How Not To Die Alone by Richard Roper

How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper

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Book Review of How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper

No one wants to die alone, right? That seems to be something everyone can agree on. Just thinking about it brings panic and sadness, and you never want to hear of anyone else going through it either. So how do you prevent that from happening? It’s all about connections. Connections with other people bring us joy, love, sorrow, happiness, safety, pain, frustration, peace, and so many more. The difficult thing is that in order to make a connection you need to put yourself out there and be vulnerable, and that’s scary. Once you’re out there, there’s a chance you will get hurt, and that’s scary too. In How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper, Andrew sees this dilemma and is paralyzed by it. What about you? How far would you go to not die alone?

Blurb:

“No one wants to die without having really lived.

Andrew’s been feeling stuck.

For years he’s worked a thankless public health job, searching for the next of kin of those who die alone. Luckily, he goes home to a loving family every night. At least, that’s what his co-workers believe.

Then he meets Peggy.

A misunderstanding has left Andrew trapped in his own white lie and his lonely apartment. When new employee Peggy breezes into the office like a breath of fresh air, she makes Andrew feel truly alive for the first time in decades.

Could there be more to life than this?

But telling Peggy the truth could mean losing everything. For twenty years, Andrew has worked to keep his heart safe, forgetting one important thing: how to live. Maybe it’s time for him to start.”

My Book Review:

Have you ever told a little lie? Has that lie ever exploded into something out of control? Well, that is what Andrew deals with in this book. He told a lie his first few minutes at a new job, and several years later he still has to perpetuate that falsehood. It takes on a life of its own, and immobilizes him. So he’s alone. But he’s not. Strange how that works.

The writing style of this book hooked me from the beginning. It’s witty yet somber, crass yet sensitive, all-out yet half-hidden, truthful yet full of lies, alone yet together, bursting with love yet loveless, alive yet dead, and the end yet the beginning. As you can tell, contradictions abound in this book. It’s quite the feat to put all of that into one cohesive story, yet Roper skillfully pieces it together.

Truthfully, Andrew’s job sounds terrible. There’s no way I could ever do what he does. I’m glad he’s there to do it, but I’ll take a classroom full of sixth graders over his job any day. When people die, if they don’t have friends or loved ones to find them, they could be dead for months without anyone noticing. Sad, right? After the authorities are called, Andrew goes into the home to search for clues about lost loved ones, or anyone that might have known the person. He’s looking for help paying for the funeral, and for someone to come mourn at the funeral.

Not fun, right? Yeah. Honestly, it’s something I’d never thought or heard of until I read this book. The story takes place in London, and I did a little research to see what they do in the United States. I found this article. It pertains to New York; I couldn’t find anything about where I live. It sounds like it’s about the same.

I love the uniqueness of this book. I’ve never read anything like it. The characters are very well developed, realistic, and they all have their own personalities. Andrew makes such an interesting main character. Even after a whole book it’s difficult to read him or guess what he’ll do next. There’s a bit of a mystery surrounding an event in his past, and it definitely has an impact on his current day. There are a few times that he does cringy things. Seriously cringy things. And it makes you want to scream.

I like Peggy a lot; especially how she handles everything that goes on. Andrew’s boss and colleagues are quite the bunch. I vacillated between annoyance and disgust with them. His sister Sally is something of a mystery. That’s one thing I would have liked more info on, but instead Roper leaves it to the reader to decide what really happens there. Sally’s husband is a jerk. I’ll leave it at that.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s quirky, unique, and packs a big punch. I love the dynamics and relationships between the characters. I also love watching Andrew grow and develop along the way. How Not to Die Alone is very well written. The story flows well, the plot is interesting, and there are some great vocabulary words. I love the connection between the title, Andrew’s job, and Andrew’s personal circumstance–it’s very clever. The cover art definitely grabs your attention.

The big take home from this story is to be honest. Be honest with others and with yourself. All.the.time. Another take-away is the importance of connections.

“Connection is the antidote to depression”

               –David Kozlowski

It’s hard to make connections because you need to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. That’s never a comfortable thing to do, and it takes a lot of practice, but it’s so worth it. True connections with good people make life so much more enjoyable. And who knows? It could save your life one day.  

Content Rating RContent Rating: R (Profanity, including multiple “f” words. “Intimacy,” including scenes and innuendos. Domestic violence, and the death of a couple of characters.)

Age Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3.5/5   (I lowered my rating from a 4 because of language.)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2X7lJMM

 

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A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake The Other Side of the Bridge by Camron Wright The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill
 
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When the Storm Ends by Rebecca L. Marsh

When the Storm Ends by Rebecca L. Marsh

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Book Review of When the Storm Ends by Rebecca L. Marsh

Thankfully, I grew up in a loving home. I married a kind and loving man. I’ve never been in an abusive relationship. I know people who have been, and my heart breaks for them. This book speaks to those people. There are some very difficult things discussed in this book. It’s good for people like me to see how difficult those situations are. This allows me to be more aware and to be more compassionate. It’s also good for those who are in the situation to read, so they know that there is hope and a way out. When the Storm Ends by Rebecca L. Marsh delves into the topic of domestic violence, child abuse, and the foster care system. Those topics can be a bit heavy, so thankfully, Ms. Marsh evens it out with a touch of healing and hope.

