Book Review | Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

This book. You guys, THIS BOOK was so well written.

While I gather my thoughts, here’s the basic idea…

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

Life according to Mary B. Addison

Let me just explain something really fast. Mary Addison got out of baby jail and is living in a group home in this novel. I have no experience with group homes or even girls who have lived in group homes. The author clearly has done her research to make the young women in this novel come across as real and believable.

I think that’s probably what I liked most. I mean the writing is phenomenal (I can’t believe this is a debut). But honestly, the realness of Jackson’s characters is what kept me coming back for more. This book is heavy. It was HARD to get through, but guess what? I’m glad I read it. Books have the power to change me and this one broke my heart.

Education as a theme

One of the more interesting themes within this book was Mary’s education. Having allegedly killed a baby, Mary’s options are really limited. She goes to a vocational school to learn cosmetology. But she’s driven to far more than this. She wants to go to college. She wants to take the SATs and build a better life for herself and her family. It was wonderful to see education play such an important role in this book.

Speaking on education is important, but equally important are the women who care about Mary.

Important Figures

Ms. Claire and Ms. Cora are really important to the story. You can’t convince me otherwise. My thought process is that without these two incredibly influential women, Mary would not have been convinced to better herself. I mean, we’re talking about a girl who didn’t speak to anyone for 8 months! These women really played an important role in this young woman’s life. Her Momma wasn’t there for her, but these women were. This is something I found so important within the pages of this book.

Overall thoughts

Again, I can’t believe this is a debut novel. Jackson writes like a seasoned author. This was damn near perfect, in my opinion.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

I can’t give it a 5. It’s hard, but the reason is just because I didn’t like how the book ended. I expected growth and progression and for the truth to come out, but I don’t feel like the ending did Mary’s story justice. In short, it wasn’t the ending I hoped for. Granted, I’m not the author and she’s entitled to do whatever she likes with her story – that’s just my opinion on the ending. 😛 Overall though, this was a GREAT (hard) read.

Let’s Chat!

One of my YouTube subscribers left me a comment I’d like to pass along to you all here! When you’re reading contemporary YA do you look for lighthearted fluffy reads or do you prefer more darker content? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review | Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I don’t doubt for a second you’ve heard of this book. Nor do I doubt you’ve watched the Netflix series. I’m here today to talk a little about both (mostly the book!). 

For August, I decided to randomly generate my TBR. This is the book I was least looking forward to because there’s so much negativity surrounding the content. 

There is a lot that I want to say in regards to this book, so let’s get down to it. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. 

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Mental Health

Hannah’s mental health is never really properly addressed and I have mixed feelings about this aspect of the novel. She never seeks help. Sorry, I can’t consider her going to the English teacher/guidance counselor as seeking help… Her parents never really question what’s going on with her. The mental health aspect of this book did not live up to what I hoped for. 

Let me be clear about this. I am NOT saying Hannah NEEDED a diagnosis to justify her actions. The tapes were simply a glimpse into her thoughts that lead up to her actions. Honestly, the reviews stating Hannah had no reason to take her own life make me really angry because YOU, angry reviewers, can’t decide what makes the actions of another person worthy. 

So I’m torn because I wish she would have brought her ideations to the attention of someone other than the English teacher/guidance counselor. That man did not have the proper training to intervene with a suicidal teenager. He did not have the proper credentials and that’s the part of this book that makes me so mad.

I understand Hannah was seeking help where she thought she could get help, but it also makes me question her relationship with her parents. My mother was always really perceptive of the mental health of her children, so I wonder what could possibly be more important (sorry, the mall going up wasn’t reason enough for me) than Hannah in her mother’s world. 

Basically, I wanted there to be a message in this book that it’s okay to seek treatment and I was disappointed that it was lacking. 

The Tapes

I’m going to come right out and say I enjoyed reading this format of story telling. I like the idea of hearing the story through the point of view of the person telling their story, while simultaneously reading another character’s POV. It was interesting and engaging. 

The content is another story…  

The Main Idea

Look, it’s really hard to do justice for a book that deals with such heavy topics. Am I doing okay so far? I think I am, but I’m also treading really carefully to not anger readers. This is hard. 

I saw the main idea of this story not as Hannah’s taking of her own life. Instead, I saw the main idea as treating others with respect or at least being mindful of how we interact with other people. I didn’t like that this was almost a placing blame game, but it certainly has made me more mindful of the ways in which I speak to other people. 

