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Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of homelessness, starvation, grief

“And right then I knew, the way you know that it’s going to rain long before the first drop splatters on your nose, that something was about to change.”

Things couldn’t be more dark and difficult. Jackson and his family has fallen into some hard times. And each inching second seems like their family is one step away from living in the family car. Again. Then Crenshaw starts reappearing, again. He’s large, outspoken, and he’s Jackson’s imaginary friend. He’s back and this time he’s here to help save Jackson and his family from losing everything.

Friends, I have one again fallen into an emotional hole of books that hit close to home. In read this book back in October 2018 and I decided to pick this book back up again this fall as well. There couldn’t have been a more perfect time to read this book! I’m going to be honest, I’m about to get sappy, emotional, and I’m going to get personal. Crenshaw is the book I needed as a child, but is the book I longed for as an adult.

Jackson is a no-nonsense kind of kid. He believes in science and he prefers the facts over stories. He’s determined to grow up to be the best animal scientist he can be. Oh yeah, and he has an imaginary friend who just so happens to be a giant cat. Crenshaw is outspoken, appears at the most random moments, and adores Jackson. Only Jackson doesn’t want Crenshaw around. He wants Crenshaw to disappear so he can deal with much bigger issues. However, Crenshaw is here to help and he’s going to help Jackson whether he wants it or not.

“Imaginary friends are like books. We’re created, we’re enjoyed, we’re dog-eared and creased, and then we’re tucked away until we’re needed again.”

I love this book with my whole heart and soul. Applegate does a beautiful job of weaving together a story that address really important topics that hit close to home. One of those topics is how parents handle life changing, hard situations when their kids are involved. In Crenshaw, Jackson’s family falls on incredibly hard times. The money is all gone, the rent bills are piling up, there’s no food in the apartment, they’re selling off a lot of their things, the parents are fighting a lot, and Jackson’s parents keep putting up a happy front to make things seem fine. You can really see how the happy front really affects Jackson and his sister in this book. While Jackson’s sister it’s fully aware due to her age, Jackson is old enough to put all the clues together and knows that things are changing, history repeating itself. I loved that. I love that we get to see things from a child’s perspective and truly see children are very much aware of the things going on in their surroundings. To truly see that they really just want the truth from their parents. What had me breaking at the seams was the fact that this middle-grade book addresses homelessness and hunger. It’s not often talked about in books, let alone middle-grade books, but every second broke my heart. Looking at the way Jackson handles a lot of the situations that pop up in this book, I couldn’t find a more better character who mirrors my own. And I think Crenshaw does a marvelous job of accurately showing what so many children go through out there when it comes to families struggling financially or going through homelessness.

For me, personally, Jackson is so easy for me to relate to. Growing up, while my family never ended up homeless, we had a lot of financial struggles. There were times where we would go a week or two without food or we would go a whole month just eating ramen before we could actually have groceries in our house. I was also in a same position like Jackson when he was constantly seeing his parents fight from a distance. It’s not often talked about, but at such young ages children are very perceptive and can figure things out without too much details. It’s not hard to see things from a distance and notice just how bad things are becoming. Schooling wise, Jackson wasn’t really able to participate in things he had a deep interest in like soccer camp for example. Even though he said it was fine he was deeply conflicted and upset about the whole thing. From my own experiences, when you’re growing up in a situation where there’s financial struggles, there’s hardly any food on the table, you constantly sacrifice things you want to do at school or even sell off your own items so you can help your family, you convince yourself that things are fine or they’ll get better, but there’s a lot of internal damage that comes with all of that. However, convincing and believing are two different things when you’re a child. As you read in this book, you see at what lengths Jackson reaches because he’s spent most of his childhood convincing himself he’s fine with everything . He reaches a point where he is splitting himself in two with what he’s trying to convince himself and what he truly believes and feels. It’s absolutely heartbreaking and really hits in the gut. His story is so strong that you can’t help, but getting emotional just like he does.

