Book Review · Books

Carry The Dog

Some books burrow a place into your soul. Carry The Dog has done just that. The last page has been read and my brain is reeling from this novel. This novel is NOT for kids or teens. If you are sensitive to dark topics then you may want to proceed with caution. It’s dark. Pitch black, can’t see ANYTHING in front of your face. The only thing you can do is listen to the main character, Bea’s thoughts.

How do you survive a childhood overshadowed by a famous mother? To have a parent whose loved and hated by society for producing what she considers art? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if that perspective is twisted and marred?

Bea is on the cusp of the big 60 and her childhood that she thought was ‘normal’ keeps throwing her flashbacks. She’s trying to survive. One cig and drink at a time. Thankfully she has her younger sister, of sorts, Echo to keep her grounded.

When Bea’s ex tries to worm her into agreeing to allow someone to do a documentary on her mom she’s confronted with a past she’s trying forget. How does one process trauma? She thought ignoring it would make it disappear, but when Bea tries to confront her aging father, she realizes sometimes you’ve just got to dive into the pig sty and face crap head-on.

This novel tackles the intricacies of family on a whole different level. What is a family? Can a fractured one be pieced back together? Is it possible to pick up the shards of a disassociated self and make her whole again? How does our own perception morph between childhood and adulthood?

I received a complimentary physical and digital copy of Carry The Dog by Stephanie Gangi care of Algonquin Books and NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own volition. Thank you Stephanie, Algonquin Books and NetGalley. This novel is Gone Girl level on the psychological front. I almost couldn’t stomach it, but I’m glad I did.

Book Review · Books

I Won’t Die Alone

Do you like comic books and/or graphic novels? If so, you might enjoy this short book about the end of the world that’s filled with different types of quotes with modern cartons of animals. Maybe it’s my mindset, my mood, but I know artwork is in the eye of the beholder. You either love it, or not so much. Sadly I’m in the last category. I wanted to like this book, but for some reason the artwork brought back Richard Scarry’s short story: Goodnight Little Bear. That artwork creeped me out as a little kid. I think for me it’s just not my personal cartoon style preference.

I received my complimentary digital copy of I Will Not Die Alone by Dera White and illustrated by Joe Bennett. The views are mine and my own choice. Please don’t let my review detour you. Check out this comic later this fall.

Book Review · Books

Petals Of Rain

Rica’s life draws you in from the very start. This memoir is poetic, dreamlike, yet hard hitting in spots. Rica shares her life with you: the good, the bad, the hopeful, the shocking. Her home life growing up isn’t the greatest unless she’s at her grandparent’s house. At a young age she meets a cute guy who she marries young. Here is her ticket to a better life. After a few years and they’ve got two little boys: KJ and Sym. The latter is a wrecking ball of anger that is hard to keep at bay.

Rica tries church to see if adding this social element will help her family. For awhile things seem to improve. The boys start to get used to going and her husband seems to be settling in. That is until the one time he seems to disappear after they are all situated in their pew.

When Rica’s husband gets verbally abusive towards their son that is her last straw. The family she’s tried her darnedest to keep in tact is having a monumental shift. No more house or life like she’s known. The boys aren’t too thrilled with the life changes, but it is what it is.

Following Rica on her journey to find herself and place after all she’s been through is insightful. It’s hard to put down her story. Rica is inspiring. She writes as though you are sitting across from her over coffee and she’s sharing her deep soul with you.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Petals of Rain by Rica Keenum from The Book Reality Experience care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice.

Book Review · Books

Chasing Wonder

Do you ever feel stuck in a rut? This world can feel that way. Especially with how world events are panning out. Chasing Wonder, is the story of how the author, Ginger Stache, came out of her shell to live an adventurous life.

Ginger’s life didn’t start out glamorous, but through outshe’s learned to say, “Yes,” to God when he leads her. Being the Chief Creative Officer for Joyce Meyer’s Ministries has taken her on countless adventures overseas to help those less fortunate. These different adventures have taught her that even in the moments when inside she’s begging herself to say, “no,” that by her, “yes,” Ginger has grown in her faith and gratefulness.

