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

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

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.

Personal

When Life Slaps You

This morning I noticed a friend post a picture insinuating that someone had passed. I did a double take and realized it was in reference to one of her kids.

I’m still in shock. I’m not a mother. I can’t imagine loosing a child/young adult so young with no warning.

If you feel lead to donate that would be wonderful. I know this is a stranger, a friend of a friend. The world is filled enough with stress over what’s going on in the world. We don’t need more death. Take a moment.

Honestly I was wrapped up with focusing on myself before I saw my friend’s post. Her post was a splash of cold water on my self absorption. Every little bit helps.

Thank you. Whether you can donate or merely pray, both help and are powerful.

Book Review · Books

Winter Of The Wolf

Bean’s best friend is her older brother, Sam, who named her back when he was two. He was that thrilled to be getting a little sister. Bean also, has her long time BFF, Julie. High school life seems fairly mundane and normal until the night of Sam’s best friend, Skip’s party. Sam hasn’t finished his paper, so their mom grounds him from going. He’s ticked off and fuming.

Julie and Bean were supposed to have a BFF sleepover, but that night their parents have company over. Bean gets their mom to ok Sam to quickly take her to go pick up Julie since Bean is only a freshman. That night a bad storm is ragging and the conditions are awful. The conditions were ripe for what happens next. The accident is horrific with a deer running out in front of the car and a tree stopping them.

Sam is gutted by the accident. Julie and Bean watch him go in the pouring rain to briefly lay himself over the dead deer. They get him to stumble home where his parents realize that he has a big gash down him and he’s bleeding a lot. His mom cleans him up and he retreats to his room to work on his paper. Bean and Julie go to their room.

Awhile later they hear a horrific scream. They rush to find Bean’s mom staring into Sam’s room. Bean can’t erase what her eyes are seeing. The paramedics are called and they all race to the hospital.

The end result is Sam is gone. Bean can’t fathom life without her brother. The cause of death is ruled one thing, while Bean determines it can’t be that. Sam loved his life. She determines to figure out the reason for his passing, to dig deep behind the supposed cause of death. Will Bean ever figure out the true reason?

I received my complimentary copy of Winter Of The Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler from Greenleaf Book Press, care of FSB Associates. The views are mine and of my own choice. This novel tackles the heavy topic of death and how Bean and her family each handle Sam’s passing.

Book Review · Books

You And Me And Us

What would you do if you were given terminal news? Tommy Whistler has this quandary. Of course his significant other, Alexis wants him to fight his illness the best he can, to give him more time with her and their daughter, CeCe. Tommy prefers to have quality over quantity. What’s the point of prolonging the end result if you are too, sick to enjoy time with your loved ones? With time ticking he decides he wants to spend his last few months in his hometown.

Alexis is not thrilled to return to Tommy’s hometown. She doesn’t want to risk his past coming back into their lives, or giving their daughter food for thought. The past has to stay the past. Yes, Tommy loves and is committed to Alexis, but there are certain people she doesn’t want to share her family with.

CeCe is mad she’s missing out on acting camp. Just when her high school experience was coming together after participating in their play of, “Romeo and Juliet.” CeCe’s lead costar seems to be smitten with her supposed ‘best friend’ instead of her. Maybe her time away won’t be so awful.

Will Alexis and CeCe put aside their frustrations to help make Tommy’s summer the best it can be? This novel explores what it’s like to deal with a terminal illness and how the choices we make regarding to do treatment or not affects our family members and friends. What would you do if you were in Tommy’s shoes?

I received my complimentary copy of You And Me Snd Us by Allison Hammer from William Morrow, care of TLC Book Tours. The views are of my own choice and mine. This debut novel is a sweet, thought provoking story that will have you wishing you could hug these characters. To go grab a gorgeous copy click here to help support the publisher and to find out more about this fantastic author. Thank you TLC Book Tours for helping me discover another wonderful new favorite author.

