Retold by Lise Lunge-Larsen, Illustrated by Jim Madsen
This collection of Norse mythology is a nice set of tales beautifully illustrated by a well known children’s book illustrator. A few of the tales will be commonly known to adults reading this to a child, but a few are lesser known tales such as Stolen Thunder. A great read for children and adults alike.
Banned Book Club is a great true story about a subject I was initially unfamiliar with, the censorship of books in South Korea. The story is autobiographical, but still very in depth on the other characters and their lives, as well as the political climate around the characters. The story is honest, as a book written for the young adult crowd, it does keep the violence non-viserial, and much of the other trauma as implied without detracting from the seriousness of the risks they take to fight censorship.
The Black Mage is a fun but thought provoking foray into the subject of white privilege especially in the area of private academics. Set in a wizarding school the book has an action based plot without being predictable, there are a few nice plot twists that the reader will not feel led into while still linking back enough to the previous parts of the story that will have you thinking “I should have seen that coming”. Overall, a great read and has a message, one that can resonate with all ages of readers.
Set in a city that is reminiscent of post-WWI London, noble families possess magic to rule nations and control the weather. A former military surgeon turned psychiatrist works hard to live an anonymous life of his own, but marked by magic his fate lies between either enslavement to his family or imprisonment in a witches’ asylum. Using the war as an escape from his family’s control, Dr. Miles Singer returns, in hiding, to work in the psychiatric wing of a hospital. With his gift of healing magic, Miles begins to see a mysterious pattern amongst his patients who have returned from war that calls on him to sacrifice the anonymity he has worked hard to build. When the mystery of his patients’ condition begins to intertwine with current political tensions and his own unique family drama, Miles begins to rely on the help of a gorgeous gentleman who’s path he keeps crossing in his attempt to get to the bottom of it all.
Witchmark will rope you in from the very first page and leave you wanting more. If you love compelling stories with complex yet likable characters, this could be the next book for you. I especially enjoyed this novel for the way in which it effortlessly combines fantasy, mystery, and romance. Despite a more historical setting, Witchmark gets you thinking about how the issues of Polk’s fantasy world are eerily representative of our own.
Can’t get enough of Witchmark? Check out the sequel: Stormsong.
The Last Book on the Left: Stories of Murder and Mayhem from History’s Most Notorious Serial Killers
by Ben Kissel
This book is written by the members of a well-known true crime/mystery podcast known as Last Podcast on the Left and is written in a similar style to the show. The stories within are a good mix of true crime serial killer stories and a look into their mindset but in a light enough fare for a quick read. The book does get into some visceral details from written police reports and testimony but does not actually contain any photographs or illustrations of the actual acts of the subjects being studied within. A nice foray into the macabre as well as true crime related to murder, with a nice dark comedic twist from the quips and jokes that are inserted by the writers between the information.
For those looking for a quick read or that enjoy spy and espionage novels, give the Moroccan Girl a read. The story focuses on Kit Carradine, a writer of spy novels who is suddenly drawn into a real life spy scenario in which he is tasked by MI6 to look for a woman, Lara Bartok who has ties to the Resurrection, an international revolutionary group targeting political figures. Initially, all he has to do is make contact with Lara while at a literary festival in Morocco. However, Kit soon realizes he is in over his head and the situation is much more complicated. Kit must choose between aiding his country or keeping Lara Bartok alive at his own risk.
As I said, the Moroccan Girl is a quick easy read that transports readers into the world of spies and secrets, if only for a few days.
Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination by Brain Jay Jones
Everyone knows and probably read books by Dr. Seuss growing up, but who is the man behind the legacy? Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Geisel. Before he was known as a children’s author, Geisel drew political cartoons and catchy ads for materials such as bug repellant and education materials for soldiers during World War two. You may be surprised to learn how Dr. Seuss came to write childrens’ books or how he got his name, but I won’t tell. One thing is for sure, Dr. Seuss created a legacy and changed the way people thought about children’s literature for the better. Brian Jones did a great job with this biography, capturing all the details of Dr. Seuss’ life that made him the man he was while keeping readers engaged.
Checkpoint Charlie: The Cold War, the Berlin Wall and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Ian MacGregor
During the Cold War, Checkpoint Charlie was one of the three entry points in the Berlin wall to cross West Germany into East Germany. Checkpoint Charlie was the gate specifically used by military personnel and gaining access from one side to the other was not easy, especially for East Berliners. MacGregor details the history of the military checkpoint and how dangerous relations were for all sides involved in guarding the barriers and access across the wall. He also uses first hand accounts from military personnel and civilians from the East and West. MacGregor does a great job in detailing all aspects of life during this time and showing readers how the story wasn’t black and white. For anyone interested in the Cold War, Berlin wall, or Germany immediately after World War Two, I recommend reading this book as it gives a good history of Checkpoint Charlie and an introduction to how the Berlin Wall affected life on both sides.
Moths: A Complete Guide to Biology and Behavior by David C. Lees and Alberto Zilli
Moths is a book about, well moths and their biology. The writing of Moths is not terribly technical in most parts of the book, and where it does get techical it explains the science behind the subject in a way that is both relatable and scholarly. I personally find this book to be a welcome introduction to those just wanting to learn about either moths in general or for those looking to research specific aspects of moth behavior or even if you just want to look at some wonderful and professional close up nature photography, this is the book for you. I would give this book five stars out of five but I have to deduct one due to some editing issues with a few of the photographs in the book being incorrectly labeled or simply duplicated from other pages. This issue aside, the book is overall a worthy read and excellent for the coming warm summer evenings that will bring many of these small friends to our backyards.
Fish in a tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Available on the cloud library in e-book and audio book.
Daughter of a military father, sixth grader Ally has moved around alot. She is in a new town almost every year and without any consistency in her education no one has yet to pick up on her struggle to read. Enter new teacher Mr. Daniels who begins to notice Ally, seeing something her others had missed. Through her sixth grade journey, with the help of an understanding teacher and some new ‘misfit’ friends, Ally begins to feel more confident and better about herself. I listened to the audio version of this book and I wish I had read it, I found the narrator’s voice to be whiny and irritating, It also seemed to be somewhat predictable, with all the usual school cliques accounted for. But if you are missing school, and your favorite teacher, this book may take you back there.