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.

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

The Eighth Girl

Did I just go on a roller coaster? My mind is still trying to grapple with the genius of a writer I just read. Genius in how she took a very complex mental health disorder and gave it the tender care it needs. She does a wonderful job to help those unfamiliar with Dissociative Identity Disorder otherwise known as Multiple Personality Disorder understand it better. This thick novel did just that.

Meet Alexa Wu who struggles corralling her different personalities. She lives with her stepmom Anna after her father left them and her mother died. She has her best friend Ella. They are close almost like sisters, until Ella agrees to work at a strip club to earn extra money, so she can get her own place. Alexa is not thrilled with Ella’s choice, but is hopeful it will be a short term gig. Her best friend is aware of Alexa’s personalities and loves her anyway. Alexa is thrilled about her new photojournalist job she scored. Now if only her alters (personalities) will allow her to keep it. This novel is Alexa’s journey to try to carve out a life for herself and how she deals with her alters and being able to function day to day.

Enter in Alexa’s psychiatrist, Daniel who has challenges of his own he is working to keep reigned in. He is challenged in dealing with Alexa and her switching her personalities within a session. Can Daniel help Alexa? How do you help someone with DID/MPD?

The way in which the author presents alters is spot on. I like how her description of where the alters reside is called the nest and how when one personality recedes they return to the nest. I think the way in which this difficult subject was handled was done with grace.

I received my complimentary copy of The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung from William Morrow, care of TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and of my own choice. To grab your own copy to keep and to support HarperCollins and check out more about the author. This novel deals with very adult topics (abuse, suicide, etc.), so please be cautious before purchasing. This debut author is going to make a huge impact in the mental health field with her novels. I can’t wait to see what future novels she will produce. Thank you once again TLC Book Tours for helping me discover a new favorite author.

Book Review · Books

The Moonglow Sisters

Some books are life changers. Some stories take you down a long dark tunnel that is scary as Hell, but the story stays with you, to comfort and guide you to the end where your life becomes that much brighter. This story is one of those gems.

Gia, Shelley and Maddie were as close as three sisters could be until the night their bond was destroyed and they each went their own, separate ways. Five years pass and Gia gets a strange letter from their grandmother. Her request of Gia is to reunite the sisters. Gia is not quite sure if their grandmother’s request will be heeded, but she can try. Who knows if Maddie, or Shelley will come back to home base?

The C word is scary, ugly and something none of the sisters want to face, but all three show up. Wether or not their bond is able to be mended is still out for debate, but Gia hopes Maddie and Shelley will try. In order to help spur the truce along, Gia has a nuts idea to help get them to finish the quilt. The dang quilt tied to the day that reunited their sisterhood, but will Gia’s plan work?

Follow Gia, Shelley and Maddie as they embark on a journey of self discovery, challenges, hopes, dreams and the occasional road block. Hear from each sister, from their view of what transpired to ruin their sisterhood and what might be their saving grace. Can these sisters redeem their sisterhood?

I received my complimentary copy of The Moonglow Sisters by Lori Wilde from William Morris, care of TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and of my own choice. To grab a copy for your own click here and to read more about the lovely author here.

This novel was EPIC. I didn’t want to finish this lovely, deep, challenging family drama. Each character was unique and I could see myself in each one. Gia, the youngest who is the ever peace keeper. Shelley, the free spirit and Maddie, the eldest who took her big sister role seriously. You will step into their lives and not want the last page to arrive.

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

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant

Three generations searching for love. Rachel who seems to have fleeting romances, Eve who has swapped her travels to Africa with her boyfriend in favor of taking care of her grandmother. Esther stuck on a island against her will by her husband, in an attempt to heal her from her grief.

Rachel lands on the Isles of Scilly to research clams. While going out to do her research a storm brews up fast and she doesn’t want to lose her boat. Attempting to swim it to shore behind her she ends up getting her arm caught between rocks. An older woman whose a recluse rescues Rachael. She has landed on an island called Little Embers. Her rescuer finds her some clothes to borrow. They are clothes from a different era with a secret.

Eve is stuck taking care of her grandmother and wonders if she’ll ever rekindle the boyfriend she left behind. Helping her grandmother write her memoirs Eve senses there’s more to her life then her grandmother is letting on.

Esther is stuck on an island to try and heal her grief. With her husband and little boy so far away can Esther heal?

Join Esther, Eve and Rachel on their journeys to discover love and the how the paths we choose shape our future. This gripping novel is set on the isles off the Cornish coast. If you enjoy small town stories then you might just fall in love with this story. This novel touches on so many different themes from loss, independence, grief, romance, adventure and most of all hope.

I received my complimentary copy of The Lost Letters Of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn from William Morrow, care of TLC Book Tours. The views are mine and of my own choice. To go grab a gorgeous copy of this novel support HarperCollins and to find out more about the author.

Book Review · Books

Don’t Read The Comments

I confess. I’m not a gamer. I played a bit old school in elementary school like Super Mario Brothers, but nothing extravagant like the online game explained in Don’t Read The Comments. It honestly took me some time to get into this young adult novel, but once I did I was hooked.

Enter Divya who has her own streaming gaming channel where she plays Reclaim The Sun. She has a great fan base who all support her except for online trolls who don’t like that a woman is a gamer and actually popular. One day while trying to claim a planet and name it the said trolls descend in mass and blow up her ship. This ship Divya had decked out from gaining experience points, etc. She was shocked and devastated to have to start from scratch.

One day while playing the game she finds a planet she can name, but someone else is already there and the player doesn’t look familiar. He seems nice and when he realizes whose there with him he totally fan girls over her. This player, Aaron can’t believe Divya is actually chatting with him in the game. She doesn’t get what all the hype is about. Divya enjoys gaming, but for her it’s a way to earn money from the sponsors she gets so that she can help out her mom financially.

Aaron and Divya slowly start an online friendship. Divya has her best friend Rebecca who is also, who helps produce her streams for the channel is a tad leery of Aaron after the way the online trolls took out Divya’s ship.

When the trolls start upping their harassment Divya is not sure if she should still attend GameCon in person. Should she report them? How do you report anonymous harassers?

I received my complimentary digital copy of Don’t Read The Comments by Eric Smith from Park Row Books, Hanover Square Press, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own choice. This novel will sure become a favorite wether you are a gamer, or not. The topic of online harassment is uncomfortable. With a lot of social interaction being online people feel they can spew hate and that it’s not equally harassing since it’s not in person. This book will be a great conversation starter for teens of all ages. I think it’d be great required reading for junior high and high schoolers.