In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens Book Review

Author Information


F.T. Lukens is an award-winning author of Young Adult fiction. A sci fi enthusiast, F.T. loves Star Wars and Star Trek and is a longtime member of their college’s science-fiction club. F.T. holds degrees in Psychology and English Literature and has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and writing. F.T. lives in North Carolina with their spouse, three kids, three dogs, and three cats.

F.T.’s urban fantasy novel The Rules and Regulations For Mediating Myths & Magic won several awards including the 2017 Foreword INDIES Gold Award for Young Adult Fiction, the 2017 IPBA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best Teen Fiction and the 2017 Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction. It was also named to the 2019 ALA Rainbow Book List.

Book Description

A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.

Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.

That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

Review

I won this book in a giveaway from Turn the Page Tours so thanks to them and Netgalley I am able to provide a review for you all.

Thoughts and Themes: It took me quite a long time to be invested in this book as I kept going back and forth in my interest in it. The book starts off quite slowly which is the main reason as to why I wasn’t drawn in immediately to this story.

I really loved how this story is so much adventure and so much different layers kept getting added to this as I read more. I liked reading along as different things happen to Tal and trying to see what he would do next just to survive. I liked that this was a story about survival and the things that one is willing to do in order to survive.

I really enjoyed the world-building in this book and how that was part of the adventure in this story. I liked how there were things that Tal was figuring out about alongside the reader and liked how his family’s past played into the present times. I really enjoyed learning about the different types of magic that was in this book, not just the magic that Tal had but the mystical creatures that were involved and the powers that some of his family members possessed.

Characters: In this story you get introduced to quite a few characters through their interactions with Tal and each of them is unique in their own way. I loved all of the relationships that Tal has with each person who is important to him and I even liked the villains in this story.

I liked the way Tal and Athlen’s relationship develops and how it changes over time. I like how not only is Tal second guessing Athlen’s feelings throughout the whole story but as a reader you are questioning Athlen’s motives. This part was the best thing for me because I loved trying to figure out who was trustworthy in this story and who wasn’t. I felt like Tal who was also trying to figure this out for himself.

I also really enjoyed the relationships that Tal had with each of his family members and especially his siblings. I liked how supportive they are of Tal and how protective they are of him as their youngest sibling. I really liked the scenes in which we get to see all of them talking to him and getting upset with themselves for “allowing” him to have been harmed.

Writing Style: The story is told in third person point of view and follows Tal. I really liked the story being told in this way because it doesn’t seem to be an all knowing narrator. We still get Tal’s feelings and confusion even if he isn’t the one telling the story to us.

Fresh by Margot Wood Book Review

Author Information

Margot Wood is the founder of Epic Reads and has worked in marketing for more than a decade at publishing houses both big and small. Born and raised in Cincinnati, and a graduate of Emerson College, Wood now lives in Portland, Oregon and works in comic book publishing. She once appeared as an extra in the Love, Simon movie.

You can find her online at margotwood.com.

Book Description

A hilarious and vulnerable coming-of-age story about the thrilling new experiences––and missteps––of a girl’s freshman year of college

Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer—from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may make epic mistakes, but if she’s honest with herself (and with you, dear reader), she may just find the person she wants to be. And maybe even fall in love in the process . . . Well, maybe.

Review

Thank you to Amulet Books for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: From the first look at the cover and the description this isn’t the typical book that I would pick up, but I am so glad that I gave it a try since I winded up loving this story. This was a book that I just couldn’t put down once I picked it up.

This book instantly transported me back to my first year of college and while I was nothing like Elliot, I could still relate to the characters in this story. It was fun returning to this time in my life and also remembering what student’s lives are like when they are in college now that I work as an academic advisor. I thought that this story really captured the feeling of going away to college really well and all that comes along with being alone for the first time.

Something else that I really liked about this book was how sex positive it was. As an a-spec person, I tend to stray away from books that feature sex as I can find it overwhelming but I found this book wasn’t too much. I liked that we got a range of different opinions on sex in this book and how no one was shamed for their thoughts on it.

