Book Review · Books

Those Who Prey

College is a time for freedom, to discover yourself, enjoy dorm life and take the classes that interest you. Emily was thrilled to go away to Boston, away from her home in the south. Dorm life wasn’t the greatest. College life was lonely, until a cute guy interpreted her reading at the local coffee shop.

Josh invites her to hang out with his friends Heather and Andrew. Emily is excited to meet new people and make new friends. Heather seems very nice and that she wants to become genuine friends. Emily gets invited to an event where she gets a glimpse into the group that her new friends are involved in. Heather isn’t religious, but hearing one of the leader’s speak she is transfixed. Who doesn’t want improve their life, to discover their spirituality?

Heather is Emily’s mentor of sorts and as Emily goes through the process of learning and growing it seems Heather becomes even more controlling. Emily brushes off the caution in her gut. Heather wants the best for her, right?

When an internship spot opens up through the group Emily wants to go since Josh is going. The only challenge is that Heather wants to go. Which of them will get picked?

I received my digital complimentary copy of Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett from Simon and Schuster’s Children’s Publishing, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own will. This book will make a great conversation piece. This novel is a cautionary tale of sorts and an important one. I’m still processing my reaction.

Books

Author Q & A For: Lifeline To Marionette

A Q&A with Jennifer Waitte

Author, Lifeline to Marionette

 

Question: You have a journalism background, why did you choose to move into fiction?

Jennifer Waitte: My interest in creative writing actually predates my journalism career. When I was in grade school, I was always writing short stories and poems. In college, I originally majored in architecture because I loved architectural history and design, but I failed miserably in anything mathematical. I switched to English, and I loved English lit but worried about my career options as an English major. I switched again to journalism after deciding I wanted to focus on editorial and feature writing for magazines, and eventually be a magazine editor. All through college and my early journalism career, I continued to write fiction, mostly short stories. Overall, I just loved writing features about interesting people. As a result, my novels are character-driven stories.

 

Question: What themes in Lifeline to Marionette do you most want to highlight and why?

Jennifer Waitte: The effects of societal pressures, the hopeless trap of drug addiction, and the damage caused by exploitation are the primary themes that are the backbone of the story. It is also a love story, albeit a dark one.

 

Question: What character do you hope most resonates with readers and why?

Jennifer Waitte: Definitely Alaina Michelle Sekovich. I want my readers to sympathize with her and cultivate compassion for her as they come to understand the disparity between what she is (a celebrity) and the pressures she faces, and who she is, which is a lonely and misunderstood young woman. Ultimately, I want readers to find her damaged yet endearing.

 

Question: Please describe your writing process.

Jennifer Waitte: I spend a lot of time thinking about my storyline and my characters’ personalities, motives and actions before writing. I develop an outline first, so I know where the story is going, and then I go back and work on different sections solely based on what I feel like working on. I don’t write beginning to end. Lifeline to Marionette takes place over a short period of time, which is two weeks. The sequel, The Fifth Language, also takes place over a short period of time, which is about a month. In both books, readers learn about my characters’ lives, but the actual plot unfolds over a short period of time. 

 

Question: Are there any writers or specific books that influenced you as you were writing Lifeline to Marionette?

Jennifer Waitte: There is one book that truly inspired me to start writing again, and that was The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, by Cherise Wolas. It’s a brilliant, well-written story about a writer resurrecting her writing career. What influenced me while I was writing Lifeline to Marionettewas not another novel, but music. I have a Lifeline to Marionette playlist, and each scene/situation in the story is a certain song or a collection of songs. The main character was inspired by a song. 

 

Jennifer Waitte is an award-winning journalist, editor and author. She is a graduate of California Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo, and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

For 15 years, Waitte worked as a writer and editor for numerous lifestyle, equine and equestrian sporting magazines. She has won many awards for her writing, editing and editorial direction.

 

Waitte is an avid equestrian. She competes in the sport of long-distance horse racing and dressage. She lives in Napa, California, with her husband Barry. They own Tamber Bey Vineyards, a boutique winery located in Napa Valley.   

Connect with Jennifer Waitte at JenniferWaitte.com, Facebook.com/jenniferwaitteauthor and Instagram.com/JenniferWaitte.

 

Lifeline to Marionette will be available at Amazon.

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.

Book Review · Books

Amelia Unabridged

Amelia’s life comes crashing down the day her dad leaves her and her mom for a younger woman. In her distress Amelia goes to the local bookstore to just window shop. In her glazed over pain she doesn’t notice Jenna until Jenna asks if she’d like to come in. Amelia discovers a true fellow book lover in Jenna when she offers to purchase a book for Amelia. This purchase tumbles them both into the exciting world of N.E. Endsley’s books.

