Book Review | Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

bring me back

Book Description

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | The Good Sister by Jess Ryder

the good sister

Official Book Description:

“Two sisters. One secret… A lie that could destroy them both.

When her father dies, Josie is devastated to uncover he led a secret life: another house, another family and a half-sister called Valentina.

Both with red hair and icy blue eyes, Josie and Valentina could be mistaken for twins. But the similarities end there…

Josie – Sweet, reserved, jealous, thief.
Valentina – Care-free, confident, dangerous, liar.

Two sisters. One survivor.

A nail-bitingly tense and unputdownable read that will keep you turning pages into the night. Perfect for fans of Gone GirlThe Girl on the Train and Sister Sister.”

I’m not sure about “gripped”, but this book definitely took me down roads I wasn’t ready to go down.  The story opened up with a man named Jerry, dying in a motorcycle accident, after refusing to respond to text messages that seem to be incriminating him in some way.  As a result, his wife Helen and her daughter Josie are alerted to his death and they start the process of grief and moving on.  Josie’s father, Jerry, was a Viking who passed down to her his heritage and philosophy, and it is evident in her appearance and way of thinking.

When Jerry passes, Josie goes to his second residence to clean it up and get it ready to sell.  It’s there that she begins to realize who her father really was.  There is a sister named Valentina who is five days older than she, and another mother she’s never met, and all of a sudden, her father’s time spent away from home begins to take shape.  The betrayal, questions and heartache are all left wanting, as Jerry isn’t there to fill in the blanks.

As the half sisters begin to spend more time with each other, they begin to learn about each other and it’s hard not to compare how one of them was given much, while the other had to struggle through life.  The built up animosity begins to show, and sadly, the lines begin to blur between what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Sidenote: At the beginning of each chapter is a “truth” about Viking morals and values, and it prefaces what is about to happen.  These are very contradictory to a healthy functioning family, and seems to give Jerry a pass at not being the best father.

The story shifts each chapter between Josie and Valentina, and even toward the end, it’s hard to tell which is which, so that may be a bit confusing, but it does eventually line up.  And although I enjoyed the suspense of the mothers finding out, the details learned by the sisters, and the antics they go through, I couldn’t help but find myself yelling at one of the sisters in many of the situations, because she seems to allow herself to be led down paths she knows aren’t safe.  What truly is the intention of the “bad” sister?  And which sister is which?  The ending is bizarre, but leaves lingering questions.  However, I read it in less than a week, so maybe it did grip me.

Nature of book warning: graphic sex scene and memories of a rape

Blogger note: I read 50% of this book, and listened to the other half through Amazon Audible.  I loved the narrator, Annette Chown, as she read from Josie’s and Valentina’s perspectives.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bookouture and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Subject 375 (or The Spider in the Corner of the Room) by Nikki Owen

 

subject 375

Dr. Maria Martinez is being accused of murdering a priest, and is awaiting trial in prison while the details get figured out.  Sadly, she has no recollection of the event.  She also has Asperger’s and is incredibly intelligent.  While in prison, she meets with a few therapists and others who try to help her determine what really happened the night the priest was murdered.  Could she really have killed him and then forgotten about it?  Did she commit the murder, or is she being set up?  And if so, by whom?  Who is Subject 375?

This story moves around quite a bit, as it jumps from present to Maria’s early childhood and back again.  And sometimes it seems as if her “memories” may have been fabricated.  She questions everything and everyone so often, you wonder midway through the book if she has a type of paranoia or some other type of mental illness.  The characters she encounters are well-defined.  Some relationships seem strained, but the reasons for people distancing themselves from Maria is explained later in the book.  I enjoyed the suspense and recommend it for anyone else who does, especially when it’s a trilogy, with two more books to come.  Can’t wait to see how this unfolds!

I would like to thank NetGalley and Blackstone Audio for the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.  It’s my privilege and honor to do so.

Book Review | The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

the things we wish

I absolutely loved this book! It took a while to build the characters, but slowly, the intricate parts of their lives began to unfold, and the unity between the neighbors in Sycamore Glen began to gel. It was a wonderful story, told from multiple points of view. I found that not to be distracting, as every character was different, in age, their situation and their perspective.