Witnessing others who live in squalor, but have a joy that surpasses any American is humbling. Traveling to third world countries was life changing. Ginger got to experience sleeping in a hut in Zambia with a wild assortment of insects and cringe worthy animals. I don’t know if I could brave having wasps and bees trying to get through my mosquito net all night, or finding a huge spider under my pillow. Hello, panic attack.

I received my complimentary copy of Chasing Wonder by Ginger Stache, care of Worthy Publishing. The views are mine and of my own will. This collection of adventures showed me that I can find adventure and joy in the simple every day doings of life. I don’t have to go fancy and pricy to get a worthwhile time.

Book Review · Books

Over It

If you are a girlie girl then this book cover is going to make your heart happy. Pink everywhere. I haven’t liked pink since the first grade, but it’s starting to grow on me.

Kelsey talks candidly about how growing up in the evangelical world there are silent expectations. If you are a perfectionist then this is a challenging combo. You may feel the need to measure up culturally and spiritually. Is this realistic? It’s not. It causes anxiety and stress. Kelsey tries to measure up, but never feels arrived.

College felt like it would be a fresh new beginning. Being away from home can make you feel all grownup. That is until Kelsey discovers partying. As a perfectionist she does it with abandon.

When Kelsey Mets Chris at college she knows there is something special about him. There is something forbidden. He is a PK, adored by his family and church. He was Mr. Christian popularity. Everything seemed all sparkly, until Kelsey realized the underbelly wasn’t all charm.

Growing up in the evangelical world, a woman has her place. Kelsey wasn’t raised to speak up. Things aren’t that bad she reasons. Abuse only counts if it’s just physical. Kelsey dives deep into what it was like to be in a toxic relationship.

I received my complimentary copy of Over It by Kelsey Grimm from Worthy Publishing. The views are mine and of my own will. I’ll confess at first I felt like this book came across a tad spiritually fluffy, but not to worry there is spiritual meat in this memoir. I commend Kelsey for opening up about her experience. If the topics of toxic and abusive relationships are triggering then I caution you as you read this book. Kelsey is a survivor and an inspiration. Thank you Kelsey.

Book Review · Books

Holy Hot Mess

Christianity can scream for perfection, especially when it comes to women having to come across perfect in their looks, life and schedule. I’ll confess. I like to look at the author photo. I wasn’t disappointed. The author, Mary Katherine is stunning. Honestly I was afraid I was in for one of those cheesy, feel good Christian books. I wasn’t wrong. MK’s book is one of those such books, but it’s not all warm fuzzies and hot cocoa.

MK tackles some deep topics. There are topics that I can really relate to. The chapter on growing up and wanting to be accepted and be friends with a particular girl at school, well I’ve been there and got burnt as well. Going to church and not being in the mood to go? Yes, I am guilty of that more times than I can count. But you know what? I miss that family atmosphere. Yes, there is always going to be church drama. Imperfect people crammed into one building all trying to learn about God, Christ and the Holy Spirit that equals a recipe for spiritual/faith drama.

I loved Holy Hot Mess. MK never is condescending or uppity, she gets right across from us and shares her heart, soul and some extra leftovers because she doesn’t want any of her readers to be left hungry or left out. She is funny, serious, vulnerable and most important readable. She doesn’t dumb down the tough subjects, but her writing is conversational, personable and memorable.

I received my complimentary copy of Holy Hot Mess by Mary Katherine Backstrom from Worthy Publishing. Views are my own and my own choice. I am so thankful I got to read this book. I love getting to discover new favorite authors. Thank you Worthy and thank you MK. I can’t wait to go read more of your books.

Book Review · Books

Peaceful On Purpose

Currently in the world, peace seems like the last thing that’s a possibility. We’re dealing with a world wide pandemic, there are raging fires and earthquakes that feel like they are just ramping up for a big one. Life feels like we are stuck on mental rollercoaster mode and we just want to get off this trying ride.

I admit I was a tad skeptical on the topic of being peaceful on purpose. How is that remotely possible? Christian or not. It sounds too pie in the sky and wishy washy. I’m sure lots of readers may be rolling their eyes. It’s understandable. Times aren’t exactly screaming peace.

