Tuesday, September 19, 2023

September 2023 Empties!


I finished so many things this month that I am excited! I am can't wait for the cooler weather and the new Fall skincare goodies. I finished a lot of skincare stuff this month and barely any makeup since it was so hot that I didn't want anything on my face...not like it would have lasted with how much I was sweating.

I finished a few hair products but my favorite was the Magiforet Argan Oil Shampoo. It makes my hair smell so amazing! Even after three days of washing my hair still smells good. I finished the Laneige Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Moisturizer. It had a gel creme consistency and smoothed on so easily. It left my skin feeling soft and smooth. While the square jar can be cute, I wish they made the font size and color easier to read. 

I recently discovered Evolve Beauty from my local organic and natural beauty store. I tried a few new products this and both worked well. The Radiant glow Mask smells like chocolate and leaves skin looking radiant and glowing. The Daily Renew Facial Cream didn't have any delicious smells like the mask but left skin feeling so soft and smooth. It wasn't heavy and didn't leave skin feeling tacky or sticky. It was a great day cream to wear during the hotter months.

I had the Skin Regimen 1.85 HA booster on my countertop for a while and forgot about it. I was excited to try it but was sorely disappointed. I followed the instructions but the booster left my skin irritated and I got a rash all over my face after using. Since it was a full bottle and expensive I ended up using it on my hands and legs which ended up itchy but bearable. 

I heard so many good things about the Peach and Lilly Glass Skin Serum. I was pretty disappointed. I didn't notice my skin looking any different when using. I was surprised on how much I liked the Herbivore Phoenix Facial Oil. It wasn't greasy and left my skin feeling soft and moisturized. The oil does has a strong scent and it might not be for everyone.

Did you finish anything this month that you enjoyed?

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Book Review - A Sweet Misfortune (Virtues and Vices of the Old West, #2) by Maggie Brendan


 A Sweet Misfortune by Maggie Brendan is about a young woman who was kidnapped by a stranger and her life in the aftermath of the kidnapping.  Rachel Matthews  knew that she couldn’t rely on others to take care of her. She has always tried to take care of herself the best she knows how. She is destitute and alone, after her parents died in an accident and her brother leaves town to try to make enough money to buy back the family homestead.

Rachel is determined to make enough money to support herself even if it means taking on an unsavory job prospect. She becomes a dance hall girl and works for tips from the bar patrons. The women who work at the dance hall or saloons, are sometimes given the name of “soiled doves”, meaning that they do more than just dance for money. 

When her brother, Preston, hears of her circumstances, he writes to a friend to help her out as Preston is in California searching for gold and isn’t close enough in proximity to help his sister. Preston is unable to leave his current location because he left to earn money to buy back the family ranch. He asks John McIntyre, a widely admired cattle baron to help rescue her. 

The last thing John McIntyre wants to do is to help Rachel and go into a saloon. He is more focused on his fledgling business and buying more property. He lives to take care of his property and his grandmother, Estelle. However, John is a man of honor and would never refuse a friend in need. So, he strides into the saloon and picks up Rachel right off stage and takes her to his house by horse.

As one can imagine, Rachel didn’t take too kindly to being kidnapped from her job. However, while still upset at John, she still stays with him in hopes that Preston will make the trip down for her. After months go by, Rachel isn’t sure how much longer she can take advantage of John’s and Estelle’s kindness. She isn’t sure how  long she can spend with John after finding out that Preston borrowed money from him and John holds title to her family’s property.  To complicate matters, Rachel starts to feel attracted to John even though she still can’t quite forgive him just yet about her family’s ranch and for kidnapping her. Will Rachel be able to save up enough money to get back her family farm?

The book started off okay but it was a boring and predictable read. I didn’t really care for any of the characters and the story felt dull.  Rachel was confusing as a character. She kept saying how she was proud of her job and was more than happy to go back to it but then she couldn’t wait to leave the saloon. She mentioned that being a dance hall girl is a job that only desperate women take but, then claims the job paid well that she didn’t mind it. I feel like she was trying to convince herself or others that the job isn’t as bad as they think it is but it really is a terrible job to have.  