Personal

42 Reflections On My Life

1. Being a preemie survivor is a lot to mentally digest.

2. I have no shame in eating pizza with a fork and knife.

3. Were braces worth the four years of headgear torture?

4. Being a bookworm has always been a comfort to me.

5. I always seem to be drawn to the underdogs because I, myself am one.

6. Fashion is overrated compared to wearing comfy clothes.

7. Being babysat by a lady who rakes inside her house? Priceless.

8. First kisses sometimes don’t count.

9. Friendships come and go like the seasons.

10. I never allowed myself to be a classic girlie girl after my brief stint liking the color pink in 1st grade.

11. I don’t like odd numbers.

12. I can be very chatty or quiet depending on my mood.

13. I love writing poetry.

14. My first celebrity crush at 8 was Fergie.

15. I got to be in the audience of “Kids Inc.” as a preteen. That experience opened my eyes to the cruelties of Hollywood.

16. As a little kid I would dutifully look in the newspaper for any local movie auditions. I wanted to be an actress.

17. I still recall how much I loved my cheesy Punky Brewster high tops that had her hologram face on the side.

18. I loved being a tomboy with enjoying He-Man and Transformers.

19. As kid I had a big imagination (still do) and enjoyed exploring a ditch behind my house. Loved to make up stories to go along with random items found.

20. I was a dare devil as a little kid. I’d ride on my plastic imitation big wheel and fly down the street. It was a very steep street. I’m shocked I was allowed to.

21. I always wonder what my life would be like with a different name.

22. When I was 8 I wanted to be a pastor.

23. I was quite the legalist as a child. No drinking soda in the car.

24. I lived through the Loma Prieta earthquake. Once you’ve experienced one you never forget.

25. Reaching 100 books read in one year is a great feat, but a lonely one.

26. I will always love Six Feet Under, This Is Us, The Fosters and Gilmore Girls.

27. Trees energize me as does rainy/cloudy weather.

28. I can’t stand dresses, but a part of me longs to wear 40’s/50’s vintage style dresses.

29. Worst haircut of my life was a buzz cut.

30. Coming out to oneself is the hardest thing EVER.

31. I’ve always felt ‘different’ from others since I was a little kid.

32. As a small child I was always nervous hearing planes flying overhead, afraid of b**bs. I didn’t watch war movies growing up, but then fell in love with WWII in 4th grade. A few years ago watching a documentary on that topic I had a flashback of living in that time period. That freaked me out. Maybe there is something to past lives.

33. I believe God is BIGGER than any Holy book.

34. I was bullied for being so small and short.

35. I have a Booktube addiction.

36. I studied with a JW for four months. Fascinating to be challenged to explain my faith and why I believe what I do. Sadly that friendship’ was not legit.

37. I don’t know why cults are fascinating to research (JW, Mormonism, etc). I think it’s the desire to belong and have your life scripted for you. I think there’s a comfort in that and a feeling of safety.

38. I am learning in life it’s not about how many friends you have, but the quality of friends, those you can truly trust with your life.

39. I can’t believe I’ve been a book blogger for over 3 years.

40. I never expected to love reading fiction from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

41. I’ve always felt awkward about receiving gifts, like I’m not worthy to.

42. LOVE is not cookie cutter.

Book Review · Books

Death Is But A Dream

First off the cover is unique. It makes me think of an old school composition notebook with the style of binding. The colors on the cover are vibrant. The topic of this slim volume is one we like to avoid: death. Not just death, but our dreams we have before we pass on.

Dr. Kerr is a doctor at Hospice Buffalo. He wanted to give a voice to those in the process of dying, to have these patient’s voices be heard fully. He shared cases of all different types of patients from children, to couples, to those with a rough and tumble past, as well as mentally/physically challenged. He wanted to share what type of dreams they are having and how these dreams helped the patient graduate towards accepting that they were going to pass.

If you are into dreams then this book may be of interest. Dr. Kerr wasn’t looking to interpret these patients dreams, but to see how they helped each patient in having resolution.

I think each patient who graciously allowed themselves to be interviewed was fascinating, insightful and comforting. How can dreams before death be of comfort? I think Dr. Kerr noticed a pattern how the person’s dreams helped the person come full circle regarding their life.