This story really made me think about our quick and hasty judgements of others. At the beginning of the story, a lot happens around the community pool, which is a common backdrop for gossip and opinions of others. This pool, however, has quite a cast of characters seated around it, and the story takes off.

A small child drowns and it sets off a chain of events that draw people toward each other, some that probably never would have crossed paths otherwise. I found the needs of each character to be vulnerable and exposed, and it says a lot about humanity.

Everyone has secrets, and each one is revealed throughout the book, and how they intersect and unravel is delicate and flawless. I loved each “what just happened” moment and would love to see this book become a movie. The characters were all lovable, with the exception of one, and you’ll figure that out as the story moves toward a garden at Zell’s house. I found this book to be endearing. And at the end, all of the little trails led to a forward moving path. Great story and depth!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an advanced reader copy! This was a great read and one I’m grateful to have had the chance to review for you.

Book Review | Dysfunction Interrupted by Audrey Sherman, PhD

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The title for this book may sound like a quick self-help book, but let me assure you, Dr. Sherman goes very in-depth.  For those struggling with anxiety and depression, this book is all-inclusive and a vital asset to the sufferer.

She breaks the book down into three parts.

Part One concisely breaks down common dysfunctional home scenarios (namely parenting types that include: violence/abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse, depressive, histrionic, abandoning, invalidating, perfectionistic, controlling, and non-disciplinarians) and she presents case studies of clients who exhibit symptomatic manifestations as a result of upbringing.

Part Two deals with symptom sets and explains in detail where they stem from (namely anxiety, attachment problems, attention and focus problems, boundary issues, caretaking, codependency, chronic anger, depression, hypervigilance, learned helplessness, locus of control, low self-esteem, personality disorders, poor coping strategies, relationship and trust issues, and underachievement).  These are quite concise and explanatory.

Part Three gets to the meat of the situation and shows how to address the issues found in parts one and two, and where to go from there.  This is an amazingly comprehensive book that doesn’t beat around the bush.  Dr. Sherman is straight-forward, and compassionate about helping those who struggle with anxiety and depression.  To get a better handle on your own symptoms, check this book out and see if it doesn’t get you on the road to healing.

I was given this book for free by Netgalley and Concord Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  Many thanks for the gift and opportunity to present my opinion.

Book Review | The God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler

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Barry Eisler captured my attention within the first few pages by citing names stripped from today’s NSA headlines. I was interested in the book simply because I love a good mystery, but I’m even more drawn to a conspiracy driven mystery that seems to give a glimpse to hidden networks and clearances mere civilians will never see. I work for our nation’s government, and also am prone to wondering if there is more than meets the eye.

This story follows an NSA employee who knows too much and sees things she’s not supposed to. Of course, she must be dealt with, and the person in charge of ordering that, appears to be someone who would not normally be suspected-unless of course, he has something to hide. I didn’t find the plot to be unbelievable. Interlaced in the story are code names for projects and programs that the NSA has in place, and the possibility for these to be a reality, made me question whether this book was fiction or non-fiction.

I loved the suspense, the romance, and the outcome. Worth the time to read, and I would be interested in reading more of Eisler’s work.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Murder Freshly Baked by Vannetta Chapman

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This was my first Amish mystery.  It is the third installment for the Amish Village Mystery series written by Vannetta Chapman, so I wasn’t previously acquainted with the characters or scenarios that presented themselves.  However, the author did a good job of linking the storylines.  If you missed the previous solved mysteries in the town of Artisan Village in Middlebury, Indiana, the majority of the characters have resurfaced, and this time, to solve whoever is tainting the pies in town!

After Ryan Duvall crosses the finish line, he falls down dead!  Who would do such a thing?  Once it is established that it was poison, the evidence seems to begin to point to a prominent member of the town, but Amber Bowman refuses to believe it.  There are a few townspeople to choose from, but see if you can narrow it down to the actual culprit.

