Book Review · Books

The Alphabet Of Grief

img_2099Grief is not a topic out of popularity, but out of necessity. We don’t know when a friend, family member, spouse, or acquaintance is going to pass away. The Alphabet Of Grace is a small little book packed with lots of wisdom. Chaplain Andrea Raynor brings death and grief to our door in an easy to understand Guide. Her guide of sorts is broken down via the alphabet. Each letter stands for a topic having to do with grief and death. At the end of each short chapter is a meditation and an affirmation.

I have had family members pass away and close friends. Death is never easy to deal with. I still miss my grandparents and my one best friend, but I know they are now not in pain. Personally I don’t find comfort in going to their graves. Honestly cemeteries creep me out. One way I like to remember them is by going to a fave place they liked to eat, or enjoy a favorite pastime they had like watching baseball, or reading a book. We all deal with grief in different ways.

I’m so glad I requested to review this book from Blogging For Books. This book is not preachy, though it is consider Christian. It comes across like a warm blanket on a winter night that keeps you warm and feeling cozy. It’s comforting and yet educational at the same time. I got this book for free in exchange for my review from Blogging For Books. I highly recommend this title for anyone dealing with someone in the process of dying or have passed on. I wish I’d had this book back when my grandparents passed. It would have helped me get through a lot.

Book Review · Books

The Other Alcott


Growing up I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and of course saw the modern movie of it. This novel is about the life of Louisa May Alcott’s youngest sister, May. She is the fairest one of the family and loves to draw. When she gets a bad review of her artwork featured in Little Women, May decides to buckle down in seriousness regarding her artwork.

Follow May on her journey from struggling artist in Massachusetts to her move to London, France and back again to study art. May is torn between pursuing her artistic career or returning home to help Louisa care for their mother who is aging. Family duty or career advancement? No matter what year it is all of us have experienced the quandary of listening to a family member’s request or sticking to our own plans. It’s a tight rope that’s not easy to walk along.

This novel covers many topics from sibling rivalry to being a single woman on your own stuck in a man’s world, trying to be taken seriously. This book has great descriptions of France, London and Massachusetts. I am not the most educated when it comes to art and art terms, but this book gavies quite the primer. I enjoyed this novel. The only thing I didn’t like is that it’s, too long. If it was about half the length I think it might be more appealing.

I received my free ARC copy of The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper from TLC Book Tours for my personal review. If you are interested in learning more about May Alcott via this in depth historical novel click here to get this book from HarperCollins. If you are interested to learn more about Elise Hooper click here to connect with the author. Happy reading!

Book Review · Books

The Landscapes Of Anne Of Green Gables

img_2107.jpgWho can’t resist reading about one of your all time favorite places even if you have yet to actually visit? In second grade I got to watch, “Anne of Green Gables,” the Kevin Sullivan production. It was breathtaking and Megan Follows will forever be Anne to me. I have watched the new version on Netflix. I was very negative about there being a new one. I chanced and watched it. It’s easily as fantastic as the previous mini series, possibly even better. Gasp. Very sacreligious I know. When this title became a possible ARC I’d be alllwed to read I jumped at my opportunity.

This lovely book takes the reader on a visual delight of the many wonders of Prince Edward Island. The photos show the island at different seasons. This book also, talks about the author of Anne Of Green Gables,  Lucy Maude Montomgery otherwise known as L.M. Montgomery. If you like reading about your favorite author’s life then this book will leave you craving to read more about her. There are photos throughout of her and also, places on the island that inspired her novels.

If you are a big fan of Anne of Green Gables then this book will be a keeper once it comes out. The photos made me want to book my trip right away. It also, inspires one to want to learn more about L.M. Montgomery. I was provided this ARC for free via NetGalley in exchange for my review. Thank you NetGalley and Timber Press.

