Title: ECORenaissance: A Lifestyle Guide for Cocreating a Stylish, Sexy, and Sustainable World

Author: Marci Zaroff

Page Count: 272

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: August 14, 2018 by Atria/Enliven Books

Format: Paperback

Review: I didn’t even get past the first few chapters of this book, but boy do I have a lot to say about it.

What really drew me to this book was the gorgeous cover.  When I read the synopsis, I thought that I would be the perfect audience for this book.  I was absolutely wrong.  From the start, the book comes off as pretentious, and has a very “I did it before it was cool” vibe.

This author name drops like crazy, and she even has a small section that gives a shout out to Beyoncé…why?  Because apparently Beyoncé encourages people to recycle, use public transit, and other “green” things that I am sure she does not do herself.

I was also thoroughly disappointed that there were not more pictures inside the book.  Because the cover is so gorgeous, I assumed that the rest of the book would have equally artistic gems spread throughout.  Instead, the pictures were few and far between.  Most are portraits of the author in various sensual poses showing off her Ecoconscience attire.

The author makes it abundantly clear that she coined the term “ECOrenaissance” and uses the word as much as possible.  I kept hearing Regina George on a loop in my head saying, “STOP trying to make ECOrenaissance happen.  It’s NOT going to happen.”  The word is just too mouthy and difficult to spell, and I doubt that it is going to catch on.

I will say that I admire what the author is trying to do, and fundamentally I agree with most of the contents of this book, however, I thought it was too much of a vanity piece, at least at the start, and I quickly became bored reading it.  Perhaps the content gets better later in the book, but I just could not bring myself to finish it.

Reader: Bekah



Fiction · Romance



Title: Fumbled

Author: Alexa Martin

Page Count: 320

Series: Playbook, Book 2

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 23, 2019 by Berkley

Format: eBook

Review: This was one of those books that teetered between a 3 and 4 star rating for me.  The story is very cute, and there were certain aspects that I thought were worthy of note, but there were also a few places it fell short for me.

The main character, Poppy, was great and I loved how down to earth she was.  However, I personally did not think that there was enough build up leading to her rekindled romance with TK.  He did not have to work very hard to be back in her life, and the attraction between them seemed mostly sexual.  I would have loved to see them connect on a deeper level beyond their shared child.  I did, however, really like that TK idolized her post-pregnancy body.  This really spoke to me, because I have struggled with accepting the permanent changes in my body post-pregnancy, and it made me feel good to see stretch marks, saggy boobs, and a few extra pounds portrayed as desirable and beautiful.

I also don’t think that the author ever really provided an explanation as to how TK missed out on the news regarding Poppy’s pregnancy.  It is implied that this was a machination of his meddling mother, but it was not explained how she got to his text messages before he did.  And who was the girl that answered his phone?  I suppose we may never know.

This is actually the second book in a series, and I like how the author incorporated characters and storylines from her first book into this one.  From early on, it seemed pretty obvious that her next book will focus on a romance between two supporting characters, Maxwell and Brynn, and I think that will be fun.

It should also be noted that the author spent 8 years as an NFL wife, so I assume that her depiction of what life is like for the wives and girlfriends of players is pretty accurate.

Reader: Bekah


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Historical · Non-fiction · True Crime

The Lady in the Cellar

Title: The Lady in the Cellar

Author: Sinclair McKay

Page Count: Unknown

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 30 October/ White Lion Publishing

Format: eReader

Review: I really enjoyed this book. Sinclair McKay has an amazing writing style, bringing the historical mystery to life and giving enough background information without it feeling like you’re being bogged down with too much information.

The mystery is so engaging and kept me guessing the whole time, which is not something I can say about too many mysteries these days. They tend to be predictable and the twists and turns aren’t actual twists and turns. This one had me at the edge of my seat, so definitely no complaints there.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a good yet quick read.

Reader: Kymberly


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Fiction · Young Adult

And We Call It Love


Title: And We Call It Love

Author: Amanda Vink

Page Count: 200

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: June 1, 2019 by West 44 Books

Format: eBook

Review: I have not read many books in verse, but this one caught my attention because it is being marketed as a hi-lo reader.  This is appealing to me because we have many teens that visit my library branch that have a very low reading level.  It can be difficult to find suitable reading material that is not only appropriate for their current reading level, but also contains subject matter that is of interest to them.

