Review: The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

Perfect for fans of Nina LaCour and Nicola Yoon comes a novel about first love and family secrets from Stonewall Book Award winner Brand...

Review: The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


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Perfect for fans of Nina LaCour and Nicola Yoon comes a novel about first love and family secrets from Stonewall Book Award winner Brandy Colbert.

Dove "Birdie" Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she's on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past...whom she knows her parents will never approve of.

When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family's apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded--she's also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she's known to be true is turned upside down.







*I was given this ebook by Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.*
4 Stars

Oh Birdie, I get it. I promise you I do. 

You guys, Brandy Colbert has done it again. She brought us a black female character with depth, emotion, imperfections, and love, and she has provided a different narrative for a black female, similar to what she did in Little and Lion, check here to see my review. 

Readers follow Birdie as she learns that people aren't their past mistakes, as she learns that appearances aren't always what they seem, as she learns that it's okay to make mistakes, and as she comes to learn the secrets of her family. 

I loved this book. I definitely felt a connection to Birdie. As the oldest, the pressure to be perfect, or as near as possible, haunts me to this day even though my siblings are older. I can't make super big mistakes, or fall apart because that's their job. That being said, Birdie's mom was... a bit much, to say the least. Stop hovering mom. 

I loved that we really got to see how Birdie interacted with those in her life, her best friend, her mom, dad, aunt, and sister. Honestly, if there was anyone I hoped to see Birdie delve deeper with, it would have to be Booker, weird as that sounds. I feel like we saw them together, I knew that they had strong feelings for each other, but... I don't know... I just wanted to see more. I can't wait to re-read this book once it's finished. 

I'd recommend this book to older teens because there are a few... steamy moments, but recommend it I will!


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Book Expo 2019

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

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One of the perks of being a Librarian, or a Professional Reader as I've heard us called, is being able to go to Book Expo almost every year. Two day (I went Thursday and Friday) of books, tote bags, authors, book marks, and sore feet. This year I came back with two suit cases full of joy and wanted to share them with you dear readers, who I abandoned temporarily while I dealt with my reading funk, summer read prep panic, and general life anxiety. Don't worry friends, I'm back in the reading groove for the most part. Here's what I got!





And yes... 22 of those books are sitting on my bookshelf right now, waiting to be read, but the rest have joined our giveaway pile for our summer reading program. I can't wait to start reading. I can't wait to see the looks on kids faces when they get to take some of these books home "to keep forever". This is a great start to the summer chaos. With these books and a cold drink, summer's going to be cake!
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Review: If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


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"High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she's spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”

Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it'll go away if they can't make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn't want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?"






5 STARS!!!!!!!!!

I've given myself about 24 hours to absorb this book, and here are my thoughts. I F**KING LOVE CLAIRE KANN, I KNEW SHE WAS BOMB!!!!!

Listen folks, I read Let's Talk About Love right after it came out, check out my review of that gem here. I'm still so emotional about it all. First, technically, I guess Kann could be considered a "New Adult" writer. As a side bar, here's how I feel about that. I haven't found many new adult titles that I like. They're too... sex driven for me. I'm not talking down on books that are chalk full of people getting it on, but when I want that type of content I'll go get it. The reason that I like new adult authors like Claire Kann, and Colleen Hoover (I know some people hate on her but I don't care) is because I'm an almost 32 year old lady with no spouse, no significant other, no kids, and no cats. I'm basically a 24 year old with better morals, weaker joints, and more student loan debt. I can't relate to the story of the 30 year old divorce with a screaming toddler. The closest I come is to the 23 year old still trying to pull it together.

Winnie loves herself and her body. She is black, big, and beautiful. Just look at the cover of the book if you don't believe me. Does she have anxiety? Yes. Does she sometimes care what other people thing? Yes. Does she want to please the people around her? Yes. And while some of these attributes can be looked at as a downfall, that does not take away from the fact that Winnie is confident and comfortable in who she is as a bigger woman, and who she is as a black woman. At the same time she's human. She has the same insecurities that plague us all. That's what I love about Kann's characters, (something that we're admittedly beginning to see more in female black characters) they show a vulnerability due to the normal hardships of life, not self hate.

Winnie is a particularly great because she has that vulnerability, but she also has a fiery temper and will only put up with so much of someone's s**t. In case you're wondering, exactly like yours truly. Kann, in both this book and Let's Talk About Love has created full, real, well rounded female black characters, and THANK ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THIS WORLD that we're finally getting to a point where we can find these books.

I'm not gonna lie though, I'm dying to learn more about the cranky grandma.

Yall, I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of everything that makes this book amazing.