Annabelle, the housekeeper on John’s farm,  would switch from speaking “proper” English then switch to broken Southern English. It was confusing at times and hard to imagine what this character was like. I did like reading her and Estelle’s lines the best though.  I also didn’t understand why Preston never visited or even attempted to help his sister. He claims that he cares for her but it is later revealed that they barely had any communication when he was searching for gold.

The characters just do wild and bizarre things that makes me question how viable the storyline really is. When Rachel reads a note from someone, she decides at that very moment she needs to go out during horrendous weather to talk to that person. She wasn’t even properly dressed and didn’t even consider how terrible the weather was. John, who is still recovering from a treacherous medical ailment, had an easy time to go out and get her without even seeming to struggle. They made it seem that even the smallest task would be too much for him to handle but apparently riding the freezing blizzard and carrying another person on horseback was no big deal.

The book would go on for pages with no progression to the story.  I wonder if the title was reflecting my feelings on how much it was a misfortune that I was stuck reading the book. It was definitely a relief when I finished the book. Given how boring and predictable this fluff piece was, I don’t think I would be in a rush to read another book by the author.


Friday, September 15, 2023

Book Review - Suddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz


Suddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz is about a group of high school students who take a trip together to celebrate their graduation.  Izzy Morales attends an elite private school, where her fellow students are kids of prominent and rich families. She always felt like an outsider because her family is impoverished and her mother works as a teacher in the school.

The only person that Izzy feels has her back is Kassidy, another student at the school. So when Kassidy invites Izzy to an all expenses paid trip to a glamorous manor, she has a hard time saying no. Izzy usually avoids accepting Kassidy’s offers to go on trips together as she doesn’t want to take advantage of Kassidy’s generosity.

This time Kassidy sweetened the offer by inviting Izzy’s crush, Marlow, along with a few of their other friends.  When they arrive Kassidy surprises the group by letting them know that they will be dressing up in vintage clothing and no modern conveniences like cellphones will be allowed. The group gets into some minor squabbles with each other but for the most part, everyone is having a great time, until Kassidy’s boyfriend ends up dead.

His death was ruled a murder and investigators were called to the scene of the crime. Every guest is a suspect. Kassidy is in despair and shocked by his death. Everyone is suspicious of everyone else and is wary that they might be next. However, things look especially bad for Izzy, as she was the one who bought the murder weapon with her on vacation.

The book started off interesting but it ebbed and flowed between interesting to dull. The chapters were told from each character’s points of view. While this was interesting, I felt like this could have been used more to progress the story. Instead, when the police were investigating the murders, Izzy found a secret hideout and found out a lot of secrets other characters were keeping after listening into their interviews. I believe the author was using this method to give the readers new information but I would have preferred to read it from each character’s perspective instead. 

I felt that there were a lot of coincidences and things that came out of nowhere. I still don’t understand why Izzy thought it was a good idea to bring a knife on vacation. The author mentioned the reason but Izzy’s entire plan didn’t really make sense, as a reader. It just seemed like another cheap ploy to make you wonder if she is the murderer or was she being set up. Then one of the investigators who was involved in the case only became involved because they are connected to someone at the manor. I did find one of the investigators interesting and wished they had their own series, but the other one seemed too bumbling to even be a detective.

The ending came out of nowhere and was a bit too unrealistic. The author seemed to portray the character one way and the ending seemed so out of character for them. The book was a bit predictable to who the murderer was but their ending also seemed weird and also too dramatic. Overall, the book was an okay read if one suspended some beliefs on certain elements of the story.


Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Book Review - Starting Over on Sunshine Corner by Phoebe Mills




Starting Over on Sunshine Corner by Phoebe Mills is about a single mom who made a split second decision to hook up with her best friend one night, and that decision ended up changing both of their lives. 