Then we have Crenshaw himself. We find out that Jackson doesn’t really have a lot of friends. In fact his social circle just consists of one girl named Marisol. Other than that his other friend is one black, giant cat named Crenshaw. Crenshaw is basically Jackson’s helper of coming to terms with his true feelings about his situation and convinces Jackson to just speak his mind. “Tell the truth; it will set you free.” As you read you come to terms that Crenshaw isn’t any imaginary friend, but he’s like a guide for Jackson. The best term I can think of, Crenshaw is like a lighthouse in the eye of a bad storm and Jackson is a boat who needs to get to shore. Crenshaw may be an imaginary friend, but for Jackson he is very real. We get moments of Jackson trying to understand how he can be his imaginary friend and touch him, but no one else can really experience him or see him. He’s like this embodiment of the childhood Jackson should of have, but due to all the struggles his family is going through Jackson has somehow convinced himself that he’s too old for an imaginary friend, there’s a scientific reason for him seeing his imaginary friend, and just overall Jackson wants to reject that part of himself without realizing just how badly he needs Crenshaw in his life in this moment. Crenshaw is such an important key to this story. Without Crenshaw, Jackson would never come to terms with his feelings or even confine in Marisol about his imaginary friend and some of the things happening with his family.

“What bothered me most, though, was that I couldn’t fix anything. I couldn’t control anything. It was like driving a bumper car without a steering wheel. I kept getting slammed, and I just had to sit there and hold on tight.”

The greatest thing this book offers is this book opens the floor up for so many discussions. From ‘How do parents deal with a curve ball unexpected life situation- totally unplanned that affect their children?‘ to ‘How does a father help support his family when disabled? How can a wife/ mother be most supportive in the most challenging situations?‘ It’s an incredibly powerful book that young kids will be able to relate to and it allows them to go to their parents and have open discussion. This is also a really touching book that many adults can read to because it allows them to become more open with their children and have a larger family discuss. It’s incredible to think have much this one little book can change and impact. I have never been the same since reading this book and I always think about it around this time of year.

Overall, this was a beautiful book to read. A piece of me has been taken by this book and I couldn’t be happier with it. I definitely wish more readers were reading Crenshaw and having discussions about this book. This is a book that truly shows how messy life can be and how even though things may become really hard, you will always have the ones who love you. If you find you have a chance to pick a copy of this book up, please do. It’s a remarkable book and I just can’t stop recommending it with my whole heart and soul!

“Life is messy. It’s complicated. It would be nice if life were always like this.” He drew an imaginary line that kept going up and up. “But life is actually a lot more like this.” He made a jiggly line that went up and down like a mountain range. “You just have to keep trying.”

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Monthly TBR

October 2019 TBR

Salutations Chapterlings! I can’t believe we’re finally in my favorite month of the year, October! I’m ready for spooky things, binge watching all the Halloween movies, and dressing up in all the costumes! But aside from that, I’m excited to finally curl up with a cup of hot coco and read some good books! I’ll admit, September has left me in a whirl wind of playing catch up and to be honest, I’ve gone a little overboard on the books for the month of October. I mean, I really went overboard this time. But that’s okay! I’m going to do my best to read all of these books and get as many off my tbr cart, ASAP!

This month is a little different though! The end of September still has me catching up on reviews, hauls, and basically everything. And since I’m playing catch up, that also includes catching up on taking photos. That means my tbr photo hasn’t even been taken yet. It also hasn’t been taken yet because I have an overly ambitious tbr for this month and I have no idea how I would even fit that into one photo. But it’s fine, it’s fine! We’re getting this tbr up and that’s all that matters! I promise, I will get that tbr photo up as soon as possible, but in the meantime, I hope you still enjoy my tbr for the month of October!


