Don’t get me wrong! I love World War II Historical Fiction! It’s just, there is so much more to history than WWII. History starts one second ago, and goes all the way back. Everywhere. Have you ever wondered what life was like in Japan, in the 1600s? How about Russia, in the 1920s? With historical fiction you can go just about anywhere at any time.
I compiled this list with the help of some librarians and book bloggers on Twitter. All of these titles are rated at least four stars on Goodreads and most of them have hundreds-of-thousands of reviews. About half of these books were published within the last few years and the other half are considered to be classics. All of them are readily available for check-out or purchase.
These books make varying attempts to be historically accurate. The Giver of Stars is loosely based on true events and will make you feel like you are living in depression era Kentucky. The Underground Railroad features a LITERAL underground railroad. The author may have taken some artistic liberties with that, but the result is amazing! All of these books will transport you to another time and place with their own unique style.
No Spoiler Book Review
The Girl from Widow Hills is a “Baby Jessica” story. The details are a little different, there is an underground drainage system instead of a well and there is sleepwalking involved, but you get the gist.
Arden/Olivia is six years old when she sleepwalks into an open grate on a stormy night and is lost for days in the drainage system. She unwillingly becomes a media darling and symbol of hope for the nation when she is miraculously rescued. The Girl from Widow Hills begins twenty years later.
I was lucky enough to receive an advance reader’s copy of this book and I was excited to get approved. I love the concept, who doesn’t love a good rescue story? Plus, anything about sleepwalking is so interesting!
New Release Books
After wading through hundreds of upcoming titles, I have narrowed the list of May New Release Books to these seven exciting titles. I flipped through book review catalogs, book blogs and library chat forums to ensure that I found the most interesting and original new books. I try to include a variety of Fiction, Non-Fiction and even Young Adult books. I exclude sequels and anything that will not have broad appeal.
Please note, publication dates are shifting due to the Coronavirus epidemic. I verified the publication dates on multiple sources, however they may still change. Thank you for your understanding, if some of these become inaccurate.
Plus Block Scheduling Tips
Well, here we are! It’s April 2020 and most of the country has been working from home for a month. If you have small kids at home you are learning how difficult it is to juggle, work, zoom meetings, meals, showers, nap-time, homeschooling and every other work and household crisis. I really hope that you have an understanding boss and a helpful partner, because this is a lot.
I started working from home part-time when my oldest daughter was three. I wanted to be able to spend more time with my daughter while she was little. My significant other is a business owner with a demanding schedule, so running the household mostly falls to me. I was lucky enough to be able to step into a part-time, work from home schedule, which allowed me to focus on my family more. It was the right choice for me and my family.
A lot of people are discovering their library’s online collection for the first time and are still getting used to the process. Most libraries will have all of the newest and most popular books purchased, but there is going to be a wait list. So, while you are waiting for, Where the Crawdads Sing, and The Splendid and the Vile, consider reading something you may have missed a few years ago.
Follow this link if you have questions about accessing your library’s online collection, read the e-book and e-audiobook section.
The following books were published at least two years ago and are available for check-out in all of the library systems that I checked. I cannot promise what may be available to you, but you should have a pretty good chance at getting most of these books right away!
No Spoiler Book Review
This book feels impossible to review. I always feel like, the better the book, the harder it is to review, and this was a great book! I am going to attempt a review, but you should just skip this trashy blog post and read the book!
There are hundreds of books that revolve around doors to other worlds. Ten Thousand Doors of January is one of the best that I have read, it’s so creative and well written. Every door that is opened in this book leads someplace completely new, with unique lands, interesting people and terrifying, sometimes magical creatures. The writing is so immersive that you will feel like you can open a door to “The Written” and purchase a blessing. Or build a boat on a mountaintop and sail into an ocean. Ten Thousand Doors of January is a magical new take on an old concept.
The Coronavirus is creating a lot of stress and anxiety for kids and teens right now. As parents we like to think that our kids have nothing to worry about, but it’s simply not true.