Rebecca (Becca) Hayes has been so focused on raising her daughter, Sofia, and furthering her finance career that she feels her life is missing companionship. She decides that she wants to start dating again but she isn’t sure how to go about it. She hasn’t been on a date since her daughter was born a few years ago. She hasn’t talked to a romantic partner in a while either and she is afraid of embarrassing herself on a date. 

The only man she has been talking to or is close with is her best friend, Jackson Lowe. Becca knows that Jackson is objectively very attractive but she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship. She has always put her feelings for him on the back burner. Until one day, she asks Jackson to help her get back into the dating game. One thing led to another and the pair ended up spending the night together. A few weeks later, Becca realizes that she is pregnant with Jackon’s baby. She knows she was able to count on him before but she doesn’t know if he is mature enough to be a father.

Jackson isn’t sure what he wants to do in life. He certainly wasn’t ready to be a father. He thought he was going to spend his days working as team lead at his family’s landscaping business and spend his free time surfing while being a bachelor. However, for years he has been secretly in love with Becca but he felt that he wasn’t good enough for her. She was also the real reason why he never settled down with anyone else. He felt that no one could compare to her.

After finding out that Becca is pregnant, Jackson realizes that he wants to have a life with Becca. He wants to have a family and grow old with her. Jackson knows he will need to put in the work if he wants to become the father and man Becca needs him to be.

The book was a quick and cozy romantic read. There was some mention of adult themes but the love scenes were behind closed doors. I thought the book was an okay read. I wish the author had given more details about how the main characters’ relationship had changed after spending the night together. It was like they talked about it and the story mentioned the time spent but that was about it. I wanted to know: how did they feel after the night together? Was it something they wished happened sooner?

I didn’t really understand why Becca was being so hard on Jackson. He was a single adult that had no responsibilities. If he wanted to spend his day on a job that was relatively stress free and enjoyable to him so he can spend his free time surfing, why was it a big deal for her? When he found that she was pregnant, he continued trying to be present for her and her daughter, though Becca said she was surprised at how much she could rely on him throughout the book. The book spends so much time going over the same thing about Jackson not being responsible enough and the last few pages is their blowup argument that just seemed like a token conflict scene before the book ends.

Another thing that confused me was that Jackson seemed very considerate of Becca’s feelings. He would try to arrive early to drive her to events because she didn’t like driving long distances by herself. He would also babysit her daughter when she had to do something. He seemed to get along with kids and enjoyed playing with them. I felt like Becca judged him for not being mature without realizing he never had the reason to be that way and when he did step up or try to, she had her own preconceived notions that were hard to get past.

I also didn’t see why Jackson was so loyal to Becca. He bent over backwards and consistently tried to better himself to be a good partner to her. When he was asking for support for something he was passionate about and did try to put in the work (but mentioned that he had some details to iron out), Becca immediately dismissed him. It just didn’t seem like they weren’t on fair or equal ground when it came to emotionally supporting each other. 

Another aspect of the story that gave me pause was that I felt like all of Becca’s and Jackson’s friends all had kids. They failed to remember that if you are not a parent or caregiver for a child, you might not know or have all the parenting skills that they seem to think that everyone needs to have to be a parent. 

The book is part of a series but can be read as a standalone. If you like straightforward romance novels, then you would enjoy reading this book.


Sunday, September 3, 2023

Book Review - This Is Where It Ends by Cindy K. Sproles



This Is Where It Ends by Cindy K. Sproles is about an old woman who is coming to terms with nearing the end of her life and a secret that makes her question everything she holds dear. Minerva Jane Jenkins married when she was just 14 years old. She loved her husband, Stately Jenkins, very much. So much, that when he moved her to an isolated part of the mountains, she didn’t have any objections. She went along with his plans like she believed a good wife should.

When Stately Jenkins passed away fifty years later, he made her promise that she wouldn’t tell anyone about the small box he kept hidden. He told her it was filled with gold and that’s all Minerva knew about it. She promised Stately that she wouldn’t tell a single soul about the box and the treasure within.