🎃 Currently Reading 🎃

🎃 War (The Four Hoursemen, #2) by Laura Thalassa
July 10th 2019 by Lavabrook Publishing, LLC
Buddy read with Kayla

🎃 The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
September 24th 2019 by Little, Brown Books
Buddy read with Donna


🎃 Full October TBR 🎃

🎃 Fables Deluxe Edition Book 5 by Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges
June 5th 2012 by Vertigo

🎃 His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler
September 10th 2019 by Flatiron Books

🎃 Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco
September 10th 2019 by JIMMY Patterson

🎃 Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth & Megan Levens
June 20th 2017 by Dark Horse Comics

🎃 Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro
July 2nd 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books

🎃 The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, & Carey Parietsch
July 17th 2018 by First Second

🎃 Stormrise by Jillian Boehme
September 24th 2019 by Tor

🎃 Down Among the Stick and Bones by Seanan McGuire
June 13th 2017 by Tor

🎃 Well Met by Jen DeLuca
September 3rd 2019 by Berkley

🎃 Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
February 26th 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books


🎃 Buddy Reads 🎃

🎃 House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
August 6th 2019 by Delacorte
Buddy read with Alejandra

🎃 Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
February 28th 2018 by Random House Books
Buddy read with Cassie


🎃 Side TBR 🎃

🎃 This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab
July 5th 2016 by Greenwillow Books

🎃 Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter
September 16th 2014 by Algonquin Young Readers

🎃 Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
January 16th 2018 by HarperCollins

🎃 Red’s Untold Story (Once Upon A Time #4) by Wendy Toliver
September 22nd 2015 by Kingswell Teen


Okay, readers! Those are all the books I want to read for the month of October! You can really tell that I got a little carried away. Okay, so maybe I got carried away by a lot. It’s fine, we’re fine, everything is fine! It’s going to be an amazing month of reading, adventures, and giant sweaters!. Anyway, please let me know down in the comments below some of the books you have of your tbr for the month of October! Any spooky reads? Let me know! Until next time; may your month be spooky, filled with lots of five star reads, I love you! ❤️

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The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

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ARC was given by in exchange for an honest review

Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, harassment, minor racism, scene of parental abuse/child abuse, talk of death

Magic is harder than it looks and it always comes with a price.
Moth Hush is a thirteen year old who loves all things witchy and is just trying to survive school. She’s about to learn witches aren’t like how they are in fairy tales and movies, they’re more complex. When the bullies at her school take things too far, strange things begin to happen. Now Moth’s world will open up to things she never even knew about before. That is if her mother doesn’t stop her first. From talking cats, to family secrets, all the way to flying brooms… Moth’s life will never be the same again.

Readers, this was the perfect book to put me in the mood for the spooky season! Black cats, magic, and witches, oh my! I have been eager for all things witchy and spooky. And this graphic novel was the perfect way to fall into the mood. From the fall setting to all the magical witchy things happening, this is a super cute graphic novel to get anyone ready for Halloween.

This was such a cute and precious middle grade book to read! From the bond between Moth and her mother to the talking cat, all the way to Moth making a friend who’s just as quirky as she is, I loved every piece of this book. This graphic novel has so much to offer and I think many readers will enjoy this book. Plus, what better way to bring in the fall season then to curl up with a graphic novel packed with witches and magic with a gorgeous fall setting?! There’s also some really great representation in this graphic novel. We get main characters who visibly brown skin and we also get two different family dynamics! Be still my beating heart!

I truly loved Moth’s character in this book. While this graphic novel does take place close to Halloween, you can tell that Moth wears her uniqueness on her sleeve. She doesn’t bend to what the world wants her to be like and it really shows her uniqueness. And when she reveals her room, I couldn’t helping being in awe. She really devotes herself to the things that she loves and it was so nice to have that little glimpse. I also really love the bond Moth shares with her mother. Even though throughout this book Moth’s mother tries to prevent Moth from learning and magic, there’s a lot of love and a strong bond there between the two of them. That bond really shows at the beginning and end of this graphic novel. The way Moth and her mother feel about each other so strongly is so wholesome and touching.

