YBI, YRI: Mandatory Release by Jess Riley

The You Bought It, You Read It Mission continues to knock book after book off my To Be Read list.  My newest notch on my bookshelf belongs to Jess Riley.  Her book, Mandatory Release, was actually a gift given to me.  She was having a giveaway on her fan page and lucky me!  I won!  I never win anything.  (I keep saying this over and over, hoping that one day I’ll be a big lottery winner.  Just the jinx I need, right?)

I am no stranger to Jess Riley.  I discovered her through Indie Author Land.  The IAD blog does great little interviews with Indie writers to help get them exposure.  The same time frame that my interview for Letters To Young Chong premiered, so did her appearance for All The Lonely People.

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The Overview:

Thirty-year-old Graham Finch spends his days trying to rehabilitate inmates and his nights trying to rehabilitate his heart–until a new coworker, his high school crush Drew Daniels, walks through the prison gates one hot summer morning. Drew is on the run from a painful past that’s nearly crushed her faith in love. Together, they might have just what it takes to mend their hearts. If only finding their way to one another were easier than working with convicted felons.

Loaded with twisted humor and pathos, Mandatory Release is a darkly comic look at friendship, forgiveness, and love. A story about broken people putting themselves back together and learning that no matter what you lock up–a person, a secret, or your heart–sooner or later, everything must be released.

A snarky mash-up of lad lit and chick lit for people who read Jonathan Tropper, watch Orange is the New Black, and pretend they don’t sing along to TOOL and Gordon Lightfoot in the car, sometimes on the same day. Contains adult language, sex, jokes about sex, dark secrets, toxic friends, and a little dog named Avis, after the car rental company.

My Review:

Okay, I’m totally writer crushing on Jess Riley.  I love her snarkiness (a. is that a word? b. I mean that in the most complimentary way possible).  I remember as a youngster wishing that I could sing like the lead singer of Garbage.  In a similar sort of admiration, if one day I was forced to trade my writing style … I would want Jess Riley’s.

Now… with more focus on this novel and less on great music of the 90’s …

The book begins with a dedication.

For my parents, who met in prison. 

I know.  I almost fell over myself.

They worked there together.

But for a second it was pretty exciting, wasn’t it?

Oh, you got me Jess.  You got me.

Mandatory Release has chapters that alternate between the point of view of the two main characters, Drew and Graham.  These two know each other from way back and they have now been reunited … in prison!

Okay, again, this is a little less dramatic than what you expect.  They both have jobs at a prison.

The newly hired Drew has just returned to her home town to recover from a breakup with the mysterious Ben.  I say mysterious not because he’s an international spy, but because the vagueness of his existence.  You know they were in love but something must have went terribly awry.  I found myself quite often with this book clutched in my sweaty fist, shaking it violently and screaming “WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO DREW AND BEN?????”

Don’t worry, readers!  You will find out.  Discovering the secretive details of this love lost left me with a crazy feeling.  Suddenly I realized that I had been so obsessed with Drew’s past and not focused enough on her future.  There was less than fifty pages left when the truth came out.  Less than fifty pages for things to start tying together or maybe for things to fall apart.  Now I was shaking the book and yelling “GET IT TOGETHER, DREW!!!!”

*Disclaimer:  this is why people think readers are crazy.  Always yelling a fictional characters.

I loved this book and I do love Jess Riley.  I recommend you grab a copy of one of her novels.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy her humor with a bite as much as I do!  You can learn more about her at her blog!

Next on the YBI, YRI Mission:  Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri


2 thoughts on “YBI, YRI: Mandatory Release by Jess Riley

  1. I like the YBI,YRI idea. My wife wishes that I would observe that, I’m sure. I think I have kind of unknowingly embarked on that mission this year. It will take me years, though. . . 😀

    1. I totally feel your pain! I’ve already cheated on the mission once, picking up a handful of books from a yard sale. The look on my beau’s face when I came through the door with that bunch of books in my arms… priceless.

      I have nothing but sympathy for the people in our obsessive book purchasing lives!

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