Peachy Books' August in Review graphic showing the titles read this month, in backwards order of how they were read: Who Was Mister Rogers? by Diane Bailey, George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl, Summer Brother by Jaap Robben, The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Blog Roll, Monthly Reading Recall

Peachy Books’ August in Review

August has been a rough month. With the kiddos heading off to school next Thursday, or in our case, booting up for another round of virtual learning, I was feeling the pressure of our summer vacation’s end and took a blog-free timeout for a week to focus my attention on my son. I’m not sure what the blogging etiquette is for this sort of thing, so I left the explanation of my absence to this monthly review post for ease and brevity.

Because of this impromptu break, I ended up reading four books with my son and only two on my own. No matter, though, at least I totaled at six to completion, in keeping with the pattern of the last three months.

The two of us enjoyed The Secret Garden immensely. We were lucky enough to find a book at the library that contained recipes for the food mentioned within, so watch for a review in The Gallery over the coming weeks for this fun cookbook, and see some photos of our delicious makes. 


Who Was Mister Rogers by Diane Bailey

My boy picked a great one this time: Who Was Mister Rogers? He was only my favourite children’s entertainer of all time – that’s who he was and that’s who he shall remain. 

Addressing sensitive issues with children, validating their feelings, and encouraging them to love themselves for who they are whilst taking the time to love their neighbour; was there ever a more beautiful or necessary message than that? 

I’m excited to do a full review on this Who HQ title along with a companion post on some of his more momentous episodes, so stay tuned. 😉


George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl

George has had enough of his wicked grandmother’s surly and selfish nature, so when she regales herself by frightening him with tales of eating bugs and practicing Wizardry, he thinks it’s time he had a little fun of his own.

Roald Dahl has tapped into every child’s wish to mix up a witch’s brew in this wild and wacky tale. As he seeks revenge on his nasty grandmother by concocting a medicine that is sure to either set her straight or send her flying to the moon, either option is all right by George.

My son requested that I make a Read-a-Loud of this book, as he found the grandmother very entertaining. Watch for that on Storytime Sunday later this week.

To listen to the dramatic reading of Chapters 1 & 2, click here.


Summer Brother by Jaap Robben

Summer Brother was the first to arrive of the long-listed 2021 International Booker Prize titles that I had put on hold at the library in the spring. 

This Dutch offering by Jaap Robben was sad, pathetic, enraging, and touching. The heavy scenes playing out were made lighter by the naivety of the thirteen-year-old narrator, but the main takeaway for me here is how terrible at parenting people can be, no matter where they reside. 

This story makes you uncomfortable, disgusted, and dreadfully sorrow-filled for the many innocents taken out along the way. 


The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket

The Baudelaire children lose their parents in a fatal fire and, sadly, must bounce between various family guardians until their bequeathed estate is awarded to Violet, the eldest, on her 18th birthday. With such a hefty sum of money tied to them, the children have a target on their back as their distant relative, Count Olaf, attempts to gain access to them and their fortune. 

A Series of Unfortunate Events is a fun collection, no doubt, but at times it lingers as repetitive and formulaic. The key is to take sufficient lapses between each volume, so I figured out, as a four-month break from the predictable antics of Count Olaf proved enough to make this fourth volume exciting for us again. 

This time the Baudelaire children must live out their orphaned days at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill, where they are forced into manual labour and near starvation. There are some sour types they must contend with, but at least no Count Olaf. But is he ever really far away?  


The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Wow, a lot is going on here, given it mainly took place in one block of brownstones! Doctor Fox is a shut-in, unable to fight her fears and leave the safety of her four walls. With a glass of Merlot in one hand and a Nikon focusing in the other, this depressed and lonely woman passes her time by spying on the surrounding families on her wealthy street.  

Admittedly, I found the storytelling a little sluggish here and there, but that might have more to do with my ignorance of the Silver Screen references invoked throughout. Otherwise, this was a clever tale that explored the psychology of damaged people, which I LOVE in a story; see my review of In The Woods by Tana French here. Even though I was sure I had it figured out more than once, I was duped and unawares upon the unveiling. 


The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Having only a vague recollection of its contents, I was pleasantly surprised by how much my 8-year-old son loved this book!

