Book Review: The Oracle Code

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp (This Is Where It Ends) and artist Manuel Preitano unveil a graphic novel that explores the dark corridors of Barbara Gordon’s first mystery: herself.

After a gunshot leaves her paralyzed, Barbara Gordon enters the Arkham Center for Independence, where Gotham’s teens undergo physical and mental rehabilitation. Now using a wheelchair, Barbara must adapt to a new normal, but she cannot shake the feeling that something is dangerously amiss. Within these walls, strange sounds escape at night; patients go missing; and Barbara begins to put together pieces of what she believes to be a larger puzzle.

But is this suspicion simply a result of her trauma? Fellow patients try to connect with Barbara, but she pushes them away, and she’d rather spend time with ghost stories than participate in her daily exercises. Even Barbara’s own judgment is in question.

In The Oracle Code, universal truths cannot be escaped, and Barbara Gordon must battle the phantoms of her past before they swarm her future.

Expected publication: March 10th 2020 by DC Comics

What did I think?

I had to read this on my phone as I didn’t have a hard copy, and it wasn’t available in kindle format. The fact that I powered through- pinching and zooming should prove my zealous love/ determination to read this new graphic novel!
I loved this backstory of Barbara Gordon of the Batman Universe. She suffers significantly after a gunshot wound, with both physical and mental injuries, and I loved that lesson that disabilities are not something that needs to be healed or fixed. It is such a fantastic and robust message to have in YA books, graphic novels, and the DC universe. The reader gets the whole story of how she became the oracle. At first, she pushes everyone away, and her story into her full potential as the oracle was great to see. I also loved the art style in this all-new graphic novel. I’m a late adopter of graphic novels, and now I can’t get enough of them.
More importantly, teens today have so many great choices in fiction. This could have been awesome as a prequel showing how Barbara Gordon became the oracle, and that would have been great. Instead, it was that along with the message that disabilities are not something that needs to be fixed.
I’m looking forward to more art and story from the dynamic duo of Nijkamp and Preitano.

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Book Review:A Forgotten Murder (Medlar Mystery #3)

An English manor home, an unsolved mystery, too many suspects to count… It’s the perfect holiday for romance novelist Sara Medlar.

After solving two murder cases in their hometown of Lachlan, Florida, Sara Medlar, her niece Kate and their friend Jack need a change of scenery. Sara arranges for them to visit an old friend of hers in England. Upon arrival at Oxley Manor, a centuries-old estate that has been converted to a luxury hotel, Kate and Jack quickly realize that Sara is up to something. They learn that Sara has also invited a number of others to join them at Oxley.

When everyone assembles, Sara lets them know why they are there. Decades earlier, two people ran off together from Oxley and haven’t been heard from since—and Sara wants to solve the case. As the people who were there the night the two went missing, the guests find themselves cast in a live mystery-theater event.

In reenacting the events of that night, it becomes clear that everyone has something to hide and no one is safe, especially when the discovery of a body makes it clear that at least one of the people who disappeared was murdered.

Sara, Jack and Kate are once again at the heart of a mysterious case that only they are able to solve. But someone is willing to continue to kill to keep the truth about Oxley Manor buried, and none of the guests are safe.

Expected publication: March 10th 2020 by MIRA

What did I think?

Cozy mystery readers assemble! Everyone has something to hide in this story. The setting is ideal: a large English manor that’s been converted into a hotel? Yes, please. I didn’t even see the ending coming and I’m usually pretty good at that sort of thing.

Book Review: The Henna Artist

Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

Published March 3rd 2020 by MIRA

What did I think?

1950’s India is the setting and from word one, I felt transported to that time. Everything from the scenery, to the cultural norms of that time and place, surrounds the reader. It’s rare that a historical fiction novel captures all of that so effortlessly. I read it in just two long binge sessions- highly recommend.

Book Review: Blue Skies

For fans of Louisiana’s Way Home, this heartwarming novel tells the story of ten-year-old Glory Bea as she prepares for a miracle of her very own—her father’s return home.

Glory Bea Bennett knows that miracles happen in Gladiola, Texas, population 3,421. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them.

Now, Glory Bea needs a miracle of her own.

The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned home from the front in France. Glory Bea understands what Mama and Grams and Grandpa say—that Daddy died a hero on Omaha Beach—yet deep down in her heart, she believes Daddy is still out there.

When the Gladiola Gazette reports that one of the boxcars from the Merci Train (the “thank you” train)—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, she just knows daddy will be its surprise cargo.

But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home. 

Expected publication: March 1st 2020 by Simon & Schuster

What did I think?

This Middle-Grade WW2 novel is about all about the grief of the people left on the home front. Glory Bea Bennett is looking for a miracle. She believes her father could still come home three years after D Day and the battle on Omaha Beach. There is also a funny side plot containing the adventures of her Gram, the matchmaker which tempers the sadness that surrounds having to adjust your dreams to reality.

It’s a solid choice for Middle Grade World War 2 reading lists.

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Book Review: The Inside Battle

Thirteen-year-old Rebel Mercer lives in west Texas with his dad, Nathan, and his aunt Birdie. His dad is finally home after serving in the military, and Rebel longs for his approval. But something isn’t right. His dad has PTSD, and lately he has been spending his time communicating with a racist, anti-government militia group called the Flag Bearers. Rebel doesn’t agree with his dad’s newfound ideas, but he turns a blind eye to them. So when his best friend Ajeet beats Rebel at a robotics tournament by using one of Rebel’s pieces, Rebel begins to wonder if there’s some truth to what his dad has been saying, and he lashes out at Ajeet.

