REVIEW: THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by MATT HAIG

Click here to read the book synopsis on Goodreads.

Click here to read the book synopsis on The Storygraph.

I first read The Humans by Matt Haig in March of 2019 (full review here) and fell in love. A pick for my real life book club, it gave us so many great discussion points and introduced me to a new favorite author. I will now buy/read anything that Matt Haig writes, and he is one of the few authors that have earned that level of respect and adoration from me!

This book did not disappoint per usual. I really loved how it packed a big punch in under 300 pages while keeping me completely engaged throughout.

4️⃣ things I loved about this book:
➡️ The story was compelling and fast paced.
➡️ The way the character felt was super raw and portrayed beautifully.
➡️ Despite the content matter being super heavy, it was very digestible and readable.
➡️ In true Matt Haig form, there was MAGIC in the story without it feeling overdone.

2️⃣ things I didn’t love:
➡️ The main character was just kind of okay to me. Didn’t love her or hate her.
➡️ The ending was a bit too rushed for me. I loved the book so much that I wanted more!
📖
Overall, a super compelling read! 4.25 ⭐️

Trigger warnings:
Talk of drowning
Attempt of suicide
Drug overdose
Death of a parent
Death of a sibling
Fatal car crash
Cancer

I DON’T HAVE TIME, I MAKE TIME

One of my most asked questions I get in direct messages on my Instagram page is, “How do you have time to read so much?” I even get asked this question in real life by family and friends. And while the answer isn’t a straightforward one as a mom of two little kids, it is relatively simple. I don’t have time, I make time. Reading is important to me, it’s a form of self care, an escape. And at the end of a day of wiping butts, cleaning up spilled juice, drying tears, and bribing my 4 year old to eat anything besides a popsicle, the first thing I usually want to do is curl up in bed with a book.

But if I only read for the hour or so I have at night when my kids are asleep and before I pass out myself, I wouldn’t read more than a book every other week or so. As of September 3 this year, I have read 78 books in 2020. How do I do it?

I listen to audiobooks. Don’t try and tell me that they don’t count as reading, because they do (would you tell a blind person that their time listening to audiobooks didn’t count as reading? No, you wouldn’t!). I listen to audiobooks when I’m folding laundry, doing dishes, running the vacuum, taking a shower, you name it – if there’s a moment of silence I can fill, I turn on my audiobook. I get most of my audiobooks from the library, but I also use Scribd.

cat listening to headphones, bobbing its head


I read my books in multiple mediums.
If I have a physical copy of a book, I will try to grab an eBook copy and/or physical copy from the library as well. That way I can rotate based on what activity I’m doing and get through a book quicker.

I read while doing my hair/makeup. I will either listen to an audiobook, read an ebook sitting on a stand, or use a book weight to hold my book open while I blow dry, flat iron, etc.


I don’t watch much tv. I can’t tell you the last time I watched something. Maybe Cheer on Netflix in like, February? Yeah, that was probably it.

And lastly, I read a lot, so I’ve learned to read fast. Practice makes perfect.

I am no supermom. I am just an average human with an average attention span that LOVES books, so I keep on prioritizing them. And I’ll never, ever stop reading.

Xo,
Jenna

REVIEW: 28 SUMMERS by ELIN HILDERBRAND

Click here to read the book synopsis on Goodreads.

Click here to read the book synopsis on The StoryGraph.

I do not often share negative reviews here on my blog, but this is one that I felt like I needed to. Why, you ask? Because I was very outspoken about the fact that I was reading this book on my Instagram page. I hosted a buddy read for this book with around 70 participants. I pushed people to join the buddy read. I bought the book in hard cover, full price. And then I ended up sorely disappointed because of the complete lack of morals displayed with our main characters.