I enjoyed the storyline, though it seemed to take some time for the actual mystery to develop.  The murder was within the first few pages, however getting clues and following those responsible took longer than I thought was necessary.  That is the only reason that I have given an average review for this book.

I loved the character Preston, a veteran who struggled with PTSD and his beloved pooch, Mocha, who helped him get through many of his episodes.

If you love simple mysteries set in a small Amish village, Vannetta Chapman is your author.  I would read another story by her any day!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers (http://booklookbloggers.com) book review program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | I’m Happy for you (Sort Of…Not Really) by Kay Wills Wyma

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I loved this book!  Kay Wills Wyma has such a way with words.  The topic is one that women everywhere can relate to, and I love the humor she infuses into her stories.  In answering a question that makes most of us squirm, she really points us in the right direction of how to recognize when we are in the business of comparison, but also what it says about us, and how to deal with our insecurities that are motivated by our socially driven culture in America.

One of the stories she shared was about having women over in her home for bible study, and then all of the sudden getting consumed with the idea that her girlfriend Alyssa opened the fridge and found whatever shape the lettuce was in that had been placed in a towel from possibly two weeks prior!  I could not stop laughing.  I’ve had similar moments when I’ve realized there were chicken parts in the garbage and a friend just lifted the lid!

If you’ve not had that type of panic moment in the presence of other women, you may not get the gist of this book, but there are so many other examples she illustrates that I’m sure you’ll connect with.

I highly recommend this book for the pure joy of laughing at the parts of ourselves we wish we didn’t have. But I also recommend reading it to see how she redirects us back to the arms of our Father for comfort and contentment.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher’s Blogging for Books book review bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




 


Book Review | Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked my God and my Soul by Jennie Allen

“God, we will do anything.  Anything.”

This is the first book that I’ve reviewed by author Jennie Allen.  She has become quite a prominent face in the Christian community and is known for her boldness of faith, ability to create meaningful bible study materials, and being the founder of the IF:Gathering movement.  For more, check this link: IF:Gathering.

When I chose to read this book, I was excited, simply because the tagline states that this prayer to the Lord for anything “unlocked [her] God and her soul”.  It sounded like it would push me to pray differently, and if you’re a typical overwhelmed believer in our day and age, you may want that extra push too!

She began by giving a background of her life growing up, learning about Jesus, and eventually she began to question a few things.  She would wrestle with the idea of Jesus, if what He taught was true, if He was who He said He is… haven’t we all been there?

Packed with Bible verses, her interpretation and how the verses influenced her decision for Christ and thereafter, Jennie shares many deep stories of the steps she took to be bolder in her faith, the ways that God came through for her and her family, the directions that they went after praying this prayer and the lack of hesitation she now has when she is asked by our Lord to be obedient.

I don’t want to reveal any of it here.  Truly, I don’t, because as a reader into this motivational but heartwarming story, I don’t want to take away any of her impact.  It’s best to be heard from her.

This is a great book for those who seek to be jump-started in their faith.  If you’re unsure of the Lord and His presence in your life, read this book.  Jennie comes to many amazing conclusions based on Scripture that can be used to help point you to the One who is worthy of accomplishing ANYTHING in your life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Let the Journey Begin by Max Lucado

let the journey begin

Max Lucado never ceases to amaze me with his godly wisdom, easy transition from story to life lesson, and word pictures.  This book, especially written for graduates who are facing the next big step of their lives, is timeless.  With added pages, Max provides wise words and tender knowledge from his previously published books that have transcended decades.  And the new format (this book was previously published around the time I graduated from high school myself), gives a fresh look to the truths that withstand time.  Anyone seeking life lessons from the Bible in an easy to understand way, will appreciate this book.

I recommend this book to anyone who has a family member who is graduating, without regard for age.  And graduates aren’t the only recipients to grasp amazing content.  If you know of someone who is seeking the Lord, Max writes so simply that it’s hard to miss the grace on each page.  My copy has dogeared pages, highlighted sections and notes in the margins. And if you’ve personally never read a book by this famous pastor from Texas, this is a great way to get your feet wet.  You won’t stop here!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers (http://booklookbloggers.com) book review bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 (http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html): “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”