Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index- A book review

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index- A book review

I came across this book when I was scouting a book for the letter J for my A to Z 2020 challenge. Unfortunately, I ended up reading The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner then. But I finally got to read this on quite recently. Ready to read my book review of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel?

About Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index- A book review

Book Name: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Author: Julie Israel

Genre: Fiction – RomanceYoung adult

Characters: Juniper and Camilla Lemon, Kody, Brand Sayers, Nate, Angela

Setting: OregonThe USA

Plot Summary of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Juniper Lemon recently lost her sister Camilla. She and her family are trying to cope up with the loss and grief, but not so well. To make it worse, her best friend would not talk to her either.

The only thing that is holding Juniper up was continuing her Camilla’s ritual of writing down positive things for each day. And then she loses an index card. The index card that has a memory that the world can’t know about.

Juniper knows she has to find it right away. Also she comes to know that her sister had a special someone, someone Juniper knew nothing about.

Does Juniper lemon find her happiness index card? Who was this “You” in Camilla’s life? Did Juniper ever meet them? You will have to read Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel to find out.

Book review of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel talks a lot about grief and loss of a beloved. And they way they deal (or not deal) with it. And I loved how Juniper/Julie Israel talks of grief and resonated with me personally. I really wanted to hug her tightly for a minute.

The book also has some cliché young adult drama. But they somehow felt right, to me. Watch out for the character development of the female lead, Juniper. From someone annoying and nosy she does grow up fast.

I loved how Juniper ended being friends with people she normally won’t have spoken to. The dialogues and banter between the friends were witty and I enjoyed reading. I flew through the book in a sitting.

What worked for me

  • This is YA book that focuses on grief over the loss of a beloved and unexpected friendships.
  • I loved the banter and witty dialogues between the friends.
  • Perfect character development for Juniper and other characters were also fully fleshed.

What may have been better

  • I wished I learned more about her family and their bonding.
  • I think the romance angle could have been avoided. But I understand that it is inevitable.

Content warning

Loss and grief over the loss of a sibling, Teacher-student relationship (hinted), Car accident, parental abuse and negligence

Bottom line

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel is a typical coming of age book that handles heavier topic like grief and loss of a sibling. For a book dealing over so much grief, it didn’t end up to be a sad book. And that is win for me!

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Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index- A book review

November 9 by Colleen Hoover – A book review

I rarely write about books that didn’t work out well for me, especially if it were a hyped one. But then I come across a book that everyone raved about and I could not not rant about it. So here is my book review on November 9 by Colleen Hoover.

About November 9

November 9 by COlleen Hoover

Book Name: November 9

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Fiction – RomanceYoung adult

Characters: Fallon O’ Neil, Benton(Ben) Kessler, Jordyn

Setting: Los Angeles, CaliforniaThe USA

Plot Summary of November 9

On November 9, Ben and Fallon meet at a restaurant and they have an instant connection. Ben is an aspiring writer and Fallon an actress and an avid reader.

But Fallon is moving across the country the next day and also she feels she will not be ready for a serious relationship for the next 5 years (until she turns 23).

So they decide to go on with their lives and date other people but only meet each other every year on November 9. And they would have no more contact with each other other than that one day of a year.

But do their attraction stand strong with just that one in 365 days? You will have to read November 9 by Colleen Hoover to know more.

Book review of November 9

The plot immediately reminded me of One Day (and one of the character mentions it even), but I have tried to overlook that while reviewing.

The book follows the time that the duo spend together, year after year and we get an alternating POV for both characters of the same date. We do not hear more about the characters’ lives apart from that.

November 9 was my first book by Colleen Hoover, an author I had been meaning to read for a long time and my expectations were quite high.

True to her fame, CoHo’s writing hooked me right at the first chapter and the banter between the characters worked out mostly. The characters Ben and Fallon were fleshed out well.

And honestly that is all that I could muster to speak in the pro section.

“Why would a girl care to find herself when she’ll never be able to make herself feel as good as a guy can?”

I understand the heat of the moment and all, but I think this quote from the book made double take. I understand that Fallon is insecure about herself and is generally melodramatic but this is NOT OKAY at all.

I hated how Ben consistently disregarded Fallon’s consent, objectified her, stalked her and ordered her around. And Fallon’s father is not a saint either. To make matters worse, she forgives both of them instantly and starts a good relationship with them at the end. Well why did I even read it?

Also what is with Ben’s obsession about Fallon’s scars sexually? Especially, after knowing his secret (that he was the one who started the fire (intentionally) which left her scarred and disfigured and he knew who she was the whole time) his behavior was just disgusting.

