Are you really a unicorn? (A book review)

I’ve been following author Jess Hernandez on Twitter for a while and was so excited to see her debut picture book, First Day of Unicorn School (available for pre-order now!), is out on NetGalley. Sooo I logged in for the first time in two years (yikes), requested the book, and was thrilled to be approved within the hour. I sat down to read it with my four-year-old this afternoon and I was NOT disappointed.

First of all, look at that gorgeous cover! The whole book is full of bright, fun illustrations just like the cover art. My daughter loved them, and we spent a while just looking at the pictures and talking about the animals.

So, does the content live up to the expectation set by the cover? Yes! Milly is a donkey with a party hat (NOT a Unicorn), but gets accepted to Unicorn School anyway. She’s so nervous on her first day that her classmates are going to discover she’s not actually a unicorn and she won’t fit in, but it turns out her classmates all have a secret of their own . . . My four-year-old caught on quickly to what was happening (“Mom, she’s not a unicorn!”), and had a great time pointing out all the different “unicorn horns” throughout the book.

Ultimately, it’s a feel-good picture book showing kids that everyone has something they’re worried about, something they fear will keep them from fitting in — which actually means we’re all more similar than we thought, and really have nothing to fear. It’s about accepting ourselves and each other, and gets that message across in a totally kid-friendly, non-preachy way. I think it’s fabulous!

The book is actually geared for kids in grades K-2, so I’m looking forward to reading it to my first grader, too, and seeing how well she picks up the message. I give this one five stars, and recommend it to everyone with little kids at home.

Thanks to the author and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy!

Mom’s Day Out at the Great Valley Bookfest – it was awesome!

Two weekends ago I had the awesome opportunity (thank you, my dear husband!) to go to a local book festival for a few hours BY MYSELF and it was amazing. I truly could have stayed there ALL DAY LONG. I met and chatted with some interesting local authors, bought some indie books (I’ve already finished two of them!), and picked up some used books from the Friends of the Library sale (I was there for the closing of the Bookfest and all the used books were free!). I also have some ideas for next year’s Bookfest: 1) bring business cards (duh!) – I missed out on some great opportunities to leave my info with authors; 2) sign up to offer a workshop on editing; 3) block off the whole day and go earlier so I can sit in on some of the speakers. So much potential!

I took some pictures, but then my phone broke and I got a new one soooo they’re not accessible at the moment. Instead, I will share some links! First, the Bookfest itself:

GVBF logo The mission of the Great Valley Bookfest is to create a family-friendly festival that celebrates literacy and promotes the written word in the heart of California’s Central Valley. It benefits the following local literacy organizations: Friends of the LibraryGreat Valley Writing CampsGive Every Child A Chance; and San Joaquin County Office of Education (SCHOOLS)

Next, some of the books I picked up and authors I met:

Britt Nunes – Etched  – I met Britt Nunes, her twin sister, and her adorable baby nephew at the Bookfest and bought her first book, Etched. While it wasn’t flawlessly executed–it read like a first book–it was interesting and engaging, and I enjoyed it very much. When I finished it, I bought myself the e-book versions of the sequel and the prequel, and I look forward to reading more from Britt Nunes in the future! Find her here: brittnunes.com

Britt Nunes  33844215. sy475

Susan Lowe – Josie – I met Susan Lowe and her husband, and just had to buy the book — which I read in one day! It is the story of Josie, Susan’s mother, and her experiences as an ethnic German in post-WWII Yugoslavia. It’s spectacularly well done and I’m thankful to have met Susan and had the opportunity to read her book. Find more info here.

Susan A.  Lowe Josie: A Story of Faith and Survival

Major Mitchell – The Dona (historical fiction)

The Doña

Kathy Goosev Howell – The Perfectly Purple Sneakers (picture book)

The Perfectly Purple Sneakers

Brian Weisfeld – The Startup Squad – Find Brian here: www.thestartupsquad.com

The Startup Squad

 

I met a lot of other authors whose books I did not buy that day, but I’ll certainly be looking out for – and maybe I’ll see them again at next year’s Bookfest! 🙂

2018 Reading Recap and Welcome, 2019!

2018 was… busy! Most importantly, my family gained a new member in my wonderful son, who is now three months old. His birth and the many, many hours spent nursing (and my stint on bedrest) enabled to me to read A TON, but not review a whole lot. Here are the stats:

Goodreads Challenge: Goodreads tells me in one place that I read 75 books, and in another that I read 79. I’m not going to go back and recount so… I read somewhere between 75 and 79 books. I had set my goal for the year at 20 so I far exceeded that, go me!

Reviews here on The Edifying Word: Out of those 75-79 books, it looks like I reviewed somewhere around 20 books, and some of them I had read in 2017… yikes, that’s a poor showing for a book blog! I’m going to try my best to get more reviews up this year – though I’ll have to start by backtracking to some of those 2018 books!

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So what’s in store for 2019? Well, I’ve already read two books! Granted, one was a kids chapter book and one was a short story – but that’s still two books. I’m thinking this year that I’m going to include kids chapter books and middle grade fiction in my Goodreads total because I read A TON OF THEM aloud with my kids. If I included every picture book I read, though, it would be an overwhelming total so I think I’ll hold off on those (unless they’re picture books I’ve received for review or that I just found to be amazing). Hmm…maybe I should rethink my Goodreads Challenge goal of 30 books. I’ll have to recalculate what I think is reasonable now that I’m including the reading I do with the kiddos…

I’m also thinking about some more thematic posts and some shorter reviews. Thematically, sometimes I read a bunch of books in one genre that would be better suited to discussing as whole on the blog and reviewed separately via short reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Shorter reviews because 1) I want the reviews to actually happen, and 2) I usually only read short reviews on those sites. Actually, I’m more likely to pick up a book based on a compelling tweet than a drawn out review, which has me rethinking my strategy here… So, hopefully 2019 will bring more frequent posts and a few positive changes on the blog side. The editing/betareading side is another issue altogether 🙂

This year’s books both earn five stars, and deserve posts of their own. For now, just take a look (pictures link to Goodreads)! I hope to be back soon with more to share. Happy New Year, everyone!

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