Sunday, July 31, 2022

Rise of the Vicious Princess by C.J. Redwine - ESSENTIAL

Rise of the Vicious Princess by C.J. Redwine, 432 pages. Balzer & Bray (HarperCollins), 2022. $18.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13



Princess Charis (17yo) has learned ruthlessness from her mother and compassion from her father. The princess will do her duty to the people of Calera, strategizing outfits, rumors, the royal image, and battles in order to keep her people safe. But as assassins enter the castle and their enemies get bolder in their attacks, even Charis wonders if the kingdom will outlast this war.

Charis’s story has elements of mystery, romance, and fantasy, incorporating some familiar tropes while breaking others – what more could a reader want? I love how Charis has good relationships with both of her parents, as different as they are, and that she wants to apply lessons from each parent as she prepares to be queen. With so much on her plate, Charis is simply doing her best, which readers can relate to. I definitely stayed up late to finish this book, and I am aching to get the sequel in my hands.

Charis is White, and Tal is implied white. However, various skin tones and backgrounds are mentioned throughout the book because Calera has a proud history of generous immigration policies, resulting in a mix of skin tones of the people. The mature content rating is for alcohol use, brief nudity, and innuendo. The violence rating is for blood, murder, and suicide.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, July 28, 2022

You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow - HIGH

You’d Be Home Now
by Kathleen Glasgow. Delacorte Press (Penguin Random House), 2021. $19. 9780525708049. 

Language: R (7 swears, 7 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: G.



Emory has a lot stacked against her as she begins her junior year of high school. While she comes from one of the wealthiest families in town, her parents work too much, her neighbor insists on keeping their romantic relationship a secret, and her brother has just come home from rehab after a tragic car accident. Emory is navigating the grief of being in that accident herself, but must also keep a constant eye on her brother to ensure he does not relapse.  

I felt compelled through the entire novel and wanted to stick with Emory’s journey as she made mistakes and grew and found a way to let go of taking responsibility for her brother’s choices without letting go of caring what happens to him. Her brother does make heartbreaking choices and I shed tears for the entire family, but the novel ultimately felt hopeful and healing. There was little diversity in the cast of characters in this novel; most were white and middle to upper-class.     

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Finalists by David Bell - OPTIONAL

The Finalists by David Bell, 400 pages. Berkley Books, 2022. $27.

Language: R (117 swears, 29 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13



Every year, the Hyde family awards one student a scholarship, which covers tuition, student loan forgiveness, room and board, and a guaranteed job with the Hyde Corporation upon graduation. The final six students just need to gather in Hyde house to write one more essay and have a personal interview with a member of the Hyde family to decide the recipient of this coveted scholarship. But this year is different. This year, some of them will not be leaving Hyde house alive.

I was expecting more escape room feels, but Bell’s book turned out to be more about human tendencies. When the threat appears, blame is thrown every which way out of desperation, and ally and enemy lines are drawn and stepped over whenever convenient. While most of the characters think only of themselves, Troy, the main character, is constantly confused by trying to do what is best and by being able to see from the others’ points of view. This viewpoint made the story more chaotic and confusing, and readers don’t really know what’s going on until the concluding explanation.

Troy, Duffy, Sydney, and Emily are implied white; Nicholas and Milo are white; James is Black; and Natalia is Latina. The mature content rating is for alcohol use, mentions of drugs, mentions of sex, and illegal activity. The violence rating is for mention of guns, blood, and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

How to Date a Superhero (And Not Die Trying) by Cristina Fernandez - HIGH

How to Date a Superhero (And Not Die Trying) by Cristina Fernandez, 416 pages. Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins), 2022. $19.

Language: R (149 swears, 24 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG



Astrid carefully plans her time, dividing it between college classes, labs, and volunteer hours that are leading her to med school (and the success of her five- and ten-year plans) and her boyfriend, Max, who brings needed joy and dopamine into her schedule. Every assignment, study session, test, meal, commute, roommate hang out, and panic attack is packed together for maximum efficiency. But Astrid didn’t anticipate finding out her boyfriend is a superhero and figuring in time for kidnappings.

