New Books

This is my monthly roundup of books that were added to my shelves in the last month. I also share an update with you on other things going on in my life.

Family and Life Updates

Reagan and I finally started back to school!

We finally started back to school on September 8, two weeks after we were supposed to start. Even though many states start school after labor day, here in Iowa we usually start in August. But, due to the Derecho that went through our area, every school building in our district sustained damage. Repairs are still ongoing, but I’m so thankful we can be back in the building…as crazy as things are due to COVID. Reagan is a sophomore and I’m subbing in the English department this fall.

Homecoming was last week and even though we couldn’t do all the things we normally do to celebrate, we still showed our school spirit.

School is keeping me crazy busy. I’m overwhelmed, but keeping my head up as all of us try to weave through the new normal of in-person vs online learners, new programs for grading, and teaching through a face covering while remaining socially distant. It’s truly exhausting. If you have children in school, send a note thanking your child’s teachers as this is a year like non-other and we are all trying to do the best we can. Grace, flexibility, and a little laughter go a long way!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, HERE to see snippets of what I’m reading or what’s going on in my daily life.

If you have missed any of my recent book reviews, you can see all of them by clicking, HERE.  Or you can stay up to date with my monthly Quick Lit Roundup.

If you choose to make a purchase through any of the links I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.


By: Octavia Butler

Published: January 1, 2003

Publisher: Beacon Press

Fiction/Science Fiction

Format: Papaerback, purchased

This is our book club choice this month. I don’t typically read science fiction but I’m hoping to love this historical fiction mixed with science fiction. I’ve heard many people rave about it.

The first science fiction written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity. Having just celebrated her 26th birthday in 1976 California, Dana, an African-American woman, is suddenly and inexplicably wrenched through time into antebellum Maryland. After saving a drowning white boy there, she finds herself staring into the barrel of a shotgun and is transported back to the present just in time to save her life. During numerous such time-defying episodes with the same young man, she realizes the challenge she’s been given.


By: Miriam Toews

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing


Format: Hardcover

I started reading this on my Kindle through the library’s Libby system, but my hold ran out. I had a free book reward at Thrift Books so I chose this one so I could finish it and then donate the book to our library. It’s been said to be reminiscent of THE HANDMAID’S TALE, which I haven’t read.

One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hayloft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.

While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women—all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community, and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in—have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape?

Based on real events and told through the “minutes” of the women’s all-female symposium, Toews’s masterful novel uses wry, politically engaged humor to relate this tale of women claiming their own power to decide.


By: Fredrik Backman

Published: September 8, 2020

Publisher: Atria Books


Format: Hardcover

I chose this as my Book of the Month book. I’ve been “anxious” for a new Backman book and can’t wait to pick this one up.

This is a poignant comedy about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers slowly begin opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.

As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.


By: Ellen Feldman

Published: August 4, 2020

Publisher: Griffin

Historical Fiction

Format: Paperback

This was a win from Bookclub Cookbook.

Living through WWII working in a Paris bookstore with her young daughter, Vivi, and fighting for her life, Charlotte is no victim, she is a survivor. But can she survive the next chapter of her life?

Alternating between wartime Paris and 1950s New York publishing, Paris Never Leaves You is an extraordinary story of resilience, love, and impossible choices, exploring how survival never comes without a cost.


By: Jaap Robben

Translated by: David Doherty

Published: February 9. 2021

Publisher: World Editions


Format: Paperback

I like that this is a book in translation. The synopsis tugged at my heart.

Thirteen-year-old Brian lives in a trailer on a forgotten patch of land with his divorced and uncaring father. His older brother Lucien, physically and mentally disabled, has been institutionalized for years. While Lucien’s home is undergoing renovations, he is sent to live with his father and younger brother for the summer. Their detached father leaves Brian to care for Lucien’s special needs. But how do you look after someone when you don’t know what they need? How do you make the right choices when you still have so much to discover? Summer Brother is an honest, tender account of brotherly love, which will resonate with readers of “Rain Man.”


Dreaming Out Loud

By: Elaine Del Valle

Published: January 1, 2020

Publisher: Del Valle Productions, Inc


Format: Paperback

This synopsis grabbed my attention. It’s a short book at only 124 pages.