Minerva is now ninety four years old and she feels that she is nearing the end of her life. She feels happy that she is going to die because she leads a lonely existence.  She is proud that she managed to keep Stately’s promise of keeping the box a secret, which proved to be harder when a journalist showed up to her door.

Del Rankin is a reporter and wants to know about her story and Stately’s involvement in the gold that went missing.  He promises Minerva that he is only interested in the people involved in the story.  Del’s friend, Colton, made it obvious that he is only interested in finding the location of the gold by any means necessary. Both men think that Minvera is a pushover and would tell them what they need to know, but little did they know Minvera is a firecracker and will stop at nothing to protect her promise to Stately.

The book took a bit for me to get into. Minerva narrates the book in her Appalachian dialect and I had a hard time understanding what she was saying at times. A few times, I would have to go back and reread the same sentence over and over again. The story was slow and plodded along without much happening. However, there were a few heartwarming moments between Minvera and Del that caused me to tear up. The book did have a few surprises and twists towards the middle and end of the book. It also had some humor sprinkled throughout the book. I am glad that I decided to stick it out and not give up halfway through like I originally planned on doing. If you like Christian fiction that takes place in the Appalachian mountains, then you might enjoy this one.


Friday, September 1, 2023

Book Review - I Like Me Better by Robby Weber


I Like Me Better by Robby Weber is about Zack Martin’s summer plans going awry after he makes a split second decision.  Zack is excited for the summer to begin. He is a junior at school and is a soccer all star. His mentor, Ryan, is graduating which means Zack might be the next soccer captain. It was something he’s worked his entire life for.

He feels that soccer is the only thing he is good at. It is also the only time his family shows up for him and don’t bicker at each other. So, when Ryan pulls a prank and causes the whole soccer team to get in trouble, Zack decides to take the blame for the prank to prevent the whole team from being punished.

Zack thought that Ryan would admit to the prank before the summer ends and Zack would look like a savior and team player to the other players. He also thought it would give him the extra boost to get elected to team captain. All Zack needs to do is accept the punishment and wait until it’s a good time for Ryan to admit the truth, right?

As part of his punishment, he has to volunteer at a seaside conservation center. He crosses paths with another volunteer, Chip, who Zack thinks is cute. However, Chip, who turns out to be Ryan’s cousin, isn’t interested in being friends with Zack. Chip found out Zack pulled that prank and doesn’t want to be connected to anyone who treats animals like that.  As Chip continues to pull away from Zack, Zack can’t help but fall for him.

Zack’s love life isn’t the only thing that isn’t going exactly to plan. While he is waiting for Ryan to admit the truth, he realizes his friends and fellow players are pulling away from him also. Zack is struggling to get his life back to the easy going way it was before he had taken the blame for the prank. Will Zack be able to get his life back on track?

I thought the book was an okay read. I didn’t really care for Zack at first but I eventually softened my stance on him a bit. His personality was hard to grasp as he was both the all star jock but then also shy. I felt that he didn’t really think through his impulsive decision and it cost him a lot more than he expected. He did have some character growth but I wish he reflected more on his decisions.

I felt that the book moved a bit slow at times and didn’t really have much going on. I did like reading about Chip’s and Zack’s budding friendship and their interactions. I thought they were cute and fun to read. If you like clean young adult novels, then you might like this one.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Book Review - Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow



Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow is about a young boy who tries to deal with past trauma when his family moves to a new city. Twelve-year-old Simon O’Keeffe claims that his family had to move to the National Quiet Zone because his dad accidentally gave a squirrel a holy sacrament. Or perhaps, it was when the alpaca caused a stir in church causing the disaster to go viral on YouTube. He loves retelling different versions of the story to all his new classmates causing them to wonder if any are true.

