The Project by Courtney Summers

  • Title: The Project
  • Author: Courtney Summers
  • Publisher: St. Martins Press
  • Estimated Publication Date: February 16, 2021
  • Reading Level: Young Adult
  • Contemporary young adult


This is going to be a short post because, once again, she did it again! Summers gives readers a novel cannot be put down. With brilliant subtly the narrative tackles faith verses religion, sisterhood, family, identity, and grief. Like Sadie, this is a feminist novel. Many of the women abused and manipulated in this book fall victim to the insidiousness of a systematic patriarchal society. I want to say so much more about this book, but I don’t want to give spoilers. This book is just too go for a blog! I want to DISCUSS it! I want to discuss the nature of religion, faith, and manipulation. I want to sit down with a list of every man in this book and compare them. I want sit down with a list of every girl in this book and compare them. I NEED to discuss this book. I have a patron that visits the library to check out Sadie repeatedly. Guessing, she will soon have two books to read over and over. Wow, Courtney Summers. Just WOWO.

I urge you to read this book and comment on this blog. Let’s talk because it was so good!


I can tell this was crazy, well researched. I noticed a lot of similarities to the Peoples Temples and Jim Johns, which Summers confirms a loose basing. Check out the linked interviews below:

Get a first look at Courtney Summers’ cult thriller The Project“, EW.

“Q&A with Courtney Summers”, Publishers Weekly

“City of Villains” by Estelle Laure

  • Title: City of Villains, Book 1
  • Author: Estelle Laure
  • Publisher: Disney Publishing Worldwide
  • Estimated Publication Date: Jan. 26, 2021
  • Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling
  • Reading/Age Level; Young Adult

Remember all those Disney princess movies you loved as a kid? Well, here is a whole new way to look at them. City of Villains is the first in a new series that has readers looking at Disney villains in a whole new way. First, I want to say to all authors and publishers, when it comes to fairy-tale retellings I am so here for it! Keep them coming! I am loving it. As far as this novel goes, get ready for some gritty, dark crime-noire. An especially delightful part about this reading is picking out familiar different characters as high school students in a whole different world. I like that that novel is fantasy but still brings up some real-world issues like wealth inequality, gentrification, etc. Also, I have to say- great first sentence.

Who Should Read it?

I would recommend this book to fans of Veronica Mars, YA Fantasy, Comic-book lovers, fairy-tale lovers, not mention Disney lovers.

“A Shot at Normal” by Marisa Reichardt

  • Title: A Shot at Normal
  • Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
  • Estimated Publication Date: Feb. 16, 2020
  • Reading level: YA
  • Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction


Juniper Jade live does not necessarily look like every other teenager’s. For instance, her classroom is her kitchen table. Her classmates are her little brother and sister. Her teacher is her Dad. She can remember having had one friend outside her family, and with a recent move that number is down to zero. She dreams of attending the public school that she gazes at across the street from her house. Maybe making a new friend or meeting a cute boy. Her parents say no. She disagrees. Eventually their arguments begin to involved something much more serious.

Juniper’s parents have specific goals in how they want to raise their children, one of those being limiting exposure to “big Pharma”. That means that Juniper and her siblings have never been vaccinated. One day, she starts to feel sick, is running a fever, and her illness keeps getting worse and worse. Turns out that Juniper has the measles, and the ramifications of her contracting this illness have some devastating consequences.

My Opinions

This read had me torn. The concept is great, interesting, and something that will generate important conversation. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That is the question for many parents today. This novel suggests who choosing not to vaccinate may look like for the parent’s baby when they become a teenager. Juniper is at an age where she is trying to self identify and she doesn’t feel that her parent’s choices are measuring up. She is lacking independence, and now, she sees the problem as deadly.

My issue with the book is that it was a bit one-sided. To the point her parents are nearly made out to be villains, or kooks. I think the debate could have used a little more finessing in the narrative. Still, I would recommend the book. Especially, with the timeliness of this Covid world.

