Monday, May 1, 2023

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

I guess this doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that I've been in a reading funk for quite some time.  I am a firm believer that there's a correlation between reading and stress - the more stressed you feel, the less you want to read. 

As one may guess, everything is going pretty well right now and I have been reading more recently than I have before.  

Let me introduce you to this book that I remember about somewhere but I don't remember where and the book that the woman at Barnes and Noble told me was a great pick and she just read it and really enjoyed it.  The book that literally had me giggling from page 3 all the way until the end...

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston is that book! Not only is The Dead Romantics funny but it's somehow cozy.  There is something about this book that makes you feel cozy when reading it, as strange as that may sound.

I only have one complaint about this book is that I found Florence's character to be a little whiny...

I'm sorry and I know, I know that is a cheap shot if that's the only thing a book could do to earn a complaint. 

I really enjoyed the way that Poston told Florence's story.  At first, I found the book to be very heavy in background details but as the story went on, I realized that it was necessary to tell the story in it's entirety. 

I liked the mix of romance, fantasy (the talking to ghosts made it more fantasy in my eyes?), and the mystery of it all.  In a way, it was like a wholesome romance meets almost cozy mystery.

*Spoiler Alert*

I desperately wanted Florence to find love in this story.  I was confident early on that she was going to end up with Seaburn because he would just pop up at times when Ben was there, talking to Florence.  I remember that early on in the story, Florence said that not only Seaburn the head grave digger but that he was married to Karen's daughter.  But life changes in the blink of an eye and anything is possible in a fictional story.   Then I was confident that Ben was in fact, not dead - maybe just in a coma - because he kept visiting Florence and she really couldn't find anything about his accident when she googled him.  I had such high hopes, people. Just high hopes! And at the end of chapter 29, my hope was revived (no pun intended).  


The voices and the paint that Ben was feeling all meant something and it caused for a wonderful ending. 

Thank you, Tenor for the GIF!
I loved this book.  If I could raise a boombox over my head ala Say Anything, I would!  I literally just finished it and I've already recommended it to two people. 

Have an amazing week, everyone!


Monday, April 17, 2023

Revenge by Tom Bower

Oh hey, hi!

Rest assured that your eyes are not deceiving you and this is an actual book review.  Albeit it very short and quick one. 

Good Ol' Amazon coming in clutch for the book cover! 

Almost a year later. 

Let me tell's been a year.  One where I wasn't reading as frequently as I would like merely because I found myself in quite the reading funk. Case and point, I'm posting a review on a book that I purchased last year... A book that I've finally found myself able to pick up and read. 

The book that I'm going to briefly talk about in the post is Revenge by Tom Bower.  And for anyone who might be wondering (which I highly doubt) yes, I do plan on reading Spare.  I'm low-key excited to read Spare and I am planning the e-book after this one.  Do I also understand that I read a book that was independently published? Yes, yes I do.  Did I read this book with skepticism? You bet I did!  I also went into reading this book knowing that it was not meant to (nor was it going to) cast Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in a good light.  If I were telling my upperclass students about this book, I would tell them that it's a great book to play into confirmation bias that they may have toward the Sussexes. 

NOW! Please do not come for me because... I have to say that I did enjoy this book.  Any chance I got was spent reading it.  

If what is mentioned in this book is true, I have to say that it's a been a wild ride for everyone involved.

Hopefully you'll see a another new review from me sooner rather than later (: 

- JB

Thursday, May 26, 2022

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover is not a new author and this book is not a new title. Don't quote me on this but I believe that there has been a resurgence for It Ends With Us because of #booktok...?  And so because I was having a serious case of FOMO, I went out and bought a copy.  

 This might be a first for me but I'm not really quite sure how I feel about this book... Am I the only one who feels that way or is it just me...?  I know that Jessica read this book back in 2018 and she LOVED it!  I will link her review here

I don't know if I can say that I've loved it but I'm not quite sure that I can say that I hated it either.  I feel, dare I say, indifferent??  

I found this story to be very dark and because of that, I'm surprised that it has such a cult following behind it... It is definitely an important story that needs to be told because it deals with intimate partner violence and that is a topic that is very real for many women (and men) and it needs to be discussed, the stigma around it needs to be stripped away and the education on IPV needs to happen. 


I would like to say that my stance has changed on this book and I understand why it's popular and why it gave Jessica the book hangover that it did. 

I must admit that I was reaching that point where I was getting at the book and I found it to be increasingly frustrating.  I understood why Lily was having doubts with leaving Ryle and I get why it was a long process.  But, we must admit that this is the hallmark of a great writer; when you feel so much about character - the good, the bad, the passion, the love, and the ugly.  

I must say that I was satisfied with the way that Hoover wrote the ending.  I thought that the message that was presented in the book was a strong one.  

But... I found about 3/4 of the book to be painfully boring.  In the beginning, it was very very mundane. I wasn't sure why Atlas didn't have more of a role in the story...?  I think what threw me was that it's marketed as Atlas being a threat to Lily and Ryle and I didn't see him to be that way... Not at ALL!  I couldn't even justify saying that he was her voice of reason.  I thought that Lily figured the situation on her own and Atlas was barely in the background.

I enjoyed reading Lily's journal entries because they did provide a lot of background and insight.

So... Would I recommend this book to my friends or patrons? Absolutely.  Did I give it 4 stars out of 5 on Goodreads? You betcha.  But for me, the greatest satisfaction and what made this book worth reading was the ending (which was a small 1/4 of the book).  And yes... we can agree to disagree on that (:

Until next time!

- Jillian

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. 


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