• Book Reviews

    Your Story, My Story: blog tour & review

    Your Story, My Story by Connie Palmen

    Publisher: Amazon Crossing (January 1, 2021)

    Language: English

    Hardcover: 186 pages

    Genre: Biographical Fiction

    Synopsis:

    From the award-winning author of The Friendship comes a shattering, brilliantly inventive novel based on the volatile true love story of literary icons Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

    In 1963 Sylvia Plath took her own life in her London flat. Her death was the culmination of a brief, brilliant life lived in the shadow of clinical depression—a condition exacerbated by her tempestuous relationship with mercurial poet Ted Hughes. The ensuing years saw Plath rise to martyr status while Hughes was cast as the cause of her suicide, his infidelity at the heart of her demise.

    For decades, Hughes never bore witness to the truth of their marriage—one buried beneath a mudslide of apocryphal stories, gossip, sensationalism, and myth. Until now.

    In this mesmerizing fictional work, Connie Palmen tells his side of the story, previously untold, delivered in Ted Hughes’s own uncompromising voice. A brutal and lyrical confessional, Your Story, My Story paints an indelible picture of their seven-year relationship—the soaring highs and profound lows of star-crossed soul mates bedeviled by their personal demons. It will forever change the way we think about these two literary icons.

    Review:

    As a longtime Plath fan, I was immediately curious when I saw this book and the premise. Biographical fiction does not seem like it would be an easy genre to write but Palmen captured the spirit and the story beautifully.

    Ted Hughes’ voice could be heard throughout the book which made the story come to life for me. So much has been made of their relationship and marriage over the years and this fresh perspective was both painful and captivating. The storyline was fair in showing the pain of mental illness – both within the person and the impact on those around them.

    My one fear going into this book was that his infidelity would be brushed aside or excused due to Plath’s long battle with clinical depression. There were times that the plot flirted with that notion but overall it maintained perspectives well.

    The writing was excellent and the translation was beautifully done. I am a huge fan of translated works and I found this one to be exceptional in both the story and the voice of the author.

    If you are Sylvia Plath and/or Ted Hughes reader, this is a book you will not want to miss!

    Content Warning: Mental Illness, Suicide, Infidelity

    Thank you to Over The River PR and Amazon Crossing for this gifted copy in exchange for my honest review

    Tour info:

    Be sure to check out these other stops on this blog tour!

     

  • Book Reviews

    Confessions in B-Flat: Review & Giveaway

    Essence bestselling author Donna Hill brings us an emotional love story set against the powerful backdrop of the civil rights movement that gripped a nation–a story as timely as it is timeless…

    Synopsis:

    The year is 1963. In Harlem, the epicenter of Black culture, the fight for equality has never been stronger. The time is now. Enough is enough. Yet even within its ranks, a different kind of battle rages. Love thy neighbor? Or rise up against your oppressors?

    Jason Tanner has just arrived in New York to help spread the message of his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of passive resistance, while beat poet Anita Hopkins believes the teachings of Malcolm X with all her heart: that the way to true freedom is “by any means necessary.” When Jason sees Anita perform her poetry at the iconic B-Flat lounge, he’s transfixed. And Anita has never met anyone who can match her wit for wit like this…

    One movement, two warring ideologies–can love be enough to unite them?

    Confessions in B-Flat is a celebration of the hard-won victories of those who came before us, and a stark reminder of just how far we still have to go.

    My Review

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    Writing Impressions: Beautifully written, the author captured the history, the tension, the fight for change and the relationship between two very complex characters during the Civil Rights Movement. The use of historical landmarks, media, and larger than life leaders made this book so much more than your typical historical romance.

    Characters: The relationship Jason and Anita was everything I had hoped for and then some. They were both well-developed and Jason was a representation of sorts for the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while Anita represented the beliefs of Malcolm X. This was a fascinating and educational way to show the contrast between the two and was genius to show it in the contest of a relationship. The addition of other leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, while fictional, made this book come to life.

    My thoughts: I enjoyed this book immensely. I would classify it as historical fiction with a very real romantic relationship at the center. This book is timely and while it shows how much has changed, the bigger impact for me personally was just how far we have to go.

    To enter the Instagram giveaway:

    Click here

    •Follow me, @bluntscissorsbookreviews and @brooklyngirl737

    •Tag a friend & share in your stories

    Sorry, U.S. entries only. This giveaway will end on 12/23 and the winner will be announced in my stories. This giveaway is not associated with Instagram.

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

    Entangled Publishing

    Connect with Donna

    Website | Facebook | Instagram

    Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Entangled Publishing for a gifted copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  • Book Reviews

    Forever 51: blog tour & review

    About Forever 51

    • Paperback: 332 pages
    • Publisher: Fawkes Press, LLC (November 5, 2020)

    Immortality’s a bitch.

    Veronica is eternally fifty-one years old with a proclivity for problematic drinking. Like most hormonally challenged women negotiating the change of life, she is a hot mess. To retain her sanity, she attends weekly AA meetings and adheres to a strict diet of organic, locally-sourced, (mostly) cruelty-free human blood from the hospice facility where she works. Her life stopped being fun about a hundred years ago, right about the time her teenage daughter stole her soul and took off for California with a hot, older guy. These days, Veronica’s existence is just that – an existence, as flat and empty as her own non-reflection in the bathroom mirror.