Curious about the Vaccination Debate?

Queen Elizabeth II by Brenda & Brian Williams

  • Title: DK Life Series: Queen Elizabeth II
  • Publisher: DK Penguin Random House
  • Estimated Publication Date: October 20, 2020
  • Grade Level: 2-5
  • Reading Level: 7-10 years
  • Lexile: Unknown

Note: I received an early release copy of this title from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Any images, quotes, information I share are from an unedited copy.


Let me tell you, I have read a lot of biographies, auto-biographies, and memoirs on royalty. My main focus has been Queen Victoria, her descendants, and historic & current royalty from all over the world. I have not limited my search of information on the topic having read books for kids, teens, and adults books on the subject. Add to the reading, binging every documentary on monarch history. I just find it fascinating. With that in mind, I went into this read expecting to just see how the book was designed for children and review a few facts. Imagine my surprise at actually learning A LOT about Queen Elizabeth that I had never even known! Yes, this book is written for youth, but it still exceptionally comprehensive.

The biography shares a huge period of time, as it covers the story of Queen Elizabeth’s life from birth to today. Considering that the Queen is currently 94 years old, readers are getting nearly a full century of history, The book begins with a letter to readers that shares some quick facts about Queen Elizabeth (she is the longest reigning monarch; she was never supposed to be queen; she grew up during World War II; she dedicated her life to service). I especially like that this letter also explains the role of Queen Elizabeth in a government where she does not actually have any power. That is a really confusing concept that most adults do not fully understanding. Especially those of us in the States. Meanwhile, this note is sure to catch reader’s interest and keep them reading.

The art here is gorgeous. It is filled with several photographs combined with adorable cartoon/comic like images in a soft, pastel pallet. Honestly, this book is just so visually appealing. Throughout the book terms and ideas are defined and detailed. For example, on page 11 “Caesarean section” is defined, and on page 13 the event of a General Strike is described. Further, small images of with quick facts abound throughout. There are even pages reminiscent of a comic splash page to highlight or accentuate quotes, etc. Readers will meet many historical figures along with Queen of Elizabeth while reading, as history-makers and leaders are often described and pictured. Other features include: Quiz with answers in the back, index, glossary (which is exhaustive and illustrated), a Who’s Who (which we need when it comes to royalty), beautifully illustrated timeline, and family tree- also illustrated.

To learn more about this title check out this link.

Sources: Table of Contents (p. 2-3), The Grand Wedding (p.54-55) , General Strike “Spalsh-like” page (p.13)


I would recommend this book to students working on research, it would be a remarkable source for reports! I also recommend this book to any young people interested in history, fairy tales and princesses. Finally, with the popularity of the Netflix series, The Crown, I believe the would be an awesome family read! Parents who enjoyed the Netflix series would love reading this with their children.

Further Resources

The Queen’s Own YouTube Channel
  • Find the Queen on Facebook here
  • Find the Queen on Twitter here
  • Find the Queen on Instagram here


DK Life Series: Queen Elizabeth II is on order at the Frankfort Community Library and will be available for check out soon! In the meantime check out these books about other important historical figures:

  • DK Life Series: Martin Luther King Jr– From Goodreads, “IN this biography, discover the amazing story of Martin Luther King Jr, whose powerful words and dreams for the future inspired the world.
  • DK Life Series: Alexander Hamilton– From Goodreads, “In this kids’ biography, discover the amazing life story of Alexander Hamilton, Found Father of the United States who work as an American statesman and strong personality made him an icon of history and popular culture.”

Let’s Make Ramen by Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan

A Comic Book Cookbook

  • Title: Let’s Make Ramen: A Comic Book Cookbook
  • Author: Hugh Amano
  • Illustrator: Sarah Becan
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press
  • Copyright Date: 2019
  • Age ranges: 12- up

Creating in the kitchen is a popular hobby for all ages and the opportunity to learn how to make unique and international dishes is even better! This hybrid, comic book cookbook is a delightful opportunity to learn about a different culture, the history of a Ramen- which is growing in popularity in the United States, and try some new recipes. The book begins with an introduction of the author, also a chef, Hugh Amano and the comic illustrator, Sarah Beacon.

