Book Review · Books · Uncategorized

My Father’s Business

I enjoy shopping at Dollar General. You never know what you’ll discover, but they always have unique bookmarks. I still have one that’s embroidered from ten years ago. When I got asked if I’d like to review My Father’s Business by Cal Turner, Jr. with Rob Simbeck I said, “yes,” since I like to personally shop occasionally at Dollar General.

This memoir goes behind the scenes of this major retailer to show the humble start of Cal Turner, Sr. starting the retail chain that would morph into becoming Dollar General where everything is only a $1. Based out of Scottsville, KY where hardworking customers value a great deal and buy. Senior Turner knew what his customers wanted and needed. He would look high and low for great deals to sell to his customers. When his eldest son, Cal Turner, Jr. got into helping out in the stores he knew one day he’d take over the reigns of Dollar General.

This book is a short read, filled with personal stories of Cal Jr. growing up under the shadow of his dad and what it was like to grow up in a family immersed in living, breathing retail. Cal Jr. does share how his Christian faith helped shape his work ethic and personal life. There are tense moments and moments you’ll laugh. If you enjoy business books that are part memoir then you’ll enjoy this book.

I received my free copy of My Father’s Business from Center Street in exchange for my feedback. This was an enjoyable read and it’s neat to read about the history behind an iconic store.

Book Review · Books

The Moment Before

Holly Chicago is determined to not let any man capture her heart again after her heart was broken by her father who left on a trip when she was little and never returned. She loves her father and is sure he didn’t abandon her, but the years keep flying by with no word from him. Holly keeps his memory alive by writing to him in her journal. She also, finds solace in visiting Joe, a piece of artwork at a museum near by that makes her think of her father and makes her feel closer to him.

Elias Haddad only meant to go visit his dying father, but instead got caught up in politics and arrested trying to enter his homeland of Syria. He misses his daughter Cheryl. Elias keeps hoping to one day be freed.

Holly revamps herself after leaving her verbal abusive mom behind. She doesn’t want to think of her real name or her heritage. Her Syrian roots might just get her into trouble after the scary events of 9/11. Holly chooses to start over in a small town where a handsome local lawyer named John Veranda is quite the distraction. When Holly was out of high school she tried to ask Mr. Veranda to help her in her search for her missing father. The difference is Cheryl goes by a new name and will Mr. Veranda recognize her?

This novel, The Moment Before by Jason Makansi is a story about family, relationships and the courage to not give up. I was provided a copy of this novel for free from TLC Book Tours care of Blank Slate Press. This is an intense read and brings to mind the years after 9/11 and what the American mindset was at that time. Holly, John and Elias are characters that don’t leave your inner world after the last page. I don’t usually read political themed novels, but this one is worth it. Go grab a copy from Amazon. Thank you Mr. Makansi for writing on a topic that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Book Review · Books

Becoming The Talbot Sisters

Waverly and Charlie are twins who are orphaned when their parents plane crashes in Africa. They are sent to live with their Aunt Mae whose not rich like their parents were, but showers the girls with a stable, caring home life.

As adults Waverly uses her inheritance to go to culinary school and Charlie decides to travel to Africa where she ends up doing nonprofit work there. The twins used to be close, but as the years go by they became more like strangers. When Aunt Mae passes away they are brought back together.

In her grief Charlie makes a huge life decision to try and give Waverly the one thing she’s most wanted in life. A child. To be her sister’s surrogate. After multiple miscarriages Waverly has almost given up hope, so when Charlie offers this generous possible gift Waverly hopes her husband, Andrew will be on board. Will Charlie go through with her offer to Waverly? Will their sisterly bond survive such a complex situation?

This novel is sweetly written. Waverly and Charlie are two distinct characters that stand out. Waverly is a Food Network host of her own cooking show while Charlie is the traveling nonprofit humanitarian. I can relate to Charlie in that I am more of an introvert who likes to read. Waverly reminds me of my sister in her love of cooking unique dishes. This novel tackles tough topics like infertility, sisterhood and what makes up a family.

I received my ARC copy of Becoming The Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden for free care of TLC Book Tours from Thomas Nelson. I am usually not into Christian fiction, but this novel isn’t religious in tone. To grab a copy click here for Amazon and to find out more about the author Rachel Linden check out her website.

