Book Review · Books

Small Town Hearts

Babe thought she had her whole summer ahead of her after high school with her two best friends Chad and Penny. When Penny dumps Chad, making Babe do the break up dirty work, she realizes she’s possibly loosing both of her best friends. Babe is still recouping from the fall out of her past relationship with Elodie. It was her first relationship with a woman and she is over keeping being Bi a secret. When Levi walks into Busy’s she can’t deny the attraction she feels towards him. As Levi and Babe become friends her world is thrown for a loop when Elodie reappears for the summer and seems to be cozying up to Levi. Will Babe be able to reconcile her feelings?

This novel covers the topics of friendship, sexuality, contentment and love. The characterization is well done, the description of Maine is breathtaking and the story keeps you wanting more.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale courtesy of the author via NetGalley. The views expressed are mine. If you love YA and romance then this novel will be the perfect spring read. This story was sweet and the descriptions of Maine made me want to book a flight.

Book Review · Books

Surviving Myself

Growing up I always wanted to be a part of the popular crowd. The popular girls all seemed to have perfect lives and the means to buy whatever hot new item was popular at the time: Guess Jeans, Keds, LA Gear hightops, etc. I always felt homely next to them. I’ve never been good with fashion, but I still did my best to try to fit in. Dina deals with this same challenge growing up. She’s tall, lean and from India. Her mom makes her boring lunches. Dina also, has to stay at her school’s daycare after school until her parents can pick her up. Why won’t her parents let her be more independent?

Dina discovers one way she can stay in control of her life is to monitor her eating. Doing gymnastics with her friend she sees how lighter one is, the easier it is to do the routines. Sadly this monitoring turns into full fledge anorexia. Dina’s description of this struggle is vivid and heartbreaking.

After Dina gets help for her eating disorder her life comes to a screeching halt after she’s in a car accident. She deals with PTSD after the accident, afraid of potential car crashes while riding as a passenger. The doctors discover she has a mass on her brain. The day after she’s allowed to go home.

Two months later Dina deals with some strange symptoms. She experiences numbness on her right side. Her family gets her back to the hospital ASAP where she ends up having a stroke there in the hospital.

This memoir is Dina’s journey surviving through her eating disorder, car crash and a stroke. Her determination to get through it all is inspiring, humbling and a reminder that we don’t know what life will throw at us, but that we can get through more than we think we can.

This memoir was not easy to read at times. I’ve never struggled with an eating disorder, but I did do gymnastics growing up. There is a lot of pressure to stay slim in that sport. I have been in a fender bender before and know what it’s like to flinch while being a passenger, afraid of another car hitting you again. As for the other health challenges that Dina faced I haven’t experienced those, but I have dealt with other health challenges as a baby.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Surviving Myself by Dina Pestonji with Erin McCann from NetGalley. The views expressed are mine. I highly recommend this book. It will inspire you to not let anything get you down.

Book Review · Books

Dark Blossom

Cynthia is a therapist whose still putting her and her daughter, Lily’s life back together after her divorce. When a new client named Sam comes in for his appointment, Cynthia has no idea how this man’s story might affect her own life. Sam is reeling from the sudden passing of his wife and young teenage son, William.

Lily is a teen going through her punk phase and not too, thrilled with her mother. No matter how much Cynthia tries to open up to her daughter regarding the divorce Lily just keeps shutting her out.

When Lily and Sam meet it seems they are strangely two peas in a pod, which weirds out Cynthia. Sam seems to be good at talking with Lily, which Cynthia has been attempting to for months. When Lily and Sam mention they both have secrets, Cynthia wonders just what kind of secrets they are.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Dark Blossom by Neel Mullick from Rupa Publications, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are my own. This debut novel had me hooked. I love how Cynthia has a special journal for each of her clients. That one detail as a journal addict connected with me. The characterization of Cynthia, Sam and Lily is so realistic that I wish they were real people. This is a novel that will stay with you long after the final page.

Book Review · Books

Where The Forest Meets The Stars

Reading debut novels is an adventure. You don’t know what thrilling new author you might discover. Honestly who can look at this book cover and not want to dive into this story? I just finished reading the last page and I already want a sequel.

Jo is still reeling from the passing of her mom and coming to terms with her own health challenges. As a bird researcher she enjoys the solitude her work gives her. One night Jo encounters a little girl who appears lost, hungry and shy. Feeding this unknown waif Jo learns this girl is an alien visiting from another plant. Ursa does seem very bright for her approximate age. Doing the right thing a few days later, Jo calls the local police, but gets the strangest reaction. Ursa runs off as soon as she senses it’s the police.

After locating Ursa, Jo realizes the police won’t be any help. Her and Ursa encounter the local egg man who sells eggs near the house she’s renting for her summer research. Egg man is handsome and Ursa seems to take a liking to him. Because of Jo’s health challenges she doesn’t feel desirable, but egg man is cute and they seem to get along.

Both Jo and egg man take to both helping out Ursa by swapping taking care of her. Through this joint effort they all start to create a bond of sorts. One day when they are out helping Jo with her field work Ursa gets whacked by a tree branch. Due to the injury Jo and egg man start to drive her to the hospital, but Ursa leaps out of the car and makes a dash for it.

