The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Hello Kittens! It may have taken me over half the year, but I’ve found my personal contender for best book of the year. This book is sweet and has memorable characters and will make you laugh as well as cry. It is a story about accepting differences and really getting to know people for who they are and not just how we see them. This title released just as the pandemic was really beginning to hit hard in the U.S., but I’ve seen this book getting some buzz in the YouTube community. I really hope it doesn’t get lost in this year of weird happenings. I have been singing its praises since before I even finished it, and I even kept it a few extra days from the library since I knew it had holds and I wasn’t going to get it back for a while (the fines are going to be pretty decent).

Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea

Author: TJ Klune

Author website:

Publisher: Tor

Publish date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 9781250217288

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop


Linus Baker does not live an extraordinary life. He gets up, gets ready, goes to work for several hours, comes home, feeds his cat, has an unpleasant conversation with his neighbor, listens to some records, then goes to bed. Each day is remarkably similar. He believes in the work he is doing for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, inspecting orphanages to make sure that the children are being cared for as they should be. He has something of a reputation for his objective reports on his different cases. He takes his guidance from a large tome known as the RULES AND REGULATIONS, which he reads from daily.

Linus is very good at his job but never seeks promotion from it. So he is very surprised when one day he is summoned by Extremely Upper Management and given a top-secret assignment. It is so secret that they won’t even tell him any of the details until he reaches the location of the next orphanage. When he arrives, he opens the files regarding the children whom he is there to look into and faints dead away. This will be his most challenging assignment ever, and Linus isn’t at all sure he is the man for the job, or that Extremely Upper Management have provided him with the tools and information to succeed.

Linus will spend the next several weeks studying this orphanage, the children who live there, and the headmaster who is in charge of it all. He will make sure that the environment is safe and that the children are being cared for. He will do all of this to the standards set forth in the rule book. From the moment he steps on the campus, Linus discovers that these children are extremely challenging, the headmaster is extremely mysterious, and the environment is extremely secluded. He’ll encounter townspeople who are less than thrilled to have the children living nearby while dealing with cryptic and semi-threatening messages from the home office.

Why I liked it:

This book is utterly charming. Linus’ character development is well-paced and engaging. The children are all absolutely delightful, even when they’re being nightmares. The story deals with challenging all sorts of preconceived notions and prejudices. At its heart, it’s a story about morals and how we should strive to treat each other. Readers will delight in Linus’ development and the strides made by the children and townspeople. I laughed, cried, and was heartbroken at times. This was a 5 star read in every sense of the word.

What I would like to change:

I would like a sequel please. I’m not ready to leave these characters behind yet.

Disclaimer: No disclaimer needed. I checked this book out from my library.

My library rating: This was a really tough rating to give out. I want to recommend this book to everyone because it is beautiful, but I know that some people will object to a male/male romance, even if it is relatively chaste. That being said, I think some people might be able to look past that on this one because of the writing, and others will be thrilled to see queer representation (a directly stated goal of the author, who self-identifies as queer). While there is a romance, it is in no way steamy. If there is such a genre as a Cozy Literary Fantasy, this would fall squarely within it.

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads.  You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.

My personal preference rating: I gave this title 5 stars. It is my absolute favorite read of the year so far.

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Hello Kittens! My read-a-palooza continues with a women’s fiction title this time. I came across Katherine Center’s work a couple of years ago and was blown away by it. I have a confession to make though…I picked out the first book because it had a stunning cover. Center had already published several novels at that time, but How to Walk Away had a unique cover style that has carried through with her last couple of publications. This title won’t be coming out for a few more months, but that gives you time to catch up on Center’s other titles. I admit that this wasn’t my favorite of her books, but it was still very good and I think that people will enjoy escaping into these types of novels right now.

Title: What You Wish ForWhat You Wish For

Author: Katherine Center

Author website:

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publish date: July 14th, 2020

ISBN: 9781250219367

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Katherine Center’s newest novel, What You Wish For, focuses on a young Librarian named Samantha who is working at a private school. When her boss, who is also a mentor and friend, passes away unexpectedly, Sam’s life is thrown for a loop. She’s barely recovered from the funeral when she gets the news that the replacement principal for her school is a man that she had a major crush on several years back. As in, a crush that was so bad that she fled the state to get over him. She remembers him as a goofy and lovable guy who was a great teacher, but she worries that once she sees him again, all of the old feelings are going to come rushing back.

As Sam struggles to adjust to so many changes in her life, Duncan (her former heartthrob and current boss) settles into his new position. This Duncan, however, is nothing like the person Sam remembers. This Duncan is hyper-focused on school security, increasing the school’s security measures at the expense of everything else. As Sam realizes that the school she loves and her mentor’s legacy is in danger of being destroyed by Duncan, she prepares to fight the battle of her life. She works to forget the man that she once knew so that she can stand up to the “new Duncan” and convince him that his efforts are misguided when it comes to this school. She’s ready to fight for her students and her colleagues, but when she discovers some things in Duncan’s past that help explain his demeanor now, she’ll have to fight just as hard to save the person he once was before he’s gone forever.