What worked for me

  • I loved Colleen Hoover’s writing and the banter kept me going and hooked.
  • Though the plot seemed similar to One day, it takes a different turn once you get over it.

What may have been better

  • BEN! I wish influential and best selling authors like Colleen Hoover would pay more attention to their characters and what they do.
  • I disliked that Fallon forgave her father too easily.

Content warning

Male ignoring non consent, arson, parent suicide,

Bottom line

November 9 by Colleen Hoover was a well written contemporary New age romance. While it seems to have some HUGE red flags, you can still pick a copy based on the other 4+ star ratings on Goodreads.

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Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index- A book review

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy- A book review

Dumplin’ has been on my book shelf forever now. And I can’t understand how I didn’t read it already, especially with all the praises the book and the movie got. Anyway, did it fare well on my reading scale? Read my book review of Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy right away.

About Dumplin’

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy book cover

Book Name: Dumplin’

Author: Julie Murphy

Genre: Fiction – RomanceYoung adult

Characters: Willowdean Dickson (Dumplin’), Ellen, Bo Larson, Mitch

Setting: Clover City, Texas, The USA

Plot Summary of Dumplin’

Willowdean is the “resident fat girl” (her own words) and is quite happy in her own body – mostly. With her best friend Ellen, a conventional beauty, by her side she doesn’t care much about others opinion her body, including her mother’s – a former beauty queen herself.

But she is more than surprised to find that her crush, Bo Larson, likes her back. She needs some validation as doubts about her body creep into her mind. Of course she has to do something Will would never dare to do, normally.

With some more unlikely candidates on tow, she signs up for the Miss Clover City beauty pageant to show herself and the others that she deserves to a spot as much as every other girl there.

Does she get the boy? More importantly, does she get her much deserved space in the beauty pageantry? You will have to read Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy to know more.

Book review of Dumplin’

First of all, I loved Willowdean, mostly. I loved that she is flawed yet strong and so well developed. Actually, none of the characters in the book are flawless or perfect. Most of them are dimensional and etched out.

I understand the insecurities that Will faces all through her life and why she reacts the way she does (a bit self centered) at times. And it totally worked for me, especially since “losing her weight” or “romance/a boy” were not prescribed as the solutions.

I loved the complicated mother-daughter relationship and how differently each person handles the grief over a losing someone beloved. I kept waiting for Will to shout at her mother for being so pushy about the diet and losing weight, though it would have been a bit cliché.

On the other hand, I didn’t like how she treats her friends and boy friends at all. She was being too mean and inconsiderate to her new friends, in general and it was not addressed in the book.

Secondly that the resolution was quite abrupt.
Spoiler I found it a little odd that Ellen and Will made up so easily at the pageant, out of nowhere. They could have done it any time. I wish it took more than a speech to solve that issue.

What worked for me

  • I loved the whole Dolly Parton fan theme. Many song references went over my head, but on the whole I enjoyed reading about it.
  • Most of the characters in Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy were flawed and fully fleshed out. And I really liked that.
  • I also liked the complicated mother daughter relationship dynamic.

What may have been better

  • I particularly disliked how Will treated others, especially her new friends.
  • This book has a triangular love story. So if you hate that trope, beware.

Content warning

Body shaming, bullying, Fat shaming, grieving the death of a beloved, forced diet and weight loss (mentioned)

Bottom line

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is a light contemporary read which is (mostly) body positive and sends a powerful message. It is perfect for both young and adult readers.

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Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index- A book review

Beach Read by Emily Henry – A book review

I hoped I will like Beach Read by Emily Henry, especially after hearing raving reviews from all over the blogosphere. But when I found out that it was about two writers, I knew I was going to love it. Did that happen so for me?

Read my book review of Beach Read by Emily Henry to know more.

About Beach Read

Beach Read by Emily Henry Book cover

Book Name: Beach Read

Author: Emily Henry

Genre: Fiction – Romance

Characters: Augustus Everett, January Andrews, Peet,

Setting: MichiganThe USA

Plot Summary of Beach Read

January Andrews, a romance writer, gives up her belief in love when she hears some life shattering news at her father’s funeral. And that pushes her into a writer’s slump and a financial crunch.

What happens when a romance writer stops believing in love and romance? Ask January Andrews. Her father is dead and she comes to know that her parents’ marriage was not a fairy tale romance as she grew up believing.

Now she is in a writing slump, her mother is not speaking to her and she has to go to her father’s cabin for the summer, because that is all she can afford to, anymore.

To make matters worst, her neighbor is her college nemesis, someone who ridiculed her women centric romance novels.

