Books always do something: entertain you, amuse you, make you cry, make you angry, something. Then there comes a book that makes you really think about your life and your world. I’ve read a few books like that. My first was in high school when I read the memoir Grace in the Wilderness by Aranka Siegal. It was my first book (and certainly not last) about the Holocaust and it opened my eyes to the power of a story and good storytelling (in addition to how truly awful that time period was. Social studies class in school can only cover so much).

My most recent was The Midnight Library. In this book, the heroine gets to live parallel lives; mostly surrounding opportunities she had in her life. I always said that when I die, I’d love to see a movie of what my life would have been like if I had made certain choices. The book is a little different where she actually lives those parallel lives; but now I am not even sure I’d want to know what my parallel lives were like.


In the book, the heroine realizes the best life is the one she already has. It’s not a perfect life, but it’s hers. Recently, I have begun to only see the negative in my life: my job, my body, all if it is attached to a complaint. I tend to be more of a pessimist, but now I am finding myself irritated when a patron needs help. I don’t want to be a person who only sees unhappiness and only feels unhappiness. I don’t want my social media followers groaning when they see my name pop up in their feed knowing it will be another whine fest.

I have gone through worse than this and come out on the other side. I know how strong I am; I somehow forgot it recently. I am going to return to writing down three things a day that didn’t suck/made me smile. I have done that in the past and it has made me appreciate the little things. I need to go back to that; to appreciating my life instead of wasting it with sadness and misery. I only have this life. I need to learn to enjoy it again and stop being stuck in seeing only the downside. I know this won’t be a short-term process and I will have slips, but I also know it will be worth it for my sake.


Q & A with @MadLibrarySci

Tell me about yourself (as much as you are comfortable with)

My name is Jo, and I’m from South Carolina. I’m 33 years old and have been a professional librarian since 2014. 

What type of library do you work in?

I work in a public library. My library is part of a county-wide system, making it a county department. 

What made you go into the library world? What made you decide the type of library you work at?

I changed majors a few times as an undergrad. I started as an English major, switched to education, and then decided to go back to English and go into library science down the road. However, I had volunteered in libraries since middle school. 

The question of “what kind of library do you want to work in?” always baffled me in grad school. My answer was generally “wherever I can get hired.” I wish that there was some sort of “Introduction to Librarianship” library school course explaining the differences between types of libraries and the different training they require. I thought I understood because I did my work study in my college library, but I had no clue the differences between public and academic librarian. 

What do you do day to day?

I’m going to answer this reflecting pre-COVID life.

I’m a Reference Librarian, though my “official” title is Information Services Librarian. I basically take care of anything that isn’t basic circulation or youth services. This includes collection development for our adult collection (fiction and non-fiction), adult programming, and help with technology. On any given day I may be putting together selection lists for items to order, weeding shelves, or doing one-on-one tech help. 

What’s do you like & dislike about your job?

I like the challenge and the fact that it is never boring. There is always plenty of work to do. I work well with the other librarian in my department, and the days go by fast. Our patrons are generally pleasant and easy to deal with. 


There’s never enough time to get everything done. Our adult collection has not been well maintained, so a lot of my collection development feels like trying to cut a path through overgrown jungle. I sometimes have difficulties with my manager. 

Do you see yourself going into the administrative end of librarianship one day?

I’m actually applying for a branch manager position right now! I would like to be a branch manager one day. I’m not sure if I want to go further into management than that. 

Tell me about your blog. What made you start writing one?

My blog has been an on/off project for several years. I’m in the process of revamping it. It was originally just for reviews, but I’m branching out into writing articles on various topics. 

I’m an aspiring writer, and I feel like the blog will be good practice for non-fiction articles. It will also be a place I could house some of my fiction writing if I wanted. 

Do you read specific genres for the blog or whatever catches your fancy?

Whatever I’m reading at the time. I have a hard time making myself read regularly, so a lot of times it’s whatever I’m reading for book club or class. 

What are you currently reading, or what was your most recent read?

I’m currently reading In the Bedroom by Andre Dubos, and just finished Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. Both of these are for a class I’m taking on short story collections. 

I’m currently rereading Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire in my “for pleasure” reading.

