Friday, May 13, 2022

The Sun Will Come Out by Joanne Levy

 I'm going to take a brief break from YA to talk about this little book by Joanne Levy entitled The Sun Will Come Out.

I recently sat for a webinar that focused on books for Hi-Lo/Reluctant and Struggling Readers.  Orca Book Publishers presented during the webinar and a few of the titles that they were discussing, I was definitely interested in.  When purchasing for my juvenile collection, I want to make sure that there are titles that appeal to a wide variety of readers, not just in topic but also in the way that they are written when it comes to "decoding", if that makes any sense. 

I don't remember if this title came up in the presentation or if I found it on my own from searching our book vendor but either way, I found the title and I decided to put it on hold to give it a read. 

Orca Book Publishers is a publishing company based in Canada.  They have a goal of publishing books that present and illustrate the experiences that represent the diversity that is seen within the human population (which I love!).  Orca Book Publisher also publishes five different series for readers who may face literacy challenges.  That being said... I thought this book was from a series within one of those five but I guess not? Regardless, I still found this book to be a wonderful read!  

The Sun Will Come Out follows 11 year old Bea (Beatrice) as she spends 4 weeks away at sleep away camp.  The story starts off with Bea finding out that her best friend, Frankie will not be going to Camp Shalom with her.  Bea is devastated to say the least!  Then when Bea gets to Camp Shalom, she easily makes friends with a girl named Regan.  Already anticipating the worst, Bea has a series of terrible run=ins and experiences at camp... within the first 3 days!  She makes quick friends with a girl named Regan, who becomes to be the girl that Bea's crush, Jeremy (who also happens to be Frankie's older brother) likes.  Two girls in her cabin start to pick on her on the first day of camp.  

What I liked about The Sun Will Come Out is that it's realistic.  Bea has stressors that she's encountering at camp (outside of school) and they are completely relatable.  She's upset that the boy she likes, doesn't like her back.  She has bullies and she's afraid to vocalize it to an adult because she's afraid of what happen (which isn't right but understandable) but the topic of being courageous and doing the right thing - ometz lev - is a belief that Bea embodies toward the end of the book.  As the reader, you see Bea work through these and you see how she handles them; from the beginning and what may or may not change as the story goes on.  Levy tells a story that is much needed because it talks about everyday things that sometimes get lost in the sauce; you have bullying, anxiety, and diseases.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! 

- Jillian

Friday, April 29, 2022

The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart

Hello visitors of the blog! 

It's Jillian and I'm back!!

I'm back with a review of The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart - a realistic young adult fiction book published this year.  The book explores the topic of mental health awareness, self harm and suicide.  While I don't have triggers toward those topics, some readers might.  I would definitely take that in consideration when reading this book or even this post about the book. 

The Words We Keep is about Lily Larkin, a high school junior who is dealing with a lot of things - all at once.  The reader later learns that Lily is suffering from anxiety but Stewart lays out a path that is easy for the reader to follow when it comes to Lily and what she's battling.  The story starts off with Lily running - she's running to the ocean and she is quickly beckoned home by her older sister, Alice.  Lily finds Alice on the bathroom floor after committing an episode of self harm - I'm going to say that it's self harm because I don't recall Alice's character explicitly saying that she was attempting suicide.  

The story quickly moves into Lily navigating her everyday life; a project in school with a partner who knew Alice in treatment and how Lily is managing her feelings with the entire situation.  The reader picks up early on that Lily is struggling with what is going on (at home and at school) and that she doesn't have a strong support system.  

First and foremost, I believe that this book should come with a trigger warning.  It's transparent in that as you're the reader, you're well aware that the subject of mental health is tackled in this book but it doesn't mention the variety of other things associated with mental health and anxiety that you will read about.  There is no disclosure of suicide attempts; just the sheer amount characteristics associated with anxiety were listed and to be quite frank, it was VERY overwhelming!

An example, Lily would go from the ruminating thoughts to picking her skin to a trying to inflict a severe act of self harm.  Then you had Alice's story which was happening while Lily was having her own stuff going on. 

