Tuesday, December 22, 2020

TBH, This is SO Awkward by Lisa Greenwald

Is this book is graphic novel? 

Is this book a run of the mill middle grade fiction book? 

Told in text messages between friends CeCe, Gabby and Priya, TBH: This is SO Awkward by Lisa Greenwald shows us how easy it is for us to be resist to change in fear of losing a friend.  Especially when it comes to those middle school years. 

Now, I know what you're thinking... No, this isn't a book about a topic pertaining to diversity, it doesn't fit the mold of juvenile and middle grade books that I have fallen in love with recently. 

While the title eludes to a topic that might be silly, it does carry a message.  Words can hurt.  

CeCe, Gabby and Priya are, for lack of better term, like the Three Musketeers.  They're known each other since they were babies because their moms are friends.  (This is something that the reader does see)

Gabby is partnered with the new girl, Victoria as her reading log buddy.  Being the new student is hard! From the class phone list, Victoria reaches out to the group with the goal of befriending them.  Like most new students, Victoria tries a little too hard and it results in Gabby and Priya thinking that she's a little strange.  CeCe tries to tell the girls that they need to give Victoria a chance.  

Priya can't help but express how she doesn't like Victoria and she's really not into the idea of giving her a chance.  The worst case scenario happens and.. Priya tells not only CeCe and Gabby how she feels about Victoria but she also tells Victoria!

This doesn't go over well because well, how could it?? CeCe gets upset and frustrated and tells the girls that she needs to take a break (Much to the horror of Gabby and Priya).  

As the reader, we see that Gabby does make a conscious effort to friend Victoria and that CeCe does make a new friend in one of the M girls (much to the horror of the girls again!) but the bond that CeCe, Priya and Gabby have is strong and they are able to move forward from this.  They even gain a new friend in Victoria!

Greenwald makes sure to show us that Victoria reaches out to her old friends for advice, the her mom reaches out to the principal and to the other parents to try and help Victoria along.  

OH - I forgot to mention that while all of this is going on, Gabby's mom announces that Gabby will be moving at the end of the year and there was also a scandal with a mysterious note and a boy named Colin. 

I thought this was a cute read and I would definitely recommend it! 

- Jillian



Monday, December 21, 2020

Layla by Colleen Hoover

 Hello For the Love of Dewey Readers!

I recently finished Colleen Hoover's latest novel Layla, and yes I read it in under 24 hours. 

Layla is a piece of suspenseful and paranormal romance and many of you out there may be wondering if it's comparable to Verity.  Yes and no.  Both are suspenseful but while Verity was terrifying and creepy, Layla is more ghostly / otherworldly.   


So let's get to the novel.  Layla and Leeds fell madly in love at a bed and breakfast during her sister's wedding.  MADLY IN LOVE. Then one day, Leeds' crazy ex girlfriend shoots Layla.  Layla just isn't the same after the shooting, so Leeds takes her to the bed and breakfast that is so special to them- only it isn't a bed and breakfast anymore.  It's now a property that Leeds is considering buying.  Until he realizes that it's haunted by a spirit he begins to fall for. 

I have a lot to say about this book, but I don't want to give too much away. It's not my favorite Hoover read, but I still really enjoyed it.  I think I usually gravitate towards Hoover's book when I want a) something I won't be able to put down and b) to feel all the lovey dovey feels.  It sort of hit it's mark with both of those but lost me a bit with the ghostly encounter.  

For that reason, I'm going to give it a For the Love of Dewey rating of 4 out of 5 coffee beans.  It's worth reading, but don't expect another Verity and don't expect a classic Hoover novel. If you've read Layla, leave a comment down below with your thoughts! 

~Jessica  

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Cookbook Club by Beth Harbison - Reshevled Books

Hello For the Love of Dewey Readers! 

It's been a hot minute since the last time I wrote a review. I know, I know. I had said that I was going to post more reviews this year (especially since we have been spending so much more time at home) but that just didn't happen.

I have been reading though! One thing that I have noticed this year is that it's hard to find books that capture and keep my attention.  Has anyone else felt that way? So when I find a book that keeps me wanting more it's a big deal and something worth sharing.  Beth Harbison's latest novel The Cookbook Club is one of those reads.


