April 2021 Wrap Up

I waited till the last minute to see if I could finish one last book today as I only have 100 pages of it left. I gave myself until end of my workday today which is 5pm. I read some pretty great books this month and wanted to share those with you all. Reviews to come for several of these books, the links in the titles will take you to reviews for those books

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.

Bloom into You, Vol. 1 by Nio Nakatani, Jenny McKeon (Translator)

A charming love story about two young women who together discover that their dreams of a heart-pounding romance can indeed come true!

Yuu has always loved shoujo manga and fantasizes about the day that she too will get a love confession that will send her heart a-flutter. Yet when a male classmate confesses his feelings for her … she feels nothing. Disappointed and confused, Yuu enters high school still unsure how to respond. That’s when Yuu sees the beautiful student council president Nanami turn down a suitor with such maturity and finesse that Yuu is inspired to ask her for advice. But when the next person to confess to Yuu is the alluring Nanami herself, has Yuu’s shoujo romance finally begun? 

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

An academic enemies-to-lovers YA with all the nerdy drama, high school antics, and heartpounding romance of the Netflix original series Never Have I Ever

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 (Raybearer #1) 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?

Survival of the Thickest: Essays by Michelle Buteau

From the stand-up comedian, actress, and host beloved for her cheeky swagger, unique voice, and unapologetic frankness comes a book of comedic essays for fans of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling and We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union.

If you’ve watched television or movies in the past year, you’ve seen Michelle Buteau. With scene-stealing roles in Always Be My MaybeFirst Wives ClubSomeone GreatRussian Doll, and Tales of the City; a reality TV show and breakthrough stand-up specials, including her headlining show Welcome to Buteaupia on Netflix, and two podcasts (Late Night Whenever and Adulting), Michelle’s star is on the rise. You’d be forgiven for thinking the road to success—or adulthood or financial stability or self-acceptance or marriage or motherhood—has been easy; but you’d be wrong.

Now, in Survival of the Thickest, Michelle reflects on growing up Caribbean, Catholic, and thick in New Jersey, going to college in Miami (where everyone smells like pineapple), her many friendship and dating disasters, working as a newsroom editor during 9/11, getting started in standup opening for male strippers, marrying into her husband’s Dutch family, IVF and surrogacy, motherhood, chosen family, and what it feels like to have a full heart, tight jeans, and stardom finally in her grasp. 

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 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.

Sasha Masha by Agnes Borinsky

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. 

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.

Two Grooms on a Cake: The Story of America’s First Gay Wedding by Rob Sanders, Robbie Cathro (Illustrations) 

This is the story of Jack Baker and Michael McConnell and their inspiring story becoming the first married gay couple in the US fifty years ago.

Long before marriage equality was the law of the land, two grooms stood on a wedding cake with their feet firmly planted in fluffy white frosting. That cake belonged to Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, who were wed on September 3, 1971, becoming the first same-sex couple in America to be legally married. Their struggle to obtain a marriage license in Minnesota and their subsequent appeals to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States is an under-told story of LGBT history. This beautiful book celebrates the love story of two pioneers of marriage equality for all through the baking of their wedding cake!

Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters #3) by Talia Hibbert 

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

February 2021 Wrap Up

I waited till the last minute to see if I could finish one last book yesterday or today but figured that might not happen. I read some pretty great books this month and wanted to share those with you all. Reviews to come for several of these books, the links in the titles will take you to reviews for those books.

Jingle Jangle: The Invention of Jeronicus Jangle: (movie Tie-In) by David E Talbert, Lyn Sisson-Talbert

A delightful middle grade story based on the Netflix holiday film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey! A holiday tale set in the snow-covered town of Cobbleton, Jingle Jangle follows eccentric toymaker Jeronicus Jangle (Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker) whose fanciful inventions burst with whimsy and wonder. But when a betrayal by a former protegy (Keegan-Michael Key) leaves Jeronicus withdrawn and down on his luck, it’s up to his bright and adventurous granddaughter, Journey (newcomer Madalen Mills) — and a singularly magical invention — to save the day. From the imagination of writer/director David E. Talbert and producer Lyn Sisson-Talbert, featuring original music by John Legend, Philip Lawrence, Davy Nathan, and Michael Diskint. Jingle Jangle reminds you that anything is possible…if you believe. 

The Genome Odyssey: The Promise of Precision Medicine to Define, Detect, and Defeat Disease by Euan Angus Ashley

Since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, the price of genome sequencing has dropped at a staggering rate. It’s as if the price of a Ferrari went from $350,000 to a mere forty cents. Through breakthroughs made by Dr. Ashley’s team at Stanford and other dedicated groups around the world, analyzing the human genome has decreased from a heroic multibillion dollar effort to a single clinical test costing less than $1,000.

For the first time we have within our grasp the ability to predict our genetic future, to diagnose and prevent disease before it begins, and to decode what it really means to be human.

In The Genome Odyssey, Dr. Ashley details the medicine behind genome sequencing with clarity and accessibility. More than that, with passion for his subject and compassion for his patients, he introduces readers to the dynamic group of researchers and doctor detectives who hunt for answers, and to the pioneering patients who open up their lives to the medical community during their search for diagnoses and cures.

He describes how he led the team that was the first to analyze and interpret a complete human genome, how they broke genome speed records to diagnose and treat a newborn baby girl whose heart stopped five times on the first day of her life, and how they found a boy with tumors growing inside his heart and traced the cause to a missing piece of his genome.

These patients inspire Dr. Ashley and his team as they work to expand the boundaries of our medical capabilities and to envision a future where genome sequencing is available for all, where medicine can be tailored to treat specific diseases and to decode pathogens like viruses at the genomic level, and where our medical system as we know it has been completely revolutionized.

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.

Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.

Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce gothic fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go. 

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.

