Review: On the Come Up

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

This month’s pick from Book of the Month — finished the same month it arrived, even! This is Angie Thomas’ much-anticipated followup to the sensational The Hate You Give, same universe but different, unrelated story. Thomas does an amazing job immersing the reader in the world and its characters and illustrating how society is designed to keep some people from succeeding. Systematic racism, poverty, violence, drugs, all work against families who like everyone just want the best for their children.
Like THUG, the main character is a teenage girl, Bri, who is trying to survive and thrive in a neighborhood rife with gangs and drugs and despair. She’s also balancing high-school life at a fancy arts school across town where she and her friends are bussed to increase diversity (and therefore grant money.) Her dream is to be a rapper and make it big to help her family escape the neighborhood that killed her father in a gang-related murder and hooked her mom on drugs.
Her mom Jay is clean and doing her best to provide for Bri with help from her older brother Trey. After Bri is physically detained and thrown to the ground by school security guards, she turns her anger into a song that goes viral in her community. What follows is a series of pretty poor choices on her part in effort to make it big, but she alienates her friends, lies to her family and incites a gang war.
I really enjoyed this book and it’s definitely a world very different from the one I live in. Bri’s
Mom and Brother are the outstanding characters in this book, they both do everything they can to give Bri the best life they can. (Even when she manages to do everything she can to sabotage their hard work.) The family has been through it all and still hold the heads high. All the characters are complex and human trying to make their way in a complex world. 4/5 stars ⭐️

Items mentioned in this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase, I will receive referral compensation at no additional cost to you. And let’s be honest, I will use to buy more books.

Review: The Light of the Fireflies

The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

Review This book was… something. It was this month’s pick for my IRL book club so it’ll be interesting to see what others thought. I found it sad and creepy and unsettling. The main narrator is a little boy who lives in a basement with his family, they don’t go out, ever, so he’s never seen the outside world. His family was disfigured in a fire and have literally walled themselves off from society.
The writing is good, it’s apparently translated from
The original Spanish. The characters don’t have names, they’re referred to as mom and sister and grandma, etc which is unusual I think. The story was troubling but kept my interest all the way through. I feel like it is one of those stories that will sit in your brain for a while. It’s a quick read and definitely an unusual book. 3.5/5 stars ⭐️

Items mentioned in this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase, I will receive referral compensation at no additional cost to you. And let’s be honest, I will use to buy more books.

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This is the kind of book you wish you could read again for the first time. The writing is beautiful and the characters are deep and complex, and the story is riveting as it weaves in and out of timelines. There is so much detail in the writing it’s easy to feel like you’re right there in the marsh with Kya, you can feel her isolation. The Marsh is as much a character as Kya. This story explores the differences between loneliness and being alone, resilience, survival and human connection. Kya lives alone for most of her life in a shack in the marsh, as each member of her family leaves in turn. She survives and thrives through the friendship of the man named Jumpin’ who sells her gas for her boat (and his wife who both become surrogate parental figures for her) and Tate, a local boy who knew her brother and who, unlike most of the town, doesn’t see her as a freak. Tate teaches her to read and Jumpin’ sees that she can support herself by buying mussels she digs up in the wee hours of the morning.
Along side Kya’s survival story is the mysterious death of the local football star / golden boy, Chase Andrews, found by two local kids without any indication of what happened. No one can agree, was it murder or an accident?
I couldn’t put this down until the end. There are some things in the plot that I am sure are implausible but I was able to suspend my disbelief and enjoy Kya’s world wholeheartedly. It is simultaneously sad and hopeful, emotionally uplifting and heartbreaking. This is a book that I’ll be thinking about for a long time. 5/5 stars ⭐️

Items mentioned in this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase, I will receive referral compensation at no additional cost to you. And let’s be honest, I will use to buy more books.

Review: Scythe

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Thanks to the polar vortex and temperatures colder than, oh, everywhere, I hunkered down and finished this in 3 days. It was long but moved at a good pace, I think. I’m not sure this would have ever landed on my TBR list if not for my YA book club. It’s dystopian/sci-fi ish and the first of a series, which isn’t my usual thing.
The Scythe are a select group in the post-mortality world where humans no longer die naturally, who are tasked with culling the population by randomly selecting people to kill. There was a lot of great writing and the characters were deep and complex. I can’t say I 100 percent buy the concept of the future where all the world problems are solved and managed by the cloud, which has evolved to contain all human knowledge and allegedly maximized efficiency of all resources. Except of course, the Scythe, who function on the outside of the society with their own rules.
The main plot involves two teenage apprentices as they complete the year-long training and transformation to scythedom. There are likable and loathsome characters and plot twists, and it t kept my interest to the very end. I enjoyed it but I don’t know if I will continue the series, I liked the ending but don’t feel drawn to continue the story. 4/5 stars ⭐️

Items mentioned in this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase, I will receive referral compensation at no additional cost to you. And let’s be honest, I will use to buy more books.

