The Sunday Post #12 & More!

Hello, everyone! Today we are linking up with

We are behind on comments – catching up this week!

Olivia Update 🐾

October is Olivia’s favourite time of year. She has a few orange/black/white collars for her, but we reserve her Bat collar for the 1st and 31st of October!

Olivia’s Bat Collar, positioned to demonstrate the bat!

Olivia may need a bit of a bib trim since the collar, when positioned properly, is simply covered by fluff. But! For the majority of the month, she will be wearing her candy corn/pumpkin collar since that one is her purrsonal favourite. Super cozy and fashionable.

Life Update

Physiotherapy has been going well! My back pain is nearly gone and the exercises I’ve been doing have now incorporated some resistance training. It’s been easy for me adhere to doing my exercises daily, I just need to be more consistent with walking so I’ll look for some good audiobooks and podcasts. If you have any recs, let me know!

Shows We’ve Been Watching:

Rings of Power. Last episode was not my fav, but overall enjoying this series.

The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5. What an intense last episode! Also, I’m pretty sure I’m due for a reread of the original HMT and The Testaments.

Sandman. I feel pretty meh about this one.

Reading Update

We now have a Kindle and a Kobo!

This week we completed 2 books!

Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse. So cute! This graphic novel was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the concept and am looking forward to reading book two!

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson. Wow, was this ever an amazing book. Definitely check out my book review and see if it’s a book you’d like to add to your TBR!

This Week on the Blog

Next Week on the Blog

  • Book Reviews
  • September Wrap-Up
  • October TBR Game

QOTD: Do you enjoy
spooky season? Or are you more of
a cozy autumn reader? Or both?

Where to find us: Blog | Bookstagram | Twitter | Booktube | BookTok | Storygraph | Pinterest

Rave Review | Black Cake

I’ve provided the synopsis below for those who would benefit from a synopsis, but I actually recommend going into this knowing as little as possible! Except for perhaps the content warnings, if needed.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

We can’t choose what we inherit. But can we choose who we become?
In present-day California, Eleanor Bennett’s death leaves behind a puzzling inheritance for her two children, Byron and Benny: a black cake, made from a family recipe with a long history, and a voice recording. In her message, Eleanor shares a tumultuous story about a headstrong young swimmer who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder. The heartbreaking tale Eleanor unfolds, the secrets she still holds back, and the mystery of a long-lost child challenge everything the siblings thought they knew about their lineage and themselves.

Can Byron and Benny reclaim their once-close relationship, piece together Eleanor’s true history, and fulfill her final request to “share the black cake when the time is right”? Will their mother’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?

Charmaine Wilkerson’s debut novel is a story of how the inheritance of betrayals, secrets, memories, and even names can shape relationships and history. Deeply evocative and beautifully written, Black Cake is an extraordinary journey through the life of a family changed forever by the choices of its matriarch.


Content Warnings


Review

Wow! this was a highly impactful and near-perfect read for me.
Exactly the type of book I reserve my five-star ratings for.

Black Cake is told in a complex manner with numerous timelines and perspectives, divulging secrets the entire way through. Pair that with the central role of the black cake, layers of secrets are blended together and revealed in a satisfying way. I couldn’t stop reading the book.

I highly recommend it! This book will take you from the seashore of the Caribbean across continents, decades, and even centuries. Excellent.

(Apologies, this review is brief to prevent myself from divulging spoilers!)

This Book in Three Words

Complex

Heritage

Seaside

ocean
Photo by Haley Black on Pexels.com

Values/Themes

  • Family
  • Food
  • Protecting the ones you love
  • Courage
  • Traditions

Favourite Part

Learning about indigenous food, food culture, and history.

Feelings

  • Mysterious
  • Reflective
  • Emotional

New Words Learned

My Ratings:

Writing Style: 4.5
Characters: 5
Plot Development:5
Originality: 5
Engagingness: 5
Inisightfulness: 5
Comprehensiveness: 5
Impactfulness: 5

Overall Rating

Numerical Rating: 5 stars

QOTD: Do you enjoy book set
by the ocean?