In the face of her father’s addiction, an altruistic young Latina struggles to reclaim her self worth amidst her deteriorating Brooklyn projects. Brownsville Bred: Dreaming Out Loud (adapted from her autobiographical stage play) is a young adult novel told in a series of vignettes—some funny, some heartbreaking, that together tell Elaine Del Valle’s journey growing up in the toughest project in Brownsville, the toughest neighborhood in New York. But her story refuses to be ghettoized. It bursts with the details of life and touches everyone. Prepare to be handheld through a journey that will make you feel more than inspired…It will make you feel CAPABLE! 


By: Sara Richardson

Published: September 22, 2020

Publisher: Forever


Format: Paperback

This book was chosen for our book club through #GalleyMatch. We will be reading this during the month of December.

Readers of USA Today and New York Times bestselling authors Sarah Morgan and RaeAnne Thayne will fall in love with Sara Richardson’s heartwarming holiday story about three sisters and their last Christmas together before their lives change — forever.


A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless and Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer

By: Melanie Young

Published: August 11, 2020

Publisher: Plain Sight


Format: Paperback

I was thrilled to hear about this book that helps women facing breast cancer. I’ve already skimmed some chapters and encourage anyone that knows someone fighting breast cancer to get them this book!

Charge head-on into the battle with breast cancer, armed with these outstanding survivors’ tips on how to stay sane, focused, and in charge. Written by a breast cancer survivor with expert insights, handy checklists, and helpful questions to ask your doctors, all geared toward streamlining your new life. This detailed, upbeat book helps you make informed decisions, eat, and exercise to stay strong, look and feel your best, eliminate stress and boost your spirits with positive thinking and a dose of humor. Don’t let your cancer control you; empower yourself and ease the transition with this all-inclusive guide.


An Animal Guessing Game

By: Gabrielle Balkan

Illustrated by: Sam Brewster

Published: September 16, 2020

Publisher: Phaidon


Format: Board Book

An introduction to the skeleton of six different animals. There are also fun lift-the-flap features that reveal what the animal looks like. A fun and informative board book for the youngest readers.

Set up as a guessing game with visual and narrative clues, Whose Bones? invites readers to examine six animal skeletons and guess to whom they belong. The answer is exposed in a vibrant, foldout reveal, accompanied by an explanation as to why each animal’s bones and bodies are so special.

A playful, informative introduction to bones for the youngest readers, by the author and illustrator of the global bestseller Book of Bones.


300 Spooky Facts to Scare You Silly

Published: July 21, 2020

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books


Format: Paperback

You know I’m a fan of these WEIRD BUT TRUE! books and how fun it is to have one all about Halloween.

The wildly popular Weird But True! line is all dressed up for Halloween with 300 all-new spooky facts about candy, costumes, pumpkin carving, and more! Calling all boys and ghouls: You’re in for a treat of freaky facts, stats, tidbits, and trivia about one of the most popular holidays! Did you know that there is an underwater pumpkin carving contest? Or that the U.S. Defense Department has a zombie apocalypse plan? Maybe you’d be amazed to discover that there are more Halloween emojis than there are U.S. states? It’s all weird–and it’s all true–in this latest and greatest edition, packed with hilarious and terrifying tidbits on Halloween!


By: Thierry Dedieu

Published: September 15, 2020

Publisher: Prestel Junior


Format: Board Book

Another lift-the-flap that first shows animals as normal, then as you lift and pull out the flap, their mouths are wide and scary, showing their teeth and sometimes what they are eating. Maybe not a bedtime story….LOL!

Snakes, bats, and spiders aren’t that frightening–but just wait till you see what they’re like on the inside! This delightfully ghoulish book is filled to the brim with creatures perfect for some Halloween fun. Whether it’s a big bad wolf or a skeletal ghost, each monster is hiding its really horrible side beneath a foldable flap. Lift the foldout on the crab to reveal sharp teeth and tentacle tongues or pull down the flap on the spider to discover its recently caught snacks. Thierry Dedieu’s colorful illustrations bring humor and lightheartedness to many spine-chilling creatures. A perfect blend of silly and scary, this big board book helps kids overcome their worries with laughter. Encourage your children to embrace their spooky side with this Halloween treat!


