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.

Reasons I’m Thankful for the Book Community

I kept thinking what I wanted to post for today since my typical posting days are Mondays and Thursdays. I was going to post a book review like any other day but I felt that this would be a great opportunity to thank all of you and the bookish community for what I’ve been given this past year. There’s so much I’m thankful for this year so ima highlight a few.

Reignition of my love for reading

I have always loved to read but there have been times when I put the books aside due to school and lack of motivation. The book community introduced me to so many new books and made me want to read a lot more to keep up with new releases.

A sense of Community and Belonging

As an adult who is no longer going to school and wasnt working I felt like there wasnt a place for me. The bookish community embraced me and gave me new friends. I feel supported and encouraged to keep making content.

New Perspective

As I kept reading so many books across many genres I gained new perspectives on different things. Things I had seen as negative or something harmful in my life are now seen as just something that taught me something. I gained new views on genres I wouldnt have picked up before.

Strength to Move Forward during Rough Times

I started my bookstagram and book blog when I was unemployed and struggling to land a job. The times I was engaging in bookish activities or with my new community I forgot that I was struggling. I was able to put that aside for a minute and return to the job search refreshed. It wasnt too long before i found a job and this community kept my spirits up.

I hope you all have a great holiday. What are you all thankful for?

On The Come Up Book Review

On The Come UP

5 out of 5 stars

I read The Hate U Give a while ago so when I saw that Angie Thomas had come out with a new book I knew I had to read it. I’ll admit that it did take me a while to pick this book up and that was mostly because it took me a month to get through The Hate U Give. I didn’t really want to pick up a book that was going to take me the same amount of time as that one did. I am glad that I finally decided to pick this book up though and give it a try.

Now it isn’t that these books take long because they are difficult to get through or I don’t enjoy them but the subject matter that they cover is heavy. I take a while to read her books because I want to take everything in and really see things rather than brush past them. I think that when books are discussing heavy topics you owe it to the author to spend some time thinking about the things that are brought up in their books.

On The Come Up is about a young girl, Bri, who is an aspiring rapper like her father who died before he made it big. Bri lives in Garden __ but goes to school in a different neighborhood. She lives with her mother, a former drug addict, and her brother but they are struggling to pay the rent and keep food on the table. Bri is hoping that her rapping career will take off and she can help her family escape poverty and the neighborhood. Unfortunately being successful may come at a cost to Bri and she might have to change who she is to fit the public’s image of her. Will she do that?

I think something I found hard about this book was watching Bri struggle through everything. She wants to succeed so much to be able to save her family and it was so hard to watch others take advantage of that. While I found it hard to read those parts I thought they were good and very realistic and that’s what I love about Angie Thomas’s books. I love how she’s real with you and while this book is set in the same place as The Hate U Give it is a different story. You see two different girls growing up in different circumstances and how that affects their lives.

I love the way Thomas writes each of her characters including minor characters. Each of the characters that are introduced throughout the book develop even if it’s only by a little bit. I love how they develop through interactions with each other and how much Bri develops not only due to positive things but negative things that happen to her.

Something that I wasn’t fond of was the amount of questions that this book left me with. I want to know so much about what happens next and hope that there is a sequel to this book. The questions didn’t make me like the book any less though it just made me disappointed that they weren’t answered and longing for more.

I found it hard to write a review on this book because I have nothing to critique and no words to say how beautifully written I find this piece.

About the Book: Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

About the Author: Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Meyers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and will be published in spring 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.

About the Book and About the Author are borrowed from Goodreads.

You can find this book on Amazon or look for it at your local library.

Lost in a Book- Book Review

Lost in a Book
An Enchanting Original Story by Jennifer Donnelly

“Keep being the author of your own story. Never let anyone else write it for you again.”

I picked this book up as part of a challenge on Instagram and am really glad that I decided to read it. I love all things Disney so when I saw that Disney now publishes books and they aren’t just the retelling of the movies, I wanted to read them all.

Lost in a Book is the story of the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast with a twist. Early on in her stay at the castle, Belle encounters a enchanted book in the Beast’s library and rather than sharing her findings with others she keeps it to herself. Through the use of this book, Belle visits the land of Nevermore which offers her a separate life than the one she would have at the castle. In Nevermore Belle can have all of her dreams come true, after all this is a story written just for her, but staying here would mean leaving behind what she has at the castle. What would leaving her friends at Beast’s Castle mean for belle and for her friends?

