Wednesday, October 4, 2023

An Open Book: September 2023

Happy Feast of St. Francis of Assisi! Not only is today one of the greatest feast days around, but it's also the first Wednesday of the month-so I'm linking up with An Open Book to discuss the books that took me through the past month. Shockingly, I did not finish any nonfiction books in September! (I slowly started working through one that I will hopefully finish this month) I read a lot of fun books (mostly children's books), so let's dive in!

The Royal Rabbits of London, by Santa Montefiore and Simon Sebag Montefiore

The young bunny, Shylo, unexpectedly overhears a plot against the Queen of England. He finds himself on an adventure, travelling to London where he will meet the secret society of Royal Rabbits. Here, Shylo and the Royal Rabbits will work together to fight the evil rats, so that they won't take a photograph of the Queen in her nightie. This was a fun, cute book, but I have to confess that I was underwhelmed. It had funny moments and sweet moments, but as a whole, it didn't satisfy me as much as other children's books in this genre. 

The Promise (volumes 1-3) by Gene Luen Yang (Author), Michael Dante DiMartino (Author), Bryan Konietzko (Author), Dave Marshall (Editor), Gurihiru (Illustrator)

We recently finished watching the television show Avatar: The Last Airbender as a family, and my kids were excited to pick up the graphic novels--and I was, too! This graphic novel follows Aang & Co. following the events of the show, and it specifically touches on the tension between the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom as the citizens learn how to live in this newly-unified world. There were some great plot points, and this book felt a lot like the show in all the right ways. My only complaint was that Aang and Katara were a bit too affectionate and mushy for my taste, especially considering how young Katara is. (thankfully, Sokka is always in the background muttering about "oogies," so it was nice to have solidarity haha!) I highly recommend this to anyone who has seen and enjoyed the television show!

The Search (volumes 1-3) by Gene Luen Yang (Author), Michael Dante DiMartino (Author), Bryan Konietzko (Author), Dave Marshall (Editor), Gurihiru (Illustrator)

Following the events of The Promise, Zuko decides to finally go in search of his mom....and he teams up with his insane sister, Azula, to do so! This story was a lot of fun and had many great moments. It was also nice to finally have closure and know what happened to Zuko's mom. There was also a really interesting theme about masks and deception in here. It was really good, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! (even when I was screaming at the book-a moment which highly entertained my children)

The Rift (volumes 1-3) by Gene Luen Yang (Author), Michael Dante DiMartino (Author), Bryan Konietzko (Author), Gurihiru (Illustrator)

In this book, Aang decides to bring his friends--and the air acolytes--on a field trip to celebrate an old Air Nomad holiday, Yangchen's Festival. In the midst of this, Aang discovers that land which the airbenders held sacred is now the spot of a refinery, where earth and fire nation people are working together. Angered by this production on sacred ground, Aang finds himself head-to-head with Toph, as their different philosophies and outlooks clash. This book was really interesting, and it was great to see a lot of Toph! My only complaint is that Uncle Iroh was not drawn accurately in his short cameo at the beginning of the book! How the illustrators could mess that up, I don't know. But he looked COMPLETELY different, to the extent that I didn't know a particular character was Iroh until another person referred to him by his name. Anyways, this was otherwise a great continuation of the Avatar story. 

Before We were Yours, by Lisa Wingate 

This historical fiction novel opens with twelve-year-old Rill, a girl who lives on the river in Tennessee with her parents and siblings in the 1930s. Until, that is, Rill and her siblings are captured by the Tennessee Children's Home Society, where they are abused, labeled as "orphans," and peddled off to wealthy families. Interspersed with this story is a plot in modern-day South Carolina, where a federal prosecutor decides to start peering into her family's past. This was an engaging and well-written book, and I really enjoyed it. It was sobering, too:  although the supporting characters are fictional, Georgia Tann and the Tennessee Children's Home Society did engage in trafficking throughout the twentieth century. This book made me want to learn more about this piece of recent history. 

The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Set in the post-Civil War backwoods scrub of Florida, this classic children's novel follows a boy named Jody and his parents as they contend with wildlife and the forces of nature. Jody longs for someone to care for, and eventually befriends a young fawn, whom he names Flag. While I've known about this story (and had a general idea of the ending) for many years, this was the first time I read it, and I'm grateful I finallly picked it up! The story is beautiful, and the writing is absolutely gorgeous. There is such a strong sense of place in this story, and the characters are fantastic. I highly recommend this!

Audiobook: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl

I read this book as a kid (and watched the original film many times), so on a recent long drive, I was excited to introduce my young children to this fun story about a whimsical chocolate factory and the enigmatic Willy Wonka.  Coming to this story as a parent, I particularly appreciated the way in which Dahl lifts up the goodness of having a childlike purity of heart and intention, and contrasts this to vices and addictions that young children can grow consumed with. 

Thanks for joining me this month! If you have any recommendations, please drop them in the comments!


  1. Before We Were Yours wrecked me, esp because it was based on the real-life G. Tann!

    1. Wasn't it heartbreaking? I was astonished to learn that Tann was so well-connected with the rich and famous of America even while she did such terrible things-and that this was so recent! I'm glad that the author of the novel brought so much hope into that bleak bit of history.

  2. I feel like anthropomorphic British rabbits is a whole sub-genre all its own. Am I right?

    Before We Were Yours has been on my to-read list of quite a while. Everyone seems to enjoy it.

    Also seeing if I can get a copy of The Yearling for my kids to read. Thanks for linking to An Open Book!

    1. Haha yes! I agree-it really does seem like its own sub-genre. Now I kind of want to do a deep-dive into the world of anthropomorphic British rabbits ;)

      I hope your kids enjoy The Yearling, and that you like Before We Were Yours-both are definitely worthwhile reads. Thanks for hosting the linkup, seeing what everyone has read is always a fun way to start each month.