If you want to see black females depicted as real people, read this book.
If you want to see sibling love, read this book.
If you want a great, real, slow burning romance, read this book.
If you wan to see someone interested in alternative romantic lifestyles, read this book.
If you're a human being, read this book.

That is all.
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Review: Symptoms of a Heart Break by Sona Charaipotra

Monday, March 18, 2019


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Fresh from med school, sixteen-year-old medical prodigy Saira arrives for her first day at her new job: treating children with cancer. She’s always had to balance family and friendships with her celebrity as the Girl Genius—but she’s never had to prove herself to skeptical adult co-workers while adjusting to real life-and-death stakes. And working in the same hospital as her mother certainly isn’t making things any easier.

But life gets complicated when Saira finds herself falling in love with a patient: a cute teen boy who’s been diagnosed with cancer. And when she risks her brand new career to try to improve his chances, it could cost her everything.

It turns out “heartbreak” is the one thing she still doesn’t know how to treat.

3 Stars

(I was provided a copy of the book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review)

16 year old Saira is the Girl Genius. She was in college by age 12 and by 16 has finished medical school and is a hospital resident in the children’s oncology ward, and she’s off to a rough start. She’s late her first day, her supervisor seems to hate her, and she’s beginning to develop a relationship with one of her patients.


I liked this book. I liked learning about Saira, her culture, and her family. The descriptions of food were divine! Seeing the family interact at pizza hut did a great job of painting a picture of the family dynamic quickly and easily. Although a clear picture of Saira’s family was painted for us, I wish we’d had more intimate moments with Saira and her family.


With regards to Saira’s “friends”, they were hard to read about. Saira has spent her whole life working hard toward her goals. She chose to skip high school and the socialization it teaches, she chose to spend most of her time with her family watching Bollywood movies, and of the kids she knew before she joined the gifted program, she chose to only retain two friendships, Vish and Lizzie. While I hated that Vish put Saira into a position where she was forced to life for him every day, I thought he was a great character, I don’t think we saw enough of Lizzie though. When Lizzie and Saira got into a fight, I felt like I was supposed to have some sympathy for Lizzie but I didn’t. I don’t know if it was because her character wasn’t developed enough, or what, but I didn’t feel much.


Saira’s coworkers were full of surprises, and by coworkers I mean Jose, he was my favorite character in the book. I liked Saira’s interactions with her patients and their families and although I feel like everything happened very quickly. It feels like Saira met with each patron maybe 4 times. I just didn’t feel for them the way I think I should have.

Reading this book was interesting because I thought I was going to be reading a book about doctor who happened to be a teen genius, but I think I read about a teen who happened to be a genius and a doctor.
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Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Monday, March 11, 2019


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Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.





4 STARS

Man did I connect with Eliza. Eliza would rather live her life through a computer screen. She has friends but she doesn't need to meet them to consider them real. Her parents mean well, but the tactics that they concoct to "connect" with Eliza seem to have more to do with their own needs and interest than hers. Her younger brothers are... younger brothers, and the kids at school treat her like she's been infected by the Black Plague. Eliza has dedicated herself to keep her head down, her mouth closed, and to pray for graduation.

Amidst her issues and avoidance's at school and at home, Eliza is the creator of one of the most popular web comics around. She has fans, merchandise, and people doing fanfics and fanart about the world and characters that she's created. And while one would think that the popularity of her web comic would drip over into real life, it doesn't, because aside from her parents, only two other people know that Eliza created Monstrous Sea (sort of).

When Wallace enters the picture, Eliza, for the first time, meets a fan of her comic in real life! She meets someone who not only connects with her through her work, but understands her goals, ambitions, and her reserved nature.

It takes a while before the book tells us but Eliza has pretty intense anxiety. She hates crowds, avoids as many conversations as possible, and the idea of the notoriety that may accompany her identity as Monstrous Sea's creator seem to be almost too much to bear.

While reading about Eliza I understood her 100%. I also grew up in a family of sports addicts, and all I wanted to do was read books, write stories, listen to show tunes, and be left alone. It hard for people to imagine because I'm so chatty and bubbly and sassy. But fun fact, that's also a "super fun" way some people handle anxiety. So even though Eliza could be obnoxious and unfair and downright mean to her family sometimes. I get it. It's an almost uncontrollable reaction sometimes and can result from feeling panicked.

Between Eliza and Wallace, who struggles to speak in front of crowds I felt like this book was necessary. I wish there were most stories like this when I was in middle school and high school. I Will say that Wallace's actions at the end of this book were very out of character and almost didn't seem to fit with this book, but aside from this few chapters at the end, I call this book a win!
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Review: The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

Monday, March 4, 2019

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Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other
After an "oops, we made a mistake" night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa's wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they're comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won't fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn't looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?