Blurb:

“Beth thought her violent childhood was something she left in the past—until she met Erin. Now the abuse of her step-father has returned in terrifying nightmares.

Beth became a child psychologist so she could help children who are broken and hurting, but Erin, the fifteen-year-old who killed her father, is different. If Beth can’t reach her and find out why she did it, Erin will spend the rest of her childhood behind bars. To most people, it looks simple—Erin is either crazy or evil, but when Beth looks into Erin’s haunted eyes, she’s sure that something terrible was done to this girl. Erin, however, isn’t talking.

Beth believes Erin might open up to someone with whom she feels a kinship. Of course, Beth knows she shouldn’t share her own past with a patient, but the clock is ticking toward Erin’s trial, and Beth is out of options.

Little does Beth know that taking this terrifying leap will not only reveal the truth about Erin, but will rip Beth’s past wide open as well—and a connection between them that will shake Beth to the core.”

My Book Review:

I’m not good with violence. Any kind of violence.  You know all those movies and tv shows that everyone loves because of the action and things blowing up? The good guys usually win, but lots of people die in the process? Yeah, well, my husband laughs at me (now you can too) because I close my eyes through most of the movie. I don’t like watching violence. I don’t like watching people get hurt, and I really don’t like watching people die. So, I close my eyes.

Unfortunately, when you’re reading a book, you can’t close your eyes. It doesn’t really work that way, does it? There’s not a good way to escape from what happens on the page. Therefore, I just have to read, and maybe skim, the best I can. When the Storm Ends by Rebecca L. Marsh has a few scenes that I wish I could have closed my eyes through. I found them very difficult to read. Reading scenes that describe children (and women) being physically abused is tough to do.

I understand the purpose of those events in the story. They are there to give history and to show where the character is coming from. I realize they also show the evilness of a character. For me, personally, I don’t like to read them. It took me awhile to read because it’s a quite depressing in some parts. Therefore, I did lower my rating a bit because of this content. Not everyone will feel the same way.

Looking past the difficult content, this book is well written. The characters are well developed, realistic, and unique. Each one has his or her own personality and traits. You definitely feel Beth’s emotions, as an adult and as a child. I liked Beth’s character. She was strong, yet still vulnerable. I also liked her brother Jack’s character. He was tender and loving even after having been through some rough things.

Although most of the other characters are secondary, I came to love some of them, or hate some of them, just as much as Beth and Jack did. I didn’t always understand them or where they were coming from, but that’s why I love reading—it always helps you look at situations from different vantage points.

Ms. Marsh’s writing style flows well, grabs your attention, and is easy to read and understand. She brings up many hard issues in this book. Even though it’s tough to read, it’s always good to see things differently, and maybe to understand things a little more. Some of the topics brought up are physical and emotional abuse, murder, death, loyalty, foster care, domestic violence, love, family, hope, healing, therapy, and overcoming hardship. It’s a lot to take in, but it does speak to hope and healing, even after going through hard times.

Overall, I’m glad I read this book. If I hadn’t been reviewing it I may not have finished, but the story is compelling and I did want to know what happened. I cared for Beth and Jack, and wanted to see their story through.  

Content Rating RRating: R (Profanity, including at least one “f” word. Physical and emotional abuse, domestic violence, murder, attempted rape, and the death of at least one character.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 3.5/5

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2ZFtOoZ

 

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The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M. Eden

The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M Eden

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Book Review of The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M. Eden

I have always thought that it would be fun to go back in time and spend at least a week in England during the early nineteenth century. At least from all the books I’ve read that have taken place during this time (which is a lot), it seems like such a nice time to live. Now, you’d need to go spend time with a more wealthy family, but nevertheless, I think it would be fun to see. I don’t want to stay there forever, just long enough to experience it for a minute. Regency books have always been one of my favorite to read, so I was excited to see Sarah M. Eden’s new book The Heart of a Vicar. The cover art is beautiful, and sets the perfect tone for the book.

Blurb:

“Young love is all too fleeting, as Harold Jonquil painfully discovered years ago when Sarah Sarvol, the niece of a neighboring landowner, captures his heart. After an idyllic few weeks in the throes of blossoming love, reality intervened. They could have no future. Following their disastrous parting, Harold attempted to push aside thoughts of love and regret, but Sarah has never left his heart. Now, years later, he has achieved his lifelong aspiration of becoming the local vicar. However, the role proves more difficult than he imagined. He feels hollow and uninspired—until the most important person in his past returns, challenging him as no one ever has.