With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr. fiercely summons the voices of slaver and the enslaved alike to tell the story of these two men; from Amos the preacher to the calculating slave-master himself to the long line of women that surround them, women who have carried the soul of the plantation on their shoulders. As tensions build and the weight of centuries—of ancestors and future generations to come—culminate in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets masterfully reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky

New girl Rachel Chavez is eager to make a fresh start at Manchester Prep. But as one of the few scholarship kids, Rachel struggles to fit in, and when she gets caught up in a prank gone awry, she ends up with more enemies than friends.

To her surprise, however, the prank attracts the attention of the Mary Shelley Club, a secret club of students with one objective: come up with the scariest prank to orchestrate real fear. But as the pranks escalate, the competition turns cutthroat and takes on a life of its own.

When the tables are turned and someone targets the club itself, Rachel must track down the real-life monster in their midst . . . even if it means finally confronting the dark secrets from her past.

Under Shifting Stars by Alexandra Latos

Audrey and Clare may be twins, but they don’t share a school, a room, a star sign, or even a birthday. Ever since their brother Adam’s death, all they’ve shared is confusion over who they are and what comes next.

Audrey, tired of being seen as different from her neurotypical peers, is determined to return to public school. Clare is grappling with her gender fluidity and is wondering what emerging feelings for a nonbinary classmate might mean. Will first crushes, new family dynamics, and questions of identity prove that Audrey and Clare have grown too different to understand each other—or that they’ve needed each other all along? 

Magic Mutant Nightmare Girl by Erin Grammar

Holly Roads uses Harajuku fashion to distract herself from tragedy. Her magical girl aesthetic makes her feel beautiful—and it keeps the world at arm’s length. She’s an island of one, until advice from an amateur psychic expands her universe. A midnight detour ends with her vs. exploding mutants in the heart of San Francisco.

Brush with destiny? Check. Waking up with blue blood, emotions gone haywire, and terrifying strength that starts ripping her wardrobe to shreds? Totally not cute. Hunting monsters with a hot new partner and his unlikely family of mad scientists?

Way more than she bargained for. 

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

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. 

I Think I Love You by Auriane Desombre

A sweet and funny debut novel about falling for someone when you least expect it . . . and finding out that real life romance is better than anything on screen.

Emma is a die-hard romantic. She loves a meet-cute Netflix movie, her pet, Lady Catulet, and dreaming up the Gay Rom Com of her heart for the film festival competition she and her friends are entering. If only they’d listen to her ideas. . .

Sophia is pragmatic. She’s big into boycotts, namely 1) relationships, 2) teen boys and their BO (reason #2347683 she’s a lesbian), and 3) Emma’s nauseating ideas. Forget starry-eyed romance, Sophia knows what will win: an artistic film with a message.

Cue the drama. The movie is doomed before they even start shooting . . . until a real-life plot twist unfolds behind the camera when Emma and Sophia start seeing each other through a different lens. Suddenly their rivalry is starting to feel like an actual rom-com. 

Follow Your Arrow by Jessica Verdi

CeCe Ross is kind of a big deal. She and her girlfriend, Silvie, are social media influencers with zillions of fans and followers, known for their cute outfits and being #relationshipgoals.

So when Silvie breaks up with her, CeCe is devastated. She’s lost her first love, and now she can’t help but wonder if she’ll lose her followers as well.

Things get even messier when CeCe meets Josh, a new boy in town who is very much Not Online. CeCe isn’t surprised to be falling for a guy; she’s always known she’s bi. And Josh is sweet and smart and has excellent taste in donuts… but he has no idea that CeCe is internet-famous. And CeCe sort of wants to keep it that way.

But when CeCe’s secrets catch up to her, she finds herself in the middle of an online storm, where she’ll have to confront the blurriness of public vs. private life, and figure out what it really means to speak her truth.

January 2021 Wrap Up

I waited till the last minute to see if I could finish one last book yesterday or today but figured that isn’t going to happen. Also I like this being an even number to fit into these templates that I’m using for wrap ups. I read some pretty great books this month and wanted to share those with you all. Reviews to come for several of these books, the links in the titles will take you to reviews for those books.

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

Rating- 5 Stars

Book Description: We Are Not Free, is the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II.

Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco.
Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted.
Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps.
In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart. 

Fat Chance Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Rating- 4 Stars

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

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

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

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

The Last Bear by Hannah Gold

Rating- 4 Stars

Book Description: In this instant literary classic about friendship, forging your own path, and doing what’s right, debut author Hannah Gold inspires fans of Pax and A Wolf Called Wander to make a difference in any way they can.

There are no polar bears left on Bear Island. At least, that’s what April’s father tells her when his scientific research takes them to a faraway Arctic outpost.

But one night, April catches a glimpse of something distinctly bear shaped loping across the horizon. A polar bear who shouldn’t be there—who is hungry, lonely and a long way from home.

Fusing environmental awareness with a touching story of kindness, The Last Bear will include full-page black-and-white illustrations as well as a note from the author with facts about the real Bear Island and the plight of the polar bears.

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon

Rating- 4 Stars

Book Description: When Sunny Dae—self-proclaimed total nerd—meets Cirrus Soh, he can’t believe how cool and confident she is. So when Cirrus mistakes Sunny’s older brother Gray’s bedroom—with its electric guitars and rock posters—for Sunny’s own, he sort of, kind of, accidentally winds up telling her he’s the front man of a rock band.

Before he knows it, Sunny is knee-deep in the lie: He ropes his best friends into his scheme, begging them to form a fake band with him, and starts wearing Gray’s rock-and-roll castoffs. But no way can he trick this amazing girl into thinking he’s cool, right? Just when Sunny is about to come clean, Cirrus asks to see them play sometime. Gulp.

Now there’s only one thing to do: Fake it till you make it.

Sunny goes all in on the lie, and pretty soon, the strangest things start happening. People are noticing him in the hallways, and he’s going to football games and parties for the first time. He’s feeling more confident in every aspect of his life, and especially with Cirrus, who’s started to become not just his dream girl but also the real deal. Sunny is falling in love. He’s having fun. He’s even becoming a rocker, for real.

