Notes For Readers and Parents
Welcome to The Story Sanctuary! I hope that browsing reviews here will help you find new books to read and share with others. On this page you’ll find information on how and why I write reviews including what’s included in the content section of my review and some basic information on how books are divided up by age range.
The reviews posted on The Story Sanctuary are intended to assist teachers, parents, and readers in making confident, informed decisions about whether or when a book is appropriate for them. My purpose is not to dissuade anyone from reading a particular book or series, but rather to help readers to discover new books and offer an quick guide to the content within those novels. All reviews and comments will be respectful to readers and authors.
My reviews tend to focus on the positives, but I also try to be frank about content or writing that didn’t suit me. I’m always open to questions or added insights on my reviews.
Searching for Book Reviews by Title, Author, Genre, or Keyword
If you’re looking for a specific title or author, try the search bar below the blog header (or at the bottom of the page if you’re viewing this site on your phone or tablet).
Type in an author’s last name, book title, genre, or keyword and hit search. Voila! If I’ve got a review that meets your criteria, you’ll see it listed in the results.
Guide to Age Range Categories
Middle grade stories usually feature characters in the preteen age range. Often the main character’s family members play an important role in the story, as do the relationships between them. This is where you’ll find classic stories like Bridge to Terabithia and Because of Winn-Dixie.
Young adult literature often centers around a character searching for a personal place in the world, figuring out who she is, developing relationships with friends and finding first love. Usually the main character will be between 15 and 18 with some exceptions. The Twilight series, books by Sarah Dessen, and the Lunar Chronicles are some examples of young adult fiction.
In my experience, stories in the new adult market seems to have one of two audiences: adult women looking for steamy stories featuring younger characters (usually not something I review) or upper young adult readers and college-aged students.
I do not review erotica, so that’s not something you’ll find here. I do, however, review other new adult stories, such as stories about college-aged kids navigating life on their own for the first time, or young couples beginning a marriage in a historical novel.
Technically coming-of-age is a genre of adult fiction. Stories usually feature a youthful narrator who often watches larger events unfold around them. Think To Kill a Mockingbird, The Secret Life of Bees, or Peace Like a River.
Because I have a soft spot for coming-of-age tales, I do review them here sometimes.
About the Content Section of My Reviews
Recommended for Ages
This heading will be followed with a recommendation for what age the book seems best suited to. I’m not an expert in childhood development, so this is definitely a suggestion. I take into account the content, the publisher’s reading level recommendation, and the interests of the teen and preteen readers in my own life. Every reader is different. This is merely a suggestion, definitely not a rule.
After reading about the review policy at Kirkus Reviews regarding race of protagonists, I’ve decided to add a section to my reviews that explores what types of characters or situations are represented the books I’m reading. This can include race, religious affiliation, disability, or sexual orientation and identity.
The goal is to make it easier for parents, librarians, teachers, and readers to find books with specific issues or characters in them as well as books with diverse casts of characters.
Profanity and Crude Language
For me, this breaks down into two joint categories: word choice and frequency.
- Mild: Words like h—, d—, a– appear in the story.
- Moderate: Words like h—, d—, a–, sh– appear. No F-bomb.
- Extreme: Language includes use of f—.
- Infrequent: Swear words appear fewer than ten times (total) throughout the story.
- Moderate Frequency: Swear words appear ten to twenty-five times (this is about once or twice per chapter, depending on the length of the story.)
- Frequently: Swear words appear more than twenty-five times total.
- Excessive Frequency: So many swear words I wanted to swear about it.
My reviews include a brief summary of the romantic or sexual content, so be aware of that in case you’re trying to avoid spoilers! I do try to keep it as vague as I can while still posting content. So it’ll likely say “kissing between boy and girl” or “references to having sex in the past” without specific character details.
Rather than a scale here, any spiritual content will be summarized. This includes things like religious celebrations or traditions that characters participate in or mention.
Summary of violent content including content warnings for things such as slurs, racism, homophobia, abuse, assault, etc.
Any alcohol or drug references or abuse will be summarized in this category. I also try to specify whether the characters experienced consequences for their actions and whether main characters participated or witnessed drug or alcohol abuse.