I really love the ending of this story and just screamed so much in the last 50ish pages of this book. I can’t say much more about this without ruining it but it was just too cute for my heart to handle.

Characters: In this story you get to meet Elliot, and several of the people she interacts with on a regular basis and her family members. I really enjoyed getting to read the pieces between Elliot and her younger sister. I loved the way their relationship was easy but you can feel how much she cares about Elliot.

I also really like the friendship between Elliot and her roommate, Lucy. I love the different challenges that they face through their friendship and how they navigate those challenges. I really like how we get to see the reality of several students at a private school through Lucy when she points out the privileges’ that Elliot has. I also like how different they are from each other especially when it comes to relationship and sex. What I really appreciated was how Elliot and Lucy respected each others perspective on things and supported each other’s decisions.

Writing Style: The story is told in first person point of view through the main character, Elliot, and it includes footnotes throughout. I really enjoy the footnotes that are included because it makes the book feel like I’m reading Elliot’s diary. The footnotes allow you to get her innermost thoughts and it also gives a chance to explain things outside of the main story. I also like how we only get the story through Elliot’s perspective because it reads like a college freshman trying to figure out her life.

Flash Fire (The Extraordinaries #2) by TJ Klune Book Review

Author Information

TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories. 

Book Description

Flash Fire is the explosive sequel to The Extraordinaries by USA Today bestselling author TJ Klune!

Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams, but with new heroes arriving in Nova City it’s up to Nick and his friends to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous. Which is a lot to handle for a guy who just wants to finish his self-insert bakery AU fanfic.

Review

Thank you to Netgalley, Macmillan, and Tor-Forge for an advanced reader’s copy of the book in exchange for my review.

Thoughts and Themes: I really enjoyed book 1 so I was so happy to get a chance to read this one and this book did not disappoint. I rarely read series as they come out because I don’t feel the need to read the next book as soon as it comes out but this was one of those that I had to know what happens now.

It is quite difficult to provide you all with a review without ruining book 1 so if you haven’t read that book yet, go do that before you continue reading this review.

I love the way Nick finds out about certain things in this book, I also like the way he responds to the things that he finds out. It’s like his whole life is unraveling before his eyes and as he thinks he has it all together it only unravels some more. The way this is done kept me reading even when I guessed where the story was going.

Something that I was really hoping was going to change with this book or at least be brought up was the amount of police admiring went on in the first book. I am glad that this book did begin the conversation about police brutality especially as Nick’s dad did beat up a man. While I was quite upset that Gibby and her family were the ones to bring up the conversation, I am glad that it did happen. I also liked how we do see Nick struggle with what it means for his dad to be a cop and begin to ask questions rather than just having it be fact.

Characters: The characters in this book, Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz are just as great as they were in book 1. I just love how they formed a found family and watching as how their relationships develop through the course of this book. I really like how we get brief glimpses of each of their parents and see how those relationships are developed as well.

I liked getting to see Nick and his dad’s relationship develop throughout the course of this book, both as he questions his dad being a cop and also questions his dad keeping things from him. I liked getting to see how their relationship changed throughout time and I just like how casual they are with each other. It very much is a teenage child and parental relationship which is funny at times.

Writing Style: This story is written in third person through the perspective of the main character, Nick. I like that the story is told in third person because you get a glimpse at what the others are doing but you don’t know what’s going on unless Nick is around. I like getting things through Nick’s perspective because it feels like things are all over the place the whole time so you are for sure inside his head.

Dead Boy by Laurel Gale Book Review

Author Information

Laurel Gale writes books for children. Her middle grade novels include Dead Boy and Story Magic. She lives with her husband and their ferrets in Washington. In addition to writing, she enjoys hiking, playing board games, and reading. She loves animals and is easily distracted by squirrels. You can visit Laurel online at laurelgale.com or on Twitter at @laurel_gale.

Book Description

A darkly funny and literary debut novel about a dead boy named Crow who has a chance at friendship – and a chance at getting his life back

Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a life.