There is one story, however, that Simon wishes to keep a secret. He likes that the internet is banned in the National Quiet Zone due to its interference with the technology the astronomers use. He feels that he can keep his secret a lot longer. That is, until someone finds out that two years ago, Simon is the only kid in his class to survive a school shooting. Now, Simon is followed by whispers and looks of pity wherever he goes.

Simon is desperate for his community to move on from his past trauma so that he can go back to being just “the New Kid”. He and his new friends concoct a plan to trick the  astronomers that someone or something from outer space is trying to connect with them. They feel that everyone would focus on the message instead of Simon. Will Simon and his friends be able to pull off their covert space message mission?

I thought the book was a fun and heartwarming read. The book was filled with fun and gross facts about animals and people. It was fun watching Simon bond with his new friends while trying to adjust to his new life. It was heartwarming seeing Simon come to terms with his PTSD and navigating the different things life threw at him, including new friendships. Some of his friends didn’t know how to handle Simon when he was having an episode and found it easier to ignore and/or hide from him. He had to deal with people who were either too coddling him or ignored him. He wanted someone who just treated him like a normal twelve year old boy. If you like reading children's books about friendship and coping with tragedy with humor sprinkled in, then you will enjoy this book.


Monday, August 28, 2023

Book Review - The Bellwoods Game by Celia Krampien


The Bellwoods Game by Celia Krampien is about a young girl named Bailee who decides to play a game with her classmates, but things expectedly start going wrong. The residents of Fall Hollow know that the town is haunted, especially after Abigail Snook went into the woods in 1982, and was never seen again. People assume that Abigail is the one haunting the town and its residents, at least according to the legend.

It’s been tradition since Abigail's disappearance for the sixth graders at Beckett Elementary to play the Bellwoods Game on Halloween Night. On this current year’s fateful night, three players are picked to go into the woods. To win, one of the players would need to ring the bell before they all get caught by Abigail. If the players win, the town is saved for another year. If the spirit catches you, you will need a “gift” to guarantee safe passage out of the woods and the spirit is given free reign to cause havoc on the town if no one rings the bell. No one knows for sure if the tale is true, as previous players are sworn to secrecy about the game.

Bailee is excited that it is finally her year to play the game. Bailee loves reading and writing horror stories and is obsessed with finding out the truth. Legend has it that the winner of the game is granted one wish. Bailee is determined to win because she wants things to go back to the way they were before her grandmother got sick and her friends started hating her. Her friends believed that she ratted them out to the principal about a dangerous stunt, causing the entire class to get detention. She once was surrounded by so many friends but now with most of her friends ignoring her, she feels lonely. As the game participants get ready to play the game, strange things start to happen. Is the local legend true or is someone playing a prank on them?

The book is geared towards young readers and has fun illustrations that added to my enjoyment of the novel. It was a quick read that had some scary and spooky elements that might be scary to some young readers, but I thought it was okay as an adult reader. It reminded me of the works of R.L Stine, with the creepy and scary factor but nothing that I was terrified or lost sleep over. The plot moved at the perfect pace to set the creepy mood and move the story along. I was a bit confused by the ending, I believe the author left it a bit open for more books and I would be open to reading more. If you or your young reader love mild horror books, then you will enjoy this book!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Book Review - Somebody's Daughter by David Bell


Somebody's Daughter by David Bell is about a man who is roped in to save a child that may be his. Michael Frazier was having an enjoyable dinner with his wife, Angela, and the last thing he expected was his ex-wife, Erica, showing up. He hasn’t seen or talked to her in the last ten years  since they divorced.

Erica is desperate for Michael’s help. Her ten-year-old daughter, Felicity, is missing and Erica claims Michael is the father. Michael is unsure because Erica never mentioned anything about a child and he feels that she is lying to him so he feels obligated to help her.

Michael is hesitant to follow Erica into the dark of the night but he is unwilling to turn his back to a child who might be in danger.  As Michael follows Erica into the darkness of the night, he realizes that there are secrets and lies from the past decade unraveling that might put his new family in danger. He doesn’t know who he can trust and who else is hiding secrets from him.