    When her estranged daughter contacts her via Facebook, Veronica learns that she has one chance to escape her eternal personal summer: she must find and apologize to every one of the people she’s turned into vampires in the last century. That is, if they’re still out there. With raging hormones and a ticking clock, Veronica embarks on a last-ditch road trip to regain her mortality, reclaim her humanity, and ultimately, die on her own terms.

    Review:

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    A menopausal, 12 stepping, road tripping vampire… what could be more fun? Seriously. This book was darkly funny and unique and has something for everyone!

    I nearly gave up on vampires a few years back because the genre had been so overdone. But not this book.

    The writing was sharp and the characters were realistic and well developed. I especially appreciated the depth and emotion the author put into the addiction and recovery storyline.

    You can’t help but root for these characters and you also might learn a thing or two about vampires that you’ve always wondered about.

    A ride or die road trip sounds hilarious for a story about a vampire but I don’t think there could be a more perfect, unexpected description.

    I was thrilled to learn that this author is local to me and now I’m crossing my fingers for a sequel because that ending.

    If you’re looking for a trope-busting, smart, and fun book for the vampire fan in your life – add this to your holiday season shopping list!

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org

    About Pamela Skjolsvik

    A curious thing happens when you have the audacity to call yourself the death writer; people want to talk to you about death. A lot. This is all well and good for those daring types of writers like Mary Roach or Jessica Mitford, but for me it was initially problematic. Prior to declaring my morbid writing intention of exploring death professions during my first semester of Goucher College’s MFA program in 2008, I had little experience with death or grief, not to mention very little social engagement with the living. It wasn’t until after I finished the two years of research for this book that I was officially diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and went through four months of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy through a research study at Southern Methodist University.

    My writing life began in 2005 when I received a fellowship to the San Juan Writers’ Workshop. The instructor, Lee Gutkind, told me not to publish for the sake of publishing, but to publish well. He also informed me that I was a horrible public speaker. Admittedly that stung, but he did like an essay I’d written. It was published in Creative Nonfiction Issue 33 and in Silence Kills: Speaking Out and Saving Lives. In August 2010, I received my MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College and read five pages from my manuscript in front of a packed room without passing out.

    As part of my therapy, I was encouraged to join a writer’s group where I would have to read regularly in front of a group, as this was one of my main fears. I am happy to say that I am now an active member of the DFW Writers Workshop in Euless, TX. We meet every Wednesday and I make it a point to read out loud every week.

    Find out more about Pamela at her website, and connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Fawkes Press for the gifted copy of this fantastic book. My opinions and review are my ow.

  • Book Reviews

    Just Jones: Feature & Book Review

    Just Jones by Andy Andrews

    Publish Date: September 8th, 2020

    Publisher: Thomas Nelson

    Pages: 272

    Genre: Literature & Fiction, Magical Realism, Ethics & Philosophy

    Book #3 of The Noticer Series

    From New York Times bestselling author Andy Andrews comes the return of one of our favorite characters: Jones, the Noticer. Jones’ wise stories have comforted and guided millions of readers. In JustJonesnavigate the hope that the impossible can come true.

    Synopsis:

    At 3:29 a.m. on May 22, a telephone rings in Orange Beach, Alabama. Breaking the sleepy silence inside the bedroom of New York Times bestselling author Andy Andrews, a hastily whispered message heralds the news that Andy has been waiting on for seven years: Jones is back in town. Apparently, however, he is also in jail.

    The old man is tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding his brief incarceration. After arriving to bail him out, Andy is shocked to discover that his trusted friend has already opened an unusual business in one of the resort town’s most high-profile shopping districts. Jones’s Five & Dime seems to always have exactly what visitors are looking for, even as their fate steadily becomes entwined with Jones’s.

    As the town moves from spring to summer, a practical joker is becoming bolder and more inventive with every prank that is pulled. Could Jones be behind some of it? Why? And what will happen if he is? What’s the truth about that four-hundred-pound table in his Five & Dime? What compels certain people to gather around it every morning? And why does it look as if every person Jones meets has a secret they will reveal only to him?

    With rare insight, Andy and Jones take us on a journey that proves the importance of perspective, the power of connection, and the ability we all have to make the impossible come true.

    Just Jones is lightning in a bottle–pure genius on paper. If you can imagine a hilarious mystery filled with useful wisdom that is fresh and new, you’ve just conjured up this book. Andy Andrews is our generation’s Mark Twain. Just Jones is the latest proof.’ –Dave Ramsey, national bestselling author

    Just Jones is a rare accomplishment–a mystery that is at times touching but often so funny that I laughed out loud. When one wraps an awesome story around wisdom with the power to change lives . . . well, how many great books can you name like that? Just Jones is a masterpiece.’ –Michael Hyatt, New York Times bestselling author

    Review:

    Andy Andrews is a longtime favorite author of mine. His writing is full of warmth & wisdom with a dash of wit. Just Jones continues in that same tradition.

