Tag: 4.5 stars

#Diverseathon2021: The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

The Book of Essie
Author:  Meghan MacLean Weir

Published: June 12, 2018
338 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 18-23, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars

Book Description:

Esther Ann Hicks—Essie—is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a reality television phenomenon. She’s grown up in the spotlight, both idolized and despised for her family’s fire-and-brimstone brand of faith. When Essie’s mother, Celia, discovers that Essie is pregnant, she arranges an emergency meeting with the show’s producers: Do they sneak Essie out of the country for an abortion? Do they pass the child off as Celia’s? Or do they try to arrange a marriage—and a ratings-blockbuster wedding? Meanwhile, Essie is quietly pairing herself up with Roarke Richards, a senior at her school with a secret of his own to protect. As the newly formed couple attempt to sell their fabricated love story to the media—through exclusive interviews with an infamously conservative reporter named Liberty Bell—Essie finds she has questions of her own: What was the real reason for her older sister leaving home? Who can she trust with the truth about her family? And how much is she willing to sacrifice to win her own freedom?

Jessica’s Review:

I don’t watch too much television, but yes in the past I have been a fan of ‘Reality TV’. And yes, I know reality tv actually isn’t real- It just finds a way to pull you in and keeps you watching, even more so when it is a train wreck! 

The Book of Essie is about an extreme right wing Christian family that has been on television for many years, in fact for longer than Essie’s seventeen years.  Essie is the youngest child of the Hicks family and to her mother Celia’s shock Essie is pregnant.  Mom and production have a meeting (without Essie being present) to decide what to do with this situation.  Several suggestions are made on what to do with Essie’s condition and it is decided that Essie will marry.  This will be a ratings blockbuster to the show! Of course, when the baby comes earlier than it should the show will pay doctors to say that yes, the due date was actually X date after the marriage occurred.  But who will Essie marry?

We have three narrators: Essie herself, Roarke who is the boy that Celia decides Essie will marry, and Liberty is the one who interviews the ‘couple’. This is a novel that quickly takes place over the course of a few weeks, because time is of the essence.  The show has to come up with a fake backstory of Essie and Roarke falling in love months before.  And of course, the viewers take everything in and adore this newly famous and in love couple.   But there is so much going on behind the scenes that is unknown, including Essie’s older sister who disappeared from the cameras after she graduated high school. So we have a little bit of a mystery as well!

I really liked Essie.  Growing up in a unique situation and then finding herself in yet another situation, she may come off that she is not in control, as her mother Celia is all but in charge of everything, but Essie knows what she wants and will do what she needs to do to get it! 

We also get backstories to Roarke and Liberty, who both have not had easy lives and have secrets.  I did not find myself interested in these two backstories, I was 1000% into reading what was going to happen with Essie and this ‘wedding’. The story goes in a partially guessed/expected direction, but I found myself highly surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel.  There are conclusions at the end and everything does get wrapped up nicely. 

The Book of Essie ended up working for this month’s prompt for Diverseathon: An LGBTQ+ main character, which I did not know about when I started reading it. And I’m getting this review in just at the end of the month, go me! 

I think part of the reason I really enjoyed this novel is that in some ways we get to see how reality television shows are made.  If you enjoy reality tv at all and read YA, then you need to read this book!   I can not wait to see what Weir writes next. 

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#Diverseathon201:

For full details on this year long readathon, please click here.
And don’t forget about the awesome GRAND PRIZE at the end of the year. Click the link here for that information.

June’s host is Danyel at dany.alvey over at Instagram. She is having a giveaway of $15 to Book Depository (or Amazon for a US winner) for your choice of a book. This is an international giveaway! Be sure to check out her Instagram for full details on that giveaway.
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Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: Hawthorne & Heathcliff by R.K. Ryals

Hawthorne & Heathcliff
Author: R.K. Ryals
Published:  August 2, 2015

425 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: December 14-24, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars     

Book Description:

Two names that didn’t belong to us. Two shoes that did.

