5 star, adult

Review: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother—and how she retook control of her life. 

Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.

In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarlyspinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.

Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair.



Overall Recommendation

Jennette McCurdy’s memoir is heartbreaking and consequently empowering to read. From trauma instilled from childhood, her story to where she is now is beyond her celebrity status but the very real journey towards finding herself amidst the experiences she survived. I wished this wasn’t all true half the time but it’s worthwhile to read at the end of the day. She deserves all the success in the world, and it’s really no wonder this book is a #1 seller.

TW: eating disorders, emotional abuse by a parent, alcoholism

Where does one begin to review a memoir, especially to such a calibre as Jennette’s? I’m Glad My Mom Died was eloquently written, taking us with Jennette from her childhood to her young adulthood, and showed the trajectory of recovery for someone who went through so much to get to where she is now. While the title may scream shocking for “wow” factor or something, I won’t deny its attention-grabbing ability but in reality, it seems like a fitting title for everything that transpired within its pages.

I don’t know about you but I grew up watching iCarly. It was one of the few childhood shows I was allowed to watch that wasn’t deemed “educational” by my parents. In part, I wanted to watch it for Miranda Cosgrove but I really liked what I saw of Jennette. Little did we (and even her costars) knew, things are rarely as they seem on the surface level.

I love how the writing is in present tense, like we’re seeing and feeling all of it with her in the moment without the hindsight knowledge. Each scene or moment that Jennette takes us to in her life are contained within the chapter it’s in and never crosses over midway to another chapter. There were many chapters but each was short and digestible in that way. I mean, most chapters took a while to even fully comprehend and process just what happened to her, so the short chapters (all 90 or so of them) helped me get through the hardest chapters to read.

My heart broke multiple times at the experiences and ways she bent over backwards to fulfill what was broken in adults (!!) around her when she was still just a child in every sense of the word. To say she is a strong person is not worded strongly enough. Seeing her document parts of her recovery hopefully gives hope to others who faced/currently faces similar demons or circumstances.

Most importantly, and I will end with this, the overall theme in this memoir to me is about finding yourself. It may seem callous to say her mother dying was the best thing for her, but in all honesty, it was the only way for her to truly become the woman she wants to be. And I’m so darn happy for her because she’s deserving of figuring out what is best for her based off of what she wants alone. That is worth celebrating.

5 star, YA

ARC Review: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

Series: The Luminaries #1

From Susan Dennard, the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchlands series, comes a haunting and high-octane contemporary fantasy, about the magic it takes to face your fears in a nightmare-filled forest, and the mettle required to face the secrets hiding in the dark corners of your own family.

Hemlock Falls isn’t like other towns. You won’t find it on a map, your phone won’t work here, and the forest outside town might just kill you. 

Winnie Wednesday wants nothing more than to join the Luminaries, the ancient order that protects Winnie’s town—and the rest of humanity—from the monsters and nightmares that rise in the forest of Hemlock Falls every night. 

Ever since her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor, Winnie and her family have been shunned. But on her sixteenth birthday, she can take the deadly Luminary hunter trials and prove herself true and loyal—and restore her family’s good name. Or die trying.

But in order to survive, Winnie enlists the help of the one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. While Jay might be the most promising new hunter in Hemlock Falls, he also seems to know more about the nightmares of the forest than he should. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for.

Not all monsters can be slain, and not all nightmares are confined to the dark.



Overall Recommendation

The Luminaries sets a new secret society within our world that guards humankind from nightmarish creatures lurking in the forests at night. Beautiful worldbuilding and mystery subplots keep the momentum going that I couldn’t put this book down at all. The ending was abrupt and most things were not concluded in a satisfactory manner, but this definitely makes me all the more excited for what’s to come in the next book.

Continue reading “ARC Review: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard”
5 star

Review: Verity by Colleen Hoover

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.



A couple of people have recommended this one to me and boy did it not disappoint. I had no expectations going in and honestly I didn’t even know it was a thriller until I started it. Overall it was a fantastic surprise and I can say it really was one of the best (or at least most exciting) thrillers I’ve read in a while, that really elicited some emotional reactions.

Verity is a story of a struggling thriller writer who is suddenly whisked away to write for a an author (Verity) renowned for writing thrillers from the perspective of the villain. Our protagonist, Lowen, arrives at Verity’s house to do research for the upcoming writing projects, but the home is the site of many recent tragedies, including the death of their twin daughters followed by Verity’s accident, leaving her unable to finish writing her series. Lowen finds Verity’s autobiography, detailing the events of meeting her husband and even through the deaths of her children, hidden away in her office. The house gives Lowen an eerie feeling, and maybe or good reason. Just what happened with Verity, and is there something much more sinister lurking behind each corner? What is the truth, and do we really want to know what it is?

The characters were all great in this book. Honestly I found most of them at least some base level of despicable. However, it was still written in such a way that I really enjoyed reading and I struggled to put it down (though I did, explained later). Usually in a book where I can’t really relate to any character or “get behind” their perspective, I usually don’t enjoy the book. However, the characters in this novel were all flawed in believable ways, and it just made me feel like an innocent bystander who couldn’t help but watch the train wreck unfold. For a thriller, we got a lot of time to dive deep into many of the characters because of the nature of having the autobiography retelling everything. This was definitely unique to the book and I really enjoyed the dual perspectives.

The plot was very good. I was instantly enraptured and it was really hard to put it down, because I just needed to know the ending or at least discover what the truth was. The suspense was extremely well executed. Just enough paranoia, mixed with the protagonist’s sleepwalking history, mixed with the accident-prone family, and the fact that the deal was too good to be true really had me suspicious from the very start. The book really leads you down a path which seems normal at first but with each page becomes more of a shocking horror. Kudos to the author for genuinely spooking me with this book (in a good way!)

The ending was also phenomenal. One of the best thriller endings I have ever read to be honest. On the spectrum of too much left hanging versus everything tied up too well, it reached a very very happy medium. Overall it just really baffled my mind and was a type of ending that I really didn’t see coming. The author really took the train of thought I had and then turned it around halfway and jammed it onto itself–can you tell I was really affected by it? Anyway, I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending, but I really felt that it added a whole extra level of horror that I haven’t experienced in a while.

Overall Recommendations

Verity is a suspenseful thriller novel revolving around a struggling writer, Lowen, who gets asked to finish a famous series of thrillers written in the perspective of the villain. As Lowen enters into the headspace of the original author, Verity, especially by reading her unpublished autobiography, dark things begin to become clear. What is the truth behind the tragedies in Verity’s life and is it more sinister than what it appears to be? Find out in this exciting thriller that you won’t want to put down!