What do you geek out about?

So many things (a benefit of ADHD!). I’m a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Umbrella Academy, and other comic book/superhero stuff. Movies and TV shows are also things that I really enjoy and can get way into. 

Do you have any hobbies? Tell me about them.

I’m a crafter. I knit, cross-stitch, and want to learn to sew. I also consider reading and writing a hobby.

Random questions

Fave curse word?


Fun fact: I didn’t curse at all around other people until college. Now I’m really bad about it and have to remember to censor myself around certain audiences. 

What is something you’ve always wanted to try but have been too scared to?

Acting. I’ve always been a behind-the-scenes theater nerd, but never had the guts to audition for a show. 

What’s a hidden talent that you have?

I’m a good singer (I did choir as a teen) and I’m fairly musical (though I haven’t played an instrument in years). 

I match my bookmark to my book cover. What’s your reader quirk if you have one?

I bounce between formats. I might start a physical book, pick it back up as a ebook, throw it on as an audiobook. The audiobook thing is pretty new (I wish I started it ages ago). But I don’t have a strong preference on how to read my books. 

Do you have pets? Tell me about them.

I am currently sans pets. But not for lack of want! I’m just saving up until I can afford to cover all of the associated costs. 

Q & A with Vilda Chaya (pseudonym)

What did you get your bachelor’s degree in?

I have a BA in English/Communications. (It was an honors degree. Long story.)

What made you go to library school?

Once I decided that I did not want to be a teacher, I considered applying for library school right after getting my BA. I enjoyed reading and doing research. It definitely appealed to me. However, my parents were not keen on it and pushed me to join the general workforce. Personally, I think my mom was concerned that I’d never get married, so she figured since I didn’t meet anyone in college, I could meet someone in the big wide work world. Fast forward about two decades. I had a job working for the Queens Library System at the administrative end. My interest in becoming a librarian was rekindled. I applied to Queens College GSLIS and QPBL paid for my tuition and DC37 paid for my books. I would’ve had my degree totally covered, but I had to change jobs to make more money. My husband was out of work and we had a toddler and a mortgage.

You’ve worked as a librarian and as administration. What were the challenges of either?                                                                                                                        |
I loved being a reference librarian, and I was fortunate to have worked for a director who pretty much let me do my own thing. I had worked as a librarian in only one other library and after talking with my peers, I learned there is little uniformity in how each library works. Each place had its own way of weeding, of acquisition, of scheduling, etc. I had to learn a different way of doing things when I moved from one to another. Not necessarily better or worse. Just different. One of the hardest things to deal with was co-workers with issues. Some did not like having someone who was totally into what she was doing around making them look bad. Others were so rigid in their ways, you couldn’t introduce a new way of doing things. They were often moaning for the “good ol’ days.” (Labor agreements vary from place to place and one can get screwed when one changes jobs. You can lose vacation time, sick time, raises, etc. This is a problem for both labor and management, except with management, you can sometimes negotiate your own deal.)

Working with the public has its own challenges – both as a front-line librarian and an administrator – because you rarely know who is going to come through that door, and which person is going to be the “patron from Hell.” I’ve had some pretty scary experiences, even in the so-called “good” neighborhoods, including coming face-to-face with a convicted rapist who was unhappy with the courts and expected the library help “tell his story.”

Being a director has different challenges. If you are fortunate enough to have a good board, good funding and a good staff, you have few problems. Personnel issues provide particular challenges. Civil service and unions add a layer of difficulty. Union rules do not always mesh with Civil Service rules and often complicate how you deal with employees. When you have a terrible employee (or employees) it’s extremely difficult to “coach” them and the termination process is long. That lowers morale for your good employees, but the same rules and laws protect them as well. It’s also not easy coming in as a new administrator. Not everyone is happy with having a “new sheriff.”

If you have a terrible or inept board, you either have to develop a thick skin or be willing to do whatever they want you to do (as long as it’s legal), even if you disagree with it, just to keep them happy. (You have to pick your battles carefully.). What creates bad boards is lack of trustee education. Many have no idea what it means to be a trustee and think the library is their own little playground or kingdom. Trustee education should be mandatory, and I understand it will be to some degree in the near future to meet the standards of the State report.

