surrounded by gifts, but they are not what she wants.

The story then unfolds across the pages as she is off in the night delivering presents to people all around.  The question is, is it a dream or is it real?

Oh my goodness.  The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous!  Breathtaking really!  Most of of the illustrations are actually two page spreads, so you will have a lot of work cut out to get just one image of the story done, but the illustrations allow you to be free with your coloring style.

The paper quality in The Night Voyage is what you have come to expect from a Daria Song coloring book.  The pages are nice and thick.  However, they are two sided!  So use coloring tools that can bleed through at your own risk.  Unless you don't care about the image on the opposing side of the page I would definitely recommend against using alcohol based inks!

Also, since they are double sided, you cannot remove a page to frame that you really love without disrupting the flow of the story.  Also, the since they are mostly two paged spreads, framing might be kind of tricky anyways.

And then, at the end of the book we get a little treat!  There is a card back there that you can color and cut out and mail off to a friend!  I love it!  Thought I would love it more if they would come out with Daria Song illustrated postcards or cards in general.  I will probably color the card that is in this book at some point in time, but I don't know if I will be able to bring myself to cut it out.

Gorgeous book for sure.  If you love her other coloring books, you are going to absolutely adore The Night Voyage!

My Rating
5 Stars


This review is based on a copy provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Review: Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson


Title: Like a River Glorious
Author: Rae Carson
Series: Gold Seer Trilogy #2
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Source: Publisher

Like a River Glorious is the sequel to Walk on Earth a Stranger.  So if you have not read the first book, you may not want to continue on reading this review, as it is sure to have some spoilers for the first book.  You can find my review for Walk on Earth a Stranger HERE.

Like a River Glorious more or less picks up right where Walk on Earth a Stranger leaves off.  The group has made it out to California and is in search of a place to stake their claim to start digging up some gold.  It takes them small while, but Lee uses her gold finding gift to help locate an area where all of them can prosper.

And, of course, Lee's uncle is still after her.  So she has to constantly look over her shoulder and wonder and worry.  And then there is her gift that she has to continue to try to keep a secret from the world filled with gold.

Oh man.  While I liked Walk on Earth a Stranger, I LOVED Like a River Glorious.  The pacing is just absolutely fantastic.  So much happens in this book, more so than in the first.  It is absolutely great (though definitely sad at times).

And just like the first one, Like a River Glorious really gives you the feel of the time period.  Darker and deeper than the first.  I personally never really thought about THAT side of the California Gold Rush, but Rae Carson brought it to my attention and for that I am thankful.  It was definitely dark and ugly, and she does nothing to try to hide that from us readers.  She, instead, illuminates it and lets us see it for what it was.

The character development through the story is excellent, especially for Lee.  She continues on the same path of growth that was started in the first book and continues on it through the end.  This is something I hope to see continued into the third and final book of the series.

Like a River Glorious definitely does not suffer from the dreaded second book syndrome.  It surpasses the first book and now I cannot wait until I am able to finally read the third book.  Sadly, I am going to have to wait quite awhile for it, but if it is anything like this one it will be worth the wait.

My Rating 
5 Stars


This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Blog Tour: The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright


Title: The Orphan Keeper
Author: Camron Wright
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Source: Smith Publicity

I found myself very intrigued with The Orphan Keeper.  The cover is so bright, it just pulls you in.  However, that is only part of the reason I found myself drawn towards it.

Upon reading up on what The Orphan Keeper is about, I discovered that it is actually based on a true story!

The Orphan Keeper is about Chellamuthu.  In the beginning, Chellamuthu is a young boy living in a village in India with his family.  They are poor, they don't have much, but for the most part they are happy.

Then one day, Chellamuthu is kidnapped and finds himself in an orphanage far away from home.  From the orphanage he gets adopted by a family that lives in America and he is then taken even farther away from everything he has ever known and desperately wants to get back to.

Unfortunately Chellamuthu cannot speak English, so he can't tell the family he all of a sudden finds himself with the truth of what has happened.  So, over time, he finds himself with a new name (Taj) and having forgotten most of his young life in India.

The rest of the story is about Taj/Chellamuthu rediscovering himself and finding his place.

The story pretty much skips over the rest of his childhood and his teenage years.  Which I think is probably okay.  They show a small part of him as a teenager, and I kind of didn't like him very much at that time point.

