Book Review · Books

The Ancestor

An unknown man wakes up crusted in ice. After he frees himself he wanders in the woods and discovers civilization has changed from what he dimly recalls. He doesn’t recall who he is, but while trying to piece together the mystery of who he is, he discovers Travis. This other man looks so much like him it’s creepy. How is that possible?

Travis lives a simple life with his wife, California and their young son, Eli. He’s been in a funk being out of work, but glad there’s a job for him to start. Life in Alaska consists of fishing, hunting, beer, the bar and seeing his extended family. Hopefully this new fishing job will ease his stress.

When the unknown man and Travis meet it’s like looking in a mirror, minus one with a beard and one clean shaven. Travis befriends this stranger, who seems like he’s also, down on his luck. The two form a friendship.

Grayson, part of the police force and Travis’s best friend is leery of the uncanny stranger, but tries to give the unknown man the benefit of the doubt. Travis’s wife is a tad thrown off by the resemblance of this new stranger in town, but he’s super old fashioned polite. He’s quite the charmer.

How is this man connected to Travis? What is the unknown man’s fascination with Travis, California and Eli? Will his amnesia ever life to uncover the truth?

I received a complimentary digital copy of The Ancestor by Lee Matthew Goldberg, from Down & Out Books, care of the author and TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and of my own choice. To grab your own copy get one quick from Amazon. To connect with the author, check out his website. This novel is a whirlwind of identity, family, brotherhood and the question we all face: do we always truly know those who are in our lives? This novel is fast paced, fascinating and a story you won’t soon forget.

Book Review · Books

The Grief We’re Given

Poetry is personal. It’s sharing your soul through words to describe life: every crumb, sparkle and devastation. It can rhyme, not rhyme, there are many varieties of poetry. I enjoy writing poetry myself. I find it soothing and calming for me. Plus, it gives me a history of what I have been going through.

The Grief We’re Given is a tour de force on grief. The author displays it in all its mishmash of beauty, horror, and hope. Grief is not a one size fits all emotion. Mr. Bortz handles this subject through his poetry with images that capture you. I felt like I was watching a movie as I read each poem. His descriptions are vivid, colorful and memorable. If you like to read poetry you might enjoy this poetry collection.

I received my complimentary digital copy of The Grief We’re Given by William Bortz from Central Avenue Publishing, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice. Whoever thought that the topic of death and grief could be displayed so elegantly, with tender care found a gem when they discovered Mr. Bortz and his captivating poetry.

Book Review · Books

How To Make A Life

If you love family sagas then you need to go grab a stunning copy of How To Make A Life. This novel tumbles you first into Ida’s world, the old country, the Ukraine. Due to the first war she escapes off to America with her two young daughters, where she works to build a brand new life for them. Ida can’t wait to put away the horrors of the war behind her.

This novel touches on the tough subject of mental illness and how society has viewed it through the decades and how family members can view it very differently. Would you be strong enough to call it out when a family member may need help instead of keeping quiet since you speak out loud just may bring shame on the family?Another subject that is focused on is sisterhood. When is being a sister go from caring to usury?

Each chapter gives the point of view from a different family member through different eras. Join Ida, Bessie, Jenny, Ruby, Morris, Irene, Abe and others on their adventures through life.

I received my complimentary copy of How To Make A Life by Florence Reiss Kraut from She Writes Press, care of Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own choice. I love the cover of this book. I have a soft spot for WWII books and this cover gives off the rustic, charming, 1940’s antique look. It makes me feel like I could walk right out onto the cover and be there with the characters.

Book Review · Books

Breathe Again

The death of a child is a road we don’t wish our worst enemy to have to travel down. Stacy Henagan takes our hand and walks us through this personal Hell. A beautiful daughter almost 1 years old. Cancer. Praying for a miracle, believing for healing and then that road you don’t want to go down, but are dragged down it kicking and screaming? Yes, Stacy has soldiered that painful road.

Stacy’s memoir of dealing with grief is no holds bared. It’s the kind that scrapes your heart so raw you don’t know if God will be able to heal it. She gives us that honest look at how her own faith morphed and changed. Stacy is a gracious host who shows us that even though that road beats you up, you can get through to the end and come out stronger.

Would your faith survive something like this? I, personally have no children of my own, but disease isn’t a prospector of persons. Tragedy touches us all at some point and we have to decide if we are going to weather our spiritual storm?

I received my complimentary digital copy of Breathe Again by Stacy Henagan from Thomas Nelson and Emanate Books, care of NetGalley and TLC Book Tours. The views expressed are mine and of my own choice. Grab a stunning copy off of Amazon. Thank you Stacy for sharing your daughter’s story and your faith journey through weathering your own personal storm.

