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.

Book Review · Books

Intertwined

If you are a fan of memoirs, this slim gem will become a new favorite. Nurse, Kathleen English, is a mom and a wife. One weekend when her younger son goes on his Boy Scouts trip a tragic event occurs.

After the loss of her middle child, Shawn, Kathleen yearns to have another child, but desires to adopt. Her husband doesn’t seem as on board as her, but tells her it’s her decision. They welcome into the family a Korean infant, Laura. Kathy and Laura bond quickly and she brightens up the household. Her new brothers take to her.

As the years go by Kathy’s husband seems to grow more distance and the older Laura gets the more moody she becomes. Being a moody teenager, Laura runs away countless times. Each time Kathy is able to find her daughter, but wonders what’s causing Laura to want to run.

This memoir is a great story of a mother and daughter who struggle with loss, identity and figuring out how to relate to each other. If you are an adoptee or parent whose adopted a child then this short book will speak to you in countless ways.

I received a complimentary copy of Intertwined by Kathleen English Cadmus from KiCam Projects. The views expressed are my own and unbiased. This memoir is gripping, educational, and a pager turner.

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

Becoming Starlight

Do you ever have a book that just slaps you wide awake spiritually when you are least expecting it? Becoming Starlight did just that for me. I fell in love with the cover first. My favorite colors are blue and purple, so my eyes naturally were drawn to it, to find out what it was about.

I’ve only read a few books on NDE and had never heard of SDE (side death experience). An SDE is where a loved one experiences death alongside the person whose passing, where they go out of their body and go along with the person whose passed away, but only to a certain point, then the person experiencing the SDE returns back to their body in the physical realm. This memoir of this women’s SDE experience took me on the spiritual ride of my life.

Mrs. Prentice talks about how she met her husband, Steve and how her first introduction with death was the passing of their daughter, Stephanie. Her description of grief that deep and raw is palpable. Mrs. Prentice discusses how in that deep of grief she tuns out everything, but her anger and rage at God for not saving Stephanie. If you’ve ever been furious with God you’ll be able to relate to her pure hatred.

This would not be Mrs. Prentice’s only reason to be angry at God. Steve gets sick and the doctors for the longest time can’t figure out what’s wrong.

This is Mrs. Prentice’s memoir of dealing with her anger, rage and hate at God for what He throws at her. She keeps her emotions stuffed down until the moment she doesn’t want to have to ever experience. Steve passes. Her anguish unleashes in the hospital where she has an SDE, supernatural experience. This experience throws her for a loop and is outside her traditional Christian comfort zone. What Mrs. Prentice experiences is life changing.

This book was eye opening for me. The things that the author experienced and shares just clicked with me. I had a few, “Ah ha,” moments and I highlighted a lot. I definitely want to buy a physical copy, so that I can highlight and make notes. I don’t know how I’d react if I got to go alongside a loved one whose died and see them after the fact. It would be comforting to see they are still alive in some form you recognize them in, but still a unique experience.

If you are needing a book to think outside the traditional Christian box then this book is the perfect read for you. Did the author’s experience rekindle her faith? Have you ever had a night of The soul experience? Do you ever question what you were taught about God? Have you had an NDE or SDE experience? Read this book to find out more.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Becoming Starlight by Sharon Prentice Prentice from Waterside Press, care of NetGalley. The reviews expressed here are mine only. This book is one you are going to want to highlight, dog ear (gasp), get coffee stains on from reading it multiple times, etc.

Book Review · Books

Becoming Mrs. Lewis

I haven’t read the whole Chronicles Of Narnia series. Yes, it’s a shame since it was one of the earliest series my mom would start to read to me as a little girl. As an adult I had heard bits and pieces about C.S. Lewis and his marriage, but until I read this stunning historical novel about his wife, Joy Davidman I had no idea all it entailed.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis sucked me into Joy’s 1950’s world of New York. She was married to Bill with two little boys. Her and her husband were both writers. Bill was an alcoholic and a cheater. Joy was miserable, but did her best to try and keep the peace at home.

One day Joy has a spiritual conversation of sorts. She decides to write to C.S. Lewis some of her spiritual, Christian questions. She had read one of this books and thought he may be able to provide her some insight. This brings to life a correspondence between them that gets intense. Bill starts to get concerned, but when Joy’s health goes down hill she is told she must get away to rest. Of course Joy decides to go to the UK, to C.S. Lewis, to finally meet the man, the myth, the legend. Will meeting her new friend be all she hopes it to be? Will Joy and C.S. Lewis’ friendship blossom, or will the reality of being in person dampen their connection?

This novel is the best love story I’ve read in a long time. I’m not into romance novels, but this one is sweetly written, magical, suspenseful and leaves you feeling stunned after the last page. If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis and want to read a historical novel that will keep you reading nonstop, and it’s over 400 pages, then I highly recommend this beautiful novel.

I received a complimentary copy of Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan care of TLC Book Tours from Thomas Nelson. The opinions in this review are strictly my own. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of this amazing book grab a copy from Amazon and check out more about the author, Patti Callahan. To get a sneak peak of the audio clips of chapters one and two: https://soundcloud.com/harperaudio_us/sets/becoming-mrs-lewis