Review | Ghostcloud

Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for an advanced release copy of this galley.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Twelve-year-old Luke Smith-Sharma shovels coal under a half-bombed, blackened power station. With his best friend Ravi he keeps his head down, hoping to one day earn his freedom and return to his family, while avoiding the wrath of the evil Tabatha Margate. When he tries to help new girl Jess, Luke is punished and sent to clean the sewers of the haunted East Wing, a place from which few return.

Whilst serving his punishment, Luke realizes he can see things others can’t in the power station: ghostly things. He befriends a ghost-girl called Alma, who can ride clouds through the night sky and bend their shape to her will.

But when Luke discovers the terrible truth of why Tabatha Margate is kidnapping children and forcing them to work in the power station, Alma agrees to help him and his friends escape. Will Alma convince the ghost council to help their cause? And can Luke find his voice, while trying to find a way home?



Review

This middle-grade novel is dark yet whimsical – an excellent choice for Autumn.

Initially, I chose this book due to its stunning cover and synopsis. The novel seemed like a fantastic choice for a fantasy read about ghosts! I always look for captivating reads, and I was pleasantly surprised that each chapter drew me in and kept me wanting to read more. The writing kept me engaged, despite feeling rushed at the book’s beginning. Fortunately, the book just got better as I went.

The novel has several dark themes, including kidnapping and forced child labour. These topics are sometimes challenging to read because child trafficking and child slavery are real world problems and human rights violations. Now, the novel includes these dark themes in a middle-grade fantasy. And while the book is a whimsical novel, the grim and dark atmosphere is reminiscent of Charles Dickens’ novels, though presented in a way that is potentially more accessible to younger readers. 

I did enjoy this novel, though the power plant was difficult to visualize. I don’t think this will be an issue for all readers, but the greyscale descriptors made it difficult for me to discern the setting.

Finally, I’d like to touch on some things I thoroughly enjoyed in this novel. Of course, we always love a cat appearance, and Olivia and I were so happy to be introduced to Stealth the cat. I love the bond that Luke and Stealth shared and Stealth’s storyline. I enjoyed most of the characters – my favourite character was Luke’s grandma, Nana Chatterjee. I would have loved to have more of her in the book! It’s so nice to see character growth for several characters. And the concept of embracing parts of us that are unique is excellent to include in the book. I recommend this book (though, please check out the content warnings) and am looking forward to book 2, “Nightspark!”

Content Warnings

Themes

  • Identity
  • Equity
  • Friendship
  • Adventure

Feelings

  • Dark
  • Adventurous
  • Atmospheric

Rating

Numerical Rating: 3.75 stars

QOTD: Do you enjoy middle grade fantasy?
Let us know!

The Sunday Post #11 & More!

Hello, everyone! Today we are linking up with

Apologies, Olivia and I have missed the last couple of Sunday link ups, but we are happy to join again this week. Thank you for visiting!

Olivia Update 🐾

Olivia is very excited to share how she’s been the last couple of weeks! While I’ve been recovering from my back injury (yes, still!), Olivia has been a constant companion. She supervises my physiotherapy exercises, cuddles during reading time, and makes sure I rest. For her extraordinary efforts, I have happily provided her with extra squeezie treats, catnip, and have ensured that her catnip toys are available for her playtime (they can be challenging to find after an active play session!) Unfortunately, Olivia has developed an aversion to some of her other toys. I think they spook her out a bit and thus will not remain in circulation for now – but, speaking of spooky things, she cannot wait for Halloween! We have her halloween collar ready to go!

Life Update

Ah, still dealing with that back injury! But there’s been lots of improvements! Physiotherapy has been so helpful. It’s remarkable how long it takes to heal. I hope everyone is staying safe where they are – the weather has been awful in eastern parts of Canada and other countries as well. Wishing you and my family/friends all well!