Hugh Amano is an executive chef at Sterling Bay and was educated at the New England Culinary Institute (LinkedIn). He is also the author of Adventures of Fat Rice. According to Sarah Becan‘s website she is an “illustrator, designer and comic artist” and “she likes to draw food”. She was also involved in the Adventures of Fat Rice project. Other work from Beacon include I Think Your Saucemone, The Complete Ouija Interviews,and Shuteye: Six Tales of Dreams and Dreamers. I encourage you to check out each of these titles as they sound intriguing. Links to more information on each are embedded in the text.

There is just so much good to say about this unique book! It is a cookbook, it is a history, it is an introduction to a different culture, it is shares the perfectionism and artistry that is Ramen, and it is filled with over 40 different recipes! Let’s Make Ramen includes a brief introduction, history of the unique dishes and culture, an about the author, and a complete index of recipes. Each page is FILLED with gorgeous illustrations. Most important, this duo make the possibility of making Ramen seem doable, as each recipe is shared with step-by-step instructions and the explanative images.

Slideshow images include: “A Brief History of Ramen” (p. 2), an example of the gorgeous chapter intro splash pages (p.1), instructions on how to make seafood broth (p. 69), a Japanese Raman-YA (p. 15), the story of the Onsen Eggs (p. 106), introduction on how to enjoy Ramen (p. 7), like many other cookbooks this comic cookbook shares pages on necessary pantry ingredients for Ramen making (p.16),

Curious to learn about little more about America’s recent and growing interest in Ramen? Check this New Yorker article, “America’s Ramen Obsession, from Maruchan to Momofuku” (link in embedded in text). Or take a little virtual trip to Japan and learn about the a day in the life of a Ramen Chef.

Let’s Make Ramen is an excellent edition to a collection for so many reasons. It represents a unique example of a hybrid book that combines history, facts, comics, and recipes. The book instructs on how to prepare Ramen in simple, yet detailed, instructions making the process a possibility for teenage readers. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Japanese culture, travel, or those teens who love to scroll Pinterest looking for recipes to try. Just imagine how amazing your Instagram feed will look with a picture of a perfect bowl of Ramen that made by you!

Awards and nominations

  • Long listed for the Best Art of Eating Prize
  • Named One of the Best Cookbooks of the Year by the Chicago Tribune
  • One of YALSA’s Great Comic Books for Teens
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Food & Cookbooks

Sources: Amazon & Goodreads


The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian by Rachel Meltzer Warren MS. RDN. Curious about what it takes to become a vegetarian or a vegan? Warren, a “nutrition writer, educator, and counselor”, shares a healthy and safe path in taking on the new lifestyle. The book contains an introduction from Warren, who became a vegetarian at 12 years old, and everything from what to do while eating out, to recipes, to how to ensure you are receiving enough nutrients.

Hack Your Cupboard by Alyssa Wiegand and Carla Carreon shares elegant recipes that require simple pantry ingredients. This cookbook shares tips for family recipes, dorm room dishes, and cooking in your first apartment. This is a great title to check out of the library or purchase for use through young adult life stages.

All of the books area available at FCPL so stop by to check on out today!


Amano, H., Becan, S. (2019). Let’s make Ramen: A comic book cookbook. Ten Speed Press.

“Hugh Amano”. (LinkedIN). Retrieved from:

“Let’s make Ramen: A comic book cookbook”. Amazon.

“Let’s make Ramen: A comic book cookbook”. Goodreads.

Rosner, H. (2018). “Americans Ramen obsession, from Maruchan to Momofuko”. The New Yorker.

“Sarah Beacon” (2018). Retrieved from:

Warren Meltzer, R. (2014). The smart girl’s guid to going vegetarian. Sourcebooks Fire.

