ARC Review: Finding Bryan- Matthew Kesselman

Title: Finding Bryan

Author: Matthew Kesselman

Publisher: Novel Novels

Pages: 310

Rating: 5/5

TW/CW: homophobic comments, death of a parent, cancer talk, micro aggressions 

Gosh, there’s so much to say about this amazing and well-written contemporary. First of all I will warn you that you will not like Forrest Wilcox. He’s grumpy, self-absorbed, and overall a chaotic person who spends all his time focusing on his failures and what he could’ve done better. Along the way of his chaotic life, Forrest lost his brother Bryan, but not to death. Bryan ran away at the age of 17 in search of a better life. Ever since then, Forrest has felt a little lost. That could be what some of his bitterness comes from.

Now, Forrest is married to his HS sweetheart and they have a daughter named Casey (whose spunky). He also works at his father’s auto shop as a mechanic, but Forrest feels like something is still missing from his life. One day Forrest’s father talks to him and tells him his mom’s cancer is doing worse and she hasn’t got much time to live. That’s when his father says that his mom wants Forrest to find his brother…Bryan. Forrest doesn’t hesitate to go and look for his brother, he even takes his daughter Casey with him despite what anyone was opposed to. As Forrest and Casey travel across the country they come across numerous characters and go through some serious things, but it’s all in the name of Bryan. 

Let me just say that I absolutely loved this book and the southern twang that the author utilized. I loved how raw Kesselman portrayed Forrest. Yes, he was unbearable and a jackass, but at the same time he still was human under that hard exterior. Special thanks to Novel Novels, and the author for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Enduring Freedom- Trent Reedy & Jawad Arash

Title: Enduring Freedom

Author: Trent Reedy & Jawad Arash

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Pages: 352

Rating: 5/5

Enduring Freedom is a fictional YA book based on the horrific events that took place on 9/11/2001. I remember where I was when the planes hit. I was in global history class in High School. I saw the smoke from the the first tower from the window. It was such a life changing moment for everyone around the world. It was a time of uncertainty, and reflecting; the course of history would change forever. Right after those tragic events, troops were immediately dispatched to Afghanistan to fight in the war. 

Baheer is a boy from Afghanistan. His life revolves around his educations. He’s very studious and wants nothing but to educate himself and learn English. His brother on the other hand, only cared to work. Learning and having an education meant absolutely nothing to him. Baheer just sits and sees how his family lives in constant fear because of the wars and violence that plagues their country every single day. He wants better than that for them. 
Joe is a young army private who lives on the other side of the world. He’s studying to be a journalist, which is one of his biggest dreams. Joe just wishes that he could be a full time journalist and give up the rifle. When September 11th happens, Joe is immediately shipped to Afghanistan, flipping his life upside down. When Joe and his unit arrive to Afghanistan, he’s on high alert. He doesn’t’t trust anyone. On the other hand, Baheer see’s it as an opportunity to learn from the soldiers, especially English. 
When Baheer and Joe meet, they’re uncertain about each other, but as they get to know each other they start to see how much they have in common; their friendship blossoms. Of course, the friendship doesn’t come without some rocky moments. Baheer and Joe’s friendship is put to the test. Will they be able to ignore the differences and situations that surround them. Huge thanks to Algonquin Young Readers and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. (less)

Review: Dylan McFinn & The Temple of the Four Winds

Title: Dylan McFinn and The Temple of the Four Winds

Author: Liam Jenkins

Publisher: Self

Pages: 244

Rating: 5/5

Finally!
I’ve finished the second installment in the Dylan McFinn series. I was anxiously waiting to see what adventure and trouble Dylan and his brother Axneus were going to get into next. 

The story starts off where the first book left off. After losing their parents and defeating the almighty Gate, Dylan and Axneus are trying to figure out what’s next in their lives. Dylan of course, is thinking about the more important and realistic things in life. Whereas, Axneus is thinking about riches and showing his greed. Dylan is fueled with the need to find his parents. He sets off on a adventure with his brother and Marvin though the ‘Forest of Shadows’.

