Saturday, December 18, 2021

Vacation Reads


I'll be in Arizona next week - and that got me thinking: what books make great vacation reads?  I obviously cannot bring all my books with me even though I'm having a hell of a time deciding what to bring with.  But here are some books I'd definitely recommend for anyone going on a vacay!

For the teens:

  • Tweet Cute - Emma Lord 
  • When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon 
  • There's Something about Sweetie - Sandhya Menon 
  • Ten Things I Hate About Pinky - Sandhya Menon 
  • Of Curses and Kisses - Sandhya Menon 
  • Of Princes and Promises - Sandhya Menon 
  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love - Maureen Goo 
  • Somewhere Only we Know - Maurene Goo 
  • The Way You Make Me Feel - Maurene Goo 
  • You Should See Me in a Crown - Leah Johnson 
  • The Upside of Unrequited - Becky Albertalli 

For the adults:

  • Make Up Break Up - Lily Menon 
  • One Last Stop - Casey McQuiston 
  • Red, White, and Royal Blue - Casey McQuiston 
  • The Love Hypothesis - Ali Hazelwood 
  • The Heart Principle - Helen Hoang 
  • The Bride Test - Helen Hoang 
  • The Kiss Quotient - Helen Hoang 


Okay reader friends - what are some books you'd solidly rec for some good vacation reading!  Drop some recs in the comments. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

If You Like This, Try That.....


Hey reader friends! You're probably here because you like books - obviously!  So, here's a little hook up for you: My very own round of If You Like This, Try That! 

If you liked Harry Potter, but are looking to get away from that universe for, you know, reasons, try reading:

-The entire Septimus Heap Series 
-The Charlie Bone Series 

If you like Twilight, try:

-The Last American Vampire 
-Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 
-The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires 
-Undead and UnWed 

If you like A Series of Unfortunate Events, try:

- The Mysterious Benedict Society series 


Okay reader friends - what books would you recommend based on what you've read recently (or not so recently).  I'm looking forward to your recs!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Legendary - Stephanie Garber

Title: Legendary 
Author: Stephanie Garber 
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 4.5 Stars 


Legendary, the second in the Caraval series, is just as rousing a book as its predecessor.  There is even more intrigue in this book, and the solving of a very important mystery: WE LEARN WHO LEGEND IS!!!

Have no fear, I won't tell you who Legend is.  I will say this though: It totally fits this person.

I, once again, loved the characters in this book.  Just when you thought the author couldn't ramp them up, she did!  It was a short timeline in the book again since it takes place over a second Caraval held in the mainland and surrounding Elentine's castle.  (Forgive me if I spell Elentine wrong, I listened to this on audio.)  As such there isn't tons of character growth, but the development of the characters is very well done.  They are all well written in this book, and each character fits into the story solidly.

I loved the mystery surrounding the characters in this book.  There was an added element to Dante and to the quest to find not only Legend, but Tella and Scarlet's mother.  The fates being loose in this book added another layer of intrigue and mystery to the characters and to the story as a whole.  It was interesting to see how each character interacted and behaved in regards to the fates.

The story was well developed, the events of the book flowed well together, and the foreshadowing was, as in Caraval, absolutely perfect.  As in most fantasy books, there were a lot of wild and fantastical events and they all fit so well with the characters and story as a whole.  And what would the events of Caraval be without the fantastical element, after all?  

Things I Absolutely Adored:
* The magical elements, of course 
* Finding out who Legend is 
* Watching Tella and Scarlet learn more about love and what they really wanted
* The entertainment of Caraval being held somewhere other than Legend's private island. 
* The absolute amount of deception in this whole book.  Here me out: This is some next level awesomeness right here.
* The way this book takes places from Tella's perspective. It gives us more of a chance to know her, and it sets up the final book very well.
* Watching the relationships that Tell and Scarlet had with Julian and Dante grow, and watching each girl learn more about love and what that means for each of them. 

This was truly a marvelous book to read, and I'm glad I finally prioritized it!  


So, reader friends: Have you read this book?  If so, drop me a comment and let me know what you thought of it!  I'd love to hear from you


Monday, November 1, 2021

October Wrap Up


Hey reader friends - I hope October was a wonderful month for all of you!  I read some fun books this month, and I'm here to share them with all of you! 


Paper Books: 

- The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 
- Kill The Farm Boy by Delilah S Dawson and Kevin Hearne 
- Night of the Living Dummy
- Escape from Horrorland 
- Dr. Maniac Versus Bobby Schwartz 
- Help! We have Strange Powers 


- City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab 
- Nightbooks by J.A. White 
- The Echo Wife 


- Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor 

- Caraval by Stephanie Garber 

- Legendary by Stephanie Garber 

- Finale by Stephanie Garber 

- Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto


- The Water Dancer by Te-Nehisi Coates

- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan 
- The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik 


Now it's your turn reader friends.  What did you read in October?  Let me know in the comments!  

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Caraval - Stephanie Garber

Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber 
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 4.5 Stars 


I finally read and finished the Caraval book (and the rest of the series - reviews coming!) I am so glad I finally read the book, because it was AMAZING.  