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Review I feel like this is a book that everyone has already read and I missed it somehow. I picked up a copy last month and devoured it in a weekend. I truly enjoyed the story and the author captured the rigidity, repetition and quirkiness of Autism in a realistic and relatable way. Having only read the blurb on the back and seeing it on lists of books with neurodiverse characters I expected it to be more of a detective-with-autism caper than a heartfelt, emotional story of a boy, his world and his place in his family. I truly enjoyed this book and the sweet, sad, innocent and vulnerable Christopher. 5/5 stars ⭐️

Items mentioned in this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase, I will receive referral compensation at no additional cost to you. And let’s be honest, I will use to buy more books.

Review: We Are Okay

Photo: Amazon.com

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

This book is a short, quick read that contains so much depth and emotion it’s hard to believe it is all contained in so few pages. This is a story of grief, trauma, identity, friendship and love. Marin left out the side door of her life and moved across the country to start new. When her best friend comes to visit, she must make peace with abandoning her old life, face her past and figure out whether she is okay. This is a brilliant YA book that is emotional and heartfelt from the first page to the last. 4/5 stars

Items mentioned in this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase, I will receive referral compensation at no additional cost to you. And let’s be honest, I will use to buy more books.

Review: Becoming

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I was lucky enough to be at the United Center when Michelle Obama kicked off her book tour and discussed this book and her life. It was an emotional, empowering night I wished had gone longer, but luckily I had this book to continue that discussion.
This book is deeply personal and honest, and follows her life from childhood in a tiny one-bedroom apartment on Chicago’s south side all the way through two terms as First Lady in the White House. She is a brilliant, fierce, competitive, caring, empathetic, dignified, and inspiring. She is a treasure who has touched so many lives and left them better for her being in them.
I loved learning her story and reading her anecdotes and observations about her life, especially in her marriage and life as First Lady. Definitely a must read for anyone who loves the Obamas and misses the compassion, grace and heart in the White House. 5/5 Stars

Review: The Book of Lost Things

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

This has been in my TBR pile for a while so I made it my pick for my moms’ book club this month. It was a slow start, I feel like it took about 100 pages to get to the action but it picked up. I did enjoy the intertwined and twisted classic fairytales and was rooting for David but there were definitely some parts that were very dark and graphically violent. It’s classified as young adult but I wouldn’t recommend it for the younger end of that audience or anyone who is averse to gratuitous violence, torture or brutality.
Despite the icky parts and the slow beginning, I did enjoy the book and thought it was well-written with interesting characters and stories. 4/5 stars ⭐️

Items mentioned in this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase, I will receive referral compensation at no additional cost to you. And let’s be honest, I will use to buy more books.

Review: This Is How It Always Is

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel

There’s so much to love about this book. The
storyline revolves around Poppy, who was born the family’s 5th son, Claude, but by kindergarten was on her way to becoming their only daughter. However, I think the main story is this family. The characters are rich and complex, each has personality and true and complex relationships with each other. The parents are loving and well-intentioned, trying to do their best to raise five kids. I loved the family dynamics, the truthful descriptions of raising kids, of life with boys, of parenting and I loved this family’s love for Poppy. In the afterward the author said she has a daughter who was born her son, so while it’s not a true story or autobiographical, I believe it is, at its heart, an honest story of a family and their secret lives trying to do nothing more or less than love and protect a child. 5/5 Stars

Items mentioned in this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase, I will receive referral compensation at no additional cost to you. And let’s be honest, I will use to buy more books.

Review: Stardust

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

This is a lovely story with incredible details, daring adventures and heartwarming characters. I listened to the audiobook version read by the author and it was a wonderful way to spend 6 hours.
Stardust is a fairytale about a man who sees a falling star and promises to bring it to the girl he loves. His search leads him through a wall to another world where he finds what he seeks and much more. 5/5 stars ⭐️

Items mentioned in this post may contain affiliate links which means if you click and make a purchase, I will receive referral compensation at no additional cost to you. And let’s be honest, I will use to buy more books.