As they go on the hunt for the midnight marauders, they came across the evil sea nymph, Marilla (she gave me total Ursula vibes). Marilla is working on Kadavu’s side to help him gain all control of Maloto once and for all. Marilla tries her all to brain wash numerous characters that you’ve seen in the first book for her personal gain and evil ways. Dylan must go through hell and back to find his parents, and the trials will make or break him. 

Jenkins once again delivers an amazing set of characters. Through descriptions and imagery, you feel like you’re living everything you’re reading. Let’s not forget that ending! Huge thanks to Liam for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I cannot wait to read what happens next. 

ARC Review: The Woman With The Blue Star- Pam Jenoff

Title: The Woman With The Blue Star

Author: Pam Jenoff

Publisher: Park Row

Pages: 336

Rating: 5/5

Imagine living in perpetual fear everyday because of your race. Imagine hoping that your family wasn’t next. Imagine getting the opportunity to go and try to escape those that wish you harm. Eighteen year old Sadie Gault and her family are Jewish and have lived in Krakow, Poland for most of their lives. Their lives were pretty peaceful until the Germans invaded. They were forced to move into the Krakow Ghetto. Everyday got progressively worse for all the Jewish families.

One day while the parents of the Jewish children were at work, the Germans raided the homes of the Jewish families, taking children with them. Sadie heard the approaching soldiers and decided to hide in a trunk in her mother’s room. It was only when Sadie heard her mother trying to kill herself that Sadie came out and showed her mother…she’s okay.

Sadie’s parents were afraid and tired of living like this and decided to come up with a plan to finally escape the hell they were living through. With the help of a sewer worker named Pawel, they created a hole and escaped into the sewer system under the most deplorable conditions. Unfortunately, tragedy struck and things for the family became harder for them. Until one day, Sadie decided to explore the tunnels and came face to face with another girl her age through the sewer grate. After that things take an interesting turn.

I must say this book was riveting; The writing was amazing. I will definitely be checking out more of Pam Jenoff’s writing. Wow…just, wow. Huge thanks to NetGalley and Park Row books for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: In Your Face- Shari Graydon

Title: In Your Face

Author: Shari Graydon

Publisher: Annick Press

Pages:172

Rating: 5/5

‘In Your Face’ is a fantastic look into the beauty world. The positives, the negatives, and the controversies behind it. For years the beauty industry has been changing, with standards that are beyond impossible to reach. Many young women are sucked into websites that promote women with surgically enhanced bodies and making it seem like it’s a obtainable goal, when it reality it’s all fake.
I really loved how the author broke everything down, from the different decades, different fashion, with colorful graphics and illustrations. The author didn’t sound bias to me, if anything she made you think, she broke everything down for you, and fed you facts. I think that’s something admirable about this book. I believe any girl/young lady/woman who picks up this book will go into reading this with an actual eye opening experience. 

ARC Review: Curby- Alyssa Lynn

Title: Curby

Author: Alyssa Lynn

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages: 54

Rating: 5/5

I’m going to warn you right now you’ll need some tissues for this one. I made the mistake of reading this at 9am only to end up in a mess of tears. Curby is a short story in the POV of Golden Retriever. He’s absolutely a cutie and totally in love with his mom Roxy. He cherishes her and loves being around her. He even has conversations with the other pups that Roxy’s friends have. One day Curby gets some bad news from Roxy’s friend. He didn’t know what happened exactly, but he knows his human friend wasn’t coming back. 

Curby is a must read if you’re an animal lover. It will definitely leave you in your feels. Thanks to Alyssa lyne for providing me with a copy of the book through book sprout in exchange for an honest review. Alyssa lynn always knows how to make my emotions come out. Whether it be laughing, crying, anger, or sadness. She does it all.