Book Review · Books

Those Who Prey

College is a time for freedom, to discover yourself, enjoy dorm life and take the classes that interest you. Emily was thrilled to go away to Boston, away from her home in the south. Dorm life wasn’t the greatest. College life was lonely, until a cute guy interpreted her reading at the local coffee shop.

Josh invites her to hang out with his friends Heather and Andrew. Emily is excited to meet new people and make new friends. Heather seems very nice and that she wants to become genuine friends. Emily gets invited to an event where she gets a glimpse into the group that her new friends are involved in. Heather isn’t religious, but hearing one of the leader’s speak she is transfixed. Who doesn’t want improve their life, to discover their spirituality?

Heather is Emily’s mentor of sorts and as Emily goes through the process of learning and growing it seems Heather becomes even more controlling. Emily brushes off the caution in her gut. Heather wants the best for her, right?

When an internship spot opens up through the group Emily wants to go since Josh is going. The only challenge is that Heather wants to go. Which of them will get picked?

I received my digital complimentary copy of Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett from Simon and Schuster’s Children’s Publishing, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own will. This book will make a great conversation piece. This novel is a cautionary tale of sorts and an important one. I’m still processing my reaction.

Book Review · Books

Let The Willows Weep

What’s it like to have your own mother hate you? Birddog knows. Her mother always favored her older brother, Denny and other brother, Caul. The one solace she has is her dear father. He’s a miner who works hard, but shows love even harder, giving Birddog the sense of safety her mother won’t. Thankfully her brother, Denny is her protector and one of her best friends.

When the unthinkable happens to their father, Denny is forced to grow up sooner than he’d probably like. The challenge is he gets the same kind of work his father did. This doesn’t go over well with their mother. With miner work comes the comfort of the bottle and Denny starts to pull away from Birddog.

Birddog try’s her best to warm up to her mother, but any praise from her is fleeting, often filled with caustic words. After she doesn’t have the safety of her father, Birddog gets sick and the local town doctor asks her mother to comfort her. There is no comfort provided in their shared grief. Birddog’s mother’s hate just seems to gather more intensity like a storm brewing.

One day while visiting her father’s grave she happens upon Samuel and Dig. They both befriend her. Samuel is the local caretaker of the cemetery. Dig is his special needs younger brother with a heart of gold. Dig gives Birddog a new nickname. Daisy Girl. Daisys are the flower of choice for her father’s grave. The new nickname is a pleasant change. While getting to know Samuel her broken heart begins to heal. Will Birddog ever discover a love of her own?

This novel is lyrical, gut wrenching and powerful. I can’t fathom my parents hating me as deeply as Birddog’s mother does her. She’s a tomboy while her mother is all about appearance and the finer things in life. As soon as I started this novel I was transported back in time, when your station in life isn’t always easy to move on up from.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Let The Willows Weep by Sherry Parnell from TLC Book Tours and the author. The views are of my own accord and at will. Go grab a gorgeous copy off Amazon and to connect with the author, check out her website. This novel is a top favorite of mine this year. If you’ve also, read this novel I would love to discuss it.

Book Review · Books

Loving Well In A Broken World

Being empathetic in today’s world is not popular. Author, Lauren Casper shares how she learned to show more empathy. She provides different examples from her life from fostering to adoption, to listening to those of other ethnicities, to realizing how a rebuke from her younger years helped her gain more insight. Lauren also, includes different Bible stories that show empathy in action.

This book made me think of times I’ve been rebuked by family and how at the time it can raise your shackles, but looking back you can see their reasoning. It also, made me think of how by being raised in a certain community you may be biased to a particular viewpoint. Hearing views different from your own is an important step into learning how to be empathetic towards others who are different from you.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Loving Well In A Broken World by Lauren Casper from Thomas Nelson, care of TLC Book Tours and NetGalley. The views are mine and my choice to post. To grab a copy off Amazon and find out more about the author. This book is a good read, but if you aren’t a Christian there may be some Christianese verbiage to wade through.

Book Review · Books

Let Them Be Kids

This book is great for parents or childless couples. The theme of this book is about how we need to allow kids to be kids and not burden them with adult worries. Kids today seem to be more acknowledgeable about topics that are too, grownup for them. The author, Jessica breaks down the sections into different categories from manners, to age appropriate activities for your kids, to writing your own family manifesto and more. Jessica gives examples from her own life and family as well, which I found quite reminiscent of my own childhood.

