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 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

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

Beauty In The Broken Places

What would you do if your spouse had a stroke right in front of you and you are only in your early 30’s? What if this happened in the air on a plane? Novelist, Allison Pataki experienced this on their way to their Hawaii vacation to celebrate the daughter they were going to be having. Beauty Of The Broken Places is Allison’s memoir of what happened after that fateful June day.

This memoir was a front row seat to what it’s like to experience your loved one ending up with a traumatic brain injury and how to care for them. Allison doesn’t hold back the raw fear, frustration and sadness over what happened. She also, shares how her and her husband, Dave’s friends, family, strangers they met along the way helped out. Allison also, covers the topic of faith, doubt and hope.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Beauty In The Broken Places by Allison Pataki from NetGalley. The opinions expressed are my own. This memoir is my second favorite book I’ve read this year. This book is intense and such an important read. This memoir is truly about the power of family and friends, how even the smallest assistance given when someone needs it is huge for them.

Book Review · Books

The Quiet You Carry

Victoria’s life changes the day her mom dies. Her mom asks her to promise she’ll take care of her dad. Victoria says, “Yes,” not realizing what this will entail. How do you help a grieving parent when you, yourself, are trying to grieve as a teen? Victoria does her best to help out by cooking and cleaning. Her dad meets Tiffany who he takes a shining to. Next thing Victoria knows she’s gained a stepmom and a stepsister, Sarah.

Life seems to be turning into something normal once Tiffany and Sarah enter Victoria’s life until the night her dad acts weird towards her and throws her out. Literally. Victoria lands into foster care, not understanding why. She is placed into Connie’s home.

Life in her new foster home is like walking on eggshells. Connie is strict and not one to hand out sympathy. Victoria attempts to befriend her foster sister, but the other girl mainly keeps to herself. Being at Connie’s means that Victoria is thrown into attending a different school and living in a different town.

Will Victoria adjust to her foster home? Can she start over in a small town where it seems everyone knows everyone else’s business? Can Victoria keep her secrets hidden indefinitely?

I received a digital ARC copy of The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess from North Star Editions and Flux, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are strictly mine. This book is engrossing from page 1. I could not put this novel down. Victoria’s story is an important one that everyone needs to read. This book will have you crying, laughing, cringing and cheering. For a debut novel I’m beyond impressed. I will definitely be searching for other titles by Nikki Barthelmess because she is a talented author you won’t want to miss. Definitely keep an eye out this year for this upcoming YA novel.

Book Review · Books

Raising Faith

What would you do if your child could see people who have passed on and you aren’t a believer of the supernatural? Claire Waters finds herself in this exact predicament. Her daughter, Faith is shy and not one to boast of her abilities. When she is little Claire discovers her daughter’s psychic ability. At first Claire is creeped out, wondering if her daughter is safe with these people she can see, but Faith never seems frightened. To Faith it’s normal to her and nothing is wrong. This memoir is Claire’s journey in learning about her daughter’s supernatural abilities.

Claire does a great job of being forthright in her skepticism and how she goes about researching these gifts her daughter has. As someone who didn’t believe in life after death, after her daughter confirms she can see her grandfather, Claire is provided more evidence that helps her in believing her dad isn’t truly gone. He may not physically be there, but that doesn’t mean he’s not there in spirit form.

This book was fascinating. I can’t see spirits of people who have passed on, but I do know someone who can see angels. I believe this is a spiritual gift you have to be careful and mindful with. I do believe there are demons out there that can masquerade as someone you may have known and try to trick you. Not all spirits are good and safe. They are those that want to harm you. I do believe in life after death and I do think those who have passed on can send us signs. This book a bit out of my comfort zone, but I do find the topic interesting. I think children are more open to the supernatural because they haven’t been tainted yet by the world.

I received my digital ARC copy of Raising Faith by Claire Waters from John Hunt Publishing, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are strictly my own. If you enjoy books about this topic then keep an eye out for this title next year.

Book Review · Books

Still Standing

What would you do if you were falsely accused to being involved in illegal activity your spouse was involved in? Anaite Alvarado experienced just this in 2015 when she gets arrested in Guatemala. Anaite has dual USA citizenship since her parents are Guatemalan. Her husband, at the time, had only the previous year advised her of some financial trouble he was in. She was not involved whatsoever.

Anaite is whisked away by the police one morning after her children are sent off to school. I can’t imagine the trauma of being taken away without being able to warn your children of what is going to happen. Her memoir, Still Standing, is her journey being stuck in prison and waiting to be freed. Anaite’s account of prison life is intense, sobering, and educational. Her time in there shows how humane inmates are and how they help each other stay sane through their friendships and generosity in sharing what little they have.

I received a complimentary copy of Still Standing by Anaite Alvarado from Apollo Publishers care of Smith Publicity. Opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own. If you are needing an inspirational read I highly recommend this memoir.