Crow Darlingson isn’t like other kids. He stinks. He’s got maggots. His body parts fall off at inopportune moments. (His mom always sews them back on, though.) And he hasn’t been able to sleep in years. Not since waking up from death.

But worse than the maggots is how lonely Crow feels. When Melody Plympton moves in next door, Crow can’t resist the chance to finally make a friend. With Melody around he may even have a shot at getting his life back from the mysterious wish-granting creature living in the park. But first there are tests to pass. And it will mean risking the only friend he’s had in years.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I found this book in the pile of books my cousins have and since it was the closest to me I started reading it. I was invested in the poor lonely main character from the first few pages so I rented the audiobook from the library.

This is a cute middle grade read that I think children ages 10+ would enjoy but its also a great story for adults to read. I really like how this book feels a lot like frankenweenie or monster house. I found that this book read like a middle grade horror story which isn’t too scary for children but includes a bit of the mystery that is fun to read.

Characters: Right from the start we feel bad for our main character because he’s dead but some how is still alive. I felt bad for him because his parents only want to protect him from everyone but he wants to get to live the life he has now been given. All Crow wants is the chance to make friends with other kids his age, and he gets that chance when he meets Melody.

Writing Style: This book is written in third person through the perspective of Crow. I really liked that the story was told through Crow’s perspective because it read like a middle schooler and you can feel his pain throughout the story. I also really liked how you could feel how lonely he felt through each scene and how he felt about his particular situation.

I listened to this one on audio and really enjoyed the narrator to the story. I liked how easy it was to listen to and follow along with. I liked that you could tell which character was the one speaking and how they each had a distinct tone.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass Book Review

Author Information

Ryan Douglass was born and raised in Atlanta, where he currently resides, cooking pasta and playing records. He enjoys wood wick candles, falling asleep on airplanes, and advocating for stronger media representation for queer Black people.

Book Description

Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA horror where survival is not a guarantee.

Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the advanced reader’s copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: I had only seen negative reviews on this book so I went into this one suspecting bad and I wish I had’t. I actually really enjoyed this book and the multiple things that were happening in the story. I usually don’t like for there to be many side plot lines because I worry that they will be left unresolved but I liked the side things happening in this story. I felt that the side things happening helped move the story forward and also allowed you to learn about the characters.

I liked how this book brought up the intersection of being Black and Gay and how that was very different than being just one or the other. I thought this was a important piece that was brought up. I can’t speak on the intersection of holding both of those identities so I suggest that you all read own voices reviews as well.

Something else that I enjoyed about this book was that there were moments in which I felt the characters were coming off the screen. I loved the scenes in which there are supernatural elements involved since I felt these features brought the book to life. It was like this book was a ghost in my own living room.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to quite a few characters through their interactions with Jake and through the journal entries that are provided from Sawyer. I liked the way that we get to meet the people who were in Sawyer’s life and get to understand Sawyer through the journal entries and not just his haunting of Jake.

Something that I really enjoyed about this book is that both Sawyer and Jake are gay males. I thought it was great to see how that identity played into their daily lives and also their interactions with each other. I thought that them both being gay added depth to the story and added more to the reason Sawyer was haunting Jake. I felt that this fact made Sawyer feel like he could relate with Jake, and slowly it felt like Jake was able to relate with Sawyer.

I also really enjoyed the brief romance that we got through this book between Jake and Allister. While the romance wasn’t front and center in this story, I liked the glimpses that we get of their relationship and how it develops.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person point of view through Jake’s perspective and it also includes some of the entries from Sawyer’s journal. I like that this book goes back and forth between Jake’s life and Sawyer’s journal entries. I liked getting to know who Sawyer was prior to the shooting and try to see why that event occurred. I also thought it was great to see that this journal was being read by Jake and it was informing him of why this ghost was now haunting him.