Does the summer get any better for January? Can she win over her toughest critic? You have to read Beach Read by Emily Henry to know more.

Book review of Beach Read

As a bibliophile, I love reading about writers, and a romance with two writers was just a perfect way to spend my afternoon.

Despite that Beach Read was a bit hard to get into. Of course, it could have been a totally “me” situation. But it is not exactly a fun read that the book cover or the blurb made it out to be.

I loved the witty banter between the main characters and Beach Read was more than a rom-com or just a romance. It deals with many intense topics like grief, loss and infidelity.

The best part about reading Beach Read is getting to know the working process of two different writers and understanding what goes inside their brains. I enjoyed that entirely.

What worked for me

  • I loved the witty banter and lively romance of the lead pair.
  • Beach Read deals with intense topics like grief and infidelity and is more than just a romance book.
  • If you want to see what goes behind your favorite author’s brain, Beach Read might show a glimpse of their writing process.

What may have been better

  • If you are looking for a breezy read, Beach Read may prove a bit beyond that. But that may not be a bad thing.

Content warning

Mention of a cult, past mentions of child abuse and domestic abuse, mentions of breast cancer and chemo, adultery, death of a parent.

Bottom line

Beach Read by Emily Henry is a well written romance book that deals with grief and loss. If you wanna read a book about writers writing your favorite book, this might be a great choice.

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Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index- A book review

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – A book review

I had been putting aside Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, who is one of my favorite authors, for a while, even when I was almost sure that I will like it. I just wanted savor it but when the dreadful slump threatened, I had to bring in the big gun.

So did Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn work well for me? Was it worth the hype and will I be watching the Amy Adams starring HBO series? You will have to read my book review of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn to know more.

About Sharp Objects

Book Name: Sharp Objects

Author: Gillian Flynn

Genre: Fiction – Psychological Thriller

Characters: Camille Preaker, Amma, Adora, Alan and Marian Crellin, Chief Bill Vickery, Frank Curry, Richard Willis, Natalie and John Keene

Setting: Wind Gap, MissouriThe USA

Plot Summary of Sharp Objects

Camille Preaker has been offered a chance to redeem her career as a journalist and her position with her chief, who has been always by her side even during her recent stint at the psych ward.

All she has to do is return to her hometown and cover the unsolved murder of a pre-teen girl and the recent disappearance of another.

While Camille is no way ready for visiting her hometown, but she does it anyway. She hasn’t spoken to her obsessive mother (Adora) in years and barely knows her half sister Amma.

With an uncooperative local Sheriff and handsom Kansas City detective on tow, Camille finds herself not just covering the story but finding the murderer who removes the teeth from his victims.

Will Camille be able to dig through the mystery, without awakening her demons from the past? What’s the deal with her family and her past? Grab a copy of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and read it right away.

Book review of Sharp Objects

I should start with a huge disclaimer: I am a huge fan of Gillian Flynn and I have read all her books including her novella. She is one of those authors that I would recommend to anyone looking for a fast psychological thriller or a new reader.

And I am glad to announce that Flynn didn’t disappoint me at all with Sharp Objects. Yes, it is apparent that it is not as nuanced as her later works, but it is still as dark as her books are usually. Fans of dark pasts and dysfunctional families, you won’t be disappointed.

I guessed the killer at about 70% of the book but I think Sharp Objects was more than just finding the murderer. It has always been about the characters themselves for me, which were fully developed and intriguing in their own ways.

If you have read Gone girl and/or Dark places, you know what you are in for and you will love it.

What worked for me

  • No one writes dark and damaged characters like Flynn and I have come to expect them in all her novels.
  • I love how motherhood was a subtle theme all through the book. Even the last article that Camille was working on before returning home was about a mother who abandons her kids for some drugs to her own mother who hugged her “ferociously”.
  • Sharp Objects is set in a small town (I am a huge fan of those) that is creepy and closed in equal parts.

What may have been better

  • You may not like the protagonist at all. And Camille just makes it hard to root for her and her actions gets only desperate and irrational after a while. (I like such characters, but just a warning for those of you who don’t like books with unlikeable protagonists.)
  • The whodunnit part can be figured out or at least guessed before it happens. So if you are in just for the mystery part of it, Sharp Objects might seem predictable.

Content warningy

Self harm (cutting), parental neglect and abuse, mentions of underage sex and rape, recreational drugs.

Bottom line

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn is an engrossing thriller that will stay with you for a long time if you like twisted and dark characters and dysfunctional families. Flynn doesn’t disappoint her fans with Sharp Objects at all.

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