Happy Halloween!

I usually post a review on Thursday, but since it’s Halloween I thought I would take the day off, give myself a break, and enjoy some trick-or-treating. I hope your day is full of cheer and spookiness.

Calendar Girls October Wrap-Up

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Pumpkin Lanterns
Book that Lit Your Way Out of a Reading Slump

Our Picks:

Fangirl – Katie (that’s me!) @ Never Not Reading
Everything I Do – Adrienne @ Darque Dreamer Reads
Red, White, & Royal Blue – Deanna @ Deanna Writes About
A Discovery of Witches – Clarissa @ Clarissa Reads it All
Again, But Better – Dani @ Mousai Books
Wicked Saints – Flavia @ Flavia the Bibliophile
Sawkill Girls – Liz @ Stellar Kitten Reviews

Our Favorite Pick is…

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Review: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King

Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 2
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

Long retired, Sherlock Holmes quietly pursues his study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. He never imagines he would encounter anyone whose intellect matched his own, much less an audacious teenage girl with a penchant for detection. Miss Mary Russell becomes Holmes’ pupil and quickly hones her talent for deduction, disguises and danger. But when an elusive villain enters the picture, their partnership is put to a real test.


This is one of those books that is going to be hard to write a review about because it was just so fine. Like, it was good, but there was nothing to really glow about. But there wasn’t anything bad to whine about either. So I guess I don’t have much to say.

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Review: El Deafo

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Genres: Graphic Novel, Autobiographical Fiction, Middle-Grade
Maturity Level: 1
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Rating:
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Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school — in the hallway… in the teacher’s lounge… in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?


Do you like middle-grade graphic novels? How about own-voices disability perspectives? What about people conceptualizing themselves as rabbits for no apparent reason other than to make the illustrations fun? THEN THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU!

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Review: Esperanza Rising

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Genres: Middle-Grade Fiction, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 2
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Rating:
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Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.


Goodness, I forgot how much I adored middle-grade historical fiction when I was a kid. There is something about this genre that I really connect with, and I think it gives kids the opportunity to explore heavy and difficult themes of the past without feeling confronted and uncomfortable about bad things now. If that makes sense.

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What Makes the Perfect October Read?

There’s just something about October, isn’t there?

Even before our odd 2010s obsession with pumpkin spice and leggings, October had always been my favorite month. There’s just something in the air, this crispness, that isn’t there at any other time of year. Also, Halloween remains my favorite holiday, even (maybe) more than Christmas. I love costumes and dressing up, and there’s something so magical about the excitement on a child’s face when they get the perfect costume.

October is just the best.

The last few years I’ve been in the mood for a certain kind of book in October. It’s not necessarily a genre, though I know lots of people read mysteries, thriller, or horror in October. It’s more of a … feel. A mood. I don’t know if I can adequately explain it, but I’m sure going to try!

A little creepy or off

I don’t like scary books at ALL, but in October I love to read something where things are just a little edgy. There’s a tension, a creep-factor, missing from the average book. Enough to give you goosebumps, but not enough to keep you up at night. In October I eat that up.

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Review: World War Z

World War Z by Max Brooks

Genre: Science Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”


It’s been years since I read this book, so while I remembered that it was brilliant, I admit that I had forgotten how brilliant it is and why. Guys, this book is SO WELL CRAFTED. It’s not at all what you would expect, and the things that make it good aren’t the things you might typically look for in a zombie book. In fact, I’ll come right out and say that I actually don’t like zombies. At all. I don’t think they’re scary or interesting. But this book is gripping and fascinating anyway.

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