Relished by countless children across the world for over a century, this legendary classic is timeless in its characters, their struggles, and its overlying messages. That said, some scenes provide teachable moments about racism and the effects of colonialism, which make reading this aloud with a child ideal.

Well, almost ideal. I struggled to read the Yorkshire dialect sprinkled throughout in a sensical way for the first few paragraphs. In exasperation, I stopped trying so hard and instead read it with an accent, albeit a poor one, and it went much smoother, haha. I fared better in getting the words out, and they went by faster.


Have you read any of these titles? What was your favourite read from August?

Coming Soon To Peachy Books!

Peachy Books July in Review: The Drowning Kind Jennifer McMahon, Aliens on a Rampage Clete Barrett Smith, This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, showing the covers for each book on two shelves
Blog Roll, book reviews, Monthly Reading Recall

Peachy Books’ July in Review

I’m noticing that six books a month is the best I can manage given my busy schedule, so I suppose I’ll finally accept this and stop making excuses for a slow reading month, as I did with the last two Month in Review posts. Gone are the days when I could spend endless hours reading books while my son toiled away at his computer for virtual school, and I could be flexible with my time. Instead we get to enjoy bike rides, gardening, and trips to the lake, so all is well that ends well.

I’m pleased to report there were a couple of thought-provoking reads this month. I also read my first horror fiction since my Stephen King days back in my youth, and enjoyed it far more than I’d anticipated. I’ll be working on detailed reviews for Klara and the Sun and The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, so watch for them in the coming weeks, along with my thoughts on some other fabulous books.


Stephen King was one of my go-to authors in my youth. It was thrilling to spook my teenage self with stories like Christine, Carrie, Cujo, and Pet Sematary. I had an obsession with Anne Rice for a few years while enamoured with The Witching Hour and the Mayfair Witches, when all of a sudden, that was it; creepy tales were banished from my reading list in favour of the classics, contemporary and literary fiction.

Intending to expand my horizons and see what modern horror fiction looked like, I decided to dive into this morbid tale, and I am glad I did. Thankfully I wasn’t traumatised but instead shuddered through an appropriate level of hair-raising and devilish delight as McMahon twisted together the frightful past of the cursed Bradenburg Springs with its modern-day horrors.

The Drowning Kind doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, so be forewarned that this story shines a blinding light on mental health, infertility, and self-harm.


What a hoot! Aliens on Vacation was the hilarious first book in the Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast series (review for it here), and this gem was the second. I dare say it was better than the first, which, given how rarely I’ve experienced this phenomenon when reading or watching films, is quite the honour for the second novel in a series to obtain.

David is super excited to be back at his grandma’s B & B for another summer, but when things don’t start off on the right foot between him and the new crabby off-world employee Scratchull, he begins to feel differently. With the help of David’s new ravenous alien-pet Snarffle, there may be hope for the summer, and humanity at large.


This is Where it Ends is the miss of the month for me. I struggled to take in the first 50 pages with its slew of characters, changing viewpoints, and info-dumping. In hindsight, I should have quit while I was ahead, but I restarted and felt confident enough to keep going the second time and saw it through to the end.  

Although the theme of a school shooting is an intense one, I was bored when reading this. I had no attachment to the characters who felt fake and forced, as did their connections to each other. I read that this author is part of an initiative for inclusive YA publishing, and quite frankly, was left feeling that this goal ended up taking over the story to the point where all else was lost. Tokenism is not the road to inclusivity.


I’m still feeling a bit hazy weeks after reading Ishiguro’s latest. I’m not sure that I fully grasped all that he was trying to convey. Artificial intelligence is the way of the future, and I have mixed feelings regarding this technology and how it will interact with the easily swayed masses. I was hopeful that I would come out the other side of this novel with a clearer picture of what AI can and might do for society, but, alas, I am just as befuddled as when I went in.

Klara is an AF (artificial friend) commissioned to keep 14-year-old Josie company as she struggles with her health and tries to maintain her education via a tutor on her oblong (something similar to a tablet, if I’m guessing.) This thought-provoking novel is presented through Klara’s naïve first-person narrative while she attempts to navigate life amongst the humans in this apparent dystopian society. I have my fingers crossed that I will be able to hash out more of a coherent understanding once I start dissecting my notes and working on a full review, so stay tuned.