But it’s only a matter of time before Sunny’s house of cards starts tumbling down. As his lies begin to catch up with him, Sunny Dae is forced to wonder whether it was all worth it—and if it’s possible to ever truly change

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Rating- 4 Stars

Book Description: “That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.” And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: “Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

“Lo’s writing, restrained yet luscious, shimmers with the thrills of youthful desire. A lovely, memorable novel about listening to the whispers of a wayward heart and claiming a place in the world.”—Sarah Waters, bestselling and award winning author of Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch 

Real by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard

Rating-3 Stars

Book Description: My name is Charity. I am thirteen years old. Actually, thirteen years plus eighty-seven days. I love sour gummies and pepperoni pizza. That last part no one knows because I have not spoken a sentence since I was born. Each dawning day, I live in terror of my unpredictable body that no one understands.

Charity may have mad math skills and a near-perfect memory, but with a mouth that can’t speak and a body that jumps, rocks, and howls unpredictably, most people incorrectly assume she cannot learn. Charity’s brain works differently from most people’s because of her autism, but she’s still funny, determined, and kind. So why do people treat her like a disease or ignore her like she’s invisible?

When Charity’s parents enroll her in a public junior high school, she faces her greatest fears. Will kids make fun of her? Will her behavior get her kicked out? Will her million thoughts stay locked in her head forever? With the support of teachers and newfound friends, Charity will have to fight to be treated like a real student.

Inspired by a true story, Real speaks to all those who’ve ever felt they didn’t belong and reminds readers that all people are worthy of being included.

How it All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmad

Rating: 4 Stars

Book Description: Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?

Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a U.S. Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

At turns uplifting and devastating, How It All Blew Up is Arvin Ahmadi’s most powerful novel yet, a celebration of how life’s most painful moments can live alongside the riotous, life-changing joys of discovering who you are.

What Mothers Withhold by Elizabeth Knopf

Rating- 3 Stars

Book Description: The poems of “what mothers withhold” are songs of brokenness and hope in a mother’s voice, poems of the body in its fierceness and failings. Elizabeth Kropf’s poems revel in peeling back silence, and invite us to witness a complicated and traumatic world that is also filled with love.

–Cindy Huyser, poet and editor, author of “Burning Number Five: Power Plant Poems.”

With these visceral poems, poet and mother Elizabeth Kropf has composed a chant of the vocabulary of vulnerability. From fertility to conception to birth—or not—and into motherhood, Kropf’s recounting of her experiences compels the reader to enter and acknowledge the power of what mothers endure and withhold.

–Anne McCrady, author of Letting Myself In and Along Greathouse Road

Summer of L.U.C.K. by Laura Segal Stegman

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Rating- 3 Stars

Book Description: Stuttering Darby is never perfect enough for her mother. Justin’s been silent since his dad died. Naz is struggling to learn English. But after they meet at summer camp, mysterious calliope music from an abandoned warehouse grants them power to communicate without words. When they sneak inside, the dark, empty space bursts into a magical carnival. They’re greeted by the ghost of Leroy Usher, who asks for their help convincing his family to restore the carnival to its former glory. In return, he promises to teach the kids how to find their voices.

As Darby, Justin, and Naz are swept off on a series of midnight adventures via Mr. Usher’s carnival rides, they discover they’re capable of more than they ever imagined. With each challenge, their confidence in communicating – and in themselves – grows. Meanwhile, they scheme to persuade the Usher family to revive the carnival. But when Darby’s bunkmates trick her into starring in the camp talent show, her budding confidence falters. Can she risk being less than perfect by performing in the show and speaking up to Mr. Usher’s resistant son? If not, she’ll put the carnival in danger and sabotage her most important quest: to believe in herself, stutter and all. 

Camp by L.C. Rosen

Rating- 4 Stars

Book Description: Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is?

A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen

Rating-4 Stars

Book Description: Los Angeles, 2006. Eighteen-year-old Robert Gorham arrives in L.A. amid the desert heat and the soft buzz of neon. He came alone with one goal: he wants to see the ocean. And Robert always gets what he wants.

At a very young age, Robert discovered he had the unusual ability to make those close to him want whatever he wants. He wanted dessert instead of dinner? His mother served it. He wanted his Frisbee back? His father walked off the roof to bring it to him faster. He wanted to be alone? They both disappeared. Forever.

But things will be different in L.A. He meets a group of strange friends who could help him. Friends who can do things like produce flames without flint, conduct electricity with their hands, and see visions of the past. They call themselves Unusuals and finally, finally, Robert belongs.

When a tall figure, immune to their powers, discovers them, the first family that Robert has ever wanted is at risk of being destroyed. The only way to keep them
all together is to get his powers under control.

But control is a sacrifice he might not be willing to make.

A Neon Darkness is the origin story of Damien and the second stand-alone story
in the Bright Sessions Novels. 

Glimpsed by G.F. Miller

Rating-4 Stars

Book Description: Charity is a fairy godmother. She doesn’t wear a poofy dress or go around waving a wand, but she does make sure the deepest desires of the student population at Jack London High School come true. And she knows what they want even better than they do because she can glimpse their perfect futures.

But when Charity fulfills a glimpse that gets Vibha crowned homecoming queen, it ends in disaster. Suddenly, every wish Charity has ever granted is called into question. Has she really been helping people? Where do these glimpses come from, anyway? What if she’s not getting the whole picture?

Making this existential crisis way worse is Noah—the adorkable and (in Charity’s opinion) diabolical ex of one of her past clients—who blames her for sabotaging his prom plans and claims her interventions are doing more harm than good. He demands that she stop granting wishes and help him get his girl back. At first, Charity has no choice but to play along. But soon, Noah becomes an unexpected ally in getting to the bottom of the glimpses. Before long, Charity dares to call him her friend…and even starts to wish he were something more. But can the fairy godmother ever get the happily ever after?

May Wrap Up

I got the chance to read a lot of great books this month and I’m so glad for it. I also know that last year most of my favorite books came out in the second half of the year so I was waiting for those this year.

