THE LEGACY AND THE LION by Elaine Jemmett is a 5 Star read set in a primitive future, 300 years from now and the world is similar to medieval times. THIS IS A MUST READ. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: THE LEGACY AND THE LION

Series: THE YUSAN CHRONICLES – BOOK ONE

Author: ELAINE JEMMETT

Genre: FICTION, FANTASY FICTION, CANADIAN AUTHORS, SCIENCE FICTION, POST-APOCALYPTIC FICTION

Length: 390 PAGES

Publisher: TITONIK BOOKS

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: MARCH 29, 2017

ISBN: 9780995327221

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

The future is a primitive place. Three hundred year from now, the kingdom of Yusay stands solidly amid the broken bones of our broken world. Horses ply the roads, the best weapons are broadswords and bows, and the Ancients are feared and despised.

Patrick Bell hails from a secret colony that remembers the Ancients. After the violent death of his wife and children, Patrick needs a new home. He follows the trail of his ancestor to the kingdom of Yusay, only to find that ancestor is not merely remembered, he is worshipped. Patrick wins the powerful post of Master of Guards, but his mysterious past and his claim to be the descendant of the Yusan prophet make him the target of enough suspicion and envy to put his life on the line.

Gar of the First Line was once a young scholar. Forced to become a warrior when a murderous uprising slaughtered most of the ruling family, Gar reconquered Yusay. Now an ageing king with a long lifetime of impressive reforms, Gar needs a man as talented as Patrick to protect his family, and his legacy. He risks trusting him, but only to a point. Gar’s trust is increasingly tested when it becomes obvious that Patrick is a prime suspect in a plot to murder the king . . .
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MY REVIEW:

This book is the beginning of a truly epic saga.

It is exceedingly rare that I find a new author who writes so well that I believe her book can easily be rated up there with famous and bestselling authors. The only reason people have not yet heard of this book is a lack of marketing.

THE LEGACY AND THE LION could, and I believe would, hit the best-seller lists if more people spread the word as to how truly exceptional this story is. In fact, when I was speaking to my husband about this book, he asked me which writer I thought this book matches up to. My answer was George R.R. Martin, who is the author of many books including the Game of Thrones series.

For me to compare Elaine Jemmett to George R.R. Martin is a huge compliment.

The reason I am so passionate about this book is that Elaine Jemmett has created an entire post-apocalyptic civilization, yet the events in the book occur three hundred years after the fall of civilization and, neither what led to the apocalypse, nor what took place during or immediately after, are not mentioned at all. This in itself makes this book unique.

The hero of the tale is a man named Patrick Bell. Patrick arrives at the palace of Yusay from a colony far enough away that no one in Yusay is even aware of its existence.

Despite his outsider status, Patrick wins the position of Master of the Guards and quickly becomes indispensable to King Gar.

As Patrick works hard on reforming what he sees as a lack of organization within the ranks of the guards. This, plus the fact that he is not from Yusay, is enough to put his life in danger on more than one occasion.

King Gar learns of a plot to end his life, and despite his growing affection for his new Master of Guards, he has a list of suspects and Patrick is high on that list.

This book contains many different important characters, all of whom are responsible for various aspects of the palace and/or life within the kingdom of Yusay. With so many characters it would have been easy to become lost in the minutiae of their lives and responsibilities, but, author Elaine Jemmett weaves the details seamlessly into the story. This impressed me greatly and brought to mind the many different houses and kingdoms in the “Game of Thrones” books.

This story contains multiple layers as well as a variety of intricate plotlines that drew me in and literally held my attention right to the last page.

If you love books full of intrigue and deception as well as books with fantasy type plotlines, then you must read this book. This tale can be seen as good versus evil, but that is only part of the story. There is an undercurrent of an additional plotline which has yet to be explained and has only been hinted at thus far.

Character development in this story is phenomenal. I felt like I knew each of the important characters intimately by the end of this first book in the series and I am extremely excited to get my hands on a copy of BLACK KING; Book Two of the Yusan Chronicles.

I rate THE LEGACY AND THE LION as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

*** The fact that I received this book for free has nothing to do with how I rated it. Before I accept a book to read and review, I make sure that the author is aware that I will review it honestly, whether good or bad.***
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Elaine Jemmett was born in 1958 in Toronto, Canada, the youngest child of three.