Book Review · Books

The Lives Of Desperate Girls

img_2094.jpgI didn’t think this book would impact me as deeply as it did. The Lives Of Desperate Girls by MacKenzie Common is a novel about friendship, love, trust and betrayal in a small Canadian town. Jenny is an inconspicuous teen whose life revolves around her childhood best friend Chloe. Chloe is the life of the party while Jenny is her quiet sidekick. Life is chugging along when one day Chloe goes missing. Jenny is determined to find her best friend. Three weeks after her disappearance there is a local murder of a different young woman. The crime is ugly, but it seems to Jenny that no one cares. This young woman was a Native. Is racism still alive and well? With the help of her new friend Tom, both he and Jenny go investigate what may have happened to Chloe, but to also, find out why the young Native woman was murdered. Jenny can’t understand why Chloe’s disappearance is considered top priority when a woman being found murdered gets pushed under the rug.

If you enjoy suspenseful and deep storytelling I highly recommend this novel. I couldn’t put this book down, you want to just keep finding out what happened to Chloe. I was not aware of the racism that exists in Canada between whites and Natives before reading this novel. I received my e-book ARC of The Lives Of Desperate Girls for free care of NetGalley in exchange for my reaction to this book. My reaction is it’s a must read. I think this book would make great required high school and college reading.

Book Review · Books

Love Big, Be Well

If you have been burnt by the church, Love Big, Be Well, just might restore your faith in the body of Christ (family of God) aka the church. This novel is the story of Pastor Jonas McAnn whose decided to get back into preaching after doing a stint working at an insurance company. He receives a letter from one of the churches he’s going to be interviewing at. He’s used to getting a long list of questions, but the letter he gets is down to earth and simple. Does he want to be Granby’s pastor? Pastor Jonas writes back. This starts a tradition of correspondence between himself and the congregation. Him and his wife decide to accept the pastorate at Granby Presbyterian. This novel is the correspondence over the years between Pastor Jonas and his new congregation.

Each chapter talks about different topics from Advent, to baptism, death, Christian conferences, friendship and a host of other topics. This novel isn’t preachy, it’s not superficial. This book is down to earth and meets you where you are at. You don’t have to be a believer to read this novel.

I received the e-book ARC of, Love Big, Be Well by Winn Collier from NetGalley in exchange for my honest assessment. This book reminded me a lot of the book, So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore,  by Wayne Jacobson and Dave Coleman. Both books are sweet and tackle tough topics in a nonpushy manner. If there is a church out there like the fictional Granby Presbyterian sign me up. I miss belonging to a church family like that.

Book Review · Books

Still Christian 

If you were a Christian young adult in the 1980’s this just might be the book for you. Pastor and teacher David Gushee talks about his faith journey in, Still Christian ,  from being a new believer in the summer of 78′ to his current life as a grandfather. Mr. Gushee describes what it’s like to be on the Southern Baptist side of the fence and the liberal side of the Christian fence. He has experienced both sides of Christiandom and come away still a believer. If you have attended an ultra conservative Christian college you may be able to relate to his experiences at both Union and Southern Baptist Theological seminaries, etc. Mr. Gushee discovered what it’s like when you stand by your convictions. Damned if you do and sometimes damned if you don’t. When the author took a stand with the LGBT community he found out how standing up for what you believe in can start you on a whole new spiritual journey than from where you started.

I received the ARC of, Still Christian,  from NetGalley in exchange for my honest assessment. I think I was the wrong age range to read this book. If I was ten years older than I might possibly might be able to relate to it more.

Book Review · Books

Something Beautiful Happened

If you have a grandparent still alive and willing to tell you their life story don’t hesitate to listen. If we don’t listen and write down the rich history we are provided it will be lost forever. Yvette thinks about all the times she could have spent time with her grandmother, but instead chose to do other things. There were so many more stories she could have heard, family history provided. Yvette didn’t even have to ask, her grandmother would have shared with her, but when you are young you think you have next time.

If you like to read about World War II, then I highly recommend, Something Beautiful Happened, by Yvette Manessis Corporon. This memoir is about the author’s search to find out the truth behind her grandmother’s story of helping save a Jewish family during the Holocaust on the small Greek island of Erikousa. Yvette grew up visiting the island and her grandmother during the summer, so she knew the island well. Her grandmother told her that the whole island kept this family a secret from the Nazi’s. Yvette decided she wanted to find the descendants of this family, to find out what had become of them.

