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Unbecoming

Unbecoming by Joanne Fedler is a provocative book that needs to be read by women young and old everywhere! Jo is a soon-to-be empty nester, new to menopause, and coming to terms with the fact she may have wanted more out of life. It’s a classic tale of a woman’s midlife crisis. During her unraveling, Jo hesitantly sets out on a spiritual silent walk in the Australian Bush with friends she hasn’t spoken to in years. On this journey, Jo learns that she isn’t on this midlife ride alone – every woman has their fair share of unraveling too.

Joanne Fedler’s Unbecoming is an emotionally charged book that is not afraid to speak the truth and follow it wherever it leads. The book explores questions every woman has had or is going to have at some point in their life. Some may even say they are questions women should ask before they settle into married life. It feels as though this book is an open dialogue between you and the main character, Jo, for this reason.

I also appreciate the spiritual and sisterhood aspects of this novel. Fedler displays the immense importance of these gifts and how they can help us understand life and Mother Nature herself.

I’ve already stated why this book is a must-read for inspirational and philosophical reasons. Now let me discuss Fedler’s writing abilities. Spoiler alert – they’re fantastic!

Fedler knows how to craft perfectly imperfect characters – this skill is extremely rare to find. Jo, unlike many other middle-aged characters in modern novels, does not present herself as fictional. She feels like your mom, aunt, sister, or simply your close family friend. We can all understand what Jo is going through and all know a woman like her. Her life wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t a fairytale. Her body is not perfect from hours of yoga – it shows signs of age and motherhood. The list goes on.

I also appreciated the representation of different lifestyles amongst the female characters. Despite living these different lives, being a woman is a universally shared experienced.

There are so many amazing things I can say about this book! It was a story I am glad to have read. If you’re looking for a heartwarming and inspirational read, then you have to pick up Unbecoming by Joanne Fedler.

Pages: 356 | ISBN: 0648937658

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Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis

Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis by [E. Barrington, Philip]

In Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis, Philip E. Barrington tells us the story of Grant, a man that experienced various interesting and intriguing things during his life. The book serves as Grant’s diary, through which he tells the reader his thoughts and the many life changing events that he experienced since he was a young boy.

Grant’s life is far from boring. In the book we follow him as he travels around different cities and countries, trying to make something of his life. He meets intriguing new people all the time, some of them become friends and helped him grow, some of them become terrible enemies that almost succeeded in ruining his life. Grant endures many betrayals, yet never gives up, always looking to find something better for himself to enjoy life to the fullest. Family, friendship, love, travel and the search of a career, are aspects that are deeply involved in most people’s lives and that are explored and shown in this book through Grant’s riveting life.

It was interesting following the different events that Grant had to go through in his life, there are so many things that are talked about in the book. Relationships, health issues, problems with the police and the law, corruption and family life. The author shares the many adventures that Grant had that would change him forever, from meeting new people to traveling to new places to discovering secrets of the universe, a set of fascinating events that allowed Grant Davis to find his life purpose.

I enjoyed reading about Grant’s story and finding out gradually the varying life changing events that he went through where he met interesting, odd and even threatening people that made him explore new things all the time: his life was truly riveting. However, I wanted these things to be explored more, and explained further, in the book. The book reads like a diary, which means that we don’t get too many details about the events and the people that were described in the book. Nevertheless, the book was still enjoyable and it was stimulating reading. In particular, I was intrigued by the themes that were explored near the end of the book, a series of mystical, soul-searching events that Grant came in contact with to possibly change his future, and other people’s futures, for the better.

Is it fully fiction or are there real life events mixed in the story? Who knows, it is up to the reader to figure out how much is fictional and how much is the author’s real story, so if you want to try to find out, you must read the book first. Who Okayed This?! The Riveting Life of Grant Davis is an interesting and easy read that illustrates the good and the bad that can be found all the time in every person’s life path.

Pages: 241 | ASIN: B08VKSQT36

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To the Top of Greenfield Street

Ryan Standley’s To the Top of Greenfield Street follows Eric Daniels as he spends a brief yet formative summer in Freeport, a small northern Illinois town hundreds of miles away from his childhood home in Iowa. The text is written in an autobiographical fashion, with many musical and cultural references that indicate that the events take place in the 1980s or 1990s.

Standley does a superb job at recounting the nostalgia of youth. Eric’s adventures with his (mostly) newfound neighborhood friends – from their nighttime rendezvous to the drive-in theater to the Fourth of July festivities, all the way down to Eric’s surprise going-away party hosted by his mates – feel absolutely real and capture the freedom of any summer in the life of a Midwestern teenager. Nate, Matt, Billy, Melissa, Jen, Rachel, and Declan each make their own contribution with their easy-to-distinguish personalities.

