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

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

Born In Lockdown

All of us can relate to how 2020 changed our lives. The good, the bad, the pure evil. This collection of poetry is powerful, insightful, gut wrenching, challenging and hopeful. If you enjoy poetry you just may fall for this collection. Each poem is unique and opens us up more to how this world event has altered our lives. No matter which aspect spoke to you: masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer, lockdown, hospitals, tests, death, recovery, getting the jab, etc you will find something that will resonate with you.

This poetry collection inspires me to continue writing my own poetry. Yes, the main topic is not a pleasant one, but it seems most of the time that poetry is birthed out of hardship. Yes, romantic, cute poems exist, but we usually gorge ourselves on the more dramatic, sad, weepy lines.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Born In Lockdown by Tolu A. Akinyemi from BooksGoSocial, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my own choice. I don’t usually read poetry, but this is an author I’m going to keep an eye out on for any new content. I definitely want to read his other works. Thank you NetGalley for helping me discover a new favorite author.

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

Don’t Lose Your Head

I’m not educated when it comes to England’s history. I know the very bare bones about King Henry the VIII. This little hot pink gem is a modernized telling from each of his six wives and what happened to them. Dive in to hear from Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn (the famous one), Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr. Each have their own take on what transpired in being married to Henry. Each story is unique. I don’t know if I could stomach being stuck with the king. Which wife do you see yourself as most like?

I received my complimentary copy of Don’t Lose Your Head by Harriet Marsden from Ulysses Press, care of Pacific and Court. The views are mine and of my own choice. This little book packs a lot of history in a fun, sassy tone. The little text bubble conversations between Henry’s wives gives it a modern flair. If you love history and want to learn more then you’ll be pleased this book is not boring. How could it be with all the beheadings and royal drama? Side note, this novel is not for children as it does have mature topics discussed.

Book Review · Books

How To Build A Heart

Izzy’s dad passed 6 years ago in the war and it still feels like yesterday. Thankfully she has her best friend Roz to cheer her up and her little brother Jack. Izzy enjoys attending her private high school though she struggles with feeling like she fits in. When the new girl in chorus, Aubrey, befriends Izzy, she’s excited to discover this girl is the sister of her best friend’s crush, Sam.

As Izzy gets to know the new chorus girl, she inadvertently gets to know Sam better. Izzy can see why Roz has such a big crush. He’s genuinely nice. The problem is he has a girlfriend that’s quite the b.

When Izzy’s mom discloses they are trying to get approved for a Habitat house, Izzy is thrilled, but then nervous when she realizes Sam and Aubrey will be her neighbors. She shys away from sharing her big secret. She’s not sure how Roz will react if she moves.

I received my complimentary digital copy of How To Build A Heart by Maria Padian, from Algonquin Young Readers and NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own will. This novel is sweet, fast paced and full of true heart. If you enjoy contemporary YA then you will enjoy this book.

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.