Even though I don’t have any children this book brought back my own childhood memories and how I was raised. It makes you think on how we raise today’s kids shapes how they will be in the future. It’s interesting to see how each generation is raised so differently. I like how Jessica brings it back to the basics, not the prehistoric kind.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Let Them Be Kids by Jessica Smartt from Thomas Nelson, care of TLC Book Tours and NetGalley. The views given are mine and my choice. To grab an inspiring copy via Amazon and to find out more about the author. This book is not boring. It’s refreshing and hopeful to know that there are parents out there who are determined to raise kids who know how to fully be kids and not mini adults.

Book Review · Books

Amelia Unabridged

Amelia’s life comes crashing down the day her dad leaves her and her mom for a younger woman. In her distress Amelia goes to the local bookstore to just window shop. In her glazed over pain she doesn’t notice Jenna until Jenna asks if she’d like to come in. Amelia discovers a true fellow book lover in Jenna when she offers to purchase a book for Amelia. This purchase tumbles them both into the exciting world of N.E. Endsley’s books.

With Jenna’s friendship comes a set of surrogate parents: Mark and Trisha. Jenna’s parents take Amelia into their lives in stride, treating her like the second daughter they never had. For their high school graduation gift they gift the girls tickets to a big book convention where their beloved author will be. They are so stoked to go on a trip out of state and BFF time as brand new adults.

The book convention ends up being a disappointment when N.E. Endsley’s time slot gets canceled. Amelia is crushed, hopping mad. The worst part is that while she was using the bathroom, Jenna gets to meet THAT author. Amelia has mixed emotions. Jealous doesn’t quite cover it.

After Jenna goes off on a trip overseas. Amelia misses her best friend. At least they have their college plans mapped out. Life can resume when Jenna gets back. Unfortunately Jenna comes back in a box. Amelia is thrown for a loop. Jenna was the captain to their BFF ship and now Amelia has to navigate their plans solo.

One day Amelia gets a call from the bookshop where Jenna used to work. A mysterious gift is waiting for Amelia. Who sent her this mystery gift? Inside is a limited fancy edition of their favorite book by their favorite author. Awkward thing is the local bookstore has no clue why this other bookstore shipped the book to their store instead of directly to Amelia. Was it Jenna’s surprise gift from the grave? Does this other bookstore have any clues? Amelia wants to find out.

This novel is my top favorite for 2020, so far. The characters come across like real life friends you want call up and hang out with. The depiction of grief is varied and true. This story is for those bookworms who have that one favorite author they squeal over at a book signings. This is for those that have that one nerdy best friend who understands their love of reading and actually enjoys reading by their side. This novel does have some magical realism in it. Other topics it tackles are social anxiety, death, people pleasing, family and what family loyalty looks like. I already want to reread this book, buy a physical copy when it comes out, so I can highlight my favorite lines and recommend it to all my book loving friends.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher from St. Martin’s Press, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my full choice. This book is so magical, lovely, gut wrenching, perfect. For a devout novel I’ve discovered a new favorite author. Thank you Ashley Schumacher for writing this novel from the heart. It is a gift that will become a classic.

Book Review · Books

In The Neighborhood Of True

Ruth Rob moves to Atlanta from New York after her father passes. Living with her grandparents, along with her mom and sister is different. Her grandparents are well off and into social status. Ruth is plain Jane, but wants to fit into the new social circle she’s trust into at her new private school. Her mom is not wanting her daughter to get into the whole debutante scene that she ran away from herself. She wants her daughter to keep her independent self intact, not become a fufu sheep.

Ruth has her own secret she holds to her heart. Her Jewish faith. When Ruth decides she wants to participate in the social ball her mom makes her agree to going to the local Temple with her. There Ruth meets Max. He’s a tad quirky, but he’s not Ruth’s crush, Davis whose part of the fufu crowd at school. Both teen boys vey for her attention.

Diving into life in Atlanta in the late 50’s is fraught with social clashes between Jews, whites and blacks. When an awful event happens, Ruth has to determine which teen boy is worthy of her. Is Davis all true charm? Is Max just nerdy, or is there more depth to him? Will Ruth ever come clean about her own beliefs?

This novel delves into the ugly topic of racism in the south in the 50’s. This book’s description of this era is spot on. Written charmingly, details so accurate I want to put on bright classy red lipstick and a cute skirt with a cardigan. There are details in this novel I wanted to jump up to Google because it sounded so unique I wondered if it was truly something from that era.

I received my complimentary digital copy of In The Neighborhood Of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton from Algonquin Books, Care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and my own choice. This book is hard to put down. It handles the topics within it honestly, raw and with grace. I hope the author will choose to write a sequel.