Expelled from school, Rebel’s dad takes him to the mountains of Oklahoma, where they meet up with the Flag Bearers. Soon his dad is engulfed in the group and its activities, and they’re becoming more and more dangerous. When Rebel gets wind of a planned attack on an African American church, he knows that this group has gone too far and innocent people could get hurt. Can Rebel find his voice and stop the Flag Bearers from carrying out their plans before it’s too late?

The Inside Battle is a gripping story of family, bravery, and speaking up for what’s right from author Melanie Sumrow.

Expected publication: March 3rd 2020 by Yellow Jacket

What did I think?

I enjoyed The Prophet Calls so much that when I saw that Melanie had another Middle Grade novel I jumped at the chance to get a early review up here. The Inside Battle did not disappoint. Melanie has a way of helping the reader to feel what it must be like to live inside a counter-cultural family.

Even as an adult reader I was enthralled with the subject matter. She captured exactly how people can be led into a group such as the Flag Bearers. This world will (hopefully) be foreign to young readers and the story takes a scenario that they can relate to and shows all sides of it.

This is the kind of story that should be taught in every public school and homeschool. We can’t come together unless we understand each other. I’m adding it to our 9th grade booklist.

I’d hand this to Middle School readers right on through adults.

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Book Review- Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown

An extraordinary memoir of drama, tragedy, and royal secrets by Anne Glenconner–a close member of the royal circle and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret. As seen on Netflix’s The Crown. Anne Glenconner has been at the center of the royal circle from childhood, when she met and befriended the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, the Princess Margaret. Though the firstborn child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, who controlled one of the largest estates in England, as a daughter she was deemed “the greatest disappointment” and unable to inherit. Since then she has needed all her resilience to survive the vipers of court life with her sense of humor intact.A unique witness to landmark moments in royal history, Maid of Honor at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, and a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret until her death in 2002, Anne’s life has encompassed extraordinary drama and tragedy. In Lady in Waiting, she will share many intimate royal stories from her time as Princess Margaret’s closest confidante as well as her own battle for survival: her broken-off first engagement on the basis of her “mad blood”; her 54-year marriage to the volatile, unfaithful Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, who left his fortune to a former servant; the death in adulthood of two of her sons; a third son she nursed back from a six-month coma following a horrific motorcycle accident. Through it all, Anne has carried on, traveling the world with the royal family, including visiting the White House, and developing the Caribbean island of Mustique as a safe harbor for the rich and famous-hosting Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Raquel Welch, and many other politicians, aristocrats, and celebrities.

Expected publication: March 24th 2020 by Hachette Books

What did I think?

This clip describes what this book is in a nutshell:

NSFW

Fans of Downton Abbey will not be shocked to learn that life within the Royal Family is not often rated G. I laughed a lot reading this memoir. But, it wasn’t all fun and horses. Her marriage was strange and mostly confusing and nearly loveless. Her husband left her nothing and she suffered the tragedy of losing two sons. It just goes to show that money can’t solve everything.

I have read a lot of books written by royal staff and this one is different because she was born into their royal circle, had she been male she would have been truly equal. The writing style made me feel like she was telling her story over tea and scones. I loved it.

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Book Review- Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit

A young woman’s debut memoir of grit and tenacity, as she returns to the conservative hometown she always longed to escape to earn a living in the steel mill that casts a shadow over Cleveland.

Steel is the only thing that shines in the belly of the mill…

To ArcelorMittal Steel Eliese is known as #6691: Utility Worker, but this was never her dream. Fresh out of college, eager to leave behind her conservative hometown and come to terms with her Christian roots, Eliese found herself applying for a job at the local steel mill. The mill is everything she was trying to escape, but it’s also her only shot at financial security in an economically devastated and forgotten part of America.

In Rust, Eliese brings the reader inside the belly of the mill and the middle American upbringing that brought her there in the first place. She takes a long and intimate look at her Rust Belt childhood and struggles to reconcile her desire to leave without turning her back on the people she’s come to love. The people she sees as the unsung backbone of our nation.

Faced with the financial promise of a steelworker’s paycheck, and the very real danger of working in an environment where a steel coil could crush you at any moment or a vat of molten iron could explode because of a single drop of water, Eliese finds unexpected warmth and camaraderie among the gruff men she labors beside each day.

Expected publication: March 3rd 2020 by Flatiron Books

What did I think?

I spent a couple days letting this book settle in prior to typing up my thoughts on it. There’s a lot to unpack here. It isn’t just a book about one thing. I mean, no one has a life with just one issue.

Eliese attended college and never expected to be working in the steel mill that dominated her hometown. So there’s a story there.

She also was raped at her extremely conservative Catholic University and they swept it under the rug. That’s a story too.

Finally, she discovers that she has Bi-Polar Disorder which is not only a story, it colors her entire life: school, work, and relationships. These three threads get woven together into one engrossing, relatable memoir.

If you liked the book Educated, and or Hillbilly Elegy, this is a book you won’t want to miss.

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