The Characters

Scarlett and Donatella Dragna, the sisters who lead the series, are two characters that you can't help but love, even when they're being insufferable to each other.  They obviously had the sisterly moments where they were driving each other nuts, but it was also very obvious that they really loved each other.

Dante is a unique character, to say the least.  He is a dark, sort of brooding guy who is actively involved in Caraval.  

Julian is a sly, cunning character, and I really enjoyed the way that he and Tella ended up on a plan from the beginning.  

Their father.  Let me say that again: THEIR FATHER!  That scheming, plotting, asshole.  With a father like him who needs enemies. 

And Scarlett's fiance.  Oooh boy.  She went and "fell in love" with some dude who she only communicated with via letters.  Seems legit. 

To sum up the MC's and major characters: they were all well written and well developed.  They each had a LOT OF PERSONALITY!  And each character added so much to an already amazing story.  The other more minor characters that filled the pages fleshed out this book and the story so well.  They added darkness and humor and some great fun to the game and to the book. 

The Story Itself

There was a lot of mystery and intrigue weaved throughout this entire book, and a lot of great foreshadowing for the future books in the trilogy.  The whole story was so well developed that I didn't want to leave this world and all it's magic.  

Things I absolutely Loved

-The entire island that Caraval takes place on.  

-The mystery behind who Legend actually is

-Tella being much, much sneakier than her sister realized 

-That girl on the bike. She was the historiographer of Caraval, but also did some hinting for the players, and she added an element to the story that was mysterious and fantastical.

-How the entirety of Carval took place at night.  I think that really added a great element of mystery to the game.

-Those little bits of humor that were woven into an otherwise serious book.

-This book had some great foreshadowing and really set itself up well for the rest of the series.

-The worldbuilding was fantastic and very well done 

Overall this book was fantastic and worth the read.  My only regret is that I waited so long before I got to it!


Now reader friends - I want to hear from you!  Have you read this book.  What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Perfect Halloween Reads


Halloween is just weeks away!  If you're looking for some spooky, scary books to get you in the mood, here's a list just for you (and any young people you might have in your life.)

The Inheritance Games - Jennifer Lynne Barnes (YA)
The Bone Witch - Rin Chupeco (YA)
The Heart Forger - Rin Chupeco (YA)
The Shadowglass - Rin Chupeco (YA)
Stalking Jack the Ripper - Kerri Maniscalo (YA)
Hunting Prince Dracula - Kerri Maniscalo (YA)
Escaping from Houdini - Kerri Maniscalo (YA)
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman (YA) 
The Diviners - LIbba Bray (YA)
Lair of Dreams - Libba Bray (YA)
Before the Devil Breaks You - Libba Bray (YA)
The King of Crows - Libba Bray (YA)
The Monstrumologist - Rick Yancey (YA)
The Curse of the Wendigo - Rick Yancey (YA)
The Isle of Blood - Rick Yancey (YA)
The Final Descent - Rick Yancey (YA)
Dread Nation - Justine Ireland (YA)
Zombie Abbey - Lauren Baratz-Logsted (YA)


Into the Water - Paula Hawkins (Adult)
The Last American Vampire - Seth Grahame-Greene (Adult) 
We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson (Adult)
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson (Adult)
Psycho - Robert Bloch (Adult)
Dracula - Bram Stoker (Adult) 
Horrorstor - Grady Hendrix (Adult)


The entire Goosebumps Series - R.L. Stine (Middle Grade. The man wrote a lot of books.  They're all perfect for a good October read.  You can find a list on his website here.)
Scare Me - K.R. Alexander (Middle Grade)
Doll Bones - Holly Black 
City of Ghosts - Victoria Schwab
Tunnel of Ghosts - Victoria Schwab 
Coraline - Neil Gaiman 
Bridge of Souls - Victoria Schwab 
Nightbooks - JA White 


Are there any books you'd add to this list reader friends?  Drop a comment below and let me know what your favorite book(s) to read during October are! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali - Sabina Khan


Title: The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali 
Author: Sabina Khan 
Format: E-book
Rating: 5 Stars 


I read this as part of a book group I am in on Facebook, and I didn't know entirely what to expect when I started reading.  I quickly became engrossed in the book, and even with all the crappy things that happen to Rukhsana, I fell in love with the book.  It has such a good message for young people, and it is such an important book for teens to read.

I am going to have a much different perspective on this book because I am not Muslim, but I'll try my best to give this book the review it deserves.

I want to start with the one thing about this book that I didn't really find that believable.  At the end of the book Rukhsana's parents do a complete 180 and start loving and accepting her so much that they even try to find a nice Muslim lesbian for her to date.  I love that her parents finally realized that they could lose their daughter if they didn't come around, but the extent to which it happened seemed far fetched.  It would have been much more believable an ending had the transformation been slower and harder to reach.  It takes a lot of time to dismantle deeply held beliefs, and sometimes it even takes a lot of therapy.  It takes more than one event to clear everything up.  So I just think there could have been a bit more to the ending. 

Other than that, I loved this book so much. While I didn't love all the characters, I did love that they were all very well written and well developed. They were each integral to this story and what happened throughout it. 