To the Top of Greenfield Street is ultimately an engaging coming of age story. Eric has two major experiences that take place in a short amount of time, but leave an indelible mark. It is also through these turning points that Eric learns that resolutions aren’t always happy events – nor do they need to be. One, he comes to grips with the reality of his ties with Donna, his estranged and drug-addicted mother. Two, he experiences through Jen what it is like for a young man to share feelings of affection and chemistry, however fleeting, with another young woman.

Above all, the author showcases the finite nature of young relationships in a way that resonates with readers as young as their twenties. By the end of the text, Eric walks away cherishing the friendships and good times that he has had, but also accepts that just as summer inevitably turns to fall, he must accept what is and begin his next chapter of life alongside his dad. Endings do not need to be finite in nature – and very often in life they are anything but.

This is a solid read for readers of any age who want a well-written, teen-centered coming of age story. To the Top of Greenfield Street is a young adult novel that I heartily recommend.

Pages: 286 | ASIN: B08GFQCVH8

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With Kisses From Cécile

With Kisses From Cécile follows two young women, Ruth and her French pen pal, Cécile. Through their letters we get a glimpse of their lives and the beautiful bond that is shared between two friends. Authors Anne Armistead and Jan Agnello have written a historical novel of friendship, loss, and forgiveness.

This book is a delightfully sweet historical fiction novel. The story between Ruth and Cecile is wonderful to follow. The book follows two timelines, one in the present and one in the past. The authors did a fantastic job distinguishing the two timelines. The characters are skillfully crafted and well developed. You admire both women and their strength and admire their friendship. The history in the book does not take away from the story, if anything it adds to it. Reading the historical events that each character witnessed you begin to understand and appreciate them. I would’ve liked to have read more about Clinton and Ruth. Ruth had so much more going on in her life that I would have liked to see loose ends tied up. I came to care for Ruth and the trials she faced, her emotions, and the way she lived life.

While I enjoyed the emotional depth of the book, I felt that the pacing of the story was slow when it came to Gran and Maggie but I pushed on because I wanted to read more about Ruth. The authors included pictures at the end of the book which was an added bonus. With Kisses From Cécile is a heart warming read that explores a beautiful friendship of two women who live worlds apart.

Pages: 269 | ASIN: B07WNY78W6

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It Can Be You

Nikki Haase Author Interview
Nikki Haase Author Interview

Broken Melody follows Sunshine as she struggles with addiction while avoiding a dealer she owes a lot of money to. This is a change from your normal SciFi books, what inspired the change in genre?

I actually wrote this book originally when I was struggling with addiction myself. It was the first full-length novel I really took seriously, but I just didn’t publish it. I wasn’t ready yet. It was one of the few stories that my best friend Casey was actually intrigued by. The smiley face you see in the dedication page was one that she drew on the original many years ago after she ‘stole’ it from me. I re-wrote it when I got sober as a sort of therapy and after some heart wrenching events, to honor her. I only wish that I would’ve done it sooner.

I might revisit topics like this, but in different ways. The rawness of this took a lot out of me.

How much of this book was informed by real life and how much was fiction?

There’s a bit that’s embellished, but a lot of it is real. I pulled a lot, if not all, of Alana’s cocaine addiction and undiagnosed mental illness struggles from my own, first-hand experiences. However, a lot of the more ‘hardcore’ stuff, like owing the biggest drug dealer in town a bunch of money, is fiction.

What is a common misconception you feel people have about addiction?

That only ‘bad’ people can become addicted to drugs. That it’s only a certain group of people that can fall victim to it. It can be anyone. It can be you. You probably love someone who is suffering from addiction and don’t even know it. So, reach out to your friends, let them know you’ll support them, and tell them you love them.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m actually going back to my roots. 🙂 I’m working on the Experiment X Prequel, which is told from Jack’s POV. I don’t have a date yet though…sorry.
Broken Melody was a way to heal old wounds and hopefully help people understand addiction and mental illness without any fluff.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Instagram | Website

I think a demon lives in me. Her name is Sunshine and she wants the numbing chemicals of cocaine. She craves the sweet, disgusting taste of heroin and the sharp flavors of crystal meth. We’re often told that drug addicts are lowly humans that drop out of school, can’t hold down a job, and they always come from a life of abuse and pain. I have friends who love me, parents who care about me, and a beautiful girlfriend who I adore. I was a straight-A student in high school. I was at the top of my class. I’ve been getting high since I was a kid to self-medicate mood swings that feel like whiplash on a good day. And I’ve messed up. Big time. Now, I owe the biggest dealer in town thousands of dollars! If he finds me, I’m dead. I can’t get the money and I can only hide out for so long. I have to get sober so I can get my head straight and figure this out. All I need is one more hit.

Broken Melody

Broken Melody by [Nikki Haase]

Broken Melody is a contemporary fiction novel that follows the life of Alana, alias Sunshine, and her assorted friends. Nikki Haase drew motivation for writing this book from Casey Clayton, her friend’s journey of addiction, recovery and death. The book is a voice for those struggling with drug addiction, depression and other mental illnesses. Alana was the perfect daughter and student, acing her grades and making her parents proud. But deep down she was fighting monsters that only she knew of.