The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter by Aaron Reynolds

I recommend this to those of you who have children who are being introduced to chapter books or are looking for something to read with their kids. This is the perfect book to read with your kids or a great way to introduce a child to chapter books. It’s a great transition from picture books to books with less images.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

I only recently realized how much I love fantasy and sci-fi books. I just rarely read them because it takes me longer to get through them. It takes me a while to get all the characters straight along with getting the lay of their world. I didn’t let that keep me from reading this book though and I am glad for that. This was an original story and I loved that it borrowed from Persian culture which was something I had yet to read about.

The twist in this book is so unexpected and I love how it is done. It adds to the story and makes the characters even more lovable. This is a love story like no other that I have read in the past and I love that it wasn’t about a girl who needed to be rescued but about her rescuing herself and those that she loves.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy fantasy, are looking for bisexual mcs, want action and adventure, or are looking for a young adult fantasy with a female lead.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

I have not read a book about baking yet so this was a nice change. I really liked how the whole book was more complex than just being about Zoe’s baking. I like how it includes her feelings about her dad being in jail and how this complicates her story. I liked how it turned into a story about family and friendship more than just baking. It’s a story about trust, hope, and more.

I recommend this to those of you looking for a book with a black main character and black author. I also think that children ages 11 and up would enjoy this book. Its a great book to introduce racism, injustice and the prison system to middle aged children.

The New One: Painfully True Stories from a Reluctant Dad by Mike Birbiglia

As someone who fears having kids i found Birbiglia’s thoughts prior to having a kid relatable. I thought it was great to see his perspective before and after his kid and how even during that first year of his kids life he was still iffy about having a kid. This book was cute, light and fluffy which I read enjoyed during this time.

This Is My America by Kim Johnson

The reality for Black people is that the America that they live in is not the same America that others know. The reality is that their America looks completely different and at a young age they learn what it means to be Black and live in America. This is the story that Tracy Beaumont wants you to know, she wants you to recognize the difference in the America that her and her family is being forced to grow up in.

This is a beautifully written book that tackles difficult issues that Black people still face all over the U.S. There were moments that I had to put this book down to really take in the impact of a scene or to really let something sit with me. I cried along with Tracy and her family at the moments they were able to breathe a sigh of relief and also at the times where they were living in fear.

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

What I loved about this book is that it is a slow burn romance so nothing really happens between the two for the majority of the book. I find their back and forth banter and really charming. I actually really enjoy that this book has no sexually explicit material for the majority of the whole book. It really allowed me to focus on Jo and Emma’s stories apart from each other and enjoy it when they came together.

I also really enjoy the way that this book is written. You get to see the story from both Emma and Jo’s perspective. I like how you get to see their inner thoughts at every point of the book as I thought some of those moments were humorous. It also allowed you to feel a lot more tension between the characters and also be angry at how they wouldn’t just get together.

Grown Ups by Emma Jane Unsworth

The book starts off a bit slow and its just a woman’s daily life. Jenny is very immature and you can tell in the way she thinks and her actions. You also get a glimpse of how self-absorbed she is through her obsession with social media. Jenny wants her life to look a certain way to others and when she can no longer fake that ideal life, she starts breaking down.

It feels like your in her head with her and she’s a very nervous person so you feel all of her feelings. By giving you Jenny’s every thought with no filter, its as if you are there with her. This was something that I actually did enjoy. Reading through Jenny’s perspective made other characters stand out and I felt bad that they had to deal with her.

Lobizona by Romina Garber 

When I saw so many people raving about this book I knew that I had to read this book even if I hadn’t given magical realism a try. I knew that I loved fantasy and magical realism was more so people reacting to the magical things as if they were ordinary day things. The idea of magical realism fascinated me and I love the idea that it mixes reality and magic.

What I really enjoyed about this book was how it was about challenging the rules and what it means to deserve to live. I liked the way that it handled that topic both in our world and in the world built by the book. I think this book did a great job bringing the issue of what it means to belong somewhere to the surface.

Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett

Memoirs are a little difficult to review as I can’t really rate them on their characters or the plot. It isn’t as if those are features that could have been changed in a person’s life. What I can talk about though is the writing style and the way the story is told.

This memoir is split up into four parts each one documenting a different portion of Mike’s life. Each of these different parts is written with a distinguishable tone which is quite enjoyable.

March Wrap Up

I got through a good amount of books this month and wanted to share with you all what I got a chance to read. I’m hoping that I can get through a lot more in April with this quarantine. Each link takes you to my full review of the book on my blog, if there is no link I have yet to publish those reviews as those books have yet to be published.

A Home for Goddesses and Dogs

Last year I was able to read a lot of middle grade books that really enjoyed them so I was hoping the enjoy a lot this year as well. Unfortunately I just haven’t been reading as much physical books as I would like to and I don’t really enjoy middle grade as audiobooks. I’m glad that I picked this one up though since it seems to have taken me out of the reading slump that I had been in.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book, both the animals and the humans that were included. I really enjoy having dogs in books because I think that they bring something out of the people that I really like. I like when there is a similarity between the dog and the humans which in this case was how they were both brought in around the same time. I think that fact adds to how Lydia relates to this dog and how she views herself in this home.

Queens of Geek

This one was recommended by a fellow bibliophile on twitter and the recommendation came just in time. I love to read books about pandemics, epidemics, outbreaks, and more but right now not even those can make me happy. I feel like my anxiety has gone up and just won’t come down and my depression went right along with it but this book has made my days a little brighter. This book has made me feel like I’m not alone.

Something that really made me love this book is the LGBTQ+ representation along with the fact that they have an autistic character. I love that both of the characters bring up the challenges that they face because of their identity, it makes them so much more relatable. I think that they tackled some of the important issues regarding sexuality with one of the characters being bisexual and how her ex feels about it. I also think that the autistic representation was done well and I really enjoyed when Taylor meets another autistic girl and is overwhelmed with emotions.