Characters I Loved:

Rukhsana - she was stronger than people gave her credit for, and had so much empathy for people, and cared so much about others around her. 

Sohail - he fought so hard for the right thing, and even though things ended so tragically for him he continued fighting for what was right until the very end. 

Shaila - Rukhsana's cousin was so so amazing, loving, and accepting.  Se welcomed Rukhsana just as she was after she came out and was so willing to be there and stand up for what was right. 

Aamir - He was the best brother Rukhsana could have asked for. He would give her a hard time like brothers do, but underneath it all he was there for his sister and always did what was right to help and protect her. 

Characters I didn't really like:

Rukhsana's friends - they were so tone deaf and didn't even make any effort to understand Islam and why Rukhsana's parents held their wrong beliefs.  They habitually told Rukhsana that it really couldn't possibly be that bad and brushed what she told them under the rug.

The rest of the book:

I thought this book was well written right up to the end.  While the events were hard to read about and may seem extreme to some people, I had to remind myself that many people, including white western people, grow up with parents who have extreme belief systems.  Rukhsana goes through a lot when her parents bring her to Bangladesh and try to force her into an arranged marriage, but she and they come out of it stronger and more willing to examine toxic beliefs. 

The events that happened in this book were extreme and toxic, but I believe they were necessary for the plot of the book.  It is so heartbreaking that there are parts of the world where people are forced into arranged marriages or killed because of who they are.  It is hard to know that there are places (yes even the United States) where religious extremism literally causes people to die.  Reading this book will open your eyes to the way some people feel and believe in other countries, and I am glad that I read it even though it broke my heart in many ways.

I think the plot in this book was well developed and well planned out. It moved well together, and every thing that happened moved right into the next thing flawlessly.  With the exception of that ending, I think everything in the book worked together well. 

Most of the characters were really well developed and well written.  Also, even though Rukhsana's friends were the way they were, I think that was what opened their eyes to the fact that they actually need to listen to people and be respectful of the fact that not everybody's life is just like theirs. And, while there are many teenagers who are very mature, most teenagers are still at an age where they are learning not to be so self-involved.  They are learning to be more aware of the world around them, and that's just part of the growth process for teens.  I think everything that happened in this book is definitely going to help her friends grow and change and develop a greater awareness of the world around them. 

Like I mentioned, the ending was really the only thing that fell flat for me.  Other than that, this is a stellar book and an absolute must read! 

If you've already read this book and you have thoughts leave me a comment below.  I'd love to hear what you think. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Take a Hint, Dani Brown - Talia Hibbert


Title: Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Author: Talia Hibbert 
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 Stars 

As you have probably heard, Talia Hibbert's been taking the romance world by storm!  And that storm is well deserved - Hibbert's Brown sister trilogy is so cute and so funny.  Every book in the series is a must read for anyone who likes cute romances filled with lots of chemistry and tons of great Oops moments that are bound to make you laugh.

This is another book where I can't think of anything I didn't like.  The characters, the romance, the relationship between Dani and her sisters - all amazing. 

The characters were all really well written and well developed.  I like that we got to learn about Dani's and Zaf's past and why that made them who they were.  That was really important because their pasts paved the way for them to learn, grow, develop, and really truly be happy with each other.  I know it's probably a bit cliche to say that the MC is your favorite character, but Dani really was my favorite character.  I loved her and her go get it attitude. I loved that she learned a lot about herself and what she really wanted while she was faking it with Zaf.  She really did a lot of seeking and self growth throughout the course of the book.  

I also loved that Zaf was aware of the impact his past had on him and was willing to put in more work to change his mindset and his life.  He knew he had so many issues with anxiety because of his past, and he had let that rule him for a while, but then he grew, and he learned, and he changed and made more efforts to further himself.  

This book was, in addition to being chock full of great characters, so so funny.  There were some serious things in the book, of course, but overall, Rom-Com is the best way to describe this book because it is romantic and hilarious.  (Dani+Elevator!  Come ON!) Talia Hibbert definitely has a way of creating smart, well written books that will make readers laugh out loud.

I loved that the book flowed so well. The book was so well written and the events that happened throughout the book helped me get a better insight into the characters and really helped the story feel fleshed out and well developed. 

Overall, this is a cute smooshy romance everyone should read.  I'll be waiting here for your comments when you finish it!

If you've already read Take a Hint, Dani Brown, tell me what you think below! 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry - Joya Goffney


Title: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry
Author: Joya Goffney 
Format: E-Book 
Rating: 5 Stars 

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is a book that every teenager should be reading right now!  It's well written, relevant, funny at times, and so full of heart and emotion.

Quinn is teen who loves to keep lists - she uses it as a way to get her emotions out because she hates talking about her feelings out loud.  Enter Carter, a boy at her school who mistakenly grabs her journal, and then reads it and, after a busy moment in class, forgets it in a classroom.  Bullying ensues, but so does a lot of really great stuff that drastically improves Quinn's life. 

Quinn and Carter are teenagers who both face hurdles you'd expect like parental expectations, snotty "friends", all those wonderful teachers at school. They also have to try and navigate life around their white peers and friends, most of whom are completely unaware of their racism and the microaggressions they are committing. 

