• ARC's,  Book Reviews

    Afterlife: a book review

    Book Information:

    Author: Julia Alvarez

    Publisher: Algonquin Books

    Pages: 272

    Date Available: April 7th, 2020

    Rating: ✂️✂️✂️✂️✂️/5


    Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of Afterlife, has had the rug pulled out from under her. She has just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly dies. And then more jolts: her bighearted but unstable sister disappears, and Antonia returns home one evening to find a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she loves—lines from her favorite authors play in her head like a soundtrack—but now she finds that the world demands more of her than words.

    Afterlife is a compact, nimble, and sharply droll novel. Set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, it asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including—maybe especially—members of our human family? How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? And how do we stay true to those glorious souls we have lost?


    I have been so excited about this book – the last time I read a book by this author was her last, In the Time of the Butterflies, almost 15 years ago. It’s one of my most anticipated books of 2020.

    This book had me at a loss for words when I finished the final chapter. It’s timely. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me angry. And just like the main character, Antonia, I have found myself looking for understanding, direction, and a semblance of normalcy these past several weeks. Weeks where humans have had on full display their best and their worst.

    This book tackles tough subjects – death, grief, mental illness, immigration, and a cruel world that just won’t stop. At first glance this book may sound depressing. But it is written with an abundance of humor, a sharp social awareness, clever dialogue, and plenty of literary references from the creative mind of a retired English professor.

    Antonia was a character that was incredibly easy to connect with. Her internal dialogue was so well done that I often found myself thinking ahead on her behalf. Her sisters were equally well-developed and their banter was priceless despite their faults. The writing was flawless. This is a book I could reread more than once.

    The social issues: immigration is at the top of the list. If you read American Dirt earlier this year, this is the perfect compliment. Seeing these issues through the eyes of the character of Antonia shed new light on an issue that has divided our country. It also puts faces and names to what some would rather not see.

    This book also asks the hard questions. How do you care for a fellow human? How do you walk in their shoes? How do you care for your own family? And ultimately, how do you care for others and yourself in the midst of crisis?

    These questions are answered but most often they are answered by the reader. This book is an experience and one I will not soon forget.

    Julia Alvarez wrote a book that lived up to all of my expectations and then some. I never expected to read it during a pandemic but I can wholeheartedly recommend it as required quarantine reading for humans now and even more so as we move forward.

    Thank you to Algonquin Books for an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is available today! (4/7/2020)


  • ARC's,  Book Reviews

    The Lost Orphan: a book review

    Book Info:

    Publisher – Harlequin MIRA

    Date – April 7th, 2020

    Pages – 352

    Genre – Historical romance


    Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything . . .

    London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate newborn at the Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the daughter she has never known. Dreading the worst, that she has died in care, she is astonished to discover someone pretending to be Bess has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl—and why.

    Less than a mile from Bess’s poor lodgings, in a quiet Georgian townhouse, lives Alexandra, a reclusive young widow. When her close friend—an ambitious doctor at the orphanage—persuades her to hire a nursemaid to help care for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

    From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Familiars comes this captivating story of mothers and daughters, class and power, and love against the greatest of odds.


    If I had to describe this book in one word – atmospheric. By the end of the first chapter I was completely captivated and transported back to London in the 1750’s.

    The writing perfectly captured the time period and allowed the reader to feel the desperation, longing, and loss of the characters. It was easy to connect with the characters which is a big plus for me. And of course, the secrets only added to the intrigue of the plot.

    I enjoyed the commentary on motherhood, class, and moral dilemmas faced by many during this time. The time period was well-researched by the author and masterfully woven into a complex story. You know it’s good historical fiction when you head off to research the story after you finish the book.

    There were a few parts that felt a bit contrived but overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. If you enjoyed Where The Crawdads Sing or When We Were Yours you will most likely love this book.


    Thank you to Harlequin MIRA and NetGalley for a gifted copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

    This book is available April 7th from you favorite bookseller!


  • Book Reviews

    It’s Not Over: Blog Tour & Review

    Book Info

    Author: Joshua Gagnon

    Publisher: Thomas Nelson

    Pages: 224

    Publish Date: February 25th, 2020

    Today is my stop on the TLC Books blog tour for It’s Not Over by Joshua Gagnon. I’m so excited to share this book with you – it’s quite timely.

    When I received the invitation for this tour our world looked very different. There were hints of coming adversity but what I imagined looks quite different from the realities of today.


    Disappointed with your life? Worried you’ll never achieve your dreams? Don’t be discouraged; it’s not over!

    As children, we dream of someday being a superhero or an astronaut, a parent or a business owner, an actress or a sports star. The more outrageous the dream, the more sure we are that it will happen! Yet as we mature, hardships, hurts, and failures chip away at our dreams. Our past longings can seem like the naive wishes of childhood instead of the foundation of the life we were meant to live.

    In It’s Not Over, pastor Joshua Gagnon, founder of the Next Level Church network, reminds us that we were born to dream—and to dream big. In fact, our dreams have the power to shape our lives. Join Joshua in discovering the answers to these questions and many more:

    • How does dreaming help you discover your purpose?
    • How do you identify whether a dream is even worth chasing?
    • How do you overcome resistance, criticism, and doubt?
    • How do you pray bold prayers when you don’t feel like praying at all?
    • How do you finish strong on the journey toward your dream?

    If you find yourself minimizing your dreams or feeling defeated by inner or outer resistance, there is good news: it’s not over! As long as you have breath in your lungs, God has a dream for you to chase. It’s what you were created for. And you can start today.


    Hope. Who doesn’t need some hope right now? 

    This book was a reset button for me. It gave me the much needed reminder that dreams met with resistance are still worth pursing. I was also reminded that dreams can shape who we are – for me it’s not just about the achievement, it’s about the person I become in the process.

    Which brings us to today. This book was written and published before COVID-19. And now we are all in a situation we never imagined. I can’t think of a time where everyone, on some level, is experiencing similar life changes. The last chapter is all about managing expectations, worrying about what is within your control, and finishing strong. Timely.

    If there was a way to distribute the last chapter to the world, that would be great.

    Unfortunately, that’s not possible so I would highly encourage you to grab a copy of this book. The author is a gifted communicator and I would definitely pick up another book by him. The writing is succinct, it is a quick read, and whatever your spiritual leanings are there is something in this book for everyone.

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

    Purchase Links

    Amazon |Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | Thomas Nelson


    About Joshua Gagnon

    Joshua Gagnon is the founding and lead pastor of Next Level Church, regularly recognized as one of the fastest growing churches in America. He is known for his uniquely authentic communication style that makes the hope found in Jesus relevant to people of every background. He and his wife, Jennifer, raise their two sons in New Hampshire.

    Connect with Joshua

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram




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