Read the full review here.

Listen to the full review here.


This tragic tale of unrequited love, denial, and self-loathing is heartbreaking. Paradoxically, I despise David whilst harbouring a sadness in my heart for the man he never truly allows himself to be.

My head is foggy amidst the desolate exploitation that permeates this story and its characters as I recognise the societal fear, opposition, and hatred that pushes it to the fore.

I have so many thoughts still swirling that this review will likely become more detailed with time. For now, I will continue to process this heartbreaking and ugly tale while I wallow in the gloomy yet masterful prose of James Baldwin.


The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia series as far as the storyline but is the first published and most beloved of the seven fantasy tales. There has been much contention in literary circles over the years regarding which order is most appropriate to read them in, but we just made it simple and went in keeping with the plot. 

This internationally renowned children’s classic is a magical tale of adventure that unfolds in the wintry fantasy land of Narnia, where the children learn lessons about life and themselves. Reading this is a reader’s rite of passage, so I hear, but although I will admit to enjoying this book, some parts set off my creep metre. I’ll save these thoughts for my detailed review. 😉

The Chronicles of Narnia is a series that I have enjoyed reading aloud to my son, thanks to all the animated voices I can use for the talking animals and bold characters. To hear my dramatic reading of Chapter 11 of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Aslan is Nearer, click here.


Have you read any of these titles? What was your favourite read from July?

Coming Soon To Peachy Books!

Peachy Books June in Review: In The Woods by Tana French, Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book - 11th Edition, Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski, The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell
Blog Roll, Contemporary Fiction, Monthly Reading Recall

Peachy Books’ June in Review

June was slower in the reading department than I would have liked, but I’m all right with that, given the time I’ve spent on this blog. I still managed a cookbook and five fictional books, with two of them reviewed and posted. If you haven’t, be sure to check those out below, and stay tuned for reviews of the middle-grade hits: The Good Thieves and Aliens on Vacation, which are on deck!


In The Woods by Tana French

The first volume in the highly popular Dublin Murder Squad Series, In The Woods, is a thrill-ride in psychology and the complexity of relationships… and there’s a murder to be solved too.

Tana French lulls you with prose whilst burying you deeper into the myriad of plotlines that she weaves together like a fine tapestry. If you’re not one of the more than a million people who have already read it, don’t miss this gripping tale that may even shed some light on the people in your life who have often left you feeling perplexed.

Read the full review and see the Celtic bookmark I was inspired to make here.


Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith

While his busy parents tend to their ever-consuming careers, David, aka Scrub, is shipped off to The Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast for the summer. It is at this wild and wacky place that he’ll get to know his estranged Grandmother, a few of her unique guests, and a special friend named Amy.

What an enjoyable middle-grade story this was, with my son. The well-drawn characters were odd and expressive, which led to some funny voices for the reading. I especially enjoyed Scrub’s hippie Grandma with the rose-coloured glasses.

Check out the excerpt that I read for Storytime Saturday here.

And the full review here.


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Get out your tissues, you’re going to need them!

Ultimately, this is contemplative tale of a cantankerous man trying to come to terms with living (and dying) after suffering the most considerable loss of his life.

A Man Called Ove reminds us that regardless of assumption, one can never really know what people are going through when we encounter them in our daily existence, and how kindness, connection, and a sense of purpose can go a long way.

To read the complete review and see the bookmark I was moved to make, click here.

To listen to the audio review instead, click here.


Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook – 11th Edition

This read was a blast from the past, and is the quintessential cook book of my childhood. Although I don’t turn to it very often, it is a great selection for bake sale items, and classic North American fare, that will always occupy a spot on my cookbook shelf.

Find photos of the recipe trials I performed for 3 of the dishes my son picked out, in The Cookery, here.


Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski

A semi-autobiographical novel by one of the great polarising artists of the last century, Ham on Rye gives us the scary, sorrowful, and sudsy retelling of a hard-knock life.

This one brought up many emotions for me, as I empathised with Henry Chinaski and his abusive and isolating beginnings. Reading this book just before Father’s Day had a profound effect on my review.

Don’t miss the full review: written and audio

Coming Soon to Peachy Books…