I honestly can't think of a single thing I didn't like about this book.  I loved the story, the characters the development of every single thing. This is definitely a book that will leave lasting imprints on me for a long long time. 

The characters in this book were all so wonderful and so well written, and the author portrayed their experiences as teens very well.  (Take that opinion for what it is - I am 40 after all, so it's been a while since I was a teenager.) Each character was unique unto themselves, and there was a lot of growth in our two main characters, Quinn and Carter.  They both developed a great sense of who they were, Quinn especially. She grew from someone who was afraid to let things out, and bottled things inside, to someone her grandma knew she could be.

The connection Quinn and Carter had with each other was great.  They started out in this awkward, weird, helping each other space, but the vibe between them was there from the beginning.  They grew into that and developed and learned about and from each other so much. 

I think the author did a great job of showing that these teens are still so young, but that they have the ability to grow and change and make decisions.  Yes, teens are still developing, their brains and bodies are still changing, but they are smarter than people realize, and they have the ability, given the right skill development, to make decisions and solve problems.  The author showed that so well.  

I really loved everything about this book, and it's a book I'd recommend to everyone!  

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Bout of Books - Day One Update

 Hi reader friends!  I'm coming to you with a lovely Bout of Books Update.  It's been a good week so far (and it's only Tuesday.)

So, what did I do on Monday you ask? Well, here's what I read:

Books Started: 4
Books Finished: 0
Pages Read: 92 

Books I'm Currently Working On: 

The Final Girl Support Group - Grady Hendrix
The Lost Apothecary - Sarah Penner
Kate in Waiting - Becky Albertalli
Hollowpox - Jessica Townsend 

Are you doing Bout of Books? How are things going for you?  If you're not doing Bout of Books (join us) tell me what you're reading anyway! 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Ace of Spades - Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Title: Ace of Spades
Author: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé 
Format: E-Book
Rating: 5 Stars

Devon and Chiamaka are students at the elite Niveus Academy.  They are both smart, talented, and the only black kids at this school.  This is not by concidence.  However, Chiamaka and Devon haven't thought about the why of this until their senior year when they both get assigned to be the head students. After this happens, things start to get not just scary but downright terrifying for these two kids. 

Devon was a surprise vote for the head boy, because up until that point he went through school with only one person he called a friend, but it was more like someone who was just friendly so Devon called it a friendship.  Anyway, that's how he and Chiamaka get to know more about each other.  It's also how they realize they are both getting messages from someone calling themself Aces. 

I don't want to give away what happens throughout the book because if you haven't read it yet, I want you to be surprised and to enjoy every minute of this book.  So let me say this:

I loved the characters in this book.  Let me be more specific: I love Devon, Chiamaka, and Devon's mom.  I hated all the other characters.  The characters are so well written and really show how fear and terror can affect people. The two main characters also show a lot of smarts in this book as well because they research and learn so much about their schools twisted history. 

The characters also played well with and off each other, in the sense that what happened between them and what built up worked.  Each character was also very distinct (and in many cases was a complete fuckwad in their own right.) 

Ace of Spades did a great job of setting up the story and ramping up the terror and the twists with each passing page.  There were so many holy crap moments in this book that I wanted to throw my kindle across the room.  The book was gripping and terrifying and so horrific and I loved it all.

This book also did a great job of delving into the world of systemic racism and the way white people have really gone to great lengths to push down black people (you know it's true.  We have not been good.)  The way this book looks at how education has impacted black people, the way poverty has impacted black people, and the way all of that has continued to benefit white people is not surprising, but it is a topic that we all need to continue to talk about and read about. 

I was shocked at just how deep the events in the book went, and how every single person at the school, and the alumni, and so many more, were involved in the events that happened to Chiamaka and Devon.  I kept thinking it couldn't possibly get any worse, and then bam - it was just truly terrifying.

I highly recommend this book to all readers.  This is one thriller every single person needs to get their hands on right now.


Saturday, August 14, 2021

Bout of Books

 Hi reader friends!  Guess what time it is?!  It's time for another round of Bout of Books.  Naturally I'll be participating again and I can't wait.

Are you unsure what Bout of Books is? Here is a great description of the event:

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 16th and runs through Sunday, August 22nd in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 32 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

If you're interested you should definitely sign up and join in the fun!  

Thursday, August 12, 2021

All Boys Aren't Blue - George M. Johnson

Title: All Boys Aren't Blue
Author: George M. Johnson
Format: E-book
Rating: 4 Stars 


In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren't Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson's emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.


George M Johnson has written a memoir that is compelling, eye opening, heartbreaking, and absolutely necessary.  I certainly cannot even pretend to know what it was like for George growing up as a queer black kid, but I can say he tells his story in an unflinching way that is still gentle and wonderful for all ages, not just for teenagers.

George M. Johnson did write this memoir as a way to reach teens and show them what it was like for him growing up as a black queer kid in the 90's, but this book is written in such a way that adults who may wonder about the issues Johnson and other kids may have gone through could benefit from this book as well.  