Impacted by Benji Carr Book Review

Author Information

As a child growing up in the South with cerebral palsy, Benji Carr developed an eye for the bizarre and quirky, which provided all of the stories he told his friends and family with a bit of flavor. Working as a journalist, storyteller and playwright, his work – whether the stories be personal tales of struggle and survival or fiction about cannibal lunch ladies, puppet romances, drag queen funerals, and perverted killer circus clowns – has been featured in The Guardian, ArtsATL and Pembroke Magazine. Onstage, his pieces have been presented at the Center for Puppetry Arts, Alliance Theatre, and as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival in Manhattan. He lives in Atlanta and helps run the online literary magazine, Gutwrench Journal. Impacted is his first novel.

Book Description

With every trip he makes to the dentist, Wade’s pain only gets worse. His smile has faded. He’s clenching his jaw and grinding his teeth more, not because of bad oral hygiene or any mishaps in orthodontics. Wade’s teeth don’t need straightening out, but the rest of his life could use that kind of adjustment. Wade has fallen in love with handsome Dr. Emmett, and their office visits in the afternoon have become decidedly more personal than professional. And poor Wade is sure his girlfriend Jessa would punch him in the mouth if she found out.

After all, Jessa did just abandon her church and her family to be with him. And she did just have Wade’s baby. So their relationship has already caused enough gossip in the small Georgia town of Waverly.

When Wade tries to end the affair, the breakup takes a brutal turn, leaving Wade in a state of panic. His life is under threat. His secrets could be exposed, and his family may fall apart before he realizes what kind of person he wants to be.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: It took me a while to really get into this one and I made the mistake of looking at other people’s reviews in the middle of reading. I really didn’t see the humor in the story even if it was supposed to be dark humor. That being said, I did still enjoy the story that was told in this book.

I was a bit worried that the center would focus more on the relationship between Dr. Emett and Wade and I really didn’t want that. I was glad that we get to see more of Wade’s life with Jessa, Lydie, and his mom. I thought this was a good coming of age story as Wade figures out who he is and tries to cope with the mess he made, and then deal with being told he was abused.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to quite a few characters that all have different relationships with Wade. I really liked getting to know each of the characters that we meet and getting to see how their story comes together around Wade. There were some characters like the Reverand and Jessa which I was frustrated by and could’ve done with less of them.

I liked getting to see how much more of a mess Wade’s life gets with more people being introduced into the story. I thought it was great to see how these people play into his life and how they help him make sense of the things that have happened to him.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person with an knowing narrator as you read the story through jumping from one character to another. At first I really didn’t like that this book was going back and forth between characters and wished that we got more of Wade. As the book progressed, I understood the need to show us what was going on with the other characters to really tie them together and tie the loose pieces together.

What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson Book Review

Author Information

Cory was born in Idaho and grew up an outdoor-girl in the rugged Middle Rockies. Her father, a park ranger, encouraged her to explore the woods and find “what beauty there is” in the world. He taught her to camp, and how to survive in the forest in winter. She later learned they didn’t have a lot of money, but as a child she never knew it. She had two best friends: Nature, and books.

All Cory’s life she’s felt the strong bonds of family and siblings. Her writing is based in these close relationships, and in the gritty experience of growing up in the wild Rocky Mountains. 

From an early age, Cory loved books. Her family often visited the library, where she discovered White Fang. Within its pages she learned about courage, and the power of kindness. She read all the time. By seventh grade, she was writing. For years, Cory underlined and dog-eared the pages of books, picking scenes and phrases apart until she could decently put them together again. She became fascinated with the mystery of the Great Story.

 Over time, Cory cultivated a writing style. Chief among them is her love of stark prose, which she attributes to Cormac McCarthy. The Road captivated her for years—and forever, she thinks. There are too many YA authors to mention, but she’s compelled to bring up Laurie Halse Anderson, Madeleine L’Engle, Markus Zusak, Patrick Ness, and Elizabeth Acevedo.

Cory started writing What Beauty There Is at a rough time. Her marriage had just ended and she suddenly found herself alone, with a son and daughter to protect. Within a month or so, she had an empty pantry and an eviction notice. She was desperate. The story of Jack and Matty arose out of this grief—and her desire to take care of her children, when she didn’t know if she could.