Did you plan to work in reference while in library school?

Initially, I was interested in Children’s Services. But my “detective genes” kicked in and I found the “thrill of the hunt” for obscure facts, etc. a lot of fun and satisfying.

Did you always know you wanted to be in Administration or is that something that occurred later?

I thought of being an administrator after several years working as a librarian. I thought it was a natural progression since there were few opportunities to move up in most libraries. You can get stuck as a librarian II forever because librarian III positions are few and far between. What also attracted me to administration was the idea that I can could a difference in a community and be creative doing it. That’s not always the reality. But if you’re fortunate, you’ll have a board that shares your vision and staff motivated to make things happen. I was lucky in that respect at one of my director gigs.

You were involved with library associations. What made you decide to join?

I decided initially to get involved for networking purposes and to get to know my peers. Membership also enabled me to continue my library education cost effectively. Membership made me feel I was part of something bigger and could affect change. I learned leadership skills and found being involved with a variety of divisions gave me creative outlets.

You recently retired, what is that like? What do you do day to day?

Considering what’s going on right now, I picked a very good time to retire. Two weeks after I did, everything closed down because of the pandemic. However, my plans to volunteer, find part-time work, travel, etc., went out the window. I do hope one day things will return to normal (or more normal) so I can do that. In the meantime, I do work around the house, read, “attend” online lectures and theater, participate in virtual fitness classes, etc., and cater to my dog.

Do you miss anything about the library world?

I miss the camaraderie. Once I retired, I felt cut off. I think it’s mostly because of these strange times. You can’t get together with other people. If it weren’t for social media, especially Facebook, I wouldn’t know what’s going on with other people. I’ve been in touch with a few retired peers recently, which has been a good thing.

When you were still working, how did you network besides the associations?

I attended conferences mostly. I met a lot of different people with a wide range of ideas that I could use on the job. Conferences also helped me to bond with my colleagues who attended as well in a non-work environment.

What was the last thing you read?

The last book I finished was “The Last Beauty Queen” by Amy Sue Nathan. I was looking for light reading. Now, I ‘m reading “A Rich Brew: How Cafes Created Modern Jewish Culture” by Shachar M. Pinsker, whom I heard speak during an online lecture series.

I know you have a dog, tell me about her.

She’s a senior rescue. Her name is Rosie. We and we got her when she was about seven years old. She’s now 11, and living her best life. She’s a beagle, but an odd one – she doesn’t bark or bay. She may give a “wurf” once in a while when the mailman comes, but that’s it. She’s very good natured, but can be very “salty” and judgy some days.

Do you have any hobbies?

Crocheting, knitting, reading. I’m planning on learning the ukelele and maybe learn how to read tarot cards. I recently took a four-session cooking class online which was intense.

Random questions:

Favorite curse word?

The “F-bomb,” as it has so many uses. “Shit” is #2, which is apt.

Have you ever collected anything?
Other than dust? Many years ago, I collected music boxes, but they took up a lot of room…and collected dust. I do have a collection of “floaty” pens from places I’ve visited. (The ones with a little scene in the upper chamber with an element that floats or moves when you move the pen.)

If you had a time machine, what time period would you visit?                                   

Not so much a time period as a particular event. I would’ve liked to have attended the 1939 World’s Fair. We weren’t at war yet, there was more of a “Wow” factor with the exhibits, and I think it made people feel hopeful. I also like the industrial art of the 1930s.

What bores you?

Having nothing to do or doing the same thing day after day. Also, listening to long, droning lectures that don’t match the description in the promotional materials.

What’s one thing on your bucket list?

Traveling in general. I’d especially like to go to Costa Rica and Europe

Q & A with Amelia

Tell me as much about yourself as you are comfortable. Let me know what name to use (your actual name or Twitter handle)  Amelia

What did you get your Bachelor’s in?  English

What made you decide to go to library school?  I didn’t know what to do with my degree and it was winter break of my senior year of college.  I was walking around my local library browsing the stacks when it hit me, that becoming a librarian might be a career choice for me.  So I went home and started looking into what it would consist of, and what steps I needed to take and by the end of winter break I had taken the GREs and had started applying to library school.

