RIVER PEOPLE by Margaret Lukas – Historical fiction – A fascinating tale of struggle and survival in the 1890s

Title: RIVER PEOPLE

Author: MARGARET LUKAS

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 375 PAGES

Publisher: BQB PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: FEBRUARY 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1945448225

Price: $18.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Set in Nebraska in the late 1890s, seventeen-year-old Effie and eleven-year-old Bridget must struggle to endure at a time when women and children have few rights and society looks upon domestic abuse as a private, family matter.

The story is told through the eyes of the girls as they learn to survive under grueling circumstances.

MY REVIEW:

What first drew my attention to RIVER PEOPLE by Margaret Lukas was the wonderful cover. Seeing the shack near the water, it evokes a feeling of isolation and even somehow emits a sense of desperation – all that just from the front cover.

Once I started reading this book, I was introduced to Bridget (who is an eleven year-old half-orphan), and to Effie, who is the unwanted seventeen year-old daughter of a settler family.

The lives of girls and women in the 1890s were not their own. Females began life as property of their father, which only changed when she was married. At that point she became the property of her husband. Women could not vote since they were considered “non-persons.” Of course, in modern North American society, this seems ridiculous, but it was reality and very few people questioned it. In fact, if a man were to beat up his wife, the law would ignore it as being “none of their business.” Ridiculous I know, but that was reality and few people questioned it.

I do not think I would have done well living in such a society. In fact, I would probably end up like so many other women of that time who were labelled as “incorrigible” or as having “hysteria.” If a woman was so designated, her husband or family would have her admitted to an insane asylum to live out her days being considered crazy. Although this does not happen in this book, both Effie and Bridget must have known that it was a possibility, and that their fate rested in the hands of a man – one that neither of them liked very much.

Sixty four year-old Reverend Jackdaw has his heart set on building a church in Omaha, Nebraska and in having numerous sons to ensure his vision comes to fruition. To do this, he needs a wife, one young enough to bear multiple children. He sees his chance to begin fulfilling what he thinks of as his destiny when he stops at the farm belonging to Effie’s family. He convinces her father to allow them to wed by telling him that the Reverend and his new bride would be leaving for Omaha shortly after the ceremony and the consummation of the marriage.

When procuring supplies for their trek to Nebraska, Reverend Jackdaw comes across a sign offering “Free Orphans.” This is how Bridget becomes his adopted daughter. He sees her not as a person, but as a way to keep watch on his youthful bride. She tries to introduce herself, but he doesn’t care what her name is and tells her that from that day forward, her name would be “Rooster” due to her red hair.

The story then follows the unlikely trip as they trek through the wilderness and arrive at the “house” on the river that Reverend Jackdaw is being loaned the use of for free.

Author Margaret Lukas does a phenomenal job at world building and I felt as if I had been transported back in time. I loved the way she built up each character and they became real to me and I was invested in their survival. I just couldn’t put this book down and read the entire 375 in a single weekend.

Anyone who is curious as to how “real” people lived in the pioneer era should read this book. Unfortunately, many historical fiction authors take the easy route and choose to make their characters wealthy, but this just does not reflect the lives of average or poor people. To make a modern day analogy, it would be like writing about the Kardashians rather than a regular, every day person of middle class.

I enjoyed this book tremendously and as such, I am rating it as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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***Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Margaret Lukas is an instructor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She teaches creative writing in the Writer’s Workshop Program. She received her BFA from UNO’s Writer’s Workshop in 2004. In 2007 Margaret received her MFA from Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, Washington.

She is a recipient of a 2009 Nebraska Art Council Individual Artist Fellowship.

She is a contributor to NEBRASKAland magazine and an editor for the quarterly literary journal, Fine Lines. Her writing also appears online and in the 2012 anthology, On Becoming, published by the University of Nebraska Press.

Her award-winning short story, “The Yellow Bird,” was made into The Yellow Bird, a short filmand premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

Farthest House was her first novel.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

Black & Decker READYMADE HOME FURNITURE DIY BOOK by Chris Peterson is now available and it is terrific. Great Projects will save you money and look super stylish.

Title: BLACK & DECKER READYMADE HOME FURNITURE

Subtitle: EASY BUILDING PROJECTS MADE FROM OFF-THE-SHELF ITEMS
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Author: CHRIS PETERSON
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Genre: NON-FICTION, CRAFTS & HOBBIES, HOME & GARDEN

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Length: 146 PAGES

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Publisher: QUARTO PUBLISHING GROUP – COOL SPRING PRESS

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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: DECEMBER 25, 2018

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ISBN: 978-0-7603-6162-7

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Price: $21.99 USD / $28.99 CDN (worth every penny)

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Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

You might not think it, but home stores carry all the furniture you’d find in a show room; it’s just not assembled yet. Black & Decker Readymade Home Furniture shows you how.

You can find just about any furnishing imaginable in the aisles of the home goods store—coffee tables, wine racks, chandeliers—with just a little assembly (and creativity) required. In Black & Decker Readymade Home Furniture, you will learn how to re-imagine the big-box building center as a source for stylish, customized home furnishings that are i nexpensive and easy to make yourself.

Metal connectors, pipes and ductwork, rope, sheet goods, glass, and all varieties of hardware are just a few of the ingredients you can shop for to turn yourself into a furniture maker— without the need to buy a lot of woodworking tools and learn complicated joinery.

Inside this book, you will find a wealth of insightful information on how to convert everyday building materials into fine furnishings, along with 24 projects, complete with instructions to get you started. Unique and custom styles and colors, durability (select the quality materials you want), low cost, and a sense of satisfaction are just a few of the benefits you will experience by doing your furniture shopping at your home center or hardware store.

MY REVIEW:

“Why are home craftsmen and craftswomen, and even the least experienced DIYer among us, drawn to the local hardware store as if in a trance? … What is that allure? Just what is it about hardware stores? The answer can be summed up into one word: possibilities.”