The book was narrated from multiple perspectives: Michael; Angela; and one of the detectives on the case, Detective Griffin. The book was fast paced and had a lot of twists and turns. However, I felt the book left a lot to be desired and seemed a bit clunky, in that the book introduces a lot of twists and side stories about secrets from the last decade but none of them are really fleshed out. One of the side stories questions the paternity of the missing girl but even in the end, they never really tell us who the father is. There is another subplot where Erica stole the baby but nothing comes from that and the two characters just faded out. I felt like that the author just threw a bunch of random possibilities to keep the reader guessing but failed to say this is what really happened.

I questioned a lot of the characters’ intelligence because they did things that I wonder why they thought they were good ideas. When Michael left Angela at home, she was going crazy thinking of the different things that could go wrong. Her mother in law, Gail, offers to come over and keep her company. Angela had seen a strange man stalking their house and they both ended up inviting that stranger into their house. The stranger was aggressive and then started searching their house and taking their phones hostage. Eventually, Angela leaves with this person willingly even though she is terrified and her husband doesn’t know where she is. I don’t know if any rational person would let a stranger into my house when their spouse’s supposed child went missing and then that person takes my phone.

I felt like the book was a slow build with the short chapters that were alternating narratives between the characters. It did make the story seem like it was fast paced but sometimes I wanted to read more about what was going on in the current arc for a particular chapter. I felt the ending came out of nowhere and it wasn’t something I expected. I felt like the author could have edited the book and made it a bit more focused and I’d have enjoyed the book a lot more. If you like suspenseful thrillers with twists and turns, you might enjoy this book.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Book Review - Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon


Mother-Daughter Murder Night by Nina Simon is about a grandmother, mother, and granddaughter trio who decide to solve a murder.  Lana Rubicon is known for her killer business skills. She’d caused many people to tremble in their shoes when they knew she was coming. She is proud of the L.A. real estate empire she has built with her keen business intuition and taste.

After having a health scare, she decides to move 300 miles north of the city to a small coastal town where her daughter, Beth lives with her teenage granddaughter, Jack. Lana isn’t used to the easygoing sleepy town vibes. She tries to get used to the slower pace of life instead of fast paced life in LA but it’s a hard adjustment spending her days doing nothing. Lana feels that the boredom might kill her before the cancer does and that she needs something to do to make her feel relevant again.

Jack is independent and loves the slough near their house. She works as a kayak tour guide and wants to save up enough money for a boat to go sailing by herself. While on a tour, one of the kayakers finds a dead body. Jack brings in the group and reports the body to the police. Jack becomes a suspect because she finds the body but she was also out in the slough the day before with another tour group. Beth and Lana are worried that the police will just blame Jack for the murder without actually investigating the crime. Beth wants her mother to focus on getting better while finding Jack a lawyer instead of Lana sticking her nose into the investigation. However, Lana decides that she can’t sit still while her granddaughter is accused of something she didn’t do. Lana will stop at nothing to protect her family while proving that she is still useful. Will Lana be able to find out the truth behind the murder?

The book was a fun and quick read. The characters were quirky with some laughable moments. I liked reading about Lana and her amateur sleuthing journey. I like that the author showed us how Lana was piecing together the clues and her thought pattern behind her deductions. The murderer was easy to guess but their motivation was slightly different than I was expecting.

The murder aspect does play a role but the story also focuses on repairing and strengthening the bonds between the three women. Lana cares about her daughter and granddaughter but didn’t spend any time with them. She has to learn how to bridge the gap that has widened over the years. While Beth is trying to let go control of her daughter and giving her own space and independence.  Beth finds it difficult since it has only been the two of them for years. It was interesting seeing how the characters were trying to navigate the relationships with each other while trying to figure out their needs and the murderer. If you are looking for a murder mystery with a bit of heart, then you might enjoy this book.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Book Review - All You Have to Do by Autumn Allen


