Review: Opposite of Always

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Rating: ★★★★

I received this book for free free as part of an Instagram tour (Storygram Tours specifically) I did to promote the book.

This was such a fun YA book!

I absolutely loved the premise. The time loop aspect was so interesting. I liked how you saw the consequences to Jack’s actions throughout every go around. 

In a way this book is kind of sad because the love interest is continually dying. But at the same time it is still full of hope. 

I loved the characters. Since this book is a time loop you spend a lot of time with them and get to seem them react to different scenarios. I loved the friendship between Jack, Jillian, and Franny. They were so supportive of one another and were like a tight knit family (most of the time). 

The only downside to the book is that it is a bit repetitive because of the time loop. Luckily, after a few times through, it does not rehash the same events. 

Lastly, this book is Own Voices which I loved. The book even mentions the importance of it. The main character states, “I’ve always loved reading. But there aren’t a lot of books about kids like me. And I just think every kid deserves a book that looks like them” (pg 34). Amen to that! 

Overall, I really enjoyed this YA debut! 


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Review: The Places We Sleep

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from Books Forward in exchange for an honest review.

I was really intrigued by this book because it centers on 9/11. I was only 6 years old when it happened so I never truly felt the magnitude of it. 

This book did an amazing job detailing how 9/11 rocked everyone’s world. You saw how 12 year old Abbey felt. You saw how her mom reacted to finding out her sister went missing during the attack. You saw her dad’s military response to it. You saw how regular civilians felt about the possibility of war. You saw racial prejudices exhibited by Abbey’s classmates to a fellow student. The book covered a range of experiences.

This is a novel in verse so the entire book was written in poetry. As a whole, I thought the poems were well done. However, I would have loved if the poems had titles. Instead, they were numbered. Sometimes titles can help enhance the poem and create a bigger impact. But on the flip side, having no titles made the book more novel like. It reads very smoothly because of that. At times, it didn’t even feel like you’re were reading poetry because you get sucked into the story. 

Plot-wise, I wanted a little more, especially towards the end. I wanted there to be a little more development with some of the supporting characters. Even though this book centers on 9/11, it is also a coming of age story. One of the things that gets explored is periods. I am happy that this book did not shy away from showing girls getting their period for the first time. 

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about the American reaction to 9/11. This book is aimed towards middle grade readers but can still be enjoyed by adults. 


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Review: The Summer Demands

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Rating: ★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (Catapult) in exchange for an honest review.

Going into this book, I was very excited to read it because loved the premise. It’s exactly the type of book I like to read. However, the execution left much to be desired. 

I didn’t become hooked into the book until about halfway through. That is when things got interesting due to an arrival of a new character. Once that happened, the book ended rather quickly. It felt like there could have been a lot more development in that second half. There was a lot of potential for things to get more complex. I was waiting for it to reach a breaking point, but it never did. 

When it came to the characters, I felt like the supporting ones were not fully fleshed out. For example, I never felt like I truly knew much about the main character’s husband, David, and how he felt during the whole thing. I expected there to be more tension surrounding him. 

As for the writing, I did like the prose. There was something special about it and it really helped set the tone and mood of the story. The prose also highlighted the mystique of the camp well. 

Overall, this book had a lot of potential but it ultimately fell flat. 


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Review: Walk With Wings

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

This was such an inspiring poetry collection! 

The book is divided into 5 sections each with its own theme. My favorite was Monsoon Love, which was the shortest section but it was filled with love poems. I have a thing for romantic poems. I am such a sucker for them. A lot of poems from this section reminded me of Michael Faudet and Lang Leav’s poetry. The following sections were very reminiscent of Rupi Kaur and Amanda Lovelace’s poetry. So if you like any of those poets, you’ll probably like this one. 