Fernandez writes realistically but with a dash of ludicrousness. Astrid is so focused on her schedule and making everything fit, a quirk that is endearing even as readers watch it start to take over as her responsibilities increase. I love how Fernandez normalizes superpowers and superheroes in the world she created, so much so that it feels natural for Astrid to refer to her perfect sense of time as a superpower, and how readers get to see a new side of superheroing from the perspective of those without powers but who still deal with the consequences of supervillains. Overall, reading this book was fun and brought joy into my life.

Astrid is implied white, and Max’s skin is described as “tan.” The mature content rating is for underage drinking, mentions of substance use, innuendo, and mentions of condoms and sex. The violence rating is for blood, weapon use, and mentions of guns.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Boy Who Failed Dodgeball by Jordan Sonnenblick - HIGH

 The Boy Who Failed Dodgeball by Jordan Sonnenblick, 250 pages. Scholastic, 2022, $18. 

Content G



6th grader Jordan is navigating a mine field as he encounters his first crush, multiple trips to the principal’s office, and a variety of creative and harmful injuries, that mixed with asthma and anxiety make you wonder how Jordan survives his new school.

Told with plenty of humor, this is a follow-up to Jordan’s fourth grade experience, The Boy Who Failed Show and Tell, though you don’t have to read them in order. Jordan’s story is relatable if you’ve ever had to deal with bullies, mishaps or a teacher who seems to hate you. I liked Jordan’s character and his pluck that sees him through every misadventure. You’ll find yourself cheering for him even when he makes dumb decisions. 

Michelle in the Middle 

Scout is Not a Band Kid by Jade Armstrong - HIGH

 Scout is Not a Band Kid by Jade Armstrong, 266 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. RH Graphic (Penguin Random House). 2022. $21

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content G; Violence: G



8th grade Scout is totally into comics and wants to meet her favorite author at the end of the year. The only way she can scheme to get to the festival is to join the Holy Moly Catholic school band. Scout knows nothing about band but that doesn’t stop her from pretending to know how to play the trombone. The only other trombonist, Merrin, is at first excited, but then horrified when she discovers Scout doesn’t even care about learning trombone. Merrin’s life revolves around her trombone and getting a music scholarship.

Fun story about finding yourself and following your dreams, no matter what they are. Merrin and Scout clash, but the journey is delightful and both discover things about each other and themselves. The art is strong and colorful and you will soon be cheering for both Merrin and Scout. 

 Michelle in the Middle 

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Gabriela Epstein - ESSENTIAL

Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, illustrated by Gabriela Epstein, 202 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Scholastic. 2022. $13

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content G; Violence: G



Five middle school students who have nothing in common besides the fact that they all speak Spanish, are stuck together to complete their school’s community service hours. When they encounter someone truly in need, they have to decide if they will step up, even if it means they might not remain invisible, their way of coping in middle school.

Told partly in both English and Spanish, this book is a must. It will help readers of either language understand both better. This would be a great transition book for English Language Learners or English readers who want insight into other cultures. Being invisible is a too often employed strategy for students getting through a school system that feels uncomfortable. Love the premise and how different kids can come together to help someone in need and change themselves in the process. 

 Michelle in the Middle 

Pirate’s Daughter by Mairghread Scott & Pablo Tuico - HIGH

Pirate’s Daughter (Sea Serpent’s Heir #1) by Mairghread Scott & Pablo Tuico
, 144 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Image Comics Inc. 2022. $15

Language: PG (10 swears); Mature Content PG; Violence: PG-13 (violent deaths)



Teenage Aella is bored of her tiny medieval village and longs to leave. Unfortunately, she pins her hopes on a young knight in a band of demon hunters who have come to her island. It turns out Aella really is a demon and may be biggest baddest one of them all. When a demon hunter attempts to kill Aella, she also discovers that her fellow islanders are more than they seem and that her absentee mother is a pirate queen. Aella has to juggle controlling her inner demon as well as take out the oracle that is trying to kill her, while figuring out if she can trust the young knight she first turned to for help.

