Book Review: Vampire Kisses (Vampire Kisses #1) by: Ellen Schreiber

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He looked so lost, so soulful, so lonely. I wanted him to kiss me now. I wanted to let him know I was his for all eternity.

Vampire Kisses – Ellen Schreiber

Initial Thoughts: I loved young adult vampire books when I was a teenager. I grew up with Twilight and just needed a bunch of vampires in my life. So, when I was sixteen, I read Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber for the very first time. Then, I read two other books in the series and promptly forgotten about finishing the series. Whoops! That happens to me quite a bit. Now, I decided to finish all nine books. That means, rereading Vampire Kisses all the way from the beginning till the end. As I write this, I am on book 7. From what I’ve noticed, they seem to be a bit juvenile. Cute, yes. Fun, absolutely. But, once I finish this series, it is unlikely I will reread it again.

Summary

In her small town, dubbed “Dullsville,” sixteen-year-old Raven, a vampire-crazed goth-girl, is an outcast. But not for long…

The intriguing and rumoured-to-be haunted mansion on top of Benson Hill has stood vacant and boarded-up for years. That is, until its mysteriously strange new occupants move in. Who are these creepy people especially the handsome, dark, and elusive Alexander Sterling? Or rather, what are they? Could the town prattle actually ring true? Are they vampires? Raven, who secretly covets a vampire kiss, both at the risk of her own mortality and Alexander’s loving trust, is dying to uncover the truth.

Ellen Schreiber’s spooky and stirring romance tells the story of two outsiders who fall in love in a town where conformity reigns, and ends with a shocking surprise.

The Review

When Raven was a child, her teacher asked everyone in her class what they wanted to be when they grew up. All of her classmates gave normal answers but Raven answered “I want to be a vampire.” Now, Raven is sixteen and is still obsessed with vampires. She’s a bit of an outcast in her small town nicknamed “Dullsville.” According to Raven, the only interesting thing about her town is the creepy abandoned mansion on Benson Hill. When new occupants rumoured to be vampires take over the abandoned mansion, she knows that she has to check it out.

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Book Review: The Poet X by: Elizabeth Acevedo

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Burn it! Burn it. This is where the poems are,” I say, thumping a fist against my chest. “Will you burn me? Will you burn me, too?

The Poet X – Elizabeth Acevedo

Initial Thoughts: As a whole, I don’t tend to read a lot of poetry. It is not that I don’t like poetry, I’ve had a bit of a complicated relationship with it. But, I am always interested in expanding my horizons. The Poet X is written almost entirely through poetry.

Summary

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent. 

The Review

Xiomara Batista has always felt as if she could express herself through writing rather than speaking. Her extremely devout Catholic mother expects Xiomara to be the perfect Catholic: to attend confirmation classes and to never get involved with boys. Now, Xiomara is fifteen and she is beginning to experience feelings she is forbidden to feel, attraction to boys and religious doubt. Through her poetry, Xiomara is able to question the world around her and express herself as the Poet X.

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Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees by: Sue Monk Kidd

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Initial Thoughts: By now, most people have either seen the movie adaptation or read the book. It is one of those books that readers say “oh yeah, I read that a long time ago.” There is something about The Secret Life of Bees that contains a book club vibe to it. If you’ve read this book as part of a book club, let me know. Also, if you’re in a book club, I am super jealous as the only book clubs around my area are for seniors.

Knowing can be a curse on a person’s life. I’d traded in a pack of lies for a pack of truth, and I didn’t know which one was heavier. Which one took the most strength to carry around? It was a ridiculous question, though, because once you know the truth, you can’t ever go back and pick up your suitcase of lies. Heavier or not, the truth is yours now.

The Secret Life of Bees by: Sue Monk Kidd

Summary

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

The Review

So, I ended up watching the movie adaptation long before I read the book. Actually, it was in watching the movie that I ended up wanting to read the book.

When she was young, Lily Owens’ mother died after a tragic incident. Now, at fourteen, she lives with her abusive father T. Ray and her housekeeper Rosaleen. When Rosaleen gets in trouble with three racists and is thrown in jail, Lily decides to break Rosaleen out of jail and escape to Tiburton, South Carolina after finding the name etched on a statue of Mary. In Tiburton, Lily and Rosaleen meet the Boatwrights – three unmarried sisters who have a honey business. As Lily gets to know the sisters, secrets from her mother’s past begin to be revealed.

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Book Review: The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by: Maxwell King

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Mister Rogers speaks directly into the camera to the little children who are quietly, intently watching: “It helps to say that you’re sad. Often it even helps to cry . . . let people know how you feel.” This is Rogers’s signature message: feelings are all right, whatever is mentionable is manageable, however confusing and scary life may become. Even with death and loss and pain, it’s okay to feel all of it, and then go on.

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by: Maxwell King

Initial Thoughts: I watched Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood so many times when I was a kid. Although I didn’t remember the specifics of his show until I read this book, the lessons that he imparted did have an impact on me as well as several generations of children. Fred Rogers’ impact went largely unnoticed until recent years.

Summary

Fred Rogers (1928–2003) was an enormously influential figure in the history of television and in the lives of tens of millions of children. As the creator and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was a champion of compassion, equality, and kindness. Rogers was fiercely devoted to children and to taking their fears, concerns, and questions about the world seriously.

The Good Neighbor, the first full-length biography of Fred Rogers, tells the story of this utterly unique and enduring American icon. Drawing on original interviews, oral histories, and archival documents, Maxwell King traces Rogers’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work, including a surprising decision to walk away from the show to make television for adults, only to return to the neighborhood with increasingly sophisticated episodes, written in collaboration with experts on childhood development. An engaging story, rich in detail, The Good Neighbor is the definitive portrait of a beloved figure, cherished by multiple generations. 

The Review

Just as millions of children, I grew up watching Mr. Rogers. So did my parents. My vague recollections of the show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood is in a flurry of recollections of various puppets, a postman named Mr. McFeely, feeding some fish, and Mr. Rogers changing his shoes while singing. I cannot really remember what my thoughts were about Mr. Rogers as a child, but as an adult after watching a documentary about his life and by reading this book, I developed a whole new appreciation for Fred Rogers.

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Book Review: The Pisces by: Melissa Broder

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Maybe [the ocean and I] were on the same side, comprised of the same things, water mostly, also mystery. The ocean swallowed things up–boats, people–but it didn’t look outside itself for fulfillment. It could take whatever skimmed its surface or it could leave it. In its depths already lived a whole world of who-knows-what. It was self-sustaining. I should be like that. It made me wonder what was inside of me.

The Pisces by: Melissa Broder

Initial Thoughts: A book about a woman who falls in love with a merman?!?! Sign me up! I thought of The Shape of Water right away and was prepared for a romantic undersea love story with a hint of longing and a touch of mystery. Instead… I ended up reading a completely different book than I thought I was going to read.

Summary

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Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.

Whip-smart, neurotically funny, sexy, and above all, fearless, The Pisces is built on a premise both sirenic and incredibly real—what happens when you think love will save you but are afraid it might also kill you.

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The Review

After finishing The Pisces it was clear to me that there would be readers who will either love this book to death, or hate it beyond all measure. I found myself in the category where I loathed nearly everything about this book but still managed to finish it.

The story starts with Lucy going on vacation to Los Angeles in order to take care of her sister’s dog while she’s away. Meanwhile, Lucy must also go to group therapy after she physically attacked her (now ex) boyfriend. One day, while walking her sister’s dog, Lucy meets a charming man swimming in the ocean. All of a sudden, her life shifts into a deep longing to be with the mysterious man.

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