What is your role in the library?  I am currently a librarian in our IT Department and my main job is as the Systems Administrator.

How did you get there? Do you like it?   I started off as the IT Liasion at the branch I was working at, as the IT department gained faith in me, they started giving me more tasks to do at the branch so they didn’t have to come out.  When my predecessor announced she was going to retire I was interested in applying for her job and was encouraged by her to apply.  I do enjoy what I’m doing, it’s a mix of my favorite parts of being a librarian, while also getting to work behind the scenes which fits my personality.

Would you ever want to work elsewhere: a different department or admin?  At this time no, but I won’t say never, as I don’t know where I’ll be  in the future.

What do you like about your job? Dislike?  I like that I work behind the scenes and I don’t have to deal with people face to face a lot. I dislike the pressure and stress of the job during this pandemic.

Why the love for Jane Austen? I can’t really explain it, I had to read Emma for a college class and just fell in love with the story and Austen’s writing.  I ended up listening to all six audiobooks that summer.

How did you get involved in the Jane Austen Society?  In grad school I made a friend who also like Austen’ work.  Both of us had been reading the blog that our region has and we decided to attend a meeting.  The women were all so welcoming and we had such a good time we both decided to become members.  I volunteered to help with the social media and ended up running the blog, facebook page and twitter account.  Then when the Regional Chair position opened up, no one else wanted it and I stepped up and here we are.

What are you currently reading?  Currently listening to Pheobe Reads a Mystery and she’s currently reading Jane Eyre.  I’m trying to read Storm Front by Jim Butcher but my attention span is pretty much nil at this point so my reading is lagging at the moment.

How are you a mini-geek? What do you geek out about?  I say that because compared to my friends I’m not as fully geeky as them.  They can go on and on about some topics and I’m like I enjoy the movie or that one character.  I enjoy Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, D&D, board game, video games, and computer games. There’s more, but let’s just leave it at that.

I know you have a dog. Tell me about him.  I adopted Pippin almost 3 years ago.  I wasn’t fully ready for a new dog in my life after my first dog had passed but I happened to see a post from a local rescue and I thought he was cute.  I clicked to read his bio and found out he was 14, had been surrendered in November and it was now Feburary.  I just knew I had to be his forever home for these last years of his life.  He’s my pain in the butt old man.  He eats, sleeps and goes outside to do his business.  He’s spoiled and loved and pretty much rules the main floor of the house.

You play D & D: what made you start playing?  My friends were playing and they invited me to come hang out and I decided to give it a try and just fell in love with the game. I liked the story telling and getting to spend time with my friends.

Random Questions
Current favorite food choice?  pasta…always pasta

Last binge watch?  Currently bingeing Schitt’s Creek, I’m in the middle of season 3.

Tell me one quirky thing about you.  I have to listen to my daily podcasts in a certain order.

What country do you most want to travel to?  Scotland, only because I’ve never been but I’d love to go back to any of the countries I’ve been to to see more.

Favorite curse word? Fuck

Q & A with @LibrarianRocker

Tell me about yourself, as much as you are comfortable.

I am currently 23. I’m currently a part time graduate student working to finish my Master’s in Library and Information Science as a distance student. Interesting fact: I have never set foot on my university’s campus! Outside of school I play as much World of Warcraft as my grades will allow! I love hanging out in game with my guild, running raids, mythic keystone dungeons and in general just having fun. Other hobbies include painting, reading, writing, cross stitch, beading, and running a small business selling Lilla Rose hair accessories. I’m a big fan of Supernatural and medieval period dramas on Netflix! If I’m not doing homework or playing World of Warcraft I can probably be found hanging out with my family or friends. I am also a self-published author of two short poetry collections that I hope to revisit one day. Oh! and I have a RedBubble store now where I offer my photography work for sale.

What do you have your Bachelor’s in?

My Bachelor’s degree is a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Museum Studies. I focused on poetry for my major emphasis and my minor emphasis was in Art History, further narrowed into non-Western art history. 

What made you decide to go to library school?