This book covers a lot of ground in a relatively short period of time. It’s a quick read with a lot of emotional depth. The characters are all dealing with grief in different forms and both Samantha and Duncan have experience major transformations over the course of the story. The setting is a big part of the story, since most of the action takes place within the private school, but descriptions of the school and its history do not bog down the narrative. There’s even a lovable canine for readers who like that kind of thing.

Center’s books tend to focus on emotional development and characters who survive and thrive when the deck is stacked against them. The main character, Samantha, has epilepsy, and I appreciated how her emotional responses to how people treated her as a result of her epilepsy were just as important to the story as the disorder itself was. At the same time, the story only narrowly focuses on that plot line and thankfully doesn’t try to deeply educate the reader on the medical aspects of epilepsy (there’s a time and a place for that kind of reading.)

I’ve read Katherine Center’s last two books, How to Walk Away and Things You Save in a Fire, so I had an idea of what I was in for. This book doesn’t rank as high for me as her previous two did. Samantha’s story did still pull at my heart strings, and I made it almost all the way through the story before I was reduced to tears (a feat that happened much earlier in the previous novels). Ultimately, I felt that we spent too long being primed to hate Duncan in this book. He is portrayed and cold and isolated for more than half of the book and it made it hard for me as a reader to want to root for him in the end. This was partially due to how the passage of time was utilized in the book because the first half of the book took place over the course of a few weeks while the second half of the book, especially the parts regarding the efforts to rehabilitate the old Duncan, felt like we were fast-forwarding through weeks and months to reach the conclusion. I also really liked the drama that Tina and Kent’s characters added to the story, but I felt like their conclusions were rushed as well. It seemed unlikely that Tina would have such a significant change of heart regarding Samantha.

Honestly though, those issues are minor. This was a great read that is an easy recommendation to patrons. Center’s backlist constitutes solid recommendations as well and I fully expect that Katherine Center will remain an author whose releases are go-tos for me.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic galley of this title from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon5 glasses of lemonade= you could recommend this book to anyone.  There is nothing in here that is going to upset anyone and you could start handing it out on street corners.  (This kind of book is a Librarian’s dream.  As much as we love good literature, suggesting a book for someone can be nerve-wracking work that can backfire BIG TIME.)

While there is a brief discussion of school violence here, I don’t think it is graphic enough to put off the majority of readers. I think this title is recommendable on a grand scale. The romance isn’t overwhelming and the story is sweet.

The High Season by Judy Blundell

Happy July Kittens!

This week I’ve got a great beach read for you!  Judy Blundell is going to take you to the shores of the Hamptons and put you in the mood to sit by the water and read for hours.  This book is already out, so grab a copy before you hit the beach.  I hope you love it!


Title: The High Season

Author: Judy BlundellTheHighSeason

Author Website:

ISBN: 9780525508717

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: May 22, 2018

Genre: Literary Fiction

Buy the Book: Amazon   Barnes and Noble

The High Season is Judy Blundell’s first work of fiction for adults, following on the success of her 2008 National Book Award for Young People for What I Saw and How I Lied. The story follows Ruth Beamish, her sort-of-but-not-officially ex-husband, and their daughter Jem, through a summer season on a small island off the Hamptons called North Fork. The Beamish family has a beautiful perfect summer home on the Fork, but in order to afford the upkeep on the house, they have to rent it out every summer while they move to less-than-perfect accommodations. This summer, their renter is a socialite named Adeline Clay. At first, Clay and her stepson Lucas staying at the house seems like the answer to a prayer. They pay for the entire summer up front and Ruth enjoys the solvency, but as the summer goes on, not all is well on North Fork. Ruth begins to face bitter battles at work, her daughter is being secretive about a new boy in her life, and her once-friendly ex-husband is spending a lot of time with Adeline when Ruth needs him. What is going on here? Is she losing everything that matters to her to this interloper from the city? She already gave up her house, what else will she lose to Adeline? And can someone as average as Ruth defy someone as powerful as Adeline and survive unscathed?

This was a beautifully written story about friendship, love, and the curve balls life can throw our way. At the heart of the story is Ruth, affectionately called Ruthie, who finds herself at the mercy of circumstances that she cannot control and certainly does not deserve. This story had me ready to cry at a moment’s notice. The story alternates between Ruthie and several other characters on the island for the summer, including her daughter Jem and her co-worker Doe. Jem is a teenaged girl learning her own lessons about love and friendship and she will have a lot of growing up to do as the summer progresses. Doe, real name Dora, is an aspiring social-climber who is willing to cross ethical lines to pull herself up in the world. She comes to have a hand in almost every storyline in the book, and despite her less than true north moral compass, you come to root for all of the underdogs in this story, and she is one of the best.

The High Season has everything you could want in a summer release: drama, love, betrayal, high society, and rogue inflatables. Stick with it as the story builds in complexity, and you will be rewarded with an extremely satisfying conclusion.

Disclaimer: I received this title from the publisher through the BookishFirst program in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads.  You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.

I so desperately wanted to give 5 glasses of lemonade for this one, but there are enough curse words to stop it from gaining the kind of recommend-ability that librarians need to be able to recommend a book to anyone and everyone. Nonetheless, this book has a little bit of everything for everyone and will be a solid option for potential beach readers everywhere.