Yvette’s journey takes many twists, turns, some of them heartbreaking, yet still rewarding. I’ve read countless memoirs on World War II, but this one packs an important punch.  Yvette writes in such a way  that you feel as though you are actually there on the island, at her grandmother’s house. I have never been interested in Greece before, but after reading this book I would like to go visit the island of Erikousa.

I was provided the e-book ARC of Something Beautiful Happened by Yvette Manessis Corporon for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This book was breathtaking.

Books · Preorder · SWAG

Pre-Order Fix Me & Get Swag

FIX ME Pre-order Campaign is now here! To enter:

Send in your proof of purchase to and receive FIX ME book swag! Your proof of purchase can either be a screen shot or forwarded email. Please be sure to include your name and address in the email!

Open to U.S. and Canada only.

I will run the campaign now until November 27th (the day before release!)

For the swag, you’ll receive a bookmark, a sticker and a personalized note card from me, including a fun FIX ME Fact!

I only have a limited amount to give out, so first come first serve. If you don’t receive anything from me, I do apologize. I want you to know, I really appreciate you purchasing FIX ME and wanting to participate!

Pre-order links:


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Book Review · Books

The Long Ride Home

Harley is a young adult with a very snarky mouth. She loves the Harley motorcycle she inherited after her mom passed away in a tragic fire. Nothing makes her happier than riding on the open road. Harley is dealing with the grief of her mom’s passing all due to her error of leaving a candle lit. Instead of the big city life in NY she has traded it in for a life in Los Angeles with her mom’s best fried Mercy. Harley keeps to herself mainly except for the one best friend she made named Dean. He came into her life one day at the pier asking if she was ok. Harley decides it’s time for her to let her mom go and take her ashes back to NY. She asks Dean to go with her. This novel is her adventure with Dean going to NY on the open road on her Harley.

Harley had me laughing off and on through out the whole book with her snarky humor. I have a quirky sense of humor so I got her snarkiness right away. This novel has clever dialogue, explores the love of family beyond the grave and what love looks like in action when you don’t particularly act lovable. Tawni Waters has done it again. I loved Beauty Of The Broken, but The Long Ride Home was a different beast all together. I am thankful I was allowed to read an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for this beautiful gift wrapped up in words. It’s a gem and Harley is character that will stick with you always.

I got the lovely opportunity to interview Tawni, which follows below:

1. When did Harley first speak to you?

Harley first spoke to me in a pub near Lehigh University. I was teaching at a summer creative writing program there, and I’d been madly trying to write something “good.” It was just after I’d found out my first novel, Beauty of the Broken, had won the ILA, so I felt a ton of pressure to follow it up with a brilliant second novel. I was failing miserably. I wrote three chapters of three different books, and my agent rejected them all. So nine wasted chapters later, I decided to sit in a pub on my day off, get drunk, and write whatever the hell I wanted, even if it was “bad.” “Unknown Legend” by Neil Young came on while I was scribbling words on napkins, and when I heard, “Out along a desert highway, she rides her Harley Davidson, her long blond hair flying in the wind,” Harley spoke. She said, “If you picture me as a rugged girl on a Harley, speeding down a leather-black highway at a hundred miles an hour, you might be right.” I wrote it down, and she kept talking. By the time she stopped talking, I had chapter one of The Long Ride Home. When I sent it to my agent, he told me I was a genius and that I needed to finish writing that book. The moral of the story: when all else fails, try whisky.
2. Do you like to write your WIP by hand or type?

I type. I’m a ridiculously fast typist, so I can keep up with my thoughts if I write that way. If I try to keep up by hand, my brain outdistances my pen within seconds.
3. Do you outline beforehand or freestyle write?

I never outline. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work for me. When I outline first, the writing I do later comes out really stilted and false. I prefer to let my characters tell me their stories as we walk their journeys together. When I started writing The Long Ride Home, I had no idea Harley was pregnant until she told me. And then I had no idea what she was going to do with that baby. I think I wrote the final chapter before I completely finished her road trip, because it poured out of me one night, but I didn’t know until I wrote that piece that she was going to. . .I guess I’d better not say what she chooses. What does Harley do with the baby in her belly? To find out, read The Long Ride Home, by Tawni Waters!!!
4. Did you always want to be a novelist?