And can I take a moment to gush about the artwork? The artwork is simply stunning and there’s so many pages where the mood it really set thanks to the artwork on the pages. It’s extremely easy to get wrapped up in the story and the artwork because of the way they flow together. I think it’s some of my most favorite art style for a graphic novel that I’ve seen so far and it definitely left an imprint on my memory.

However, my only true issue with this graphic novel and why I feel like I can’t commit to giving it five stars is due to a lot of history. This graphic novel has a way of reading like a history lesson and the readers are in class. There’s a lot of talk about the witch trials and colonization that gets focused on heavily throughout this book. Often times, this graphic novel felt like you really had to pay attention otherwise you would miss a lot of this that happen later on in the book. It all felt very school-y and homework-y for my tastes. It truly felt like I was sitting in history class all over again and I was about to get a pop quiz on witches and colonization. Also, I’m even sure how accurate the witch trials and colonization were represented in this book. I can definitely testify that the witch trials did originally start in the UK and Europe, which later on expanded over into North America, but past that I can’t speak for how accurate things were.

Overall, I truly did enjoy this graphic novel. It was a great way to kick off the fall season and get in the mood for all the spooky things to come. If you’ve been here a while, you know I love different family dynamics and this graphic novel offers so much of that in that diverse family department. It truly warmed my heart o see a single mother and her daughter in this book, but also see the dysfunctional family side of things as well. It was a breath of fresh air. But in all honesty, if you’re looking for a book to put you in the mood for fall, Halloween, and everything that comes along for the ride then this is the book for you! There’s so much representation and the main character is absolutely precious! Plus, there’s a talking cat!

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Sadie by Courtney Summers

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Pedophilia, loss of a loved one, death, talk of murder, bullying, assault, sexual assault, extreme parental abandonment and neglect, talk of suicide, drug use/drug addiction, underage drinking, grief, cheating, toxic relationships, graphic violence, and more!

“But love is complicated, it’s messy. It can inspire selflessness, selfishness, our greatest accomplishments and our hardest mistakes. It brings us together and it can just as easily drive us apart.”

Dearest readers, my heart is heavy, broken, and in complete awe. It has taken me a great length of time to finally… finally write this review. Sadie is worth every ounce of praise it receives. I truly wish I had invested in the audiobook because I can only imagine how chilling and heartbreaking this book would sound from the vocals of another person reading it. I didn’t know how I was going to feel going into this book and now that I’ve read it… I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. This book tackles so many rough topics and even though this book is dark and steals my breath, I will forever recommend this book. And the thing is, books have a way of coming in our life to remind us of the things we’ve overcome and the scars of our survival. I will never forget Sadie and her story, and I will never stop telling mine to those who will listen.

The story of Sadie is told in two alternating formats between a podcast and Sadie. Sadie is nineteen-years-old and walks a dark path to murder the person who she thinks took the life of her thirteen-year-old sister, Mattie. However, the podcast takes place five months behind the steps of Sadie and West McCray is trying hard to catch up. But between these alternating chapters, they come together to paint a bigger, beautifully dark, and sorrowful story. And please keep this in mind, though I have listed the content and trigger warnings, this book holds a lot of dark themes and any reader should use caution while reading this book. Please make sure you’re in the right head space and use practice self-care while reading this book.

“That’s a real tragedy and I mean it. It’s sad when people don’t realize their worth”

Throughout this story, we receive so many bits and pieces. It’s a little trail of bread crumbs that lead us to the final outcome of Sadie’s journey. And the entire time, we as the readers, are kept wondering and guessing what will happen next, what will be the final outcome. Taking these parts and then adding the podcast element where more information gets revealed that we never got to discover in Sadie’s perspective, the author created a masterpiece. Everything became woven together so incredibly well and I truly became invested in the story as a whole. To be honest, I kind of wished I had experienced this through audiobook because the podcast would throw me off at times and it was a bit tougher to process while reading especially since in some parts we get multiple people talking and different things happening in the background.