“…This book is about all the bits and pieces that can be put together in new and ingenious ways to create home furnishings and accents that are at once useful, fun, unique and economical.”

The book begins with a “Hardware Primer” which I found particularly helpful. There are photographs of the various types of screws and even a chart for adhesives – providing a quick go-to guide for which type of adhesion should be used in any given scenario and what the drawbacks are for each. There is even a shopping guide for what to look for when purchasing a studfinder (which, I believe every household should own.) In addition to those points I have listed, the guide provides much more necessary information and is good for beginners to learn and are good reminders even for the most skilled home craftsman.

The book is divided into sections. After the Hardware Primer is “Creative Reinventions” which contains fifteen projects, all with brilliant full color photographs of the finished product as well as several photos of each project taken as it is being built. These photographic illustrations are a wonderful addition to the book. They allow the reader to gauge how their work measures up to the book at multiple steps during the build process.

I will not list all the projects in the book, but I will name a few that I want to try to build. There is the rustic-chic Trim-and-Rope Mat that can be used anywhere in the home, including the front door, or the bathroom, or even in the bedroom or on the back deck.

The “Copper Pipe Pot Rack” is next on my husband’s ‘Honey-Do-List’ and I am excited to have it installed in my kitchen. This item could cost upwards of $1500 to buy already built, but will cost less than $100 to do-it-yourself.

The “Chunky Club Chair” is a project I would love to have multiples of. My ‘Honey-Do-List’ seems to be getting longer as I go through this book and discover more amazing projects.

The “Aluminum Sheet Lamp” reminds me of lamps seen in high-end lighting store. I found similar lamps selling online for $300 and up.

The “Living Wall” will turn your backyard, patio or deck into a work of art and depending on what you plant in it, it could also be a source of fresh herbs or vegetables all summer long. This is one project I plan to start in March and to keep it inside with each ‘pot’ planted with vegetable seeds and once summer comes I will move it outside to its rightful place.

Believe it or not, all the projects listed above are from only Section One of this amazing Do-it-yourself book.

The second section is titled: “Built-ins from Stock Cabinetry” and contains eight stunningly beautiful projects that can be completed in a single weekend.

The “Media Bar” from this section looks like something you would see in the “After” shot of a professional television renovation show. It is also being added to my ‘Honey-Do-List.” Wow! My husband is going to be a very busy guy, and my home will look phenomenal when these projects are completed.

I rate BLACK & DECKER READYMADE HOME FURNITURE: EASY BUILDING PROJECTS MADE FROM OFF-THE-SHELF ITEMS as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I will come back to this post and add photographs of each project we do, as they are completed.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to save money by building projects themselves and who are interested in upping the resale value of their home. These small projects will make a big impact on your home decor and I am very excited about getting started.

**Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chris Peterson is a veteran home improvement and design author.

Among the many books he has written are 5-Gallon Bucket Book, Building with Secondhand Stuff, Manskills, four books in the Ideas You Can Use series, and many books in Cool Springs Press’s BLACK+DECKER Complete Guide series.

He has also co-authored numerous home design books with noted media celebrities.

He lives in Ashland, Oregon.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

GOODREADS
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AMAZON
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CHAPTERS
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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE
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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Cool Springs Press is the leading publisher of step-by-step how-to books for both DIY gardening and home improvement. Their state and local gardening books are tailored to specific regional environments across the United States, while the renowned series of foolproof home improvement books have long been trusted on both the bookshelf and the job site.

To find out more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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INSTAGRAM
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TWITTER
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FACEBOOK
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GOODREADS
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PINTEREST
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YOUTUBE
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MIRACLE CREEK by Debut Author ANGIE KIM is coming soon and it is quite simply a fantastic book and one that everyone needs to read. 5+ Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: MIRACLE CREEK

Author: ANGIE KIM

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERY, DRAMA, MULTICULTURAL FICTION, INDIE

Length: 368 PAGES

Publisher: FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 16, 2019

ISBN: 9780374156022

Price: $27.00 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

A thrilling debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng about how far people will go to protect their families—and deepest secrets.

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first . . .

In rural Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.

Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night—trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges—as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.

Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek is a thoroughly contemporary take on the courtroom drama, drawing on the author’s own life as a Korean immigrant, former trial lawyer, and mother of a real-life “submarine” patient. Both a compelling page-turner and an excavation of identity and the desire for connection, Miracle Creek is a brilliant, empathetic debut from an exciting new voice.

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MY REVIEW:

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“… Life doesn’t work like that. Tragedies don’t inoculate you against further tragedies, and misfortune doesn’t get sprinkled out in fair proportions; bad things get hurled at you in clumps and batches, unmanageable and messy.”

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MIRACLE CREEK is author Angie Kim’s debut novel.

Let me say that again,

MIRACLE CREEK is author Angie Kim’s debut novel.

Why am I repeating myself? Well, once you read this book, you will understand. The deft way Angie Kim steers the reader and fleshes out each character all while also creating an emotionally fraught courtroom drama and detailing equally emotional backstories for each of a wide range of characters is so skillfully achieved that it is difficult to believe this is her first novel.

The topic of children on the autism spectrum is always an emotional one. Such deep feelings can bring out either the best in someone, or the very worst. Teachers, doctors, therapists and especially parents can often feel that they know best, and that other people are irrational if they do not follow their advice.

Imagine being the mother of a child who is unable to effectively communicate with you. Imagine that you discover a new form of therapy that has shown positive results, would you not do everything you could to get that therapy for your child? As a parent, I know that I would.

In this book, readers are introduced to the family who run an HBOT facility. They are the Yoos’, a couple who recently emigrated from Korea to the United States, along with their teenage daughter.

The treatment center the Yoos have set up involves putting a patient or group of patients inside “—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility.”

Everything seems to be going fairly well until tragedy strikes and two of the patients die in a horrific explosion.

That single event causes ripples among the community, the patients and their families, as well as the Yoos’ who own “Miracle Submarine.” These ripples will sweep readers along, immersing them into one of the best and most dramatic books of 2019.

