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

How To Make A Life

If you love family sagas then you need to go grab a stunning copy of How To Make A Life. This novel tumbles you first into Ida’s world, the old country, the Ukraine. Due to the first war she escapes off to America with her two young daughters, where she works to build a brand new life for them. Ida can’t wait to put away the horrors of the war behind her.

This novel touches on the tough subject of mental illness and how society has viewed it through the decades and how family members can view it very differently. Would you be strong enough to call it out when a family member may need help instead of keeping quiet since you speak out loud just may bring shame on the family?Another subject that is focused on is sisterhood. When is being a sister go from caring to usury?

Each chapter gives the point of view from a different family member through different eras. Join Ida, Bessie, Jenny, Ruby, Morris, Irene, Abe and others on their adventures through life.

I received my complimentary copy of How To Make A Life by Florence Reiss Kraut from She Writes Press, care of Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own choice. I love the cover of this book. I have a soft spot for WWII books and this cover gives off the rustic, charming, 1940’s antique look. It makes me feel like I could walk right out onto the cover and be there with the characters.

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

The Years After You

Lily is in love with her 20 years older boss, Harry. The challenge is that he has a wife, Pippa and two teenage sons. Harry adores Lily and wants to be with her all the time. She doesn’t want him to leave his wife, though she loves when she gets Harry all to herself. When Harry starts to get paranoid and stalk Lily, will she notice this disturbing change in him?

Told between alternating views between Lily, Harry and Pippa you are taken on a tour-de-force of what happens in a marital affair. The author, great niece of Virginia Woolf, Emma Woolf writes with such vividness inside each character’s head that I felt as though I was there witnessing all that happens with Harry and Lily’s office romance.

I received my complimentary copy of The Years After You by Emma Woolf from Amberjack Publishing, care of Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own choice. The topics covered in this novel aren’t easy to stomach. The topic of marital affairs isn’t pretty and is down right uncomfortable, but in today’s world life happens. We all make different choices that have consequences beyond our own vantage point.

This novel brings to life the nitty gritty of what happens when flirtation migrates to sex. I highly recommend this novel. It’s a deeper novel than merely being just about an affair, but to find out more you have to go grab a copy. I will definitely be looking out for more novels by Emma Woolf.

Book Review · Books

How Languages Saved Me

I have a soft spot for Poland. I am not even Polish. I also, have had an intense interest in reading about World War II; which I have done since fourth grade after being loaned Escape From Warsaw. If you are like me and like to read memoirs set during WWII then I recommend you go find a copy of How Languages Saved Me.

This short memoir is about Tadeusz Haska who had a hard life growing up in Poland. Him and his brother are orphaned at a young age. When the war started he discovered how tricky it is to keep under the SS radar being that he was an intellectual, but couldn’t appear as such. Thankfully he knew 9 languages which helped him assist others in keeping up to date on the news of the war. When he met his lovely wife, Jadwiga he had to figure out a way to get her out of Poland. At the time he had escaped to Sweden. Tad’s journey through the war is an adventure you won’t forget.

I received my complimentary copy of How Languages Saved Me by Tadeusz and Stefanie Naumann from Koehler Books, care of Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own choice. This memoir is brief, but full of adventure, action, romance, challenges and most of all filled with a love for life.

Book Review · Books

Find Your Light: Practicing Mindfulness To Recover From Anything

This slim little book packs a punch. Barbara Conyers takes you on the journey of self discovery of what it means to practice mindfulness in your life. She saddles up the 12-steps along side going through what mindfulness is and isn’t. Ms. Conyers gives helpful exercises throughout the book to help you explore what being actively mindful is like. She also, shows how addiction plays a role in our lives and how being mindful of what addictions we have and how to confront them is vital.

Having read other books on mindfulness it’s great to see the exercise of deep breathing suggested. When I was sick a year or so ago, I would get anxious, but focusing on breathing deep helped calm me down. One exercise I need to incorporate into my life more is just sitting with my thoughts and emotions; knowing they will flow accordingly. They aren’t permanent, though my body thinks so because it goes into flight or fight mode. If you need a short book on my mindfulness then I do recommend this book.

I received my complimentary copy of Find Your Light: Practicing Mindfulness to Recover from Anything by Barbara Conyers from Hazelden Publishing, care of Smith Publicity. The views are of my own will and are mine.

Book Review · Books

Bound

Elizabeth Wood finds herself being her mom’s advocate when her mom’s cancer comes back. Elizabeth’s mom has recently discovered the world of BDSM and blossomed sexually in her later years. Elizabeth is supportive of her mom exploring her sexual freedom after Elizabeth’s dad passed away when she was little.

This memoir is Elizabeth’s journey through the world of hospitals, rehab and learning to be the eyes and ears for her mom when she is too, sick to advocate for herself. How can one still fully be allowed to be a daughter and yet have to be the role of the adult when your parent isn’t in a place to make big life decisions?