Johnson has a calming yet sincere way of writing about his life and his family. He introduces us to his nanny, quite possibly the most influential person in his life, and his parents, his cousins, his line brothers from his frat, and so many other people who became important to him and important for him throughout his teenage years. Johnson was fortunate enough to have many family members who loved and supported him, and even though he had a lot of things happen that were heartbreaking he knew he had a support system that would stand by him. That was amazing to see, and it made me very grateful, because a lot of queer kids don't have that. Many more black queer kids have even more difficult times than white queer kids.  I am certainly not saying that white queer kids don't have a hard time, but come on - you know we've never ever had to worry about things the way the black community has.

This book is so well written, and covers Johnson's life so well - it really is a must read memoir for all ages.  I can't think of a single bad thing to say about this book, and would recommend it to everyone of all ages. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega - Crystal Maldonado

 Title: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega 
Author: Crystal Maldonado 
Format: Ebook
Rating: 4 Stars 


Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it's hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn't help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there's one person who's always in Charlie's corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing--he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.


SPOILER ALERT: There are a few minor spoilers, so if you haven't read this book yet, and don't want to know what's going on, read this review later.

I wish books like this had been around when I was a teenager!  I am so grateful that so many authors are writing books that sow that fat people are just people with all the same feelings, thoughts, emotions, likes, dislikes, etc, that every other person has.

So, as you can see from the description, this book follows Charlie Vega, a fat 17 year old who always feels like she's struggling to be noticed, to fit in, to have people pay as much attention to her as they do to her skinny best friend Amelia. Charlie struggles with a lot of insecurity throughout this book, and learns a lot about herself as well.

That brings me to the characters: they were all wonderful and smart and funny and I loved most of them.  Even though there were characters I didn't really care for, I did appreciate that there were so many dimensions and layers to each character.  They were all wonderful and so well written.  Each character added so much to the store in terms of who they are and personality.

The growth that Charlie goes through in this book is amazing. She compares herself a lot to Amelia, and struggles with feeling like she always comes in second place to Amelia.  It's so bad that she even breaks up with her boyfriend because he asked Amelia out a year before.  Charlie slowly learns, both from finding her first love, and through really exploring why she feels the way she does, that she is amazing the way she is. 

Charlie's best friend Amelia learns so much about herself as well, not the least of which is the fact that she did sort of have a tendency of putting her relationships right out there in front of Charlie. (Granted, it was up to Charlie to love and accept that her friend was in these relationships, and to realize that this meant they could still be friends...)

Charlie's mom was a trip. I'll tell you straight up, she was the one of the only two characters I didn't like.  (The other was Cal. What a jagoff.)  Her mom was so self-centered, and so involved in what she wanted and what made her happy.  She sort of spread that into Charlie because she was always telling Charlie she should lose weight, and always trying to get Charlie to drink these weight loss shakes. After Charlie's dad died, her mom gained weight, and wasn't happy with that. I totally get feeling inadequate, and wanting to be healthier, but for Charlie's mom, she turned that weight loss into basically her entire personality, It took over her life. I feel like part of it was because she was missing her husband, and used the weight loss and the shakes as a way to distract herself after his death.

Brian is probably my favorite character in the book.  He's fun, he's nice, he's so sweet to Charlie.  He is a bit mature for a teen, which is fine, but I did sort of want to see him just act a little more like a teenager sometimes.  

I loved the way this story developed and how a lot of the things that happened throughout the book led to the characters like Charlie, learning something about themselves.  This story moves quickly once you get into it, and each event that happens is important to the building up of this story. Cal scamming Charlie, Charlie's mom sort of ragging on Charlie, Charlie finally FINALLY realizing that Brian was so into her - it was all important, and it all led to wonderful things happening in each next part of the novel.

I really love that this book looks at what it's actually like to be a fat kid who doesn't always feel accepted, and really fits in those moments where Charlie looks at things on social media pertaining to the body I wish books like this had been around when I was a teenager!  I am so grateful that so many authors are writing books that sow that fat people are just people with all the same feelings, thoughts, emotions, likes, dislikes, etc, that every other person has.

This book also spent a lot of time exploring the body positive movement and looking at how important that is for young people and older people alike.  Charlie was definitely not the only person who could benefit from that movement (I'm looking at you Charlie's mom!!!)  Charlie learned a lot from looking through the internet at Insta posts by people in the body positive movement.  I feel like that was a big part of her development and why she slowly learned to accept and truly love herself the way she deserves. 

Overall, this was a wonderful, well written, insightful novel that everyone should get their hands on!

If you've already read Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, drop a comment below and let me know what you thought of it. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

The Grace Year - Kim Liggett

Title: The Grace Year
Author: Kim Liggett 
Format: Hardcover 
Rating: 4 Stars 


No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.


This is the only book I've read in recent years that comes close to the incredible story that is The Hunger Games.  Many have tried, many have failed.  

The Grace Year sees a county where the adults send all the girls aged 16 out into the outskirts to spend a year ridding themselves of the magic that all girls and women possess.  While there they engage in behaviors that drive themselves and each other to the brink of madness.  