No matter how much we try to shelter our kids from the hard news of the world, they still know. My oldest is only six and she is absolutely worried and being affected by what is happening.
A Twitter friend asked me to suggest some gentle reads for teens. After reaching out to other librarians and bloggers, I have narrowed the suggestions to the following funny, happy, or cozy books and series, to help young readers relax.
Follow this link for a list of Funny, Happy, Cozy Books for Adults.
As I am writing this my county is on lockdown. I know many people across the world are living under similar orders, whether they are official or not.
We are dealing with empty grocery stores. Worrying for the first time in our lives, if we will be able to get milk for our babies. We are not allowed to leave our homes, except for groceries, medicine and daily outside exercise. We must maintain a social distance and not spend time with anyone outside our household.
It is a real-life nightmare.
A Twitter friend asked me to find gentle reads for her kids and I thought I should do the same for adults. I am limiting my entertainment to light comedies as much as possible right now and I figure lots of other people are doing the same.
Here are some options from a variety of genres that will hopefully help you relax.
I have included a summary excerpt from Goodreads followed by my thoughts on the books.
No Spoiler Book Review
Let’s go back to Valentine’s Day for a minute.
After doing my best to just ignore Valentine’s Day this year, I reluctantly got into the spirit. I was not planning on doing any Valentine’s posts at all. Then I ended up doing a guest post for UpcycledAdulting.com, entitled Romance Books to Make You Believe in True Love. The post was meant to get other people excited to read romance, but ended up back firing! Honestly, how could anyone resist those charming book summaries? Especially Flatshare!
Please use this post and companion Pinterest Board as a way to find free and low cost learning and activity websites. I have included resources to help you access free ebooks and e-audiobooks, homeschooling resources, tutorials and classes for adults, exercise videos, and online tours of famous zoos, aquariums and museums. I have also included reliable drama free news sources to help you stay up to date in this unprecedented time.
If you are an educator and would like to add resources please click “Join” on the Pinterest Board and I will approve you to add new content. If you are a blogger and have ideas for indoor activities you would like to add please join the board as well. Let’s all turn this crisis into an opportunity to learn and grow!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
New Release Books
After wading through hundreds of upcoming titles, I have narrowed the list of April New Release Books to these eight exciting titles. I flipped through book review catalogs, book blogs and library chat forums to ensure that I found the most interesting and original new books. I try to include a variety of Fiction, Non-Fiction and even Young Adult books. This month’s selections lean toward Romance and Historical Fiction, but also includes a disturbing Horror story. I exclude sequels and anything that will not have broad appeal. Starred titles have been added to my personal to be read list.
You know how everyone gives new grads a copy of, Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss? It’s hopeful and sweet, and everyone cries (in a good way). After the Fall by Dan Santat is what you give to someone who just got laid-off for the first time, or is getting a divorce, or recovering from a serious illness. It’s understanding and accepting, and everyone cries (in a good way).
After the Fall, is a children’s picture book that takes maybe three minutes to read. It will probably take you more time to read this post, than to read the book. The pictures are charming and the story is exactly what you need if you are going through a rough patch. Let's be honest, we're all going through a rough patch.
No Spoiler Book RevieW
Do you have Perfection?
This is the question asked again and again in this speculative fiction. Do you have Perfection? A life changing app that seeks to control who you are from the outside-in. How many people do you know that seek magazine beauty and social admiration? It’s not zero. Don’t we all covet perfection at least sometimes?
Speculative fiction is one of my favorite genres. I love pondering big “what if” questions. Not only does Sudden Appearance of Hope tackle sinister technology, but it also poses a lot of important questions. The main character, Hope, is utterly and literally forgettable. She is the embodiment of “out of sight, out of mind”, as soon as you are not with her, you forget her. She can’t form relationships, and she certainly can’t get a job. How does someone with that condition survive? What is justifiable when you are forced to live outside of society? What would you do to overcome?
Volunteer Appreciation Week 2020 is April 19-25.