30 Inspiring Latinas/Latinos Who Have Shaped the United States

By: Sabrina Vourvoulias

Illustrated by: Gloria Felix

Published: September 1, 2020

Publisher: Running Press Kids


Format: Hardcover

I was super excited to receive this one in the mail. I know very little about inspiring Latino/Latinas that have contributed to our history. I’ve already posted this review, HERE. I was so anxious to share this with our Spanish teachers at school, I gave it to them before I took the book picture.

Nuestra América highlights the inspiring stories of thirty Latina/Latinos throughout history and their incredible contributions to the cultural, social, and political character of the United States.

The stories in this book cover each figure’s cultural background, childhood, and the challenges and opportunities they met in pursuit of their goals. A glossary of terms and discussion question-filled reading guide, created by the Smithsonian Latino Center, encourage further research and exploration. Twenty-three of the stories featured in this anthology will also be included in the future Molina Family Latino Gallery, the first national gallery dedicated to Latina/Latinos at the Smithsonian.

This book is a must-have for teachers looking to create a more inclusive curriculum, Latina/o/x youth who need to see themselves represented as an important part of the American story, and all parents who want their kids to have a better understanding of American history. Featuring beautiful portraits by Gloria Félix, this is a book that children (and adults) will page through and learn from again and again.


Published: May 5, 2020

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books


Format: Paperback

I loved these almanacs as a kid and I still love them as an adult!

Kids can have fun keeping up with our rapidly changing planet with the world’s best-selling almanac for kids, packed with incredible photos, tons of fun facts, crafts, activities, and fascinating features about animals, science, nature, technology, conservation, and more. There’s a whole chapter full of fun and games, including activities, jokes, and comics. Practical reference material, including fast facts and maps of every country, has been fully updated. Homework help on key topics is sprinkled throughout the book. 


Sixth Edition

Published: July 14, 2020

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books


Format: Paperback

I am weird in that I love looking at maps. That was always my favorite lesson in social studies. These two atlases from National Geographic are top-notch. This one is for older kids and the one below is for the younger elementary readers.

Current, authoritative, and produced by the expert cartographers at National Geographic, this best-selling United States atlas is newly updated with all the latest info–sure to be welcome in libraries, classrooms, and homes. Kids will have fun learning about each and every U.S. state in this amazing 6th edition atlas, packed with maps, stats, facts, and pictures. National Geographic’s world-renowned cartographers have paired up with education experts to create maps of all 50 states, U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C., that pinpoint the physical features, capitals, and other towns and cities. Discover the latest data along with colorful photography of each state and the people who live there. Key points reflect the latest information about land and water, people, and places. Lively essays cover each region of the country. Eight specially themed maps on nature, population, economy, energy, climate, and more delve deeper into key issues. State birds and state flags add to the high visual interest. This is a great reference for home and school with all the basics kids need to know to succeed in middle school, high school, and beyond.


Third Edition

Published: July 14, 2020

Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books


Format: Paperback

This fun, easy-to-use atlas takes kids on a journey around the U.S. to showcase what’s unique about each state and territory. Every profile starts with a colorful map and a lively essay and includes capital cities; population; important land and water features; state birds, flowers, and flags; and more. It’s all packaged in a bigger format, with a refreshed design, and bold, bright photos and illustrations.

National Geographic–known for its authoritative data, expert cartography, and beautiful photography–is the number one provider of atlases for people of all ages.


A Children’s Book Inspired by African Art

By: Adreinne Yabouza

Illustrated by: Elodie Nouhen

Published: September 8, 2020

Publisher: Prestel Junior


Format: Hardcover

The illustrations are so beautiful and I can’t wait to read this story!

