Wednesday, October 27, 2021




The Hope Juvenile Treatment Center is ironically named. No one has hope for the delinquent teenagers who have been exiled there; the world barely acknowledges that they exist.

Then the guards at Hope start acting strange. And one day...they don't show up. But when the teens band together to make a break from the facility, they encounter soldiers outside the gates. There's a rapidly spreading infectious disease outside, and no one can leave their houses or travel without a permit. Which means that they're stuck at Hope. And this time, no one is watching out for them at all.

As supplies quickly dwindle and a deadly plague tears through their ranks, the group has to decide whom among them they can trust and figure out how they can survive in a world that has never wanted them in the first place.


This book hits really close to home by centering around a government shut down due to a respiratory disease that reads as being so much worse than Covid. Taking place in Hope Juvenile Center which is situated in the middle of the Ozark mountains cut off from civilization. Once the virus hits, the teens find themselves abandoned after the guards up and leave.

It did not bother me to read a book such as this so close to the happening around us here. I was lucky, Covid never hit my family, of the four or five different houses in my family, we buckled down and stayed home and none of us caught the virus. I imagine however that this book could be a major triggering point to some people because of the realism of the story. It is funny, if I had read this book before 2020, I might not have thought it so realistic, never have we experienced something like this in our lifetime, so I figured it would almost feel a bit dystopian to me.

The story is a very character-driven slow burn. The events that happen are slowly fed to the reader, paced throughout, but as you read, the dread and tension will be felt on the pages.

 The characters in the book do a great job of taking hold of the situation and have strong wills and resilience. The writer has chosen very diverse characters for the story, for instance, a deaf girl, and another trying to find a God that will be accepting of their queerness. They are all written fantastically with different personalities and abilities but it is great watching them grow and learn to work together. I would have liked a bit more backstory on the characters however, I felt this would have given them each a bit more depth, and a chance for me to know them better.

The one thing I really enjoyed about At The End Everything was the author’s inclusion of things that drove the story forward but were not actually written as the story. Included were phone transcripts and a few other things that seemed to give the story a realness to it.

I do not read a lot of YA books, but this one surprised me and drew me in. It was heartbreaking, and despite that these teens were left to survive alone with sickness and other harsh obstacles surrounding them, this book is also full of hope, love, and survival.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Book Review: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Diana O'Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She's an associate specialist at Sotheby's now, but her boss has hinted at a promotion if she can close a deal with a high-profile client. She's not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galapagos--days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.

But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It's all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.

Almost immediately, Diana's dream vacation goes awry. Her luggage is lost, the Wi-Fi is nearly nonexistent, and the hotel they'd booked is shut down due to the pandemic. In fact, the whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father's suspicion of outsiders.

In the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection was formed, Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself--and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.


Set during Covid, Diana, an art specialist for Sotheby's lives with her finance Finn, who is a surgical resident in a New York hospital. Due to the hospital gaining more Covid cases, Finn has to back out of his and Diana's dream vacation to the Galapagos, but urges her to go and enjoy as they can not get a refund, she will only be gone for two weeks and then they will be back together.

When Diana arrives on the Island, there is a boat there taking vacationers off to the airport and she decides not to turn around and get on it, she will be able to leave in two weeks, but instead, she gets stuck on the island when it shuts down due to Covid.

I think Jodi Picoult wrote an excellent book with Wish You Were Here. It may be because we are barely out of the shutdowns and hardships of the virus but this book felt real, and at times was a hard read. It put you right back into the nightmare that is Covid. All the shutdowns, not being able to see the ones you love, the deaths, and the grueling work that the frontline medical workers had to go through.

Yet while the book is filled with the horrors of Covid, you also get a breather with the beauty that Diana is witnessing in the Galapagos. You get a beautiful look at the people of the island and their traditions.

Picoult has given us characters that are human, they have flaws and feelings, but they are also strong and resilient. Her writing is skillful and emotional and keeps you invested in the story. 

It is easy to see why Picoult is one of the best writers there is, and I think she has outdone herself with Wish You Were Here.

Oh yes, be sure to keep a box of tissue handy, you will need it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Book Review: Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han


Goodreads Overview:

And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Jacque's Review:

Overall I enjoyed the book and this series, but there was a lot of unnecessary drama that I think could and should have been avoided. Maybe it is because I am quite a bit older than the average YA reader, but I found some of Lara Jean and Peter's actions and decisions to be extremely immature in this book. I get the fact that the author needed some tension in the story and that an over the top happily ever after probably wasn't what she was going for, but it was emotionally draining at times.

Peter and Lara Jean have everything all planned out. Peter already has a lacrosse scholarship and will attend the same college Lara Jean's parents attended that has always been her number one choice. She is anxiously awaiting her acceptance letters, but things do not pan out as she had hoped. This puts a lot of strain on their relationship as they try to navigate what a long distance relationship might be like. 

In addition to the college planning, Lara Jean's Dad and Ms. Rothchild are in the midst of planning their wedding. Lara Jean has visions of a grand event with all the bells and whistles, but this is a second marriage for both of them. They would be happy with a simple ceremony with close friends and family, which Lara Jean just can't comprehend. In addition, there is a major transition as Ms. Rothchild moves into their family home and starts to add her own personal touches.

