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!

Similar book reviews

Pin me!

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index Review Pinterest

Let’s chat

Have you read Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel? Can you suggest other young adult books that deal with grief and loss of a sibling? Let us talk.

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.

Similar book reviews

Pin me!

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy Review Pinterest

Let’s chat

Have you read Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy? Did you enjoy the movie more than the book (gasp)? What are your other favorite books that talk about body positivity? Let us talk.

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index- A book review

Boy Who Steals Houses, The by CG Drew – A book review

I seriously don’t know why and how had I not read this book earlier. I loved the author’s debut book A Thousand Perfect Notes, and I absolutely adore Cait’s (the author) blog. So what’s my verdict on this one? Read my book review on The Boy Who Steals Houses by C G Drew to find out.

Boy Who Steals Houses book cover

About The Boy Who Steals Houses

Book Name: The Boy Who Steals Houses

Author: C G Drew

Genre: Fiction – RomanceYoung adult

Characters: Sam and Avery Lou, Moxie, Jack, Jeremy De Lainey

Plot Summary of The Boy Who Steals Houses

15 year old Sam Lou is a homeless teenager, who breaks into empty houses just to find somewhere safe to sleep. He and his older brother Avery have been on the run for sometime now.

All through his life, Sam has been the adult and takes care of Avery, who is on the Autism spectrum. When all the adults in their family fail, Sam had to grow up too quickly and all he ever wanted was a safe home where he belonged with Avery.

But when Avery falls into a bad crowd, Sam is left all alone to fend himself. When he breaks into an “empty house” he realizes what he has been missing all these days.

Does he have to choose between feeling belonged to a family and Avery? If yes, what would he choose? You might have to read The Boy Who Steals Houses by C G Drew to know more.

Book review of The Boy Who Steals Houses

This book will break your heart. Do not come at me when you are a mess trying not to cry – but in a good way.

I absolutely adored every character and I wanted to protect Sam and Avery from any harm ever. And there will be a warm and sunshine-y place for the DeLaineys in my heart forever.

I was a bit worried about how The Boy Who Steals Houses would ever stand up to the expectations that C G Drew had created after her fantastic debut A Thousand Perfect Notes. But the author has proved her worth and it does more than expected.

This book is not too long and I finished in two short sittings. I can understand that it was written for a younger audience but that fact didn’t reduce the pleasure I had reading the book.

What worked for me

  • The characters. I love how fleshed out each of them were and I loved them all.
  • I love the world building and the lyrical writing. C G Drew proves that she is YA writer we all have to watch out for.
  • Though written for a younger audience, The Boy Who Steals Houses will work for all ages well.
  • It is an own voice book and the author herself is on the Autism spectrum. And I think it shows.

What may have been better


Content warning

Child abuse and Parental negligence, death of parent, ablest terms

Bottom line

The Boy Who Steals Houses by C G Drew is easily one of the favorite books of the year. Pick it up if you are looking some heart warming characters right away.

Similar book reviews

Pin me!

Boy Who Steals Houses by CG Drew Pinterest

Let’s chat

Have you read The Boy Who Steals Houses by C G Drew? What other Young adult books that work well older aged audiences too? Let us talk.

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index- A book review

Under a Painted Sky – A book review

I love reading rag tag groups or misfits coming together to save the day. A little into the book, I realized Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee is a feminist historical fiction set in the westerns and falls under the misfits ensemble genre. Did I love reading it? Read my review to know more.

About the book

Under a Painted Sky book review

Book Name: Under a Painted Sky

Author: Stacey Lee

Genre: Fiction – RomanceYoung adult, Historical

Characters: Samantha, Annamae, Peety, Cay, and West, Ty Yorkshire

Setting: Missouri, Oregon TrailThe USA

Plot Summary

When a middle aged, rich, white man cornered young Samantha, the same night her father succumbed to a fire accident, she did what she could to defend herself. She didn’t expect Ty Yorkshire to break his skull or his slave Annamae to walk in.

Fortunately for this Chinese American girl, the street smart runaway slave Annamae joins her flee from the law. They take on the Oregon Trail, under the disguises of Sammy and Andy, two young boys heading towards the Californian gold rush.

But when they cross paths with three young cowboys

Book review

I was kinda prepared for tackling the issues of stereotypes and racism, casual and otherwise, peppered throughout this historical fiction seeing that the characters were Chinese and African American.

But I was pleasantly surprised when Stacey Lee so effortlessly weaved the character’s beliefs, culture and ethnic backgrounds into the narrative. A huge win for the diversity factor!

While they met rather accidentally, the friendship between Sammy and Andy keeping growing stronger. Their relationship is matured and supportive of each other, and they are also hilarious! Even when we get some romance angle, their relationship stays the main focus of Under a Painted Sky.