Joel’s book is short with a powerful point. God is in control. We may be not be able to see the bigger picture or outcome, but He is in control. Not that we shouldn’t be responsible or accountable for our actions, but knowing He does have us in the palm of His hand should be comforting. We try to hold tight control to so much. That stubbornness just gives us more frustration and anxiety. Do we need more of both when times are already nuts? No. We need less.

I received my complimentary copy of Peaceful On Purpose by Joel Osteen from FaithWords in exchange for my honest review that is fully mine. This book was definitely thought provoking and even though the topic is very Christianese, it’s even more relevant for today.

Book Review · Books

A Socially Acceptable Breakdown

Poetry is deeply personal. It’s laying your soul out to be examined line by line. No poem is the same. A poem tells a story. Your story. They can be simple, complex, quirky, funny, sad, disturbing and so much more. A Socially Acceptable Breakdown is an epic book. Patrick’s poetry is a wild ride. He’s dealt with anorexia, depression, death of a family member, figuring out his sexuality and more. He gives you a peek into his life. The good, the bad, the what just happened?

If you are a fan of poetry then this book will be a must to add to your collection. These poems are gems to read, mull over and think on. I already want to reread it. I received my complimentary digital copy of A Socially Acceptable Breakdown by Patrick Roche from Button Poetry, care of NetGalley. The views are strictly mine and of my own will. This book inspires me to keep on writing my own poetry. It’s therapeutic and a great way to safely get out your thoughts and gives you a record of what you’ve been through.

Book Review · Books

Self Love Poetry

I’ll confess the title had me thinking something vastly different. This collection of poetry is stunning, thought provoking, moving, shocking and most of all POWERFUL. I almost finished it in one day. I couldn’t stop reading. Each poem spoke to me. I wanted to pause, to highlight and take notes. I’ll have to wait till it’s released, but it’s already sitting on my Amazon wishlist. Yes, it was that great of a read.

Poetry is primal and personal. It digs into your soul like it’s a pumpkin and your guts get squeezed out, but underneath all that orange slime are seeds that take root. These seeds water your soul with hope, bravery, compassion, humor, love, acceptance and joy. This poetry won’t leave you empty. It will inspire to keep going.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Self Love Poetry by Melody Godfred from Andrew McMeel Publishing, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice. If you enjoy poetry I highly recommend this book of poetry. I think it will make a great gift this upcoming fall.

Book Review · Books

September 11th, 2001 The Day The World Changed Forever

It’s a day no one can ever forget. It was a regular day until it wasn’t. It splashed on the TV on repeat. The images on our TV seared into our brains, never to be removed. Two planes fly right into the Twin Towers. Buildings that appear sleek, tall, majestic, part of the NY city skyline. I’ve personally never seen them in person, but from images you can see their grandness. These tall towers couldn’t take it and they fell like stones. Almost 3,000 lives were lost. People who went to work there or people visiting gone in mere moments.

The aftermath of this horror spawned a war against the terror that was inflicted on America that day. What would it be like to be in a different country looking from the outside? When you’ve heard your own country’s view on a life alerting event it’s refreshing to hear how the same event is seen from a different perspective. This graphic novel is from the viewpoint of a French woman who was just a young teen when September 11th happened. This is her story of how this event affected her and the events that occurred after to her own country.

This graphic novel is thorough in going over the events of September 11th, the war that happened after and the other life changes that occurred because of this act of terrorism. It’s been over 20 years since that day. This book is a great recap. The artwork is modern and brings it to life. This topic is important and it’s something we never want to forget, but it’s definitely for a more mature audience. I wouldn’t recommend it for elementary school age. I believe it would be a good conversation piece for older junior highers and definitely high schoolers.

I received my complimentary digital copy of September 11th, 2001 The Day The World Changed by Baptiste Bouthier and Illustrated by Héloise Chochois from Europe Comics, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my own choice. If you want to grab a graphic novel that makes reading about history not boring, encourages a discussion and an important read, then I’d grab a copy later this summer.