I want to take a moment to truly address a big concept that many people still can’t seem to grasp even nowadays. For whatever reason it’s incredible hard for people to understand that pedophiles and rapists can be outstanding people in our community, kind, the top of their class, successful, and they can even be someone who is very close to you. But these traits do not change the fact that they are rapists or pedophiles. And I’m about to get super emotional, super heavy, and voice a bit of my own story. I grew up being taught that when someone committed an act of harm and trauma to my body, I had to stay silent. That if anyone found out that I would be shunned or it would make me worthless. It’s incredibly terrible. The amount of shame that I felt as a thirteen year-old girl and being told by the people around me, “No one can know. It’s our little secret.” It was the most suffocating, most painful, and one of the most damaging experiences I ever went through. And we live in a society where we are still teaching our children that when these things happen to them to stay silent and that it’s something to be immensely ashamed of. Our system is so broken that rapists and pedophiles can keep committing these acts over and over, and no one wants to hear or believe the voices of the victims especially if they’re poor or uneducated. When I was raped for the first time, I remember having a friend drive me to the hospital late at night and I remember both the doctor and the police officer actually cracked a joke and told me straight to my face, “You should feel lucky that someone would even want to touch your body in a sexual way.” Hearing words like that coming from the people who are supposed to protect the victims and make them feel safe, make them feel like they can talk about what happened to them… it shatters the soul and it takes away their voices. And Courtney Summers does an outstanding job really showing that point throughout that book. The worst part is it takes a book to say to the entire world to start listening to your victims because our world would rather listen to the ones who can throw around the most money and power.

Never in my dreams did I believe I would read a book about a girl taking matters into her own hands where justice fails. To read about a nineteen-year-old girl reclaiming her own power, her body, her heart, her soul, and along with actually succeeding in getting her vengeance. It is one of the most powerful and liberating things I have read in a long time. It’s truly a remarkable journey and one of the best experiences I have had with a dark book.

“My eyes are wide and wild and I can’t see beyond them. I can only see what they’ve seen.”

The representation in this book is also incredible. Our main character, Sadie, has a severe stutter. Throughout this book we learn how Sadie has always lived with the stutter and how the stutter isn’t always a constant. I knew going into this book our main character had a stutter, but this is my first time ever seeing that representation in a book. It was so beautifully heartbreaking because we see Sadie struggle to voice her words when she’s feeling extreme anger or sadness and its one of the most gut-wrenching things to read about. There’s also a few brief times in this book where Sadie has some intimate moments. One with a side character named Javi and another side character named Cat. If there’s anything you can take away from those moments, Sadie is definitely not straight. She’s either bisexual or pansexual. It’s never truly stated, but it’s very easy to pick up the those vibes in those moments. And finally, Sadie as a whole delivers some of the strongest poverty representation. In today’s written work, that representation is incredibly hard to come across and I think I’ve only encountered it twice before reading this book.

And finally I can talk about the family dynamic in this book. There is such a strong presence of ‘the single mother with kids’ representation in this book and my heart was so full reading that. While I wish it could have been under less darker circumstances, as someone who comes from a single parent home, it made me really soft and sappy because that’s something I’m still not used to seeing in books. Obviously, I loved how Sadie feels about Mattie all throughout this book. My brother and I are vastly different in age and so reading about a main character with an age gap with their sibling and they’ve also undergone abuse, I was shattering into a million pieces. The unconditional love Sadie gives to Mattie though is so pure and seeing her do anything for Mattie, it was ripping my heart out. I would go to war for my brother and having a main character who feels the exact same way I do about my sibling, it was everything and it choked my heart. It’s nearly impossible for me not to see Sadie and Mattie as my brother and I, and I truly believe that’s why this book has hit me so hard from the moment I started reading it. I always say how much I love hard hitting books that shatter me in the best ways and this book goes above and beyond. I don’t think I can love another hard hitting book the way I love this book. This book took a piece of my soul and Sadie and Mattie eternally have my heart.