Wiegard, A., Carreon, C. (2019). Hack your cupboard. Zest Books.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, & the Fall of Imperial Russia

  • Title: The Family Romanov: Murder Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia
  • Author: Candace Fleming
  • Published: 2014 by Schartz and Wade Books
  • Interest Level: High School
  • Lexile Level: 940L
  • Reading Counts Points: 17

Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The Book Trailer


Quite possibly one of the most captivating of history’s mysteries, the story of the last reigning Romanovs is filled with drama, tragedy, and intrigue. In The Family Romanov readers are offered an introduction to Russian history and Romanov rule. This provides a strong context in understanding Tsar Nicholas II’s constant series of fatal choices as a ruler. Raised in a bubble of wealth and educated to believe in the divine right of rulers, Nicholas often misunderstood the plight and starvation of his people. Additionally, he believed his choices and circumstances were directly from God. The need to provide an heir also weighed on the Tsar and Tsarina. They had four daughters before finally being given the little Tsarevich Alexei who was afflicted with hemophilia. Fleming (2014) quotes the Tsar’s diary account, “A hemorrhage began this morning without the slightest cause…It lasted until evening . The child was remarkably quiet and even merry but it was a dreadful thing to to live through such anxiety” (p.54) . With the hopes of the monarchy set on this one, sick, little boy, this family lived in perpetual fear and worry.

In sharing the Romanov’s story, Fleming’s is a family tale. The Tsar and Tsarina were deeply in love and delighted in their children. Each member of this historic family is brought to life as the unique, mischievous, and loving human beings they each were. Of course, the strangeness of Rasputin, who was often behind the Tsar’s poor political decisions, makes the story even more interesting. Only Rasputin was able to stop Alexei’s bleeding, even today historians do not know how he did that.

Slideshow images from The Family Romanov : The Winter Palace, Rasputin with the Romanovs, Olga, Tatiana, and a friend in Crimea, “Some of Moscow’s poorest citizens outside a shared house”, Alexandra at Alexei’s bedside (photo insert between pages 132-133).

There are lots of books on Russian history and this family, but what makes The Family Romanov unique is that the wealthy ruler’s perspective is interspersed with that of the poor, common people trying to survive in the harsh Russian climate and failed economy. Readers are treated to the complicated emotions on each side. While Nicholas was naive to the Russian people’s dire needs, he did care for his people. Meanwhile, there are accounts of Russian citizen’s which illustrate the awe and reverence for the Royal family.

This title is an excellent addition to any collection, especially due to its timeliness. The distribution of wealth at the fall of the Russian, is quite similar to the current U.S economy. Below is an image from the book illustrating the wealth distribution in Russia at that the turn of the twentieth century . Next is a graph describing the wealth distrubution in the U.S. in 2017. Certainly, this book shares one of history’s most cautionary tales and will allow readers a chance to analyze our current climate with that of the past.

Fleming (photo insert between pages 132-133)
Leonhardt (2017)


This book is filled with primary sources, maps, and many pictures of both rich and poor which are sure to capture a reader’s attention. There is are comprehensive Bibliography and Notes, as well as a Family Tree tracing the linage of Nicholas and Alexandra. Reader’s wanting to know more will enjoy the “Romanov’s Online” section, which directs to further resources. The book is told in four parts: “Before the Storm”, “Dark Clouds Gathering”, “The Storm Breaks”, and “Final Days”. The Family Romanov is available at my library as a physical book, an ebook, and an e-audiobook. I especially enjoy the audiobook, which is preformed by many voices and truly brings the story to life.

