Book Review: Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson @TheBloggess @HenryHolt

Broken: In the Best Way Possible
Jenny Lawson
Henry Holt and Company, April 2021
ISBN 978-1-250-07703-5

Broken: In the Best Way Possible is the third collection of comical, every-day-life essays by Jenny Lawson (also known as The Bloggess). Ms. Lawson is one of the few people on this planet willing to share self-deprecating stories, not just for a laugh; but to show those who feel alone that they really aren’t.

Most of us have felt the frustration of our own forgetfulness. Ms. Lawson’s recollection issues provide perspective. Her open letter to her health insurance company highlights contradictions in their policies along with procedures that are almost nonsensical. Relatable, if you’ve ever been baffled by insurance.

Some chapters surprised me with anxieties and odd decisions so very similar to mine. Finally, someone else who waffles between answering the door when the mail-carrier requires a signature or just ignoring it and driving to the post office on another day. Hoping to feel up to face-to-face communication in the future.

To me, one of the most challenging aspects of clinical depression is not being to explain how it feels. I cannot emphasize enough how validating and exactly-what-I-needed-right-now this book is. It isn’t written to a specific, clinically-depressed audience, though. Ms. Lawson bravely speaks to absolutely everyone. Even those with brilliantly-balanced chemistry will be amused by these anecdotes.

Oh! And I learned what kintsugi is. When Ms. Lawson’s husband suggested it, he was so spot-on that he must have felt like a rock-star for a moment.

Reading Broken is like receiving a desperately needed hug from the person who knows you best and loves you anyway. And, I absolutely adore the new name she gives to the Acknowledgements section.

This review was written by jv poore for Buried Under Books,
with huge “Thank You!” to Henry Holt & Company
and Goodreads for the Advance Review Copy.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2021.

Book Review: Girl Unknown by Karen Perry

Girl Unknown
Karen Perry
Henry Holt and Co., February 2018
ISBN 978-0-8050-9874-7

In this story of a girl who tears apart the lives of all the members of a family, author Karen Perry (actually two authors Paul Perry, Karen Gillece) shows how assumptions and lies affect the most basic relationships. David Connolly, a professor at an Irish university, his wife Caroline, and their two children, teenager Robbie and eleven year old Holly, are getting along as well as any family. There was a rough patch the previous year, when Caroline was on the verge of an affair, but she pulled back, and family life is getting back to normal.

After class one day David is approached by a freshman student, a frail and beautiful young woman by the name of Zoe. With her masses of white blonde curls, she seems otherworldly, and David can’t believe his ears when she tells him “I think you might be my father.”

David had an affair with Zoe’s mother Linda while he was in graduate school, before he married Caroline, and Linda never contacted him to say she was pregnant. Zoe offers to mail in a DNA test, and David meets with her at a local pub to talk it over. Zoe shows him the positive results, and after he tells Caroline about Zoe, the recriminations begin. Zoe claims Caroline insulted her, and physically assaulted her. Zoe says that her stepfather threw her out and she is destitute, but when David visits the stepfather, he discovers that Zoe had been given up for adoption, had only appeared in her birth mother’s life the year before she died, and had been left money for her studies. When confronted, Zoe claimed the check bounced.

The reader wonders why David and Caroline didn’t check out her story more, and when they did, they didn’t act on it. They allowed her to live with them even though she had been proved to be a liar. She manipulated them, and their friend Chris, an older man who was taken in by Zoe’s lies. The tragic and somewhat surprising conclusion could have been avoided had they been more vigilant. But they vetted Zoe less than they would a minimum wage worker. The story is told from the viewpoints of David and Caroline, in alternate chapters. Readers who enjoy psychological suspense, like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl or Jodi Picoult may enjoy the shifting realities of this book. Perry is the  author of The Innocent Sleep and other books.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, May 2018.

Book Review: Flashtide by Jenny Moyer


Title: Flashtide
Series: Flashfall #2
Author: Jenny Moyer
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Genre:  Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult


Purchase Links:




Flashfall #2
Jenny Moyer
Henry Holt and Company, November 2017
ISBN 978-1-6277-9483-1

From the publisher—

Orion has survived the tunnels of Outpost Five, filled with mutant creatures and dangers around every bend. She has traversed the cordons, exposed to the radiation of the flash curtain and hunted by forces that want her stopped, dead or alive. Now, with Dram by her side, she has made it to the safety of the mountain provinces, where free Conjurors live and practice their craft of manipulating matter.

But Orion’s story is far from over.

With the effects of the flashfall spreading and the might of the protected city of Alara looming, Orion must travel into the hands of her enemies once again.