I don’t think the author’s main idea for this book centered around placing blame. In fact, I really believe his whole point was to make other people see that the way they treat people can affect them. You don’t get to decide you didn’t hurt someone. That’s what I think Jay Asher was trying to drive home. And I, for one, think he did a hell of a job doing it. I don’t think he could accomplish this without the seriousness that is suicide. 

Overall

I’m not going to sit here and spout praises for this book. I liked the writing, but the content was disturbing. It’s not as deeply disturbing as the show (good God), but still, it’s there. I would not recommend this to everyone, in particular I wouldn’t recommend this to someone struggling with suicide ideation. Nor would I recommend it to someone who is struggling with depression without help. It’s hard to read, but at the same time, the writing is so goddam captivating I couldn’t stop reading. 

One more thing.

I hated the ending. Like, what the fuck. 

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

I thought I was going to have to gift this to the library, but I’m definitely keeping it. 

Let’s Chat!

I don’t always like to read books that are as heavy as this. I have a few in my collection though (trying to be a well-rounded home librarian). What are some books you liked that feature heavy content like this? I’m looking at The Way I Used to Be as my next hard to handle book, but I’m open to other options. Share your thoughts in the comments!

20 Questions Book Tag

You guys, I googled a book series I mentioned in this video and there were actually 75 books in that series. No, I’m not even joking. Like WHY?! I can barely function with 5 books in a series and you want me to read 70 more!! WHO EVEN DOES THAT?!

I’m still losing my shit over this. Is there anyone out there who’s read all of these books? Can you tell me how they end? I can’t invest that kind of time into a series.

Book Review | King of Fools by Amanda Foody

#GirlGang #GIRLGang #GIRLGANG

You guys, the girl gang is back and I AM HERE FOR IT.

If you’re new here, you should probably know that last year one of my favorite books was Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody. I can’t justly describe to you how excited I was to get my hands on King of Fools.

And yet, even in my excitement for this book, I still didn’t read it immediately upon release.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Indulge your vices in the City of Sin, where a sinister street war is brewing and fame is the deadliest killer of them all…

On the quest to find her missing mother, prim and proper Enne Salta became reluctant allies with Levi Glaisyer, the city’s most famous con man. Saving his life in the Shadow Game forced Enne to assume the identity of Seance, a mysterious underworld figure. Now, with the Chancellor of the Republic dead and bounties on both their heads, she and Levi must play a dangerous game of crime and politics…with the very fate of New Reynes at stake.

Thirsting for his freedom and the chance to build an empire, Levi enters an unlikely partnership with Vianca Augustine’s estranged son. Meanwhile, Enne remains trapped by the mafia donna’s binding oath, playing the roles of both darling lady and cunning street lord, unsure which side of herself reflects the truth.

As Enne and Levi walk a path of unimaginable wealth and opportunity, new relationships and deadly secrets could quickly lead them into ruin. And when unforeseen players enter the game, they must each make an impossible choice: To sacrifice everything they’ve earned in order to survive…

Or die as legends.

A Little Too Political

Almost the entirety of this novel centers around a political election. I’m not normally opposed to this, but I felt like it almost took away from the magical elements I expected from the second book in a newfound favorite series.

I guess my whole thought process behind this being almost too political is it’s supposed to be centered around street wars. It didn’t feel like that for me. I wanted it to be more street war and stealth, but it felt more like this novel skirted around all the tensions between the gangs. In this sense, I felt the story was lacking.

Lady Friendship!

One of the best parts of this second installment is the progression of Enne’s friendship with Lola. I adore the Lord of the Spirits and her second and was THRILLED when we are introduced to the third in the #GirlGang. Honestly, this may very well be my favorite aspect of the novel. The strength of friendship among these gang of women is wonderful and fresh. I loved it.

I also really loved that it wasn’t so focused on Levi and Enne. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the relationship aspect was there, but it wasn’t the most important issue and it was nice to see Enne branch out from Levi more.

The Irons

I am all about the Irons. If I had to choose a gang to be a part of, besides the Spirits, I’d want to be an Iron. I love Levi and I love Jac. But I didn’t love the Irons in this book. It didn’t feel like the gang was as tightly knit as in Ace of Shades. It hurt my heart a little to see a weakening in this group of young adults.

And I really didn’t like that Levi and Jac basically spent this ENTIRE book apart and were pretty much always angry at each other. It seemed wasteful to have the Iron’s second away from the Iron Lord for the vast majority of the book, but I get it. Jac HAD to go away for his mission, but it doesn’t change the fact that I hated that he had to go.