My overall thought on this book is... that it was just okay.  Even though I found the story to be raw, powerful and beautiful.  The emotions that are worn through this story are ones that you certainly feel.

It kept my attention and I will agree that, that is important but it wasn't my favorite book that I've read recently.   Even though I do me a book that advocates for mental health and mental health awareness.

The story line doesn't pick up until you're more than halfway through reading and then it quickly escalates and then things come to ahead...And you're left wondering why just happened and how you got there...

One thing that I did like about this story was that Stewart showed what happens when a family becomes hyper-focused on addressing one child and ignores everything else.  It also discusses how there is a pressure for the remaining children to stay "perfect" to keep the peace almost. 

- Jillian

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 I'm back!

Not is this the first book review I've posted in a hot minute, it is also the first book that I've read that's not been YA or middle grade in a hot minute. 

Malibu Rising is a book that I saw on booktok (the book/reader section of TikTok) and it sounded interesting.  I have never read a book by Taylor Jenkins Reid before but I know that Daisy Jones and the Six was insanely popular a few years back as was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

I must say that Malibu Rising was not what I thought it would have been and I was very excited about that! 

Set in 1983, Malibu Rising focuses on the Riva family: Nina, Jay, Hud, Kit, and their father, Mick - looking back at the family history and the current date (that being 1983).   As the reader, you can feel the emotions and the pain that was felt by any one member of the Riva family at any point in the story.   It tells the story of how struggles exist even in the most seemingly perfect relationships, how things aren't always as they seem, and how decisions are made based on survival. 

I don't want to call it a historical fiction novel because it takes place in the 1980s
and while it was 38 years ago, classifying it as historical fiction feels weird to me.  

Nevertheless - amazing book!

Jenkins Reid was set the book in a way that went from past to present (and then from present to past).  The story was information rich and no stone was left unturned.  Even at the ending, there weren't any questions that could be asked about what happened and what might happen. 

I really liked how Jenkins Reid made sure to write about the smaller characters, who they were and what happened to them on that fateful night. 

Totally recommend this read! 

- Jillian


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Heartbreakers and Fakers by Cameron Lund

Hi all!

If you were awaiting for a review for a YA book, today is your day! 

Quick shout-out to Netgalley for giving me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

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Heartbreakers and Fakers is Cameron Lund's second novel - her first novel was The Best Laid Plans. 

Heartbreakers and Fakers is very much a book I would have totally read in high school!  The storyline is classic YA and in a way, it was predictable.  A diverse novel, this was not but it didn't make it bad. 

The story starts off with the main character Penny, waking up and finding herself outside in a lawn chair the morning after a party, with no shoes but only one sock. 

As the reader, we quickly learn that Penny did something she shouldn't have the night before with Kai, who is the boyfriend of her best friend, Olivia. 

In a story that involves a few twists, we come to learn that there is more to this story than just a bad decision. 

Like A LOT MORE - a whole lot more than I would have originally thought.  

The ending really surprised me because it was nothing like I expected at all. 

This was definitely an easy read - I would say that it's a beach read or even a by-the-pool read!

- Jillian




Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Flight of the Puffin by Anne Braden

 

Happy Saturday!

I am here today to share with you my thoughts on Flight of the Puffin by Ann Braden. 

I was sent a copy of the ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

First things first, I'm going to kick off this review and admit that I totally judged this book by its cover and I wasn't sure if it was going to be something that I would want to read.  But I came to my senses and I am glad that I did. 

Braden's story takes the reader to share the experiences (and thoughts) of 4 characters.  Side note: I know that at least 3 of the characters are pre-teens, I don't know about the age of the 4th character. 

Libby knows that she doesn't want to live up the expectations that everyone in town has set for her: to be a bully just like her dad and her brother. 

Libby knows that she wants to be more.  She comes across a rock in the art closet with an inscription on it: "Create the world of your dreams".  Libby takes this inspiration and runs with it.