What made me go to library school is a pretty cool story from when I was about 13! At the time, I lived in Tucson, Arizona. I was actively involved in the library’s teen programs. The teen librarian, P, ran amazing programs every weekend (video game marathons, anime showings, bringing in artists for watercolor demonstrations, etc). She also ran a book club for the teens. I regularly attended because I was a voracious reader in my teens. One day we were talking about volunteering for the library and she mentioned that I could work in libraries one day too. After realizing I could be a librarian, I never really looked back. The library continued to be my safe haven and my place to find refuge from my own mind. Libraries have been there through it all and more importantly, the librarians have been there. Without the support of some amazing librarians, especially youth librarians, I don’t think I’d be here to talk to you today

Is there a field in librarianship that you feel you’d want to be in when you graduate?

When I graduate, I am looking to go into public librarianship or archival work. I completed an internship in an archive and special collections during my final semester of undergraduate work and I fell in love. Having been in the Museum Studies program, I had this crisis, did I want to work in museums or libraries? My advisor suggested I complete an archival internship then make up my mind. That is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given. In giving me that advice, she opened my eyes to a perfect blend of libraries and museums: archives. In the archive I found a place to keep my restless mind occupied and fulfill constant yearning for knowledge all while satisfying my desire to be surrounded by old things and active history.

What is library school like during the pandemic? What are they teaching you?

Library school during the pandemic is extremely hard. The pandemic has taken a huge toll on my mental health and thus made it harder to cope with the burnout caused by going straight from undergraduate work into graduate school. It’s harder to focus on coursework when the world is (literally) in flames and there’s a virus killing thousands of people a day. Covid-19 has certainly woven it’s way into instruction. In some cases, we have discussed how Covid-19 might impact our future careers or how it is impacting libraries right now. Given the mercurial situation in the library world and in the world at large, there is no dedicated Covid-19 instruction in my courses but we are certainly not blind to the challenges it presents. All of this is a very long winded way of saying they are teaching us ways we can adapt to the changing environments and how we can adapt our services to still provide for our communities.

What’s been your favorite class so far? Why?

My favorite class thus far is one I am currently taking, Intellectual Freedom and Its Discontents. The course is focusing on issues surrounding Intellectual Freedom, starting with the First Amendment and its exceptions. I am really enjoying this class because Intellectual Freedom is something I feel very strongly about. Everyone should have free and equal access to information without fear of repercussion or censorship. It’s also just really fun to see how people’s viewpoints change depending on their background. It’s also a frustrating class in some ways because there is no black and white, it’s mostly grey! I suppose that’s what makes it truly interesting though!

Are you working in a library at the current moment? If so, what type and in what capacity?

I am not currently working. I chose to continue staying at home while going to grad school so I could finish my degree quickly!

How do you network with other library and library school people?

Networking with other library people has taken place mainly through people on Twitter that are part of Library Twitter discussions, the Library Twitter discord, and the few people I know from my alma mater. In regards to networking with other library school people, I mostly stick to myself outside of courses. A couple semesters ago I met my best friend, M, but other than them I don’t talk to too many people in my program just because I’m busy and distance learning makes it hard to make friends. This semester though one of my Youth Services in Libraries classmates created a Discord server for our class. That has been a nice way to stay in touch with my classmates.

What was the last thing you read? What’s your preferred genre of books?

The last thing I read was the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness at the beginning of the summer. Since then I have found it really hard to sit down and have enough focus or drive to read. My preferred genre of books in fantasy, I especially like Young Adult fiction. Although fantasy is my preferred genre, I read whatever catches my interest. The only genre I really avoid is Christian or Christian Romance just because they are not my cup of tea.

Do you have any pets? If so, tell us about her/him

We have one pet! He is a cat named Milo. He’s a gorgeous golden tabby. He begs for treats every evening before my mom goes to work and absolutely loves snuggling. He also loves to drink cold water out of my cup.

What are your hobbies?

I really just enjoy crafting (primarily painting and beading) and playing video games.

Random questions:

Favorite curse word?

Favorite curse word is a tie between Fuck and Shit.

What movie quotes do you use on a regular basis?

Movie quotes…oh good lord. Why did you have to ask me this? I use movie quotes all the time. How about the movie I quote most often? The answer to that is Frozen 1 and Frozen 2!

