Meet Me By The Sea

Meet Me By The Sea

Author:  Taltal Levi
Publisher: NorthSouth Books
Pages: 32
On Sale: February 2 2021
Genre: Children
Stars: 3/5

From the Publisher:

When a spunky little girl finds that her parents are too busy to play, she decides to visit her favorite place on her own.

The familiar path lightens her step and her heart. And along the way she discovers a wonderful surprise.

Taltal Levi’s spare text and delicate pastel-hued illustrations celebrate courage, discovery, and the power of family.

From Me:

The illustrations of this book were very nice, but I’m not sure the actual story is right for children.  The young girl basically feels ignored by her parents so she takes off, camps out in the woods overnight by herself, and then walks to the sea.  Her parents find her and never seemed alarmed, but I don’t think these are good ideas to put in kids’ heads.  In real life there either would have been an Amber Alert or something larger than a fox would have found her. The story had a lot of potential and it was beautiful, I just think it missed its mark.

Jade Braves The Dark

Jade Braves The Dark

Author: Valdene Mark
Publisher: Sugar Apple Books
Pages: 16
On Sale: September 15 2020
Genre: Children
Stars: 3/5

From the Publisher:

Bedtime is here, but Jade is much too scared to fall asleep—who knows what could be hiding in the dark? Jade lets her imagination run away from her, dreaming up all kinds of scary monsters until she is sure she won’t be able to sleep at all.

Luckily, Jade is very brave.

From Me:

For me the artwork was the best part of this book, I loved the sparkly lighting and the rich purples.  The story itself was really simple and light but I don’t feel it connected as well with the message it was trying to send.  Jade was afraid of the dark and she was imagining what could be in it, but if it wasn’t for the moonlight coming in nothing was really resolved.  It didn’t seem to me that it really gave children a way to face their fears; Jade just waited and got lucky.

Elephants Do Not Belong In Trees

Elephants Do Not Belong In Trees

Author: Russ Willms
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pages: 32
On Sale: February 16 2021
Genre: Children’s, Animals, Humor
Stars: 4/5

From the Publisher:

Elephants do not belong in trees. It’s not natural. It makes other animals uncomfortable. This is the story of Larry, an elephant who wanted to live in a tree. This is a story about being the new kid and being a little bit different (okay, A LOT different). A story about acceptance and making friends. When Larry decides he wants to live in the big bushy tree in the middle of the wide-open field, the current residents, Bird, Squirrel and Monkey, are not very welcoming. They throw nuts at him and peck at his head; they tell him to leave and are downright rude. But Larry persists–why can’t he live in the tree? When his new home is threatened by something much bigger than all the animals combined, Larry shows everyone that he cares just as much about the tree as they do.

From Me:

This story was adorable.  The artwork was very simple as was the language, but it was still able to portray the silliness and humor very well.  I know a couple girls who would love this story and the ridiculousness of the elephant in the tree.  Great for children and adults.

Arlo The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep

Arlo The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep

Author: Catherine Rayner
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Pages: 17
On Sale: August 20 2020
Genre: Children’s, Animals
Stars: 4/5

From the Publisher:

A dreamy bedtime book from award-winner Catherine Rayner about a wakeful lion who is desperate to get some sleep.

Arlo the lion is exhausted. He just can’t drop off, no matter what he tries. It’s either too hot, or too cold, too loud or too quiet, and his wriggly family aren’t helping either! Will poor Arlo ever get some rest? Perhaps his new friend Owl will have some good ideas to help him fall asleep.

Arlo: The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep is a beautifully illustrated story with a gentle mindfulness message from Kate Greenaway Medal winner Catherine Rayner – perfect for bedtime and especially helpful for little ones who have trouble going to sleep.

From Me:

I really enjoyed this story.  It was short and simple and great for kids.  I’m not a parent, but I can imagine the songs being perfect for helping children find ways to relax and fall asleep.  The artwork is a really unusual style, at first I wasn’t sure but it definitely grew on me and I loved the scenery when they’re imagining where they’d like to be.

Grumpy Cat Awful-ly Big Comics Collection

Grumpy Cat Awful-ly Big Comics Collection

Author: Ben McCool, Royal McGraw, Elliott Serrano, Ben Fisher, Derek Fridolfs, Ilias Kyriazis, Steve Uy, Ken Haeser, Tavis Maiden, Agnes Garbowska, Michelle Nguyen
Publisher: Diamond Book Distributors Ablaze
Pages: 250
On Sale: November 10 2020
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comic, Children’s
Stars: 2/5

From the Publisher:

Collecting every (terrible) Grumpy Cat comic book story ever — in one giant (overhyped) comics collection!

The World’s Grumpiest Cat — and the world’s most adorable internet sensation — continues to delight fans of all ages. With her ever-present pout and sassy disposition, Grumpy Cat has won the hearts of people everywhere. Now, her unbearable cuteness and infectious sourpuss are featured in a collection of comic stories. If you love the memes, the videos, and that irresistible scowl, then get ready for the wildly fun antics of Grumpy Cat. Her comic book escapades are guaranteed to make you smile… even if she’s scowling!

From Me:

I usually love cat comics, but this was not my cup of tea.  The artwork wasn’t particularly appealing to me, and I found the stories to be a bit repetitive and listless.  Grumpy comes off as more rude and cruel than cute and sarcastic, and Pokey often feels to be more of a main character.  Maybe this would appeal more to children than to adults, they might be able to just enjoy going along for the ride.

The Edge Of Belonging

The Edge Of Belonging

Author: Amanda Cox
Publisher: Fleming H Revell Company
Pages: 384
On Sale: September 8 2020
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Christian
Stars: 4/5

From the Publisher:

When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother left behind more than trinkets and photo frames–she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved.