Shows We’ve Been Watching:

  • Rings of Power
  • The Handmaid’s Tale Season 5
  • Sandman

Reading Update

We recently hosted the Hello Autumn/Spring readathon, and it was a blast! Thank you to all the participants and cohosts for making this 48 hour readathon so much fun. I cannot wait until December!

This Week on the Blog

  • REVIEW | Baker and Taylor and the Mystery of the Library Cats
  • REVIEW | Shoo!
  • The Sunday Post #10 & More!

Next Week on the Blog

  • Book Reviews

QOTD: What book are you
reading next? Let us know!

Where to find us: Blog | Bookstagram | Twitter | Booktube | BookTok | Storygraph | Pinterest

Review | Baker and Taylor and the Mystery of the Library Cats

Synopsis (from NetGalley):
This is the first title in a newly independent reader series that combines fun storylines featuring two bookish cats, with factoids throughout to create an immersive reading experience for bibliophiles, cat-lovers, and learners of regional history and culture alike.


Meet Baker and Taylor, two cat buddies (opposite in every way) who are about to leave the comfort of their cozy public library reading nook to embark on one epic literary road trip!

After spending most of their time reading in the library, Baker and Taylor are encouraged by their friend Flora to get out and see the world. Their first stop? New York City. There, Flora tells them, they’ll meet another pair of cat besties eager to share their library—the 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library —with them.


Review

Purrfect book for library and cat lovers, alike!

This was a fun and short picture book starring Baker and Taylor as they try to uncover a mystery: what are the famous library cats of New York City’s public library? And how do they find them?

As the two cats seek out these felines they use the transit system and traverse the streets of NYC. Being a studious and literary cat, Baker has brought along his guidebook and together he and his friend, Taylor, make sense of their surroundings while learning tons of facts about NYC! I thought this was such a fun way to incorporate an educational component into this picture book and it’s so much fun when they finally find out exactly what the NYC library cats are.

The illustrations are so charming and display beautiful detail of the cats and their surroundings. The text is easy to read and the dialogue and narration component is written well. It includes information on how diverse NYC is, it’s population size, and information about the wide range of languages spoken in the city. And, at the end, there are info pages of the New York Public Library and other landmarks in NYC.

Absolutely wonderful book that fosters a love of the two cats, the discovery of new sights and locations when travelling, and of libraries! An absolute joy to read. My cat Olivia and I read this together – this is highly recommended!

Thank you to NetGalley and Paw Prints Publishing for this advanced review copy. This was voluntarily read; all opinions are my own.

Themes

  • Exploration
  • Education
  • Mystery

Feelings

  • Informative
  • Adventurous
  • Fun!

Rating

Numerical Rating: 5 stars!

QOTD: What is the last children’s
book you’ve enjoyed? Let us know!

REVIEW | Shoo!

Synopsis (from Amazon):
A raucous debut picture book about an invasion of pesky animals.

Mrs Golightly doesn’t like animals – and now a whole zoo has moved next door! No matter how hard she tries to shoo them away, she finds animals everywhere: a kangaroo on the loo, a giraffe in her bath, and even ants in her pants.

What can she do to get rid of these stinky, bothersome creatures?

Bursting with colour, delightful rhyme and outrageous humour, Shoo! is acclaimed children’s author Susie Bower’s first picture book.



Review

This eARC was a cute picture book about Mrs. Golightly, a character who does not like the company of animals; however, a zoo opens up next door. What is she to do?!

The illustrations were adorable and filled with cute creatures that each display so much personality. I enjoyed the rhymes within, their structure and placement, and the themes of tolerance, acceptance, and embracing/adapting to change.

Some text was hard to read (e.g., black font on a grey/dark blue/dark green background). While I liked the themes, I think the story itself was alright. The illustrations had a simple colour palette of neutral and dark greens, greys, blues, and reds which were melancholy.