The Cookbook Club follows the storylines of three characters facing different issues in their individual lives but connected through friendship in the form of a cookbook club.  We meet Margo, whose jerky husband that ate tasteless "healthy food" left her, Aja, who recently found out she is pregnant by the self absorbed man she's been dating recently, and Trista, an ex-lawyer who is now struggling to run a bar.  Not only does Harbison blend these three storylines together seamlessly while tackling issues of sexism and gender roles, but she also has really funny lines throughout that actually made me smile- which isn't something I often do while reading.  

From giant rats compared to Great Danes to references to how everything eventually comes back to CATS the musical (which is something my boyfriend has also said during this strange year and makes me question if Beth has been listening into our conversations)-- this book was everything I've needed in this crazy last quarter of 2020.  

I'd give this book a For the Love of Dewey rating of 5 out of 5 coffee beans.  Add it to your to-read list ASAP!

~Jessica 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

It's Banned Book Week!

Hi everyone,

Long time, no post!  

This post is going to be about Banned Books Week which started on Sunday 27th and it will end on Saturday, October 3rd.   I know that it's Tuesday - I'm a little late to the game. 

What exactly is Banned Books Week? 

According to the American Library Association (ALA), Banned Books Week highlights the "current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools".  

Not only did the ALA publish a list of the most challenged books for 2019 but they also released a list for the top 100 challenged books for the last decade (2010-2019).  

The books that make the ALA's list are challenged for the content that's being depicted.  The topics that are covered in these books range from LGBTQIA+ to Racism.  The storylines can also be viewed as being "age inappropriate", "sexually explicit" or use "offensive language" (ALA, 2020).  You can read more about why books are banned and how the ALA makes the determination for the list here

I have read my fair share of banned books over the years. 

Just to name a few of them... Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was the first book that I remember reading that is on the Banned Books List.  I've read Lauren Myracle's TTYL and Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison was one of my series that I had read when I grew up.  These titles are located on the Top 100 Banned/Challenged from 2000-2009. More recently, I've reaThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  

If you're interested in knowing what made the list between 2010-2019 - you can check what the ALA reported here

Have you read a "banned book" on your own or for school? Do you feel that the book should be banned? If you agree that it should be, why?  Also, do you think that libraries should censor the material that they purchase and provide to their patrons?

Feel free to let me know what you think! 

Catch ya soon with some new reviews :) 

- Jillian 


Saturday, August 15, 2020

Pushing for Diversity in What We Read

This post is one that (I hope) makes you think. 

I would like you to do is: think of what the last book you read was about. 

Then ask yourself this: Were the characters diverse? Was the story diverse? 

Chances are that the story you read wasn't very diverse.  And you know what? That's okay. BUT we can do better by changing that!  

AS readers, we can pick up a book that has diversity woven through it.  

Remember: diversity in literature comes in different forms. Diversity is not just about stories that focus on main characters who are people of color or their cultural stories.  Diversity takes form in any other characteristics of a character- their sexual orientation or if they may have another medical conditions, just to name two characteristics. 

There is a bunch of articles out there that highlight the importance of having diversity in children's literature (including young adult).  There is even an entire organization dedicated to it - We Need Diverse Books

Those articles are able to better explain it and I'll link a few of them here:

Teachers Push for Books with More Diversity, Fewer Stereotypes

Why Children's Book That Teach Diversity are More Important Than Ever

Why Diverse Kids Books Matter 

Lee and Low each year publishes the statistics that accompany diverse children's literature.  These are the stats from this year- Where is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey Results is DEFINITELY worthy of the read. 

The message across all of these articles? We need the diversity! Children and teens need to be able to associate to the characters in books but they also are able to use the characters that they can't directly relate to as a teachable moment. 

If you have read anything that fits what was discussed in the articles above, let  me know!  You can comment back or tweet me @blondewithabook

- Jillian 


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Introducing... Jillian's Virtual Library!


I'm both happy and excited to introduce a new page to For The Love of Dewey - Jillian's Virtual Library!


Bookish Wall Decor is from here. 

I learned about it in my emerging literacy class last semester actually and I must say the virtual library is a really fun concept!.  The idea is that you're able to share books with your students or patrons or other resources that are available from your library, whether you're a librarian in a public library or a media specialist.  

In a perfect world, this is slide/picture that would be interactive and if you clicked on any one of the book covers, you would be able to access more information on that book currently on a bookshelf.  Alas, this is not a perfect world and I'm trying to figure out if there is a way that I can hyperlink my Google Slide to the blog that will allow for this to happen.... 