Blog Tour ARC Review: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman- Julietta Henderson

Title: The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman

Author: Julietta Henderson

Publisher: Mira Books

Pages: 400

Rating: 5/5

When you’re twelve years old and your best friend dies life can be very hard. Norman Foreman loses his best friend Jax suddenly and he is left with a empty hole in his heart. Jax was an amazing kid. He was caring, outspoken, and he helped Norman come out of his shy and quiet shell. They had a five year plan set as a comedic duo. You see, Norman and Jax loved comedy and they made sure to always put on a show. Their dream was to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Even Sadie, Norman’s mom, misses Jax. Not only was he an amazing friend to her son, but he made her home lively with his presence, often getting into little schemes. Being a single mother, Sadie lost her dad (whom was also a comedian; not so successful though) a year before she had Norman. Her grief and heartbreak led her to questionable behavior, such as drinking and having one night stands. As a result, she doesn’t really know who Norman’s father could be. She often feels she’s not a great mother, considering she can’t do anything to get her son out of his misery. It doesn’t help either that her boss is a pain in the butt. After she spills all her woes on her co-worker, whom comes up with a plan to help Norman and Sadie look for his real father.

This book was simply amazing. It’s a story about friendship, love, family, and never giving up. The way Julietta brought the characters to life was refreshing and she really takes you on an adventure with all the different characters she brings aboard this road trip. Huge thanks to Mira books, NetGalley, and Harlequin for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Existence of Amy- Lana Grace Riva

Title: The Existence of Amy

Author: Lana Grace Riva

Publisher: Independently Published

Pages: 283

Rating: 5/5

Trigger Warning: 
OCD, Depression, Social Anxiety, Anxiety

‘The Existence of Amy’ does an amazing job showing you the everyday life and the stresses that Amy goes through. Amy has a full-time job, has her own home, and tries to maintain friendships. The thing is it’s hard for her to do all this and her friends have no idea the mental anguish she goes through everyday (Sally was just a horrible person; so entitled).

This book is one that most of us could relate to and the subject manner isn’t so heavy. It’s like you’re living whatever Amy is going through as if you’re in the present moment with her. The constant voice in the back of your mind, constantly tugging at you…trying to make your day a living nightmare. No matter how hard Amy tried to push these thoughts out of her mind..she just couldn’t. I really truly felt for her. I’m glad that she had at least sort of a friend in Ed. He seemed to be the only one who truly cared about her.

I think it’s safe to say that after reading this book, it’s so important to have a support system and learn to listen to people. I want to give a huge thank you to Lana Grace Riva for gifting me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I truly enjoyed it

Review: The Bullet Journal Method- Ryder Carroll

Title: The Bullet Journal Method

Author: Ryder Carroll

Publisher: Portfolio

Pages: 310

Rating: 2/5

I heard about this book when I was working at a Barnes and noble College bookstore. It was very popular with the kids, and I added it to my TBR list. I started Bullet journaling back in 2020. I started it mostly to keep up with my bookish things. Mostly Readathons. Now I’m using it to track my reading for the month. 

The ‘Bullet Journal Method’ is really for people who want to live a bland and organized life. I’m pretty sure the youtube videos you’ve been binge watching on BUJO spreads are doing a better job at giving you an idea of how you can use your journal. I mean if plain is your thing… then hey…this book is for you. 
The book started off good, but then everything was getting repetitive and too…how can I say?…self-helpy? It just really turned me off and I just wanted to speed through the book and finish it already so I didn’t have to DNF. It’s a total bummer I didn’t enjoy it.

ARC Review: Silence is a Sense- Layla Alammar

HAPPY RELEASE DAY!

Title: Silence Is a Sense

Author: Layla Alammar

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Pages: 304

Rating: 5/5

‘Silence Is a Sense’ is a remarkable and thought provoking story of a young woman who fled her country, Syria, that is worn-torn. Currently she resides in the U.K. where she writes columns for a magazine under a false name, The Voiceless. With her writings, she shares her insights as a refugee asylum seeker. She suffers from PSTD from the violence that is shed throughout her country and in the process she has basically become mute. Her editor however, keeps probing for more material and more insight from The Voiceless. But, she’s hesitant on it.

She’s just trying to find her purpose and to try and blend in with the regular people in her neighborhood. Apart from writing for the column, she also likes to observe her neighbors, and what they’re up to everyday; harmless. When a terrible racial involved incident happens at the mosque in her neighborhood, she has to make a decision if she wants to continue being silent or if she’s going to stand up for what she believes in. 

Layla AlAmmar did such an amazing job telling this story. Her writing is pure poetry. It flows so well and she goes into a lot of detail. I will be definitely getting more of her work whenever available. Thanks to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review