THE WIVES by Best-Selling Author TARRYN FISHER will be released December 30th A psychological thriller that will BLOW YOUR MIND

Title: THE WIVES

Author: TARRYN FISHER

Genre: FICTION, SUSPENSE, PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Length: 320 PAGES

Publisher: HARPER COLLINS

Received From: THE PUBLISHER via GOODREADS GIVEAWAYS

Release Date: DECEMBER 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-525-80978-1

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Imagine that your husband has two other wives.

You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.

But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.

You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then, Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.

Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?

And who is his mysterious third wife?

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MY REVIEW:

“What has happened to me? How have I become this docile person, living for Thursdays and the love of a man who divides himself so thinly among three women? If you’d told nineteen-year-old me that this would be my life, she’d have laughed in your face.”

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Our protagonist’s name is Thursday. She is a grown woman with a nursing career. She is in decent shape and has large breasts which she knows draw men’s attention, and they are real, not fake. She owns a condo and has renovated and decorated it. She has a husband who adores her and their sex life is amazing.

Her life sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

Well, what if you now add in the fact that your loving husband has two more wives. Would you still see her life as a good one?

Thursday does. She has never had an issue with the fact that her husband, Seth, has three wives. He was honest about it right from the beginning of their relationship.

But, it’s human nature to be curious and when she finds a piece of paper in the pocket of his pants that contains the name Hannah, she decides to find out more about her.

Sometimes it is better not to snoop. Once you discover something, you can’t ‘un-know’ it.

Thursday strikes up a friendship with Hannah who does not know that she and Thursday are married to the same man. Or are they? Did Thursday get it wrong?

As the story progresses readers will doubt everything they thought they knew and maybe that is a good thing – or maybe not!!!

This is a psychological thriller of the highest caliber and will no doubt be on many bestseller lists and will more than likely receive multiple literary awards.

I would love to be able to peek inside the brain of author TARRYN FISHER. I imagine it would be a vast and terrifying place full of paths that twist, turn and even double back around each other.

I rate THE WIVES as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Make sure to write down DECEMBER 30th so that you can pick up your copy as soon as it is released. Or, better yet, pre-order your copy from your favorite bookstore now!

****Thank you to Goodreads Giveaways for providing me with an ARC copy of this book.****

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FAVORITE QUOTE:
“Secrets: I’m good at having them and keeping them.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tarryn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

She lives in Seattle with her children and husband.

Her heart is dark but she loves you with it anyway.

Tarryn is the founder of Guise of the Villain, a fashion blog, and has written twelve published novels.

Tarryn is a Slytherin.

According to Dictionary.com

What does Slytherin mean?

Slytherin is one of the four houses of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Each house has a set of traits and characteristics associated with it, and those in Slytherin are known for being ambitious, cunning, and resourceful.
Slytherins are also sometimes regarded as being evil thanks to the fact that many of the most sinister witches and wizards have been associated with this house.

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

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http://www.tarrynfisher.com

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– Giveaway only runs until October 31st, so Enter Soon by clicking HERE or on the photo below:

Only two days until the release of THE GRACE YEAR by KIM LIGGETT – One of the best books of 2019 and one you do not want to miss

Title: THE GRACE YEAR

Author: KIM LIGGETT

Genre: FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, SPECULATIVE FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FICTION, FEMINIST FICTION

Length: 416 PAGES

Publisher: ST. MARTIN’S PRESSWEDNESDAY BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 8, 2019

ISBN: 9781250145444

Price: $16.99 USD

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden. Girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for their chance to grab one of the girls in order to make their fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

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ELIZABETH BANKS TO DIRECT AND PRODUCE THE GRACE YEAR FOR UNIVERSAL PICTURES.

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MY REVIEW:

I just finished reading Kim Liggett’s upcoming novel THE GRACE YEAR which releases in only two days and it has quickly become one of my favorite books of all time.

A mixture of several styles of books including Dystopian fiction, horror, speculative fiction, literary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, dramas and feminist fiction, this book is all-around phenomenal. Reminiscent of a mixture of The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, Lord of the Flies and Gathering Blue.

