Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

Book Description

I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…

For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.

Anthony Stone is a rich man with four other daughters—and rules for every second of the day. Tiffany tries to make the best of things, but she doesn’t fit into her new luxurious, but super-strict, home—or get along with her standoffish sister London. The only thing that makes her new life even remotely bearable is the strange boy across the street. Marcus McKinney has had his own experiences with death, and the unexpected friendship that blossoms between them is the only thing that makes her feel grounded.

But Tiffany has a secret. Another man claims he’s Tiffany’s real dad—and she only has seven days before he shows up to demand a paternity test and the truth comes out. With her life about to fall apart all over again, Tiffany finds herself discovering unexpected truths about her father, her mother and herself, and realizing that maybe family is in the bonds you make—and that life means sometimes taking risks. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I’ve had this book sitting on my shelves for a bit so I was glad to finally get a chance to read it. I winded up listening to this one on audio and following along with the physical copy.

I really liked the narrator of this story as they were easy to listen to and there were different tones and voices for each of the characters. I found that the way this book was read really allowed you to get lost in this story.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this story is that it is one of few books that I have read that have a character that deals with anxiety. I liked the way that anxiety is portrayed in this story and how we not only see Tiffany’s response to it but we see other’s responses as well. I like that we get to see multiple responses to Tiffany being on medication for her anxiety and how she takes in each of those responses.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with Tiffany. I liked listening as Tiffany develops different relationships with her father, step-mother, new sisters, and the students in her classes. I really liked seeing how different her new life was from the one she used to have and how she was adjusting to that.

I liked getting to see how Tiffany’s relationship with her dad changes over time and I liked seeing how that relationships shifts when someone else might be her father. I thought the character development that we see with the dad was great because you get to see who he was before Tiffany and how Tiffany entering his life has changed him for the better.

I also liked seeing the friendship between Marcus and Tiffany develop. I liked trying to figure out if there was a reason why her dad didn’t want her hanging out with the neighbors beyond the surface reasons that Tiffany had guessed at.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through Tiffany’s perspective which I really enjoyed. I thought it was great that we were getting this story through her view as if an adult were telling the story it would be very different. I liked the way that Tiffany processed the things that were happening in her life and how she responded to each event.

Author Information

Dana L. Davis is a novelist and Hollywood actress with previous series regular roles as: Carmen Phillips on TNT’s Franklin and Bash and modern day mimic Monica Dawson on NBC’s cult series Heroes.

She currently stars on the animated series Star Vs. the Forces of Evil,Craig of the Creek, and She-Ra. Dana has guest-starred in over 20 prestigious primetime series, including 911,ScorpionCode Black, Grey’s Anatomy, and CSI. She made her film debut in Coach Carter with Samuel Jackson.

In addition to her work on screen, Dana has become a motivational speaker for teens. Her stirring assemblies empower and encourage youth, helping them to redefine what it means to win and lose.

Extremely versatile, Dana is a screenwriter and a trained Violist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from Loyola Marymount University. She volunteers for nonprofits like Empowering Lives International, an organization which provides training, resources, and encouragement to underprivileged East African children.

Dana also created her own nonprofit organization Culture For Kids, LA, an organization which gifts inner city children tickets and transportation to see performing arts shows around the Los Angeles area. 

Dana was raised in the Midwest and currently resides in Los Angeles with her 9-year-old daughter.

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.

Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan Book Review

Author Information

Rachel grew up in the D.C. area and graduated from Barnard College with a B.A. in Political Science. She has written many YA novels, including three that she cowrote with her friend and colleague David Levithan. She lives and writes (when she’s not reading other people’s books, organizing her music library or looking for the best cappuccino) in New York City. 

David Levithan (born 1972) is an American children’s book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.

Book Description

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: So I had this book sitting on my shelves but decided not to read it since it didn’t look like something I would be interested in. I then watched the tv series and loved it so I decided to return back to the book. I decided to listen to it on audio and this book was so similar to the TV show that I loved it.

I really liked how close the television show was to this book. The book was such a cute and easy read that I could listen to this one more than once. I want to read more of the books in this series to see if the tv show continues with those or what direction it goes in.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to Dash and Lily who are our main characters, and you briefly get to meet other people who are in their lives. I liked each of the characters that you meet in this book and thought it was great to see the people in Lily’s life support her.

I liked reading all the different interactions that both Dash and Lily have with the people who hold the notebook. I really liked the moment that Dash meets Lily’s aunt since that was really funny. There are so many moments in this book that are filled with humor and also moments that are just cute.