There is a lot going on in this story as it interweaves threads of politics, religion, relationships, and self-discovery. Aella and her companions make a formidable presence and her mom is a grand character. The art is spot on and the story engaging. There is a fair amount of violence, but it doesn’t seem gratuitous. Bring on book two.

Michelle in the Middle 

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Raising the Horseman by Serena Valentino - OPTIONAL

Raising the Horseman by Serena Valentino
, 300 pages. Disney Hyperion. 2022. $18.

Language: PG (8 swears); Mature Content PG (same sex attraction); Violence: PG



Kat van Tassel is in high school and a direct descendent of the original Katerina van Tassel of Sleepy Hollow fame. Because of that, she is expected to continue the family legacy and marry her longtime boyfriend and run the family estate, though she has other plans for herself. As the 200th anniversary of the Headless Horseman’s haunting is approaching, she is given the original Katerina’s diary and she notices some eerie similarities that make her think ghosts could be real and that she will need to protect what she truly loves.

Part of Disney’s Villian series, the premise was interesting and the book made for a fast read, alternating between current day Kat and her ancestor’s journal, but I was unhappy with some of the storyline. If someone gave me a journal that paralleled my life and seemed to have answers about creepy things I was experiencing, I would read it in one sitting. Kat only reads a little at a time. When Kat meets Isadora, she changes gender attraction in the blink of an eye. Kate and Isadora pretty much skip the whole friendship thing and go right into a relationship which seemed too fast to be believable and took away from the plot for me. The ending wraps up, but hints at more to come. I wanted to like this book more than I did. 

 Michelle in the Middle 

The Three Princes of Serendip by Rodaan Al Galidi and Geertje Aalders - HIGH

 The Three Princes of Serendip by Rodaan Al Galidi , translated by Laura Watkinson. Illustrated by Geertje Aalders, 123 pages. Candlewick Press , 2017. $19

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G ; Violence: PG (sword fighting)



The Three Princes of Serendip is a beautiful story book filled with even more beautiful illustrations. It tells the tales of soldiers, turtles, lions, woodcutters and many more all in a gorgeous setting. Each story follows your typical fairytale trope but branches off with more diverse and interesting characters, each with motives and hardships. Hardships that they learn from and it creates a moral theme for the reader to learn from.

I really did enjoy this book, it was a refreshing difference from what I normally read. The illustrations are beautiful and I read some of these stories to my 6 year old sister and she loved them! I loved that the stories were short, so one could read them in a timely manner! Recommend for children and their families!

Student Reviewer Kenzie Hoehne, Student Reviewer

Friday, July 22, 2022

What We Harvest by Ann Fraistat - HIGH

What We Harvest by Ann Fraistat
, 322 pages. Delacorte Press (Random House), 2022. $16

Language: R (78 swears, 7 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (kissing, alcohol mentioned); Violence: PG-13 (possessed animals, terror and fear, blood)



All of Wren’s life she has grown up in the quant town of Hallows Eve. Her family own Rainbow Fields, which are fields of grain that have magical properties with a dark secret. Underneath the beautiful grain is a festering disease that threatens to spread. Wren must team up with her ex-boyfriend in order to find an antidote before it’s too late. 

 Frainstat presents very fascinating plot ideas, the idea of magical fruits and plants grown by different families of the town. But the execution was just poor with plot holes, a very annoying main character and a boring ending. On the other hand, the writing was fast, easy to read and I flew through it.

Kenzie Hoehne, Student Reviewer 

I Am The Ghost In Your House by Mar Romasco-Moore - ADVISABLE

I Am The Ghost In Your House by Mar Romasco-Moore
, 417 pages. Delacorte Press (Random), 2021. $16

Language: R (100 swears, 30 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (alcohol); Violence: PG-13 (brief sexual abuse description)



Pieta isn't your ordinary girl, she is invisible. And not because she chooses to, or because she is a superhero - she was born invisible and the only human she has had a conversation with is her mother, another invisible person. Caught between longing for connection with the real world and staying hidden, Pieta has to decide whether to break out of her invisible cage or to use it as a shield. Romasco-Moore has crafted a very fascinating plot - what would it be like if one was invisible for life?