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READ THE KIRKUS REVIEW OF THE GRACE YEAR BY CLICKING HERE!!!
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Magic, lies, deception, discrimination, madness, despair and the tiniest flutterings of rebellion abound in this exceptional work of Speculative fiction perfect for our current generation of young women.

Set in a future world where women are the possessions of men. At birth, their feet are branded with the sigil of their fathers. They remain in his possession until the day when a man gives them a veil, signifying the transfer of ownership from father to their betrothed and eventual husband. The women have no choice. They cannot say no. If there are more women than men, the extra women are sent to work in the necessary and difficult menial labor of ensuring the survival of the entire colony.

Sounds horrific already, right? Well, as usually occurs in life, it gets worse. This is due to the ritual of The Grace Year. Every year, the girls who turn sixteen years old are sent out into the wild for a full year. Not all of those who leave the colony will return. The dangers are numerous and since speaking of The Grace Year is forbidden, the girls know almost nothing of the situations they are about to encounter.

Sixteen year old Tierney James is not like the rest of the girls her age who titter and smile coyly at the village’s young men in hopes of receiving a veil from one of them. Tierney has zero desire to be a wife. As she sees it, “There’s no freedom in comfort. They’re padded shackles, to be sure, but shackles nonetheless.”

Tierney dreams of a better life. A better world. One in which the women are free to speak their minds. She hopes for the women to come together and to work together to make everyone’s lives better. Unfortunately, this is exceedingly unlikely.

What the girls experience during their Grace Year changes each and every one of them in different ways, and author Kim Liggett has done a fabulous job of getting into the minds of her characters. I literally could not put this book down. At 416 pages, it should have taken at least a few days to read, but I couldn’t wait that long and finished the book within eighteen hours. Eighteen hours where I chose to forgo sleep and I do not regret a single second. My only complaint is that I wish the next book in the series was available already. If so, I would willingly give up sleep once more just to discover what happens next.

I believe this book will be on everyone’s reading list and that Bestseller status will be bestowed upon it very quickly. Books are rated on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the best. However, this book is deserving of more than just five stars. In fact, I am bestowing upon it my highest, most coveted rating: I rate THE GRACE YEAR as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

At sixteen, Kim Liggett left her rural midwestern town for New York City to pursue a career in music. Along with lending her voice to hundreds of studio recordings, she was a backup singer for some of the biggest rock bands in the 80’s.

Kim spends her free time studying the tarot and scouring Manhattan for vials of rare perfume and the perfect egg white cocktail.

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

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http://www.kimliggett.com

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HANDS UP by Stephen Clark has been released and is a story that seems ripped from the headlines. You NEED to check out this book

Title: HANDS UP

Author: STEPHEN CLARK

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS, SOCIAL THEMES

Length: 290 PAGES

Publisher: WiDō PUBLISHING

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947966-20-8

Rating: 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Officer Ryan Quinn, a rookie raised in a family of cops, is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now, with his career, reputation and freedom on the line, he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to confront his fears and biases and choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student living in one of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods. She knows the chances of getting an indictment against the cop who killed her brother are slim. When she learns there’s more to the story than the official police account, Jade is determined, even desperate, to find out what really happened. She plans to get revenge by any means necessary.

Kelly Randolph, who returns to Philadelphia broke and broken after abandoning his family ten years earlier, seeks forgiveness while mourning the death of his son. But after he’s thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

Ryan, Jade, and Kelly–three people from different worlds—are on a collision course after the shooting, as their lives interconnect and then spiral into chaos.

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MY REVIEW:

This is a timely novel because of the very real increase in the number of police shootings of unarmed, young black men in the United States.

HANDS UP begins with Tyrell Wakefield being shot by rookie police officer Ryan Quinn. According to the police, the young man had punched Ryan’s older partner and was attempting to grab his gun.

However, Tyrell’s sister, Jade, finds that story very unlikely, as does her mother. So, Jade is determined to find out what really happened.