It was easy to get lost in the genuine comradeship among the boys and emotional quotient never dipped either. I loved Stacey Lee’s writing especially the parts where she describes the rich and adventurous journey.

What worked for me

  • I loved the strong friendship between Sammy and Andy. They are easily one of the best female friendships I have read recently.
  • The funny repartees between the characters made me love them and wondered about a sequel already.
  • Under a Painted Sky is a great example of why we need more diversity in the books, especially Young Adults. Kudos to the author for pulling it off so brilliantly.

What may have been better

  • I wish we could see Sammy’s goal being reached. I mean Under a Painted Sky ended too soon for me!

Bottom line

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee is all about strong female leads and their friendship. With well written characters, Under a Painted Sky is a great win for diversity! Read it as soon as you can.

Similar book reviews

Pin me!

Under a Painted Sky Pinterest

Let’s chat

Have you read Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee? Did you love it and why? What are the other historical fictions that you read and loved recently?

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index- A book review

The Extraordinaries by T J Klune – A book review

Who among us would not love reading about superheroes? Well, that was rhetorical! I love superheroes and so does our protagonist Nick Bell. Let’s talk more about The Extraordinaries by T J Klune in my review below.

About the book

The Extraordinaries by T J Klune Cover

Book Name: The Extraordinaries

Author: T J Klune

Genre: Fiction – Romance, Young Adult

Characters: Nicholas (Nick) and Aaron Bell, Seth Gray, Lola (Gabby) Gibson, Jasmine (Jazz), Oliver Burke, Shadow Star, Pyro Storm.

Setting: Nova City

Plot Summary

Nicholas Bell has the biggest crush on Shadowstar and his long running fanfiction is a proof of that. Shadowstar is one of The Extraordinaries from Nova City who keeps the city safe from his arch nemesis Pyro Storm.

Nick is just an ordinary high school student living with his father who is a cop. In order to gain the attention and respect from his crush, Nick decides that he should become an extraordinary himself, with the help of his reluctant but supportive friends.

Does this doomed plan ever take off? How long would it take for Nick to see the truth forms the rest of the story in The Extraordinaries by T J Klune.

Book review

I can’t think of a book that made me chuckle, roll my eyes and laugh as many times as The Extraordinaries by T J Klune did, in the recent past. Nick being “extra” was so endearing and I just wanted him to be an Extraordinary just for his sake (even though I am sure it would be a terrible terrible idea).

I am glad we have moved on forward from making it all his queerness just the main theme of the book. I strongly believe that books need not be written solely to educate people about LGBTQAI+ and The Extraordinaries passes this test colorfully.

Yet, I learned quite a bit about ADHD and Nick’s issues with dealing them. Disclaimer: All I know about it is from the mainstream – I am not the correct person to say if the portrayal was real.

It might be an awful timing like the author explained here, but Nick’s father (who is a cop) punching a guy and still being on the force didn’t sit well with me. We learn that he was just demoted because his buddies “from the force” stood by him and it is so not fair.

And the whole attitude of “good people sometimes do bad things, and that doesn’t make them bad” was off-putting to say the least, given what the police force has been doing in the USA and even India, (and now Chile).

I wish the author and the publishing team had paid a bit more attention to what is happening in the real world. #BlackLivesMatter

What worked for me

  • I loved how well written and colorful the younger characters were. Undoubtedly, Nick is one of the most entertaining protagonists I have read in a while.
  • The writing is witty and engaging. And a special mention to the author’s sense of humor. I would definitely be reading more of Klune’s books.
  • I loved the portrayal of Nick’s ADHD and it helped me appreciate understanding it better. Additionally. Nick’s queerness is not the main focus of the book, which I loved!

What may have been better

  • I sincerely wish the team should have handled the “cops punching people” situation better.
  • While I love the way the younger characters were written, I felt all the adults sounded and behaved the same (Nick’s dad, the captain, his wife, the nurses and even Seth’s guardians). After a minute, I couldn’t stop seeing the pattern between these characters.

Bottom line

The Extraordinaries by T J Klune is one of the most entertaining books that I read recently. I loved reading it and loved the portrayal of characters with ADHD.

Despite all the positives, Klune’s choice to take the police’s side makes it harder for me to recommend the book to everyone. If you are okay with that, please read The Extraordinaries by T J Klune.

Similar books

Pin me!

The Extraordinaries by T J Klune Pinterest

Let’s chat

Have you read The Extraordinaries by T J Klune? What was the book that you recently read that blew your mind? Do you have any other book that has a protagonist with ADHD? Let us talk.