I have “favorited” this book and I fully intend to read it again and again. I am also recommending this book to my local library and to any and all local book clubs.

There are many themes happening in this story that are relevant to things happening in today’s America. The Yoo family are immigrants and they need to adjust to American living. Also, issues such as autism, infertility and discrimination are wound in and around every chapter.

Angie Kim has crafted a tale so compelling and so believable that readers will be left wondering if this is really fictitious, or if it is based on a true story. I am excited to share this book with everyone who reads my reviews. I firmly believe that if you are only going to read a few books in 2019, MIRACLE CREEK needs to be one of them.

I rate this book as 5+ Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ which is the highest rating I can bestow.

Angie Kim is incredibly talented and I am now a fan.

*** Thank you very much to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this wonderful book.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Angie Kim moved as a preteen from Seoul, South Korea, to the suburbs of Baltimore.

She attended Stanford University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, then practiced as a trial lawyer at Williams & Connolly.

Her stories have won the Glamour Essay Contest and the Wabash Prize in Fiction, and appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Salon, Slate, The Southern Review, Sycamore Review, The Asian American Literary Review, and PANK.

Angie Kim currently lives in northern Virginia with her husband and three sons.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

** This book is my Letter M contribution to the #2019AtoZreadingchallenge with the GingerMoms blog **

THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON by Debut Middle-Grade Author Quinn Sosna-Spear is FANTABULOUS AND IS GOING TO BE A BEST-SELLER 5+ Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON

Author: Quinn Sosna-Spear

Genre: CHILDREN’S FICTION, MIDDLE GRADE FICTION

Ages: 8 to 12

Length: 336 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 2, 2019

ISBN: 9781534420809 (Hardcover)

Price: $17.99 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

In the humdrum town of Moormouth, Walter Mortinson’s unusual inventions cause nothing but trouble. After one of his contraptions throws the town into chaos, Walter’s mother demands he cut the nonsense and join the family mortuary business.

Far off on Flaster Isle, famed inventor Horace Flasterborn plans to take Walter under his wing, just as he did Walter’s genius father decades ago. When a letter arrives by unusual means offering Walter an apprenticeship, it isn’t long before Walter decides to flee Moormouth to meet his destiny.

Walter runs away in the family hearse along with Cordelia, the moody girl next door with one eye and plenty of secrets. Together they journey through a strange landscape of fish-people, giantess miners, and hypnotized honeybees in an adventure that will not only reveal the truth about Walter’s past, but direct his future.

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MY REVIEW:

Debut author Quinn Sosna-Spear has a hit on her hands with THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON.

Debut author Quinn Sosna-Spear has a hit on her hands with THE REMARKABLE INVENTIONS OF WALTER MORTINSON.

With an imagination equalling that of iconic children’s author Roald Dahl, and emotional intelligence commensurate to that of BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA author, Katherine Paterson, this exceptional middle-grade book is destined to be at the top of multiple BestSeller lists.

Firstly, I have to mention the awe-inspiring cover art. There is no way that any reader will be able to walk past that cover in a bookstore without pausing to pick it up to read the back. And, as most of us know, if you can get people to hold a book in their hands, they are much more likely to purchase it.

However, a great cover can only do so much. The story inside must be equally fascinating, and debut author Quinn Sosna-Spear has mastered the art of storytelling to make this happen.

Kids will quickly be able to relate to one of the main characters, either Walter or Cordelia.

Walter Mortinson is a young tween who invents all kinds of fabulous contraptions and who lives with his mother in the most boring town on the planet – Moormouth. The problem is that Walter’s inventions often get him into trouble, but he can’t stop inventing, he loves it too much.

Walter does not have many friends, in fact, he doesn’t have any friends at all. He hates going to school because of being bullied.

Walter used to play with the girl who lives next door, but Cordelia doesn’t come around anymore. She only has one eye and is very self-conscious, but Walter doesn’t care about her “disability,” he just wants her friendship.

Nothing ever seemed to happen in the small town of Moormouth – until the day that one of Walter’s inventions go awry and causes big problems.

Because of what happened, his mother tells him that he is no longer allowed to invent things, and that it is time for him to become a mortician, just like her.

At the same time, he receives an invitation to apprentice with the most famous, and the richest, inventor alive. His name is Horace Flasterborn and he lives far, far away in a place called Flaster Isle. Walter decides that he isn’t cut out to be a mortician and runs away with Cordelia to accept Horace Flasterborn’s offer of apprenticeship.

Walter may be a few years too young to have a driver’s license, but he doesn’t let that stop him, he drives away in the only vehicle available to him – the family hearse.

The two runaways experience a road trip they will never forget, and neither will the readers of this book.

There are sinister forces that want to exploit Walter’s gift for inventing and the people and creatures they meet along the way will either help them, or possibly harm them and what fantastical creatures they are.

To find out what and who the bad guys are, and to explore the fantastic world of Walter and Cordelia, you need to buy a copy of this book.

Fans of Eoin Colfer and Madeline L’Engle will adore this marvelous story filled with amazing adventures and interesting ‘people.’

As fun and interesting as their adventures are, there are also some serious issues that are explored in this book, such as the fact that Walter’s father is dead, and someone else in the story might just be seriously ill. Kids struggling with grief will find that they are not alone and will gravitate towards Walter’s character.

It is hard to believe that this is author Quinn Sosna-Spear’s debut novel. She writes with depth and an immense talent. If this is her first book, I cannot wait to read the next one.

If I could rate this book higher than 5 out of 5 Stars I would, as it is I am giving it my highest rating of 5+ Stars.
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***Thank you to #NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free ARC of this book.***

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QUOTE:

“But Walter, as many boys and girls are, was much cleverer than a man.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Quinn Sosna-Spear was named a California Young Playwright at seventeen and went on to study at the University of Southern California.

She has since written books, films, and virtual reality projects.

The Remarkable Inventions of Walter Mortinson, her debut novel, was inspired by the untimely death of her own mother.

