In this ambitious follow-up to her 2017 memoir, actress Gabrielle Union offers a new crop of essays on identity, trauma, love, and family. There is a self-help bent to parts of this book that I never completely got on board with but overall this follow-up offers fun stories and that catching-up-with-your-wildest-friend over coffee feeling from the first book.…
A Little Bit Country by Brian D Kennedy
Debut author Brian Kennedy swings for the fences in this charming debut about a pair of teens who get more than they bargain for when they accept jobs at Wanda World–a campy amusement park themed after charismatic country musician Wanda Jean.
Think Dolly Parton/Dollywood.…
Escaping Exodus and Symbiosis by Nicky Drayden
This book series is weird as heck but I was all in.
These books share a lot of DNA with the Dr. Who episode The Beast Below, and if you like that you need to read this.…
23 Books To Read In 2023
Jess’ End of The Year Mini Reviews
No One Will Miss Her by Kat Rosenfeld
A vicious murder-suicide at an idyllic lake house leaves a small town reeling. and a society housewife on the run.
I found this to be an enjoyable quick read. It’s a study in class and the choices afforded to those with money and privilege. Rosenfeld does deep dives into her characters, which can sometimes leave the plot wanting.
I hate to be that person but I clocked the twist in this book by the 4th chapter. I read this on audio and print– the print makes the twist very obvious. I think the author is somewhat aware of this and the ‘reveal’ actually comes in the middle of the book instead of the end.
Now that we are firmly in the 2020’s I’m finding more books are having to consider social media when delving into the character’s past. If a character is between 18-30 years old you can’t talk about their high school experiences without considering what their high school Facebook or Instagram looked like.
Heartbreak Symphony by Laekan Zea Kemp
My first impression of this book was wow…this feels like it could be a prestige television show. It was this down-to-earth and character-driven book with an ominous narrative twist. Aspiring DJ Aarón Medran embarks on a series of clandestine humanitarian missions around his small barrio at the behest of La Maquina, a celebrity DJ and hometown hero Aarón is never alone on these missions as La Maquina’s 7-foot-tall robot mascot has been following him since his mother’s death. This seemingly friendly robot has a foreboding nature and leads to some of the more poignant and moving parts of the story. I liked this strange aspect of the story. I always enjoy YA books that go for a high or unusual concept.
We also follow Nina, a high school senior whose self-doubt has kept her from pursuing her dreams and performing the trumpet she loves dearly. Her story honestly felt like it could have been a companion book. I felt like both stories could have stood on their own.
Kemp masterfully balances grief, hope, and forgiveness in this emotion-packed read.
This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
I’ve been meaning to read Straub forever so when I spotted this pretty cover (it’s so shiny in person) on the library shelf and saw it was about a 40-year-old woman who wakes up as her 16-year-old self, I decided to give it a go. This was an introspective and gripping speculative novel. It shares a lot of DNA with the second season of Netflix’s Russian Doll (the book came out a month before) so if you were a fan of that I think you’ll love this.…