Writing Style: The story is told in two point of views, Dash and Lily, and in first person. I really enjoy how the story goes back and forth between these two characters so you can read as they chase one another. I liked reading as these two chase each other and reading both of their perspectives on what is happening.

Sasha Masha by Agnes Borinsky Book Review

Author Information

Agnes Borinsky is a writer from Baltimore, now living in Los Angeles. She mostly writes

essays and plays, and has collaborated on all sorts of projects in basements, backyards, gardens, circus tents, classrooms, bars, and theaters. Sasha Masha is her first novel.

Book Description

Alex feels like he is in the wrong body. His skin feels strange against his bones. And then comes Tracy, who thinks he’s adorably awkward, who wants to kiss him, who makes him feel like a Real Boy. But it is not quite enough. Something is missing.

As Alex grapples with his identity, he finds himself trying on dresses and swiping on lipstick in the quiet of his bedroom. He meets Andre, a gay boy who is beautiful and unafraid to be who he is. Slowly, Alex begins to realize: maybe his name isn’t Alex at all. Maybe it’s Sasha Masha.

Review

Thank you to Libro.Fm for the advanced listening copy of this book so that I could review it. It took me a while to start this one because I wanted to follow along with the ebook but that was taking too long to get to me. I found that there is no need to follow along with this one as it is an easy listen to.

Thoughts and Themes: I listened to this book on audio and thought that it was a great book to listen to. This book is a coming of age story that focuses on gender identity and sexuality.

This book has a lot packed in to such a short book and it is mostly character driven rather than plot driven. I really liked how we get to see what Sasha Masha is thinking and how much of his figuring out who he is is done through internal dialogue.

What I really liked about this story is how unclear everything is for Sasha Masha, this makes the character read as a teenager which I find important in a coming of age story. I thought it was realistic to see his struggles as he thinks about being trans and how that would affect him and his relationships with his parents and friends.

The ending of this book felt unfinished and honestly I really liked that. I felt that the story was saying Sasha Masha’s journey is unfinished so the ending is open ended. I think its important to show that this journey can be ongoing and doesn’t have to end at any point in time.

Characters: Through this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with Sasha Masha. I really liked seeing that Sasha Masha has a supportive friend group through the whole story even if a few people struggle with coming to terms with who he is.

I liked that we get to see Sasha Masha dating Tracy and how that figures into him figuring out who he is. I thought that him figuring that out along with how that played into his relationship was an interesting aspect to add to this story.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through Sasha Masha’s point of view and often through internal dialogue. I think its important that we are mostly inside of Sasha Masha’s head because it leaves us with the same confusion that he is going through.

April 2021 TBR

My reading list this month is a little bit ambitious but some of these I’m already halfway through so hopefully I can complete them this month. I’m also hoping to take a few days off work to read as a break for my birthday, you know before I start school again this fall.

The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur

After her father vanishes while investigating the disappearance of 13 young women, a teen returns to her secretive hometown to pick up the trail in this second YA historical mystery from the author of The Silence of Bones.

Hwani’s family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask.

To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani’s father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared under similar circumstances, and so he returns to their hometown to investigate… only to vanish as well.

Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and reconnects with her now estranged sister—Hwani comes to realize that the answer lies within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago. 

What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley , Austin Siegemund-Broka 

Since high school began, Alison Sanger and Ethan Molloy have competed on almost everything. AP classes, the school paper, community service, it never ends. If Alison could avoid Ethan until graduation, she would. Except, naturally, for two over-achieving seniors with their sights on valedictorian and Harvard, they share all the same classes and extracurriculars. So when their school’s principal assigns them the task of co-planning a previous class’s ten-year reunion, with the promise of a recommendation for Harvard if they do, Ethan and Alison are willing to endure one more activity together if it means beating the other out of the lead.

But with all this extra time spent in each other’s company, their rivalry begins to feel closer to friendship. And as tension between them builds, Alison fights the growing realization that the only thing she wants more than winning…is Ethan.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko 

Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? 

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

A thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war with international bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders at the helm in her YA debut—think Star Wars meets Doctor Who, and buckle your seatbelts.

Tina has always known her destiny is outside the norm—after all, she is the human clone of the most brilliant alien commander in all the galaxies (even if the rest of the world is still deciding whether aliens exist). But she is tired of waiting for her life to begin.

And then it does—and maybe Tina should have been more prepared. At least she has a crew around her that she can trust—and her best friend at her side. Now, they just have to save the world.

Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice by Yusef Salaam 

This inspirational memoir serves as a call to action from prison reform activist Yusef Salaam, of the Exonerated Five, that will inspire us all to turn our stories into tools for change in the pursuit of racial justice.

They didn’t know who they had.

So begins Yusef Salaam telling his story. No one’s life is the sum of the worst things that happened to them, and during Yusef Salaam’s seven years of wrongful incarceration as one of the Central Park Five, he grew from child to man, and gained a spiritual perspective on life. Yusef learned that we’re all “born on purpose, with a purpose.” Despite having confronted the racist heart of America while being “run over by the spiked wheels of injustice,” Yusef channeled his energy and pain into something positive, not just for himself but for other marginalized people and communities.

Better Not Bitter is the first time that one of the now Exonerated Five is telling his individual story, in his own words. Yusef writes his narrative: growing up Black in central Harlem in the ’80s, being raised by a strong, fierce mother and grandmother, his years of incarceration, his reentry, and exoneration. Yusef connects these stories to lessons and principles he learned that gave him the power to survive through the worst of life’s experiences. He inspires readers to accept their own path, to understand their own sense of purpose. With his intimate personal insights, Yusef unpacks the systems built and designed for profit and the oppression of Black and Brown people. He inspires readers to channel their fury into action, and through the spiritual, to turn that anger and trauma into a constructive force that lives alongside accountability and mobilizes change.

This memoir is an inspiring story that grew out of one of the gravest miscarriages of justice, one that not only speaks to a moment in time or the rage-filled present, but reflects a 400-year history of a nation’s inability to be held accountable for its sins. Yusef Salaam’s message is vital for our times, a motivating resource for enacting change. Better, Not Bitter has the power to soothe, inspire and transform. It is a galvanizing call to action.

The Half Orphan’s Handbook by Joan F. Smith 

It’s been three months since Lila lost her father to suicide. Since then, she’s learned to protect herself from pain by following two unbreakable rules:

1. The only people who can truly hurt you are the ones you love. Therefore, love no one.

2. Stay away from liars. Liars are the worst.

But when Lila’s mother sends her to a summer-long grief camp, it’s suddenly harder for Lila to follow these rules. Potential new friends and an unexpected crush threaten to drag her back into life for the first time since her dad’s death.

On top of everything, there’s more about what happened that Lila doesn’t know, and facing the truth about her family will be the hardest part of learning how a broken heart can love again.

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi 

Jayne Baek is barely getting by. She shuffles through fashion school, saddled with a deadbeat boyfriend, clout-chasing friends, and a wretched eating disorder that she’s not fully ready to confront. But that’s New York City, right? At least she isn’t in Texas anymore, and is finally living in a city that feels right for her.

On the other hand, her sister June is dazzlingly rich with a high-flying finance job and a massive apartment. Unlike Jayne, June has never struggled a day in her life. Until she’s diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Suddenly, these estranged sisters who have nothing in common are living together. Because sisterly obligations are kind of important when one of you is dying. 

Skyhunter by Marie Lu Book Review

Author Information

Marie Lu is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Young Elites,
as well as the blockbuster bestselling Legend series. She graduated from the
University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an
artist and art director. Now a full-time writer, she lives in Los Angeles, California,
where she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and getting stuck
in traffic.

Book Description

A broken world.
An overwhelming evil.
A team of warriors ready to strike back.


Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara.

A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts.

But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?

Only one thing is clear: Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers for the only homeland she has left . . . with or without the boy who might just be the weapon to save—or destroy—them all. 

Review

Thank you libro.fm for the advanced listening copy in exchange for my review.

Thoughts and Themes: This is the first Marie Lu book that I have read, while I have wanted to rea her other books I just haven’t got to it yet. After reading this one though I really want to go back and read her other works. This is one that I had tried to listen to on audio but had to put down since I had other books that I had to get through. I am glad that I came back to this one though and followed along with the e-book. I don’t think I would’ve been able to stick with this book if it wasn’t on audio though because there were parts that I was confused by and had to go back and listen to again.

I really enjoyed this book and the world building in it. I liked learning about the different types of people in this world and the strikers, and shields. I liked the relationships that these two types had and why the relationship was built that way. While the premise of human experimenting is something that I have read before, I think this was done differently. I think that when you put all the pieces of this story together, it becomes something new that I hadn’t read before.

The cover was made a lot prettier as I read the book and understood the cover. I didn’t see a part of the cover until I was halfway through the book and then looked at it again and was amazed. This was a cover that I had to look at several times because the meaning behind each piece comes alive as you read the story.