Non-Binary Lives – An Anthology of Intersecting Identities

I tend to have a hard time reviewing books that are about real people’s lives because these are personal stories and how do you decide if you like them or not. I focus a lot more on the style of the book and its structure to decide how I feel rather than the content when it comes to these types of writings.

As I decided to skip the introduction and read that once I was done with all the stories I was thrilled to get a chance to read this book. I really appreciated each individual’s vulnerability in putting their story on paper for others to see. I thought it was important that each story was unique and that they were all told in different manners.

Something that did throw me off was that it was written in a way that isn’t accessible to everyone. It’s written in a way that is meant for individuals who have access to education. I think this is important to note especially for a book that others may recommend to people who are new to understanding what non-binary means. I don’t think this is a book that can be used to help educate others on non-binary matters as there were parts that I didn’t understand.

The List of Things That Will Not Change

I really enjoy when middle-grade books feature a character that acts their age and in which you can see their growth as they mature and encounter different obstacles. This was something that I felt was captured well in this book, I think it was great to see how Bea changed over time and how she recalled a lot of the big events in her life.

Something else that I enjoyed in this book was the way that emotions were captured and handled. I enjoyed the moments that Bea has with her therapist, Miriam, as it gives a great way to handle certain emotions and I think it begins to normalize therapy for those who are reading this. I like that this book addresses mental health and in a way, it addresses anxiety and normalizes worrying to a certain extent.

Something else that I really enjoyed was the way Mission not accepting his brother due to his sexuality was handled. I think the homophobia in this book was handled well and it was appropriate for the ages it is written for. It was written in a way that is realistic but also in a way that shows compassion and how you will have people who support you and those are the ones who matter.

City of Ghosts

I really enjoy getting a chance to read stories with ghosts that are friendly and have a human-like personality. I liked hearing about the adventures that Jacob and Cass are going on and the trouble that they get themselves into. I really enjoy the friendship that they have with each other and how that friendship continues even if Jacob is a ghost.

Something else that I enjoy in this book is how the adults support Cass in her friendship with Jacob and in her pursuit of ghosts. I think it was nice to see how her parents were so fascinated by the supernatural while Cass was the only one who could communicate with ghosts and they had no idea. I enjoyed all of the adults that Cass comes into contact with both in the veil and in the real world.

I also really enjoy the way that the truth unravels and how as the reader you are also learning along with Cass. I liked hearing about Cass being in the veil and her feelings while she’s in there. I think you get a good glimpse into what a teenager would feel like being in this world and how it changes her perspective on life.

There are two books that I read that I didn’t really write a review for it because it just wasn’t that good. Those books are Highfire and My Ex-Life.

January 2020 Wrap Up

I decided my post regarding what I read for the month and how my challenges are going will be two separate post. My wrap up is more so to let you know what I thought about what I read while my challenges are to let you see how much I got done. January felt like such a long month yet I didn’t get to finish as much books as I had hoped to. Enjoy reading what I thought about the books I got to read this month.

If you’d like to read my full review for any of this books, click on the title and it will take you there.

The Gravity of Us

I’ll admit I wasn’t too sure if I’d like this for so many reasons. One being the reality TV scenes thrown in, especially since those scenes feel choppy and confusing to me. Another was that this book was something I knew nothing about, NASA and a connection to a time that happened before I was born. I gave it a try though because I love LGBTQ+ stories told by own voices and I’m glad I read this.

Overrall it’s a cute story of two boys in love at a complicated time for everyone involved with so much more embedded in the story than the space exploration mission. The complexity of the characters, their relationships, and emotions throughout is really what drew me in.

My Squirrel Days

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.

We Come Apart

I decided to read this book because I wanted to read something quick at the end of 2019 but winded up finishing this in 2020. I’m so glad that I decided to try something new because prose was such a great way to tell this story. I like the way this story discusses issues such as family, friends, domestic violence, and immigration.

The Tenth Girl

I’m so conflicted with my feelings about this book. I listened to it on audio and feel that I should’ve done this with a ebook or physical book. I’m so confused with the last hours of this book. The twists is confusing and I dont know if I like it or hate it but what I know is it confuses me. This one is hard to review without spoiling anything so pardon me if the full review sounds vague.

Love & Other Curses

I really enjoyed the relationships that are shown throughout the book and how they shift. I like seeing the relationship Sam forms over the phone with Linda and then seeing the relationship he has with Tom Swift. I like seeing the difference in the relationships Sam has with older people at the Shang Ri La and the grands and then seeing him interact with his peers.

The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir

I love a good virus book and even better if its a non-fiction book because those are scarier. There’s nothing like the scare that real viruses cause and especially viruses that are drug resistant. I’ve started to listen to my virus books instead of reading the physical book because then I can dwell on each word as I hear them. I find them a lot more fearful and the emotions are stronger if I’m listening to someone tell their story.

November Wrap Up

Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger

This is such a cute collection of different stories about two bugs who go on so many adventures. It’s a nice quick read that you can read with your kids. It’s also a great read for children who are learning to read.

Aster and the Accidental Magic by Thom Pico, Karensac

Aster and the Accidental Magic tells the story of Aster who has recently moved to a new town in the middle of nowhere. She hates that she has to live there now and wants to stay indoors playing video games. Her dad forced her to go outside which begins these strange set of adventures she goes on.

I love the many characters that Aster meets and the stories that happen as she meets them. I think that each teach her a lesson and each of them make me want to read more.

I think this is a great middle grade read because of all the action and how quick paced it was. I also like that the ending kept you wanting to know what happens next.

Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi

I had high expectations of this book because of how much hype this book got. I have mixed feelings about this book though. The characters are well developed and I enjoyed how they interact with each other and the world around them. I wasnt a fan of the plot though and how slowly things moved. I was hoping there would be more action or something to keep me on the edge of my seat.

Cast Away: Poems for Our Time by Naomi Shihab Nye

While I thought these poems were written more for adults than young people I still found them interesting. I like how she wrote a whole book about trash and different types of trash. I thought it was interesting to really think about the way we throw things away and how careless we are with our things.

