Nov 17, 2020

Recent Reads: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date:  September 29, 2020

Format: Audible Audiobook
Source:  Bought on Audible for Book Club


Goodreads Synopsis: 
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place
First things first - TRIGGER WARNING:
The beginning of this book deals with suicide and can be very emotional for anyone that has had experience with suicide and/or depression.

With that said, the beginning of this book is very emotional, a lot more emotional than I anticipated for myself. The main character is Nora, she is not doing well. She is depressed and everything is compiling and the book is counting down to her decision to leave this world. After that point weird things start happening, Nora is whisked away to a magical library where she can live different lives that could have been hers, had she chosen differently at certain parts of her life.

I read this book with my family and friends in book club this past month, the title and cover really pulled us in during the vote, little did we know what an emotional ride this book would be. AND IT WAS. I loved this book, I hated this book, I loved the realizations this book had me make about my own situation and I also loathed how this book made me feel emotionally. This was a wonderful book club book and I would highly recommend it for that but be emotionally prepared - I was not.

What I liked about this book: It really makes you think - about your life choices, about your regrets, what your magical library might look like. I also really liked Nora. I listened to the Audible version and the reader was fantastic, she made you feel like you were with Nora the whole time experiencing new lives. I also enjoyed the sub characters, they were interesting and fun in the roles they playing in Nora's lives. The overall theme was pretty well played out as well.

What I disliked: While Nora learns a lot in her experiences with the Midnight Library, her suicide was very built up (there is reason for that) but I feel like the ending was a cop-out. Choose a new life or die seem to be her choices going in, but it takes a few weird turns. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but the enviable ending puts a flippant stance on suicide that did not sit well with me. Nor did the fact that she could just choose a new life.

Nora has the ability to grow throughout her lives in this book and learn more about herself, others, and the roles she plays in her seemingly normal, sad life that she is trying to leave behind. Her learning and acceptance held me in, as mad as I was about the stark beginning of this book.

It is a quick read with short chapters and a lot to chat about it you are reading it with others. It was very emotional and did not contain a trigger warning, thus my warning to you all before you plunge in. Overall, I would read this book again and dissect it far more given more time. It became a feel good tale after sending me on a binge cry.

Have you read this one? Tell me your thoughts below! 

Nov 16, 2020

Early Reader Review: Malcolm and Me by Robin Farmer

Source:  Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way alters my opinion or review.

Malcolm and Me: A Novel by Robin Farmer
Publisher: SparkPress 
Publication Date: November 17, 2020 (TOMORROW)

Format: Ebook


Goodreads Synopsis: 
Philly native Roberta Forest is a precocious rebel with the soul of a poet. The thirteen-year-old is young, gifted, black, and Catholic—although she’s uncertain about the Catholic part after she calls Thomas Jefferson a hypocrite for enslaving people and her nun responds with a racist insult. Their ensuing fight makes Roberta question God and the important adults in her life, all of whom seem to see truth as gray when Roberta believes it’s black or white.

An upcoming essay contest, writing poetry, and reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X all help Roberta cope with the various difficulties she’s experiencing in her life, including her parent’s troubled marriage. But when she’s told she’s ineligible to compete in the school’s essay contest, her explosive reaction to the news leads to a confrontation with her mother, who shares some family truths Roberta isn’t ready for.

Set against the backdrop of Watergate and the post-civil rights movement era, Angel Dressed in Black is a gritty yet graceful examination of the anguish teens experience when their growing awareness of themselves and the world around them unravels their sense of security—a coming-of-age tale of truth-telling, faith, family, forgiveness, and social activism. 

Malcolm and Me follows a 13 year old girl names Roberta navigate being black in a mostly white, catholic middle school. Within the first few chapters, readers are thrown into the prejudice and racism of the 1970's (and today) along with religion, faith, and social activism. Roberta is trying to figure out who she is in a world that does not accept or want to see her for what she is, an clever, outspoken and smart girl. All they see is color. 

This was a beautifully written book about horrible themes that still seem to plague our society today. Farmer does a wonderful job setting the stage for Roberta's identity story and intersperses it with faith and inquisition that is like nothing else I have read recently. It was so well done. 

The story does a good job speaking out about the injustices of the time and makes it painfully clear that we have not gotten very far. Which is sad but needs to be seen and realized. 

Roberta is a strong female characters that had me fully with her, I wanted to read Malcolm X's autobiography, I wanted to slap nuns, and fight for her along with her and I was able to through this book. I think that I would have been better prepared had I actually read Malcolm's autobiography but it was a wonderful story either way. 

There is always a place for characters of color especially as main characters and I think that this would be a great book to include in any classroom or as reading for anyone anywhere, any age! I recommend this book to all, and will be talking about it for a while.

About the Author

Robin Farmer is a national award–winning journalist and transplanted Philadelphian who currently calls the Richmond, VA, area home. At eight, she told her mother she would write for a living, and she is grateful that her younger self knew what she was talking about (many young folks do). Her other interests include screenwriting, poetry, movies, and traveling. She’s still hoping to write stories about young people for television and film. Robin earned her degree in journalism from Marquette University. She lives in Richmond, VA.

Nov 6, 2020

Early Reader Review: Find a Moose with Me! by Suzanna Buzby Hersey

Source: From Netgalley and McSea Books in exchange for an honest review. This in no way alters my opinion or review.