Also, something that drove me kind of nuts (and it is one of the things that drew me towards this book) is that it is based on a true story.  I kept finding myself wondering what exactly they changed in the story that made it so it couldn't be called a biography.  Thanks to reading the note at the end of the book I know that there were names that were changed, some people were left out, and other things were assumed because they couldn't know for sure since someone was now deceased.  But even with reading that information, I still found myself wondering if some of the events actually happened or if they were added to give the story a little more dramatic effect.

Something that I did like though was that The Orphan Keeper did show, some what, what India is like and some of the culture.  I had no idea about things like the milk boiling, that they used banana leaves over plates a lot of the time, or that they didn't really ever eat with utensils until I read this book.  I am no where near fully enlightened about this culture, but at least I learned a little bit more.  I would have loved to have learned a lot more, but you can only really fit so much into one book that isn't really about the culture in the first place.

Also, in my copy at least, there are photographs.  The photographs are of the real Taj that the story is based off of.  I would only look at these at your own risk while you are reading the book because they will give away some of what happens.  So if you don't want some spoilers, you may want to avoid looking at them until they are done.  Actually, you may want to avoid reading most of the back of the book to avoid spoilers since it kind of details a good bit of what happens!

I enjoyed this story a lot and I felt myself attached to Taj and his story.  I hate that things like this happen out in the world, but thanks to this book I am at least more aware of them.

My Rating
4 Stars


This review is based on an ARC provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Doodle Adventure Series by Mike Lowery


Title: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs
Author: Mike Lowery
Series: Doodle Adventures #1
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars


The first book in this series is The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs.  In this book we learn a lot about the organization that you "the main character" is newly working for.  You also get introduced to Carl the duck.  Carl is not only your companion and guide through your adventure, but he is also the narrator.

In this adventure you get sent off to space to find the slimy space slugs that stole something important from head quarters.  You, with the help of Carl, have to get it back!


Title: The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate
Author: Mike Lowery
Series: Doodle Adventures #2
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars


The second book of the series, The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate is just as fun, if not more so, than the first book!

In this one, we are still working with Carl the duck for the organization and end up on our second mission.  Someone has been stealing all the pizza and all of the pizza toppings from around town!  This greatly upsets Carl as he loves pizza!  So you and Carl follow the clues that lead you to discover who has been taking all of the pizza and why.

This one might make you a little hungry, especially if you love pizza.

The Series

Now that I have given you a brief background about both of the books that are released so far in the Doodle Adventures series, I want to take a moment to tell you something about these books.  Something that takes them above and beyond other books meant for elementary grade readers.

While both of these books are still filled with pictures that help keep your, maybe reluctant, reader entertained and into the story they also employ another technique to help them get engaged and use their imagination.  YOU GET TO DRAW PART OF THE STORY YOURSELF!

Carl the duck actually helps you with the drawing part.  He tells you when and where and what.  But he never tells you HOW.  You get to use your imagination for that part. And then you get to draw it, making it a part of the story!

I think that this technique is excellent for a few reasons and here they are:

  1. If you have a reluctant reader, drawing part of the story may actually take their minds off the fact that they are actually reading!
  2. If you have a budding author who loves to tell stories, it is a great way to help them get started.
  3. If you have a little artist they get to read AND draw!  And it is okay!
  4. It really helps get the reader involved in the story.
The one downside to this though is that, once drawn in, they don't get to draw in it again.  They could, however, add to their drawing each and every time they reread the story though!

The stories in the Doodle Adventure series are fun and filled with imagination.  They are sure to pull you and/or your young reader into the story with the added bonus of participating in the creation of the adventure!

All reviews and opinions are based on copies provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  They are mine and mine alone and have not been influenced by the publisher in any way.


Friday, September 16, 2016

The Picture Book Wall (#13)

Hello again everyone!

I hope you have all been having a fantastic time with story times!

I personally have been trying to decide when my bug will be ready to go to public story times like the one at our local Barnes and Noble.  I think we are getting there, but I still think we aren't quite ready yet.  She tends to prefer to run around the store over sitting there.  Also, while she LOVES crayons, I don't think she is quite old enough to really enjoy the crafts that they do along with reading the story (remember she is only 1.5).

Also, I think she might be more friendly with the current person in charge of storytime there since I know her.  And I really don't want to ruin storytime for the other kids.

And then there is the library one for kids her age.  I hear it is super popular though.  And our library has like the worst parking lot ever.

I am most likely over thinking this whole thing.  What are your thoughts on this?  If you you have already started taking your littles to public storytimes, what age did you start?  Do you have any tips/tricks on how to get your little to sit and pay attention to what is going on?