When I read Flashfall, the first book in this duology, a year ago. I was especially impressed by the relationship between Orion and Dram. That was largely because these teens both had to grow up all too quickly but they didn’t let their dire circumstances influence the way they felt about and depended upon each other. They truly trusted each other and that lent an air of maturity to their alliance.

I’m glad to say that, even though they’re no longer in the mines and now have to deal with other very difficult issues, they haven’t lost that trust. Even when these two aren’t together, they take comfort in knowing everything is just a little bit easier because they have each other. The other thing I particularly like about this sequel is the way Orion and Dram have evolved into two people who can deal with things such as a severely oppressive society and the resistance that wants to change things. At the same time, they are teens and, naturally, they make mistakes. That’s a given and it leads to a great deal of tension and suspense.

The author made a really good decision in making this a duology. Between the two books, there’s plenty of room for character and plot development but not so much that it begins to feel tired. I wonder what we can expect from her next but I’m quite sure I’ll want to read it 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2017.

About the Author

Jenny is the author of the YA sci-fi/fantasy FLASHFALL, and its sequel, FLASHTIDE. (Holt/Macmillan 11-14-17) She lives with her filmmaker husband and their three boys in Iowa. Watch the epic, live action book trailer for the novel that Booklist calls “A cinematic page-turner.”

Find out more at and connect with Jenny on Twitter and Facebook.

Instagram // Pinterest // Tumblr // YouTube


Follow the tour:

November 13th
Pink Polka Dot Books– Welcome Post

November 14th
Wishful Endings – Interview
Library of a Book Witch – Review + Playlist

November 15th
The Eater of Books! – Guest Post
It Starts at Midnight – Review + Favourite Quotes

November 16th
A Thousand Words A Million Books – Interview
Don’t Judge, Read – Review

November 17th
biscotto’s books – Review + Favourite Quotes
Buried Under Books – Review

November 18th
A Bookish Abode – Guest Post
Sophie Reads Books – Review

November 19th
YA Obsessed – Review
Literary Meanderings – Promotional Post



Win a FLASHTIDE pack: signed copies
of Flashtide & Flashfall,
a $50 Gift Card
from and swag (INT)

Enter here.


Book Review: Flashfall by Jenny Moyer



Title: Flashfall
Author: Jenny Moyer
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: November 15, 2016
Genre:  Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult



Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble Buy Button     Kobo Buy Button     iTunes iBooks Button

Amazon Buy Button     Book Depository Buy Button     Indiebound Button 2

View the trailer here.


Jenny Moyer
Henry Holt and Company, November 2016
ISBN 978-1-6277-9481-7

From the publisher—

Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium―the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

While much about Flashfall seemed to me to be quite similar to other dystopian stories (really, though, how many new and totally different tales can there be this late in the dystopian book world?), Ms. Moyer did one thing that not many authors do for me, personally. Within minutes of beginning to read, I was truly attached to both Orion and Dram. Usually, characters have to grow on me and it takes a while but, here, the connection was almost immediate.

The plot, revolving around the mining of a particular element and the need to earn enough to live on the “good” side, is interesting and, even though I didn’t find it astoundingly different, I did enjoy this tale of a girl having to grow up a great deal before her time and learning that all is not as it seems. I also appreciated that the event that brought this world to its knees happened only about a century earlier so there is not a lot of need for fancy futuristic technology that, quite honestly, I sometimes think gets in the way of a good story. The radiation dangers and class divisions are issues we can relate to, making the tale more believable, and the author has created a credible and interesting human existence with worldbuilding that I found much better than I’ve seen in recent times.

Most especially, though, I reveled in the relationship between Orion and Dram, a relationship based on total trust. That is something we don’t see every day and I applaud Ms. Moyer for it.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2016.

About the Author

 Jenny is the author of YA sci-fi/fantasy FLASHFALL, coming from Macmillan/Holt 11-15-16. She lives with her filmmaker husband and their three boys in Des Moines.
Find out more at and connect with Jenny on Twitter and Facebook.


Follow the tour here.


FFBC Badge 2

Book Reviews: Now You See It by Jane Tesh and The Black-Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black

Now You See ItNow You See It
A Grace Street Mystery #3
Jane Tesh
Poisoned Pen Press, October 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0196-7

Delightful, pleasant, encouraging, a fine summer read. This is the third episode in Ms. Tesh’s third series of mystery fiction novels. Praise for Stolen Hearts and Praise for Mixed Signals are the first two. Magic, magicians, jealousy, competition, theft and murder. All served up in carefully proportioned amounts with just the right amount of suspense, suspicion and sanguinity. What’s not to like?

In brief, private investigator David Randall is hired to search for an artifact that may have historical significance. A local night club that features magic acts on its stage is the scene of the apparent theft. The missing object once may have belonged to the legendary Harry Houdini. While our earnest PI begins his search for clues to the missing object, he begins to encounter a surprising array of jealous actors, off-beat club workers and assorted hangers-on.