I have one job during Volunteer Appreciation Week. Make the volunteers feel appreciated. Obviously.
Over the years of managing volunteers I have experimented with my tiny volunteer appreciation budget to find the best low cost and free gifts.
Not only does the gift need to be inexpensive, but it also needs to appeal to all of my volunteers. I have an eighty year old man and a fifteen year old girl, what one thing can I get for both of them?
Best Books about Witches
What’s Up Witches!?!
I don’t know about you, but I cannot resist the lure of a good book about witches!
Anything from a historical fiction set in Salem to modern magical realism. The real life stories of witch hunts are fascinating and disturbing. I love that they teach us to be wary of group-think and religious fanaticism. Witch Fantasies push the boundaries of imagination and are full powerful characters. There are just limitless possibilities.
Here are a few of the best books about witches:
No Spoiler Book RevieW
Apparently, my book club and I need to up our game! We’ve been meeting for over six months and we haven’t slain one vampire. We’re a disappointment!
I requested this book, based on nothing more than the cover and the title. I knew that I just couldn’t go wrong. This book could have been tongue-in-cheek or seriously scary and I would have been happy.
As it turns out the “Guide” is traditional horror. There were parts that were disgustingly graphic and cringe worthy. I was constantly pulling up the blankets in a subconscious attempt to hide from this book. I kept telling myself I wasn’t scared and then I kept having nightmares, so one of us was wrong.
The “Book Club” is set in the ‘90s and features a small group of stay-at-home-moms. They are all looking for a break and a chance to connect to other women in their town. So when it comes to selecting novels they opt for paperback true-crimes with lots of pictures. They may not be traditional book club selections, but they keep the Book Club turning pages and talking about books!
When children start dying and disappearing, one of the book club members suspects her new neighbor. He certainly fits the bill of the murderers in the books they read. As the situation deteriorates, you start to question if the real villain is the vampire or the condescending and contemptuous husbands. They all dismiss and demean their wives, blaming book club for their “overactive imaginations”. Meanwhile, the Vampire gains trust by showering the families with opportunities, endearing himself to the husbands. This book is full of disturbing domestic and supernatural horror.
Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a good choice for most fans of vampire fiction. The only vamp fans that won’t like this are readers that stick to vampire romance. To be clear, there is nothing romantic about this book. The story is dark and disturbing and would be a great option for readers of horror and paranormal mystery. If you like Stephen King you will like Grady Hendrix.
If you need me, I’ll be reading a romance and trying to re-convince myself that vampires are sparkling gentlemanly creatures.
You may also like this list of Scientifically Proven Absolute Best Novels by Stephen King.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers of this book for allowing me advance access in exchange for this honest review.
No Spoiler Book Review
My feelings for Miracle Creek are complicated. This is an unquestionably good book. The story is complex and interesting. The characters have well developed psychology. It asks big and important questions. However, it may have been too real for me to enjoy. Not enough of an escape.
Miracle Creek is by debut author, Angie Kim. The book is loosely based on many of her personal experiences. Moving to the US as a young teen from Korea. Later, becoming a lawyer. Having special needs children that have benefited from non-traditional, borderline experimental treatments. Including the H-Bot treatment that is central to the story. Angie Kim’s passion and experience shows in the character relationships, treatment descriptions, and the courtroom drama.
I liked a lot about this book. I liked the way that she portrayed the same event from multiple points of view, without being repetitive. You really get to understand the complicated rationale for why characters did what they did. You see that sometimes terrible things happen because we excuse and accept small transgressions. I love how Kim made you question the line between good and bad. When does treatment become abuse? When does a consensual act become assault? When is “doing the right thing” too little, too late? It’s a thought-provoking book.
Fans of courtroom, medical and family drama will enjoy this book. Parents of special needs kids and adult-children of immigrants will feel seen. This might be a good choice for readers of contemporary, popular and general fiction. I would recommend reading a few pages to see if you think this might be a good fit for you.
You may also like this list of Best e-books Available for Check-Out Right Now!
Corrected Book Titles