This was definitely one of my favorite books for the month of June. Wild, angry, and downright hostile, this book drew me in with its premise and held my attention with its well written characters and dynamic story.  

The reason I was gripped by these characters is because they were so well written. They were ferocious, each in their own way, and they had so much about each of themselves that it was so easy for the reader to catch on as to why each one became who she did throughout the book.  From the very beginning, you could tell that each character, including the ones being cast out into the outskirts, was so distinct and so strong in their way.  I could tell why each character was how she was just based off the first couple chapters.  I could see why they were all so scared, yet so commanding in a way.  They were all right there in your face, and I wanted to know what happened to each and every one of them.

There were so many turns in this book.  Each moment played into the next moment very well. There was a lot of good foreshadowing in this book.  The author foreshadows well, and doesn't give too much away though.  You know something is going to happen, but what exactly and when is what you get to find out.  With each twist, you're left thinking that you know how this book is going to end, and then there's another twist, and the author leaves you wondering. 

I loved that there were some surprises throughout this book. I could not have suspected exactly what was going to happen between Tierney and Riley, for example, until they actually met in person.  Clearly someone was looking out for Tierney, and it was exciting to learn how and why, and to watch their relationship develop.  

The dynamics in each family were interesting as well.  Most of the focus was on Tierney's family, and watching her learn about her parents, and come to the realization that they were not as bad as she thought was interesting.  She had a very one sided view of them based on one thing that she learned, and it took her some time in the wild to realize who they really were and why they did what they did. 

The entire idea behind this book and books like it is scary, yet fascinating.  You know people are going to die.  You know some people are probably going to die at the hands of someone else.  And you want to fault whoever does the killing, but it's not the fault of these young girls at all.  They are so brainwashed into believing that what's happening to them is right, and that this is the way.  They are taught their entire lives to look at the grace year as something the have to do because they are dirty, and magical, and because they have to ride themselves of that magic to be proper, suitable wives. As a society, we don't want to think we could ever become like this, and I think that's why these books are so appealing to people.  They take the absolute worst thing that could happen, turn it into a story, and we become fascinated by it.  

All that being said, I don't know if we'd ever become as dramatic as books like The Grace Year (or The Hunger Games), but we do need to guard ourselves more as a society and look at the way we treat women and girls, and kids.  

All in all, this was a well written wonderful book that I'd recommend to anyone looking for a gripping story. This book does not disappoint. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

It's June - Time To Show you Some Books

Hey Reader Friends!  Happy June. I can't believe it's here already.  

Anyway, I wanted to stop by and share my favorite books of the year so far with you.  Sit back and enjoy.

1. Concrete Rose - Angie Thomas: This book explores the life of Maverick Carter, Starr Carter's dad, as he goes through his last year of high school, becomes a young dad, and tries to deal with life as a new dad and gang member.  I loved this book as much as I loved The Hate U Give.  Angie Thomas is a wonderful author, and everything she wants to write, I'm game to read. 

2. The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires - Grady Hendrix: This was a hilarious yet creepy look at smallish town life and the way that life changes when all the snoopy ladies in the neighborhood meet the new guy in town.

3. Horrorstor - Grady Hendrix: This was the funniest yet grosses book I've ever read.  Grady Hendrix really does a number on his characters, and I loved every second of it.

4. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue - V.E. Schwab: This was, hands down, my absolute 100% favorite book of the year.  I loved every single wonderful second of this book.  I feel like there aren't enough words to describe my love for this book, but you can read my review here.

5. The Once and Future Witches - Alix E. Harrow: This book was my second favorite book of the year so far.  I LOVED this book. The review is here.

6. Cemetery Boys - Aiden Thomas: I just loved this book so much, and if you haven't read it yet, I don't even know what to tell you! GO READ THIS BOOK.  You can find my review here.

7. The House on the Cerulean Sea - TJ Klune: This is a sweet, wonderful, funny book that explores the importance of acceptance of self and others, and shows love in the best way. I loved every moment of it.  Especially Lucy.  My review for this book is here.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Middle Grade Mini Review

Hi reader friends.  Last week, I read some really cute middle grade graphic novels.  Naturally, I had to share them with you in case you have kiddos around that might be interested in them. Here are three mini reviews for the books!

Title: Forget Me Nat
Author: Maria Scrivan
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3 Stars 

Companion to the New York Times bestseller Nat Enough!

It's called a crush for a reason...For the first time in her life, Natalie feels confident. Her talents are being recognized, she has supportive friends, and she's spending a ton of time with her crush, Derek! But when Derek tells Natalie that he just wants to be friends, Natalie's self-confidence quickly changes to self-doubt. As she tries to recover from her broken heart, Natalie casts aside her talents and even her friends. With no one to turn to, Natalie will have to pull herself out of this mess on her own.

I loved this adorable book and everything it had to teach it's MC.  The book follows Nat, a young girl experiencing her first crush and heartbreak.

The characters in this book were all great.  Knowing kids in the middle school age range, I can say honestly I feel like these characters are relatable.  I think young kids will look at this and see them in Nat and her friends.  