Yes. I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I could pick up a pen. I also wanted to be an actor (which I did) and a singer (which I did not do). I used to make little books out of construction paper, complete with covers and illustrations and epic tales of daring-do. The first one was called Don’t Chase Hail! It was about a black and white spotted cat whose mother tells him not to chase hail. The little scamp does so anyway and ends up with some nasty bruises. It was one of those “see what you get for disobeying your mommy” stories. I think it ended with warm milk and his momma cat tucking him into bed. I wasn’t completely without mercy for my characters then. I guess I am now. A few months ago, I was talking to my big brother Bryan, who is one of my very best friends, and I said, “I think I have a responsibility to protect the people I love when I write about them.” He laughed and said, “You gave the character based on me brain damage, and then you shot him under a bridge.” (He was referring to Iggy from Beauty of the Broken, who was based loosely on him.) He had a point.
5. Whose your all time fave author?

I always get this question in interviews, and I never have a definitive answer. I think today it’s probably Toni Morrison. I love the way she plays with language. I love the way she tells the truth. Her books are deeply resonant and powerful. I haven’t read her works for a good ten years, but they all still live in my blood. They changed me permanently when I read them. I also love Margaret Atwood. I’m reading the third book in her MaddAddam series right now, and it’s splendid. Her dystopic novels blow my head off, in the best way possible. (Ask me this again next month, and I’ll likely give you a completely different answer.)

6. What is your fave genre to read?

This is another question I have a tough time answering. When I was a kid, I lived on a mostly uninhabited mountain in New Mexico with my family. We didn’t have T.V. Books were our main source of entertainment. My brother and I would “borrow” books from a the library at a nearby abandoned hippie commune. When Mom took us to the real library in Albuquerque, which was an hour away, I would pick books based solely on their thickness. Thick books took more time to read, meaning I had days of entertainment ahead of me, as opposed to hours. So I devoured big books, regardless of genre, and I kinda developed an appreciation for all kinds of literature. I obviously love YA, since that’s what I write. I really enjoy “literary” fiction, which just means it’s written with an eye toward artistry. I adore memoir, when it’s done well. But I also love some fantasy, and some sci-fi, and some chick lit. And we all know I’m a poetry fiend, as I’ve published one book of poems and am working on a second. Whatever. Just give me a good book, preferably a thick one.

7. Do you have any new WIP?

Kinda? I am revisiting a rock-n-roll novel I wrote years ago called Empire of Dirt. I spent ten years writing it, actually. It was my thesis for my MFA. It’s been in a drawer for a few years, but several months ago, I met a genuine rock star, the drummer for Vintage Trouble, who came to me as an editorial client. We got to be good friends, and I sent him the book. He loved it, which made me think I’d captured the rock-n-roll world well, which made me think I should bust that baby out and edit it one more time. (As a side note, Vintage Trouble gave me the song that is on my website,, which was one of the most generous gifts I’ve ever been given. I’m so grateful. And I finally get to see them live when I’m in Philly this fall. Yay!) I’m hoping to have the edit done by the time I finish my time as writer-in-residence at Rosemont College. Unless some new protagonist hunts me down, Harley-style, next time I’m at the pub.

8. Where’s your fave place to write?

I travel all the time, so I have learned to write anywhere and everywhere. I can write in a busy airport or on a bus or in a bathroom. I even wrote some really kick ass poems in a porta-potty at a rock concert once. If the muse wants to speak, I’m ready and waiting for her, wherever I may be.