More Resources

Author’s website- includes resources and teaching guides


Boston Globe Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
Los Angeles Times
 Book Prize for Young Adult Literature
NCTE Orbis Pictus Award
Robert F. Sibert Nonfiction Honor Book
YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction FinalistALSC Notable Children’s Books, Older Readers, 2015  
 Editor’s Choice 2014
Booklist Editors Top of the List for Youth Nonfiction 2014
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon 2014
Cybils Award in Nonfiction for Young Adults 2014
Horn Book Fanfare 2014
Huffington Post Great Kid Books for Gift-Giving 2014
Junior Library Guild selection
Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book 2014
Los Angeles Times Literary Book Prize nominee  
New York Public Library Best Books for Teens 2014
Publishers Weekly Best Young Adult Books 2014
SCBWI Gold Kite Award for Nonfiction  
School Library Journal Best Book 2014
Wall Street Journal 2014
Washington Post Best Books for Kids 2014 



If you like The Family Romanov you might also like:

Also from Fleming, The Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All is the stories of more royal tragedies. The wives of King Henry VIII are given a voice as their stories are explored from their own likely perspective.

To read about other people living through historically hard times check out, Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America in the 1930’s which shares personal stories of people living in the aftermath of the stock market crash.


Danielson, J. (2014). Sneaky peeks videos #21: Candace Fleming discusses The Family Romanov.

“The Family Romanov”. (2020).

Fleming, C. (2014). The family Romanov: Murder, rebellion, and the fall of Imperial Russia. Schwartz & Wade.

“The last days of the Romanovs”. (2018). National Geographic.

Leonhardt, D. (2017). Our broken economy, in one simple chart. The New York Times.

Reading counts quick find. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

“The Haunted” & “The Unleashed” By Dianelle Vega

Sometimes You Need a Read that is just Chills and Thrills

The first book in this series didn’t “wow” me, to say the least. I only gave it two stars on Goodreads. However, I did find it interesting enough that when I heard there was a sequel I ordered the book. Now, The Unleashed scared the life out of me! Just 😳! Just Wow! Dang!

In my insta post I mention it is is like reading a horror movie. You know in a horror movie, there are several scary “night” scenes, broken up with scenes where the sun rises and things are less heart stopping? Then the movie builds to the finally terrifying scene. Well, this book is minus the sunrises. It is just non-stop horrifying moments until the final OMG culmination. Finally, it has an Epilogue that has me thinking there SURE BETTER BE THIRD BOOK!

If you love a good scare, then I recommend this book. Now, the question is should you skip the first one? No, I would read the first book, too. Even though it isn’t as scary, it does set up The Unleashed nicely. Also, to really understand Hendricks’s devotion to Eddie you will need the context of the first book. Think of it as the pilot of a series. Usually not the best episode but the story needs set up.

I recommend these books to fans of shows like Supernatural and Buffy the Vampier Slayer. What is your favorite scary read?



Sharing these because I found it fun to hear scary stories told by the author. I would love to hear her read The Unleashed.

“This is My America” by Kim Johnson

My Book Talk

I could not stop thinking about this book, it just consumed me. It made think about deep rooted issues in our country. It was suspenseful and just a great mystery. It caused me to reflect. I shared a blog post about this book on my library’s website. But on my own personal site, I wanted to share more from Kim Johnson and how she came to write this book. Click here to read my Bookgram review.

Meet Kim Johnson, Author of This is My America

Kim Johnson on NPR

Official Book Trailer



A memoir of a young man who grew up too fast on the streets, without a father, and attempting to mediate his mother’s mental illness. Salimu assumed the role of father-figure for his younger brother and with wisdom beyond his years made decisions that helped him avoid the traps of most homeless youth surrounded by gang violence. The story shines a light on inequality in this country and the violence of Salimu’s experiences will shock the reader.

I recommend experiencing this as an audiobook, the author narrates with beautiful rhythm, tempo, and organic emotions.

I was given an early release copy of this audiobook on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Publication for this audiobook is set for August 31, 2020. If you like Jason Reynolds, I think you will like this book.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli

This is my first read from this series and I loved it. The vibrant artwork throughout the book is gorgeous. Each story is quick shot, inspirational history on accomplished immigrant women. I especially liked that the occupations of these women varied, which would encourage young readers to follow their own truths.

Other books in this series include: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2, and Rebel Girls Lead: 20 Tales of Extraordinary Women.