Ava’s story is also deeply meaningful to Cory. When she was Ava’s age, Cory was assaulted, and for a lot of years she believed a part of her had broken. She thought that she’d developed a cold heart, that she’d lost the ability to love. It took a long time to learn that this wasn’t true. Hard things can hurt us, but it doesn’t mean we’re broken.

Cory now lives in the Wasatch Mountains, where she spends countless hours writing, sometimes in the woods with just a pencil and paper. Always with a full heart.

She hopes you enjoy What Beauty There Is.

Book Description

Winter. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.

Jack Morton has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d do anything for. Even die for. Now with their mother gone, and their funds quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison. He chooses the money.

Ava Bardem lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one. Trust no one. Now Victor Bardem is stalking the same money as Jack. When he picks up Jack’s trail, Ava must make her own wrenching choice: remain silent or help the brothers survive.

Choices. They come at a price.

Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Macmillan’s Children’s Publishing Group for the advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: This book did take me a while to get into as it does start off slow, I’m glad that I stuck with it though because less than halfway through I didn’t want to put it down. Make sure to look into trigger warnings for this book before you start reading it, there is on page suicide, violence, murder, and abuse in this book.

I really liked how this book introduces you to the Jack and Matty’s story and walks you through moments of their past to explain the present. There are so many moments in this story that I just want to protect these two kids whose circumstances happen due to their parents. This book takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions as you hope for the best possible ending for these characters you can’t help but love.

There’s a point in this book that I just wanted to toss my kindle across the room but I can’t talk about that scene without ruining the whole story. Just know that your heart will be breaking multiple times for the boys.

If any of you read this please message me, that ending has me so confused and I need to discuss it. I don’t know what happened and I know its probably up to the reader but I need to know what others thought. Should I be happy crying or sad crying about that ending?

Characters: In this story you get introduced to a range of characters but our main characters are Jack, Ava, and Matty. I really liked that each of these characters read the age they were. Even though Ava and were going through things that teenagers shouldn’t have to deal with, they still responded to those things in a teenage manner. They handled themselves well and they managed the things happening well but it was done in a way that remained true to their age and experiences.

I enjoyed reading the relationship that develops between Ava and Jack , especially the trust that they establish between themselves. I liked seeing how their past affects the way they respond to others and how they put that aside for each other.

Something else that I enjoyed through this book was the relationship that each character had with Matty. This is one of the characters that you instantly adore because he’s an innocent child and much like everyone else you want to protect him. I liked that he read as a young kid but there were moments that he pointed out to others that he was aware of the things happening around him.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person through a narrator that seems to be watching as the story unfolds. I liked to think of the narrator as the boy’s mother watching them from above and hoping for someone to save her sons. I also liked to think of the narrator as Ava at some times, like was Ava ever real. This book made me question what was real at times because of the italic portions that are included as well as the epilogue.

The Fashion Lovers Guide to Milan by Rachael Martin Book Review

Author Information

Rachael Martin is a British writer who has lived just north of Milan for over twenty years. She writes about travel, culture, the arts, and food in Italy for online and print publications. She has a special interest in the city of Milan and its fashion history, and in the stories of the women involved.

Book Description

Milan is the European fashion capital with one of the world’s most unique luxury fashion districts where the leaders of some of the most exclusive fashion houses are still living and working today. It’s the Italian city whose skyline has changed more than any, and whose fashion industry has extended to encompass the worlds of design, restaurants, bars, exhibition spaces, hotels and more. Whether you’re looking for designer labels within the city’s luxury fashion district, prefer to browse the city’s boutiques or pick up some quality vintage at the city’s vintage shops and markets, this is the guide that will tell you where to go.

Split into geographical sections along with relevant maps, cultural highlights and suggestions for where to eat and drink, it places Milan as the city of fashion within the context of Italian fashion history and a city, and brings the stories of its people to life. Why did Milan become Italy’s fashion capital? And what does it offer the fashion lover as a city today? 

Review

Thank you to Casemate Publisher for the copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Just from reading the introduction of this book, it made me want to read more and also go on my own trip to Milan. I loved how the author eases you into the book and how you get a glimpse of how important writing this book is to her.