Something I really enjoyed about this story was the use of signing as the main way that Talin was able to communicate with others. I liked how she uses sign to communicate with others and then finds another way to communicate with Red. I also really enjoyed learning her reason for being mute and seeing how her past affected her ability to speak.

I really liked learning about Red and the reasons that he was produced. I liked learning about how Ghosts were created and why they were created. I thought that this portion of the book was really interesting and I wanted to hear more about this. I liked learning about the federation and how they played into the whole story and how they played into Talin’s past.

Characters: Throughout this story you get to meet several characters but there are four main characters in this story, Talin, Red, Adena, and Jeran. The characters didn’t feel too flushed out and the story relied mostly on plot rather than the characters so I don’t have much to say about them.

I really wanted to learn more about Red and see more of who he is. I felt that we didn’t get enough of him and the relationship between him and Talin just developed out of nowhere. I wanted to see more the build up to this and while we did get the back story between them, I would have wanted more of his personality fleshed out.

I really enjoyed learning about Talin and her past and listening as her story unfolds. While I enjoyed learning about her past and seeing her go through the book, I wasn’t too attached to her character. I was more attached with the relationships that she had with the other characters and how those would be affected by her actions.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through the perspective of our main character, Talin. I listened to this one in audio so I also want to comment on the narrator and how was it was to listen to. I loved the pacing of each action scene and how that pace quickens and then fades back to a normal pace for the rest of the story. I liked that I was able to listen to the story at 2x the speed and still understand what was happening. The audiobook also included a question and answer with the author which I enjoyed as you get to know more about the book and her decisions behind some scenes.

Layover Book Review

Goodreads Summary: Joshua Fields takes the same flights every week for work. His life is a series of departures and arrivals, hotels and airports. During yet another layover, Joshua meets Morgan, a beautiful stranger with whom he feels an immediate connection. When it’s time for their flights, Morgan gets up to leave, leans over and passionately kisses Joshua, lamenting that they’ll never see each other again.

As Morgan slips away, Joshua is left feeling confused by what just happened between them. That’s when he looks up and is shocked to see Morgan’s face flashing on a nearby TV screen. He’s even more shocked when he learns the reason why–Morgan is a missing person.

What follows is a whirlwind, fast-paced journey filled with lies, deceit, and secrets to discover the truth about why Morgan is on the run. But when he finally thinks every mystery is solved, another rears its head, and Joshua’s worst enemy may be his own assumptions about those around him…

Thoughts: This was another book that I followed along with the book while listening to on audio which I found was a great way to read this book. There were so many moving parts in this book that I found it great to pause the audio and re-read certain portions in the book.

Part One: In this section of the book you are introduced to all of the characters that are going to play a significant role in the search for this missing person. You get to meet Joshua, a guy in his mid twenties who typically keeps to himself and hates his life, Kimberly, a detective who is a single mother that works on missing people cases, and Morgan who has been claimed as a missing person. Joshua and Morgan meet at a random encounter at the airport and Joshua does something completely out of character and follows her onto her flight. It isn’t until later that he is concerned and obsesses over her case as he finds out that she has been reported as a missing person.

I like how the characters are introduced to you slowly and you get to see them interact with other people before they interact with each other. I like how you get to see Joshua interact with others and his thought process and how that differs drastically from the actions he takes with Morgan. I also really enjoy how you are hearing Morgan’s story through her interactions with Joshua and you can begin to guess why she has taken the actions that she has.

So far this book has just confused me and I am unsure of what is really going on. I am unsure if Morgan is a real person that Joshua is interacting with or if this is a figment of his imagination. Maybe Joshua creates Morgan so that his life is more interesting and everyone around him is just going along with him or ignoring his strange actions.

I really enjoy the parts that you learn more about Morgan and about why she is a missing person. I like the circumstances that lead to her actions and to her responses to Joshua. I think it is interesting to try and figure out what Joshua is thinking as he continues following the story of this woman.

Part two: In this section of the book another mystery is revealed and you start to find out that the mystery of Morgan being a missing person is a lot more complicated than you originally thought. This part makes the book really pick up and takes you through a roller coaster ride of feelings and thoughts.

I really enjoy the way things stack onto each other and how the mystery becomes more complicated before it gets anywhere near being solved. I love that you think that the book is almost done to only find out that you are just halfway through this book.