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore

As I read this book I grew more and more invested in the lives of Sarah and Tassie. I loved their ever changing relationship with each other and the journey they were on together. When tradegy strikes Sarah’s household the story shifts and is about the everyday mundane life of Tassie. It was at that point that I no longer cared for the story. It’s like Tassie was no one without Sarah and Mary Emma.

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones, Gilly Segal

I got this book because it’s the library’s big read and they had it available on audiobook. The audiobook is really good because they use two different people to read each characters chapters. I really enjoyed how there was a clear distinction between which character was speaking. I wonder if I would’ve seen the story any differently if I read it rather than listened to it.

I liked having this story told in both of the girls perspectives. I liked watching Lena be one way towards Campbell but be so frustrated with her. I also loved the revelation that Campbell comes to at the end and how she sees everything as she’s told off. And I love how things aren’t resolved at the end and it leaves you thinking.

I also really enjoyed how quick paced everything was. I liked that everything happened in the span of a few hours. I think that things had to happen that quickly for anything to have an impact.

Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon

I loved reading Jonathan and Web fall in love with each other in a world that only I’m privy to as the reader. It’s such a beautiful first love and placed me in my memories of my first real love. It reminded me of thinking I was in love but then actually being in love for the first time as I came to terms with my queerness and how beautiful that is. This book made me see that relationship as something different than I kept seeing it as and it helped me heal from the pain the ending of that relationship caused. I appreciate this book for giving me a new perspective.

I like how short the chapters are and how easily they blend into each other. The short chapters make the book feel like it’s passing a lot slower than it actually is. In the end you realize that this whole story took place over the span of 1 summer. It just reminds me how quickly things can change and it reminds me of the quote in the book “Overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now.” by Ricard Bach.

I really enjoy the moment Jonathan starts to be okay with being gay because it means he can be with Web. I love how he’s like nothing else matters because of that and just really knowing what that moment feels like. I enjoy how relatable so much of this book is even if it’s written in a different time period.

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

This book took me a long time to get through and not because I didn’t enjoy it. I just had to read other things in between. According to my photos I’ve been working on this book since July of this year and I finally was able to get through it though and I’m glad.

I like how there’s only two main characters and you get to know them really way. I like how the relationship that they have is always changing and is very tumultuous. I like how you you don’t really know what Em is thinking, only what Gyre thinks she’s thinking because the whole story is told in third person through Gyres perspective.

Something else I enjoyed was how descriptive each scene is. I read part in physical book and ebook and then listened to the rest. These descriptions made the book more interesting and I felt like I was in that cave with Gyre. The audiobook made things very eerie and I listened to it on my way to work and on my way home which made it even more creepier. I loved how scared this book made me not just because of the story but also for Gyre.

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

I loved how each chapter was a different topic but they all tied together well. I really enjoyed how it wasnt just a humorous book but I learned something in each chapter. I was forced to stop and think about things that I thought I hadn’t formed an opinion about.

I loved that it was dark humor. I liked that some of these were not things people find funny. And how the most humorous things were that it was sarcastic. So much of it was funny because it’s TRUE.

Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom

I love all of the books I’ve read by Mitch Albom and this one was no different. Mitch really captured how much of a beautiful child Chika was and I love how her personality shines through each word.

I loved the way this book was structured where he had segments where it was him and Chika speaking, then just him about his insights and then parts of the past and what she taught him. I loved hearing each lesson he learned through her and how fond he is of those lessons.
You get so attached to Chika and even if you know she’s going to pass away that moment still hits you hard. I cried as Mitch and his wife said their goodbye and felt honored to be allowed into such a private moment between the three of them.


I recommend this to those of you who enjoy any of Mitch Albom’s other books or who like to read heartfelt stories that’ll make you cry.

Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come by Richard Preston

This is just as great if not better than The Hot Zone which is my favorite book of all time. When I first read The Hot Zone it felt like a fictional story or another world I was being privy to so when this came out I couldn’t wait to read it. This was about an outbreak that I followed, this was a story that I thought I knew so well but was wrong. Ebola is the scariest thing in the world to me so reading about it terrifies me.

I love the way that Richard Preston tells the story of the doctors and nurses who risked their lives to treat their own and their patients. He really gives us some insight into their stories and so many of the behind the scenes things we didnt know about. I just love how his writing makes me feel like I’m reading a fiction story and have to remind myself that this is real. These are real people and others lives.

I think one of the most amazing things to learn about was the politics behind the two Americans who got the treatment to save them. That’s a story I remember so well on the news and recall my feelings toward it and this made me rethink that whole situation.

October Wrap-Up

I’m sorry that this is coming to you all late but it’s been a super busy start of November and ending to October. I still wanted to share with you all everything that I got a chance to read and what I thought about it.

Light It Up By Kekla Magoon ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book was so moving and addressed such important and real issues. It addressed the ever-pressing issue of police brutality, and the ongoing problems black people face with Law enforcement just for existing. It does this in a manner that speaks about the issues through multiple different eyes and from all perspectives.

At first, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to follow with so many characters and so many storylines but that added a lot to the story. I loved hearing from each character and watching how events change them. I loved watching Robb come to the realization he reaches after a very pivotal moment in the story. I also found it sad, moving and a lot to take in to watch so many of the children become adults overnight. I thought it was important that the police officer’s daughter had her viewpoint shown and to see how conflicted she was about the actions of her parents.

Cog By Grey Van Eekhout ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book was such a cute read. I loved all the characters and how real they all felt to me. They all felt human to me rather than robots even car, proto, and trash bot. I wanted to hear more about their lives and couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to live in this robot town that they were all from.

I love how Cog interacts with others and how he explains his purpose. I love how he finds he learns by making mistakes and assumes the bigger the mistake the more he’ll learn. I think this is a great book for children grades 2nd to 5th. I think they’ll find great joy in the plot and some of the funny scenes that are included throughout. The lessons that are included are great for this age range and teach them that it’s okay to be unique and stand out. It shows our differences make us human and those differences help us when working with others.