Find a Moose with Me by Suzanne Buzby Hersey
Publisher: McSea Books
Publication Date: November 24, 2020

Format: Ebook


Goodreads Synopsis:
It's Oscar's first moose hunt, and his parents know the perfect place to find a moose. Join Oscar on this exciting adventure! Be sure to keep an eye out for turtles, loons, and squiggly worms! Let's count some critters along the way--but will we spot a moose today? Find a Moose with Me - a Countdown Adventure


I love a good moose hunt, I have been on them... but in cars while driving through the mountains in Vermont and New Hampshire, and I have actually seen two! That being said, moose can be really dangerous, so it kind of floors me that this family is walking around in the woods purposefully looking for a moose. From what I understand, you should not be getting that close!

Aside from the fact that this family might have a death wish, the book is a counting book. It is nature themed, and includes cute illustrations of the forest and the wildlife there. The book is also written in verse so it is easy to read and flows pretty well. There is nothing spectacular about it, it is counting, animals, and the wild which pop up in a lot of counting books, but it was nice to see one about Moose. (Although the danger aspect really had me wondering if it was a good choice to moose hunt).


Nov 4, 2020

Book News: DC Comics 2021 Middle Grade Titles

Today's book news: Upcoming middle grade graphic novels debuting in 2021 from Drew Brockington (CatStronauts), Brendan Deneen (The Ninth Circle), Ryan North, Derek Charm and more! 

All titles are available to pre-order now!!

Written, Illustrated and lettered by Drew Brockington
Colored by Wendy Broom
On sale everywhere books are sold on May 4, 2021
MSRP: $9.99

The big city is full of Superman sightings, but here in Metropolis Grove? Every kid in this suburb knows that he’s not real…except newcomer Sonia Patel, who convinces her friends Duncan and Alex to believe! When the trio discover a mysterious cave full of Super-memorabilia, they can't keep it to themselves, and that sets off a school year full of drama and adventure and more than a few opportunities for a newfound friendship to test its limits. 

And when they finally figure out the resident of the cave is Bizarro, things get even more out of control!


About Drew Brockington:
Drew Brockington is the author and illustrator of the IndieBound bestselling graphic novel series CatStronauts and the picture book Hangry. He works at his drawing table while his dog, Leroy, snores next to him. He has a special love for comics and will never shy away from a pun. He lives with his family in Minneapolis.


Written by Ryan North
Illustrated and colored by Derek Charm
Lettered by Wes Abbot
On sale everywhere books are sold on June 1, 2021
MSRP: $9.99

After angering a number of hostile spirits in England, 13-year-old magician Johnny Constantine has to find a way out of the country. Persuading his parents to send him to America, John arrives at the Junior Success Boarding School in Salem, Massachusetts. But once there,he finds himself to be something of an outcast. And he is also convinced that his homeroom teacher really has it in for him. Worse, he's convinced that's she's really a witch. Fortunately, John is able to find one kindred spirit at school with whom he's able to form an alliance--another misfit named Anna, who also happens to have her own developing magical powers. John recruits Anna in his efforts to uncover the truth about Ms. Kayla and expose the Meanest Teacher's real identity to the world. Joined by a friendly demon named Etrigan, these two amateur sleuths will uncover clues and stumble upon forces beyond their control in a humorous series of misadventures.
About Ryan North:
Ryan North is the writer responsible for Dinosaur Comics, the Eisner and Harvey award-winning Adventure Time comics, the #1 bestselling anthology series Machine of Death, and the New York Timesbestselling and Eisner-Award winning Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series for Marvel. He's adapted Kurt Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE into a graphic novel, turned Shakespeare into NYT-bestselling choose-your-own-path books, and his book HOW TO INVENT EVERYTHING is nothing less than a complete cheat sheet for civilization. He lives in Toronto.

About Derek Charm:
Derek Charm is an Eisner Award-winning comics artist and illustrator living in New York. He was the artist on the Jughead and Jughead's Time Police comics series for Archie Comics, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl for Marvel, and Star Wars Adventures for Lucasfilm/IDW Publishing. Outside of comics, he has done illustration and design work for Random House, Marc Jacobs, and DreamWorks Animation.

Written by Brendan Deneen
Illustrated and colored by Bell Hosalla
Lettered by AndWorld Design
On sale everywhere books are sold on July 6, 2021
MSRP: $9.99

Following a plane crash on a deserted island, 13-year-old Oliver Queen must learn the skills he needs to survive and to protect his injured father. Ollie has always hated the idea of hunting, but his dad insisted they go on this trip with his business partner, Sebastian, and his son, Tyler. When Ollie fails to take a perfect shot, the teasing starts, and he wonders if his dad will ever be proud of him again. But just when he thought their trip couldn't get any worse, their private jet is struck by lightning and crash lands on a deserted island. Ollie awakens to find his dad seriously injured and the other passengers nowhere in sight. If they hope to survive, he’s going to have to learn skills he’s been avoiding developing so far. He has never felt less sure of who he is...or if he will be able to hang on until help arrives.


About Brendan Deneen:
Brendan Deneen is the author of the novels The Ninth Circle, The Chrysalis, and Morbius: The Living Vampire--Blood Ties, as well as the bestselling Night Night, Groot picture book series. His graphic novel work includes multiple volumes of Flash Gordon, an original Island of Misfit Toys book, and Scatterbrain. His short stories and essays have been published by St. Martin's Press, Reader's Digest Books, 13Thirty Press, and Necro Publications.

About Bell Hosalla:
Bell Hosalla is an illustrator and comic maker. They love creating art filled with plants and magic. They graduated from Far Eastern University with a bachelor's degree in fine arts.