What would you do if you were searching for makeup for your mom in her usual makeup bag and instead of finding a particular lipstick you discover a black dildo? Elizabeth is still shocked and yet fascinated to continue to uncover her mom’s new exploration into the world of BDSM when she goes by her mom’s apartment to bring a few things her mom needs.

Elizabeth discusses how with the parent child relationship we never discuss or contemplate that our parents have sexual lives and are sexual beings. When it comes to having to get treated at a hospital does the system take into account a patient’s sexuality and need for intimacy wether with a partner, or solo?

I received my complimentary digital copy of Bound by Elizabeth Anne Wood from NetGalley and a complimentary physical copy from Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own accord. This memoir portrays the emotionally tough decisions that encompass cancer treatment, the interesting world of coming to terms that your parent does have a sex life and still needs intimacy when going through treatment. The topic of BDSM is outside my vanilla comfort zone, but I think this book is a must read. I think socially we do need to promote the full care of a patient in taking into account their needs need to be met not just medically, but that the patient’s sexuality needs to be taken into account. Just because a patient may be nearing towards end of life doesn’t mean their libido has turned off.

Book Review · Books

The Monster Catchers

Bailey Buckleby lives with his father whose a monster hunter. His father owns a little store where they sell little trinkets for tourists. In the back is where Bailey’s dad secretly keeps his live fairy collection in lanterns that hang in the back room. In the freezer they have a live troll, Henry. Their little town of Whalefat doesn’t believe in monsters, unless you discover a goblin who won’t leave you alone.

Bailey loves researching monsters. He’s constantly reading his favorite book by a professional monster hunter. He helps his dad out when he goes to hunt monsters. Bailey has a talent to defend himself using frisbees. He doesn’t have any friends except for a classmate who also, believes in monsters. She owns a cool sword. Being in seventh grade can be stressful when you have to keep avoiding bullies.

When a goblin hunt goes wrong Bailey ends up on the wrong side of the monster equation and has to find his way back to his dad. Will he reach his dad in time?

I received my complimentary copy of The Monster Catchers by George Brewington from Godwin Books, care of Smith Publicity. My views are my own and of my own accord. This middle grade book was fun, fast paced, humerus and sad at times. I’m not into monsters, but reading this book made me want to Google the different monsters represented in the book.

Book Review · Books

Dutch Girl

Do you love reading about WWII and Hollywood? If so, then Dutch Girl is the book for you. I didn’t know anything about Audrey Hepburn prior to this, but this book gives a great overview of her life during WWII. I have loved reading memoirs and biographies about World War II since grade school so, I was interested to hear about her part during the war.

Audrey grew up in the Netherlands where she lived with her mother and father. After her father left, she was sent to a boarding school in England. Her mother was very strict and not one who showed affection. Audrey started taking ballet which she loved. Even though she was considered tall for a ballerina, she was graceful.

Audrey moved back to live with her mom and a few other relatives. During the war she kept dancing as long as she could. She assisted the war effort by helping with the resistance.

This biography goes back and forth between Audrey as an adult and Audrey during the war. The descriptions in this book are superb. I’ve read a lot of books on this subject and this one has to be one of the most vividly expressed biographies. Reading this book you feel as thought you are there with Audrey experiencing every moment of the war.

I received my digital complimentary copy of Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen courtesy of Smith Publicity and NetGalley. The views expressed are mine and of my own free will. I highly recommend this book. I will definitely be looking out for other biographies by Mr. Matzen.

Book Review · Books

Band Of Shadows

Do you enjoy fantasy? Are you a fan of Sarah J.Mass and Veronica Roth? If so, join me in Scarlet’s world. Scarlet is a 17 year old foster kid who loves reading and being a loner, except for hanging out with her foster brother, Jensen.

Scarlet is weirded out when she keeps dreaming of a door. She has no clue why she keeps dreaming of it, or what it could mean. One day walking with Jensen she sees the actual door. She wants to open it right then and there, but Jensen has to go coach a game so they leave.

Soon Scarlet is determined to go back to the door and open it. Jensen is not as comfortable with the idea, but Scarlet wants to know what’s on the other side. They go back and Jensen attempts, but it appears locked. Scarlet tries and it opens for her. Going through this mystery door lands Scarlet in Avalon.

This place is greener than anything Scarlet has ever experienced. She discovers she is a Faye and it’s her true home. Not only has she been lured to her real home by some mysterious door, but that she has special abilities: being an empath and telekinesis. Why was Scarlet brought home now and what does the leader of the island, Morgana, have in store for her?

I like Scarlet because I am also, a bookworm who prefers a small group or time one on one with others and am am empath. I think it’s fascinating how she learns to understand others by being able to sense the other’s emotions and how to block others emotions from over taking her own.

I received my complimentary copy of The Band Of Shadows by H.P. Waitt from Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own free will. This novel makes me think a bit of Narnia and the Divergent series. This novel has great characterization and scenery description.