Book Review · Books

The Love You Save by Goldie Taylor

Life in East Saint Louis in the 70’s and early 80’s was rough for Goldie. One day at just 11 years old she is violated by an older neighborhood boy. Instead of her mom wanting to help Goldie get through such a traumatic event, she pawns her off on her Aunt Gerald after getting Goldie cleaned up herself. Life at her aunt’s isn’t much of an improvement from living with her mom. Along with a host of cousins, Goldie tries as best she can to adjust to living with her relatives. She always hopes in the back of her mind that her mother will one day swoop back into her life and bring her back home.

In school it is discovered that Goldie is gifted. When she gets placed in the gifted class she excels in memorizing poetry and works on writing her own pieces. Her talent is all thanks to her teaching herself to read at age 3. Books were and are her solace.

This book had me throughout reminding myself that I was reading a memoir and not historical fiction. Goldie’s life story is one of tough love, forgiveness, resilience, hope and love. If you are looking for a book on what inner city life is like then I recommend this upcoming memoir.

I didn’t expect to care about all the real life characters in this book. They weren’t all likable, but by the end I felt like I had been to one of Goldie’s family BBQ’s. Even though there was chaos at times there was in fact unspoken love given in the moments you weren’t always expecting it.

I received a complimentary advanced copy of The Love You Save by Goldie Taylor from Hanover Square Press, care of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest feedback. Views expressed are strictly my own.

Book Review · Books

Missing by Cornelia Spelman

Memoirs are my favorite. They are a sneak peek into someone’s life. Missing is a short memoir of the author, Cornelia’s journey to understand her family’s dynamics, both her mother and father’s lives, as well as her eldest brother’s.

Family dynamics can be and get messy. Cornelia decides to investigate further after her elderly mother has passed, of her past claim that her son had attempted to do her in. Was it paranoia talking or was there some truth? Through researching her mother’s health history Cornelia starts to unearth more about her mother and her mother’s life.

There’s something that draws me to the Great Depression era. The author graciously included family photos and documents throughout her memoir. Getting to see old pictures of her parents lounging in their classic chairs felt like I got to step back in time for just a moment; to get to join them in their living room to curl up and read along side them. The photo exhibits warmth and coziness which is something in today’s society I believe is a lost art form.

This memoir made think of how much we truly don’t know our parents or extended family. Not everyone feels comfortable talking about their childhood or young adult years. Sometimes life is too painful. How many of us can say we know what our parent’s favorite color was as a child or what they wanted to be when they grew up? I know I sure don’t know either of those answers personally and that is sad. Our family history is aging moment by moment and if we don’t listen to those old stories and jot them down or record them then all that history goes to the grave.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Missing by Cornelia Spelman from Laura Marie PR in exchange for my honest feedback. All views expressed are my own and of my own choice. If you enjoy memoirs and family histories I think you will thoughtfully enjoy this book.

Books

Crazy Joy

The cover is a patchwork of letters in bright colors. The topic of joy is an appealing one, especially in the times we are in. We do need more joy. I was excited to get to read this new title by MK.

I’ll be honest. I was in the headspace for a more in depth theological book on the subject. The category Christian Living does not equate to that. If you want Christianity light then this is the book for you.

MK shares some great stories from her life that show how she has found and implemented joy into her life. She makes some great points on what joy is and what it is not. MK also shares how happiness and joy are two different things.

I was hoping for some Biblical wisdom on the subject of joy. There was a tiny bit of it, but to be blunt I think you could easily share this book with a nonbeliever and they wouldn’t run. In plain language this book isn’t preachy or filled with Christianese verbiage. Actually there are a few swear words inside. Certainly I’m not innocent in that regard, but it did surprise me a bit.

I received a copy of Crazy Joy by Mary Katherine Backstrom from Worthy Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thoughts expressed are strictly my own and my own choice. If you are looking for a somewhat lighthearted read on the topic of joy with a variety of life stories interspersed then I recommend this upcoming book, Crazy Joy.

Book Review · Books

Red Lip Theology

The title sucked me in and the contents through me out of my comfort zone like a touch down in a football game. This book dropped me headlong into what it’s like to be a black woman in the black church. I’m as much of a white girl as you can get, so this was a cultural journey I got to experience through the eyes of Candice.

The author was raised by her single mom. Though they didn’t always see eye to eye they still loved each other throughout their disagreements and tears. When suddenly Candice’s mom passes she discovers just how toxic the church can be when she was needing her church family the most.

This book is Candice’s faith journey, her experience of the being raised in the black church and how it shaped her. Not only does Candice share about how she’s come into her own faith, but how stepping outside the spiritual system she was raised in has helped her grow in ways she wasn’t expecting.

I’ll be honest. I facilitated between agreeing one moment and the next trying to not be horrified. I have had my own outside of the box journey and dipped my toe in areas of spirituality that I’ve skedaddled from in abject fear and repentance. We won’t know otherwise unless we explore. It’s not easy to decide to journey to what can be viewed as the wrong side of the spiritual tracks.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Red Lip Theology by Candice Marie Benbow from Convergent Books, care of NetGalley. The views shared are mine and fully my choice. If you are looking for a book on faith that will challenge your old school ways then I recommend checking out this upcoming 2022 title. I think I’m still mentally processing all I’ve read. Thank you for being bold when others would rather you be silent. Thank you Candice.

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

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.

Book Review · Books

The Essence Of Nathan Biddle

Kit is a deep soul who adores his girlfriend, Anna, until the day he gets his own personal Dear John letter. Why can’t she love him like he adores her? She’s gorgeous, smart and did I mention gorgeous again? Kit feels stuck in a rut. How can his life go on like normal?

Kit is so distraught over the breakup he doesn’t want to acknowledge that he goes on a little joyride with his ex job’s vehicle, crashing it. Kit swears he experiences an NDE and died at the scene, but was revived by Anna’s stepfather, the Ghoul. Now with a busted leg he’s stuck healing at the hospital.

Waiting in the wings to be noticed is his friend’s sister, Sarah. She’s even smart, or smarter than Anna and she’s equally as gorgeous. Will Kit give her the time of day that she deserves? It’s like Kit is for Sarah, what Anna means to Kit.

While mending in the hospital Kit has to see a shrink. Oh, the horror. What can he say? He wasn’t trying to die. Going over his life with the shrink he has to come to terms with his uncle’s dark past, to piece together a mystery so bizarre he can’t believe he’d even consider something so wild as a possibility. What’s the true connection between himself, his uncle and his cousin, Nathan who sadly passed? Is his uncle truly cuckoo?

I received my complimentary copy of The Essence Of Nathan Biddle by J. William Lewis from Greenleaf Book Group Press, care of TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and provided of my own will. This novel is a chunk, but keep reading because you’ll want to find out what happens. This book does a great job of showing just how deep a first love can be and how catastrophic a breakup is. It gives a great example of how one can wrestle with what you are taught about life and how that affects your reaction to what life throws at you.

Book Review · Books

To Shatter Glass

To Shatter Glass provides an array of poems that showcase the challenging life the author has lived so far. Sister Sharon dealt with alcoholism in her family, death and many other challenges.

I feel that Sister Sharon brings to life the turmoil of wanting a special Christmas, but not knowing if your parents are going to chose celebrating it or choosing booze instead. Another theme she describes is the loss of family, something no one is ever ready or prepared for. Especially when that family member is young. Sister Sharon also, writes about her faith journey.

I received my complimentary digital copy of To Shatter Glass by Sister Sharon Hunter, CJ from Paraclete Press and Iron Press, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my own choice. The poems in this collection are vivid, sobering, thoughtful and inspiring.