Pieta is an interesting character- and so is her mother, (their relationship is similar to Mother Gothel's and Rapunzel's in my opinion) I find those two qualities of the book made me keep reading. But to my dismay, the author turned a potentially brilliant idea into a sappy romance story with no significance and a lot of plot holes.

Student Reviewer Kenzie Hoehne Student Reviewer 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke - HIGH

 This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke, 433 pages. Alfred A Knopf (Random), 2022. $19 

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (deaths, innuendos, pregnancy mentioned); Violence: PG-13 (some bloody death, talk of rape, intense fear) 



Csilla's parents were executed by the Hungarian government on charges of being Jewish and being too radical. Left heartbroken and in her home city, Budapest, it's just her and her aunt left to pick up the pieces. But when the government becomes too involved in everyday life, Csilla starts planning on leaving. As the secret police is slowly closing in on her plan, will Csilla choose to stay and uncover the mystery of her parents death or risk leaving everything behind for the safety of a new life? 

Locke mixes historical fiction with urban fantasy. There are elements of magic and angels which I thought was rather interesting, but also distracting from the main story, and the main purpose of the novel, which was to bring awareness to the aftermath of WW11 in Hungary. All in all, the character driven plot really brings it home for me, and makes this book enjoyable. 

Student Reviewer: Kenzie Hoehne 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Summer’s Edge by Dana Mele - OPTIONAL

Summer’s Edge by Dana Mele, 336 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2022. $20.

Language: R (102 swears, 22 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13



Some things never change, but, despite the house, the lake, and each friend looking the same on the surface, everything has changed. Emily isn’t present for their annual trip to Kennedy’s lake house, and Chelsea is struggling to understand what really happened last summer. So maybe nothing has changed at all – everyone is still keeping deadly secrets.

Reading from Chelsea’s point of view first was a good move strategically for Mele, but it made the story confusing and disorienting for me as the reader, especially when the flashbacks started. Everyone sees things differently, and I had a hard time understanding what was true. When everything clicked for me, their story became more interesting, but it’s definitely one of those books you have to read twice.

Kennedy is white; Mila is described as “tanned”; and Chelsea, Emily, Ryan, and Chase are all implied white. The mature content rating is for underage drinking, innuendo, illegal activity, and sex. The violence rating is for murder and mentions of suicide.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Race for the Escape by Christopher Edge - ADVISABLE

Race for the Escape by Christopher Edge, 176 pages. Delacorte Press (Random House Children’s), 2022. $17.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG



Ami likes puzzles, so she’s excited to try this escape room place her dad found and solve puzzles with a team. The theme is to find the Answer and save the world, which sounds like fun, until the first room catches on fire. It doesn’t really feel like a game anymore.

The escape rooms were vague in directions and solutions, and a lot of things didn’t feel right as Ami kept going room to room. Edge built up to the conclusion – and the twist! – well, but the vagueness continued through the last page. The hope is for readers to realize that, like Ami, we can find the Answer and help save the world – like Edge has written Ami’s story more for inspiration and empowerment than for entertainment.

Ami is implied white, though the depiction of her on the cover is not definitive. Adjoa is described as having “dark brown” skin (and the cover backs up the description), Oscar is implied white, and Ibrahim’s and Min’s races are undefined. The violence rating is for blood and death.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Engaging Emma by Elle M. Adams - OPTIONAL

Engaging Emma by Elle M. Adams, 232 pages. Covenant Communications, 2022. $16.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G



Having gone their separate ways twelve years ago, Emma (29yo) and Tucker (30yo) are frustrated to discover they haven’t moved on as well as they thought they had. Tucker may have returned for a few weeks, but he is engaged and has a promising life in California that will take him right back while Emma fights to adapt with the times in her small hometown.

The main conflict between Emma and Tucker stems from a misunderstanding over a decade previously – cue eye roll. Both of them struggle to overcome the wounds they have been nursing and a little bit of pride. While the story comes to a cute conclusion, I felt like Emma and Tucker had little depth as characters, giving the entire book a shallow feeling.

Emma is white, and Tucker is implied white. The mature content rating is for mentions of drug and alcohol use, including underage drinking.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen - OPTIONAL

Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen, 368 pages. Delacorte Press (Random House), 2022. $19.