Something that I like about this book is that it isn’t just giving you current Milan fashion, it goes through the history of fashion in Milan. I also really like how within each section of this book, it has even pieces included to tie the chapter together. I also really like how this gives different places to shop depending on the style of clothing that you are looking for. This book also includes different places in which you are able to get different meals which was great to read about.

Something else that I like about this book is that you can jump around while reading it. There is no need to go from one section to the next, you can read the portions that you are interested in and save some for later. I skipped around a bit while reading this and glimpsed over the historical pieces but still found the book just as great as when I went back and read the pieces I skipped or skimmed.

While I am not a person who is big into fashion, I did find this book easy to follow along, and found different brands to look into and places in Milan that would be cool to visit. I think this book is great for fashion lovers as well as those of us who might not be too familiar with the fashion world. I highly recommend this book to those of you who might want to explore Milan’s fashion along with their food. I also think this is a great way to explore another country right now during this pandemic where travel might not be possible for all of us.

Zombies for Everyone: A Jenna Sutton Supernatural Cozy Mystery

Author Information

Kimberly Wylie loves to write books about murder, mystery and mayhem. She’s especially fond of paranormal cozy mysteries, with some of her favorite authors being Adele Abbott, Emery Belle, and (non-paranormal cozy author) Joanne Fluke.

When not writing, you can find Kimberly enjoying the sunshine, the beach or the reef, from her home on Ambergris Caye, Belize. She lives there with her husband and the best English Cream Golden Retriever in the world—Coco.

Author Links

Website https://www.jennasuttonmystery.com

Book Description

Jenna Sutton is nothing like the iconic vampire slayer of TV fame.

She’s the antithesis of a cheerleader. She’s not peppy. And she sucks at gymnastics. She has nothing in common with the fictional Buffy, other than being blonde and in high school…
Oh, and occasionally she kills vampires for a living as well as other things that go bump in the night..

Following an attack on an English teacher at a nearby school, it becomes clear this wasn’t an ordinary coyote bite. The gray-green Lichtenberg-like webbing of streaks making their way up Ms. Pruett’s arm can mean only one thing—zombies.

But this isn’t a normal zombie attack. The victims seem to be hand-picked.

Can Jenna complete her investigation without the school administrators figuring out she’s actually a high school student from another school? Will Jenna be able to find out who’s behind these attacks before a full-scale zombie outbreak overtakes the town? And, perhaps most importantly…

Why did her best friend kiss her after all of these years?

Review

Thoughts and Themes: Once I started reading this one, I had a hard time putting it down as it drew me in. The story starts off slow as they introduce you to the role that Jenna plays in this town and some of the people that she works with. It picks up rather quickly though as you get introduced to the problem that the town is facing and Jenna’s new case.

I really liked how short each of these chapters are and how they flow well with each other. I really enjoyed the world-building that takes place as you learn about Jenna as a hunter and the different creatures that she is hunting. While I am familiar with the traditional story of zombies, it was nice for this book to recap what we know as zombies and then further explain what types of zombies they encounter.

Characters: In this story there are two main characters that the story centers around, Jenna and Kieran. I really liked getting to know each of the characters seperately and reading as they worked together.

Something that I wasn’t too fond of was the relationship that begins to develop between the two main characters. I felt that the relationship was a bit forced and was frustrated by all of Jenna’s internal thoughts about Kieron when they were trying to solve a case.

I like the side characters that you get to meet who work with Jenna on her cases. While we only get brief glimpses of these characters, I was happy to see the people that her world consisted of.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person through the perspective of the main character, Jenna. I like that this story is written through her perspective as the story reads the correct age for our main character. I thought that it was great to have the book written in first person and in Jenna’s perspective because there are teenage moments throughout the book that interfere with her doing her job.

What Fresh Hell Is This? by Heather Corinna Book Review

Author Information

Heather Corinna is an insufferable queer and nonbinary feminist activist, author, educator, artist, organizer, and innovator. They’re the founder, director, designer and editor of the web clearinghouse and organization Scarleteen, the first comprehensive sex, sexuality and relationships education site and resource of its kind. Heather and the team at Scarleteen have provided millions of young people accurate, inclusive information and support for over two decades. They’re often tired.