This book covers a myriad of topics from what makes up a family, relationships, health, to missing children, and so much more. This book was intense from page one and had me wanting to find out what happens to Jo, Ursa and egg man.

I received a complimentary copy of Where The Forest Meets The Stars by Glendy Vanderah from Lake Union care of TLC Book Tours. The views expressed are my own.

Book Review · Books

The Boys Who Woke Up Early

Stony lives in small town Early, VA where in the 1950’s it’s the dawn of the Civil Rights movement. He befriends a new kid at school named Jack. They both want to be detectives so they venture to the sheriff’s office to see if they can be of any help. They are asked to help investigate a local theft.

When Stony and his cousin Gina discover a secret KKK room they realize those they know in town might be more involved than what may appear. Stony doesn’t agree with the KKK and feels that blacks should be allowed to vote and have more rights.

Roosevelt starts working at the local garage where Stony works at after school and Stony isn’t too, keen on it. Stony has never befriend a black boy, but changes his mind after Roosevelt wins a drag race against arrogant Todd from school. The only challenge is that Roosevelt is sweet on Stony’s love interest, MaryLou. His love interest has no clue of his crush.

When the town gets wind of MaryLou and Roosevelt’s relationship things turn ugly fast. Will Stony and Jack be able to stop the chaos? What does it take to be a man when you are on the cusp of adulthood?

I received my complimentary copy of The Boys Who Woke Up Early by A.D. Hopkins from Smith Publicity. The views expressed are my own. This historical novel started out slow, but got more interesting towards the end. If you enjoy historical fiction and novels based in the south then this book may be a good fit for you. I did enjoy learning more about Virginia and what life was like during the dawn of the Civil Rights movement. I also, learned quite a lot about different types of firearms used in that era.

Book Review · Books

The Very Worst Missionary

If you love reading Sarah Bessey, Elizabeth Esther and Nadia Boltz-Weber’s memoirs on their outside the box Christian walks, then you’ll adore Jamie Wright’s memoir: The Very Worst Missionary. If you don’t squirm at the occasional colorful language then you’ll feel right at home reading Jamie’s account of her family’s fore into being Christian missionaries in Costa Rica. Jamie holds back nothing in her candid account of what it’s like to go spread the good news in a country already filled with Catholics.

Jamie is honest in sharing how she came to faith as an adult, having been brought up Jewish and how she met her high school boyfriend who later becomes her husband. Having grown up a PK I don’t know what it’d be like to discover Christianity as an adult with little kids, but I think she describes how easy it is to slip into the stereotypical suburban Christian mom role. The only problem is that Jamie can’t sit quietly and pretend to agree on everything. Jamie talks about what it’s like to move to a foreign country with little kids and the challenges of feeling at home in a new place.

This memoir spoke to me. I’ve gone on short term mission trips as a little kid to Mexico. Jamie brings up so many important points when it comes to the question of if having all the American Christians come swooping in to save and help the poor if it is truly helping, or merely enabling a reason for a country to not have to improve because foreigners will come in to give free aid. The other points she makes are thought provoking. It’s great to help others, but do we really have to travel to foreign countries if we have our own countrymen who are in need?

I received a complimentary digital copy of The Very Worst Missionary by Jamie Wright from NetGalley. The views expressed are my own. This memoir is hilarious. I laughed, snorted, cried, giggled and wanted to shout, “Amen!” in agreement through so much of this book. One of my favorite parts of this memoir is the introduction of Knife. Best black cat name ever. I’m still shocked to hear a believer swear, but I’m not innocent in my use of language either. Sometimes a little flavor drives the point home, not to mention those parts made it even funnier. Needless to say I love snarky humor. Even snarky humor aimed at Evangelicals. I used to be one, but my faith has been somewhat of a chameleon.

Book Review · Books

I’ll Meet You At The Lost And Found

I seem to be finding books to read that resonate with me on a deep level. It’s nice for my faith views to be stretched like taffy. Meet You At The Lost And Found is one of those books. This book is the meat and potatoes of why all our outer quests for happiness are short lived. We are taught from very young to seek happiness outside ourselves which everything outside us is merely a temporary fix. We aren’t taught to nurture our souls.

This book covers a lot of information that can at times be tough to grasp, especially if you were raised Evangelical. Some of the topics covered range from what our Ego is and how it gets distracted with the pretty shiny things it thinks we must have to feel complete, to how to love ourselves without judgment, how socially we are expected to follow like lemmings, how to in the now, and much more. Even though some of the topics are challenging, this book is very readable.

I will definitely be purchasing a copy of this book, so I can highlight and make notes in it. Not many of the books I own get this personalized treatment unless I really love that particular book. This book is important on many levels. It helped me understand a lot about how my Ego sabotages my life, what self love is all about, how our soul (core of who we are) has been neglected and needs more care than we give it.

I received a complimentary digital copy of I’ll Meet You At The Lost And Found by Sam Glory from John Hunt Publishing, LTD, care of NetGalley. The reviews expressed here are mine only. If you love spirituality books that challenge you then you may have met your match.