But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don't fall in love. 


2.5 STARS
 
When I read the description of this book, I was eager to read it. Because books are not just my hobby, but my job, sometimes I like to set aside the middle grade and young adult, and pick up a cozy romance read, and if the main character migrate from enemies to lovers, all the better!!

The Wedding Party had great bones. We've got two people who can't stand each other, but they share a best friend (never read a book with that particular twist). Maddie, a personal shopper, thinks that Theo is pompous and conceited. Theo knows that he didn't portray himself in the best light when he met Maddie, but doesn't think there's much he can do about it now. When Maddie and Theo end up in bed together, they're both kind of horrified. After a second "encounter" they decide that they can continue their sexual realtions, as long as they don't tell their best friend Alexa (who is the protagonist in Guillory's first book in this series The Wedding Date).

As expected, the more time Theo and Maddie spend together the more their feelings for each other grow. Then begin to spend time together as friends, not just lovers. I loved the concept, it's like... the bullet points of the this book were LOVELY. Meet at birthday party, meet at engagement party, margaritas in the backyard, wedding dress shopping for the best friend, lost keys with no one else to call, this book rang all the right bells.

My struggle with the book was the writing. And let me say I'm not a writer. I have no aspirations of publishing my own book, I'm a Librarian and that's all I want to be. But the writing was... all over the place. I felt like I was reading the first draft of a book and the author didn't do any proof reading. There were passages such as "Refill? My mom insists on doing a toast, so everyone needs some champagne to be prepared." It just doesn't roll of the tongue, it doesn't feel organic. Something like " 'Refill? My mom insist on doing a toast,' Alexa sighed rolling her eyes and reaching for another bottle of champagne."(Again, not a writer) Or how about "They kissed, and kissed, and kissed..." I mean there had to have been another way, even if we stopped after the first kiss. There's a section in the book where (spoiler) Theo gives Maddie a key to his apartment and tells her she's welcome to let herself in. Her response is "Okay, sure, I anticipate a lot of 'I need to get into Theo's apartment or else the dinosaur on the loose might capture me' emergencies." I understand what was suppose to happen here, that was suppose to be a quirky, sassy, cute comment, but it just didn't work for me.

Like I said above, I did get this book from Netgalley, so it hasn't been published, but this is the first Netgalley book I've ever gotten where I read sentences like the ones I mentioned above. There was a section of the book where a protest got out of control and someone was attacked. Maddie, our main character, has with random mental aside, amidst the chaos that immediately takes me out of the action of the scene. It didn't fit, it wasn't appropriate

I recognize that I might be one of the few people who didn't fall head over heals for this author and book series, but trust me, I wanted to.  I want nothing more than a cozy romance with two black characters. Roxanne Gay reviewed a book in this series and gave it a high star rating, so feel free to ignore this review if you want to, but I was give a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and this is what I've got.
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Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Monday, February 25, 2019

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Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.
  


3 STARS

I read the Belles with my friend Ericka who runs the YouTube series Java and the Librarians on her channel Life of a Bibliophile, and we decided that we kind of liked the book... and we were kind of indifferent to it. The Belles is about a group of woman who have the power to beautify a population that is born grey, wrinkled, and "not beautiful". Belles are coveted members of Orleans society, and the most coveted is chosen by the Queen of Orleans to be the Favorite. Camillia's mother was the Favorite during her time as a Belle, and Camillia hopes to be chosen as well. It doesn't take long before we realize that being a Belle isn't all is cracked up to be, and being the Favorite is probably the worst position of all.

I felt a lot of feeling around this book. At first I wasn't super exited to read it. I struggle to read book that center around appearance. It's just so darn exhausting to think about. When I started reading the book, I realized that it wasn't as shallow as I'd portrayed it to be in my mind, and then when I read Clayton's authors note, the book took on a whole different view. I almost wish the authors note was in the beginning to the book because I think I would have read it differently.

If you choose to sit through at least half of the hour and forty-five minute video that Erick and I recorded on Saturday, you'll learn that characters in the book are pretty one dimensional. Strangely enough, aside from the crazy princess who we watch slow boil into one of the craziest maniacs I've read about in a while, everyone basically is the same at the end as they were in the beginning, our exception might be Remy the bodyguard, but we don't see enough of him for that to have a huge impact, although I do hold out a lot of hope for him in book two.

Overall I liked this book, there are so many questions and so much intrigue that I think it would be a great read for reluctant readers. Princess Sophie, is CRAZY, and such an interesting character to read about, and the secretes that are revealed about the Belles are pretty off the wall, and clearly just the beginning

While this wasn't my favorite read, and, if you watched the video, I predict an unnecessary love triangle for book too, I do plan to read it.
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