Second Look: MOXIE by Jennifer Mathieu

Disclaimer: I received a galley of this book from Netgalley for an honest review. Moxie will be released September 19, 2017.

I have to admit, I first heard about Moxie after seeing a lot of angry tweets about a certain Kirkus review about two month ago. Of course, if the review pissed off that many people, I had to look into it. What I found was one of my favorite books of 2017.

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

When I started reading Moxie, I was unnerved by how familiar it seemed and how much it sounded like my own high school alma mater. Football rules all, special treatment is given to some and not others (I don’t want to generalize, but let’s face it… it was mostly jocks and cheerleaders), funds were invested in new athletic fields instead of the students’ education, and the dress codes never made much sense. Obviously, Viv’s high school is an extreme setting, but I’m curious to know if Moxie was inspired by real events from Mathieu’s high school experience.

Regardless of your own personal experiences, there is no better time for a book that makes its readers feel so empowered. What I love most is that it shows how you can be a feminist and support feminist ideas WITHOUT BEING A WOMAN. Even though the crux of the story is Viv’s fight against misogyny, the girls aren’t the only ones helping fight for female equality, and I think that’s awesome.

Viv’s friendship/relationship with new guy Seth is super interesting. He’s totally on her side and supports her all the way, but there are some fundamental things he just doesn’t get. The give-and-take conversations between the two of them are pretty enlightening because you get to see feminist questions and arguments from different perspectives.

Everything about this book is simply amazing. The writing, the characters, the relationships, and the friendships forged among the brave girls at this Texas high school make my feminist heart leap for joy. It’s an encouraging reminder that it doesn’t take much to ignite a spark and bring about change.

Major props and a big thank you to Jen Mathieu for giving such an honest voice to feminism and helping young women release their inner RiotGrrrl!


*Shameless library promotion: Ashley and I are reading Moxie for our Forever Young Adult” Book Group meeting in November. If you’re in the area, come meet with us! You can check out our FYA Facebook group to see what we’re reading each month!  




Oh, yea. BTW, here’s the cover…

You can also read an excerpt at! (But don’t read it unless you’ve read the first two books. Or unless you like spoilers. Your life, your choices. I won’t judge.)

Second Look: Dr. Vincent Di Maio’s MORGUE

Found in my favorite section of Barnes & Noble (True Crime!), I was ecstatic to find this book.  MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH is by retired medical examiner, Dr. Vincent Di Maio (and Ron Franscell) about some of his most intriguing and famous cases.


Dr. Vincent Di Maio and Ron Franscell’s
St. Martin’s Press, 2016

There’s not really a “synopsis” of this book.  I could retype the book jacket, but what’s the point?  Since it’s more memoir and true crime, there’s not really much to spoil, either.  So I’m just going to tell you WHY this book was awesome. :D


Di Maio is an experienced medical examiner.  (His father was also a medical examiner, fun fact!)  He’s worked on cases like George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin, the exhumation of Lee Harvey Oswald, and the mystery of Vincent van Gogh’s suicide.  In this memoir, he talks about some of these amazing, and puzzling, cases.  He also talks about society’s “obsession” with death, and how different life is for a real forensic pathologist, versus what you see on TV.

Di Maio and Franscell tell each case in a narrative structure.  They open well before Dr. Di Maio is called to examine the case, setting the scene and giving background information for the readers.  I think this was one of the best parts of the book, because it draws you in without giving you a lot of medical jargon.  It’s obvious that Di Maio has done trial testimonies, because he explains things clearly for the layman.

The cases are what really sucked me in — from Trayvon Martin’s shooting to Martha Woods and Genene Jones to West Memphis Three.  According to Di Maio’s findings and conclusions, it definitely changed how I viewed some of these cases.  (He also talks a lot about how the media and public make assumptions and then disregard scientific findings when they don’t fit into that assumption, which was fascinating.)

I’d highly recommend this to any murderino, only because I’m not sure someone who doesn’t like true crime would really enjoy this.  (Unless you’re into science and forensic pathology, or like TV shows like Bones and want the true side of Kathy Reichs’s books…)

Definitely 10/10 stars for me!