Part three: This portion of the book wraps up the story as everyone gets involved in the story of two missing people. I don’t want to put any spoilers so I won’t say how this ends. It does have a great closure and the story does come together quite well. I think they did a good job explaining the whole thing and I liked how characters explained their actions.

Overall: I like that the pace of this book is very slow and easy to follow along. The narrator was great to listen to and their voice was smooth and easy going. The way that characters were slowly introduced into the story was well done and smooth.

I like how each scene gets its own chapter and there is space to take each of these scenes in. I really enjoy how you can get through the chapters quickly and it makes you feel like you are reading this book quickly. I also like how it transitions smoothly between a chapter of Joshua and Morgan, Joshua on his own, and Kimberly.

I really like how the book goes back and forth between the story from Joshua’s perspective and Kimberly’s perspective. I like how you get to know not just their ties to the story of Morgan but also their lives beyond that. I really enjoy the moment that their two lives get wrapped up with each other because of the mystery. I liked how the two stories came together and the reasons why Kimberly was searching not just for Morgon but also for Joshua now.

You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.

Big Lies in a Small Town

Summary: North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

Thoughts: I decided to listen to this one on audio while following along with the book and I’m glad that I chose to do this. The very detailed descriptions of this book lend themselves well to an audio book, I really enjoyed relaxing and trying to see the story. The narrator for this book made it easy to listen to and it was a soothing listen during this weird times. I also liked how there was one narrator but she goes along with each of the girl’s personalities so you can tell who is speaking.

I like how you slowly get the girls back story as the rest of the plot progresses, it makes the book go along smoothly. I was glad to find that their past was put throughout the current times as it didn’t feel like I was waiting for something to happen. I liked that there wasn’t several chapters of backstory before we got to know how these two girls were connected. While the beginning is slow, I enjoyed the pace as it lets you immerse yourself into the worlds that this book takes place in.

Something else that I enjoyed was that there was a clear distinction between both of the girls story but that they also were put together in a way that didn’t make things choppy. Each chapter blended well with each other and the way the story was told lent itself well to the style that was used. It was as if the girls were sometimes the same person but you saw the distinction as the town people came into view.

The town people added another layer to the story as they each had their reasons for why they treated Anna and Morgan differently than others. I liked the added complexity of race brought in as Anna paints the mural and how she feels out of place. I like that you get to see her discomfort and the discomfort of others and her taking a while to understand why they don’t want her there. I thought it was really reflective of the time period and of things happening in that time and place.

I really enjoyed the way that the time jump is written in this book because often times I would forget that these stories weren’t being told side by side. It was nice to be reminded that there was a connection between the two stories and to see the mystery unravel as Morgan learns more about Anna and as you as the reader learns more about both of these girls.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble, IndieBound or look for it at your local library.

My Squirrel Days Book Review

Goodreads Summary: Meet Ellie, the best-intentioned redhead next door. You’ll laugh right alongside her as she shares tales of her childhood in St. Louis, whether directing and also starring in her family holiday pageant, washing her dad’s car with a Brillo pad, failing to become friends with a plump squirrel in her backyard, eating her feelings while watching PG-13 movies, or becoming a “sports monster” who ends up warming the bench of her Division 1 field hockey team in college.

You’ll learn how she found her comedic calling in the world of improv, became a wife, mother and New Yorker, and landed the role of a bridesmaid (while simultaneously being a bridesmaid) in Bridesmaids. You’ll get to know and love the comic, upbeat, perpetually polite actress playing Erin Hannon on The Office, and the exuberant, pink-pants-wearing star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Thoughts: I like listening to audiobooks that are read by the author, especially when the book is a biography or autobiography. I decided to read this one because of how much I enjoyed the show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I loved that the book was read by the author but I think that this made it so that I felt this was Kimmy Schmidt’s story not Ellie Kempers.

I had a hard time with this one because I wanted to enjoy it for what it was but I couldn’t get over how this read more like a biography of a fictional character. I’m not sure if that’s just because Ellie’s personality matches Kimmy or if that was not intentional. I found that there were some stories that were hilarious and moments that were ridiculous but then there were others that were just mundane stories.

Each of these stories are better told as short episodes on a tv show or as a collection of short stories. It’s like reading the daily life of just another person and I’m not so sure how entertaining that is. I kept listening until the end just because I thought her reading it made these stories funny. It felt like I was given more time with Kimmy Schmidt but I had to keep reminding myself this was a real person’s life.

I think those of you who enjoyed Kimmy Schmidt as a character would enjoy this story. You can get this book at Barnes and Noble or look for it at your local library.

