So, stage parents are the actual worst.
I was too old for Jennette McCurdy’s Nickelodeon shows iCarly and Sam & Cat when they aired, but despite not being familiar with her work I was intrigued to hear about her child-star life from the slap in the face that is this book title and cover.
A modern Mama Rose/Gypsy story, Jennette’s childhood and young adulthood were monitored and controlled by her narcissistic stage mother, who never fulfilled her showbiz dreams and so thrust them upon her (unwilling) daughter.
Jennette’s mother wanted her to stay a young, castable girl forever, so she taught her eleven-year-old daughter calorie restriction — only one of the many ways she manipulated her child, along with forcing her into acting classes and auditions, guilt trips, gaslighting: the whole trauma package.
But this is a memoir of catharsis. Of reflection, coming to painful realizations, and moving on.
Jennette McCurdy is a good writer with a strong voice and perspective. Not to mention a wonderful sense of dark humor. The best memoir I read in 2022.
These get an extra star for ✨️nostalgia✨️
I dug these bad boys up at my parents’ house over the summer when they were going through some of my brother’s and my childhood stuff, and I figured I’d save them to read during the spookiest time of year 😱
R.L. Stine knows how to tell a creepy tale! And, I can say reading these as an adult for the first time, he knows how to write kids well.
Haunted houses, undead neighbors, living ventriloquist dummies…all the creepy, unsettling stuff that goes down in these books are really just metaphors for the turmoil the kids in the books are experiencing—like the anxiety of moving to a new neighborhood, a new house, or the stress of competing with a sibling.
In Welcome to Dead House, a family moves into a new (old, and suspiciously inexpensive) home, and the children start to notice that the neighbors aren’t exactly what they seem 👻
And the creepy af dummy book (the cover used to give me nightmares as a kid!) is about a rivalry between twin sisters that manifests in their toy dummies. The girls use the dummies to play tricks on each other, only to discover the little wooden men have come to life 🤡😨
Goosebumps is like Are You Afraid of the Dark? in book form. They hold up! Recommend for a fun, quick read 📚
The genre: Contemporary fiction, romance-ish
The gist: A marriage on the rocks gets a second chance thanks to the help of a magic phone.
The review: Far-fetched but charming 💛
Georgie and Neal fell in love in college, got married, had two kids, and somewhere along the way lost sight of what made their relationship work.
Just when things seem irreparably bad, Georgie finds that her old landline phone at her mother’s house can magically get a hold of Neal in the 1990s, when they were first falling for each other. These calls help her remember her love for her now-husband, and ultimately save their marriage with a little time-traveling weirdness.
As a kid who grew up with landlines and VCRs, I like the idea of finding some elusive magic in analog technology. Because, like, there was something different and more special about a long landline phone chat—where you stood or sat or paced twirling the cord in your fingers, solely focused on the conversation because you were literally tethered to it—than the constant access we have to each other now.
I love Rainbow Rowell’s characters and writing. Their charm and endearment make this wild plot point work.
The rating: ⭐⭐⭐/5
Neal didn’t take Georgie’s breath away. Maybe the opposite. But that was okay—that was really good, actually, to be near someone who filled your lungs with air.
—Rainbow Rowell, Landline