I received my complimentary copy of Death Is But A Dream by Christopher Kerr from Avery, care of FSB Associates. The views are mine and of my own choice. This book was hard to put down. Even though the topic we all have to face some day isn’t easy, this book I think is a great conversation starter and after finishing it I actually feel more comfortable with the topic. We don’t get to choose if our passing will be sudden or gradual, hence why we have to be spiritually prepared at all times.

Book Review · Books

Six Goodbyes We Never Said

Two teens broken by loss and both struggle with anxiety in different forms. Dew uses a tape recorder to record different conversations and Naima counts the hexagons on her quilt to calm herself. One desperately wants to befriend the other, but trust is a commodity dolled out sparingly.

This novel deals with the loss of a parent and how it’s not easy to keep going, to allow other adults to take over the role of your parent. Dew is thrown into foster care where he acquires a sister, Faith. Naima lives with her grandparents after her stepmom leaves her there for the summer to visit like she does annually. Dew and Naima are neighbors. Can Naima be open to Dew’s friendship or will her anger at her dad for dying close her off to the help that is just a fence away?

The casts of characters in this novel are fun. I like how the author gave a fun nickname to Dew’s coffee shop boss as Sasquatch and his coworker Violet is a bubbly girl whose into new age. I also, think the name for the coffee shop is clever: Baked and Caffeinated.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger from St. Martin’s Press, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own will. When I started this book I felt it was ok, but the deeper I got into the story of Dew and Naima the more I grew to love these two characters.

Book Review · Books

The Great Unexpected

Joel’s wife recently died and now he has a roommate at his retirement home that doesn’t talk back. Mr. Miller is in a comma, but is still someone to talk to. That is, until he expires one day and Joel has to watch the nurses try to revive him.

Joel wonders if he’ll get a new roommate then enters in Frank Adams otherwise know as Mr. de Selby; an old actor who has the flair to match his fancy scarfs he wears. He’s very chatty and everyone at the home seems to like him, but Joel is not too, keen on his roommate.

Overtime they form an interesting friendship of sorts. Slowly his roommate scrapes away the bitterness that Joel holds onto like a vice grip. Life seems to be looking up until Joel confesses that he wants to be done with it all. The question is how does he want to go out? Frank wants to help out so he starts to write a play of Joel’s final moments via brainstorming in his journal.

Since Joel’s time is nearing to an end once he figures out how he wants to go, they both decide they want a night out on the town. They escape the home and proceed to go to a bar. They get properly sloshed and go back to the home. The head director is fuming and Joel’s daughter is furious he’d risk his life when he has a ver perfectly good place at the retirement home.

One person whose worried about Joel is his friend Una, who was friends with his wife, Lucey. She’s been keeping an eye on him and he’s been avoiding her obvious interest in him.

Frank and Joel decide to go on a few more nighttime jaunts into the city. One such adventure they bump into Joel’s grandkids who find it hilarious their grandfather is boozing it up with his roommate. Who knew partying with your grandkids could be a fun time. When they return more precautions are taken so they won’t escape again.

This novel discusses so many important topics. Friendship is a key one, but also, the topic of receiving respect when you are elderly. I know when my grandmother had to move into her retirement home it wasn’t easy. Having sense of loss after living in a house to a small apartment with neighbors all around is a big change. I also, think going from living independent to assisted living is a big change, to feel your sense of control of your own life is being micromanaged by someone else who is in charge. Another topic covered is how we ware masks as a defense mechanism. Joel’s roommate Frank uses his character, de Selby as his persona when he’s not wanting to be vulnerable. Joel uses grumpiness as his defense mechanism.

I received my complimentary copy of The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney from TLC Book Tours. The views expressed are my own and of my own will. This book is a gem and a reread. The characters are hilarious and thought provoking. The banter between Joel and Frank reminds me of the movie, “Grumpy Old Men.” I can’t wait to read more fantastic books by Dan Mooney.