When Sarah’s ailing uncle summons her back to the family estate in England, there is only one person from her past she is reluctant to see again: Harold Jonquil, the only man who has ever claimed her heart. But when she comes face-to-face with her former beau, she hardly recognizes the aloof and dull man before her. She is determined to help Harold rediscover the passion he once felt toward his chosen profession. Soon, despite their exasperation with each other, they cannot deny the stirring of feelings long buried—but is it too late for second chances?”

My Book Review:

I love being transported back in time to England in the early 1800s. In The Heart of a Vicar, Eden does a fantastic job describing the scenery, the large estates, and the people that live there. Her descriptions make you feel like you are there, a part of it all. I especially love the people in this book. Although there are a lot of them, they each get the attention they deserve. Each character is well developed and so life-like. Each has his or her own personality, traits, and quirks.

Sarah comes across as determined, happy, and loving. I love her independence and love of people. Her fun with the blacksmith is one of my favorite parts of the story. Scott isn’t focused on as much, but he plays a big part in bringing the story together. Harold may struggle at times, but I really liked his character. He wanted to do the right thing in the right way; he just needed a little help getting there. It was fun to watch his growth as the story progressed. I thought it was funny that his little quirk ended up playing such a big role in the story.

The Jonquil family seems like a family anyone would want to be a part of. They know how to have fun, and how to come together to help each other.  One of my favorite parts of this family is their focus on the children. In many other books about this time period, children are taken care of by governesses, and the parents don’t interact with them a lot. That is not the case in this book, and it is a feature I loved. Another feature I loved about the Jonquil family was how deeply they cared for each other and took care of one another.

The Heart of a Vicar is well written. I like the flow of it, and Eden’s writing style. It’s easy to read and understand, and easy to get sucked into. One of the reasons I love reading so much is because you get to live different lives, see different places, and experience things you’d otherwise never get to experience. I felt that in this book. Becoming a part of this neighborhood was so much fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It’s the perfect summer get-away. Although it’s not titled a “proper romance” like many of Eden’s previous books, it is one. It’s a sweet, romantic story that happens to be clean. You all know how much I appreciate that. The Heart of a Vicar by Sarah M. Eden will make a perfect addition to any proper romance, or romance, collection.

The Heart of a Vicar Blog Tour Image

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy” in this book. There is some brief kissing, and some abusive tendencies of one character.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2ItM4uh

 

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Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden
 
 
 

Deep Conviction by Steven T. Collis

Cover Art of Deep Conviction by Steven T Collis

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Book Review of Deep Conviction by Steven T. Collis

I have to admit that on a normal, daily basis, I do not usually think about the freedom of religion. I definitely take it for granted. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I go to church on Sunday and I read scripture and pray throughout the week. I take full advantage of religious freedom, but yet I never really think about it. It’s just something that’s always been there. I am ashamed to say that I haven’t ever really thought about what it has taken to secure that freedom throughout the years. I fully acknowledge how blessed we are in the United States to be able to enjoy that freedom. There are still places around the world that do not have the same privilege, and to them I am sorry. I promise that I will no longer take this freedom for granted. Deep Conviction by Steven T. Collis brings the importance of religious freedom into the light and recognizes some of the sacrifices that have been made in order to secure that right.

Blurb:

Deep Conviction features four ordinary Americans who put their reputations and livelihoods at risk as they fought to protect their first amendment right to live their personal beliefs. Though these individuals couldn’t be more different, they share a similar conviction and determination.

  • In the winter of 1813, in rural New York City, a Catholic priest faced prison after a grand jury subpoenaed him for refusing to divulge the identity of a criminal who admitted his guilt during the sacrament of confession.
  • In the summer of 1959, an atheist pushed his attempt to become a Maryland notary public all the way to the United States Supreme Court because the state required him to sign an oath that said he believed in God.
  • In 1989 a Klamath Indian man walked into the highest court of our nation supported by legions of members of the Native American Church to plead for the freedom to practice his beliefs after years of oppression.
  • And, finally, in 2017, a Christian baker in Denver had his beliefs and actions scrutinized by the Supreme Court after he refused service to a gay couple who wanted to purchase a custom wedding cake.

These stories were specifically chosen for the universality and for the broad principles they represent. Most importantly, the notion of religious freedom for all, truly cherished, allows justice and protection for everyone, religious or not.”

My Book Review:

I was a little hesitant to read this book because I thought reading about court cases might be a little boring. Let me tell you how wrong I was. Steven T. Collis has a gift with words. He took these old court cases and brought them to life. I was enthralled! I couldn’t put it down! The law is not my thing—I teach sixth grade—but Collis held me captivated. As he described the laws and the courtroom scenes, I felt like I was there. I could feel the tension in the room, and I think I held my breath as I waited to hear the final decisions. He has a gift for storytelling.

I loved the writing style of this book. Seriously. It’s easy to read and understand, it flows well, and it draws you in. I did have to go back and reread a few paragraphs because I’m not used to reading the technical language of law, but that was my own fault. Collis’ descriptions of the people, their histories, and their lives make you feel like you have known them for years. The way he describes the courtroom scenes allows you to see a glimpse into the past, and to feel like you were there to see it happen.

When the law burdens one faith group—including atheists or agnostics—over another, it is only a matter of time before the unfavored group gains power. Once it does, it will use the law for its own ends. This results in factions vying for government power and turning it into a spear they can use to promote only their beliefs. (p. 163)

If the government is permitted to attempt to influence religious beliefs and commitments, each religious faction must necessarily seek to conrol or at least influence the government so the faction’s members will be more benefitted than harmed. Even if government is permitted only to express views about religion, religious factions will seek to control or influence the government so that they can control or influence the religious views that it expresses. (p.155)

When religious liberty is truly valued, government may not punish anyone for their beliefs, no matter who happens to control the reins of power in that particular moment. (p. 165)

The importance of religious freedom cannot be downplayed or forgotten. It must be protected and fought for. Sacrifices must be made in order to keep government in check. I have never met the people in these stories, but their sacrifices and suffering have paved the way for all of us to keep our religious freedom. Whether you go to church every week or do not believe in God at all, freedom of religion protects us from one group persecuting another or forcing the other to believe something.

At first I was worried that this book would be boring or dry, but it is not. I truly could not put it down. It held me captivated for chapter after chapter. This principle is so important. I loved this book and highly recommend it!

Content Rating PG-13+Content Rating: PG-13+ (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book, but there are some graphic descriptions. Mostly, I think younger readers will not understand, appreciate, or fully grasp the concept of this book.)

Age Recommendation: 16+

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2EmLAFd

 

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Daisies and Devotion by Josi S. Kilpack

Daisies and Devotion by Josi S Kilpack Cover Art

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Book Review of Daisies and Devotion by Josi S. Kilpack

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Mayfield Family Series, Promises and Primroses, so I was excited to read this second book. Daisies are one of my favorite types of flowers, and there are quite a few daisy plants in my yard. I’d take pictures of them for you all, but they aren’t blooming yet. Uncle Elliot managed to get Peter married off, so I was excited to see which family member this book would focus on, and how he would perceive the marriage campaign. Anyway, what a perfect way to merge two of my favorite things—books and flowers! Find out more in my book review of Daisies and Devotion by Josi S. Kilpack.

Blurb:

“Timothy Mayfield is ready to marry for love, but, since his personal finances are thinner than he’d like, he knows he’ll also need to find a wife with wealth. After receiving an unexpected inheritance, Timothy’s circumstances change, and he is free to pursue his ‘perfect woman’—one with blonde hair, blue eyes, a light laugh, arched eyebrows, elegant fingers, and a dazzling smile, among nearly twenty other characteristics.

Maryann Morrington doesn’t match anything on Timothy’s list—except for wealth. An heiress in her own right, she is tired of men pursuing her only for her money. But at nearly twenty-two years old, and not a particularly stunning beauty, she can’t be as picky as her friend Timothy is.

The two friends end up playing matchmaker for each other. Timothy will find a decent gentleman for Maryann, and Maryann will prove to Timothy that his ‘perfect woman’ doesn’t exist.

Until Miss Shaw comes to London.

Now, with Timothy’s heart captivated by the blonde, blue-eyed beauty, Maryann must decide if she should risk her heart and reveal her true feelings for her friend, or if she should settle for someone else. It’s an up-and-down game of ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ with both hearts and friendship on the line.”

My Book Review:

I love the setting in this book. London in 1822 is the perfect place for a romantic story. If I could travel back in time, this is a time period I would choose to go to. It would be so fun to wear the fancy dresses and go to the balls. Of course, I’d want to go back with money because I’m sure life was different if you didn’t have money for such fancy things. The carriage rides, the visiting, the new dresses, and the parties would be a lot of fun. However, it might also feel like you’re on show on the time, and I could see that being stressful. What if you don’t meet someone that season? To be twenty-two and not married (gasp!).

That is where Maryann is at this point in her life. She’s twenty-two and just now getting into her season. She has some unusual circumstances surrounding her past, and is now looking to marry. Her character is well written and developed. I like that she isn’t perfect. She doesn’t look, act, or sound perfect, and you can see her insecurities in her actions and thoughts. She has a personality that is easy to relate to, and she seems like she would be a fun friend.

Timothy’s character is also well written and developed. Even though he has a lot of “guy” expectations (the “perfect woman…”) he does have a likable personality. I do like his gentlemanly mannerisms and the fact that he thinks things through, except the “perfect woman” thing, of course. He thinks he knows what he wants and needs, but does he really?

I like the banter between Timothy and Maryann. It’s hilarious that she helps him with his fashion. He’s not so careful with his observations of her, but the two of them provide for some good entertainment when they’re together. Of course you also throw in a few other characters like Deborah and Lucas, Miss Shaw, and Colonel Berkins, and you get just the right amount of tension and questioning.

This book is well written. The character development is very good. I like it when you see the characters’ growth as the story progresses. The book flows well, is easy to read and understand, and has just the right amount of humor, romance, and story line. I like the descriptions of the events and activities, the dresses, the punch, and the setting. Ms. Kilpack does a great job of making you feel like you are there, in London, enjoying the dancing like everyone else. It’s also easy to feel right alongside the characters.

I enjoyed this book and think it is a great addition to the Mayfield Family Series. I can’t wait to see if there’ll be more Mayfield stories up and coming.

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (There isn’t any profanity, violence, or “intimacy.” There’s some brief kissing, and some descriptions of the smell of cigars and cigar smoke.)

Age Recommendation: YA+

My Rating: 3.5/5

3.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/30iPzfl

 

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Invisible Heroes of World War II by Jerry Borrowman

Invisible Heroes of WWII by Jerry Borrowman

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Book Review of Invisible Heroes of World War II by Jerry Borrowman

I have read a lot of books about World War II. Some fiction and some nonfiction. Many of them are told from different viewpoints: prisoner of war, concentration camp survivor, little girl, soldier, and even death. This book is different in that it doesn’t follow a storyline. There’s no plot. This book details the experiences of several individuals or groups during World War II. Some of them are men and some of them are women. I especially liked hearing the women’s stories because it doesn’t seem like there are as many out there as there are for the men. Some of the experiences are on the battlefront, and some of them are closer to home. Each story gives you a little more insight into what people went through during the war. It’s always good to remember the past so we don’t need to repeat it. I hope you enjoy my book review of Invisible Heroes of World War II  by Jerry Borrowman.

Blurb:

Invisible Heroes of World War II documents the largely untold true stories of a diverse group of soldiers and noncombatants—men and women—from all over the world who fought with the Allies during World War II. These heroes made significant contributions in the war effort, but often went unnoticed by historical accounts.

Some were frontline soldiers who were captured by the enemy and endured horrific conditions as prisoners of war, others were ordinary citizens who fought in the French Resistance and provided vital operations to undermine Nazi occupation, while others were engineers, industry workers, or war correspondents and photographers. All served with valor and distinction as part of the massive Allied forces who fought to free the world from tyranny and oppression.

  • Features people of diverse backgrounds in age, race, ethnicity, and social status.
  • June 6, 2019 will be the 75th anniversary of D-Day.”

My Book Review:

Each of these stories is so compelling. The first story jumps right into the story of a prisoner of war. It’s a vantage point I have read before, but it starts in the Philippines, which I know I haven’t read about previously. I really had no idea what went on in the Philippines, so it was interesting to read about in detail. After reading Pat Patton’s experience, I can understand why some people had such harsh feelings against the Japanese. Like Louis Zampirini, Pat Patton suffered because of the brutality of his Japanese captors.

Another section of the book talks about Rosie the Riveter and how she came to be.  I liked learning about the different women who worked in plants and factories. It’s interesting how attitudes towards women working outside of the home have changed in the years since World War II. Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl and Charlcia Neumen were just a couple of women featured. They did very different jobs—one making guns and the other riveting planes—but each was an important job that made a big impact. Afterward, Charlcia said,

“It was a very good experience for me because of the challenge of doing something like that, to prove to myself that I could do it…I didn’t think I could do it. So I found out I could do it; it was the type of thing that I could do, that I liked to do.”

I loved learning about the Navajo Code Talkers, the Purple Heart Battalion, Dickey Chapelle, Joseph Medicine Crow, and the engineers and builders. Ok, I really loved reading about all the people in this book. Seriously. It’s so good! The people and groups discussed in this book truly were heroes, and I think it’s imperative for all of us to really think about who we look up to and consider heroes. I added a few heroes to my list after reading this book. 

These are just a few of the remarkable people featured. We can learn so much from each of their experiences. I love that the people and groups spotlighted weren’t necessarily famous or well known.  Normal, ordinary people can achieve amazing things. (Why do we like hearing this? I think we all want hope that we can make a difference in the world even though we don’t think we’re special.) Each story is well written, compelling, and shows a part of the war that we need to remember and learn from. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know more about these heroes, and I think you will too!

invisible heroes blog tour

Content Rating RRating: R (War-time atrocities–some of them quite graphic.)

Recommendation: 16+ 

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2PNVdBc

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the book thief by markus zusak Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
 
 
 

A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd

A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd

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Book Review of A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd

I’ve read and reviewed many proper romances over the last few years. It’s been so fun to get to know the characters and the styles of the different authors. Nancy Campbell Allen writes fun steampunk novels. Josi S. Kilpack writes fictional love stories about historical people. Sarah M. Eden writes of women living far from home who find love. Julianne Donaldson is a master story teller. Becca Wilhite and Julie Wright have more modern takes on the proper romance. Each author has her own individual style, and I have truly loved being able to read and review these books. A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd is a little different from the other proper romances I’ve read. Maile, the main character, is a tough cookie! She knows who she is, what she stands for, and she’s not afraid to do what she needs to do to get it. Find out what makes this book stand out in my book review of A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd.

Blurb:

“As the second daughter of a royal chief, Maile will be permitted to marry for love. Her fiancé is the best navigator in Hawai’i, and he taught her everything he knows—how to feel the ocean, observe the winds, read the stars, and how to love.

But when sailors from a strange place called England arrive on her island, a misunderstanding ends in battle, and Maile is suddenly widowed before she is wed.

Finding herself in the middle of the battle and fearing for her life, Maile takes John Harbottle, the wounded man who killed her fiancé, prisoner, and though originally intending to let him die, she reluctantly heals him. And in the process, she discovers the man she thought was her enemy might be her ally instead.

John has been Captain James Cook’s translator for three voyages across the Pacific. He is kind and clearly fascinated with her homeland and her people—and with Maile herself. But guilt continues to drive a wedge between them: John’s guilt over the death he caused, and Maile’s guilt over the truth about what triggered the deadly battle—a secret she’s kept hidden from everyone on the island.

When Maile is tasked with teaching John how to navigate using the stars so he can sail back to England, they must also navigate the challenges of being from very different cultures. In doing so, they might also find the peace that comes when two hearts become one.”

My Book Review:

I love Maile’s strong, determined character. She has her moments of doubt and weakness, for sure, but she never gives up. Her dedication to her family, especially her father, shows a lot about her values. I love the brief moments you get to see the relationship she has with her sister. It’s not just family, though. She also has a strong loyalty for her people and traditions. Maile is well developed, realistic, and a likable and relatable character.

John has a bit more mystery surrounding him because he’s the so-called enemy. Although his personality is not as obviously strong, you can tell that he has inner strength. He also has loyalty to his people and his captain. You get to hear his thoughts through his journal entries, which I liked. The story carries through Maile, but many insights and perceptions are told through John.

As I stated previously, the story is told through both John and Maile’s points of view. John’s story is told through his journal entries, while Maile narrates the story. Even with the two points of view, the story flows seamlessly. This book is well written. I like Ms. Todd’s writing style because it draws you into the story. You feel like you’re there, in Hawaii, with Maile. You feel her frustration, anger, grief, sadness, loyalty, love, pain, and peace. I love her descriptions of the island, the flowers, the people, and the traditions. I’m not much of a singer, but I loved the descriptions of the songs and chants the Hawaiian people have for navigating, mourning, and history.

I think it’s so fun for the author that this story is based on events that happened to her relatives. In order to make the story more understandable and readable, she changed a few minor details, but the people were real. What a great experience for her to be able to tell her ancestor’s story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it.

song for the stars blog tour image

Content Rating PG-13Content Rating: PG-13 (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy,” but there is some violence. There’s fighting and some well-known characters die.)

Age Recommendation: YA (13-18) and Adult

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2X8V8KK

 

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Promises and Primroses by Josi Kilpack my fair gentleman Longing for Home by Sarah M. Eden
 
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Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

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Book Review of Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Every once in awhile, a story comes along that once read, becomes a part of you. This is one of those stories. It is now a part of my history. A part of me. The characters are my dear friends, and the scenery something I long for. I read this book awhile ago and haven’t had time to review it until now. I miss it. If I had time, I’d read it again. Right now. It’s been a long time since a book has called out to me like that, and I love the feeling. It’s comforting. So what is the story about? Why did it draw me in like it did? Find out in my book review of Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield.

Blurb:

“Three girls missing.

One is returned.

A story begins.

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath, and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the riverbank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong?

Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, this novel will sweep readers away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting them through worlds both real and imagined.”

My Book Review:

I do not read the blurbs on the covers of books before I read them. I want to be carried away and surprised by the story. Both occurred when I read this book. The setting is perfect. The descriptions of the river and the surrounding land made me feel as if I were there, standing on the bank looking into the cool water. The descriptions of the inn called The Swan took me there and placed me at a table listening to the stories told.

The characters, oh the characters. There are many of them. Each character is so well crafted that he or she becomes someone you’ve always known. Each has a unique personality, strengths, weaknesses, and beliefs. At times, one character comes into the spotlight and you get to see a deeper glimpse into his or her life. In that moment, you understand a little more of the picture being painted. You are able to solve a small piece of the mystery—until you’ve finally seen enough to see the whole. This book comes to life because of the characters. Diane Setterfield is a master character crafter. Seriously.