There is a lot of change taking place and Lara Jean just doesn't know how to deal with it. She makes some rash decisions that she ultimately ends up regretting. Thankfully, she is able to get things back on track and I was pleased with how the series ended. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Book Review: Well Offed in Vermont by Patricia Meade


In bucolic small-town Vermont, Stella Thornton Buckley feels out of her element—and not just because she's fresh from Manhattan. Mere hours after moving to maple syrup country, she and her husband, Nick, find a dead man, Allen Weston, in their well. The police investigation forces the couple out of their lovely farmhouse and—since the motels are packed with leaf-peepers—into a less than luxurious deer camp. Instead of mourning the loss of electricity and running water, Stella and Nick drive their Smart Car all over the Vermont hamlet to question the quirky locals about Weston, a shrewd businessman who rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way. Stella and Nick may never shed their flatlander reputation, but they just might be able to make a few friends and help Sheriff Mills solve a murder.


i live in the South, so when I think of anything fall-like, my mind instantly goes to the Northeast and the wonderful fall foliage that dominates that area in the autumn. On that alone, I was instantly drawn to the cover of the cozy mystery Well Offed in Vermont with its colorful colors of oranges and yellows. It just screams cozy to me.
he story didnt disappoint either. I loved the aspect of Nick and Stella, a married couple trying to investigate the murder and mystery that surrounded their new home. The banter bewteen the two was fantastic, how they played good cop- bad cop, I felt it was something only a married couple could pull off. It was also great to see them adjusting to living in the country in Vermont coming from New York City.
T The story was light hearted, fun, and it wasn't one that I instantly figured out, infact it took the actual revealing for me to know who had done it, and that I really liked.
Well -offed in Vermont is the first of a series, and I can easily see myself picking up the second one.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Book Review: Blacklist by Alyson Noel


Goodreads Overview:

Layla Harrison has finally found herself in the middle of a celebrity story worth reporting. Aster Amirpour’s name is in every tabloid—even if it isn’t the good kind of publicity she hoped for. Tommy Phillips is inches away from getting the girl of his dreams, which may be harder than scoring a VIP ticket to an Unrivaled nightclub.

But Layla, Aster and Tommy never imagined it would be because they’re entangled in the disappearance of Madison Brooks—a story that’s blinded the world like a starlet blinded by the flash of a paparazzi camera.

Now, Layla is receiving mysterious messages from an anonymous source, Aster’s looming murder trial is so huge even her parents’ lawyer can’t save her, Tommy is retracing his steps as the last person Madison saw alive, and Layla’s ex Mateo finds himself lured into the fold.

You can dig up dirt about celebrities that the tabloids miss if you search long enough. But when Layla, Aster, and Tommy team up with an unsuspecting insider to unearth the truth, they’ll find that some secrets are best kept in the grave.

Jacque's Review:

This is the second book in the Beautiful Idols series and I am just as confused about what happened to Madison as I was at the end of the first book. While all of the main characters have some element of suspicion for one another, I don't believe any of them had anything to do with Madison's disappearance. At first, I thought it was all staged so Madison could ride out some bad publicity. By the end of the book, we clearly know that is not the case. 

As Layla, Aster, Tommy and Mateo dig deeper into Madison's past, they discover a number of skeletons that could have contributed to her disappearance. How they can share this information with the authorities without somehow implicating themselves is the bigger problem. In addition, I do not trust Ira Redman, Tommy's father and the nightclub owner that hosted the contest that kicked off this series. Something also feels off with the reporter Trena Moretti, the reporter that has sky rocketed her career because of the Madison Brooks story.  

I do not feel like the story advanced much over the course of this book, but I am still interested in seeing how everything will unfold. I am vested enough in the characters and hope the final book will be more like the first, which I really enjoyed.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Book Review: Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.

It’s the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends.

But a night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.

And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.


Ok. Well. This book was certainly interesting. I think. Let me start out by saying that it was a difficult read. Not like, feeling wise or something like that, but like I didn't know what half the words meant. I knew going in, this was kind of about a Japanese Folktale, but I never thought I would have to sit with a dictionary looking up words to find out their meaning. I felt I had to, otherwise, what if I missed something that had to do with that word. Basically, it didn't matter, I am still not sure what I read.

I think the concept of the ohaguro-bettari was interesting, and that Khaw was able to make it the center of a horror story was brilliant on her part. The thought of a ghost bride waiting endlessly for her groom to come... sounds creepy. To me, however, the real horror came with the characters. They descended on this haunted mansion to celebrate the wedding of two of them. These are people who have been friends since high school, but their lies, their relationships, and their real feelings for each other ended up being more horrifying than ghost bride herself.

The story was well written, despite all the pretentiousness of the wording, and I really enjoyed the first half of the short novella, which was just over 100 pages, something I thought was going to be a quick read and quickly found that thought was WRONG. But halfway through I just tired of the drama between the friends, and found myself wishing that the ghost bride would come along and put me out of my misery!

Between the