In a small village in West Africa, a young girl explains the special way she was born. Her mother had difficulty getting pregnant, so she seeks help in the form of a doll that she treats like a human baby, carrying it on her back and covering it with kisses. Months go by and finally, the woman’s belly begins to grow! This beautiful story explores the Akua-Ba fertility figures of the Akan people of Ghana, while also depicting the deep love a mother has for her children. Elodie Nouhen’s subtle, gorgeous illustrations combine collage and prints that are reminiscent of traditional African art while remaining uniquely contemporary. Each spread communicates the look and feel of West Africa–the blazing yellow of the sun, the deep blue of the sky, the richly patterned textiles, and vibrant flora and fauna. Adrienne Yabouza’s text echoes the rhythms of life in her homeland–the Central African Republic. The book closes with a short introduction to African art and the importance of fertility statues in African cultures.


By: Dave Preston

Illustrated by: Heather Lynn Harris

Published: September 1, 2020

Publisher: City of Light Publishing


Format: Hardcover

Dave Preston is a singer/songwriter and is much-loved by children with his songs. This book is based on his song, “Howard”, which is included at the end of the book.

There’s a monster in Dave’s basement! His name is Howard and he’s very hungry. Howard invites Dave to dinner. But will Dave eat dinner or BE dinner? The thought makes Dave shake a little bit, shake a little bit, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake. Has Dave made a big mistake?


By: Tomi Ungerer

Published: September 16, 2020

Publisher: Phaidon Press


Format: Hardcover

A dystopian, apocalyptic story in picture book for mat. This is the author’s last picture book before he passed in 2019.

Tomi Ungerer is an icon in the realms of children’s literature and illustration. His work is acclaimed and awarded, and has often been praised by fellow children’s book masters such as Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, and Shel Silverstein.

In this final tale by the legendary author, Earth is devastated and empty. Everyone has escaped to the moon – except Vasco. Luckily, Vasco has his shadow to guide him, and he finds little green Poco – someone to care for and bring to safety. Nonstop dangers await Vasco and baby Poco at every corner, but Vasco’s shadow rescues and guides them through destroyed cities and apocalyptic landscapes to safety.

A picture book for ages 5-8.


Come in and Take a Closer Look

By: Britta Teckentrup

Published: September 15, 2020

Publisher: Prestel Junior


Format: Hardcover

I’ve loved Britta’s other books, but this one, even though the illustrations are similar, has a much different style. This one is for older kids and talks about things that happen at school…good and bad…and the teachers that make school great. I can’t wait to share this one with you in an upcoming review.

Few authors move as easily between the different worlds children inhabit as Britta Teckentrup. Whether she’s leading the littlest readers through the seasons, or exploring the science of bird feathers, Teckentrup’s warm and wonderfully detailed illustrations are a marvelous portal to feelings, facts, and fun. In her newest book, Teckentrup takes readers inside a busy school to follow different students through their day–in class, during free time, at lunch, and through swimming lessons. We come across a variety of faces and expressions that reflect the enormous range of emotions and experiences that each school day brings. There are arguments and hurt feelings, encouraging hugs, and deeply felt smiles. The gentle text explores issues that we’ve all encountered–bullying and loneliness as well as friendship and achievement. While the school in this book could exist anywhere, every reader will find a piece of her or himself in its beautifully and sensitively wrought story.


The Chicest Mouse in Paris

By: Megan Hess

Published: October 6, 2020

Publisher: Hardie Grant


Format: Hardcover

Let the holiday books begin! Claris is a series of books about a mouse that moved to Paris. I wasn’t familiar with this series even though this is her fourth adventure. She is spending the holidays in NYC!

A sweet little mouse takes on a cheeky cat burglar with holiday cheer! Can Claris and Monsieur save the day – the New York way? 

The fourth Claris book from acclaimed fashion illustrator Megan Hess. 
The best-selling Claris series follows an adorable mouse who moves to Paris to follow her fashion dreams, for fans of Eloise and Olivia. Destined to delight fashion-obsessed readers of all ages!


By: Kathleen Long Bostrom

Illustrated by: Guy Porfirio

Published: September 17, 2019

Publisher: Flyaway Books


Format: Hardcover

Prolific Christian author Kathleen Long Bostrom has a new picture book with a Christmas miracle.

Which one (or two or three) of these books will you be adding to your list?

To see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves, click HERE.

So many books, so little time!

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