This book was great because it contained teen characters and teen themes, but did not use overly complicated verbiage.  I really liked that the story went full circle and addressed sensitive issues in a relatable and easily comprehensible way.  There was also some excellent use of analogy, which I very much appreciate.

I had some difficulty following the formatting, and I am not sure if this is typical of verse style writing or if it was just the formatting on my eReader.  It did not prevent me from understanding the material, but it did take some adjustment on my part.

Reader: Bekah



Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Only a Breath Apart


Title: Only a Breath Apart

Author: Katie McGarry

Page Count: 368

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: January 22, 2019 by Tor Teen

Format: eBook

Review: This was a very sweet love story that tackled the very difficult topic of abuse.  Both Scarlett and Jesse have been victimized by a parent, causing deep and lasting trauma.

At times this was a painful read, because it really shows how devastating and self-perpetuating the cycle of abuse can be.  Sadly, it is not uncommon for a victim of abuse to blame themselves, and many are trapped in a toxic relationship because of fear, love, finances, and/or a misplaced belief that the abuser can change.

This story also demonstrates that there are different types of abuse, and that emotional/psychological abuse can be equally as damaging as physical abuse.

Scarlett and Jesse show that it is possible to heal, and that reaching out to people we trust can help us transcend a dangerous situation. There are many other important lessons to be found in this story and I think that makes it is a great reading recommendation for teens.

Reader: Bekah



Fantasy · Fiction · Historical · Young Adult

Dread Nation


Title: Dread Nation

Author: Justina Ireland

Performer: Bahni Turpin

Length: 11 hr, 56 min

Series: Dread Nation, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 3, 2018 by HarperAudio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This book is fantastic, and I loved every minute of it.  Bahni Turpin did an excellent job reading it, and I have come to expect nothing less from her than a stellar performance.

Shortly before finishing this book, I browsed through some of the reviews posted on Goodreads and was surprised to find that there has actually been some controversy regarding this book.  After reading through these criticisms, I strongly believe that many people misunderstand the difference between author opinion and writing a story that is true to the era in which it is taking place.

Many people took issue with the fact that people of color are spoken of negatively in this book and did not like the way they were portrayed.  I saw words like “colorism” being thrown around because of the way the main character describes herself and other people of color, but it is important to remember that people of this time period had been indoctrinated with a very negative view of people of color.  It is not surprising that many people of color internalized this negativity, and it deeply affected the way they viewed themselves and others.  This is largely the reason that colorism exists, and I think this book was a powerful commentary on how damaging that type of rhetoric is.

It also confused me that so many people considered this an LGBT+ representative book.  Some people consider Jane bisexual, but I think that this is a stretch.  I think it can be argued that she is curious, but her strong attraction to men is made apparent throughout the book.  I understand that sexuality can fall on a pretty broad and fluid scale, but it does not seem that she considers herself to be particularly attracted to women.  It is also stated by reviewers that another central character, Katherine, is asexual, but I think this is also a stretch.  She admits that she has not experienced attraction to anyone, however, considering her traumatic upbringing and the near constant barrage of sexual harassment she experiences on a daily basis, I do not find this to be especially surprising.  My point in all of this is that this book should not be touted as LGBT+ literature.  Perhaps this topic will be explored more deeply in the next book, in which case I may change my mind.

There are so many positive things to say about this book.  It features strong female characters who are equally clever and badass.  It is a truly original story and the character development is quite good in my opinion.  The author even hit me with a twist at the end that I did not see coming at all.  I feel good about the ending, and I am so excited for the next book in this series!


Reader: Bekah



Historical · Non-fiction

End of Days

Title: End of Days, the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

Author: James Swanson

Page Count: 398

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2013, William Morrow

Format: Printed, paperback

Review: ‘Does this guy only write about assassinations?’ my coworker asked when I told him about James L. Swanson’s books. And yes, yes he does. And he does it well. End of Days is a compelling read and had me on the edge of my seat despite knowing what happened. I grew up hearing about JFK’s assassination from my parents and later in documentaries but this is the first book I sought out to explain it. That’s probably because I loved Swanson’s book on Lincoln’s assassination (review for Manhunt), so I already knew his writing style and the level of research he puts into his work (which is a lot, by the way).