When Elaine was ten the family moved to the country. Her nearest friends were far away, and Elaine spent a lot of her free time rambling in the woods with the family dog, feeding a deep love of nature and developing an already over-active imagination.

Born at the beginning of the space age, Elaine Jemmett grew up watching endless reruns of Star Trek and dreaming about adventure. In university she majored in English and her reading interests expanded to include literature, science, history, and politics.

She studied English Literature at Toronto’s York University and has worked as a legal editor and author’s representative.

When not writing, she can usually be found attempting to quench a dire addiction to iced tea.

The National Geographic has landed in the family mailbox for some 50 years and remains a steady source of inspirational tinder.

Elaine is married, and lives with her husband and overgrown offspring in Ontario, Canada.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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GOODREADS
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BOOKBUB
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ITUNES
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SMASHWORDS
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AMAZON
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CHAPTERS
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KOBO
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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

Here are Links to the FREE short story VALUE by Elaine Jemmett:

Goodreads
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SMASHWORDS

ABOUT THE BLACK KING:

The Black King is a much longer, far more complex book than I thought I was going to write. It’s shorter than Legacy and the Lion, but still a fairly long book. There’s a lot more action in this book (yes, heads will roll) and the psychological drama is far more intense. I’m hoping people will find it an excellent read.

Anyone interested in contacting the author can do so by sending an email to ElaineJemmettAuthor@gmail.com

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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Founded in 2016, Titonik Books is a privately-owned company based in Ontario, Canada. At present we publish the literary works of only one author. We do not accept manuscripts for consideration.

For more information about this publisher click on the following link:

https://titonikbooks.ca/about/

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

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

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:

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

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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:

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.

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:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
www.lesliecyoungblood.com

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

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AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

BOOKS-A-MILLION

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER by Author and Ex-Law Enforcement Officer C.M. WENDLEBOE is NOW AVAILABLE and it is one heck of a mystery

Title: HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER

Series: A BITTER WIND MYSTERY (BOOK TWO)

Author: C.M. WENDLEBOE

Genre: FICTION, THRILLERS AND MYSTERIES

Length: 288 PAGES

Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 1, 2018

ISBN: 9780738753621

Price: $15.99 USD (Paperback)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Two innocent victims, strangled to death on consecutive Saturday nights. Even as they see the pattern emerging, retired detective Arn Anderson and TV reporter Ana Maria Villarreal can’t seem to convince the Cheyenne police that the killer may strike again.

Hunting a remorseless murderer leads Arn and Ana Maria down a rabbit hole of ranchers and rustlers. But the closer they come to catching the killer, the more they’re met with suspicion. And when their investigation collides with a desperate act of violence, they wonder whether they’re unwinding the killer’s twisted thread of clues or tightening their own noose.

MY REVIEW:

This is the second book in the “Bitter Wind Mysteries” Series however, it can easily be read as a standalone novel.

Retired police detective Arn Anderson has moved back to his hometown of Cheyenne, Wyoming to renovate his historic family home that had fallen into disrepair.

Arn has two roommates; one is Ana Maria Villarreal, a television reporter for the local news station, and the second roommate is Danny, a previously homeless man whom Arn has offered room and board in exchange for working on the house renovations.

Arn has been hired by the local ranchers association to try to discover who has been stealing their sheep. Sounds like an easy (and safe) job right? Wrong.

Arn has been unable to discover who is rustling sheep despite staking out numerous fields. Then, the job becomes much more serious when a body is found in one of the fields.

The television station hires Arn to find the killer before local law enforcement does. Seeing visions of central air-conditioning, Arn accepts the job.

What follows is a true whodunit. There are clues, promising leads that go nowhere, and gut feelings that lead everywhere.

Author C.M. Wendleboe’s history as a member of law enforcement shines throughout his writing. I believe that his past gives him a unique perspective on the limitations placed on the police when trying to investigate a crime.

Between the mystery of the identity of the local Sheepherder bandit, the fact that someone might be following Ana Maria and Arn’s gut feelings, it is just a matter of time before he either solves the case or more bodies pile up.

A page-turner with believable and compelling characters, this book will keep you guessing right up until it’s stunning conclusion. Reading this book will immerse readers in the life of a Wyoming rancher and even teach you some things about the use of dogs for herding sheep.

I rate HUNTING THE SATURDAY NIGHT STRANGLER as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

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To read my review of the first book in the BITTER WIND MYSTERY Series, click HERE.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

C.M. WENDELBOE entered the law enforcement profession when he was discharged from the Marines as the Vietnam war was winding down. In the 1970s, his career included assisting federal and tribal law enforcement agencies embroiled in conflicts with American Indian Movement activists in South Dakota.

He moved to Gillette, Wyoming, and found his niche, where he remained a sheriff’s deputy for more than 25 years. In addition, he was a longtime firearms instructor at the local college and within the community.

During his 38-year career in law enforcement he served successful stints as police chief, policy adviser, and other supervisory roles for several agencies. Yet he always has felt most proud of “working the street.”

He was a patrol supervisor when he retired to pursue his true vocation as a fiction writer.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE    

GOODREADS           

FACEBOOK        

AMAZON             

CHAPTERS   

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE    


ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: 

Celebrating ten years of the very best in mystery fiction, Midnight Ink publishes everything from quirky cozies to chilling thrillers.

From the outset, Midnight Ink has been dedicated to sleuthing out and fostering new talent, from their longest standing series by Jess Lourey, Sue Ann Jaffarian and Karen MacInerney to award-winning mysteries by G.M. Malliet and Catriona McPherson.

Prepare to burn the midnight oil with a Midnight Ink mystery.

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

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TWITTER   

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PINTEREST

MAID by Stephanie Land will be released in January of 2019. Mark your calendars. This is one book you don’t want to miss.

Title: MAID

Subtitle: HARD WORK, LOW PAY, AND A MOTHER’S WILL TO SURVIVE

Author: STEPHANIE LAND

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS

Length: 288 PAGES

Publisher: HACHETTE BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JANUARY 22, 2019

ISBN: 9780316505116

Price: $27.00 USD (HARDCOVER)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land’s memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work–primarily done by women–fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s inequitable society.

While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren’t being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans.

Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes. With this book, she gives voice to the “servant” worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.

MY REVIEW:

There are some books, when you finish reading them, you realize that you have just experienced something profoundly important. MAID is one of these rare gems.

Stephanie Land tells the story of her life as an impoverished single mother. This is NOT a story that takes place during the Great Depression of the 1930s, it is a true story taking place in modern day America.

What struck me most about this memoir was Stephanie’s ability to tell the story in a matter of fact way and to somehow detach herself from the emotions she must have inevitably felt while writing – all the while ensuring that she conveyed those same feelings to the reader. This ability proves Stephanie Land is a rare talent. If I did not know better, I would have thought this was the author’s fifth or sixth published work and not her debut book.

This is NOT a tale of ‘poor me.’ Stephanie does not whine about the state of her finances or the shabby conditions she lived in. She may have been poor, but she was not just sitting around collecting welfare and living the high life, which is a stereotype that is pervasive throughout society.

Reading this book will open people’s eyes to a situation all too common in America today. That is the plight of the “working poor.”

I have heard many people say that those who are receiving government assistance are all lazy and are living the high life thanks to the government. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Yes, I am sure that some people are gaming the system, but the vast majority are people who need a hand up, not a hand out. They are working, but their income is insufficient to pay their bills.

This book should be required reading for everyone who has ever made a comment about people on welfare. It should definitely be required reading for politicians at all levels of government from municipal leaders all the way up to the President. Maybe, just maybe, this would open their eyes to the reality of the lives of many of their constituents.

MAID is written in such a way that it is a book you will not want to put down. Just because it is a true story does not make it a boring read. In fact, it is anything but.

Stephanie’s dream of becoming a writer has come true and the world is better off because of it.

I rate MAID as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you only read one non-fiction memoir this year, make sure it is this one. You will be glad you did.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephanie Land’s work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, Washington Post, Guardian; Vox, Salon, and many other outlets.

She focuses on social and economic justice as a writing fellow through both the Center for Community Change and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Her memoir, MAID: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, is forthcoming through editor Krishan Trotman at Hachette Books, featuring a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich, on January 29, 2019.

She lives in Missoula, Montana, with her two daughters.

To learn more about this author and her wonderfully written debut memoir, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

LINKEDIN

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CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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