With Jenna’s friendship comes a set of surrogate parents: Mark and Trisha. Jenna’s parents take Amelia into their lives in stride, treating her like the second daughter they never had. For their high school graduation gift they gift the girls tickets to a big book convention where their beloved author will be. They are so stoked to go on a trip out of state and BFF time as brand new adults.

The book convention ends up being a disappointment when N.E. Endsley’s time slot gets canceled. Amelia is crushed, hopping mad. The worst part is that while she was using the bathroom, Jenna gets to meet THAT author. Amelia has mixed emotions. Jealous doesn’t quite cover it.

After Jenna goes off on a trip overseas. Amelia misses her best friend. At least they have their college plans mapped out. Life can resume when Jenna gets back. Unfortunately Jenna comes back in a box. Amelia is thrown for a loop. Jenna was the captain to their BFF ship and now Amelia has to navigate their plans solo.

One day Amelia gets a call from the bookshop where Jenna used to work. A mysterious gift is waiting for Amelia. Who sent her this mystery gift? Inside is a limited fancy edition of their favorite book by their favorite author. Awkward thing is the local bookstore has no clue why this other bookstore shipped the book to their store instead of directly to Amelia. Was it Jenna’s surprise gift from the grave? Does this other bookstore have any clues? Amelia wants to find out.

This novel is my top favorite for 2020, so far. The characters come across like real life friends you want call up and hang out with. The depiction of grief is varied and true. This story is for those bookworms who have that one favorite author they squeal over at a book signings. This is for those that have that one nerdy best friend who understands their love of reading and actually enjoys reading by their side. This novel does have some magical realism in it. Other topics it tackles are social anxiety, death, people pleasing, family and what family loyalty looks like. I already want to reread this book, buy a physical copy when it comes out, so I can highlight my favorite lines and recommend it to all my book loving friends.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher from St. Martin’s Press, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and my full choice. This book is so magical, lovely, gut wrenching, perfect. For a devout novel I’ve discovered a new favorite author. Thank you Ashley Schumacher for writing this novel from the heart. It is a gift that will become a classic.

Book Review · Books

In The Neighborhood Of True

Ruth Rob moves to Atlanta from New York after her father passes. Living with her grandparents, along with her mom and sister is different. Her grandparents are well off and into social status. Ruth is plain Jane, but wants to fit into the new social circle she’s trust into at her new private school. Her mom is not wanting her daughter to get into the whole debutante scene that she ran away from herself. She wants her daughter to keep her independent self intact, not become a fufu sheep.

Ruth has her own secret she holds to her heart. Her Jewish faith. When Ruth decides she wants to participate in the social ball her mom makes her agree to going to the local Temple with her. There Ruth meets Max. He’s a tad quirky, but he’s not Ruth’s crush, Davis whose part of the fufu crowd at school. Both teen boys vey for her attention.

Diving into life in Atlanta in the late 50’s is fraught with social clashes between Jews, whites and blacks. When an awful event happens, Ruth has to determine which teen boy is worthy of her. Is Davis all true charm? Is Max just nerdy, or is there more depth to him? Will Ruth ever come clean about her own beliefs?

This novel delves into the ugly topic of racism in the south in the 50’s. This book’s description of this era is spot on. Written charmingly, details so accurate I want to put on bright classy red lipstick and a cute skirt with a cardigan. There are details in this novel I wanted to jump up to Google because it sounded so unique I wondered if it was truly something from that era.

I received my complimentary digital copy of In The Neighborhood Of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton from Algonquin Books, Care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and my own choice. This book is hard to put down. It handles the topics within it honestly, raw and with grace. I hope the author will choose to write a sequel.

Book Review · Books

Wilder Girls

With all the craziness this world is going through currently I wasn’t quite prepared for what I would find in the novel Wilder Girls. This novel’s theme is quite timely and ironic considering it came out before we would have to imagine a world in which being quarantined wasn’t merely a fictional hypothesis.

The one person at Raxter girl’s school who keeps Hetty’s life sane is Byatt. They are best friends and bunk mates. When the Tox hits and everyone has some kind of side effect from the mysterious illness Hetty gets promoted to Boat Shift. This is the coveted group of girls who help bring back supplies that are dropped off on the tip of the island they are on. When Hetty goes on her first patrol she realizes there is more going on than what is disclosed to the students.

Hetty has the quandary of liking her best friend, but the third friend in their trio, Reese seems to have not as hard of a countenance as she lets on. When Byatt gets carted off after experiencing one of her side effects of the illness Hetty is determined to find her best friend. Will Reese help Hetty find Byatt?