Also, I’m still really mad about Mansi, but I LOVE the newest addition to the Irons!

Love Interests

Like I’ve said, Levi and Enne’s relationship isn’t the focal of this novel. In fact, romantic relationships aren’t the center of the novel, but they’re still there. There’s basically someone for everyone and it made my heart happy.

And while I enjoyed a break from Enne and Levi pretending not to be in love, I was frustrated that they weren’t together. Obviously, they’re perfect for each other.

General Thoughts and Opinions

In general, I thought this was an excellent follow up to Ace of Shades. I didn’t love it as much, but it was still captivating, for the most part. I did find certain parts to be a bit… anticlimactic which was slightly disappointing for me.

But I will say this, though, the ending SHOOK me to my core. Honestly, now I can’t wait for the next book!

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Overall, I enjoyed my time reading this. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been so worried about grad school grades.

Let’s chat!

Which of the street gangs in New Reynes would you want to join? I’d want to be an Iron or a Spirit! The Doves scare me too much lol.

Mini Book Reviews | After Series by Anna Todd

Traditionally, I would break my book reviews for a series down into individual reviews because I have thoughts about each book that are long enough in length to warrant individual reviews. In the case of the After series by Anna Todd, my thoughts were TOO MUCH to deep dive into reviews for each (so much so, I wanted to make a video about the series also). [Stay tuned for that shitshow]

In general, this series was probably not for me – but I read it anyway. I guess, if I had to categorize these books, they’d be under my “Love to Hate” category. The thing is, I devoured these books in a hate filled rage, but somehow still managed to enjoy myself while reading them. They’re infuriating, funny, and deeply disturbing all wrapped up in a pretty little “Romance” package.

Below, you can find my brief thoughts on each book in the series. Video will follow.

After (Book 1)

The first book in the After series captivated me. I don’t mean this in a good way. It’s full of manipulation, abuse, and serial rudeness. I kept reading it because, for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I was enraptured by the characters. Don’t get me wrong here, I didn’t like anyone in the book, but I was having so much fun laughing at them that I couldn’t stop reading.

I think part of what made this reading experience so fun is the prudishness of the main character. I read this book over the course of a weekend. It’s a pretty hefty book, too.

After We Collided (Book 2)

When I purchased After, I bought it individually. I didn’t think I’d hate enjoy the book so much, but when I ended up NEEDING more, I headed to Amazon and bought the rest of the series (read: NOT Before). In hindsight, I should’ve just bought this one and borrowed the other two books because this when I finished After We Collided, I was done.

I found this one slightly more annoying and slightly less enjoyable, but it was NOTHING compared to the last two books.

After We Fell (Book 3)

While After We Collided could have easily been IT for me (IT being THE END) I decided to further punish myself by reading the third book in the series. At this point, I was so sick of Hardin and Tessa’s back and forth bull shit, I almost gave up. 800 odd pages later I made it through and felt like I gained nothing from the experience other than Tessa’s dad is a fucking dirtbag. Oh, and Hardin has “anxiety” – I try not to judge, but his “anxiety” is covered through rudeness and breaking up with Tessa over the stupidest things.

I was done, but I persisted. It took me over a month to read this book (I actually blame THIS book for why I started reading three books at a time again).

After Ever Happy (Book 4)

After We Fell was a literal nightmare. As I read the first three books, I was annotating through tabs. By the time I reached this book, I flat out gave up. I just wanted to finish because I was sick of the same storyline over and over again. It still took me forever to get through this book (even though it’s the shortest one) and I can’t even explain the joy I felt when I finished.

The thing is, this could have been a good one BUT we literally sped through the rest of Hessa’s life together and I was mad as hell.

Literally, the author built up this entire backstory to speed us through the last book of the series. I hated this one for this fact.

Overall thoughts on the series

Honestly, I’m not mad that I wasted my time, I’m mad that I wasted my money. Alas, now I have to go watch the damn movie….

Let’s chat!

Did you read this series? Have you seen the movie? Let’s discuss some bullshit down in the comments.

Book Review | Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

You know whose writing I absolutely love? Riley Sager.

You know whose books I’ll always buy, before even reading the synopsis? Riley Sager.

You know who might very well be my favorite thriller author of all time? You guessed it.

RILEY FRICKIN SAGER.

This man honestly blows me away with his writing. He hooks me. Ropes me in even, and makes it damn near impossible to focus on anything else BUT HIS BOOKS when I have a crapload of school stuff I should be doing.