Anyways, as always, I have a couple of picture book reviews to share with you this month!



Title: Goblin Hood
Author: Sue Fliess
Illustrator: Piper Thibodeau
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 stars

I didn't expect it upon opening this book, but this is actually a Halloween story!  How fun!!!

In the story of Goblin Hood we have little gremlins that make Halloween candy all year long.  They are protected by Goblin Hood who keeps them and the candy that they make safe.  However, this year a witch drops on by and casts a curse and takes all of the Halloween candy!

The story is quite fun and it is told in verse.  This, to me, only adds to the fun of the story.  It makes it very hard not to get into what you are reading, making it that much more entertaining at storytime!

The illustrations are gorgeous.  Absolutely gorgeous.  They are bright and fun and very well done.

This is definitely a story I will be adding into rotation come October for storytime!


This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.




Title: The Forgetful Knight
Author: Michelle Robinson
Illustrator: Fred Blunt
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Dial Books
Publication Date: July 5, 2016
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

This story is a bit on the crazy side...  As it is about a knight who forgets things...  However, the narrator himself cannot seem to remember much about the story either!

The story is about a knight that is off to go slay a...something (dragon) because the dragon ate his best friend (maybe?).  He is planning on using his sandwich (sword) to get the job done!

A lot of the story is twisted up, but very fun to read.  It is also something that is easy to read really fast!  So be careful!  It kind of just rolls off the tongue when you read it.  But it is fun!  That is for sure!

The illustrations are also a lot of fun.  They are a bit more on the cartoony simple side, but that is ok.  It works with this story.

This is definitely a fun and some what random read!


This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.



Title: Me and Annie McPhee
Author: Olivier Dunrea
Illustrator: Will Hillenbrand
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Wow!  Are you ready to read a tongue twister of a book?  If so, this one is definitely for you!

Me and Annie McPhee is a rhyming book that works on counting.  You start with 1 animal and something that rhymes with it.  Then you go to the number two and add something that rhymes with that!  It just builds up from there.  You repeat each part of the story with each new number addition to the tongue twistery story.

It is also another one that will be really easy to read quickly once you get the hang of the tongue twister.  I also think that it will be a good book to not only help littles learn their numbers, but to help them learn how to read and to read out loud.  With all the rhymes and what not in the story it will help them work on their confidence as they read it to YOU!

The illustrations are also very pleasant to look at.  They have a nice water color painting quality to them.  There seems to be a lot of "blue" to the pictures which to me made them more calming to look at even if there were crazy pigs wearing wigs on the page!

All in all, a fun book that will help your little work on numbers and reading out loud!


This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Review: Scrap City by D. S. Thornton


Title: Scrap City
Author: D. S. Thornton
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Source: Publisher

Scrap City was such a cute and fun read!  Very creative too.  It was so hard not to enjoy.  The book does boast a good 345 pages, so it may seem a little daunting to some young readers.  However, I think that once they get into the story they will find themselves so immersed that they will barely come up for air until they are finished!

So what is Scrap City about?  It is about a young boy, Jerome, who stumbles upon something very interesting while in the scrap yard on the outskirts of his town.  While he is there, he finds a young boy, but he is no ordinary boy...  The boy, named Arkie, is a boy made up up spare parts and other mechanical things!  Arkie is a robot!

However, Arkie is no normal robot.  He is truly alive and has a whole new world to show to Jerome.  A world that is in danger.  A world that his father is unknowingly trying to help destroy.  Of course Jerome cannot let that happen and finds himself trying to help Arkie save his world.

This book, despite being meant for a middle grade aged child, has quite a bit to it.  There is loss, deception, family concerns, etc.  But it is still kept mostly light hearted and fun.

And the characters, they are fun too.  Especially Arkie.  You can tell he is only a young little robot, maybe the equivalent to a 5 year old or so.  It is rather endearing to watch Jerome and Arkie's relationship grow as we also get to watch Jerome's character grow.

All of the world building was also very clever.  I thought a lot of the backstory about the Native Americans in that part was very intriguing and well thought out.  Well, really a lot of it was very thought out and rather clever.  All of Arkie's world was just so amazing to read about, it really makes you wish you could go there!

I guess it is a little obvious from what I have said that I really enjoyed reading this book.  Sadly, the book appears to be a standalone.  I wouldn't mind at all visiting this world again and experiencing another adventure with Jerome and Arkie!

My Rating
4 Stars


This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.