Book Review · Books

You All Grow Up And Leave Me

What if you discovered one of the most trusted adults you knew had a dark secret; a secret you escaped from being a victim of? Piper Weiss describes her life growing up during her teen years being coached tennis by Gary Wilensky. Gary made tennis practice fun. He would dress up in a funny costumes, coach wearing roller skates and even allow some of the girls to buy candy after practice. Piper’s parents trusted Gary, as did a lot of the parents of teens Gary coached. When Gary sends Valentine cards to select tennis players that does raise a few parental eyebrows. One night Piper hears the news that Gary is dead. Years later she decides she wants to find out what really happened the night Gary died. Why wasn’t Piper one of Gary’s favorites and was there more to Gary than meets the eye?

This memoir is gripping from page one. Piper brings forth the true creepiness of what happened in 1993 to full color. After the first chapter I felt goosebumps it was that creepy. Yes, Stephen King creepy! I haven’t read true crime in a long time, but Piper’s account of her experience being coached by Gary and what she uncovered by her research into the night Gary died brings to mind that as an adult, don’t be ashamed to ask for help if you are depressed. Piper discusses the tricky mind screw that is being thought a favorite of Gary, but yet not THE favorite.

I received my ARC copy of You All Grow Up And Leave Me by Piper Weiss for free care of TLC Book Tours from William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. If you are looking for a fast paced read this memoir will have you staying up late to finish. Thank you for speaking out Piper. To go buy a copy click here and to contact Piper click here.

Book Review · Books

The Fox Hunt

What would you do if you wanted to research opposite faiths than what you were raised with? Mohammed encounters a Christian teacher at his college. He wants to be an obedient Muslim and share his faith with his teacher, so he brings him a Quran. Surprisingly his teacher is of the same mindset and gifts him a Christian Bible, which for Mohammed is a forbidden item.

Mohammed reads his Bible and starts to have discussions with his teacher, but when his teacher moves away he branches out online to connect with others who can help further explain Christianity and Judaism. Through his studying he gets jobs at nonprofits where he can continue his studies and connecting with Christians, other Muslims and Jews to learn more about why there is conflict. Mohammed wants to help bridge peace between the groups, but when there is upheaval in his country of Yemen he is trapped in his home. He reaches out to others online to see if anyone will help him escape.

I received my ARC copy of The Fox Hunt by Mohammed Al Samawi for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for my review. This book is intense from page one. Mohammed writes in such a way you feel as though you are walking by his side throughout his memoir, experiencing every moment. This book is a great window into what it’s like to grow up in Yemen.

Book Review · Books

Forgiving God

If you have a special needs child this book will be a comfort to you, to know you aren’t alone. Hilary was a newlywed with the surprise of getting pregnant. She was excited for her child and becoming a mother. When she went in for an appointment the doctor had some hard news. Her son would have some health changes. Hilary’s faith was tested to the max coming to terms with her son, Jack’s health. She gives an honest overview of her spiritual struggle, her struggle as a new mom and how to view herself with a disabled child.

This memoir gave me a window into what it would be like from a parental standpoint what it’s like to have to have your child have to live for a time in the NICU. I was on the side of Jack. I didn’t get to go home right away for different health reasons. My parents had to deal with doctors, health scares and scrubbing up before being allowed to enter the NICU area. The hospital is not the world you want your baby to have to live in beyond being delivered.

I received Forgiving God by Hilary Yancey for free from Hachette Book Group Nashville in exchange for my review. This memoir packed an emotional punch. Hilary’s faith survived, but not all parents of special needs kids have their faith intact after the fact. I appreciate that Hilary didn’t sugarcoat her experience.

Book Review · Books

Running From God

Elizabeth grew up with a strict and harsh father. She wanted for him to be proud of her, to tell her that he loved her, but it was an exercise in vain. She was an introvert craving to be loved, but afraid of being hurt and ridiculed. Elizabeth mainly kept to herself, until she met and married her husband Bob. He showed her unconditional love, encouraged her to be her even when it was out of her comfort zone. Elizabeth and Bob had kids.

Sadly when Bob passes unexpectedly Elizabeth is thrown into figuring out who she is apart from her spouse and her kids. Running From God is Elizabeth’s journey from exploring her childhood religion of what being Jewish entails to finding a faith that speaks to her without harsh judgement. Through many different spiritual journeys from Gurus to A Course In Miracles, Elizabeth discovers her spiritual home and her way back to God.

I got my free digital copy from NetGalley in exchange for my review. I enjoyed this spiritual memoir because I can relate to wanting a faith that is yours and not a family members. I was raised a particular faith and set of beliefs. To journey outside that comfort bubble is scary, but also, rewarding. Thank you Elizabeth for opening up your life and sharing all you’ve learned. Your memoir was a joy to read. If you enjoyed Conversations With God, then you just may like Running From God.