I enjoyed that you do see personal growth with Mrs. Golightly as she adapts to the neighbouring zoo and root for her and the zoo’s inhabitants to befriend, or at the very least, coexist with each other. And to be flexible while adapting to these changes, which can be a challenging thing to do!

Thank you to NetGalley for a review copy. All opinions are my own.

Themes

  • Tolerance
  • Facing changes

Feelings

  • Funny
  • Lighthearted
  • Reflective

Rating

Numerical Rating: 3.5 stars

QOTD: What is the last children’s
book you’ve enjoyed? Let us know!

The Sunday Post #10 & more!

Hello, everyone! Today we are linking up with

This is our 10th Sunday Post, how great!

Olivia Update 🐾

Olivia has had quite the week! She’s enjoying her hammock, cat food pizzas, and tuna squeezie treats. A new phenomenon I’ve been noticing is her night-time “skittles.” Now, when I refer to “the skittles,” this means that during the evening, Olivia will chase her toys (especially her soft blue ball) and dash like a bolt of lightning across the room! When this happens, I can hear feet as they scamper about – I call these frantic episodes “the skittles.”

In other news, Olivia has been an excellent reading companion. I’m so grateful for this little bean!

Life Update

I’ve been so inspired by all of the Fall bookstagram vibes lately! It makes me want to:

  1. Immediately stock up on all Autumn drink ingredients.
  2. Decorate my home with Fall candles, autumn leaves, and tiny pumpkins
  3. Read all of the cozy and spooky books.

Olivia has a collection of seasonal collars and sweaters. One collar is black, orange, and yellow Halloween-themed. I’m saving that one for October!

Unfortunately, I had another back injury this week, but luckily, it has mostly improved. I’ve been trying to heal as best as possible; however, an area of personal growth for me is understanding my limitations. I tend to overestimate my recovery and take on physical tasks when I’m not ready to (e.g., heavy lifting). I need to be a bit more patient with myself. One day at a time!

Reading Update

Check out our August Wrap-Up for an update on how the month went for Olivia and I! We read 12 books in total. Here is our mini reading vlog for Lore by Alexandra Bracken.


Currently, we are reading:

Our next reads:

Additionally, we went to the library and signed out many books. As promised, here is part 1 of our library haul:

Let me know if you’ve read any of the books from our haul!

With another season ahead of us, we are running the Hello Autumn / Spring Readathon from September 17th-18th! I host the readathon along with several of my friends. To learn more about the readathon and our cohosts, here is our bookstagram post. We’d love it if you could participate with us!

This Week on the Blog

Next Week on the Blog

  • TTT
  • Book reviews
  • Friday Reads
  • Reading Sprint Invite
  • Sunday Post

QOTD: What book are you
reading next? Let us know!

Where to find us: Blog | Bookstagram | Twitter | Booktube | BookTok | Storygraph | Pinterest

August Wrap up

Hi everyone! Olivia and I are excited to share our August reading wrap-up with you. We’ve read 12 books and enjoyed most of what we read.

This month, we participated in the #ARCathon and did our best to manage our NetGalley reviews. Currently, we are sitting at an 85% feedback ratio and are happy with our progress.

So, let’s dive into this wrap-up!

Reading Wrap-Up and Stats

@sarasreadingnook

What was your favourite read of August? See any books on our list you’d like to check out? Let us know! Note all @NetGalley books were provided for an honest review. Thank you to the publishers and to NetGalley. #ReadingWrapUp #ReadingStats #AugustBooks #BookTok

♬ Oke work that imaged the Ghibli-like forest – CRAFT SOUND STUDIO

Reading Statistics

In terms of overall mood, we mostly read mysterious and emotional books with dashes of adventure, reflection, and lightheartedness. Our books were all medium pace, which is quite a shock. Usually, there is a range, so it’s curious how this happened.

Correction – 11/12 books were fiction. And most of my books were in the > 300-page range. Again, not typical, but I have been trying to read more of a mixture between children’s and YA/adult fiction on NetGalley, which may have resulted in this trend.