Meanwhile, Randall’s friend, Camden, seems to be losing his voice, Cams girlfriend, Ellin, is beset on several sides, Randall’s girl, Kary has become a magician’s assistant wannabe. Confused? Well, trust me it all gets sorted out in the end in logical ways. Oh, mustn’t forget to mention a major complication, the body discovered backstage in the trunk.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, August 2014.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.


The Black-Eyed BlondeThe Black-Eyed Blonde
A Philip Marlowe Novel
Benjamin Black
Henry Holt and Company, March 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9814-3

John Banville, the Irish author here writing under his pen name of Benjamin Black, has written a book certain to give exquisite pleasure to the many fans of Raymond Chandler and his creation, LA private detective Philip Marlowe with a reputation as a “thinking man’s detective.”. The masterful re-imagining is evident from the first words: “It was ‘one of those Tuesday afternoons in summer when you wonder if the earth has stopped revolving. The telephone on my desk had the air of something that knows it’s being watched. Cars trickled past in the street below the dusty window of my office, and a few of the good folks of our fair city ambled along the sidewalk, men in hats, mostly, going nowhere.”

The eponymous woman makes her first appearance moments later. “Her hair was blond and her eyes were black, black and deep as a mountain lake, the lids exquisitely tapered at their outer corners. A blonde with black eyes – – that’s not a combination you get very often.” As Marlow later summarized things, he is “hired to look for a guy who was supposed to be dead. Next thing I know I’m up to my knees in corpses, and I damn near became a corpse myself.” What happens in between, taking place in a little more than a week, is laid out in Chandler-esque form, with a wholly unexpected ending. To say that Mr. Banville has “captured” the charm of that author seems inadequate.

Apparently this title was one that Chandler had listed as a possibility for a future novel, and Mr. Banville has made of it a terrific mystery. He evokes the Marlowe era perfectly, conjuring up memories with names like the Marx Brothers, Paul Whiteman, Lon Chaney, Raymond Burr, and Errol Flynn.

I highly recommend that you give yourself the deep pleasure of reading this book.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, October 2014.

Book Review: Neptune’s Tears by Susan Waggoner

Neptune's TearsNeptune’s Tears
Timedance #1
Susan Waggoner
Henry Holt and Company, June 2013
ISBN 978-0-8050-9677-4

From the publisher—

London, 2218 A.D. Seventeen-year-old Zee is an intern empath. She’s focused on her job, poised for a great career—until one day an attractive patient undoes her hard-earned calm. As an empath, she cannot afford such distractions, but neither can she stay away from David, even when she discovers he’s one of a mysterious alien race. As London comes under attack by anarchist bombings, and as Zee struggles to get a handle on her unusually strong psychic abilities, David starts pulling away. Although Zee’s sure he’s attracted to her, David has secrets he cannot share. But it’s too late for Zee. She’s losing her heart to the gray-eyed alien boy, and she’s determined to follow him—no matter how far it may take her.

Authors work hard to find ways to make their novels a bit different from others of the same genre/subgenre so I give Susan Waggoner credit for coming up with the empath idea. Unfortunately, I think she may have tried a little too hard because I felt as though there were just too many elements and it began to seem like one of those times when you “throw it against the wall to see if it will stick”.

I kind of liked both Zee and David but this particular book suffers from the insta-love syndrome I have come to heartily dislike and, although I don’t have a real reason to doubt David’s sincerity, his objection to his own planet’s marriage requirements reminded me of the old plot device of falling for a girl just because she is forbidden. I also wonder how he could have lived on earth for several years without learning that there are Earthlings with red hair—that was a pretty dumb shortcoming in his powers of observation. When all is said and done, two secondary characters, Rani and Mrs. Hart, were my favorites and they were the source of the only true emotions I felt about these people.

I also felt that the romance took over the story to its detriment. Because of the somewhat overbearing love story, the rest of the plot fell pretty flat and the whole theme about the bombings didn’t ever take on the importance you might expect. I also thought that a girl like Zee who is seen by others as mature and in control turned into a rather childish teen who was blinded by love even though she knows emotional attachment will interfere with her dream profession. Likely to happen? Maybe, but that doesn’t make for a very strong story, does it? Also, one more plot element that could have been of real interest and could have formed the basis for a more engaging tale was thrown out there without any real development. No spoiler here but I’m talking about the reason these aliens are spending time on earth. Perhaps we’ll learn much more about that in the next book.

In the end, I did find Neptune’s Tears to be a pleasant read but it  just didn’t quite grab me although it hints of possibilities. I think Ms. Waggoner has some good ideas here and I’ll read the next book, Starlight’s Edge, to see where she takes Zee and David next.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2013.