Quinn hopes to share with all readers—particularly those struggling with loss—the humor, poignancy, and adventure in such things…as dreary and impossible as they may seem.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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COMING IN 2020I can’t wait…

This post is my first entry into the A to Z Reading Challenge

PLUS+ by Fashion Blogger and Podcaster BETHANY RUTTER is being released soon. A coffee table book to inspire women of every size. 5 STARS

Title: PLUS +

Subtitle: STYLE INSPIRATION FOR EVERYONE

Author: BETHANY RUTTER

Genre: NON-FICTION, PHOTOGRAPHY, STYLE, LIFESTYLE, PLUS SIZED WOMEN, PLUS SIZED STYLE, DIVERSITY, DISCRIMINATION

Length: 224 PAGES

Publisher: ANDREWS MCMEEL PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: FEBRUARY 5, 2019

ISBN: 9781449493578

Price: $14.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Be inspired by 100 of the very best plus-size street style images from fashion influencers and tastemakers from around the world.

Plus-size fashion is daring, experimental, and deeply personal. There’s no longer any shame in not fitting the traditional ideals of beauty, as proven by Gabi Gregg, Tess Holliday, Beth Ditto, and thousands of bloggers and models around the world.

The online plus-size fashion community is loud, international, and confident. Millions of #ootd photos are shared every day, showing off amazing style and beautiful people. Plus+ gathers together the very best, and celebrates all shapes, sizes, and aesthetics—a beautiful, sharply designed, glossy collection to inspire everyone, plus-size or otherwise.

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MY REVIEW:

“My style is practical, stylish, feminine (at times) but most of all, true to me.”
– Quote by Chloe Pierre

PLUS + is a must buy coffee table book.

Are you a plus size woman?

Have you ever been told that you couldn’t wear a specific outfit due to your size?

If so, PLUS + is the book for you. With photographs of plenty of plus-sized women wearing whatever they want, this book will easily become your go-to when you need some inspiration in your day.

Each professional photograph is accompanied by a quote from the model.

These quotes range from:

“I dress for the celebration I want my life to be”

all the way to:

“Fuck flattering! No rules. Just Style.”

The included quotes run the gamut from sassy to demure, and from angry to inspirational.

Finally there is a book that celebrates fashion for regular sized women, rather than for stick people with no curves. Body positivity is the message.

As an added bonus, each photo layout includes the @ tag for each model which allows readers to go online and follow their favorite model even after finishing reading this book.

If, after reading, you do not come away feeling better about your body, and your personal style, then you are missing the point and I suggest you read it again.

I rate PLUS+ as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I hope to see this book become the go-to present for all your female friends regardless of their dress size.

***Thank you to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

QUOTES THAT REALLY SPOKE TO ME:

“I’m probably one of the worst people to talk about trends. I wear what I want, how I want, whenever I want. Dressing for myself is the only rule I understand.”
Fluvia Lacerda

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“I dress according to my mood, and I love it.”
Aileen Melendez Salinas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

To learn about this author, blogger, and Podcaster visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

PODCAST – WHAT PAGE ARE YOU ON

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

INFO ABOUT BETHANY’S PODCASTS:

Prolific readers Alice Slater and Bethany Rutter take a literary theme, from ghost stories to crime to fat women, and chat about it for the next 40 minutes.

Visit their Podcast site.

Follow them on Twitter @WhatPagePod

A BOY AND HIS DOG AT THE END OF THE WORLD by C.A. Fletcher is coming in 2019 and is a compelling read. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: A BOY AND HIS DOG AT THE END OF THE WORLD

Author: C.A. FLETCHER

Genre: FICTION, POST-APOCALYPTIC FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

Length: 336 PAGES

Publisher: ORBIT BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 23, 2019

ISBN: 9780316449458 (Hardcover)

Price: $26.00 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

My name’s Griz. My childhood wasn’t like yours. I’ve never had friends, and in my whole life I’ve not met enough people to play a game of football.

My parents told me how crowded the world used to be, but we were never lonely on our remote island. We had each other, and our dogs.

Then the thief came.

There may be no law left except what you make of it. But if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you.

Because if we aren’t loyal to the things we love, what’s the point?

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MY REVIEW:

“A man stole my dog, I went after him. Bad things happened. I can never go home.”

In a potential far future, humanity has reached the brink of extinction not with a bang, with a whimper. “It was a soft apocalypse.”

Something happened so that the majority of the population was no longer able to have children. With none, or very few, children being born, the people grew older and eventually died. With few progeny to follow after them, the world was reclaimed by nature.

Griz, a young teenager, is one of very few children left alive. He lives with his family on a remote island “… off the Atlantic coast of what used to be Scotland.”

The mainland is said to be empty of people, but his family stays away from it anyway. They have everything they need to survive on the islands surrounding their home.

Griz is lucky – he has siblings. This is rare in a world where few children are born. Griz has an older brother and sister and should have one more sister, but she died tragically a few years before Griz’s diary entries begin.

Besides his family, the only things he truly loves are his two terrier dogs; Jip and Jess.

When a jovial trader arrives on their island, he does something that changes Griz’s life forever after.

This wonderfully vivid story grabbed my attention and held it through it’s entirety. In fact, I was so engrossed in the story that I read the entire 336 pages in a single 24 hour span.

This is a coming-of-age tale like no other. Told in the style of diary entries, this book offers a unique perspective on the world as seen through the eyes of a young adult who has spent his entire life sheltered not only by geography, but also by his parents and older siblings.

A major theme of this book is the love between man and dog. It explores exactly how far someone might go to rescue their pet. As a ‘dog-person,’ I completely understand the depth of Griz’s relationships with both Jip and Jess.

Griz faces many adventures and experiences sights and sounds that previously he had only ever read about in books.

The descriptions of his travels and the wonders he sees and experiences are so vividly described that readers will feel like they are discovering the world alongside Griz.

I do not want to provide any spoilers for this story. To do it justice it needs to be read and enjoyed on your own.

