Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr


Title: Gem & Dixie

Author: Sara Zarr

Format Read: Audiobook

Rating: 2.5 Stars


Sisters Gem and Dixie don’t have a lot. They live in a small, run down apartment with their checked out mom. When there is food, there isn’t enough of it. And even though Dixie always manages to find a way to buy food and clothing for herself, Gem doesn’t possess the same talents. She relies on asking people to borrow money, and thrifting when she does need something new.

But the one thing that they’ve always had is each other. Gem can’t remember a time when they weren’t close, when they didn’t take care of each other. Even though they are opposites and sometimes argue, they’ve got each other’s backs.

That is until their absentee father shows up. And with him a bag full of money. Literally. Gem and Dixie have never seen so much in their lives.

This money could really help. It could fix all of their problems. But what would taking that money cost them?

What Didn’t Work:

Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr was not my favorite. I wanted to love it, but found that in the end I had too many issues with it. Issues that I just couldn’t love.

Main characters Gem and Dixie were the main issue for me. Even though they were fleshed out, and authentically realistic, I personally found that they weren’t likable. Because of that I found it hard to relate to and sympathize for them. Even though I didn’t love these characters, I can easily say that I appreciated the growth I saw in them throughout the book.

While I could put aside my dislike of Gem and Dixie, there was one other aspect I just couldn’t get past. And that’s the plot. Like most books there was a problem and by the end, a solution to said problem. In the case of Gem & Dixie, I feel that not a lot happened. Sure there was a problem, but there wasn’t a solution. The whole plot fell flat.

What Did Work:

The main selling point of Gem & Dixie is author Sara Zarr’s writing. She is a master of her craft. The writing is strong and concise. She doesn’t waste words, and because of that the book’s pacing is spot on.

But above all else, what I enjoyed about this book was the sense of hope I felt as I read. I was hopeful that the characters would grow, hopeful that everything would work our in the end.


Yes, because I firmly believe that, even though this book wasn’t for me, that you, dear readers, should give it a shot. You may love it.

Similar Books to Read After:

  • Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
  • Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

(Book cover image from GoodReads)


Around the Web: April 29th Edition

Around the Web

The above image was created on Canva for the purpose of this post.

Are you an adult? Are you an adult who misses Harry Potter?

Marissa Meyer and a new Rom-Com

What are you excited to read next month?

We could all use a bit of funny in our lives right about now.

I personally am very excited about The One and Only Bob

Justin Timberlake and YA books. 


Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wish I Read When I Was A Child

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. The above image was created on Canva.

Hello Readers!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I wasn’t always a reader. When I was young I didn’t necessarily enjoy reading. Let me rephrase that: I liked reading but it wasn’t easy for me. I was a very slow reader and that frustrated me.

And when I did read, I read because I had to, mainly for school. Looking back I missed out a lot of great books. So today, I am going to be sharing the top ten books that I wish I read when I was a kid.

Please keep in mind, it’s been a long time since I was a kid. And I can’t remember all of the books I wanted to read. Because of that, this list is only seven books long.

  • Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levin
  • The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

  • The Catcher in the Rye by S.D. Salinger
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
  • Point Horror series by Various Authors

While I didn’t read these as a kid, I do hope to read some of them now, as a much older adult.

(Book cover images from GoodReads)

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo


Title: Because of Winn-Dixie

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Format Read: Audiobook

Rating: 4 Stars


India Opal Buloni just wants to make friends. Little did she know she would find her best friend at the local Winn-Dixie grocery store.

Opal only went to buy a box of macaroni and cheese, some rice, and two tomatoes. But what she came home with was … a dog. A rather ugly dog that she saved from being hauled off to the pound. A dog she named Winn-Dixie.

Together, the unlikely duo befriend various people in Opal’s new hometown. They befriend the local librarian and the local witch (well, that’s what the Dewberry brothers call her). They befriend Otis at the pet shop, and even thumb sucking Sweetie Pie Thomas.

While they are busy befriending everyone they can, Opal soon realizes that she isn’t just looking for a friend, but she’s looking for family. A family to fill the void her mom made when she left.