Braden shows that one act of kindness can cause change - influencing the mind of one person and make a change in how they view the world carries a positive impact. 

Braden also shows how misinformation can lead to unintentional and unwanted consequences. 

That being said, Braden also shows that reader how being informed can change perception.

All in all, I really did enjoy this story!

- Jillian






Friday, April 16, 2021

Starfish by Lisa Fipps

I know that posts about middle grade reads do not view so well on the blog but I'm sorry, this book is just too good to pass up!

I am working on some YA stuff to share soon!

I was lucky enough to snag an ARC of this book from one of the several School Library Journal events that I attend virtually.  What's even better is that this book was on my TBR list on my Goodreads!

Now it's time dive into this mini review!

Starfish by Lisa Fipps introduces the reader to 12 year old Ellie at the end of her summer vacation.  Her best (and only) friend, Viv is leaving Texas and moving to Indiana.  Ellis is dreading returning to school in September on her own because she's bullied about her weight.  

The theme of the story is Ellie's weight but you don't just see how she is bullied by her fellow classmates, you see how she is bullied by her mother and her brother about her weight as well.  That fact alone made Starfish different and standout to me - it tackles topics that are very real and uncomfortable to think about, let alone experience.

I also loved how there was involvement by the teacher/librarian and how the library provided itself to be a safe space for Ellie.  One of my favorite quotes from this book is about the teacher/librarian in the story: "It's unknown how many students' lives librarians have saved by welcoming loners at lunch".

What I absolutely loved about this book is how Ellie (with help) began to see her self-worth and begins to accept herself and love herself.  

Ellie is the inspiring hero that we all didn't know we needed. 

I would ABSOLUTELY recommend this book in a heartbeat!

Happy weekend, everyone! 

- Jillian




Friday, March 26, 2021

Courage Without Grace by Jeannie Zokan

 Hello, For the Love of Dewey Readers!


We were super excited when author Jeannie Zokan reached out to ask us if we would review her latest novel Courage Without Grace, which is to be released on March 30, 2021.  As you can probably tell by my lack of reviews, I haven’t been motivated to read as much as I usually am (let’s blame it on pandemic life), so I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish this novel before the 30th. However, once I started reading it I couldn’t stop.  This novel turned out to be just what I needed to get me out of my reading (and reviewing) slump. 


About the Book: Courage Without Grace is Zokan’s second novel, following The Existence of Pity (2016).  You can read our review on the Existence of Pity, here.  This novel follows the story of Josie Wales, who grew up as a missionary in Colombia, and now lives in Washington, D.C. and works as a palm reader. 


The characters in this novel are in their mid 20s, which to me makes this a piece of “new adult fiction.” 


In the novel, Josie is learning to find herself.  She’s been in a long term relationship with Tom, who lost his parents in a violent way in Colombia.  The relationship isn’t working out, and Josie knows she should move on, but she can’t because of something (or rather someone who is holding her back.)


This novel is a quick read.  It’s more than just a self discovery and a suspenseful romance with thriller-esc moments, as the novel also tackles bigger issues such as eating disorders, overcoming guilt from past mistakes, and the line between believing in something vs. forcing your beliefs and judgment on others. 


I really enjoy how Zokan blends Christian elements with spiritual elements, in this case, palm reading. It reminded me of how as a Christian (side note: I was also Deacon Jess for a while) I also believe in the spiritual world of healing crystals, palm readings, etc. I like how Zokan opens the door for balance and harmony with all things both spiritual and religious. This was also something I found with Zokan’s first novel. 


It took me a while to realize that the characters (Josie, etc.) are the same characters in The Existence of Pity, probably because it’s been a LONG time since I read Zokan’s first novel.  That being said, you don’t need to read the Existence of Pity to enjoy Courage Without Grace, but I think reading both definitely enhances the reading experience and helps to give some insight into the character’s lives- especially into the past of Tom and his brother Jack.


I give this novel a For the Love of Dewey rating of 5 out of 5 Coffee Beans.


Until the next read! 


~Jessica