Another active month! With the TBR game, Readathon, and our Top Shelf Society buddy read, August was quite a productive time! Also, my back injury has made it challenging to be active, so reading has been welcome this month. Olivia has very much enjoyed cuddling and reading together.

Reading Wrap-Up and Mini Reviews

Book Cover images link to Goodreads. Highlighted Book Titles link to book reviews. Content Warnings link to The Storygraph, if available. Books with an “NG” were from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review – all opinions are my own.

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
Published: July 19th, 2022.
(5 stars) This book was my favourite book of the month! Silvia Moreno-Garcia has an impressive ability to provide atmospheric, entertaining reads that hook me in from the first chapter. She creates captivating stories while weaving social and political commentaries into her novels. Spectacular. Historical fiction, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror.
Content Warnings.


Baker and Taylor and the Mystery of the Library Cats by Candy Rodo.
Release Date: September 5th, 2022.
(5 stars) This picture book features two cats, Baker and Taylor, as they try to discover the mystery of the famous library cats. Magnificent read and so much fun! Children’s, Picture Books, Animals. (NG)


Anne of Green Gables by Manga Classics.
Published: November 10th, 2020.
(4.75 stars)This manga is the most entertaining, fun, and creative adaptation I’ve read of AOGG. It stayed true to the original book highlighting pertinent events. It was excellent to read. Manga, Classics, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction. (NG).


A Treacherous Tale by Elizabeth Penney.
Published: August 23rd, 2022.
(4.25 stars). This sequel is a terrific, cozy mystery and is book #2 of The Cambridge Bookshop Series. Honestly, I enjoyed book two even more than book one. There are fairy tale vibes and a page-turning mystery present. Oh, and there are cats! Cozy Mystery, Fiction. (NG).
(Suggested CWs: death, murder, missing/?captured persons.)


The Ghosts of Rose Hill by R.M. Romero.
Published: May 10th, 2022.
(4 stars). This book is a haunting and enchanting story about a biracial Jewish girl sent away to stay with her aunt in Prague. I read/listened to this book and enjoyed it. I highly recommend this book, especially if you love poetic writing. Fantasy, YA, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction, Poetry. (NG)
Content Warnings.


The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson.
Published: February 2nd, 2022.
(3.75 stars). This is a contemporary fiction novel about Ruth, an Ivy-League Black engineer who is eager to start a family with her husband; however, she had to give up her baby years ago. And now, to move forward, she needs to make peace with her past. Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I think that Nancy Johnson did such an impressive job of setting the timeline and in crafting Ruth’s story. There are two points of view and Ruth’s POV was my favourite. Recommended if you’ve enjoyed books such as Little Fires Everywhere. Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery.
Content Warnings.


Underneath the Earth’s Crust. Trip to the Core of our Planet by Mack Van Gageldonk.
Release Date: November 29th, 2022.
(4 stars). Informative nonfiction children’s book that covers material about the earth’s crust. There is a lot of information packed in here! The earth’s layers, underground animals and plants, gemstones, thermal springs, etc.! And there are lots of drawings and images to keep kids involved. I enjoyed reading and learning from this one! Children’s, Nonfiction, Science. (NG)

Lucky Cat by Melody Cheng; Helen Wu; Janet Wang.
Release Date: September 20th, 2022.
(3.25 stars) This picture book features a good story about the struggle of immigrant families trying to run a business in a new country. The illustrations are so beautiful in this one and my favourite aspect. I wanted a bit more from this story, and some themes could have been explored differently; however, it was a good read overall. Children’s, Animals. (NG)

The Gravity of Existence by Christina Sng.
Release Date: December 5th, 2022.
(3 stars). This poetry book has many poems about sirens, ghosts, fairy tales, myths, and other topics. Not every poem was a hit for me, and many were short. My favourites were poems about myths and fairy tales. Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Poetry. (NG)
Content Warnings.