“I realized pretty early on that the who didn’t really matter so much. That anybody who listens to me, I end up loving them just a little”

Overall, wow… just wow. I don’t think I will ever find another book that has mapped so many trails that make up who I am today. This book was like watching a piece of my past all over again and I’m just completely stunned. This book is heartbreaking, full of sorrow, and it’s one of the few books that have resonated with me. It was like finally hearing someone say, “You can voice your story.” This book is absolutely everything and I will never be over this. I have shed so many tears over this book and even though it may break the heart, there are some beautiful quotes this book delivers. I will forever be recommending this book, full heart and soul. Whether you have a strong sibling relationship or you’re trying to find your voice, this is a book everyone needs to read. This is a book that can change the world and make a difference for so many victims out there. What a masterpiece!

Before I wrap this review up… I need anyone who needs to hear it to know two very important things: One; If you need to talk to someone, anyone, please know that RAINN is always available 24/7 and they’re completely confidential. You can also call 800.656.HOPE at any time, as well. Two; I hear your voice, I understand and have been there, I believe you and you don’t have to be silent, you deserve to have your voice heard.

Buddy read with Donna from Moms Book Collection | Her Review❤️

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Song for Whale by Lynne Kelly

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Content/Trigger Warnings: Grief, loss of a loved one, minor bullying/harassment, abandonment/isolation

“He keeps singing this song, and everything in the ocean swims by him, as if he’s not there. He thinks no one understands him. I want to let him know he’s wrong about that.”

Friends, I’m feeling incredibly soft and sappy after reading Song with a Whale. This book is about so much, offers so much and I still can’t believe how much passion radiates from this book. I have fallen head over heels for this book and I can only hope many others will give this book a chance like I did. If you find yourself looking for a book that offers hope in dark times, immense passion, and unconditional desire to find a place in the world then this is a book you need to pick up.

Iris is a twelve year old tech genius who’s the only deaf person in her school. She struggles to fit in because most of the staff and students treat her like she’s not very smart. Constantly feeling isolated, alone, and like no one is listening to you, Iris keeps trying to find a small bit of understanding. Until her science teacher reveals Blue 55, a whale who is unable to speak with other whales, and suddenly Iris’s world has opened up a little more. Now Iris is making it her mission to help this whale and to let him know, he’s not alone and someone out there understands him.

I fell in love with Iris right away. She is so intelligent and works so hard at computer repairing. I think it’s absolutely incredible and it’s so unique to finally see a character like Iris in a middle grade book. I adored her even more when we truly get to see her desire to meet Blue 55 and how she would stop for nothing to meet this whale. That passion was so beautiful to read about and watch unfold in this book. Not to mention the way her relationships with her family and friends flourished in this book was something so raw and realistic that you really become sucked in. I also think the author did a wonderful job expressing to the reader Iris’s isolation, her loneliness, and her desire to be around others who understood her and her struggles.

Iris is such a great character and I love how inspired she became in this book. While I mentioned that she is a tech prodigy, the way she goes about handle the “puzzle” of Blue 55 was so captivating and I really enjoyed reading how Iris wanted to help Blue 55. Blue 55 is a whale who sings on a different frequency than other whales and therefore he can’t really communicate with other whales or pods. So Iris creates this master plan of recreating a song that he’ll be able to understand and on the exact frequency that Blue 55 communicates on. With the help of some old radio parts, the school’s music class, and the knowledge she’s learned about Blue 55, Iris creates the perfect way to communicate with Blue 55.