When Jade’s maternal Aunt turns Tyrell’s death into a #BlackLivesMatter rallying cry, the press get ahold of the story and it becomes bigger than Jade ever expected. It also brings an unexpected person back into the lives of Jade and the rest of her family and he is definitely NOT welcome.

Meanwhile, Ryan Quinn is horrified with what he has done. He never wanted to shoot anyone and he has never thought of himself as the racist monster he is being portrayed as. In fact, his police officer father was killed in the line of duty when Ryan was young, so he is accutely aware of the pain caused by losing a loved one to gun violence. Now, Ryan has a decision to make. Should he be loyal to the police and his partner? Or should he follow his heart and his conscience?

I enjoyed this book even more than I had anticipated. I had some idea of how the tale would unfold, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is not a predictable read and author Stephen Clark has created characters of depth and complexity.

In addition to the obvious issue of police shootings, several other social issues are also part of this story. In my opinion, this makes the story seem even more realistic. Police shootings do not happen in a vacuum and there are almost always several factors that contribute to the tragedy.
In DON’T SHOOT, racism by the police is not the only problem. The area in which the shooting takes place is poverty-stricken due to lack of education and employment opportunities, gang violence, a lack of social programs and much more.

On top of the above problems, this story also talks about homelessness, single parenting, divorce, abandonment, addiction, cutting, and even suicide. The author does a fabulous job of describing these issues and how each of them has affected the lives of the characters, and how a single issue can affect different individuals in different ways.

With non-stop action, current events, exquisitely complicated characters and a twisting plot, HANDS UP is a fantastic and must read, newly released novel.

This IS most definitely a book worthy of being on your “To Read” list. In fact, I will not be surprised when HANDS UP becomes an award-winning novel.

I rate this book as 4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and would like to thank the author for sending me a copy of this book.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com. As a reporter for the Utica Observer-Dispatch, he won a New York Newspaper Publishers Association Award of Distinguished Community Service for his investigation into the financial struggles of nonprofit services.

He also won a Society of Professional Journalists Award for Investigative Reporting at the Stamford Advocate for his series exposing an elderly grifter’s charity organization.

Stephen grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and now lives in North Jersey with his wife and son.

He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arcadia University and a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

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

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THE FOREST CITY KILLER by Vanessa Brown a tale of murder and mayhem that gripped the city of London, Ontario in the late 1960s – A MUST READ for all true-crime buffs

Title: THE FOREST CITY KILLER
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Subtitle: A SERIAL MURDERER, A COLD-CASE SLEUTH, AND A SEARCH FOR JUSTICE
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Author: VANESSA BROWN
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Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, CANADIAN NON-FICTION

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Length: 360 PAGES

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Publisher: ECW PRESS
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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: OCTOBER 4, 2019

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ISBN: 9781770415034

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Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Dig deep into the unsolved murder of Jackie English and join the hunt for a serial killer

Fifty years ago, a serial killer prowled the quiet city of London, Ontario, marking it as his hunting grounds. As young women and boys were abducted, raped, and murdered, residents of the area held their loved ones closer and closer, terrified of the monster — or monsters — stalking the streets. Homicide detective Dennis Alsop began hunting the killer in the 1960s, and he didn’t stop searching until his death 40 years later. For decades, detectives, actual and armchair, and the victims’ families and friends continued to ask questions: Who was the Forest City Killer? Was there more than one person, or did a depraved individual commit all of these crimes on his own?

Combing through the files Detective Alsop left behind, researcher Vanessa Brown reopens the cases, revealing previously unpublished witness statements, details of evidence, and astonishing revelations. And through her investigation, Vanessa posits the unthinkable: is it possible that the Forest City Killer is still alive and, like the notorious Golden State Killer, a simple DNA test could bring him to justice?
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MY REVIEW:

Researcher Vanessa Brown grew up in London, Ontario, Canada and resides there to this day. It is in her beloved city where she owns and operates a used book store and as an avid local historian, she has authored and/or edited several local history books. London, Ontario is also known as “The Forest City” hence the title of this book.

I have a keen interest in True Crime, biographies and historical non-fiction. It is because of this that I was drawn to THE FOREST CITY KILLER.