Language: R (39 swears, 2 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG13



Violet (18yo) is the Seer for the Sun Capital, trying to help the kingdom avoid the curse prophesied by the last Seer’s dying breath. Prince Cyrus (19yo) was supposed to be key in helping support Violet’s prophecies – and lies – by bringing back a bride from his tour of the kingdoms. But he didn’t, and Violet still has to figure out a way to keep the king and the kingdom safe so that Violet can keep her easy life in her tower.

Violet is not a typical heroine, just as Chen intended. Not only does Violet live in the gray area, she leans more towards black than white – anything goes when it comes to self-preservation. Carnal desires of selfishness, wrath, and lust are unabashedly key to who Violet is. While I admire Chen’s desire to write a personality different from a typical main character, I found it hard to connect with Violet because I wouldn’t have made her choices. Overall, the book is well-written and I really enjoyed the ending, but I don’t want to watch Violet and Cyrus continue to make poor choices, so I will not be seeking out the next book.

Violet describes her skin at one point during the book as “blushed yellow,” Dante has “clay-brown” skin, and Raya has “brown” skin. Chen does not describe the skin color of Prince Cyrus or the rest of the royal family. The mature content rating is for alcohol use, partial nudity, innuendo, menstruation, and digital and oral sex. The violence rating is for mention of suicide, blood, battle scenes, and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Monday, July 11, 2022

Star Wars: The Mandalorian Junior Novel by Joe Schreiber - OPTIONAL

Star Wars: The Mandalorian Junior Novel by Joe Schreiber, 198 pages. Disney Lucasfilm Press (Buena Vista Books), 2021. $7.

Language: PG (1 swear, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG13



Mando, the Mandalorian, takes another client because it’s his job as a bounty hunter, and he needs the money. Routine takes Mando to his gunship to start the trip to the target’s coordinates, a process that will lead him back to where he started for another job. But this time, with this client and this target, something feels different.

Reading the book is almost exactly like watching the show’s episodes – reading it just gets through them faster. There are sudden time and scene jumps from mini cliffhangers, and, of course, the end is the cliffhanger from the end of Season 1. The action sequences are fun to read, which is good because they make up the majority of the book.

In typical Star Wars fashion, there are several races and species of characters. Skin colors and races as we define them are not addressed and none of the characters can be implied as one race or another because of the variety, though there are images from the show included in the book which depict the human characters as white and Black. The violence rating is for gun, knife, blaster, and other weapon use as well as for battle scenes and killing.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Sunday, July 10, 2022

122 Surprising Movie Star Stories by Paul Kyriazi - NO

122 Surprising Movie Star Stories by Paul Kyriazi, 319 pages. BIOGRAPHY, SHORT STORIES. Ronin Books, 2021. $10.

Language: R (46 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13



Kyriazi relays stories about directors and actors. The stories are about events that have occurred on and off the screen – and even events that have determined what goes on screen.

I was surprised how well the stories seemed to flow into each other sometimes despite the varied subjects and sources. Unfortunately, I think I’m too young for this book – I only recognized a handful of names, and there were few stories that I found interesting without knowing who was being discussed. With such short stories, context is important, and Kyriazi assumes that his readers are familiar with the movie stars he talks about.

Kyriazi talks about and includes pictures of subjects from various backgrounds, though the people seemed to be predominantly white, which is probably reflective of those being hired through the earlier days of movies. The mature content rating is for mention of mention of drug and alcohol abuse, innuendo, nudity, mention of condoms and sex, and sexual assault. The violence rating is for mention of verbal abuse, domestic violence, gun use, suicide, and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Heirs of Falcon Point by Traci Hunter Abramson and more - ADVISABLE

Heirs of Falcon Point (Falcon Point Suspense #1) by Traci Hunter Abramson, Sian Ann Bessey, Paige Edwards, and A. L. Sowards, 344 pages. Covenant Communications, 2021. $17.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG



Leopold Lang had to decide whether or not to support Hitler and the Nazis, and the consequence of his choice was death. The Lang children flee for their lives, leaving behind their home, their country, and their family name. Years later, the descendants of those Langs are discovering their ties to the Lang home of Falcon Point, but reclaiming their heritage puts them in danger of ending up like Leopold Lang.