Much like his book on Lincoln, he wrote this full of historical facts but made it so it read like a novel. You don’t find yourself inundated with a bunch of dates and names; instead, he integrates it all into the narrative so smoothly.

I highly recommend this book, and one of the biggest pluses for me is that it doesn’t go into any of the conspiracy theories. He mentions some of them at the end, but only to acknowledge that they exist. I thought that was a good call on his part.

Reader: Kymberly



Historical · Non-fiction

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

Title: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

Author: Brian Kilmeade

Page Count: 304

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: November 2015/Sentinel

Format: eBook

Review: This was a very interesting book. I hadn’t heard about any naval battles the US took part in during its infancy, so I was surprised when I came across this book. Kilmeade goes into Jefferson’s struggles in keeping American ships from being taken over by pirates once the US lost the protection of the British Navy. No longer flying the British flag, the American ships were free game to the Tripoli pirates; no deal had been struck to pay the pirates off to assure ships could pass in safety.

No spoilers for the rest of it, you’ll have to read that for yourself.

I would have liked there to have been more discussion on Jefferson’s more problematic aspects in the beginning, but I understand that it probably wouldn’t have fit with the narrative flow very well. That, and given the author’s political stance, I don’t think he would have anyway.

I would still recommend it, that’s for sure. It was well written and engaging and I enjoyed reading it.

Reader: Kymberly




HausMagick: Transform Your Home with Witchcraft


Title: HausMagick: Transform Your Home with Witchcraft

Author: Erica Feldmann

Page Count: 256

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 12, 2019 by HarperOne

Format: Paperback

Review: I happened upon this book by pure chance, or by destiny (however you want to look at it).  I came into work, and there it was — sitting on my desk in a manila envelope.  It was sent to me by a friend who works at our main library, and I guess as he was sorting through ARCs sent to us by various publishers, he thought it might be of interest to me.

Witchcraft isn’t my thing, but I decided to give the book a chance.  Although I cannot really buy into the “magical” aspect of the rituals described in this book, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could really get behind a lot of the ideas.  At the core of this book are themes like mindfulness and setting positive intentions, and these principles really resonate with me.  I do believe that people can set the tone or vibe for themselves and others around them, and this book has a strong focus on creating an environment that centers us and gives us peace.

This book covers a lot of different topics including astrology, crystals, and herbs.  I enjoyed learning more about these various topics and I could appreciate the aesthetics of the photographs sprinkled throughout the book.

All in all, I am glad that this book happened upon my desk, and I even already have someone in mind who I will be recommending it to!

Reader: Bekah



Fiction · Young Adult

Belly Up


Title: Belly Up

Author: Eva Darrows

Page Count: 384

Series: Unknown

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 30, 2019 by Inkyard Press

Format: eBook

Review: There are so many things I love about this book.  Most importantly, there are the characters.  Darrows’ characters are full of personality and spunk and the dialogue between them sometimes had me snickering out loud.  Bottom-line, I want all of them in my life for reals.

Teen pregnancy books often fall into the realm of “issue” fiction, but this is so much more than just a cautionary tale.  Certainly the main character, Sara, has to come to terms with the repercussions of a single night of indiscretion, but she finds strength in herself and the people in her life as she navigates through some tough choices.

There is a whole lot of representation in this book.  The main character is biracial and bisexual/questioning.  Her best friend is asexual, another friend is transgender, and her boyfriend is demisexual.  I have to admit that I had to look up several of the terms and identifiers used in this novel because I had no idea what they meant.  The story really covers a wide spectrum of gender and sexuality, and it is rare to see that kind of fluidity represented in YA fiction.

I highly recommend this book.  It is smart, it is funny, and it really shows how important it is to surround yourself with supportive and loving people…people who will be with you through thick and thin (pun intended).

Reader: Bekah