So yeah, I guess you can say I’m obsessed with this man’s work, but hey. If you love something, you love something.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

Alfred Hitchcock meets American Horror Story

Let me shoot it to you straight for a second. This book was basically the equivalent of Alfred Hitchcock directing a season of AHS (pre-Coven, of course). It’s scary and disturbing and everything that I would expect in this season of AHS. 

But seriously, it gives off really creepy vibes that I was living for while trying to solve the mystery of the Bartholomew. 

Predictability factor

Look, one of the main things I go into thrillers looking for is predictability. It was not difficult for me to figure out who was in on the secrets of the Bartholomew. What was hard for me to figure out was exactly what was going on in the building. I couldn’t figure it out and it was a definite surprise to me at the end. 

Buuuttt I wish it had ended differently… 

Yep. I didn’t like the end of this novel. There were some open storylines that I didn’t like and I definitely didn’t like the weird, boring turn of events AFTER Jules thought she figured out what was up at the Bartholomew. I wish Sager had stuck with what she thought because it would’ve been a much more thrilling closure to an otherwise interesting novel. I’m not mad, just disappointed. 😝

Character development

As usual, Sager developed lifelike and believable characters. Not only did he spend time developing Jules, it clearly shows he spent time developing characters who don’t dominate the story (i.e. Chloe). This is yet another reason I love his novels.

I would consider this book very character driven and I liked that. I also enjoyed not really getting physical descriptions of characters. It was much more interesting to see the characters through the eyes of Jules in what they were wearing, rather than build, skin-tone, and eye color (i.e. Leslie Evelyn and her Coach suits). I liked this aspect of the story a lot. And sure, there were some physical descriptions, they just didnt dominate the storyline.  

Generally speaking

This story didn’t really disappoint me. I enjoyed the ride. Sure there were things I’d change, but it didn’t really take away from my enjoyment of the novel. I wouldn’t say I love it like I love The Last Time I Lied – I still think about this one every day – but it was enjoyable nonetheless. 

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫

It doesn’t quite live up to my expectations to get that 5 star, but it was still soooo good. Mr. Sager still sits firmly on his throne as King of Thrillers for me and I will continue to automatically buy every book he publishes.

Let’s chat!

What books are you most looking forward to in the remaining months of 2019? Have you read any really good thrillers this year? 

Book Review | Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

I make efforts to read diverse books.

I especially like books with non-straight narrators or characters, but the selling point for me was not that the main character was bi-sexual. The selling point was the setting.

An amusement park in summer? I can’t think of a more perfect summer reading option than a book set in summer at an amusement park.

I mean, I live pretty close to a pretty large chain amusement park (this is a thing right?) but I grew up near a local amusement park and my days at this park were always some of the best.

Reading this book was almost like vicariously living through a character to live out my high school dream of being able to work at my local amusement parks.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love–and themselves–in unexpected people and unforgettable places. 

Elouise and Seeley

They have the best version of best friendship. I loved Seeley’s character. She’s much more than her wild colored hair and I just loved her sassy, sarcastic attitude.

Elouise was not always my favorite but in all fairness, most leading ladies never are my favorite. There’s always something about the leading ladies in YA novels that makes me want to shake them and say “LOOK BITCH!” Elouise is no exception. She’s incredibly dense, but so lovable. I was rooting for her the whole time, even though I was rooting against what she thought she wanted.

A teensy tiny bit of cliche

There’s a fake relationship in this novel.

If you’ve read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before you know how this goes.

I’ll leave it at that.

Bi Girls Date Girls for Boys Attention?

This is something I’ve read a lot of on Goodreads lately, especially in regards to this book. I don’t see it that way at all though. If Elouise fake-dated someone for the attention of her crush, don’t you think she’d be walking around in all her PDA glory for said attention? Or is that just me? Spoiler alert: that’s totally not the case.

I don’t get some of the internet critics so if you are one, can you enlighten me please?

Overall thoughts

You all know I love a good debut. This one was decent. Totally a cutesy summer story about love and friendship and it was exactly what I needed when I picked it up.

Overall, I wasn’t disappointed and if Jennifer Dugan writes another book I’d read it. She has a really sweet writing style that I can’t stop thinking about.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟💫

This was v cute (my goodreads review lol).

Let’s chat!!

What’s your favorite childhood summertime memory? It doesn’t have to be childhood, but a favorite summertime memory in general.

My favorite summer memory involves a trip to San Diego to visit my bestie when I was about 24. We went to Disneyland on that trip and it was one of the best days of my life.