Nikki Haase has an enthralling way of introducing fascinating characters to readers. This book is an invitation into the mind and life of a young person struggling with addiction. It is heart-wrenching to see the potential in a person slowly chipped away at.

The main theme of the book is drug addiction. Nikki Haase has captured the struggles and raw emotions that most addicts grapple with, and I appreciated the unfiltered view we’re given. Alana’s journey is a sad one, although not a completely lonely one as she has her friends like Skylar and Xavier and her girlfriend Casey. The prose captures the voice of new adult angst and gives the characters an authenticity that makes them endearing and their stories all the more tragic. I think that by the second or third chapter I was interested in Alana’s character, by the mid point I wanted to know more, and by the end I was desperate to know more. Will she survive her addiction? Will her friends stick with her throughout the process? Will Casey love her beside all her inner demons?

The author shows the importance of friendships and speaking out when going through hard times in life. The story seemed too real to be cliché and the author has done a good job of incorporating supporting themes like mental illness, love and friendship. Nikki Haase has a unique way of bringing out serious issues through humor. The other unique thing about Broken Melody is that the author shows the other side of addiction, one that most people do not know about. For instance at the end of the book, readers are introduced to the other side of Rabbit. Throughout the book, Rabbit is known to be a hardcore drug dealer but he does something at the end that surprised me. I would recommend the book to fiction lovers, people struggling with substance abuse and those living with addicts.

Pages: 302 | ASIN: B08B2Q5YDP

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The World’s Greatest Mousetrap

The World's Greatest Mousetrap by [Fegan, B.C.R.]

Mice don’t grin. Mice certainly don’t chuckle. Or do they? For dear old Reginald, devoted reader and shopkeeper, a grinning mouse in his bookshop simply won’t do. Children and adults alike will delight in reading along as Reginald makes several hapless attempts to catch the cleverest mouse of all time in B.C.R Fegan’s The World’s Greatest Mousetrap. Will Reginald’s madcap quest to construct increasingly elaborate traps succeed in catching one tiny mouse, or, will he end up catching his customers instead!?

In this warm and humorous tale of determination and unlikely friendship, Fegan offers a look at what could happen if humans let go of preconceived notions and open their minds to new ideas. Fanny Liem’s illustrations are instantly engaging for children and, importantly, intriguing for adults. Readers’ will enjoy Liem’s drawings and Fegan’s writing of the distinctively bespectacled Reginald as a slightly zany and lovable bibliophile whose expressive eyes tell of excitement, resolve, and kindness. Fegan has a knack for turning a small story in a small setting into a laugh-out-loud epic battle between mouse and man. Can you guess who wins? This is a cozy, funny, and heart-warming tale for all ages.

Pages: 44 | ASIN: B07PB4NHBY

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Chasing The Red Queen

Chasing the Red Queen by [Glista, Karen]

Chasing the Red Queen opens with the recently turned 18-year-old Donja, a self-proclaimed goth who is uprooted from the normalcy of teenage life. Her mother remarries, giving Donja a new home, a new father and a new stepsister. What starts out as an angsty teens tribulations quickly shifts to darker elements as violent murders begin to hit close to home. New characters emerge, friendships are made, and lovers unite exposing a history of supernatural elements and family secrets Donja never expected.

Karen Glista offers an urban fantasy with a dash of crime, horror and steamy romance all set to the backdrop of vampire lore. A perfect weekend read for those favoring the genre. The author also provides new components to these otherwise over told stories with well researched historical content and fleshed out explanations for the mystical aspects. The mix of first nation cultural and detailed locational history give a fresh twist to this vampire romance which kept me intrigued to the very end.

I found Donja to be likable as the main character. Although the constant reminder of her gothic reputation is repeated one too many times, otherwise her emotional response and reactions are believable throughout the story. I adored the character development between Donja and her stepsister Makayla, from beginning to end they share a bond that unites them through a roller-coaster of emotional events.

Unlike Donja, where she shines in the first half of the book, her counterpart Torin unfolds as the main player towards the end of the book. Once Torin takes center stage I found myself more invested in his story and the account of his mysterious past as well as that of his kind.

I felt that the timeline was a little vague; how much time did everything take, was it days, hours, weeks? I also felt that their were quick leaps in character changes (ie. Frankie, I didn’t know what was happening to him until it was already over). These are the only minor things holding the book back. 

However, the story surprised me with well thought out action scenes and gritty dialog. While some secondary characters faded into the background a few shown through and had my full attention. Chasing the Red Queen is a quick read with an equally fast-paced plot, yet will still give the reader enough time to establish a connection to the story, characters and paranormal features.

Pages: 277 | ASIN: B079KJFJW8

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