The Nine Origins by Kes Trester.
Release Date: October 11th, 2022.
(2.25 stars). A YA fantasy book. Set in modern times, within this novel are nine gifts that a select few individuals possess. Our main character is about to embark on a journey to discover what her gift means for her. It sounded like a good synopsis; however, the characters were quite stereotypical, the story did not feel fleshed out, and I think that it could have benefitted from having different perspectives provide feedback on this book. Some language was off-putting as well. I did like several components of the overall story and learning about the nine gifts. Fantasy, YA.

The Unbalanced Equation by H.L. MacFarlane.
Release Date: September 15th, 2022.
(2 stars). Initially, I was looking forward to this book and thought it would be fun and cute. There are some tropes here I think readers may enjoy, like dual perspectives, forced proximity, and others. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me due to the presence of some very off-putting behaviours, language, and scenarios that occurred. Romance, Contemporary.
Content Warnings.

A Nico Colored Canvas by Nao Shikita.
Published: June 21st, 2022.
(2 stars). This manga is about a “free-spirited” art university student as she is learning how to perfect her craft. I was looking forward to it, but it wasn’t for me. The story felt rushed. Additionally, I encountered some very off-putting scenarios and rude language, so it just missed the mark for me. I think the overall art style was at an appropriate level as it reminded me a bit of Lovely Complex. Manga, University. (NG)

So, that is my Wrap-Up! Overall, we enjoyed many of our books, and while not every book was a hit, I hope this wrap-up provides some beneficial information for you and encourages you to check out some excellent books!

QOTD: What was your favourite read this August?
Let us know!

REVIEW | Lore

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.


Reading Vlog / Review

Reading Vlog/Review link

Review

Lore has been on my radar for quite a long time. The cover is so simple, elegant and stunning that it was impossible to avoid purchasing it. That said, the synopsis was a bit hazy. For some reason, I couldn’t wrap my brain around the whole concept. I would pick it up and set it back down again. Finally, I put it as a July TBR candidate, the TBR wheel chose it for me, and I suppose you could say that reading the novel came down to fate.

At the start of Lore, I found it challenging to understand what was happening. I felt immediately thrown into the book, the action began, and I tried to stay afloat while processing it. Essentially, Lore is the main character and reluctantly takes part in the “Agon,” a hunt in which ancient Greek gods and goddesses must roam the earth as mortals as punishment for a previous rebellion. Lore was raised as a hunter, belonging to Perseus’ bloodline (Perseus, the slayer of Medusa). Athena, the goddess of war, is the one pulling her into the hunt. She has some crucial intel and makes an offer to Lore.

The setting takes place in modern times and makes for a curious read. It was a point that I was highly skeptical of enjoying, but for some reason, it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. In reflection, I wonder if I might have enjoyed it more if set in centuries earlier, but I’ll never know.

There were elements I enjoyed. Greek mythology is such a fascinating field. I’m always eager to learn more about this topic. A net positive is that I learned more about the myths and tales of Medusa, Perseus, and Athena. For example, I didn’t know why Medusa became a gorgon.

In Lore, there just wasn’t enough of what I wanted and too much of what I didn’t. In other words, I wanted so much more Greek mythology and world-building and fewer action-packed scenes. I craved background information on the various bloodlines and a greater understanding of the hunt, its origin, and what happened during earlier rounds. Therefore, this resulted in a very rushed feeling with an overall lack of depth. I did enjoy the story, but it felt like it was published a decade or more ago – I was surprised to learn that it was published in 2021. The characters needed more depth to them and fell flat. But overall, I enjoyed the story and conclusion but had several issues with it along the way.

I recommend this to those interested in a fast-paced, action-packed YA Fantasy with Greek mythology elements intertwined.

Content Warnings

Feelings

  • Fast-paced
  • Adventurous

Themes

  • War
  • Power
  • Corruption
  • Family
  • Friendship
  • Mythology

Rating

QOTD:

Where to find us: Blog | Bookstagram | Twitter | Booktube | BookTok | Storygraph