Through her new found friends, she finds exactly what she’s looking for? But will it be enough to fill that void in her heart?

What Didn’t Work:

I truly loved Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie. But there was just one tiny aspect that bothered me. And that aspect was: there wasn’t much resolve for me. Honestly, I think it bothered me because I am an adult. I don’t necessarily think kids who read this book will be bothered by it at all.

What Did Work: 

Kate DiCamillo’s writing is simple but strong. But as much as I loved the writing and the way she crafted such a special story, what I loved most was the varied cast of characters.

Opal was my absolute favorite. I loved how open and honest she was. And the fact that she was such a relatable character. Seriously, as an adult I saw a lot of myself within her. Besides that, I felt like I learned a lot from her as well.

And of course I loved Winn-Dixie. Most animal charachters I’ve met fall flat, they never seem to have a personality. But not Winn-Dixie! He’s spunky, full of life, and brings a bit of magic to this already magical book.

But the aspect that I loved the most were the relationships and friendships portrayed. Each felt real and authentic.


Most definitely yes! I really loved this book.

Similar Books to Read After:

  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

(Book cover image from GoodReads)

Around the Web: April 22nd Edition

Around the Web

The above image was created on Canva for the purpose of this post.

The perfect picture books to celebrate Earth Day!

With a new Hunger Games book due out in a few weeks, their already planning a new movie as well!

Want Michelle Obama to read you a book?

Disney has a new epic fairy-tale series in the works, and it sounds pretty great to me.

Hogwarts fashion anyone?

Speaking of Harry Potter, you can create your own cupboard under the stairs and find out which house you’re in.

Do you remember any of these books?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Titles I Think Would Make Great Band Names

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. The above image was created on Canva.

Hello Readers!

I am super excited (!!!) about this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic. You see, I love music. Even though I have no musical talents or abilities, I often dream about what my band name would be if I were in fact in a band (or if, you know, I had musical abilities).

When creating any Top Ten Tuesday list I like to scroll through my GoodReads “read” shelf to find the source material. As I scrolled through this time I couldn’t help be find way more than ten titles I think would make great band names. So it was a challenge, but I think I succeeded!

  • Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood
  • Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  • Devils Unto Daughters by Amy Lukavics

  • We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian
  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
  • Graveyard Shakes by Laura Terry
  • Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray
  • Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

There you have it dear readers! What do you think? Do you think I picked out some good book titles turned band names?

(Book cover images from GoodReads)

What I’ve…

Food For Thought, Freebie Fridays, Random

9EA21707-E820-4154-BE06-50B99109EE60The above image was created by me using Canva for the purpose of this post.

Hello Dear Readers!

With a newly relaunched blog, I thought it would be fun to share, not only what I’ve been reading each month, but also what I’ve been watching (in TV, Netflix, Disney+, and YouTube),  and what I’ve listened to each month.

This week, I’ll be focusing on what I’ve read, watched, and listened during the month of January 2020.

What I’ve … Read:

In January I’ve read a total of 15 books. These books were a mix of picture books, a middle grade book, and a few young adult books.

The picture books I read are:

  • Can Somebody Please Scratch My Back by Jory John
  • Tiny and the Big Dig by Sherri Duskey Rinker
  • Good Boy by Sergio Ruzzier
  • Bruce’s Big Storm by Ryan T. Higgins
  • Mice on Ice by Rebecca Emberly & Ed Emberly
  • G is for Goat by Patricia Polacco
  • Will Ladybug Hug by Hilary Leung
  • Dandy by Ame Dyckman
  • Hooray For Books by Brian Won
  • Shake the Tree by Chiara Vignocchi

The middle grade and young adult books I read are:

  • Inside Out & Back Again by Thanha Lai
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • Lair of Dreaems by Libba Bray
  • Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray
  • Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

What I’ve … Watched

I’m not a huge television watcher by nature. Even though the television is on as background noise, I’m not necessarily watching it. I tend to watch more on either a streaming service or on YouTube.