Intense and introspective, seventeen-year-old Hawthorne Macy knows all about being abandoned. She’s felt the stark pain of being left behind by the people who are supposed to love her the most; her parents. Raised by her caring uncle on an old plantation, Hawthorne lives her life on the fringes of her small Southern town.

Until she meets his shoe.

Senior year, last period English class, and a pair of silent tennis shoes resting next to hers in the back of the room throws Hawthorne into a world she’d learned to stay outside of.

His name is Max Vincent, but in her mind, he’s Heathcliff. The handsome eighteen-year-old boy behind the shoes will pull Hawthorne into a passionate and unforgettable adventure of self-discovery during a time when love seems impossible.

Shoes can tell a lot about a person. The journey they take you on can tell a lot about how they’ll hold up.

Jessica’s Review:

Hawthorne & Heathcliff is not my usual genre as it is romance.  In fact the only reason I picked it up was because it was my friend Beccie’s top read in 2019. But I am so glad I did pick it up as it is so much more than a teenage romance!  (Thankfully there was no love triangle as Beccie does not like those!) There is a very special relationship that Hawthorne has with her uncle which struck a chord with me.  This is also a novel where the characters grow over the entire story. 

Hawthorne (Clare) and Heathcliff (Max) meet in class in school and gradually their shoes get closer to each other until they connect and eventually a speical romance begins. Shoes are also very important to the novel: You can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear. Shoes hold the secrets that are not hidden and are in plain sight.

There are a variety of emotions that will be felt while reading, which may or may not include crying.  I expected myself to cry as this is a novel that also deals with grief , and if you are currently experiencing this emotion, I will say that yes, you will cry. 

If you are a reader of YA, first love, second chances and emotional reads I say pick up Hawthorne & Heathcliff!  You will be glad you did.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Book Review: Contempt by Michael Cordell

Contempt
Author:  Michael Cordell
Published:
 July 27, 2020
202 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 28- December 8, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars     

Book Description:

Lawyer Thane Banning has just been released from prison after serving five years for a murder he didn’t commit.

A free man due only to a legal technicality, Thane must clear his name, repair his fragile marriage, and rebuild the life he once cherished. But his efforts are complicated by death threats from the father of his alleged victim and the tidal wave of public outrage at his release.

As Thane begins to find footing in the free world, a former fellow inmate is accused of murder by the same DA who put Thane behind bars. The inmate reaches out to Thane, who is unable to resist the desperate plea for help. He takes the case, thereby pitting himself against the ruthless adversary who stole five years of his life. And this adversary has a grudge to settle.

But prison has taught Thane a thing or two about survival, and the last time he played by the rules, he landed on death row. This time he’s staking it all – his marriage, his reputation, and even his life – on the outcome of the impending case. Thane is determined to do whatever it takes to uncover the truth, especially when startling links to his own conviction rise to the surface. But will he uncover the truth in time?

Jessica’s Review:

This is my first novel by Cordell and I really enjoyed it!  Thane Banning is a real estate lawyer who served five years on death row for a murder he did not commit, and he gets released on a technicality. Once he is out he is dealing with many things: People believing he got away with murder, his marriage and rebuilding his life, and the father of his supposed victim seeking retribution.  While reading the novel, it really felt like things a person would be living with in this type of situation.  I did want to see more of Thane and his wife dealing with their marriage. 

Then Thane has an inmate contact him who he was in prison with.  This inmate is also facing murder charges from the same DA who put Thane on death row.  Remember, Thane is a real estate lawyer, not a criminal defense lawyer, but he takes the case. Because of this you have to suspend your believability and go along for the ride.

I really enjoyed this novel, a lot of it was that Thane was likeable. I also wanted to see what was going to happen in this case, and it ends up going in directions I never expected.  I hope that Cordell writes future novels with Thane starring.  This is a shorter novel at just over 200 pages and it is very fast-paced. You can tell that Cordell is a screenwriter, this novel would make a very good movie or limited series. If it stayed close to the novel, I would definitely be watching it.

Many thanks to the publisher TCK Publishing for sending me a copy to read and review.

TCK Publishing Website
Michael Cordell Website

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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