Also, since I live in Ontario, Canada and have visited all the locations mentioned in this story, and in fact, I attended the same high school (Sir Frederick Banting High School in Alliston Ontario) as convicted murderer, David Bodemer, I knew I just had to find out the details of the murders which took place only a few years before I was born.

Author VANESSA BROWN has taken the story of murder most foul and crafted a true tale of intrigue with so many twists and turns that it is almost unbelievable. It is said that “Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction,” and in the case of the FOREST CITY KILLER this statement proves to be true.

Untangling the web of murders as well as entertaining multiple theories, the writing of this book must have been a monumental task and yet Vanessa Brown proves herself as adept in not only untangling the many strands of the web, but also in providing readers with a chohesive and coherent timeline and a theory that comes across as convincing. In fact, maybe Vanessa Brown has missed her calling – she would make a phenomenal cold-case investigator.

My only negative feedback about THE FOREST CITY KILLER is the overabundance of footnotes. In my opinion, if the note is worthy of being included in the book, then it can easily be added to the main narrative. I found the footnotes interesting and was glad the information they contained was included, however I found them overly distracting. Hopefully, since the copy I received was an ARC (Advance Review Copy) that these footnotes will be worked into the body of the book.

Included in the book are many photographs including pictures of the eleven victims and photos taken at the time the bodies were found. This allows readers to feel an extra connection to the cases.

I rate THE FOREST CITY KILLER as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

A freelance writer, editor and local historian, Vanessa Brown is the author of The Grand Old Lady: A History of Hotel London and London: 150 Cultural Moments which was published by Biblioasis in 2017.

Vanessa Brown is an antiquarian bookseller who consults on early and rare editions and ephemera for the L. M. Montgomery Research Group. She is the author of The Grand Old Lady: A History of Hotel London.

Vanessa is also a murderino, and wants to remind you to stay sexy and don’t get murdered! (Don’t know what this means? Check out the amazing True Crime podcast MY FAVORITE MURDER)

Her latest book, The Forest City Killer, will be published with ECW in 2019.

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

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TO PURCHASE A SIGNED COPY OF THE FOREST CITY KILLER Click HERE

#TheForestCityKiller #NetGalley #SSDGM #murderino #TrueCrime #london #ontario #murders #coldcase

ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY by Emmy Award Winning Canadian Actor and Author JOANNE VANNICOLA – If you only read one book this year, make sure it is this one. 5+ Stars – Compelling, Heart-rending, and Emotional. This is a MUST READ.

Title: ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY
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Author: JOANNE VANNICOLA
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Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, MENTAL HEALTH, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, LGBTQIA

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Length: 232 PAGES

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Publisher: DUNDURN PRESS
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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: JUNE 25, 2019

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ISBN: 9781459744226

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Price: $19.99 USD

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Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Joanne Vannicola grew up in a violent home with a physically abusive father and a mother who had no sexual boundaries.

After Joanne is pressured to leave home at fourteen, encouraged by her mother to seek out an acting career, she finds herself in a strange city, struggling to cope with her memories and fears. She makes the decision to cut her mother out of her life, and over the next several years goes on to create a body of work as a successful television and film actor. Then, after fifteen years of estrangement, Joanne learns that her mother is dying. Compelled to reconnect, she visits with her, unearthing a trove of devastating secrets.

Joanne relates her journey from child performer to Emmy Award–winning actor, from hiding in the closet to embracing her own sexuality, from conflicted daughter and sibling to independent woman. All We Knew But Couldn’t Say is a testament to survival, love, and Joanne’s fundamental belief that it is possible to love the broken, and to love fully, even with a broken heart.

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MY REVIEW:

*** WARNING – TRIGGER WARNING***

This book contains scenes of child sexual abuse and physical abuse of children. If any of these topics cause emotional triggers for you, I strongly suggest you do not read this book.
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There are many memoirs that contain disturbing subject matter and ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY is no exception. However, the difference between other memoirs and that of Canadian Joanne Vannicola is that Joanne somehow managed to live through her horrific childhood and yet still emerge into adulthood full of compassion for others. Rather than allow her abusers to keep her ‘small,’ she has gone on to have a phenomenal career. To my way of thinking, Joanne being happy and successful is the best revenge. Her strength and determination are a big “F” you to her abusers. She didn’t let them win.