Griz writes that “… no one knows the end of their story…” and I felt this quite keenly at the end of the book.

Although the loose ends are all tied up at the end of the book, and questions are answered, the author leaves open the possibility of more books starring Griz and his loyal canine companion. I, for one, cannot wait. I very much look forward to reading them.

I am rating this young adult book as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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***Thank you to the Publisher and to #NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Charlie’s a screenwriter and a novelist and he lives on the edge of Edinburgh.

He’s been lots of other things too – temperamentally unsuitable bar staff (grumpy, not talkative), temporary laundry manager in a big London hotel, detail-shop car-wash jockey in Reno, Nevada, despatch runner for a film company in Soho, food critic (not a very good one, basically never met a meal he didn’t like. Or at least eat too much of), national newspaper columnist (Scotland’s a nation, right?) and a film editor at the BBC.

He studied Literature at St Andrews University, and later took a grad degree in Screenwriting at USC.

He swims a lot, keeps thinking of taking up cycling, likes forgotten books, summers on the Outer Hebrides, terriers, his wife and his children – not necessarily in that order.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

WIKIPEDIA

IMDb

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

Photo by Stuart Kelly

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Orbit is a leading publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with imprints in the UK, US and Australia. We publish across the spectrum of Science Fiction and Fantasy – from action-packed urban fantasy to widescreen space opera; from sweeping epic adventures to near-future thrillers. Launched in 2007, Orbit US is the Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint at Hachette Book Group USA.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

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FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

TUMBLR

YOUTUBE

📚

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MORE BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR:

GRIM LOVELIES by Young Adult Bestselling Author Megan Shepherd is sure to enchant teens and adults alike. 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: GRIM LOVELIES

Author: MEGAN SHEPHERD

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, FANTASY FICTION

Length: 384 PAGES

Publisher: HMH TEEN – HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS

Received From: HMH TEEN INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY

Release Date: OCTOBER 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-80918-6 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-1-328-80962-9 (eBook)

Price: $17.99 USD HARDCOVER

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*

DESCRIPTION:

Seventeen-year-old Anouk envies the human world, where people known as Pretties lavish themselves in fast cars, high fashion, and have the freedom to fall in love.

But Anouk can never have those things, because she is not really human.

Enchanted from animal to human girl and forbidden to venture beyond her familiar Parisian prison, Anouk is a Beastie: destined for a life surrounded by dust bunnies and cinders serving Mada Vittoria, the evil witch who spelled her into existence.

That is, until one day she finds her mistress murdered in a pool of blood – and Anouk is accused of the crime.

Now, the world she always dreamed of is rife with danger. Pursued through Paris by the underground magical society known as the Haute, Anouk and her fellow Beasties only have three days to find the real killer before the spell keeping them human fades away.

If they fail, they will lose the only lives they’ve ever known… but if they succeed, they could be more powerful than anyone ever bargained for.

*
*

MY REVIEW:

Inventive and dazzling, with a host of characters readers will be unable and unwilling to forget.

With a diverse cast, this book has everything required to become an instant Young Adult Best-Seller. Having just been released a little over two months ago, it is already trending on social media, and, if I have my way, it will trend even more after I post this review.

I love that the Author chose animals turned into humans as her main characters. I love that she chose the city of Paris as the headquarters of the Royals who reign over all magical beings. There has always been something alluring and mysterious about the historic city of Paris, especially to those of us in North America. With the millions of bones in the city’s catacombs, Paris also has a barely hidden sinister air.

Best-Selling Author Megan Shepherd has created a magical world that secretly exists alongside our own. Of course, we humans, or “Pretties” as the witches call us, are completely oblivious to the magic surrounding us.

Within this world there are “Beasties;” animals and birds who have had spells cast on them to change them into humans (sort of like the mice in the tale of Cinderella, except the change is permanent.) Anouk is one such Beastie. She is a year and a half old which is the equivalent of being a seventeen year old girl. For the entirety of her human existence, she has not been allowed to leave the house she was “born” in. It is the home of Mada Vittoria, the witch who changed Anouk from animal to human.

This imaginative tale, filled with magic, mystery and mayhem is perfect for today’s Young Adult audience. Readers of all types, and of all ages will be able to find a character to relate to.

There is a theme of good vs. evil in this book, but what, or who is deemed evil is often in the eye of the beholder.

GRIM LOVELIES is also a unique Coming-Of-Age tale in which Anouk realizes that her captivity at the hands of Mada (Witch) Vittoria, has resulted in her knowing very little about either the Pretties world, or the magical world of the Haute.

GRIM LOVELIES and the world of the Haute would make for a terrific and visually stunning movie. I very much hope to see this series become optioned for film.

I rate GRIM LOVELIES as a 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Young Adult novel and am excited to read more about Anouk and her other “Beastie” friends in the next installment of this wonderous tale.

***Thank you to HMH Teen for hosting the Instagram contest in which I won a Grim Lovelies prize pack. ***

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THE BOOK:

*

“Everything had a darker side, magic most of all.”

*

“He was a twat and she’d sooner kiss a frog, but even frogs deserved little moments of joy.”

*

“Even if we can find someone to recast our spell, I’m afraid that a spell alone can’t make us human. TRULY human. Only actions make a person human, not magic.”

*

“I’m not a bird with broken wings… I don’t need to be sheltered.”

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“Through all this darkness, you’ve held on to love and hope, and that’s true strength.”

*
*

THE CHARACTERS:

A

BOUT THE AUTHOR:

MEGAN SHEPHERD – New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

She is the author of several young adult and middle grade novels. She now lives and writes on a 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, two cats, and an especially scruffy dog.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

MORE BOOKS BY MEGAN:

*** Leave a comment and let me know if you have read any of Megan’s books?

And if so, which was/is your favorite? Why?

4 Stars for PAPER WIFE by Laila Ibrahim – A timely tale of what it was like to move to a new country, where you knew noone and didn’t speak the language. NEW RELEASE!!!

