Category Archives: Book Review

Book Review- Basketball Junkie By Chris Herren

I read a lot of books about addiction.  Beautiful Boy, Lit, Smashed and The Basketball Diaries are among my favorite.  I loved The Basketball Diaries, both the book and the movie.  Intense.

Not as intense, but definitely a great read, was Basketball Junkie by Chris Herren.


Last November, Chris Herren came to speak at a local high school close to where I live.  I had read about him plenty; I had watched him play when I was younger and read plenty of articles about his drug use.  I had heard his methods during speaking engagements were different (in a good way) and I was really excited to hear him speak.  He did not disappoint.  He was candid and compelling.  As is his book.  An honest portrayal of an addict.  A kid who had every opportunity to be a big star but whose addiction was so controlling, he lost everything.  Just when you think he has hit rock bottom, you realize he still has deeper places to go.  If I hadn’t known he lived, I would have been sure he had died.

Every addict starts out like Chris.  Addicts come in all colors, shapes and sizes.  They live in big houses, small houses, in cars and on the streets.  They have all different degrees, professions and hobbies.  They don’t all get to live to tell their stories.  Chris did and now he is using what he went through and what he learned to tell his story.  If he saves even one person.  Judging by what I have read, he has saved many.  He says it was all worth it.  I am sure if he had the chance to do it again, he wouldn’t have taken the path he did (would anyone?) but I admire him for turning something horrific into something worthy.

If you know someone fighting addiction and want an inside look and the life of an addict, this is a good place to start.  I was touched by addiction late in my teen years, when my best friend died of an accidental overdose.  That was almost 14 years ago and that never gets easier to say.  I didn’t grow up around drugs, I wasn’t a part of that crowd and I was so naive, I didn’t even know my friend was doing it.  It was a huge shock.  Sometimes, it still shocks me.  Only because I never could have imagined how the war on drugs would personally affect me, how out of control it would get and I could never have imagined how insensitive some people could be about addiction.  No one grows up wanting to be an addict.  For me, reading this book and other books like this, helps me to understand where my friend was and what he was going through during his addiction.  I am working on a post all about addiction and my friend, that closely ties to this post.


Are you drawn to books about anything specific?  Do you feel like you identify with any specific genre?

Book Review- Don’t Look Back By Jennifer Armentrout




Before it even arrived from Amazon, I was excited to read this book based solely on the jacket description:

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend. 

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?

When it comes to books, I’ll pretty much read anything, but I do tend to read more young adult literature over summer than anything else.  And I am not embarrassed to admit that I like this genre of books.  Yes, YA literature is defined as being appropriate for ages 16-25, but I like that they are easy reads that I can finish in one to a few days.  I admit, I sometimes roll my eyes at the writing and there a few times where I thought I wasted my time on a book, but overall, I take them for what they are…simple.

Don’t Look Back was my first book of summer and it was so good I finished it in 2 days!  This was one of those pick up and read and don’t stop reading until you are done books.  Unfortunately, around 10pm, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and had to save the rest for the following day.  I thought about it all day and couldn’t wait to get home and finish the book!

Young adult  books can be very cliche, especially when they are center around teenagers and this being the authors first time writing a suspense romance, I was a little concerned.  Overall, this one was well done.  It wasn’t without it’s predictability, but the characters were realistic and the story line was so great that I was able to overlook the small imperfections.  Within the first few pages, I was hooked. The book is labeled as a suspense story, but I think it goes even deeper.  To me, this book read like a psychological thriller.  I have never been one of those people who thumbs to the end of the book to find out what happens before finishing, but I had to stop myself from doing that with this book.  Every few pages as the mystery unraveled, I kept thinking about what happened that night and who did it.  Heck, I spent a decent part of the book trying to figure what “it” was before we actually find out!

I have always felt that a really good suspense book gives the reader clues without the reader  even realizing it; then in the end, you are kicking yourself for missing them.  That is what happened with me and this story.  As the plot progressed and Sam struggled to reconcile who she is with who she was (just one of the many  mysteries), I found myself  guessing and guessing.  I didn’t know who I could trust!   Even Sam herself was unreliable due to her memory problems.  In the end, I had pretty much guessed every possible scenario and I was still only half right about the ending.  Once I knew though, I was able to navigate right back to each clue and see how it all pieced together.

The only real flaw in the book was the Epilogue.  It was a bit too fluffy given the nature of the book as a whole.  There were a few lines not tied completely up and a few lines tied a little too neatly for my liking.   However, I won’t let that discourage me from recommending it to you, if you like a good young adult book.  Again, with YA Literature, you have to take it for what it is, but I would consider this book is good for teenagers and adults alike (but note, there are a few sex scenes, although not graphic).  It is definitely a page turner- do not pick this up if you are on your way to bed or don’t have a lot of time!  You won’t want to put it down!


❤ Jillian