In this dual-time story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth–both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others–takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.


From Me:

I don’t seek out Christian Fiction, but this book was so subtle that I didn’t even realize it was until I read other reviews.  The characters were all very detailed and unique, and the dual-timeline was really well done as well.  It varies between Harvey finding a baby in 1994 and coming to terms with being loved and wanted, and present day Ivy coming home to a funeral after leaving an abusive relationship.  The book mentions a lot of hardships and struggles that some people may find triggering, but I felt they were well handled and acknowledged.  The characters showed a lot of strength and realism and it was clear that Amanda Cox understands people and has done her research.

Kitty And Dragon

Kitty And Dragon

Author: Meika Hashimoto
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Pages: 104
On Sale: October 20 2020
Genre: Children’s
Stars: 5/5

From the Publisher:

When Kitty looks for the perfect home, she makes an unlikely best friend—Dragon! From Epic! Originals, Kitty and Dragon is a lovable early reader series about finding true friendship when you least expect it.

Book 1 of this early reader series features three adorable stories about Kitty and Dragon—best friends, even when one of them is snoring, being messy, or having a sad day. Even though they are quite different from one another, Kitty and Dragon have learned that there’s nothing better than being together, just the way they are.

From Me:

This was adorable.  The artwork was bright and captivating, and each of the three stories included in this volume were unique and enjoyable.  I felt they really showed how different friends can be while still learning how to play and take care of each other.  The text was fairly simple, making this a good story for beginner readers.  Definitely a cute story for all ages.

The Haunting At Bonaventure Circus

The Haunting At Bonaventure Circus

Author: Jaime Jo Wright
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Pages: 352
On Sale: September 1 2020
Genre: Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Historical Fiction
Stars: 4/5

From the Publisher:

1928
The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day
The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

From Me:

I was not familiar with Jaime Jo Wright’s work before this, but I will definitely be seeking her out.  This story was split between 1928 and present day and each story was very well written and could easily have stood on its own instead of being combined.  I enjoyed the mystery of the circus and the trials they were going through with the protestors, I also found The Watchman to be extremely creepy in a Scarecrow sort of way.  The present day story had a single mom struggling to balance work & her son, on top of a ghost story and mystery of her own.  Overall I really enjoyed both halves and how they came together.

The Enforcer Enigma

The Enforcer Enigma

Author: G.L. Carriger
Publisher: Gail Carriger LLC
Pages: 341
On Sale: August 1 2020
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, LGBT, Paranormal
Stars: 5/5

From the Publisher:

A werewolf without rank or hope and an enforcer who has lived too long go up against the selkie mob.

Charming urban fantasy from New York Times bestselling comedy author Gail Carriger.

ENFORCER

Judd has wandered from pack to pack his whole life, searching for wolves who will accept him for who he is and who he loves. Now he believes that he’s finally found the right pack and the right man.

NERD

Rejected by his family for being gay and geeky, Colin has never fit in with werewolves, yet now he is one. He doesn’t know how to react when Judd starts courting him. He’s even more lost when a famous singer, the selkie mob, and the feds also start chasing him.

Can Judd protect Colin and still prove his love? Can Colin figure out why enemy shifters are invading his favorite cafe? And what’s with all the gold sparkle? Find out in The Enforcer Enigma.

Delicate Sensibilities?

This paranormal romance contains M/M sexy times, horrible puns regarding country music, and men who wear suits without shirts underneath. If you get offended easily, then you probably will. The San Andreas Shifter stories include blue language, dirty deeds, and outright admiration for the San Francisco Bay Area. Not for the faint of heart (or mouth or tongue).

From Me:

I really love everything this author writes. The way she brings life to these characters is incredible, and she really leaves you wanting to read more and more about them. I love how the men are both sensitive and strong, and how they’re not afraid to open up and be who they really are. I wasn’t as into Judd as I was Tank in the last book, but this was still a terrific relationship to read.

A Single Swallow

A Single Swallow

Author: Ling Zhang
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Pages: 304
On Sale: October 1 2020
Genre: Historical, Fiction, Cultural, WWII
Stars: 4/5

From the Publisher:

The eagerly awaited English translation of award-winning author Zhang Ling’s epic and intimate novel about the devastation of war, forgiveness, redemption, and the enduring power of love.

On the day of the historic 1945 Jewel Voice Broadcast—in which Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces, bringing an end to World War II—three men, flush with jubilation, made a pact. After their deaths, each year on the anniversary of the broadcast, their souls would return to the Chinese village of their younger days. It’s where they had fought—and survived—a war that shook the world and changed their own lives in unimaginable ways. Now, seventy years later, the pledge is being fulfilled by American missionary Pastor Billy, brash gunner’s mate Ian Ferguson, and local soldier Liu Zhaohu.

All that’s missing is Ah Yan—also known as Swallow—the girl each man loved, each in his own profound way.

As they unravel their personal stories of the war, and of the woman who touched them so deeply during that unforgiving time, the story of Ah Yan’s life begins to take shape, woven into view by their memories. A woman who had suffered unspeakable atrocities, and yet found the grace and dignity to survive, she’d been the one to bring them together. And it is her spark of humanity, still burning brightly, that gives these ghosts of the past the courage to look back on everything they endured and remember the woman they lost.

From Me:

I was really impressed with the way this book was written. Set in China during World War 2 it introduced us to many different characters, and it did a very good job at keeping them all separate. The book switched perspective every few chapters and invited us into someone else’s viewpoint and background and often this can get confusing or tangled, but I didn’t find that in this case. I’m using this for the “A Book That Leaves You Thinking” part of my 2020 reading challenge because it’s not a story you can move on from quickly. Each character goes through a lot of trials and it was really interesting to learn how they handled each one and the repercussions from them years later.