While the Langs’ story is compelling and intense, I had a hard time getting past the first quarter of the book. I felt tricked into loving the original Lang children and investing myself into their lives when the story abruptly changed points of view to one of their descendants – long after WWII was over and the Langs I had been introduced to were dead. The book became impossible to put down again once hit men were hired and characters were running for their lives. My favorite part of the book is how exciting it makes family history; I certainly wish there were letters and secret messages from my ancestors for me to follow into foreign countries.

The characters mentioned are implied white, being of European descent. The mature content rating is for alcohol use; the violence rating is for gun use, knife use, other weapon use, and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Friday, July 8, 2022

Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle - OPTIONAL

Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle, 320 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2022. $20.

Language: R (180 swears, 4 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: G



Prince (17yo), also known as DJ LoveJones, has been crushing on Danielle since middle school. Danielle has distanced herself from everyone in the past year as she stays silent about how she’s been hurt. When the two run into each other and spend a little time together, Prince convinces Danielle to give him three dates – three dates to make her fall in love with him.

LaDelle has created a casual feel to Prince and Danielle’s story through her slang-filled word choice. The vibe is conversational, like a friend telling you a story rather than a book being read. I enjoyed reading about how Prince and Danielle expand their definition of love and learn to better love themselves and their family members and friends as well as their partners, that theirs is not only a story of romantic love. They, and we, all deserve love – and a true love story.

Prince and Danielle are described as Black, reflecting how they are shown on the cover. Destiny is described as having brown skin, Anthony is Black, Rashida is Muslim, Malik is Jamaican, Esi is Ghanaian, and Yasin is Chaldean. The majority of other characters mentioned are either described as Black or are implied Black. The mature content rating is for innuendo, underage drinking, partial nudity, mentions of sex, and attempted rape.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Hearts of Briarwall by Krista Jensen - ADVISABLE

Hearts of Briarwall by Krista Jensen, 276 pages. Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2022. $16.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G



Lydia (20yo) and her friends have a book club that isn’t really for talking about books. Instead, they discuss suffrage, service, and love – and how they can actively participate in furthering each of those endeavors. When Spencer comes to stay with his friend Andrew, Lydia’s brother, he decides that he won’t let a beautiful woman distract him from gaining support for his business venture, but Spencer has never met a woman like Lydia.

Set in 20th century England, the context of Lydia's story is an exciting time for new thoughts, including the rise of motorcars and women gaining rights. Lydia wants to be herself and is given a lot of freedom to do so, but old habits are hard for society to break. I love that Lydia’s story is as much about Lydia’s relationship with her brother, Andrew, as it is about Lydia and Spencer. She has to find balance in confidently being herself while being humble enough to change when she’s wrong.

Lydia, Andrew, Spencer, and the other characters are English. The mature content rating is for alcohol use and kissing.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

This is Not the Real World by Anna Carey - OPTIONAL

This is Not the Real World by Anna Carey, 304 pages. Quirk Books, 2022. $19.

Language: R (33 swears, 3 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13



Jess is off the set of Stuck in the ‘90s, reunited with Sara and Charli, and has finally turned 18yo – so she can’t be forced back to the set. But Kipps is still months away from his eighteenth birthday. When they’re caught outside Charli’s house, Kipps is forced back to the set to fulfill his contract, and Jess has to figure out how to get him back.

While I was disappointed in Jess and Kipps for getting caught so easily over a scene that was unnecessary, the rest of the book was intense – I hung on every word. Jess is a little petty and a little paranoid, but it felt genuine with her upturned world. Shattered illusions doesn’t mean that Jess now knows what to do and how to move forward; she still fights for her freedom and for the freedom of others bound to Like-Life Productions.

Jess is white, Kipps is implied-white, and Sara is half Mexican. The mature content rating is for alcohol, mentions of drugs and groping, innuendo, illegal activity, nudity, and sex. The violence rating is for taser use and attempted murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen