On The Devil’s Side Of Heaven By Roger Peppercorn [Book Review – Mystery Month]

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On the Devil's Side of Heaven by Roger Peppercorn | Crime Thriller | Mystery | Book Review | RachelPoli.com

I received a free digital review copy from the author’s publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

With the drop of a judge’s gavel, Walt Walker has finally lost everything. The badge and gun he used to carry and the moral certainty of right and wrong, good and evil that used to keep him grounded. Now Walt, sans gun, gets his badges from an Army Navy store. He spends his days in South Florida, working for a boutique insurance firm as their investigator. He spends his nights in dive bars, trying to forget the mess he has made of his life.

Ronald Jacobs always preferred the title Human Resource Manger to Hitman. But now that he’s retired, he can concentrate on living in the shadows as a respectable gentlemen farmer. Far from the reach and pull of his past life.

Their transgressions are behind them but a chance encounter and a failed assassination attempt sets the two of them on a collision course of violence and retribution. Hunted by contract killers, the law, and corporate bag men, they are pursued across the unforgiving adobes and the sweeping vistas of the Mesa Valley in Western Colorado.

Survival means putting their past in front of them and their differences aside, because in this world the only thing that matters is to cast not others on the devil’s side of heaven, lest you be cast in with them.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I like the cover, it’s simple and a pretty picture of a forest. One look at it and for reason I can tell what the genre of the book is.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

This was an instant read for me mostly due to the genre. I enjoy crime and thrillers and this was a little different from what I usually read.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

The plot isn’t a bad one as two old friends – who also happen to be brother-in-laws meet up once more to foil some bad guys’ plans. The plot itself was fairly well executed and certainly fit for a thriller. There was plenty of action involved and it moved pretty quickly.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I’ll be honest, I couldn’t get into any of the characters. Walt, the protagonist, was a bit of a cliche – he lost his job, got divorced and lost his kids, and he sits in bars all night trying to drink away his problems. It kind of got old pretty fast.

Ronald wasn’t too bad of a character. However, he’s a retired hit-man but I couldn’t picture him ever being a hit-man other than the fact he was good with guns.

Even the group of bad guys. They acted tough, high-and-mighty, and swore a lot, but it seemed like it was all for the sake of them being the “bad guys.” There was no depth to it.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

I had a hard time reading the book due to the writing style. The POV switched between the characters. It was third-person omniscient, which is fine, but Walt’s parts were in first-person. So, sometimes I was reading the story along with Walt and other times I was with Ronald or an assassin with a third-party unknown narrator. I wasn’t sure which one to believe and it just made the story confusing, especially trying to piece the parts together.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This wasn’t a bad book, but it was hard for me to get into. I would have liked to see more consistent storytelling with more in-depth characters. It was hard for me to keep track of, though with the fast-pace action and high crime, you may want to give this one a try.

On The Devil’s Side Of Heaven by Roger Peppercorn gets…
Book Review Rating System | 2 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com2 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“He was a killer of all killers and he feared no man. But if his wife was mad, he came a-calling just as pronto as any lovesick dog.” –Roger Peppercorn, On the Devil’s Side of Heaven

Buy the book:

Amazon

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Here Lies Daniel Tate By Cristin Terrill [Book Review – Mystery Month]

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Book Review: Here Lies Daniel Tate by Cristin Terrill | Young Adult | Mystery | RachelPoli.com

I bought a hardcover copy at Barnes & Noble.

Summary:

A young, street-savvy runaway looking for a place to call home realizes he might have conned his way into the wrong family in this fast-paced and thrilling novel from award-winning author Cristin Terrill.

When ten-year-old Daniel Tate went missing from one of California’s most elite communities, he left no trace. He simply vanished.

Six years later, when he resurfaces on a snowy street in Vancouver, he’s no longer the same boy. His sandy hair is darker, the freckles are gone, and he’s initially too traumatized to speak, but he’s alive. His overjoyed family brings him home to a world of luxury and comfort he can barely remember. In time, they assure him, he’ll recover his memories; all that matters now is they’re together again.

It’s perfect. A miracle. Except for one thing.

He isn’t Daniel Tate.

He’s a petty con artist who accidentally stumbled into the scam of a lifetime, and he soon learns he’s not the only one in the Tate household with something to hide. The family has as many secrets as they have millions in the bank, and one of them might be ready to kill to keep the worst one buried.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

The book cover is what originally caught my eye in the bookstore. The picture of Daniel Tate (or is it?) is like a puzzle which shows what the book is really about.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I’m a sucker for mystery and once I saw the cover, I was sold. I was intrigued by the title as well.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

Our protagonist, Danny – though we don’t know his real name – is a con artist. He ran way from home as a child and has been running, in and out of the system, ever since. After being put into a group home and playing the “traumatized” card, the staff there think he’d be more suited for a mental institution. In order to get out of that, he impersonates a missing child who resembles him just a little – Daniel Tate, missing since he was 10-years-old, six years ago.