Am I Ugly? Book Review

Am I Ugly? by Michelle Elman Audiobook

5 out of 5 stars

“As a female, anger was never an appropriate emotion, and I was taught to feel guilt around that anger. Guilt was digestible, more feminine, easier to control and manage, after all.” 

I have followed Michelle Elman for a while on Instagram and she was one of the first people who taught me about body positivity. It wouldn’t be fair to not give you a little bit about how this movement changed my life and my perspective on my body. As far as I can remember I’ve had red bumps all along my body and have gone through so many products trying to scrub them off myself because they “looked ugly” until a dermatologist finally said it’s keratosis pilaris and nothing you do is going to help. It was around that time I came across the body positivity community on instagram and started my journey to loving my body and embracing all aspects of it.

I had read other body positivity books before and they were helpful so when I saw that Michelle Elman had written a book I knew I had to read it. She was the first body positivity account with someone who had scars that I knew about. I had already learned to love my body’s size but couldn’t get over loving the skin condition that I had been told my whole life to figure out how to get rid of. Through following her I found others in the body positivity community who taught me to love my body, skin condition and all so I knew I had to read her book.

I had been keeping an eye on my public library’s book selection for a while hoping they would one day have access to her book. I would’ve bought it but I didn’t have the funds to purchase it so I cried when I saw that Hoopla had finally received it. I had wanted to read this book since I knew that it came out.

Michelle Elman tells you the story of her life through many hospital visits and her journey towards loving her body. Having known about her before kind of changes the way I read her book in a positive manner. Since I had been following her I loved learning intricate aspects of her life and learning more about what she shares on instagram. I found it fascinating, and her journey was relatable while still being her own.

I love how she discusses the ways that media and others had an impact on how she viewed her body. Rather than skirting around some of the difficult issues such as eating disorders, mental illness, and medical problems she addresses them head on. She tells you her feelings that surround these issues and how they impact her life and her relationships with others. I love how she talks about her experiences in boarding school and how others treated her for her surgeries and her weight.

I love the advice that she gives in her epilogue because I think we sometimes forget that our body positivity journey is our own and no one else. I love that she reminds us of that and reminds us not to compare our bodies with others and not to compare our progress to anyone else.

I decided to listen to this on audiobook since it was the only way I could gain access to it but I was a bit wary about it. You see, I hardly ever listen to audiobooks because I find it hard to keep track of the story line but the narrator of this book is great to listen to. The narrator fits the story quite well and doesn’t take away from the book or the story being told. This was something I was able to listen to on my commute to places and as I was doing other things at home.

I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their body image and others who want to learn about body positivity.

About the Book: In today’s world of supplements, celebrity diets and social media, it’s very easy to be hard on ourselves about the way we look. With all this pressure to strive for ‘perfection’ aesthetically, it is easy to forget how damaging this can be psychologically. Michelle Elman is a leading part of the body positivity movement that has been gathering momentum to liberate people from these unrealistic standards, recognize that all bodies are equally valuable and broaden the billboard definitions of beauty.

Am I Ugly? is this inspiring woman’s compelling and deeply personal memoir that describes her childhood experiences of life-threatening health problems, long stays in hospital and fifteen complex surgeries that left her scarred, both mentally and physically. The narrative follows Michelle’s journey from illness to health, and from childhood to adulthood as she deals with her body-confidence issues to embrace both her scars and her body – and help others to do the same. This remarkable book grapples with the wider implications of Michelle’s experiences and the complex interplay between beauty and illness.

About the Author: Michelle Elman is a body-positive activist and 5-board accredited body-confidence coach. She has amassed 170k followers on Instagram across two accounts (@scarrednotscared and @bodypositivememes). She is a guest contributor to popular Youtuber Hannah Witton’s successful Young Adult book DOING IT; contributed to the recent bestseller BODY POSITIVE POWER; has appeared on Sky News, BBC Radio London, Channel 5 News, LBC and also runs the Body Positive Book Club. Her TedX talk “Have You Hated Your Body Enough Today?” has been viewed over 30k times and Women’s Health recently named her as one of the five women changing the game when it comes to body image in the UK.

About the book and about the author borrowed from Goodreads.

If you would like to read this book you can find it at
https://www.amazon.com/Am-Ugly-Michelle-Elman-author/dp/1788541847/ref=asc_df_1788541847/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312674999652&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=3376528962063734623&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9030930&hvtargid=pla-680770979032&psc=1 or look for it at your local library.