I think the author did a great job with character growth in this book as well.  She showed Nat having that experience of heartbreak when her crush says he just wants to be friends.  Nat uses that as a chance to learn more about herself and why it's important not to lose yourself and let go of things that are important just because you have a crush.

The artwork was great, and fit in with the words in the book and the feelings of the characters throughout the story.  

Overall, this is definitely any kids in middle school would love, especially if they have had an experience like Nat's.

Title: Sanity and Tallulah Field Trip
Author: Molly Brooks 
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3 stars 

Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega are on a field trip to mining planet Apis and its moons. They can't wait to see their first sunset, hang out with their friends, and learn all about the special resource produced there. But when an accident separates them from the rest of the group, they'll have to crash land on the planet alone. As they try to find their way back to their classmates, the girls discover that there's more to the shadowy FootHold Corporation than meets the eye. With the planet set to self-destruct and vicious space pirates on their tail, these best friends will have to stretch their problem-solving skills to the limit in order to solve the mystery and get everyone home safe--before the planet literally explodes.

Funny dialogue, planets, great artwork, and space collide in this wonderful graphic novel from author and Illustrator Molly Brooks.  This is the second book about Sanity and Tallulah.

I have yet to read the first book in this series, but if it's anything like Field Trip, I'll read it with pleasure.  This book had well written dialogue and great artwork throughout. I loved the characters, especially our two MC's Sanity and Tallulah.  They were definitely giving off some mischievous vibes in the beginning, but they were great and so funny. 

I loved that this book took place in outer space.  The kids live on a spaceship, and have made plans to visit a planet just to see what it's like.  Lots of things go wrong, and lots of great lessons are learned.  The novel was believable in the environment it was set it.  What happened in the book fit perfectly with where it was taking place. 

This is definitely another cute book that any kid in the middle grades would love to read (Especially if they love space.)

Title: Ghosts
Author: Raina Telgemeir
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3 stars 


Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake - and her own. 


This book was the perfect blend of sweet and spooky. It wasn't too scary to freak out younger kids, it just had some ghosts that were part of Dio de los muertos.  

Catrina and her family move to a climate that will help Cat's sister Maya feel better.  Cool air is good for her because of her cystic fibrosis.  When they move, they discover their new home has ghosts around, mostly because the city Bahia de la Luna is filled with citizens who are Latino who celebrate dio de los muertos. 

This gives Cat and Maya a chance to learn about this celebration and about the people who live in their new community.  They meet a young guy who runs a museum in town, and through a turn of fate they become friends with him.  

The way this book shows the relationship between Cat and Maya is awesome.  It shows that even though Cat gets angry and frustrated with her sister, she'd do anything to protect Maya.  This book also does a great job of exploring the way that moving can impact kids. 

This book gets a solid A+ for the way it handles emotions in young children, sickness, new friendships, and other hard topics for kids.  

This is another great book that I truly believe any middle grade reader will like. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Bout of Books 31 - An Update (Again)


Hey reader friends.  I hope you've all been having a great week.  

I've got a small update for you from the past few Bout of Books Days!  

Books I'm Currently Reading

Books I've Finished This Week

How have you been doing on your reading lately?  If you're doing Bout of Books, have you read as much as you wanted?  Talk to me in the comments - I'd love to hear from you.  

As a bonus, here's a pic of my reading buddy, Felix. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Bout of Books 31 - An Update

 Hey reader friends! I have been bad about updating for Bout of Books this week.  SO, here is my update.  

This is going to be a low key, simple update.  But that's okay.  The most important thing is that I have been reading and having fun! 

Books I've Finished: 

Books I'm Currently Reading: 

I'd like to finish at least these 2 books this week.  That's a lie - I want to finish the entire Nevermoor series during this Bout of Books, but we'll see how the next few days go.

What have you been reading this week? If you're doing Bout of Books, how have things been going?  Drop me a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Bout of Books 31

 Hey reader friends. I was all set to sign up for bout of books, and forgot to post my sign up!  So. Here's my sign up for the wonderful, fantastic, amazing Bout of Books. If you don't know what that is check out the blurb below:

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 10th and runs through Sunday, May 16th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 31 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team.             

Now, I don't know how many books I will finish this well, but I'm going to try and make it a lot.  So far, I would like to finish:

Nevermoor - Jessica Townsend

Wundersmith - Jessica Townsend 

Hollowpox - Jessica Townsend

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

The Extraordinaries - TJ Klune

Sanity and Tallulah Field Trip

Forget me Nat - Maria Scrivan

Doodleville - Chad Sell

If you're doing Bout of Books this week, what are you reading? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Concrete Rose - Angie Thomas


Title: Concrete Rose 
Author: Angie Thomas
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5 Stars 


International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.

If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.

Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.

Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.

Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.

When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can't just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.


SPOILERS AHEAD: Sorry readers. This is not a spoiler free review. So if you haven't read this book yet and don't want to know anything, skip the review for now.

Concrete Rose is the prequel to Angie Thomas's bestselling novel The Hate U Give.  This book follows Starr's father Maverick Carter as a 17 year old struggling high school student and gang member in Garden Heights. Mav is just trying to live his life, playing ball and dealing, and then he finds out that the baby he thought was King's is actually his. This information is life changing, not just for Mav, but for his mother, his girlfriend Lisa, and Seven's mother Iesha, as well so many other people in this book. 