In the meantime, I thought that this was just too cute not to share!  The books that are shown here in my virtual library are listed down below.  These are just some of the books that I've read so far this summer. They are all YA books and they were wonder.  In keeping with that I've learned about diverse literature, all of the books that are mentioned cover a vast topics but they were all so amazing and worthy of sharing! 

New Kid by Jerry Craft: For anyone who says graphic novels can't be as powerful as a regular book, hasn't picked up and read New Kid.  Jordan is starting 7th grade at a new school- a school where he is the minority and a school where Jordan encounters racism daily. How can you speak up for yourself when the people around you don't think that they're doing anything wrong?  That's a tough question to answer but over the course of the year, Jordan learns that going outside of the bounds of what you're comfortable with can have surprisingly positive results and more importantly, how you need to stand up for yourself and what's right. 

Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson: Claudia and Monday have big plans! 8th Grade is going to be their year- they are going to make it count before heading off to high school. Monday isn't there for the first day of school though.  Monday doesn't ever come.  Told in such a way that leaves a trail of "breadcrumbs" for the reader to follow, we learn that appearances aren't everything and everyone has their secrets that they want to keep hidden for no-one to find until it's too late. 

Kent State by Deborah Wiles: One word to describe this book: Powerful.  A recommendation from Donalyn Miller - this story is told using the perspectives of 6 different individuals to tell the story of 3 days before and the day of the shooting at Kent State in Kent, Ohio in May of 1970.  While Kent State happened 50 years ago, the events leading up to and what happened on that fateful day are eerily similar to the current events that are happening today in 2020.   

Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazemian: Can we just take a moment and admire the cover art of this book?!  It's beautiful and it is a great depiction of what this book is about.  Reza is new to NYC, on his first day of school, he runs into Art and Judy.  Reza only sees Art, while Judy only sees Reza.  In a powerful story about accepting and embracing who you are, Reza navigates what it's like to be gay during the 1980s- a time when being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is taboo and HIV/AIDS is killing members of this community at an alarming rate. 

Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me by Gae Polisner: A heartbreaking novel that tells the story of 15 year Jean Louise "JL" Markham.  Being 15 years old is tough for any teenager but try being 15 and growing apart from your one and only best friend,  and dating a 19 year old high school senior while watching your mom, who suffers from a mental illness, unravel at an alarming rate. And your dad?  Well, your dad is living on the West Coast, unaware of what is really going on at home. 

The Opposite of Falling Apart by Micah Good: This is books speaks to me.  18 year old Brennan and is suffering from anxiety disorder.  Her anxiety is a blanket that is wrapped around her day in and day out- it makes it very difficult for her to do everyday tasks.  18 year old Jonas is still accepting what life is like 1 year after a tragic car accident that leaves him an amputee.  In an unlikely pairing, Jonas and Brennan forge a friendship where they learn from each other and lean on one another during this difficult time in their lives.  


For more information on what a virtual library is and how to create one, I recommend checking out this article by Joyce Valenza. 

As I read more books, I'm going to update my virtual library, so make sure that you check back.  The focus of my next virtual library? I'm thinking of making it all about juvenile books and graphic novels.

If you pick you of these books up, let me know what you think!  You can either comment at the bottom of this post OR you can tweet me!  As we know, Twitter is new to me but it's a platform that I'm really trying to be more active on. 

- Jillian 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

We're Back....

Hi For the Love of Dewey Readers!

2020 has been something else, that's for sure.  You would think that we would have been posting more frequently, but NOPE. Even though we were home for 5 months from work we didn't post.  Instead, I spent my free time starting a new exercise program, ending past relationships, praying, and staring at Instagram and Youtube.... a lot.  If living in a global pandemic wasn't enough, today we began hurricane season! 

But it's all okay.  And I'm going to try to post more regularly here and on Instagram.  It's my vow to you.  
Over the past few months I've been reading a lot! One book that I recently finished and adored was Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton.  It was so good! SO, SO GOOD.

I'm not a big fan of historical fiction, but I absolutely devoured this novel , which is told during both present day and during the Cuban Revolution.  Part of why I think I was so drawn to it is because when I was younger I adored Dirty Dancing Havana Nights, which would often play during the summer on the ABC Family Channel.  

This novel opened my eyes to a new point in history and also entertained me with a love story.  It was perfect.

I give you a rating of 5 out of 5 Coffee Beans.  

Promise to see you soon!
~Jessica