I love how the prologue for this book is two sisters who are watching Belle’s life unfold at the castle and decide to bet on what she is going to decide. I like how this opening shares the relationship between these two sisters because it sets a precedent to the rest of the story. Their relationship causes issues not only among themselves but for others who come into their lives, such as Belle.

As I continued reading more I couldn’t put this book down because I wanted to know what would happen to Belle and her friends. I wanted to know if she was going to have the same ending in this book as she does in the movie, and if she didn’t, then what was her new ending?

Near the end of my book I found myself in tears as I started to feel sympathy for the bad characters in the story. I think a story is good when you not only cheer for the good characters but feel for the bad ones. I love that the bad characters have reasoning behind their actions and the author has given them feelings beyond what one would expect.

I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Disney especially if you enjoyed the Beauty and the Beast movie.

About the Book: Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast’s castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue. The adventures Belle has always imagined, the dreams she was forced to give up when she became a prisoner, seem within reach again.

The charming and mysterious characters Belle meets within the pages of Nevermore offer her glamorous conversation, a life of dazzling Parisian luxury, and even a reunion she never thought possible. Here Belle can have everything she has ever wished for. But what about her friends in the Beast’s castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Is Nevermore’s world even real? Belle must uncover the truth about the book, before she loses herself in it forever. 

About the Author: Jennifer Donnelly is the author of twelve novels –StepsisterLost in a BookThese Shallow GravesSea SpellDark TideRogue WaveDeep BlueRevolutionA Northern LightThe Tea RoseThe Winter Rose and The Wild Rose – and Humble Pie, a picture book for children. She is a co-author of Fatal Throne, which explores the lives of King Henry VIII’s six wives, for which she wrote the part of Anna of Cleves, Henry’s fourth wife.

She grew up in New York State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester where she majored in English Literature and European History. 

Jennifer’s first novel, The Tea Rose, an epic historical novel set in London and New York in the late 19th century, was called “exquisite” by Booklist, “so much fun” by the Washington Post, a “guilty pleasure” by People and was named a Top Pick by the Romantic Times. The Rose trilogy continued with The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose.

Her second novel, A Northern Light, set in the Adirondacks of 1906, against the backdrop of an infamous murder, won the Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Borders Original Voices Award, and was named a Printz Honor book. Described as “rich and true” by The New York Times, the book was named to the Best Book lists of The Times (London), The Irish Times, The Financial Times, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and the School Library Journal. In 2015, TIME Magazine named it one of the 100 best young adult books of all time.

Revolution was named a Best Book by Amazon, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and the Chicago Public Library, and was nominated for a Carnegie Medal. The audio edition was awarded an Odyssey Honor for Excellence.

In 2014, Jennifer teamed up with Disney to launch the bestselling Waterfire Saga, an epic series about six mermaids on a quest to rid the world of an ancient evil. The first book in the series, Deep Blue, was released in May, 2014; the second, Rogue Wave, launched in January 2015; the third, Dark Tide, came out in October 2015; and the fourth, Sea Spell, is scheduled for release in June 2016.

In November 2015, Jennifer released the historical novel These Shallow Graves, which received starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly and Shelf Awareness, and was named a Junior Library Guild Selection. 

Jennifer worked with Disney again in 2017, when she published Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book, an original story to accompany the blockbuster Beauty and the Beast film. Lost in a Book expands on the classic tale, exploring the growing friendship between Belle and the Beast as well as Belle’s ordeal within the pages of Nevermore, a magical book from which she narrowly escapes. 

Jennifer returned to historical fiction with Fatal Throne, a book about Henry VIII and his six wives published by Random House/Schwartz & Wade in 2018. For this project, Jennifer joined six other authors (Candace Fleming, M.T. Anderson, Stephanie Hemphill, Deborah Hopkinson, Linda Sue Park, and Lisa Ann Sandell), each of whom wrote the part of Henry or one of his wives.

About the Book and About the Author are borrowed from Goodreads.

You can find this book on Amazon or look for it at your local library.

The Stone Rainbow Book Review

The Stone Rainbow Advanced Reader Copy

3 out of 5 stars

Thank You to Liane Shaw and Second Story Press for an Advanced Reader Copy of this book on Netgalley.