I loved and hated so much about this book. I loved the characters (most of them) and loved watching them grow throughout the book.  Let's talk about those characters a bit.  Mav and his mother were my favorite characters. Mav's mom was honest and blunt with him, and when they found out Seven was his baby, his mother made sure he took care of that baby like every parent should.  Mav certainly had struggles in this book, and I'm not even going to pretend I understand what his struggles were like.  I'm an old white lady from a small town. I've never had to deal with gangs, police violence, and the massive amounts of drugs pushed on communities of color.  So, I will just say, I loved watching Mav grow and mature throughout this book.  He started out not thinking that he could possibly take care of this baby because he was 17, and we all know how hard it is to take care of babies.  They cry, they wake up in the middle of the night, the test you.  But he did what he had to do, and some things fell through the cracks. But he learned some hard lessons throughout this book, and he stepped up and did what he needed to do make sure he and his son were taken care of. 

I also loved Dre, and I think he was a great role model for Mav.  He was always looking out for Mav, and I was so heartbroken when he got killed. I definitely saw a lot more struggle for a long time in Mav after Dre got murdered. 

The other characters in this book, even the minor ones, added a lot to this book, and really helped give an idea of what life was like for Maverick and his friends when he was young.  They were all so well written, and they were all part of this book for a reason.

The book was well written, which is what I have com to expect from Angie Thomas. The whole story was on point. If you've read The Hate U Give, you know that Mav was young when he got Iesha and Lisa pregnant, you know some of the background details of his life. And yet, this book still surprised me, and I loved it even when I was crying over what happened. Nothing in this book didn't fit. Even when I was pissed at what happened and wanted to rewind, I knew what had happened was important to the story and needed to be there. 

I liked that this book showed such strong role models for the young people in Garden Heights.  The owner of the store where Mav got his job, for example, was wonderful and very strict with Mav. Mav's mom, his counselor at school, Dre, and so many other adults, were always looking out for these kids and making sure that things were getting better for them. There are too many kids who don't have that kind of thing in their lives, and so it was good to see that here. I think that really helped Mav because it showed him that he not only had his son depending on him, but he also had all these other people around him who knew he could be more. 

If you're up for it, here are some booktube folks who have also reviewed this wonderful book.  Go check out their videos.

If you want to go check out Angie Thomas around the internet, here's her website:

Go follow her on the bird app too:

If you've read Concrete Rose, drop your thoughts below. I'd love to know what you think!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires - Grady Hendrix

Title: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires
Author: Grady Hendrix
Format: E-Book
Rating: 4 Stars 


Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the '90s about a women's book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia's life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they're more likely to discuss the FBI's recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club's meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he's a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she--and her book club--are the only people standing between the monster they've invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.


I love a good vampire book, and that's what I got with this book.  It's definitely weird, quirky, and exactly what one can expect from Grady Hendrix. 

This book starts with a book club and ends with a lot of blood and gore. Patty, the nurse turned housewife, lives with a husband who thinks she does nothing all day and two kids who spend most of the novel hating their mother. Patty and some of her friends start a new book club after getting frustrated with the old one.  Watching their love of true crime develop in that book club was fun, and certainly gave insight into why Patty was so obsessed with their new neighbor... 

The characters in this book were...over the top in some senses, which I would sort of expect from a Grady Hendrix novel at this point.  (At the time, I've also finished another book of his, the review for which will be coming soon.  The characters in his books are something else, in a good way.) I never really expect the characters in horror stories to be super well defined, but to be honest, most of my experience in the horror genre has been with cheesy late 90's movies like Scream and I Know What you Did Last Summer.  So, going into this book, I was happy to see that the characters were very well written, and even though I hated them, I loved them.  I actually liked most of the characters.  James and Grace were atrocious though.  I literally did hate them! Each character was so well written that you could tell why they would do what they did, why they talked and behaved in their own way.  I could just feel their personalities and attitudes coming out as I read this book.

Even though this was not supposed to really be funny, there were definitely some comedic moments, which I seem to think is a pattern in Hendrix's books. The story was also really well written.  There was some great foreshadowing with James, and with Patty's mother-in-law too.  I don't want to spoil anything.  Let's just sat that Patty's MIL had a good reason to hate James.  As out there as some things in the story were (Patty hiding in James's attic?!?!?!?!!) everything in the book fit together and came right to a point at the end.  The way each little thing added into the next thing, into the next, let this story build up so much.  Every moment in the book wove together seamlessly. 

I loved that this book brought back vampires as well.  It's been a while since I've read a good vampire book, and I personally think we need a vampire resurrection in books.  

Considering that this was a vampire book that also involved some chopping, I'm actually surprised there wasn't more blood and stuff in the book.  I never thought I'd say this, but I'm a little disappointed in that.  I need a good vampire horror novel with even more guts and gore. 

Overall, I loved the book, and I would definitely recommend it to others who love creepy, horror, vampire books - especially if it's all rolled into one.  

If you've already read this book, be sure to let me know what you thought in the comments!