Title: PAPER WIFE

Author: LAILA IBRAHIM

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, DIVERSE FICTION, MULTICULTURAL FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 298 PAGES

Publisher: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 30, 2018

ISBN: 9781503904576

Price: $14.95 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a heart-wrenching story about finding strength in a new world.

Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.

Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?

MY REVIEW:

With immigration currently being a hot button issue in the United States and many other countries around the world, the publication of this book could not be more timely.

Although this story begins ninety years ago in 1923, there are many alarming similarities between the discrimination faced by immigrants during that time period and the discrimination faced by those who have chosen to emigrate to the United States in modern times.

Mei Ling was happily living out her young life in China when the matchmaker arrived at the door of her parent’s home. A suitable match had been found for Mei Ling’s older sister and the wedding date was set. But, as fate would have it, her sister fell ill and her parents told Mei Ling that she would have to take her sister’s place.

This deception early in the story is only one of many deceptions and ‘white lies’ that occur throughout the book.

It is obvious that author Laila Ibrahim did her research for this book as the facts and traditions written about in this tale match perfectly with historic accounts from those who actually did leave China in hopes of a better life in the United States.

Laila Ibrahim’s writing style and subject matter reminds me of author Lisa See.

I enjoyed the story even though I found one event to be completely implausible. Despite that, the author has written a book that anyone who wonders what life might have been like for the huge wave of Asian immigrants who arrived en masse in the years following World War I will want to read.

I believe that by reading books such as PAPER WIFE, people will gain, at the very least, a small measure of empathy for people whose cultures and/or backgrounds are different from their own.

Reading stories like this one, prove to readers that people are more similar than they are different. We all want the same thing. We want a safe and comfortable place to sleep, a good education for our children, and a job that allows us to provide for our families.

In PAPER WIFE, Mei Ling was detained on Angel Island and interrogated by officials who used intimidation and threats to try to force her to change her story or to catch her in a lie. This is a true reflection of what immigrants were subjected to in 1925.

Chinese immigrants on Angel Island

Poetry carved into the walls at Angel Island

.
We need to learn from the past. If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them.

I rate PAPER WIFE as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laila Ibrahim grew up in Whittier, California on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, and moved to Oakland, California to attend Mills College where she studied Psychology and Child Development. After getting a Master’s Degree in Human Development, she realized she wanted to do more hands on work with children, and opened up her own preschool: Woolsey Children’s School.

Her education and experiences as an educator and parent provide ample for her writing – especially her study of Attachment Theory and multiculturalism.

She identifies as a devout Unitarian Universalist – which is sort of like being a radical moderate – and worked as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland for five years.

She lives in a small co-housing community in Berkeley with her wife, Rinda, a public school administrator. She the proud mother of two wonderful young adult daughters and the not-so-proud mother of a rambunctious mini-Aussies.

Laila self-published Yellow Crocus in 2011 after agents repeatedly told her that no one would want to read a story about the love between an enslaved black woman and her privileged white charge. Over the years the readers have proven them wrong. She became a full-time writer in 2015.

Living Right, her second novel, is set in 2004, but with a similar theme: loving across difference. It goes beyond the headline to reveal the life and death stakes when a devoted mother struggles to reconcile her evangelical Christian beliefs with her son’s sexual orientation.

Mustard Seed continues with the lives of the Freedman and Johnson families after the Civil War.

Paper Wife tells the story of Mei Ling, a young woman forced by social upheaval to marry a stranger and immigrate from Southern China through Angel Island to San Francisco in 1923.

To read an interview with the author click HERE.

Laila loves calling or Skyping into bookclubs and public speaking. She can be contacted at ldibrahim@gmail.com

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

AMAZON

HISTORIC PHOTOS

Photos obtained from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

S

OME OF THE POEMS LEFT BEHIND:

(Source: Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation)

A Few Selected Poems


獨坐稅關中,
心內起不痛。
亦因家道貧,
遠遊不近親。
兄弟來到叫,
只得上埠行。
黑鬼無道理,
唐人要掃地。
每日食兩餐,
何時轉回返。

– 辛亥年七月十二日李字題寧邑
Poem 3

Hear Poem 3 Read In Toishanese.

Translation
Sitting alone in the customs office,
How could my heart not ache?
Had my family not been poor,
I would not have traveled far away from home.
It was my elder brother who urged me
To embark on a voyage to this shore.
The black devil* here is unjust-
He forces the Chinese to clean the floor.
Two meals a day are provided,
But I wonder, when will I be homeward bound?

– Lee from Toishan District, September 4, 1911

*A pejorative to refer to those of African descent-here, presumably, an African Canadian working at the immigration station directed the detainees to sweep the floors.


妻囑情
出門求財為家窮,
把正心頭在路中。
路上野花君莫取,
為家自有係妻奴。
臨行知囑情千萬,
莫作奴言耳過風。
家中妻兒係莫掛,
勤儉二年掃祖宗。
妻兒衣裳無一件,
米盒掃來無半筒。
家中屋舍無間好,
爛溶爛揸穿爛帘。
夫係昔日都尋賭,
不念奴奴淚飄飄。
多得親兄來打稅,
莫學忘叔大恩公。

– 辛亥七月十二日到李字題寧邑
Poem 4

Hear Poem 4 Read in Toishanese.

Translation
My Wife’s Admonishment
We are poor, so you’re leaving home to seek wealth;
Keep hold of propriety while on this journey.
Never pick wildflowers along the road,*
For you have your own wife at home!
Before you depart, I admonish you a thousand times;
Don’t let my words just whistle past your ears.
Don’t worry about us, be diligent and frugal,
And two years hence return to sweep the ancestors’ tombs.
Your wife and children haven’t a thing to wear;
Not half a cup of rice can be scooped from the pot.
Our house and rooms are dilapidated;
Our housewares are worn, and the curtains torn.
In the past, you did nothing but gamble;
You never thought of me and my flowing tears.
You are fortunate your elder brother has paid the taxes-
Always remember your great debt to him!