What’s the most ridiculous thing you have bought?

Hmm, probably this lube called “Fuck Water” as a gag gift for my mom!

What was one of the most interesting concerts you’ve been to?

Gah! I love concerts. It is the reason behind my handle! The most interesting is either Shinedown in 2018 or In This Moment, Halestorm, and New Year’s Day in 2018. Both of those concerts were absolutely amazing. The Shinedown concert made me cry because their music has gotten me through some really dark days. The other concert was just sheer, unbridled female badassery. Both concerts hummed with energy. The time I feel most alive is in the middle of a crowd at a concert with the bass and drums thumping through my body, making me vibrate and hum with the energy of rock.

What food do you crave most often?

The food I crave most often is definitely Chinese/Oriental.

My Experiences Doing a Diversity Audit

I’ve been following Teen Library Toolbox on SLJ and Twitter for many years (side note: I’ve been a guest contributor a time or two), so when I saw this post on doing a diversity audit, I was intrigued.

My first decision was to determine what parameters I would use to audit my library’s YA collection. I decided to center on the main character/s for the parameters and not any secondary characters. My categories were if the main character/s were: male, female, white, black, asian/east asian, latinx, biracial, other non-white, disabled (physical or learning), mental illness and LGBTQIA.  I know there are many others, but those are what I decided to center on for my collection.

I did not go through the entire collection, but I covered A-L and any new books that came in as I underwent this process. As I was also weeding books at the time and doing other projects, this took me a few months. With the newest books, finding my cirteria was simple; it was mentioned either in the blurb or review. It was the older books that I would have trouble with, especially when it game to the race of the protagonist. It took some researching on Novelist and Amazon for a few books, and the one or two when I could find no information, I went with a white default as their race.

I audited a total of 638 books. In those books, in terms of gender, the majority of the main characters were female. In terms of race, they were mainly white. I learned I was lacking in  books about people with physical or learning disabilities and though my numbers of other races weren’t bad, they weren’t great either. My community is somewhat diverse, but this was still an eye-opening experience. As I began this audit and now I have completed it, my choices in books I order has completely changed. Yes, I still order books with white girls (there are so so many of them), but I’ve made a point to add books in the categories I am lacking (as long as they are well reviewed of course). I am glad I did this audit and I highly recommend any Young Adult librarian (or the librarian in charge of ordering Young Adult like me) do the same. What you find will be interesting.

My next goal is to look at books that deal with different topics such as bullying, sexual assault, abuse (by parent or by partner), drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and homelessness. I want to make sure I have enough of each in my fiction and non-fiction collections. I’ll post on that months from now when I finish it.


The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Plot: With the man of her dreams back in her life and all three of her daughters happy, Ansley Murphy should be content. But she can’t help but feel like it’s all a little too good to be true.

Meanwhile, youngest daughter and actress Emerson, who is recently engaged and has just landed the role of a lifetime, seemingly has the world by the tail. Only, something she can’t quite put her finger on is worrying her.

After secrets that were never meant to be told come to light, the powerful bond between the Murphy sisters and their mother comes crumbling down, testing their devotion to each other and forcing them to evaluate the meaning of family.


This is the third of the Peachtree Bluff trilogy. Each book is told in alternating chapters by Ansley and one of her daughters. This last one centered on Emerson.

There really wasn’t much left to tell for Ansley. She had been happily reunited with her lost love Jack and they were planning their future together. The only “conflict” this book created for her was the truth about the true parentage of her two elder daughters.

What bothered me about this, was then when the truth came to light, it was so quickly handled. The two daughters were perfectly fine knowing the full truth; which made sense since they had known they weren’t biologically their father’s daughters. What bothered me is how quickly they glossed over how Emerson handled it. She was understandably upset that the family, as she saw the four, were all together, while she felt like an outsider having a different father. She didn’t handle it perfectly, but she also forgot about it pretty quickly. It was really odd.