9. How has being a PK helped shape who you are today?

Man, this is a complicated question with a complicated answer. In many ways, I’m really glad I’m a PK (preacher’s kid, for those who don’t know what that means). My parents were incredible. I was raised with a deep respect for spirituality and an understanding that miracles are woven into the fabric of the world. So spiritual experiences are pretty normal for me. I pray, and I know I’m being heard, and I expect my prayers to be answered. I am never alone, because I know, really know, God is always with me. Having the knowledge that God is out there loving me has strengthened me in ways I can’t even begin to explain. If I didn’t believe I am the object of great divine love, I know that some of the hatred and cruelty that has been directed toward me in my lifetime would have destroyed me. I would certainly not be accomplishing the things I am now.
I also appreciate what having parents who were Biblical scholars did for my ability to understand and create language. They could write a sermon based on one scripture, and wax eloquently about it for an hour. They’d look up the original Hebrew or Greek meanings of all the words and relate the scripture’s message to daily life. It made me see how deep words run, and how much power they have to shape and give meaning to our lives. I get the nuances of language on a pretty deep level, thanks to my parents.
On the flip side, I was pretty damaged by evangelical Christianity. My parents weren’t evangelicals, per se. They were incredibly loving, but I was regularly exposed to evangelical thinking, as we traveled in churchy circles. I think religion can be dangerous when it becomes judgmental and hateful and hell-centric and arrogant. It took me years to recover from the trauma that came from absorbing some of the teachings of evangelical Christianity. I was convinced I was going to hell, and it tortured me. I think I can trace my lifelong insomnia back to all the nights I stayed up as a little girl, begging God not to send me to hell. I saw those stupid Left Behind movies (the first generation, not the Kirk Cameron ones), and they scarred me for life. I was terrified Jesus was going to come back and take my family and leave me in a hellish world to have my head chopped off. I didn’t really get over all of that until I was maybe 40. Those scars ran pretty deep. (I know this is diametrically opposed to what I said about knowing God loved me, but for a long time, both of those thought processes coexisted in my brain. No wonder I’m so neurotic.)
But I think all of the good things in me–courage, generosity, faith, love, strength—came from being raised by beautiful, loving, powerful preachers who taught me there was a God who loved me, and there was a point to my life, and that love was the way to heaven, and that death wasn’t the end of it all. They gave me incredible gifts, made my soul vibrant and loving and tenacious, and I’m so grateful for that.

10. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

I think I’d want to live in France. I’ve been three times now, and I spent three months living in a medieval village there last year. It was one of the most beautiful times of my life. The country itself is just gorgeous, and I so admire the sensibility of the people. Today, I was hiking with my mom on some trails in the Sandias in New Mexico. The trails were marked with these ugly numbered signs that said things like “Gravel Pit Trail.” It made me think of the trails I used to hike in France, right outside of the village I lived in. The area I hiked was called La Mer de Rochers (Sea of Rocks), and the trails were marked with signs inscribed with sections of this beautifully poetic tale about how the garden I was walking through was given to the people by the gods, and how the people angered the gods and lost their rights to the garden. As you walked the trail, you learned pieces of the story. To me, that is the perfect illustration of what I love about French sensibilities. In the U.S., we are all about facts. There, they are all about beauty and story and poetry. Even their language carries an intrinsic beauty that English does not. Instead of saying they’ve been in a relationship with someone, they say something like, “We have written a story together.” Instead of saying, “I miss you,” they say, “You are missing from me.” I love the appreciation of life and beauty and love that is woven into every aspect of their culture. And the wine and cheese and open-air markets? I mean, what more could you want? If I ever hook up with the love of my life, I’ll whisk him off to some village in France and write poems on his kneecaps and drink wine out of his bellybutton or something. TMI? Sorry. That’s a wrap.

Book Review · Books

Rabbit Hole

David Shurter’s memoir is his journey coming to terms with his nightmarish past. He was raised in a family where his father was a Satanist and a priest within a local Satanic coven. He was raised and groomed from childhood to believe he was the AntiChrist. Some of his memories felt so awful, he wondered if they were merely bad dreams. After talking with his siblings he realized they weren’t bad dreams, but real events he was remembering. I think my mind is still trying to wrap around the events David talks about in his memoir. What Satanic ritual abuse entails is mind-boggling. David’s quest to find answers and healing is intense and filled with hope.

Years ago I discovered an SRA (Satanic Ritual Abuse) survivor, a Christian, who I befriended online. I read her memoir and was floored. When I saw Rabbit Hole as an option to get to possibly read, I grabbed at the first chance I got. The topic of Satanism isn’t for the light-hearted. It is dark, sadistic, demonic, creepy and you might opt to leave the lights on, but to educate yourself about this is subject is very important. Satanist wants to keep what they do in the dark, but the evil committed needs to be brought into the light. I was given an e-book of Rabbit Hole for free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. If you are spiritually sensitive this memoir might not be for you, but on the other hand you need to know the truth.