I had a lot of favorite poems. Here is the list of my favorites:

  • I Write To Heal (pg 5)
  • Missing You (pg 9)
  • Synchronization (pg 10)
  • Love Song (pg 13)
  • Forever (pg 17)
  • True Colors (pg 24)
  • Makeup (pg 33)
  • Heartbite (pg 34)
  • Masking Pain (pg 36)
  • Dying Love (pg 38)
  • Almost Right (pg 39)
  • Caged (pg 40)
  • Numb (pg 47)
  • Still I Dream (pg 51)
  • Bitter Trials (pg 53)
  • Blessings (pg 61)
  • A Letter To My Natural Hair (pg 65)
  • Celebrate Yourself (pg 71)
  • No Ordinary Woman (pg 75) 
  • Rejection (pg 78) 
  • Girl Power (pg 87)
  • Girl Boss (pg 98)
  • Irreplaceable (pg 107)
  • Love Hurts (pg 108) 
  • Shit Happens (pg 109)
  • Inner Battles (pg 111)
  • Situationship (pg 114)
  • Dignity (pg 118)
  • Love Exists (pg 123) 
  • Someone’s Favorite (pg 124)
  • Introvert (pg 131)
  • Self-Development (pg 151)
  • Partnership (pg 160)

It’s a lot, I know! I just loved all the bits of wisdom in these poems. The whole collection was very uplifting and positive. It’s a great book to read after a heartbreak or just when you’re down. 

Overall, I loved this collection! 


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Review: You Brought Me The Ocean

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (DC Comics) in exchange for an honest review.  

This was a heartfelt origin story that tackles identity and sexuality. 

Prior to reading this, I had no idea who Jake Hyde (aka Aqualad) was so I had no expectations going in about his origin story. I was pleasantly surprised. The superhero element was a lot more subtle than I thought it would be. Jake trying to figure out the mystery behind his powers and coming to terms with his sexuality were both given equal weight. I liked that the book didn’t go too overboard with the superhero aspect because that could have easily overshadowed the coming-out story. 

The plot is very basic (it’s not the most exciting superhero comic you will read), but it works well for what the story was trying to accomplish. Sometimes less is more, and this book proves that. 

As for the characters, I loved Kenny. He was hands down my favorite character. I also loved the diversity in the characters. Jake is black. His best friend, Maria, is Latina. Kenny is Asian. The teacher, Mrs. Archer, is Native American. 

At first I wasn’t a fan of the artwork. I saw a sneak peek of this in another DC Comic and I was a little hesitant. The artwork seemed a little incomplete. But as I started the book and kept reading, I grew to love and appreciate it. There was actually a lot of detail in the sketches. I loved that at the end of the book there was sketches from the illustrator explaining the thought process behind them. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this beautiful superhero comic and its coming-out storyline! #RepresentationMatters 


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Review: Good Things Happen to People You Hate

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Rating: ★★★½

I received this book for free free as part of an Instagram tour (TLC Book Tours specifically) I did to promote the book.

This was an interesting collection of personal essays. As with many essay collections, I liked some of them, but didn’t like others. 

This book is a pretty typical account of a millennial woman in New York City so there wasn’t anything ground breaking or new about it. I’ve encountered similar stories before. That being said I did relate to the author quite a few times. 

For example, the essay, “Real Men Will Disappoint You, Date Fictional Men Instead,” was so relatable. I took one look at the tile and went, isn’t that the truth! Also, all the essays had funny titles like these. Another relatable essay was “Sometimes Your Irrational Fears Come True and Fire Destroys Your Home.” That scenario (thankfully) hasn’t happened to me, but I related to her childhood fears. As a kid, I worried a lot over things other kids would never worry about (ex. car accidents, dangerous criminals, etc.) 

The writing style is very blogger like which I enjoyed. It worked well in telling her stories. 

I did feel like some of the essays fell a little short. Like they didn’t quite live up to their potential. Sometimes they just ended when I was expecting her to say a little more.

Overall, this was a quick essay collection with some hits and some misses. I did find it entertaining so if you just want to read something fun, go ahead and read it! 


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I’m an affiliate for Birthdate Candles!

Hi beauties! So this isn’t exactly bookish but last week I received notice that I was approved to be an affiliate for Birthdate Candles. Birthdate Candles makes specially crafted candles for your birthday. They combine astrology, numerology, and tarot to give you insight into your personality and birthday.

From their website

My candle is May Nineteenth and let me tell you, it smells heavenly! It is cedar, sandalwood, and eucalyptus scented and it smells just like a forest.

If you would like to try this candle out, be sure to use my code, JESSICA10, to save 10%.

As a sensual Taurus, this candle gets my stamp of approval! Plus it makes a great and easy gift for anyone. Who doesn’t love personalized stuff?

My candle + astrology books

xoxo,

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Review: Beauty Mark

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Candlewick Press) in exchange for an honest review. 

I’m a fairly new Marilyn Monroe fan. I’ve only seen “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “How To Marry A Millionaire” and loved her in both of those. I was so excited to read this because I wanted to learn more about her. I knew she had a tragic life and this book dove right into it. 