– Lee from Toishan District, Arrived July 12, 1911

Footnotes: To engage in romantic/sexual affairs while away from home.

THE WITCH ELM by Bestselling Author TANA FRENCH Audiobook Review

Title: THE WITCH ELM

Author: TANA FRENCH

Narrator: PAUL NUGENT

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS

Length: 22 HOURS, 8 MINUTES

Publisher: PENGUIN AUDIO

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Purchased from: Audible.com

Release Date: OCTOBER 9, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.
*

MY REVIEW:

Phenomenal. Intriguing. Unconventional. Thrilling. Astonishing.

All these words and more apply to Tana French’s novel, THE WITCH ELM.

At it’s core, this book is a modern day whodunit, a thriller of epic proportions, but it is also so much more.

This book is a character study, a tale of teen angst, the story of a family rallying together in the midst of a horrific medical diagnosis. It is the story of a romance. This is a book about siblings, cousins, friends and how relationships can change over time and how they stay the same. It is also a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

This is truly a book that has everything. I enjoyed listening to it immensely. The story takes place in Ireland and having a narrator with an Irish accent gave this book a sense of place and added authenticity to the audiobook.

The story has plenty twists and turns, some which were expected and many that were not.

Tana French has created characters so realistic that you almost expect to run into one of them on the street.

At just over 22 hours of listening time, this is not a short audiobook and you would think that 22 hours would be too long, however, you would be wrong. In fact, I didn’t want this story to end. I had become invested in the character’s futures.

The Publisher has created a reader’s guide for this book which can be found and downloaded HERE.

My favorite character was Uncle Hugo. On the surface he seems like a giant bore. But as you learn more about him, you start to realize that he is like an onion with many layers, some quite shocking. He has a passion for genealogy research and was able to parlay that into a career as a Genealogist. The author is somehow able to make this career choice seem interesting to listeners and Hugo’s research into his client’s history is an interesting side storyline.

I rate THE WITCH ELM as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I also give a 5 STAR rating to the narrator whose Irish accent offers listeners authenticity as well as a sense of place. His pacing is sheer perfection. Listeners are able to easily distinguish between character voices which is a huge plus in my opinion.

All in all, I highly recommend this audiobook to readers and listeners from the ages of 16 and up.

Tana French was new to me before experiencing “The Witch Elm” audiobook, but I will be on the lookout for more books from this author in the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tana French is the author of The Witch Elm, In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place and The Trespasser.

Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry Awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction.

She lives in Dublin with her family.

AUTHOR NOTE:

“There’s one thing that no one I know, including me, ever has enough of: time. Everyone has at least three things they should be doing with every minute, and everyone could do with about six more hours in the day. So I’m very aware that when you take a chance on one of my books, it’s not just your money that you’re putting on the line; it’s your time, which is probably even more precious. I want to thank you, so much, for taking that chance; for your wonderful support, which never stops taking my breath away. Here’s to all of you. I’ll do my absolute best not to waste your time.”

Tana French in The New Yorker

‘The Trespasser’ begs us to take crime fiction seriously

The Millions Interviews Tana French

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To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

AUDIBLE

GOODREADS
AMAZON

CHAPTERS
“A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

  • Quotes:

    The thing is, I suppose,” he said, “that one gets into the habit of being oneself. It takes some great upheaval to crack that shell and force us to discover what else might be underneath. What if I never got another day in my life when I was normal again?

    Once the fear took hold, I was fucked. I’d never known anything like it could exist: all-consuming, ravenous, a whirling black vortex that sucked me under so completely and mercilessly that it truly felt like I was being devoured alive, bones splintered, marrow sucked. After an eternity (lying in bed with my heart jackhammering, adrenaline firing me like a strobe light, feeling the last few threads that held my mind together stretch to a snapping point) something would happen to break the vortex’s hold—a nurse coming in so that I had to make mechanical cheerful chitchat, an uncontrollable rush of sleep—and I would clamber up out of it, shaky and weak as a half-drowned animal. But even when the fear receded for a while, it was always there: dark, misshapen, taloned, hanging somewhere above and behind me, waiting for its next moment to drop onto my back and dig in deep.

    ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

    https://vimeo.com/178172746

    To learn more about this Narrator, visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE

    AUDIBLE

    LINKEDIN

    VIMEO

    FACEBOOK

    YOUTUBE

    AMAZON

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    LOVE LIKE SKY by Middle-grade author Leslie C. Youngblood is a 5+Star Read. This book will win awards and become a Best Seller. Release Date is November 6th – Mark your calendars now!!!

    Title: LOVE LIKE SKY

    Author: LESLIE C. YOUNGBLOOD

    Genre: MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION

    Ages: 8 to 12 YEARS

    Length: 304 PAGES

    Publisher: DISNEY BOOK GROUP

    Received From: NETGALLEY

    Release Date: NOVEMBER 6, 2018

    ISBN: 9781368016506

    Price: $16.99 USD

    Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    DESCRIPTION:

    G-baby and her younger sister, Peaches, are still getting used to their “blended-up” family. They live with Mama and Frank out in the suburbs, and they haven’t seen their real daddy much since he married Millicent. G-baby misses her best friend back in Atlanta, and is crushed that her glamorous new stepsister, Tangie, wants nothing to do with her.

    G-baby is so preoccupied with earning Tangie’s approval that she isn’t there for her own little sister when she needs her most. Peaches gets sick-really sick. Suddenly, Mama and Daddy are arguing like they did before the divorce, and even the doctors at the hospital don’t know how to help Peaches get better.

    It’s up to G-baby to put things right. She knows Peaches can be strong again if she can only see that their family’s love for her really is like sky.

    MY REVIEW:

    In the opening scene of LOVE LIKE SKY, G-baby is entertaining her younger sister Peaches by repeatedly dancing the “Nae Nae” and the “Dougie.” I defy anyone to read this and not smile. I believe that would be impossible.