I was drawn to this book due to the colorful cover page because it shouted LGBTQ+ to me so I knew I wanted to read it. After getting a chance to read the short description about this book I knew I wanted a chance to read it. I always attempt to read all YA books that have LGBTQ+ themes so I was happy to get a chance to read this book.

The Stone Rainbow is about Jack who is a teenager living in a small town who is in the middle of coming out to those closest to him. Jack becomes the center of attention for everyone in the small town of Thomas Mills after he wanders too far into the river while not knowing how to swim. Early on in the book Jack encounters a new students,Benjamin,who just happens to be gay and develops an instant crush on him. Through the rest of the story Jack relieves moments of his life that are part of his coming out story and continues discovering who he is and who he wants to be in the eyes of others.

I was a bit hesitant to continue reading this because it was a little too cliche and coincidental for me from the start. I found it a little too much that the new guy was gay, liked Jack, and the friendship just kind of happened instantly. Because of the way that the story is told and Jack’s personality, the parts that were perfect sounded like things that would be happening only in his head but not in reality so that kind of threw me off. I kept reading though because I was invested in the characters and was hoping that Jack, Ryan, Cody, and Benjamin would develop throughout the story.

I was quite pleased with the character development that Jack goes through but I do think it happens suddenly and without cause. Like he meets Benjamin and is suddenly proud of who he is and stands up for himself which was a little off to me.

There are scenes that I want to see rather than hear about from Jack. I think that seeing Jack come out to his mom and seeing the river scene would have a greater impact on the reader rather than hearing Jack’s retelling of these events. Sometimes I would be reading and excited that we finally get emotion but then it quickly passes and I’m not sure if that’s the style or is it on purpose because of who Jack is? Is quickly passing through emotions because Jack isn’t ready to get into them or is it just coincidence that it matches his personality?

Suddenly when you think everything is going perfectly and you are pleased with the direction that Jack and Benjamin’s relationship is taking there is a twist in the story. I think that this twist is what keeps you glued to the book because now you need to know what happens to the characters. Now you are too invested in these characters to just put the book down. It is during this traumatic event that you get to witness past events in Jack’s life not just through his reenacting but as if you are there in those scenes.

I like the relationships that Jack builds with those around him and how those relationships change as he becomes secure about his identity. I feel that those relationships really mimic what being a LGBTQ+ kid can feel like especially when you are unsure about a lot of things.

I am so glad that I kept reading this book because the feelings do get deeper and you see a lot of who the other characters are. It takes a while for Jack to open up to others so please hang in there because when he does there’s some beautiful moments. I winded up liking Cody a lot more than I expected to since the beginning and it’s great to see how someone can change when surrounded by open minded people.

I recommend this to young adults who may be struggling with their LGBTQ+ identity as well as people who are trying to understand LGBTQ+ youth.

This book will be published  September 17th 2019.

The Last Black Unicorn Book Review

The Last Black Unicorn

4 out of 5 stars

“I believe my purpose is to bring joy to people, to make them laugh, and to share my story to help them. To show people that no matter what, they matter, and they can succeed. No matter how bad things go, no matter how dark your life is, there is a reason for it. You can find beauty in it, and you can get better. I know, because I’ve done it. That’s why my comedy so often comes from my pain. In my life, and I hope in yours, I want us to grow roses out of the poop.”

I picked this up finally after seeing it on the library’s bookcase that showcases best pics for the event that month. I saw it every time I picked up a new book and I read the inside cover each time but would keep finding something else I would rather read. This visit I didn’t find anything else I wanted to read so I decided to pick this up and I wish I would’ve given it a chance sooner.

Tiffany Haddish is not someone I had heard about prior to reading this book so I loved learning about her existence through her book. This was definitely a book that I didn’t want to put down but was also glad that each chapter was a different topic so I was able to put it down if I needed to. She tells the story of her life as if it was a comedy special which in a way she did turn it into one.

There is a lot that she went through and I am very surprised as well as in awe that she turned it all around. I love how open she is about her life and how vulnerable she allows herself to be with her audiences. I think that her vulnerability in this piece really allows you as a reader to connect with her even if you may not know who she is. There were definitely times I forgot it wasn’t a piece of fiction and then when I would remember it would come as a shock that people could treat her as badly as they did.

There is one chapter that has no humor in it but it still fits the tone of the rest of the book. I love that even before you read the chapter Haddish warns you about the emotions that are going to come along when you read this section. Midway through that chapter she warns you again to take a break before continuing because it gets worst before it gets better.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Tiffany Haddish or to anyone who loves comedians. This is a great way to introduce a new comedian into your life.