This plot was twisted and there was a lot of drama involved, but it was so good and well woven together that I found myself sucked into the story the deeper I got into it. I thought I had figured out the mystery long ago, but more curve balls were thrown and you don’t know the “truth” until the very end.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I enjoyed each and every character. The protagonist and narrator had a great voice to tell the story. He was such an interesting well-rounded character that I loved reading his story.

The members of Danny’s family were well-round too. Each one had a unique personality along with their own dark secrets to be kept. The family dynamic is similar to a soap opera’s, but it worked. Normally I don’t care too much for that, but the author made it work well.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The story was written in first-person through “Danny’s” eyes. We see him before he arrives at the Tate’s house and beyond. The book is almost 400 pages long and there are no chapters, just page breaks. The page breaks didn’t always mean time was passing either. Sometimes it was an internal thought from Danny or it was just a new topic. It felt as though there were no chapters because I was going through the motions with Danny.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This book turned out to be a lot better than I originally thought. I was so invested in the mystery and the characters alike that I wanted it to end so I could know the truth – but also now that it’s over, I want more.

If you’re looking for a good mystery with lots of speculations, twists and turns, and well-rounded characters, give this one a try.

Here Lies Daniel Tate by Cristin Terrill gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“The room felt faded and stale, like it belonged to a world that didn’t exist anymore.” -Cristin Terrill, Here Lies Daniel Tate

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Kitty Hawk And The Curse Of The Yukon Gold By Iain Reading [Book Review]

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Book Review | Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading | RachelPoli.com

I have received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska’s inside passage and Canada’s Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I love this book cover. It perfectly sums up some major events of the book – the plane, Kitty climbing the mountain, the whale in the background – and the art style is just great. I love looking at it and it certainly enticed me in.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I was approached by the author’s publicist about this book. I love mysteries and was intrigued by the “historical fiction” part of this story. I’ll admit, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up on my own, but I decided to give it a try.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

Kitty Hawk goes on an adventure flying off in her plane to Alaska in order to watch whales, observe, and study them. Then she runs into a group of gold thieves. She overhears their plan and they catch her before she can run away. Her mission is no longer whales, it’s the gold.

I felt as though this book was slow to start. I didn’t really get interested in it until Kitty ran into the thieves and that was around 100 pages or so into the story. When that happened, I got really into it. I felt as though the plot was cleverly crafted into the story making the history important, but not bombarding me with a history lesson.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I enjoyed Kitty’s character. She was a strong protagonist and certainly knew how to take care of herself. However, a good chunk of her dialogue, especially in the beginning, was her talking to her internal self. It got confusion since her thoughts were in normal quotations and I also didn’t think it made any sense. She was having actual conversations with herself. It became annoying and I didn’t think it was needed.

Once I met Charlie, Buck, Will, and Jay, I enjoyed their characters a lot more. The four brothers were certainly a great addition to the cast. Though, I wonder if all four were needed. Their personalities were certainly different from each other.

However, Jay was the silent type. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it was almost as though he wasn’t even there. He didn’t start really speaking until the main part of their journey was halfway over. I had completely forgotten about him to the point that when his name was stated I had no idea who he was.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This story flowed well. As stated earlier, I felt as though the beginning was slow, but it did pick up when the adventure truly began. Once that happened it was smooth sailing. The history lessons were minimum but I learned a lot anyway.

I enjoyed all the description of their adventure, though a lot of the dialogue felt unrealistic to me. A lot of dialogue didn’t contain any contractions making the characters sound almost robotic. It just didn’t seem like something a person would say in real life.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

Overall, this was a great read. Once you get past the beginning it’s an enjoyable read. If you like a casual mystery and have a taste for adventure, give this one a try.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Apparently even in deadly serious situations boys simply can’t resist the urge to play like they are secret agents or something.” –Iain Reading, Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About The Series

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves.

There are currently five books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4), and Kitty Hawk and the Mystery of the Masterpieces (book 5).

“In the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series the heroine finds herself in a new geographic location in each book. The series will eventually have a total of 13 books in it (maybe more) and her flight around the world will be completed in the end,” says Iain. “The books are sequential but one could definitely read any of the later ones before reading the earlier ones.”

For more information, go to Kitty Hawk World

Check out the book trailer: YouTube

About the Author:

Iain Reading | Kitty Hawk and the Yukon Gold | Book Review | YA Mystery | Historical Fiction | RachelPoli.comIain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.

Iain is the author of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, The Wizards of Waterfire Series, and the dragon of the month club. To learn more, go to his Amazon page.

Readers can connect with Iain on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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The Mystery Of The Hidden Cabin By M.E. Hembroff [Book Review]

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin by M.E. Hembroff | Book Review | RachelPoli.com

I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

After Bess Silver had settled into her new home in Pineview she thought her biggest problem would be settling into a new school. She was surprised to learn that it was a one room school house which was different from what she was used to.