This novel in verse goes through Marilyn’s entire life, starting from when she was a kid to a few weeks before her death. All aspects of her life are explored, painting a stunning portrait of this complicated woman.

As for the poems themselves, some of them were amazing but some fell a little flat. A novel in verse is a little harder to write since it does tell a story, so that is forgivable. 

Some of my favorite poems were:

  • Stand Still (pg 2)
  • From Wonderland to Oz (pg 26)
  • Baby Siren (pg 56)
  • Dare I Wish? Dare I Dream? (Pg 75) 
  • Blondes Prefer Gentle Men (pg 106)
  • No Pink Tights But a Gold Band (pg 114)
  • I Got Rhythm (pg 124)
  • Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover (pg 128)
  • Living Up to My Name (pg 136)
  • No One Malady (pg 137)
  • Miscarriage Blues (pg 150)
  • Dogs Are a Girl’s Best Friend (pg 162)
  • Secrets of Style (pg 164)
  • Rx: “Vitamins” (pg 169)
  • The Kennedys (pg 175)
  • Who Is Marilyn Monroe? (pg 178)
  • Epilogue (pg 181)

I really liked that there was a poem about how she helped Ella Fitzgerald (I Got Rhythm). I am happy that was highlighted. I also loved the whole poem dedicated to Marilyn’s love of reading (Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover). I’ve always loved that she was a bookworm. Lastly, the last poem (Epilogue) was a clever way to end the book. That poem just consisted of a series of headlines relating to Marilyn after 1962, which gave you a glimpse of her lasting legacy and mystique. 

Overall, this was a fascinating take on the life of Marilyn. If you’re Marilyn fan, or just want to learn more about her, I recommend reading this book. It’s a quick read but it does leave a big impact! 


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Review: Wonder Woman Tempest Tossed

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Rating: ★★★★

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (DC Comics) in exchange for an honest review. 

This was a great YA interpretation of Wonder Woman! 

The book was very appropriate for the young adult age range. This focuses on a teenage Diana and she is portrayed exactly like that. Diana is frustrated with her changing body and is unsure of her place in the world. A lot of teenagers will be able to relate to her and her struggles of growing up.

The book also touches upon the refugee experience which is such an important topic. Additionally, is features child trafficking which is another tough topic. All of this was well executed. 

At one point Diana wears a hoodie that says, “Seeking Asylum Is A Human Right,” and her friend wears one that says, “Immigration Built This Nation.” This was a subtle, but powerful touch. 

My one critique is that the book went by so fast. Since this is an origin story, there was a lot of stuff that happened and it all happened at lightning speed. I wished it would have went a little more slowly. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this new take on the Wonder Woman origin story and its message! If you love YA and Wonder Woman, read this! 


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Review: Somebody Give This Heart a Pen

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Candlewick Press) in exchange for an honest review. 

This book of poetry was written by a performance poet and it shows! 

I’ve never read a collection by a performance poet before, so it took a little getting used to at first. But once I got the hang of it, I loved it! Just reading the poems on paper doesn’t do it justice.  I actually ended up watching some of her performances on YouTube, including a few of the poems from this book. She really is a talent! 

I had a lot of favorites, especially from the Break section. My favorites were:

  • Excerpt from a Letter to My Little Black Girl (pg 12)
  • the leaders won’t (pg 23)
  • Fearmongering (pg 25)
  • Risky Nostalgia (pg 41)
  • How We Got Here, Part 20 (pg 49)
  • Whipped on You (pg 54)
  • Trust Issues (pg 58)
  • Slow Sky, Move On By (pg 63) 
  • Scary Everyone (pg 64)
  • Fidgeting (pg 66)
  • Let Hurt (pg 68)
  • from God (pg 81) 
  • When to Write (pg 98)

I loved how authentic her poems felt. I could feel her emotions and experiences very vividly. I liked that some of the poems touched upon being black in the UK. In “the leaders won’t,” she name checks Black British people (Damilola, Stephen Lawrences, and Mark Duggan specifically) who were all killed in racially motivated attacks. #BlackLivesMatter everywhere. Being an American I had not heard of these deaths before so I’m so glad she said their names. 

Overall, this was a phenomenal collection and I look forward to seeing what else Sophia Thakur puts out. 


Below are some of the poems from the book performed by Sophia Thakur herself!


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