Not only that, but she has also become an advocate for LGBTQ youth. According to Joanne, “[Her] role meant [Joanne] could impact their lives, provide a little hope for others even though [she] still hadn’t learned to hold on to it [herself]…and it provided a deeper purpose…”

Joanne says in the book:
“I could not erase my own pain, but if I could help other kids, it meant healing was possible.”

This memoir is powerful. It is horrific in parts, especially when readers learn how Joanne was treated as a child, but it also includes some wonderful and touching moments and shows the power of friendship.

I do not want to give away too much with my review because I am hoping that everyone who reads this review runs out to buy/pre-order a copy of ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY.

YES, this book will make you shake in anger at the people who were supposed to love Joanne the most, but who turned out to be the perpetrators of her abuse, BUT I BELIEVE THIS IS A BOOK THAT NEEDS TO BE READ.

There are children suffering at this very moment, and people who see these things happening are often afraid to call Children’s Aid in case they are wrong. BUT … What if a child dies or suffers irreparable harm because you did not make that simple phone call? How would you feel? Could you ever forgive yourself?

PLEASE MAKE THE CALL. If it is determined that there was no abuse, then you can rest easy knowing you did the right thing. A bit of embarrassment is nothing when a child’s life and/or his/her mental health is on the line.

This book is not only about abuse. It is also about growing up and trying to come to terms with your sexuality. Joanne came of age not too long ago, but it was long ago enough that being gay, bisexual, trans, or queer was not acceptable to society at large. In fact, the phrase “non-binary” did not even exist. People kept their sexual orientations quiet and this fact made Joanne question what exactly was “wrong” with her. This memoir follows her journey from questioning her sexuality to accepting it and to become an advocate and role model for other LGBTQ youth.

Joanne’s life has been full of pain and agony, but it has also been a life filled with many triumphs, including her winning the her battle with anorexia.

I could go on and on about how amazing Joanne Vannicola is (all based on her book as I have not met her yet.) Instead, I will encourage everyone reading this review to pre-order her book immediately. Don’t wait to do it. Order it immediately. You will not be disappointed. ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY is a 5+ Star Book and you will continue to think about Joanne and her life long after the final page has been read. It is impossible not to. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Joanne Vannicola is an Emmy award-winning Canadian actor and writer, who has been working in film, television, and theatre since she was eight years old. She has also been nominated for a Genie, a Gemini, and an ACTRA award.

Joanne is a long-time advocate for the LGBTQ community and has an essay in the anthology Cuarenta y Nueve, a book by 49 artists for the 49 victims of the Orlando Pulse club massacre. She is the Chair of the first LGBTQ+ committee for the actors union, ACTRA, and sits on the sexual assault ad-hoc committee at ACTRA for women in film and television.

Joanne’s forthcoming memoir, All We Knew but Couldn’t Say (Dundurn Press) will be available 1 June 2019.

She is a recipient of the Ontario Arts Council Grant in 2016—Writer’s Works in Progress for her memoir. Joanne was selected for the Diaspora Dialogues Program in 2013 and worked with author David Layton for six months. Her short screenplay His Name Was Steven, was selected for the Queer Ideas Screenplay competition.

Joanne founded the non-profit organization, Youth Out Loud, between 2004-2009, to raise awareness about child abuse and sexual violence.

Equity issues have always been at the forefront of Joanne’s work both in her artistic world and in her personal/political life and she is very passionate about youth, women, and LGBTQ equity and rights.

To learn more about Joanne Vannicola visit the following links:

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****This book is my “A” entry in the GingerMom’s 2019 A to Z Reading Challenge****


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:

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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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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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.

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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:

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

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

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“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.”

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“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.”

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THE CHARACTERS:

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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:

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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

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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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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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:

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HISTORIC PHOTOS

Photos obtained from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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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.

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. ***

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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.”

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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.”

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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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www.lesliecyoungblood.com

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