This was my first Elin Hilderbrand I’ve ever read, and I don’t think I will read another after hearing feedback from my IG followers about how infidelity is often a theme in her books. The book contained great writing but the story was not my favorite, to say the least. 28 Summers should just be called 28 Summers of Infidelity, because that’s what this whole story is about. 28 Labor Day weekends of two characters sneaking around whether or not they have someone at home. No matter what, they dropped their lives and spent the weekend together.

This book felt so so icky to me. It romanticized infidelity and that’s just not something I can get behind. I don’t even think I can give it a star rating that would be fair, because while I hated the storyline, it was compelling enough to keep me reading.

I am the first to admit that I am not a sensitive reader. Not much bothers me. I don’t mind flawed characters, but one thing I absolutely cannot stand is when flawed characters do not grow or change throughout the course of the story. And that is exactly what we encounter in 28 Summers – a lot of bad behavior with no consequences or signs of regret.

Content Warnings:
Cancer
Car crash (death involved)
Death due to chronic illness (cystic fibrosis)
Drug addiction
Infidelity
Loss of family member
Mention of drowning

REVIEW: HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS by BIANCA MARAIS

Click here to read the synopsis of the book on Goodreads.

Click here to read the synopsis of the book on The Storygraph.

I don’t even know that I have the words to properly describe how beautiful this book is. I’m so speechless that I am using a thesaurus to think of the best words possible to illustrate it. Here are a 5 reasons why this book blew me away and received 5 BIG stars.

  • Hum If You Don’t Know the Words is an example of story telling at its finest. Two POV’s can stress me out, but this one was stitched together so seamlessly that I never felt confused or defeated.
  • The characters were flawed but lovable.
  • Nothing felt rushed or too slow. I was engaged from start to finish.
  • I didn’t want the book to end, and that’s an understatement. I wanted more time with the characters (sequel, please?)!
  • It portrayed apartheid in South Africa in a way that was easy to understand but still punched me in the gut. As a white woman that grew up privileged, this story opened my eyes to what life is often like for people of color.

RUN, don’t walk, to read Hum. I’m running to read If You Want To Make God Laugh right now.

REVIEW: LOVE & GELATO by JENNA EVANS WELCH

Click here to read the book synopsis on Goodreads.

Click here to read the book synopsis on The StoryGraph.

What is the last book you read because a book friend told you to read it? I just read Love & Gelato because my friend Danielle insisted on it! So glad I finally listened to her because, according to the receipt that fell out of the book, I bought it on June 8, 2019…oops.

Mini review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 stars

This fun and fluffy YA had a lot of heart, a little bit of mystery, and just the right amount of romance for me! I love a good love story, and this one totally delivered, all the while making me crave gelato. Contemporary YA with a love story makes me feel nostalgic for when I fell in love with my now husband, so I will always have a soft spot in my heart for it. This one had a plot twist that I actually did not see coming and I LOVE when that happens!

With just the right amount of drama sprinkled into a good clean fun story, I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking to escape to Italy in a book. I’ve never been, but I do know that if I go…I will definitely get some gelato.

Content warnings: death of a parent, meeting a birth parent for the first time

REVIEW: A BURNING by MEGHA MAJUMDAR

What a debut! This book packed a seriously powerful punch in such a short amount of time. While this is not the genre that I am typically drawn to, I really enjoyed this read.

What made this book unique was the very different voices of the three POV’s. If I ever had to set the book down mid chapter, I very easily knew which character I was reading when I came back to the book. Their tones and personalities were easily perceptible through the writing, making this book about a heavy subject very readable and engaging.

An author that can really move me in just at 300 pages is a winner. I look forward to more from Megha Majumdar.

REVIEW: ONE TO WATCH by KATE STAYMAN-LONDON

Click here to read the book description on The StoryGraph and here to read the description on Goodreads!

Disclaimer: while this is book I am holding is from Book of the Month, I no longer support the company and have unsubscribed from their services.

Sometimes I escape into reality television when I need mindless humor and a good laugh. My life is pretty low key, low drama, not a whole whole lot going on…so I consume my drama on tv, then go back to my stay at home mom life of wiping butts and noses.