About the Book: From stand-up comedian, actress, and breakout star of Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish, comes The Last Black Unicorn, a sidesplitting, hysterical, edgy, and unflinching collection of (extremely) personal essays, as fearless as the author herself.

Growing up in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, Tiffany learned to survive by making people laugh. If she could do that, then her classmates would let her copy their homework, the other foster kids she lived with wouldn’t beat her up, and she might even get a boyfriend. Or at least she could make enough money—as the paid school mascot and in-demand Bar Mitzvah hype woman—to get her hair and nails done, so then she might get a boyfriend.

None of that worked (and she’s still single), but it allowed Tiffany to imagine a place for herself where she could do something she loved for a living: comedy.

Tiffany can’t avoid being funny—it’s just who she is, whether she’s plotting shocking, jaw-dropping revenge on an ex-boyfriend or learning how to handle her newfound fame despite still having a broke person’s mind-set. Finally poised to become a household name, she recounts with heart and humor how she came from nothing and nowhere to achieve her dreams by owning, sharing, and using her pain to heal others.

By turns hilarious, filthy, and brutally honest, The Last Black Unicorn shows the world who Tiffany Haddish really is—humble, grateful, down-to-earth, and funny as hell. And now, she’s ready to inspire others through the power of laughter.

About the Author: Tiffany Sarac Haddish is an American comedian and actress. After guest starring on several television series, Haddish gained prominence as Jackie on the first season of the OWN television drama If Loving You Is Wrong from 2014 to 2015.

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.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Last-Black-Unicorn/Tiffany-Haddish/9781501181832 or look for it at your local library.

The Sun is Also a Star Book Review

The Sun is Also a Star Flat Lay

4 out of 5 stars

“Maybe part of falling in love with someone else is also falling in love with yourself.”

I picked up this book at my local library after watching the trailer for its upcoming movie, seeing the trailer piqued my interest in the movie and there was no way that I was going to see the movie without reading the book first. I can’t believe that I didn’t give this a try sooner, you see I avoided it because I saw the movie Everything, Everything and wasn’t a fan so I didn’t even try the book. The movie turned me away from anything written by the same author though and now i know better than to trust a movie based on a book to form my opinion on anything.

Have you ever wondered about fate and people being meant to be? I know that sometimes I like to think that things happen for a reason and that people are destined to meet certain people in their lives. The Sun is Also a Star addresses just that question and the whole time as you read you’ll be rooting for Daniel to win the girl or are we rooting for the universe and the plan it has for each of them? It’s a story that address love and loss all in the span of just a few hours.

I read young adult fiction for an escape and quite frankly to read about magical love stories that are rainbows and butterflies. You see once you get to be my age and have had your heart broken at least once you want to pretend a perfect love is possible. I find the best place to find a love that resembles your first love is through YA fiction in the eyes of two teenagers falling in love for the first time. This book does not disappoint in these features and gives you a wonderful love story throughout the novel.

The Sun is Also a Star is much more than just the story of Natasha and Daniel falling in love though. Natasha is a immigrant from Jamaica who is trying to prevent her family from being deported due to a DUI that her father received. Daniel is a Korean American whose family has high hopes and expectations of after his brother has disappointed them.

This book tackles many complicated issues without having too many different plots or deriving from the main story of Natasha and Daniel falling in love. It addresses love amidst all the complications that arise for these two 17 year olds but right when you think they may move past all these complications the story takes a turn. This turn is what caused me to give this book anything less than 5 out of 5 stars.

I really enjoyed the character development that occurs not just through the interactions of Natasha and Daniel but their interactions with others. I found it so interesting to see them grow into two different people throughout the course of just one day. Their relationships with others change as they begin to discover who they are without the pressure of others. I highly recommend this book if you all like to read YA fiction or are looking for a semi realistic love story that you can escape to.

About the Book:

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

About Nicola Yoon:
Nicola Yoon grew up in Jamaica (the island) and Brooklyn (part of Long Island). She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband and daughter, both of whom she loves beyond all reason. Everything, Everything is her first novel.

For those of you who have read the book what did you think?

If you would like to read it you can purchase a copy at
https://www.amazon.com/Sun-Also-Star-Yoon-Nicola/dp/0553496689 or check if your local library carries the book.