Friday, March 24, 2017


Author: Joelle Anthony
Rating: ★★★★★
Summary: This can’t be good! Suddenly Suze’s mom wants back into her life, and her teacher wants her to “try harder”?!

As if middle school wasn’t hard enough, Suze Tamaki's life gets turned upside down when her mother reappears after a ten-year absence. Once Suze gets over her shock, she thinks it might be cool to get to know her mom. But her older sister Tracie is determined not to let her back into their lives.

At school things aren’t much better. One of her teachers decides the way to cure Suze’s lack of motivation is to move her into Honors English – a development Suze finds both inspiring and distressing. When she's paired with straight-A student Amanda on an English assignment, she finds herself caring about people’s expectations like she’s never done before.

***I was given a free e-ARC of this book by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

Suze Tamaki is literally just coasting through middle school, trying to survive rocky friendships, bad dye jobs, and a principal who is out to get her. Her English teacher pairs her up with an Honors English student to work on a project. When Suze and Amanda find out that the school system is planning to get rid of their beloved custodians, the two girls turn saving their jobs into their English project. And if everything goes well, Suze will get to stay in Honors English- something that she desperately wants (it also scares her to death).

Adding to that stress is the reappearance of Suze's mom who left the family when Suze was just 3. While Suze wants to give her mother a second chance, older sister Traci is adamantly against it and resents Suze for her decision.

This is a pretty realistic story about not just growing up but also family ties. The characters were well thought out and the plot was solid. I loved the way it wrapped up and the decision Suze made about how much she influence she was going to allow her missing mother to have on her life. I've read a lot of stories where the child just fully forgives the parent who walked away, so it was nice to see a story where the child acknowledges their hurt over being abandoned and taking steps to protect themselves.

It was a lovely middle grade read but I would definitely recommend this to all realistic fiction lovers.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Rating: ★★
Summary: Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

This was a strangely hard book to rate. Part of me understands exactly how impactful this book is. ALLEGEDLY covers a hard but true topic of how PoC, specifically Black people, are treated by the police and justice systems. Tiffany Jackson is also a masterful story teller. There's also a narrative on child abuse, survival sex, and the broken system that handles children who have been taken by the state and given to folks who use them as a business instead of treating them like children.

However, I cannot give this book a high rating due to the fatphobia and queerphobia represented in this book.

Ms. Stein limps into the kitchen, her bowlegs fat and swollen. You’d think someone would change their diet after they reach over two hundred pounds. But not Ms. Stien. She still eats an entire box of Entenmann’s crumb topped donuts a day.

"She wears black wrist guards and one of those weight belts that sits right below her bulging gut, yet I've never seen her work out or lift anything but food to her mouth." 

I've seen several people comment that the fatphobia was to show how the system and Mary's mother had made her intolerant but I don't buy that. This is not a character flaw. This is an author who chose to make two of the most arguable heinous characters in her book fat, slovenly, mean, and lazy. She could have made Ms. Stein evil without ever mentioning her size but she goes into great detail several times to push home the fact that not only is this woman abusive and terrible, she's also fat. Which, in text, seems to be her greatest crime of all- existing while being fat.

My mom… she kicked me out when she caught me with my first girlfriend. Pretty little light skin thing with curly hair…”

She glances at me and I stare at the floor. Kelly rolls her eyes and mouths. “Ew.”

China is the manliest person in the house. She wears nothing but boy clothes, even boxers which seems like overkill. Momma would be disgusted at the “nasty lesbian” I’m living with. she hates anything that is not in the Bible, which seems like everything.

“How long you been a rug muncher for?”

At no point in the book is this homophobia every questioned. In fact, China seems to only exist to be made fun of or to have sex with another female character. It was highly uncomfortable to see the only queer character being used in this way.

The last thing I want to talk about in my review is something that was hard for me to stomach and almost made me DNF the book. Mary is pregnant. She is 15 and the father of her baby is an adult. While I understand that this is real life for many people, it was also hard for me to read this book and never once see Mary understand that she was taken advantage of. I've seen a lot of arguments about this but Mary is fifteen. She is a child. She is a child who grew up in prison and has not had adequate emotional development being taken advantage by an adult. The whole book is Mary trying to protect this adult because she knows he will go to jail because what he did to her is illegal. Let me reiterate this: children cannot consent to sex with an adult. They cannot consent because they are children.

Honestly, the only thing that kept me from DNFing this book was I wanted to find out what really happened to Alyssa although half way through I pretty much figured out what the plot twist was going to be as it is heavily foreshadowed throughout the book.

Again, I do understand the importance of this book due to the topic at hand but I can't say that I would ever recommend this book to anyone due to the fatphobia and queerphobia.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February 2017 Wrap-Up!

I read 15 books this month but I read one book 3 times so... February was pretty much on track with January considering this month was 3 days shorter.

Without further ado...

THE LIE TREE by Frances Hardinge
- I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. Generally I stay away from books set in the 1800s but the cover of this one sucked me in and then the promise of a demon tree kept me reading. I was not disappointed.

- I love middle grade books that deal with hard subjects. This book follows Quinnen during the spring after her older sister's death. The topic was beautifully handled, and I couldn't resist any book that has baseball in it.

- Set in North Carolina in 1932, this book chronicles life in the Jim Crow area through the eyes of Stella, a young Black child who has just witnessed the KKK burning a cross near her home. I read this one with my godkid for their Black History Month project and was incredibly pleased with how the book handles family, truth, and understanding that sometimes you just have to stand up.

- After hearing so much about Selznick's half picture, half word books, I decided to check on out for myself. Despite the size of the book, it was a really fast read with a terribly heartwarming ending.

UNTITLED (THE LEAH BOOK) by Becky Albertalli
- This is the book I read 3 times, haha. I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say... just know this book is amazing and I can't wait to scream about it!

BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jaqueline Woodson
- My first audio book ever! This was read my the author herself so it definitely added a lot of depth to her already beautiful prose.

- This book follows 12 year old Cammie, the warden's daughter. Set in 1959 against the backdrop of a penitentiary, this isn't your normal coming of age story. Cammie is desperately searching for a mother figure. Book deals with mental illness.

SANCTUM by Madeleine Roux
- Sequel to ASYLUM and in my opinion, much better than ASYLUM. Secret cults, creepy carnivals, messages from the possessed... what could go wrong?

ASYLUM by Madeleine Roux
- A dorm full of teenagers in an old asylum where gruesome experiments took place... I'm sure we can all guess what happens. Not the best book in the world but not the worst either.

- Story of a trans boy who fights his school's gendered dress code. I really enjoyed this book.

- My first cozy mystery in months!

HOODOO by Ron L. Smith
- There's hoodoo the practice and Hoodoo the boy and together they can defeat any ol' demon that comes along.

ALLEGEDLY by Tiffany Jackson
- I was beyond excited to read this book but was ultimately terribly disappointed. Jackson has a strong writing style and an obvious gift for story telling but the book was packed tight with fatphobia and queerphobia.

LEGEND by Marie Lu
- I ended up skimming the last 50 or so pages of this.

- I thought this was going to be Alice in Wonderland with zombies but it's actually just a girl named Alice and some zombies. Not to mention that the "love interest" was totally abusive. No thanks.

And that's it for February! I hope everyone had a great reading month and I hope March is just as kind!