This book filled that same void that reality TV craziness fills, but with a sweet story to go along with it. This debut from Stayman-London kept me engaged, had me laughing, and filled my heart.

You know I love to keep my reviews as short as possible, so here is a pro/con list of what I loved/didn’t love about the book!

PROS:
➡️ A likable, believable main character! Bea had soul, wit, and charm.
➡️ Unique storyline – I don’t think I’ve ever seen reality tv basically written into a novel.
➡️ Engaging prose – I never felt bored and was totally able to get absorbed in the story!
➡️ Perfect level of romance cheesiness – and closed door! I love love stories but don’t like graphic sexual content, so I was happy this one kept the steam level low.

CONS:
➡️ In the beginning of the book, there were too many characters (which makes sense, since the lead was dating 25 suitors a la The Bachelor) and it made it hard to follow.
➡️ The ending was a bit inconclusive (don’t want to spoil it, but I would’ve loved another chapter)!

Content warnings:
Cheating/infidelity
Excessive body shaming
Internet bullying/cyber threats
Mention of rape
Parental abandonment

Overall: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

REVIEW: DEAR JUSTYCE (DEAR MARTIN, #2) by NIC STONE

Click here to read the book synopsis on Goodreads and here to read it on The StoryGraph.

When people ask me, “Do you like standalone novels or series more?” I always say standalone. I am not one to read sequels very often. My experience in the past has always been that the sequel pretty much never lives up to the first book. Nic Stone may have just changed my opinion with Dear Justyce. I read this book in one sitting and gave it 5 stars – the 6th book (out of 47) I’ve awarded 5 stars to this year.

The book can stand on its own without reading Dear Martin first, but I do think you will get more out of the story if you read them sequentially.

I loved Dear Martin – it opened my eyes to so many things by telling the story of a Black, middle class teenager that just wanted to do things right in life, but still kept getting a raw deal because of the color of his skin. But in Dear Justyce, we get an inside look at what life is like for a Black teen that isn’t given the opportunities that the main character in Dear Martin was given.

This book takes place immediately after Dear Martin and brings back some of the same main characters, but it gives us the unique perspective of a kid thrown into the juvenile detention system. The main character, Quan, details his life in jail and describes how differently the outcome is for kids based off the color of their skin. This is a story that needs to be read by all.

Click here to find a Black owned bookstore to preorder Dear Justyce! Current publishing date is set for September 29, 2020!

Adjectives to describe this book (arranged alphabetically):
Absorbing
Action packed
Bold
Compelling
Emotionally charged
Fast-paced
Gripping
Layered
Moving
Relevant
Suspenseful
Thought-provoking

Content warnings:
Brief description of a panic attack
Cancer
Death of a stepparent
Descriptions of sleep paralysis
Gangs
Graphic language (R rated, the F word and N word are used)
Juvenile imprisonment
Parental abandonment
Parental arrest/imprisonment
Police brutality
PTSD
Racism
Spousal abuse
Usage of the N word

REVIEW: DEAR MARTIN by NIC STONE

If you want to read the synopsis of the book on The StoryGraph or Goodreads, please click the links!

I picked up this book on a whim in the clearance section of Half Price Books nearly 6 months ago, and now that I’ve read it, I want to sing its praises from the rooftops. I want to shove a copy of it into the hands of everyone I know and say YOU NEED TO READ THIS.

Continuing with my desire to keep my book reviews brief and to the point, here are some adjectives I would use to describe this story (in alphabetical order):
Emotional
Engaging
Gripping
Heart wrenching
Poignant
Powerful
Riveting

This story is one that will stick with me forever. The truths in it are conveyed in a way that resonated with me so uniquely, so intensely, and opened my eyes to my world of privilege. Thank you, Nic Stone, for this masterpiece.

Content warnings:
Death of a friend
Graphic language
Misogyny
Police brutality
Racism and racial profiling
Violence