Out of all this book though, I loved the family dynamic and I love the way Iris talks about her grandfather. I’m a huge sap for books that have a family focus and this book has so much family focus. I love how we see the challenges in a family and the struggles of trying to communicate with one another. I loved how the death of a loved one can be a reason to bridge two family members together. And most of all, I love how the death of a loved one can imprint on us and how bit and pieces of them can inspire us in a time of healing, to never stop living. It was a beautiful underlying theme and I adored how lyrically it was woven into the story. I also like how near the end we saw the internal struggles of a mother feeling like she will never be needed only to be reassured that she will always be needed by her child. I read that and it felt like a thousand bolts of lightning to the soul. It was so moving and impactful, it had me thinking about my own mother and how I still need her thoughts and opinions on things from time to time. It was a brilliant way to show the meaning and importance of family.

While I can’t relate on a deep personal level with this book, I do have family members from my spouse’s side who are going deaf and have to use equipment to help enhance their hearing. So this book does touch home for me and this was such an important read for me. I also really appreciate while the author isn’t deaf, herself, she is a sign language interpreter and she based this story off a lot of her own experiences with the children she has encountered in her career. I also really loved that she went into more details in the back of the book on deafness and sign language. I think it will help many readers better understand where Iris’s character comes from and what inspired her to be who she is in this book.

“Your music sailed through the ocean
and over the land
and carried me here.
Sing your song.”

My only issue with this book was the perspective of the whale or Blue 55. While I don’t think this will be an issue for middle grade children who read this book, this was something that definitely threw me off from time to time when that perspective would pop up. I think for many readers who aren’t used to reading middle grade, I think that will be something that will throw them off or be difficult to look past especially since there’s only a small handful that are thrown in there. I also want to take a moment to further explain the “minor bullying” in this book. There are quite a few things that will stick out in this book that caught my attention and I wanted to take a moment to discuss them. The first issue is a teacher who constantly picks on Iris and pins Iris to be unintelligent. So the teacher constantly goes out of her way to cause a scene and make Iris feel like she’s less intellectual than the other students in her class. The second issue is the student who thinks she knows how to preform sign language. She’s constantly getting into Iris’s personal space, there are scenes of her preforming “sign language” in Iris’s face, and this student doesn’t stop when she is asked to stop. These are the two biggest issues with these side characters. I personally interpret as minor bullying or minor harassment, but for other readers it might not be too big of an issue. I just found it to be a hard thing to forget and a lot of those actions to be unforgivable because of how inappropriate they were during specific times during this book.

Overall, this book was an emotional read and as I said, this book does hit close to home. It’s such an important read especially for any child who has big struggles. There’s just so much inspiration, hope, and determination in this book that the author brings to life so well. I definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to feel inspired, needing of hope, or just wanting to read a more fascinating book. The author truly did a marvelous job with this book.

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The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragon #2) by Katie O’Neill

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“There’s no reason you can’t start being a guardian now, even if it’s a little later than you intended.”

Dearest friends, if you thought I was going to miss this book then you are mistaken. I have eagerly been waiting for this book to drop ever since I finished The Tea Dragon Society. I loved the first book so much that I constantly go back and reread it just for something light and sweet. Now I can finally say that I will be rereading both of these books for comfort and happiness! And friends, I love this book, I love it with my whole heart. I love it as much as the first one and I truly hope we’ll be seeing plenty more in this series. If you haven’t thought about picking up either of these books, let me be the one to recommend both of these books to you with my whole heart and soul. If you love dragons as much as I do, you need these books.

This graphic novel starts off by showing us some very familiar faces. Erik and Hesekiel are back again, and it feels so good to see their pleasant, adventuring faces once more. They’re back to give us some good banter, but also as bounty hunters back to track down something ancient that’s causing people to fall asleep for years. But this story isn’t just about them. Our true star of this book is Rinn, who wants to become a great chef/cook. And one day while Rinn is out gathering some supplies for the village, she stumbles upon a sleeping dragon named Aedhan. After finding out their story, Rinn invites Aedhan to the festival.