Dear Sweet Pea By Julie Murphy ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoy how this books deals with divorce, sexuality, and body positivity. I like that the book is written for a younger audience because I hardly see books with fat protagonists in them. Something I enjoyed in regards to the body positivity aspect of this book was how the main character and her family made it a point that far wasn’t a bad word. I thought with all the images out there pressuring children especially young girls to be a certain size this was a great way to show that we come in all shapes and sizes and none is any more valuable than the other.

Deception By Teri Terry ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This book picks up right where they left us at the end of book 1. This book just keeps developing an even deeper plot and when I think they may be done exploring another level gets revealed. I love how elaborate this supposed virus really is and how the survivors continue discovering more about themselves as time passes. This virus seems to have a mind of its own and I cant wait to find out who the real villain of this story is.

The twists in book 2 just keep getting better and as more is revealed you as a reader keep guessing what’s going to happen now. So much of this book scares me because of how invested I am in certain people and story lines. I love hearing more about Alex, Shay and Callie’s father, and finding the story about this virus unravel as we get to know him.

The Best at It By Malik Pancholy ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved the way that this story dealt with so many topics without it being overwhelming for the age group that it was intended for. I loved how each of the topics was addressed by Rahul’s friends and family and how intertwined his race was with these discussions. I really liked the characters that were included and how they each made Rahul’s differences stand out more than he liked. I thought that was a great way to show the reality of situations like Rahul’s for people his age.

I thought it was so great to read about how Rahul’s Indian background informed his thinking and the things that he did. This is the first book that I’ve read in which the main character is Indian and it was great that this was an #ownvoices book because it read really authentically. I enjoyed the relationship that Rahul had with his family, especially his grandfather, Bhai, and really appreciated that the relationships he had with his family’s friends were included.

Friend or Fiction By Abby Cooper ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I love that this book explores the concept of a perfect friendship and how that can be unhealthy too. I really liked how the characters developed over time and how we not only get to know Jade but also Clue’s story and how he fits into Jade’s life.

I loved how they handled jade’s father having cancer and her feelings about it. Jade and Bo’s feelings both felt very real. I liked that they didn’t brush over it but they explored the anger and frustration that came with this family’s grieving.

Freeing Finch By Ginny Rorby ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was a book that broke my heart multiple times and then put it back together. The characters were lovable from the start and I didn’t want anything happening to Finch or Maddy. I loved the way that Finch grows into herself and learns how to be herself through so many others. I love the message of a family in this one and how sometimes family looks different than what people might be used to. I really enjoyed how the animals were intertwined in Finch’s story, especially the dog, and what Ben meant to her. I thought it was great to see a story that has a transgender child but isn’t only about their life as a transgender person.

Blood: A Memoir By Allison Moorer ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I always find it hard to rate and review a memoir because it is the telling on someone else’s life and how do you judge the recounting of someone’s life. This memoir does a great job of recounting the events of Allison Moorer’s life that lead up to the tragedy of her parent’s death. It was beautifully written and the story was told in a way that you got to watch as she challenged herself through the emotions from her past. The way that the story not only told the events from the past but included reflections about Morrer’s feelings towards those events as an adult with her own child were moments that I thought captured the whole story nicely. I thought it was such a great way to process her emotions and also leave the past in the past because no matter how she dwells on it, what happened there already happened. 

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoyed this book and when I saw others comparing it to The Girls I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it seeing as I wasn’t a fan of that book. There were so many aspects of this book that I enjoyed though and part of it was the narrator.

I usually hate when I’m confused by the narrator and who is telling the story. This book shifts between telling the story in the 1st person point of view, through Claire’s perspective, and the 3rd person point of view coming from all other characters who play a part in this story. It gets a bit confusing and you start to wonder if maybe the third person is Claire’s view too but her trying to see things how these people would.

Honestly, this book is part of why I love adult fiction especially thrillers. They confuse me so much and I have to process them with others to know what happened. I love that everyone reads a different book and so much is left to the reader’s imagination.

September Wrap-up

Slay by Brittney Morris ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kiera creates a world that she feels she can be herself in and embrace what being black means for her. The only downside is that none of her IRL friends know about this online persona she has created for herself and this game she’s made for black people. She thinks she can keep both worlds separate until a boy gets murdered for something from this game called SLAY. What happens next? Will she be able to keep her two worlds separate? What happens when the two worlds collide?

I loved this book the minute I opened it and was so sad every time I had to put it down, I was even sadder when it ended. I’ve been very intentional about what I read lately and want to make sure I get to read books by POC for POC and that is what this book is. This book covers so many important topics and I cant even begin to talk about them all here.

Red at the Bone⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This story starts off at the eve of Melody’s coming of age ceremony and goes back in time to tell the story of how that day came to be. This story is told through five different perspectives who all play a role in Melody’s life. The story of Melody’s parents and grandparents unfolds to show how they got to where they are now and the trials and tribulations faced along the way.

I cant even begin to start talking about my feelings toward this book. I saw that it mentions poetry in the description and when I started reading I thought how is this poetry. I had never seen prose written in this format but as I kept reading I fell in love with the structure of this book. Every section was powerful and moving, this style told the story in a way that felt authentic.

Frankly in Love⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoyed the complexity of this book and how it was much more than just a story about Frank being in love. At first I was a little upset by the fact that we don’t really know any of the characters in the story but after thinking about it I realized that was on purpose. We don’t know anyone the way that Frank doesn’t really know people including himself. I loved how purposeful that portion was and how this was more of a coming of age story.

I liked how we only saw Frank’s perspective on everything even if that left holes in the story for me and left me with so many questions at the end. I think it was great that it was like the book is done but also not complete if that makes sense. It left me with things to think about and I appreciate books who do that. 


My Jasper June
⭐⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoyed how this book handles such complex issues such as death, friendship, and complicated family dynamics. I liked how the friendships between Leah and jasper were depicted and how they were able to open up with each other. I liked how they showed the building up of friendship and how it changes with time.


