Book Review · Books

Affirming

Sally was raised in a Christian church that adamantly believed being gay was a sin and not what God wants. She was devout in her faith and loved her church. She was raised in a strong Christian home where her parents and grandparents showed and reflected their faith to her through how they lived their lives. The challenge came when she noticed she didn’t like boys in the same way her girl friends did. Instead she got crushes on girls. This quandary bugged Sally because she wanted to the do the right thing. She tried, prayed and begged God to change her desires. Nothing worked. When Sally encounters believers who have a different view of monogamous gay relationships between believers what she has tried to believe is challenged. Follow Sally as she goes on a faith journey to figure out just what exactly God wants.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Affirming by Sally Gary from William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company care of NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own choice. This memoir I couldn’t put down. Sally is candid and not preachy, but kindly shares her faith throughout. She talks about how not only how her church helped shape who she is, but the impact her family had on her with how they showed love to others through their hospitality. I can relate to Sally when it comes to always having different people coming over for dinner or staying with your family for months at a time when you are growing up. Flexibility and patience is key. I think this is an excellent book to help open up an important discussion within the church. If you have read God And The Gay Christian or Torn, then you’ll want to add Affirming to your Christian LGBTQA library collection.

Book Review · Books

Life Under The Apple Tree

If you grew up in the 80’s then you’ll remember the children’s book The Giving Tree. The cover of Life Under The Apple Tree gives off this same vibe as it is a cartoon of an apple tree with a single apple dangling from a branch. I just had to read this story.

Enter into the author’s ordeal starting his life over when his wife passes unexpectedly. The author and his children scramble to find a home to move into. His family cabin becomes a brief respite while they search since their old house sold and their new home fell through.

Things turn sour when financial troubles hit hard. Life gets even more stressful. Thankfully the author has a best friend in the local couple Thaddeus and Christopher. They offer pearls of wisdom under the apple tree. Come sit and listen to their wisdom.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Life Under The Apple Tree by A.P. Roberts from BooksGoSocial, care of NetGalley. The views are mine and are my choice. This story is based on a true story of what the author went through. It is hard to put down and is a swift read. This book is parts magical, convicting and inspiring. I can’t get over how much I love this book’s cover. It brings out the kid in me.

Books · Personal · Self Care · TBR

Overbooked

I love to read. I have ever since I was little. It was second grade when I began to read solo, but still would enjoy my mom reading to me. The books that captured my imagination as a little kid were: The Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton, The Little House series, The Moomins series, and of course Dr. Seuss books.

Discovering Booktube was life changing. The first Booktuber that caught my attention was Sasha Alsberg. Her love of reading, books and wait she gets sent books to review? I want book mail. I created a book blog, read 5 books and posted reviews, then searched out companies looking for reviewers.

Fast forward 3 years and I have over indulged. I know I review not merely for NetGalley, but a number of other PR companies. I have a challenge saying, “No,” to requests since I’m already over my head in my ARC TBR, but that one that got away haunts the back of my mind. What if the book I decline to review, is my fave book for 2020?

I do need to be more selective and whittle down my TBR. I’m thankful to be a book blogger. I just don’t want to loose my love of reading because of it.

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.

Book Review · Books

Breathe Again

The death of a child is a road we don’t wish our worst enemy to have to travel down. Stacy Henagan takes our hand and walks us through this personal Hell. A beautiful daughter almost 1 years old. Cancer. Praying for a miracle, believing for healing and then that road you don’t want to go down, but are dragged down it kicking and screaming? Yes, Stacy has soldiered that painful road.

Stacy’s memoir of dealing with grief is no holds bared. It’s the kind that scrapes your heart so raw you don’t know if God will be able to heal it. She gives us that honest look at how her own faith morphed and changed. Stacy is a gracious host who shows us that even though that road beats you up, you can get through to the end and come out stronger.

Would your faith survive something like this? I, personally have no children of my own, but disease isn’t a prospector of persons. Tragedy touches us all at some point and we have to decide if we are going to weather our spiritual storm?

I received my complimentary digital copy of Breathe Again by Stacy Henagan from Thomas Nelson and Emanate Books, care of NetGalley and TLC Book Tours. The views expressed are mine and of my own choice. Grab a stunning copy off of Amazon. Thank you Stacy for sharing your daughter’s story and your faith journey through weathering your own personal storm.

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 Them Be Kids

This book is great for parents or childless couples. The theme of this book is about how we need to allow kids to be kids and not burden them with adult worries. Kids today seem to be more acknowledgeable about topics that are too, grownup for them. The author, Jessica breaks down the sections into different categories from manners, to age appropriate activities for your kids, to writing your own family manifesto and more. Jessica gives examples from her own life and family as well, which I found quite reminiscent of my own childhood.

Even though I don’t have any children this book brought back my own childhood memories and how I was raised. It makes you think on how we raise today’s kids shapes how they will be in the future. It’s interesting to see how each generation is raised so differently. I like how Jessica brings it back to the basics, not the prehistoric kind.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Let Them Be Kids by Jessica Smartt from Thomas Nelson, care of TLC Book Tours and NetGalley. The views given are mine and my choice. To grab an inspiring copy via Amazon and to find out more about the author. This book is not boring. It’s refreshing and hopeful to know that there are parents out there who are determined to raise kids who know how to fully be kids and not mini adults.

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.