What I love most about O’Neill’s work is she always makes them so diverse and this book delivers so much. There is a strong presence of Sign Language being used and taught throughout village in this book. O’Neill also included a section in the back of the book for more information on Sign Language for readers to learn more. Also, our main character Rinn is nonbinary/genderfluid. There’s also a conversation between Rinn and Aedhan about dragons being genderfluid and how dragons like to choose between the two genders, as well. And remember Erik and Hesekiel? Well they’re in an m/m relationship and they’re the cutest! Plus, the cast of characters is visible with brown skin.

“Just because something comes easily to you, does not mean it has no value. You find it effortless because you love it, and that is why it is your gift.”

Something I truly appreciated in this book was that moment between Rinn and Aedhan where Aedhan was teaching Rinn about how dragons can shift between genders. It was so beautiful and it made me feel very soft. As someone who used cross-dress and go by a gender neutral name; it was such an emotional moment and it made a huge impact with my reading experience of this book. I wish I had books like this growing up to say, “This is a thing, it’s normal, and there’s other out their like you.” Not only was that moment so movie, but seeing Aedhan tell Rinn how they’re worthy, they have value, and they shouldn’t feel lesser for the enjoyment and pride they get out of doing what they love… my soul left my body. Even more so because reading that moment shared between them, it came when I really needed to here those words the most. So now this book is completely imprinted on me!

Another thing I truly loved was how much emphasis was put on cooking in this book. Food and cooking is such a universal thing no matter where you come from. And I truly appreciated that this book really showed how you can cook with love, how cooking and learning from your elders is so important, that preparing the food and gathering supplies can be an intimate moment shared between two people. It’s something that can be done by anyone and at the end you can see the joy and the unconditional love shared between everyone who is partaking in the meal. In my family, cook is a very special thing. We’re taught to always cook and bake when you’re in a peaceful mood, a joyous mood, when you feel enlightened, or truly happy because those emotions will be poured into the food you prepare. Even now, I still like to uphold those traditions. So seeing how much the author put a focus and emphasis on the power of cooking, how it can bring people together, the intimacy, and the true beauty of cooking… I’m still very soft and caught up in my emotions.

Overall, I loved this book and I truly, deeply believe it’s a masterpiece that I hope more readers will read! I said it in the first book, but I’ll say it again here, I love the artwork and how captivating it is, how much emotion radiates from a panel. Both books have filled me with so much comfort, happiness, and joy, I truly hope Katie O’Neill will give us more from the Tea Dragon universe. Each book has such meaningful focuses and messages and I want everyone to read her books. Plus, I’m truly grateful for the reminder of you’re always worthy, you’re always needed, and you deserve love.

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Top Ten Tuesday | Books On My Fall 2019 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!


Salutations Chapterlings! I’m back with another Top Ten Tuesday! I wish I could spend more time explaining why I’m so excited for these books and why each book is on my fall tbr, but I’m currently participating in my very first round of Contemporary-a-thon. So I’m a little all over the place and a tiny ball of chaos! However, just know that I really, really want to get to these books in the month of October, maybe November. November I do have a special TBR planned so I might not get to all the books I want to get to. The goal is to read all of these books in the month of October, for now. Anyway, without me chattering any further, here are the top ten books I have on my fall tbr!


🌻 Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa


🌻 The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones


🌻 His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler


🌻 Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Book Five by Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges


🌻 Spells on Wheels #1-5 by Kate Leth & Megans Levens


🌻 Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro


🌻 Red’s Untold Tale (Once Upon A Time #4) by Wendy Toliver


🌻 White Stag (Permafrost #1) by Kara Barbieri


🌻 Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin


🌻 Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco


Okay, friends! Those are just a few of the books I have on my fall tbr! To be honest, I have a lot more than these ten books and you’ll see why come October! However, I hope you all enjoyed these books and maybe you’re planning to read some of these books yourselves. Please let me know down in the comments some of the books you want to read this fall and if any of these books have made your list. Until next time; may the final weeks of September bring you five star reads, a strong Contemporary-a-thon game, I love you! ❤️

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