Throughout most of the book, Emerson is engaged to her childhood sweetheart. They seem super happy, yet can’t agree on her going back to California to work. It’s red flag city. Yet, she continuously ignores it again and again because they love each other and will figure it out. How they are going to figure it out when all they do is argue about it is beyond me. I also had some issues with Ansley’s behavior to her daughters. She is awfully judgmental about them at times; which is ironic considering her background with Jack. She never comes across as so prim and proper in the previous books, but it definitely shows up in this one and it bothered me a lot. She scolds them for behaving badly in public at one point, for going out drinking. I almost gave up reading the book at that point, but ignored it and carried on.

This was definitely not the best of the three books. Honestly, if I hadn’t read the other two and wanted to see how it all ended, I would never have finished it. The first book was the best of the three in my opinion.


Plot: Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. As a way out, Tara began to educate herself, learning enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University.


Tara Westover didn’t get a birth certificate until she was 9 years-old. She never stepped into a classroom until she was 17. Raised in the mountains of Idaho, Tara only knew her very isolated world. Her parents didn’t believe in medicine or the government. Her father, a devout Mormon, raised her with very strict rules as to what a “wholesome” girl could wear and do.  She never questioned any of it for most of her life. It was one of her brothers who began to get her thinking of other worlds. He had left for college and he was the one to put the idea of college in her head. This idea probably saved her life, yet also ended her relationship with most of her family members.

Her brother Shawn and she were very close, even going on the road together for a trucking job Shawn had. When he became violent, she said nothing for years, would pass it off, would easily forgive him. She blamed herself, as many victims do. It would be many years until she took a stand for herself; and that was with her sister’s urging. Her parents disowned her. They would not forgive her unless she recanted her story. Her sister did, but Tara would not back down. To her surprise, her brother stood by her side and defended her.

My only issue with the book is that she did not cover her schooling nearly as much as I wanted to know about it. She spoke about issues with roommates in terms of cleanliness and hygiene, but there wasn’t a lot about her adapting to classes nor the information she learned. There was a quick reference about her not knowing what the Holocaust was, but that’s it. I really wanted more about that. It was still an absorbing and enjoyable read.

Red, White, and Royal Blue

Plot: When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined.

OMG, this book!!!

It’s a rom-com in print. I lost how many times I laughed while reading it. I re-read passages AS I was still reading the book.

What can I say about Alex? He’s funny, smart, passionate, clueless as all hell at times, loyal, and much much more. I loved his entire story, from his divorced parents and his relationships with them, to his relationship with his sister, his character growth over the course of the novel, and of course, how is he with Henry. I had heart emoji eyes the entire time they were together.

Henry. Henry is great. He has to fight against so much. A brother that disapproves, an absent mother, a grandmother, who happens to be QUEEN, who wants him to fake being straight. He lives under such restrictions and pressure due to his royal status. His struggles tugged at every heartstring I have.

All the side characters: Bea, June, Pez, Nora. Some were fleshed out more than others, but they were great support systems for Alex and Henry. I want a book about June and Nora alone. They were such amazing characters.

I flew through this book. I adored the light heartedness of it. It had serious moments as well, that were perfectly balanced against the fun. It was a great read and I can’t wait to see what else this author writes!

The Radium Girls Review

Plot: Fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

I’m realizing that typing up reviews doesn’t work for me as much as a list of my thoughts, so here goes:

The company they worked for was awful and only goes to show, no matter what time period it is, businesses will always screw over their workers for the almighty dollar. They denied over and over and over again that radium wasn’t the cause. Even when it made the papers in one state, a company in another state hid this information from its workers. Basically, greed sucks

The pain and suffering these women endured is unspeakable. I can’t even begin to imagine it. It made me re-evaluate how often I complain about a minor ache or pain yet these women barely said a word about theirs.

Their strength and perseverance despite their suffering blew me away. One woman lost her arm, but figured out way she could still take care of her children and household. Others could no longer work, but kept coming to the court house, even as they were dying.

This book is a testament to the dentists and doctors who did not give up trying to help their patients. No one knew what ailed these women for years, but the dentists and doctors would not give up. They fought for their patients, a rare thing in today’s medical world.

I love books about little pieces of history like this. I didn’t know a thing about these women until I stumbled upon this book and it angers me that I hadn’t until then. Their story, and stories like theirs, deserve to be more well-known.

This book truly blew me away. It wasn’t an easy read by any means, but one I’ve recommended more than once.