    LOVE LIKE SKY is set in the town of Snellville, Georgia, where eleven-year-old G-baby, her younger sister Peaches (real names – Georgiana And Patrice) and their mother have moved to a new town after their mother’s marriage to their new stepdaddy, Frank. G-baby had initially been excited about the marriage because it meant she would be gaining a big sister. However, she has since discovered that her new stepsister wants nothing to do with her or Peaches. On top of all the other changes, G-baby misses her best friend Nikki, whom she left behind in Atlanta.

    G-baby becomes obsessed with trying to get her new stepsister to pay attention to her. This leaves baby sister, Peaches at loose ends and feeling left out.

    When Peaches gets really sick, neither her parents nor her doctors know how to make her better.

    G-baby is convinced that she knows how to make Peaches better. She just has to figure out how to convince her that her family loves her as much as the sky is wide.

    Blended families are often more common than “traditional families” which means that many readers will be able to relate to the struggles that G-baby and Peaches face. The topic of blended families is only one of the many themes explored in this amazing debut novel. Other themes include:

    – Divorce
    – Parents fighting
    – Death of a sibling (not Peaches, so don’t think I am giving away any plot points)
    – Moving to a new town
    – Leaving friends behind and trying to make new ones
    – Hospitalization and siblings with a serious illness
    – Growing up and a girl’s changing body and feelings
    – Racial inequality
    – Peaceful protests
    – Trayvon Martin and the shooting of unarmed young, black men
    – Parents getting remarried and jealousy of the new spouse
    – and many more.

    The author does an incredible job of making the characters feel real. For instance, G-baby’s father has remarried and his new wife’s name is Millicent. Instead of thinking of her by her given name, G-baby has nicknamed her “Millipede.” This is a very typical tween way to rebel against the new spouse. She is too young to conjure up any truly mean-spirited nickname, yet still needs a way to express her jealousy at what she sees as the reason her beloved Daddy doesn’t spend as much time with them as he used to.

    The author’s gift for creating believable and unique characters is displayed in one of my favorite scenes – which captures the fierce loyalty six year old Peaches has for her mother. This scene takes place when G-baby comments about Tangie’s cooking and says it is better than their mother’s. “Peaches eyes widened. ‘Nobody cooks better than Mama.'” I loved this scene. In the grand scheme of the book, this scene is minor, but it is so believable that I found it memorable for it’s simple, yet powerful portrayal of familial loyalty.

    If I had to choose a single theme to describe this book, it would be EMOTION.

    “Why we gotta jump when he’s ready? What about the times we waited on him and he didn’t come? I bet he doesn’t keep Ms. Millicent Parker waiting for nothing. She’s his ‘best girl’ now.”

    Kids with divorced parents will easily relate to the characters in this excellent middle-grade novel. Author Leslie Youngblood understands just how perceptive kids can be. This is clearly demonstrated in the following scene:

    “Just like Mama, he didn’t know that I could tell a fake smile from a real one. Mama and Daddy’s separation made me an expert, especially when we’d have family dinner and they’d wear their mannequin smiles.”

    I apologize for the length of this review, but I felt compelled to explain why I am giving this book the highest rating possible which is 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. I realize that it is technically impossible to give a rating higher than 5 out of 5, but this book deserves to be in a category above all others.

    *** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

    *

    *

    FAVORITE QUOTES:

    “Mama said I got the name G-baby because I’d run to Daddy for every little thing. He’d swoop me up and say, ‘What’s wrong with George’s baby?’ Peaches real name is Patrice, but Mama loved Libby’s sliced peaches when she was pregnant with her, so that’s how she got her nickname.”

    “Being a big sister was hard work.”

    “Even though Mama says I can always talk to her, she means Mama stuff, like if someone is bullying me, or if a teacher is mean. Not like how to kiss a boy, or when it’s time to sneak a few cotton balls in my bra…”

    “I’m supposed to have all the answers. That’s what it means to be a big sister, and why I want one of my very own.”

    “When Mama and Daddy first tried to explain {why they were getting divorced}, Mama Said sometimes grown-ups ‘fall out of love.’ The best I can figure it: love is just a big old bed. When you’re not happy, you fall out of it.”

    “There’s no reason on God’s green earth a boy should walk down the street with his boxers hanging out.”

    *

    EXCERPT

    “Love ain’t like that.”

    How is it then?” Peaches asked, turning on her stomach to face me.

    “It’s like sky. If you keep driving and driving, gas will run out, right?”

    “That’s why we gotta go to the gas station.”

    “Yep. But have you ever seen the sky run out? No matter how far we go?”

    “No, when we look up, there it is.”

    “Well that’s the kind of love Daddy and Mama got for us, Peaches—love like sky.”

    “It never ends?”

    Never.”

    *

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Leslie C. Youngblood received an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. A former assistant professor of creative writing at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, she has lectured at Mississippi State University, UNC-Greensboro, and the University of Ghana at Legon.

    She began her undergraduate degree at Morris Brown College and completed her bachelor’s at Georgia State University. After graduation, she served as a columnist and assistant editor for Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine.

    She’s been awarded a host of writing honors including a 2014 Yaddo’s Elizabeth Ames Residency, the Lorian Hemingway Short Story Prize, a Hurston Wright Fellowship, and the Room of Her Own Foundation’s 2009 Orlando Short Story Prize. She received funding to attend the Norman Mailer Writers’ Colony in 2011. Her short story, “Poor Girls’ Palace,” was published in the winter 2009 edition of the Indiana Review, as well as Kwelijournal, 2014.

    In 2010 she won the Go On Girl! Book Club Aspiring Writer Award. In 2016 she landed a two-book publishing deal with Disney-Hyperion for her Middle-Grade novel, LOVE LIKE SKY (Nov.6). She often teaches creative writing classes at Rochester, New York’s literary center, Writers & Books.

    Born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and raised in Rochester, New York, she’s fortunate to have a family of natural storytellers and a circle of supportive and family and friends.

    To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

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