    It is the third book of The Noticer series but Andrews does a fantastic job of looping the reader into the story and this can certainly be as a stand-alone.

    The characters are endearing, flaws and all, and the hint of mystery gave these characters an extra layer of depth.

    I am a huge fan of magical realism and having that element included made the book for me. That genre is not always to write and Andrews does a masterful job in this space.

    Without giving too much away, you will laugh, question your own perspective, consider the value of community, and read excellent, well-written book that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it.

    Even if this is your first book, you will quickly see why Andy Andrews is a favorite writer of mine. It’s available now at your favorite local bookseller.

    Purchase Links

    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Thomas Nelson

    Connect with Andy

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

    Thank you to TLC Book Tours, Thomas Nelson, and Andy Andrews for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

     

  • Book Reviews,  mental health,  parenting,  Writing

    Love Her Well: a book review

    About: Love Her Well

    Paperback: 240 Pages

    Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 18, 2020)

    Moms are eager for tips and wisdom to help them build strong relationships with their daughters, and Kari Kampakis’s Love Her Well gives them ten practical ways to do so, not by changing their daughters but by changing their own thoughts, actions, and mind-set.

    For many women, having a baby girl is a dream come true. Yet as girls grow up, the narrative of innocence and joy changes to gloom and doom as moms are told, “Just wait until she’s a teenager!” and handed a disheartening script that treats a teenage girl’s final years at home as solely a season to survive

    Author and blogger Kari Kampakis suggests it’s time to change the narrative and mind-set that lead moms to parent teen girls with a spirit of defeat, not strength. By improving the foundation, habits, and dynamics of the relationship, mothers can connect with their teen daughters and earn a voice in their lives that allows moms to offer guidance, love, wisdom, and emotional support.

    As a mom of four daughters (three of whom are teenagers), Kari has learned the hard way that as girls grow up, mothers must grow up too. In Love Her Well, Kari shares ten ways that moms can better connect with their daughters in a challenging season, including:

    • choosing their words and timing carefully,
    • listening and empathizing with her teen’s world,
    • seeing the good and loving her for who she is,
    • taking care of themselves and having a support system, and more.

    This book isn’t a guide to help mothers “fix” their daughters or make them behave. Rather, it’s about a mom’s journey, doing the heart work and legwork necessary to love a teenager while still being a strong, steady parent. Kari explores how every relationship consists of two imperfect sinners, and teenagers gain more respect for their parents when they admit (and learn from) their mistakes, apologize, listen, give grace, and try to understand their teens’ point of view. Yes, teenagers need rules and consequences, but without a connected relationship, parents may never gain a significant voice in their lives or be a safe place they long to return to.

    By admitting her personal failures and prideful mistakes that have hurt her relationships with her teenage daughters, Kari gives mothers hope and reminds them all things are possible through God. By leaning on him, mothers gain the wisdom, guidance, protection, and clarity they need to grow strong.

    Review:

    Talk about a timely book.

    Yesterday was the first day of school and it was a start to Chaney’s junior year that I could have never imagined. Never did I think that two of her high school years would be impacted by COVID. On Monday we drove 3 hours round trip to get her driver’s permit. The DMV in Texas is by appointment only after shutting down due to COVID and when I first looked the earliest appointment in our area was in 2021. And to top it all off, her love – theatre – looks drastically different than anything I’ve ever seen.

    This is the current state we are all living in and on top of that, our family is still trying to balance freedom with well-being while realizing that the transition from a teen to an adult is already happening. And this transition, to me at least, feels even more abrupt because so much is out of our control.

    So what can I control? My actions, my thoughts, and my dialogue with my daughter. Easier said than done, I know. But Love Her Well made it a little easier by drawing my attention to certain aspects of my own personality and heart that could use some work.

    This book was an enjoyable read. However, it was not one that I flew through, despite loving every chapter. It’s an interactive book with Q&A at the end of each chapter which made my writing heart delight. I had years of thoughts and feelings bottled up and was able to unwind many of them chapter by chapter, page by page. This book is an experience.

    If you have a teen daughter, this book is a must. It covers everything from friends, to body image, to mental health – something I feel like a lot of these types of books miss. This one is going on the reference shelf because I have a feeling I might need it more than once during these next few years.

    Thanks to Thomas Nelson and TLC Book Tours for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

    This book is available now from your favorite bookseller!

    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

    About Kari Kampakis

    Kari Kampakis is a mom of four daughters who writes about everyday events and significant moments that reveal God’s movement in our lives. She loves girls and believes many world problems can be solved by music, dancing, and deep conversations with friends.

    Kari’s work has been featured on The Huffington Post, The TODAY Show, EWTN, Yahoo! News, The Eric Metaxas Show, Proverbs 31 Ministries, Ann Voskamp’s blog, Hands Free Mama, and other national outlets. Her two books for teen girls, 10 ULTIMATE TRUTHS GIRLS SHOULD KNOW and LIKED: WHOSE APPROVAL ARE YOU LIVING FOR?, have been used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.

    Connect with Kari

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

     

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