Guest: A Changeling Tale⭐⭐⭐

I really enjoyed that the main character was naive and acted her age. I read too many books that are meant for a younger audience in which the protagonist seems like they are an adult and it throws me off. It was refreshing to read something different as Mollie gets into a whole lot of trouble for being a child.

Something else that I liked was the way that the twists unfolded, it seemed like there was no substance to them but as I kept reading I thought differently. I thought it was great that there was an element of surprise but it didn’t throw off the main course of the book. I also liked that the twists were simple enough for 5-7 graders to understand and still want to read more.


The Remarkables⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was such a nice middle school read and I thought the lessons taught were great for that age. The relationship that Marin has with her parents is nicely contrasted with the relationship that Charley has with his own family. I like how his relationship with his family reminds Marin of how she feels about her friends and how Charley says “I don’t think you know what its like to care about people who do bad things all the time. No matter what.” That sentence wraps up Charley’s feelings about his life really well and it was a moment I had to pause at.


The Babysitter’s Coven⭐⭐⭐⭐

When I started reading I kept having to pause because of the random TXTing lingo that was included, while I knew what the words meant they just seemed very out of place. I liked how the book had a very 90s theme and tone to it and I think there were some times where modern things were brought into play that took away from that. I wasn’t a big fan of all the time jumping because it made it hard to figure out what time period was this book taking place in.

While this was marketed as a babysitter’s club/buffy the vampieish book I looked past any of that since I’m not familiar with either of those things. I think because I wasn’t familiar and read this book as something new I found it really entertaining. I loved each of the characters and how they developed throughout the story. I liked how their relationships with each other changed and how complex some of those relationships were.


Bernard Pepperlin
⭐⭐⭐

Bernard is stuck in the world of Alice and Wonderland after Alice no longer lives there and is living a pretty mundane life. He falls through a tea pot and escapes this world into the city of New York, but sadly that world has problems of its own. There’s a gang who wants to stop time and Bernard is afraid that if they succeed he is going to be stuck with a life like the one he had in the past but worst.

The characters in this story are so cute and sweet, I love that its written around animals and their lives. It was so nice to imagine that these animals who live among us have lives and problems of their own just like us. I really enjoyed the humor in the interactions Bernard has with other animals and the range of emotions behind those interactions.

August Wrap Up

The Birthday Girl By Melissa De La Cruz

Upon completing this book my first thought was huh? what just happened? The fact that the ending left me with this was both nice and also frustrating. It’s frustrating because now I need to read more about this book or talk with others to process what happened, and it’s nice because it was all unexpected. 

Besides the ending something else that I found interesting about this book was how much the past and present not just contrast with each other but how important one is to the other. Without the past Ellie’s story would not have been the same and she would not have been the same person. I think if we didn’t see both stories we wouldn’t understand so many of her actions or her personality.

The Warehouse by Rob Hart

I was a bit skeptical as I started this book because it took me a while to really get into it. When I was in the mood to read it I couldn’t put it down but other than those times I just couldn’t pick it up. Once I got to the part where things started happening though I couldn’t put it down and finished most of it in 1 day. I really enjoyed the mystery of the whole thing and finding out the company’s secrets. I also really enjoyed getting to see the story from three different perspectives. I felt bad for all of the characters even the bad guys.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

This was a really good coming of age story in which I loved all of the characters. I loved getting to know each of the characters and seeing their flaws. I thought it was great to see how the adults had flaws even if they wanted their children to be perfect and why they had set those expectations on their children. I also really liked the twist at the end because it was unexpected and something that I didn’t see coming.

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen

I love the way that the author describes every scene and every item that you encounter, it made me feel like I was in the story. I loved the way the automatons interacted with the people and especially loved Eugene’s sarcasm and wit. It really added some light humor to a rather dire situation for our characters. 

Overall this book was a quick read with twists and turns and a great steampunk retelling of repunzal. I recommend this to you who love a great YA romance book or who like retellings of stories.

Best. State. Ever by Dave Berry

This book was something that I read for my local library’s bookclub and it’s not something I would normally read. It was a quick read that just gave me some insight into Florida and the weird things in that state. I had no idea that people’s impressions of Florida were so poor and that so many interesting things happened there. It was a nice quick read that I couldn’t put down because of how fascinated I was by the way it was written. Normally I’m not a fan of sarcasm and irony because I don’t get the humor but this author does a good job with it. This book had me laughing from start to end.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

From the start, I had guessed what had happened and so I was taking my time reading it and thought I wouldn’t actually enjoy this book because I had solved the mystery. I was still taken by surprise when things were all revealed though. Something I really enjoyed about this book was the character’s perspectives. I loved getting to hear from each of the suspects and their side of the story. I also loved watching as they developed on their own and in their relationships with each other.

The Whisper Man by Alex North

I don’t read adult fiction much because I never can follow the story line but I gave this a try since thrillers are right up my alley. I was very pleased with this book and the way that events slowly unfold through the whole story. I liked seeing this story told in different perspectives and all the twists and turns that the story took you through. I actually saw none of those things coming and I didn’t know who was behind anything until the characters in the book found out. I loved learning alongside them and actually felt bad when things happened to the characters. This book allowed me to grow emotionally attached to all of the characters because I as you read it’s like you are watching them. I liked it going back and forth from first perspective and third because I felt like I was the main character in this story and I was just hearing about the others from someone else.

I’m a Gay Wizard by V.S Santoni

I really wanted to love this book because it was LGBTQ+ but I just couldn’t. There were too many aspects that I just wasn’t a fan of. I didn’t really like how sudden Hunter and Johnny’s relationship shifts and suddenly Hunter is a completely different person. I really liked their dynamic in the beginning and was hoping that it would stay that way even after they started dating. It turned into more of a love story than anything else and that threw me off. I also wasn’t a big fan of the action scenes since they just kind of speed through those scenes and were filled more with Hunter and Johnny being in love over anything else.