I received my complimentary digital copy of Wilder Girls by Rory Power, from Delacorte Press, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and my own choice. This novel is nail biting, emotional and twisted. This is a YA novel that I don’t think is best for younger teens as it does have bits of violence. I’ve heard this novel compared to Lord Of The Flies. I’ve never read this classic, but after reading Wilder Girl’s I don’t think the old classic will hold up to this novel. If you are needing a page turner to stay up all the night for a readathon then go grab a copy of Wilder Girls.

Book Review · Books

Burn Our Bodies Down

Margot’s life is within the walls of the place she shares with her over worked, emotionally closed off mom. Her mom always tells her to keep a candle burning. Margot thinks this is a tad weird, but any time she deviates her mom gives her an earful. Margot’s life consists of her, her mom and school. No one else.

One day to be thoughtful to her mom, Margot decides to go to the local pawn shop to buy back an item her mom pawned. While trying to find the special item she discovers her mom’s childhood Bible. Inside she discovers a message she’s not expecting and proof her mom had a childhood. She purchases the Bible. The proof contains the name of a place and number. Does she have extended family?

While her mom is at work Margot decides to risk calling the number. Will this family member answer? Do they know she exists? As a person answers the phone her mom appears at the phone booth and demands her to hand over the receiver. There are words exchanged and Margot’s mom slams the payphone down. What’s so terrible about possible family?

Margot decides she has to find out. With the money she skimmed from her mom she hitchhikes to the town referenced. Will Margot find a long lost, loving family member? Can she ever gain the home life she yearns for that her mom seems unable to provide? Why is her mom keeping Margot from family? What could her mom be hiding?

I received my complimentary digital copy of Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power from Delacorte Press, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and of my own choice. This novel is a whirlwind of different emotions. It’s a roller coaster that keeps you hanging on till the end of the ride wondering what the heck just happened. I’m still trying to mentally wrap my brain around Margot’s story. This novel captures the challenges of family and what family means. If you enjoy YA suspense with a dash of surrealism jump on to this hair raising ride.

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

Resurrecting Rain

Life seemed all set until her husband, Martin lost out on his property deal. Now Deena and her family have downgraded to a small apartment. Her husband is withdrawn and their son, Elliott and daughter, Lauren are both secretive.

When Deena meets a visiting professor where she works she can’t fathom why he’d be flirting with her. It’s nice to finally get some attention and appreciation. The professor wines and dines her. Finally she crosses the bridge and has an outright affair. Knowing he is moving away for his next job soon Deena knows her life will be able to resume back to boring normal. Until it’s revealed her secret isn’t such a secret.

With one swoop Deena is homeless. Martin has moved out and her son has started serving his country. Lauren is off living her life in a different state. Deena has no where to go. Until is she rings up the professor to see if he’ll let her stay with him.

This novel handles the subject of an affair from inside the eye of the storm with honesty. Deena’s challenge being homeless brings to light how our lives can seem picture perfect and within one decision be turned upside down. We think we’ll never be the other person till our own pride and choices become our downfall. Deena’s story is one I think each of us can relate to in some way.

I received my complimentary copy of Rain by Patricia Averbach from Golden Antelope Press, care of TLC Book Tours. To grab a copy go here and to find out more about the author. The views expressed are mine and of my own choice.

Book Review · Books

The Socialite

If you love war romance novels then you are in for a treat. Enter the world of Katherine Whitfield who is determined to bring back her wayward sister, Eleanor from Nazi occupied France. Kat just wants to get convincing her sister to come back home over and done quick, but a handsome stranger seems to drop in the night Kat arrives to confront Eleanor. Who is this handsome man?

Barrett Anderson runs a local bar and seems to pop up anytime Kat needs help with Eleanor, but the person holding her sister back is Eric, her dashingly handsome Nazi boyfriend. This man makes Kat sick, but Eleanor seems blinded by Eric’s good looks and money.

Will Kat be able to get through her sister’s head how dangerous Eric is? Will this handsome stranger ever explain himself as to why he seems to be swimming in the same circles as Eleanor and Eric, but isn’t a Nazi, but a Scotchman with the brogue to boot. The more Kat tries to convince Eleanor to come back home to England the more Eric tries to block their goal. Will the sisters ever make it out of Paris?

I received my complimentary copy of The Socialite by J’Nell Ciesielski from Thomas Nelson, care of TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and of my own choice. To grab a stunning copy of your own support Thomas Nelson and to check out more about the author. This novel is rich in atmosphere, characterization and even has snippets of humor. The cover of this novel is beyond gorgeous. The dress the main character has on just ripples with elegance and the fashionable way her hair is coifed makes a woman want to throw on some classic candy red lipstick. It makes me wish for the classic beauty of that era.