“Why, I am an orphan too,” Anne said solemnly. Tilly felt a skinny hand take hers and looked down to see Anne’s fingers intertwined with her own. “It is not something Alice will understand. It is a difficult thing to bear even if you are surrounded by people who are endlessly kind and good to you. But it is not all woe. I used to think that kindred spirits were hard to find, but look: you have found two just this afternoon.'”

And, for just that moment, it seemed to be wholly unimportant whether Anne and Alice were real or not.

Anna James

I am severely behind on my GoodReads reading goal. I told myself I could read 48 new books this year and am only up 18. Call it a mixture of bad luck, exhaustion, or just a lot of sleepless nights, but reading this year has been tough. There’s that old Stephen King quote about reading while being a writer that goes, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

And yeah, I feel that.

A quick glance at my reading list for the year shows a slew of graphic novels (something I can read in 1-2 hour sessions so it gives me that rush of completing something), a sci-fi book, a biography, and three middle-grade fantasies, all written by female authors and starring female protagonists.

What a year.

Pages & Co. is a series written by Anna James that I’m happy to say I am now a huge fan of. “The Bookwanderers” is the first in the series that sees main character, Tilly, discover that her grandparents have been keeping a secret from her. They own a bookstore in the heart of London (the dream of every reader out there) when suddenly Tilly starts seeing book characters out among the shelves. Alice from Wonderland and Anne from Green Gables are just as real as she or her friend from across the street, Oskar, and they’re interacting with her like it’s no big deal.

Turns out, there’s more to this strange occurrence than they’re letting on and it might have something to do with Tilly’s missing mom.

Right away, all the boxes have been ticked for me. Cozy setting. A plot with magical abilities centered around books. A mystery with a solved conclusion by book’s end leading to larger ramifications.

James took it upon herself to attempt to write the most famous book characters in the public domain, mimicking their speech patterns and style of story, as Tilly learns to jump into the books. That would be difficult, but she does it masterfully, never once losing sight of Tilly’s internal struggles involving her families’ secrets.

First in a series. Many more to read. Strong female representation. I learned a lot from this, especially since the book I’m trying to pitch right now features a female lead with an underlying mystery and series potential.

Read to enjoy. Read to learn. This book definitely provided both.

Thanks for reading,

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