All You Have to Do by Autumn Allen is about two Black male students who struggle to gain acceptance and equality in the prestigious schools they attend. In April 1968, Kevin was a student at Princeton and lived through the day when Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. He and his fellow students decide to join a protest to protect the neighboring community from losing their homes as Columbia University gobbles up more real estate to expand their institution to build a new gym. Kevin and his fellow students are disappointed in the college because those homes belong to low income people of color who won’t have anywhere else to go. The school made it seem that it cares about the community and its students of color but the move made the students think otherwise. Kevin is unsure where he falls in the spectrum because his family has afforded him more privileges in comparison to other Black students. At times, he questions if he should be pushing hard for equality or should be grateful for his opportunities and keep quiet.

In September 1995, Gibran attended a prestigious private prep school. He and his fellow Black male students want to attend the Million Man March to show support of their culture. When they try to convince the school to allow them to attend, they face backlash which might lead to several consequences for Gibran if he doesn’t get in line with the policies at school. Gibran feels that even though the school has a Black principal, his and his fellow classmates' needs are not being met. They are expected to conform to their White classmates and other faculty’s perspectives of them. Gibran is quick to anger and he feels with every injustice that he consecutively faces, that his fuse gets smaller and smaller. The people around him worry about him and for him, especially when he seems to be ready to explode at any given moment. 

The two students are connected and their struggles overlap in many different ways. They both want to emphasize the struggles and inequalities that Black people face on a daily basis. Both Gibran and Kevin came from families that were able to provide them with opportunities that other people of color might not have. They want to protest the quality of treatment Black people receive but, calling attention to the cause might cause them both to lose their opportunities that their parents worked hard to provide them with. Will Kevin and Gibran be able to discover who they want to be instead of accepting who society tells them they are?

I thought the book was an emotional read. It spoke of two turbulent times in history where racial tensions were high. I never knew about the Columbia gym fiasco and that was interesting to read and learn about. The book was narrated by Gibran and Kevin who were born decades apart but had similar struggles. It was interesting seeing how they both navigated what society and their respective families wanted for them and how they wanted the world to perceive them. Both character arcs were well developed and coincide with historical events to add more depth to their stories.

The book showcases how different people experience different things. In Gibran’s chapters, he talks about how he and his fellow Black students had to watch a talent show in which white students were mimicking their culture and how disrespectful it felt to them. When he tried to explain how it made them feel, he was expected to show them respect about their thoughts and feelings but he  didn’t get the same respect back. It was hard to read that because we are taught to show respect but I can relate to how he was feeling of not being seen and respected. I feel like these chapters might be hard to digest for some readers but it is important to understand other people’s feelings and culture and treat them respectfully. 

I thought the book was thought provoking and had many important heartfelt moments. However, I was surprised at the language the book had included for young readers. Personally, I wish the author didn’t include this but, I can understand if they felt that it made the characters more authentic. This was the author’s debut novel and I look forward to reading more books by the author.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Book Review - Holly Horror by Michelle Jabès Corpora


Holly Horror by Michelle Jabès Corpora is about a young girl who moved into a new house following her parents’ divorce. Evie Archer, her brother, Stan, and her mother move from NYC to Ravenglass, Massachusetts for a fresh start. Evie is excited for a new start and to blend in with everyone. She quickly learns that the house she moves into has a dark history and all the locals know about it. 

The Hobbie House is also known as the Horror House after a young girl around Evie’s age named Holly Hobbie, goes missing from the home. Her body was never found and no one knows how she disappeared as she vanished from her bedroom without a trace.

As Evie begins to investigate the house’s past, she realizes there is more to the story. She learns that before Holly went missing another young girl disappeared in an eerily similar way. Evie wonders if the two cases are connected. As she investigates, she realizes that something insidious is in the house and it’s slowly encroaching on Evie’s life. Evie is starting to have a hard time differentiating what is real and what isn’t. Will Evie find out what happened to Holly or will she suffer a similar fate?