Heather’s also the author of the inclusive, comprehensive and progressive sex, sexual health and relationships book for young adults, S.E.X: The All-You-Need-To-Know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties (Hachette, 2006, 2017), now in its second edition; and, with Isabella Rotman and Luke Howard, Wait, What?: A Comic Book Guide to Relationships, Bodies, and Growing Up (Oni Press/Lion Forge, 2019), for older middle readers and younger teen. They’ve been an early childhood educator, a sexuality, contraception and abortion educator and counselor, a member of the editorial board for the American Journal of Sexuality Education and the Board of Directors for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington; a writer and contributing editor for the 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and a plaintiff for the ACLU where they eventually got to stick it to the Bush administration, which was one of their Best Days Ever. By working themselves to a pulp, Heather has won acclaim and several awards in their field, and a lot of places and people say they’re awesome. Some do not.

They’re navigating middle age and all it entails with as much grace as they can muster (spoiler: not much), and currently, and begrudgingly, live and work in their hometown of Chicago after 20 years away. When not locked in a small room feverishly writing a book in a pandemic or otherwise overindulging in labor, Heather hangs out with their dog, partner and friends, goes outside, makes and geeks out about music, cooks, babies houseplants, and tries to enjoy the purportedly existential theater of life. 

Book Description

An informative, blisteringly funny, somewhat cranky and always spot-on guide to perimenopause and menopause by the award-winning sex ed/health educator and author of S.E.X.
If you don’t know award-winning sex educator and all-around badass Heather Corinna, let them introduce themselves and their new book:
“I’m going to do what I’ve done for millions of people of all ages with sex and relationships: to simplify and share solid, explicit information, to provide support and be sensitive, and to help make everyone feel less alone and get us all through hard, thorny, touchy stuff so we can make it to the other side. I’m going to do this in a similar way I’ve done it for sex and relationships in my work over the last couple decades for young people and adults alike: by talking out loud, shamelessly and frankly, about what others are afraid or ashamed to, much in the way your favorite loudmouth aunt might have if she made this kind of stuff her life’s work and if your family also didn’t always apparently forget to invite her to everything.”
Corinna has been on the cutting edge of health for more than twenty years, always talking about what people are most afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed of. What Fresh Hell Is This? is no different. It’s a companion for everyone who’s reached this “what to expect when you’re not expected to expect anything” time of life. It’s a health-forward, feminist, no b.s. (and damn funny) perimenopause guide for the generation that time forgot (aka GenXers), offering straightforward descriptions of our bodies, minds, lives and what’s going on with them during this time of hormonal chaos. Heather Corinna tells you what to expect and what to do, all while busting some myths and offering real self-care tips so you can get through this. With practical, clear information that also includes affected populations who have long been left out of the discussion, like those with disabilities, queer, transgender, nonbinary and other gender-diverse people, the working class and other marginalized folks, What Fresh Hell Is This? an accessible and inclusive guide for anyone who is experiencing the hot fire of perimenopause.

Review

Since this book is non-fiction, there is no need for me to have this separated into characters and writing style. I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed this book as I was worried it wouldn’t be relevant to me.

I really liked the way that this book was written and how everything is separated into different chapters based on what is being discussed. I liked how this book talked about a lot of the changes that happen with menopause and not just what happens to the reproductive system. I was quite surprised about the many things that people who may go through menopause don’t know about their bodies. I shared a copy of this book with my mom and kept one for myself so I can reference it in the future.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this book was how the language that is used throughout this book is gender neutral. As someone who is non-binary and one day will experience menopause, it was nice to not have this tied to being a woman. There was no point in this book that I felt like they were not including me in the group of people who experience that phenomenon.

I highly recommend this to those of you who may experience menopause, who are currently experiencing menopause, and those of you who want to better understand those of us who go through menopause. There was so much that I learned through reading this book and a lot of things that I was amazed by. I think its very important to be familiar with the changes that happen to your body so you are prepared when they come.