The story is told from many viewpoints, yet they all come together as one. It’s seamless. You get so caught up in what is happening that you don’t even realize the point of view has changed or that there’s a new chapter. The writing style is captivating, engaging, and intriguing. You.can’t.put.it.down. No matter where you go or how long you’re gone, you think about this book. You think about it cooking dinner, at work, and in the shower. It haunts you (in a good way) until you have to finish it to see what happens.

If you can’t tell, I loved this book. It’s such a unique story, filled with miracles, love, loss, stories, science, the river, and people. It’s a little gossip and a lot of love and mystery surrounding a small child. It’s a town where nothing unusual happens—until it’s the town where the unusual does happen. The book has such a unique feel, tone, and atmosphere, and I loved it.

Content Rating PG-13+Content Rating: PG-13+ (There isn’t any profanity in this book, although there is an “intimacy” scene. It’s not too graphic or descriptive. There is also some domestic violence and abuse.)

Recommendation: Adult

My Rating: 4.5/5

4.5 Star Rating

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2UyuYnb

 

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Wizard For Hire: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

Wizard for Hire Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye

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Book Review of Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed (Book #2) by Obert Skye

After the cliffhanger ending of Book #1, my house has been waiting and waiting for Book #2. Where did Rin go? Is he ok? Is he ever going to come back? What about Ozzy and Sigi? Are they ok? There are so many unanswered questions from the first book that need to be answered! One of the biggest questions is if Rin is really a wizard or not. I mean, the scene in New Mexico makes you think one way, but you thought the other way the whole rest of the book. Will Book #2 give us the answers we crave? Or will it too end in a cliffhanger? I’m not going to give anything away, but you might find out some of those answers. Maybe? Haha. Just read it already! Or, check out my book review of A Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye.

Blurb:

“Ozzy Toffy’s adventure, which began in Wizard for Hire, continues when one dark and windy night, he gets out of bed, jumps out his window, and walks straight into the ocean. More than ever, Ozzy could really use the services of Rin, the wizard he hired to help find his parents—but Rin is missing, despite Ozzy’s continual attempts to contact him. And Clark, the mechanical bird his father left him, is as peculiar and vain as ever. When a mysterious package arrives, Ozzy and his good friend Sigi are sure that the plane ticket and thumb drive in it are from Rin. Trying to get Clark through security at the airport proves complicated—as most things are with Clark. But when they arrive in New York, they discover that there’s even more adventure in store for them.

Will Rin return and save the day? Can Sigi find a way to trust her delinquent father? Will someone please appreciate Clark the way he’d like to be appreciated? For once?

Wizard for Hire: Apprentice Needed is a story filled with humor and excitement that shows us the magic in everyday things.”

My Book Review:

Book #1 sure ended with a bang, right? Wow—can you say cliffhanger? At my house we have been waiting and waiting for Book #2 to come out so we could see what happens. It’s spring break here, thank goodness, and so I had the time to sit down and read. This book is just as crazy as the first one! Things are happening and neither Ozzy nor Sigi understand what that means. Then one day they receive a package, and it sets off a series of events that they will never forget. Buckle those seat belts and get ready for an adventure!

I like the writing style of this book. It’s fast-paced, full of action, and full of mystery. Yep, you’re still wondering! Even after the events in New Mexico, you’re still wondering if Rin is really a wizard or not. Is he? Hmmm…no. Well…yes, I think he is. Ummm…no. No way. Haha! That’s a good way to keep your readers reading…make them go crazy wondering. And then to make it worse, Ozzy starts doing some crazy and dangerous things—unconsciously!

Obert Skye has a fun, witty writing style. He really likes to use figurative language! This is the first paragraph of chapter one:

The day had departed, dashing off like a frightened child as the first slender fingers of dusk gripped the sky. In its absence, darkness arrived at 1221 Ocean View Drive. Like a large visitor whom nobody had invited, the inkiness came early and in force, its arms filled with fatigue and exhaustion. It sat down on everything and moaned like an old man with tired legs and no intention of getting back up anytime soon.

English teachers unite! In one paragraph you have personification and several similes. Not every paragraph is like this, but many of them are, and I love it. I don’t think enough authors take the time to craft the language of their books. It’s refreshing.

The characters are well developed and realistic. Ozzy, Sigi, and Clark are all great characters. As a reader, you feel like you’re one of them. You feel like you’re there with them and experiencing things with them. Rin is hilarious, and I love all his words of wisdom. My favorite is when Ozzy and Sigi are trying to leave meaningful messages on his phone. I’m going to start doing this, I think. You may only leave a message if you leave an inspirational quote with it. My kids (and husband) would get so irritated!

This book answers a few questions, but adds about 100 more! AHHHHH! Yep, there better be a book three! And pronto. ‘Cuz it’s another cliffhanger ending ladies and gents. Of course, the cover art is amazing! The fabulous Brandon Dorman has done it again! You’ll want to read the book just because it has such a fantastic cover! If you want action, suspense, mystery, wizardry—or not wizardry, cool mechanical birds, mind control, car chases, or night-time sailing expeditions, this book is for you! Hang on, though, it’s quite the ride!