The young adult novel was a quick and entertaining read. The author slowly builds up the suspense and creepiness factor to set the mood. The book is told from Evie’s perspective and her character is well fleshed out. However, the author did not do as great a job developing the other supporting characters in my view. I wish we got to learn more about her mother, Stan, and Evie’s romantic interest, Desmond. The story hints that something happened with her father but, it was much later did we get some idea of what occurred. I hoped the reader got more detail about familial relationships earlier on especially when Evie was struggling at Hobbie House. It would have helped shine some light on Evie’s mental state.

While the book is billed as a horror novel, I didn’t find it scary or spooky. I found that the story was a bit slow to build up and it was very predictable. The romantic element was a bit fast, especially the intensity. It seemed that Evie liked Desmond but then didn’t always keep him in the loop and they went from talking about their sewing class to being madly in love. It seems that a lot of the characters said that Evie was spiraling out of control but didn’t do much to ensure she was okay or vice versa. Her friend, Tina, who got Evie interested in the history of Hobbie House didn’t really play much of a role. I was surprised that the book was going to be a part of the series as I felt like it could be a standalone. I felt like the book took forever to build up and when it finally got to the end, it happened so quickly. However, I would be open to reading more books from the series. If you like young adult horror series, then you might enjoy this book.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Book Spotlight - Light Comes to Shadow Mountain by Toni Buzzeo + Giveaway


About The Book:


Author: Toni Buzzeo

Pub. Date: July 11, 2023

Publisher: Holiday House

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 272

Find it: Goodreadshttps://books2read.com/LIGHT-COMES-TO-SHADOW-MOUNTAIN

Cora Mae Tipton is determined to light up her Appalachian community in this historical fiction novel from an award-winning author and former librarian.

It’s 1937 and the government is pushing to bring electricity to the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. It’s all Cora can think of; radios with news from around the world, machines that keep food cold, lightbulbs by which to read at night! Cora figures she can help spread the word by starting a school newspaper and convincing her neighbors to support the Rural Electrification Act.

But resistance to change isn’t easy to overcome, especially when it starts at home. Cora’s mother is a fierce opponent of electrification. She argues that protecting the landscape of the holler—the trees, the streams, the land that provides for their way of life—is their responsibility. But Cora just can’t let go of wanting more.

Lyrical, literary, and deeply heartfelt, this debut novel from an award-winning author-librarian speaks to family, friendship, and loss through the spirited perspective of a girl eager for an electrified existence, but most of all, the light of her mother’s love and acceptance.

Back matter includes an Author’s Note; further information on the Rural Electrification Act, the herbs and plants of Appalachia, the Pack Horse Library Project, and more; and a “Quick Questions” historical trivia section for readers.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection


About Taylor Tyng:

Toni Buzzeo is a New York Times bestselling children’s author. She has published twenty-nine picture books for kids as well as eleven books for teachers and librarians. A former librarian and college and high school writing teacher, Toni and her books have won many awards, including a Caldecott Honor for One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small. Endlessly enthusiastic, Toni draws on her career experiences as an elementary school librarian in crafting her books and speaking with audiences of children in schools and libraries. Toni lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.


Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of LIGHT COMES TO SHADOW MOUNTAIN, US Only.

Ends August 22nd, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


Confessions of the Perfect Mom

Excerpt/IG Post


YA Books Central

Excerpt/IG Post


Eye-Rolling Demigod's Book Blog

Excerpt/IG Post



Review/IG Post


Rajiv's Reviews

Review/IG Post



IG Review


Country Mamas With Kids

Review/IG Post



Review/IG Post


Lifestyle of Me

Review/IG Post


Review Thick And Thin

Review/IG Post

Week Two:



IG Review


A Blue Box Full of Books

IG Review/LFL Drop Pic/TikTok Post



Review/IG Post



IG Review



IG Review/TikTok Post



IG Review/TikTok Post



IG Review


Two Points of Interest




IG Review/TikTok Post



Review/IG Post