On Netflix, I’ve watched:

  • (Started) Season 3 of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

On Disney+, I’ve Watched:

  • (Finished) Encore

On YouTube, I’ve watched:

On Television, I’ve watched:

  • Project Runway

What I’ve … Listened To:

In all honesty, I don’t care much for the radio. Whenever I’m driving, and I do happen to have the radio on, I find I flip from one station to the next never really settling on one song/station. Because of that I rely heavily on Spotify. I love creating my own playlists full of music that I love to listen to, and love to sing along with.

I found that I gravitated mostly towards my “Girls Rule” playlist. This playlist features everyone from Taylor Swift to Courtney Love.

Besides listening to Spotify, I listened to a lot of audiobooks in the month of January as well.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett


Title: Starry Eyes

Author: Jenn Bennett

Format Read: Audiobook

Rating: 3.5 Stars


Once upon a time Zorie and Lennon were best friends. But that was before. Before Lennon’s moms opened a sex shop next door to her parents business. That was before the disastrous homecoming dance.

Now, their parents are feuding – well, it’s more like Zorie’s dad is feuding with Lennon’s entire family. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Zorie and Lennon are practically enemies, only speaking on a need to basis.

And even though that this kills Zorie, she knows this is the way it has to be. She can never forgive him. So when she finds out that Lennon is going on the same camping trip she is, things go from awkward to downright doomed. Will Zorie make it out of the woods alive?

What Didn’t Work:

As a reader, Starry Eyes biggest floor was it’s characters. While I felt that they were fleshed out and often times very relatable, I found both Zorie and Lennon to be unlikable in their own ways.

I found Zorie to be rigid, so much so that I felt that it was hard to really get to know this character. On the other hand there was Lennon. He should have been a character that I loved. But I found that I was really bothered by the fact that he was … typical. Why does it seem that any character who listens to alternative music or dresses differently from his/her (in this case his) peers is automatically goth? For someone who was described as unique, I found he wasn’t.

What Did Work:

There was a lot that I enjoyed about Starry Eyes. First and foremost, I enjoyed and appreciated author Jenn Bennett’s writing. It was detailed, descriptive, and engaging. I found that once I sunk my teeth into the story I was fully absorbed.

I also found that she had a real knack for dialog. The dialog between all of her characters was authentic and it naturally flowed. It didn’t read as stiff or unrealistic, making this book one I think readers of all ages will like.

As strange as this may sound, I truly appreciated the book’s pacing.  While it wasn’t an action packed kind of book, I continually found myself wondering what twist was coming, and found that I was looking forward to the impending action. Pacing can make or break a book fo me. In the case of Starry Eyes, it made it for me.

While I didn’t love the characters I recognized that they grew from start to finish. This made me like them just a tiny bit more.


Yes, I would recommend this book to readers. I’d recommend it because it was a fun read that is full of smart writing.

Similar Books to Read After:

  • 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
  • Royals by Rachel Hawkins
  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

(Cover image from GoodReads)

Around the Web: April 15th Edition

Around the Web

The above image was created on Canva for the purpose of this post.

Did you hear? The Baby-Sitters are coming back!

Pack your bags and grab your wands wizards and witches! We’re off to Hogwarts!

April is National Poetry Month. Will does reading poetry have any health benefits?

Ever thought of creating your own zine? Now’s the time!

Thank You to all of our feminist fictional heroes!

Reading while in quarantine/self-isolating.

Julie Andrews has her own podcast! Need I say more?!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Enjoyed But Rarely Talk About

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. The above image was created on Canva for this post.

Hello Dear Readers!

Top Ten Tuesday is one of my favorite blog features. It’s a fave because it allows me to go back and revisit books I previously read and loved. And sometimes it allows me to think of all the books I’m excited to read and love in the future.

I’ve read a lot of books. And I loved many of them. But no matter how much I loved them, I don’t always talk about them. Today I will be sharing the top ten books I loved, but rarely talk about.

Clarity by Kim Harrington

Splintered by A.G. Howard

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrano

Sadie by Courtney Summers

The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

After Tupack & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

For the Record by Charlotte Huang