Content Rating PG+Content Rating: PG+ (I’m adding the + to this book because even though there isn’t any profanity, he sometimes uses words that are very close to profane words as a substitute. He also says things like, “This guy cursed up a storm.” I thank him for not using the actual words, but the reader does know that cursing was involved. There isn’t any “intimacy,” but there is some violence. Ozzy, Sigi, and Rin fight off some bad guys, and there is a kidnapping.)

Age Recommendation: Middle-graders (4th-6th) and up

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

If you’d like to purchase this book, click here: https://amzn.to/2FSMGK6

 

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The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

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Book Review of The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation

When the publicist asked if I would review this book I said, “Yes!” because it has a good title. I don’t usually read the blurbs about books, so when I picked it up I totally thought it was going to be MG or YA fantasy. Hahaha! Ummmm…no. This book is not fantasy at all. It’s fiction, but it’s an allegory written about two brothers whose hearts have turned against each other. These brothers happen to be people that lived long ago. The Anasazi. It’s not very long, but it packs a big punch! There’s a lot of wisdom and knowledge squeezed into a few pages. There are many lessons to be gleaned from this story. Find out more in my book review of The Five Legends by the ANASAZI Foundation.

Blurb:

“Drawing on thirty years of helping families in crisis, this profound fable by the ANASAZI Foundation illustrates the anguish of conflict and shows how we can end war within ourselves, within families, and even between nations.

The Five Legends is the story of two estranged brothers, leaders of their people, who find themselves on an unexpected journey marked by struggle as they fall into a formidable canyon. Trapped and injured, the two brothers are rescued by an old man—‘the last of a people’—who agrees to guide them out of the canyon, but only if they agree to listen to the Five Legends of peace. The brothers learn that to heal any conflict we must first look within ourselves. At its core, ‘War does not begin or end with armies and leaders. In truth, war begins and ends within each of us—within our hearts.”

My Book Review:

When I agreed to review this book I had never heard of the ANASAZI Foundation. It sounds like an amazing program. The ANASAZI Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3)that is based in Arizona. It’s a “wilderness therapy program for young adults and youth at risk [and has been] recognized internationally for its caring and nonpunitive approach to helping youth overcome challenges and see their seeds of greatness.” This program “gives young people an opportunity, through a primitive living experience and a philosophy that invites healing at the hands of nature, to effect a change of heart—a change in one’s whole way of walking the world…[It gives youth] a place free from distractions, where one can learn, ponder, and build” If you’d like to learn more about the ANASAZI Foundation, you may find more information at: www.anasazi.org.

Now onto the story. Picture two teenage or early-twenties young men. Brothers. They are the sons of their people’s leader, and they do not get along. They argue and disagree with each other. When their father passes away the disagreements come to a head and the two brothers go different ways. Each leads his people, and each blames his brother for the rift, heartache, and all his problems. Many years pass, and with each passing year their hatred of each other increases. Then something happens that brings them together for the first time in many years. An accident follows, and they embark on a journey to mend their divided hearts.

This book is very well written. It flows well, is easy to read and understand, and I really like the writing style. Somehow it makes you feel calm and peaceful even when it’s discussing war and fighting. I loved reading about the Five Legends of peace. This book is broken up into different sections, and I didn’t find it off-putting or difficult to read. The character development is very well done. You feel like you are feeling the emotions of the characters.

My favorite thing about this allegory is all the lessons that it packs into its slim 96 pages. Wow! You’ve got forgiveness and repentance. You have looking inside yourself first before placing the blame on someone else. There’s also the importance of family and living a life of WE. I love that one! We can’t do much by ourselves, but when WE work together, we can do amazing things. You also have the importance of seeing each other as people. Real people—with feelings, dreams, hopes, strengths and weaknesses—people who are doing their best. We need to look at the positives and the good in people before we focus on everything that is wrong.

I think the journey the brothers take is significant also. Being together and doing things together on this journey through life is what bonds us together. Also, life is a journey. Sometimes bad things happen, and sometimes good things happen along the way. There may be times where we get lost or lose our possessions. There may be times along the way where we feel like we can’t go on or we lose hope. What’s important is the connections in our lives—our connections to other people. It’s living a life of WE instead of me. It’s the importance of looking outside ourselves and seeing other people. Really seeing them.

I liked this book a lot. I loved watching the characters grow and develop along the way, and I loved all the symbolism and lessons. This book teaches some very important lessons that are needed in today’s world. I highly recommend this book. I think it would make a great family or school read-aloud too!

Content Rating PGContent Rating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy” in this book. There isn’t any violence either.)

Age Recommendation: YA (13-18) and Adult (Younger children could read it, but they will not grasp the symbolism or lessons taught.)

My Rating: 4/5

4 Star Review

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Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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