That all changed when Megan Skye, her best friend and cousin, dashed into their kitchen late one afternoon with exciting news. Megan’s Father discovered an old cabin, hidden behind a wall, when he started doing kitchen renovations. Megan asked him to take the suitcases, ledgers and trunk they found over to Bess instead of throwing them out. Clues turn up in the suitcases and in a secret compartment in the cabin which leave Bess puzzled.
When she first looked around the cabin she sees a ghostly figure that disappears in an instant but was as real as Megan. Dreams about the cabin and occupants haunt Bess. These feel so real that Bess can’t shake the feeling that she was actually near them.

Who is the figure that Bess saw in the cabin? What is she trying to tell her? Why is she having dreams about the old cabin? Will Bess be able to figure out who the mysterious figure is? Or would these secrets remain secrets forever?

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I think the book cover is appropriate for the target age of the book. I enjoy hand-drawn covers anyway but I feel like the colored lines feel complete with the middle-grade genre.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I read and reviewed Bess’s Magical Garden and Gramma Mouse Tells A Story by this author. I enjoyed both so was more than happy to read and review this book when she approached me.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

I thought the plot had an interesting premise. I’m always down for a good ghost story. However, I’ll admit the summary makes it sound more interesting than it really is.

Bess is on the hunt to figure out who was living in the mysterious cabin as she read diary entries, talked to people, and explored the cabin and other places. Though not too much happens in between.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I enjoyed the characters. I think Bess makes a great protagonist for a middle-grade audience. Her best friend, Megan, is a fun character as well.

I found all the kids in this book to be fun since Bess’s new school is a one-room schoolhouse. That was an interesting addition.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

While the story flowed well, not much happened. For a mystery, there’s no tension at all. Bess is a curious girl and enjoys searching for clues and solving mysteries, but I didn’t know why I was supposed to care about the cabin and the mystery behind it. Even when the mystery was solved, there was no real triumph.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This was a great premise with age-appropriate characters, though I would have loved to see more stakes raised and more tension. It’s a nice quick read.

The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin by M.E. Hembroff gets…
Book Review Rating System | 3 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com 3 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“I gazed out the window at the blanket of snow covering the garden, where plants stuck out like skeletons.” –M.E. Hembroff, The Mystery of the Hidden Cabin

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | EBooks

About M.E. Hembroff:

M.E. Hembroff, Author | Middle Grade | Book Review | RachelPoli.comI grew up in rural Manitoba the fourth in a family of five. My parents were older almost old enough to be grandparents. When I was growing up we didn’t have a TV. I loved music and constantly listened to the radio. My dad often said I wore out the radio because he was constantly taking it into to town to replace the worn out tubes.  I was an avid reader and devoured every available book. One of my favorites was the Anne of Green Gables series. LM Montgomery was and still is my hero. I was creative and used my imagination to entertain myself. I would always dream up stories but never wrote them down because they looked pretty dismal on paper. I have always loved animals and every time I went for a walk our dog, Lady, a border collie and a string of cats followed me. I still have an dog, Odie and two cats Patches and Delihah.

I still like to read and read a wide range of books. I work in my garden and do art work in pencil, pen and ink, colored pencil and acrylic.

I have gone full circle. I grew up on the farm and then lived in the city for over thirty years. I now live in a scenic small town. It took me a long tine to learn to get out of my own way. Once I learned to relax the words started flowing and my characters were finally able to get out of my head.

Artists Statement

Writing is as natural as breathing and makes me a complete person. I was taught to keep my feelings hidden and often hid them from myself. Writing gets me in touch with my creative self, spirit and my inner child who finally can express herself. Writing makes me a rounder and fulfilled person. Writing is a must do not a want to. I have an inner compulsion to write that has to be listened to.

Art work has always been the same. I draw and paint because I have to. Drawing and painting releases pent up emotions and keeps me in touch with my creative side which grows stronger all the time.

There have been different artists and writers who influenced my style at first and I have gone on to develop my own unique style. Reading about other writer’s lives and meeting other artists has given me a great deal of encouragement during periods when I didn’t feel like continuing with my work.

Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Amazon

Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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Amnesia By Breanna Brown [Book Review]

Amnesia by Breanna Brown | Book Review | Poetry | Self-publish | RachelPoli.com

Summary:

This is a collection that details my struggles with grief and abandonment issues after the death of my mother and the dissolution of my household. I struggled with relationships, parenting and my mental health. Eventually, I found God again and He reawakened me from my depressive slumber. Through Him and my daughter, I learned to live and love again.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I have to say I absolutely love the book cover. The colors were well chosen. It’s pretty and it pops out. Yet, everything is mixed together, as is the title. The way the title is written is clever because with “amnesia” everything is jumbled up.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I’ve been wanting to read more poetry and expand my horizons a bit in that genre. I’ve also been reading a few mental health subjects lately so I figured I’d give this a try.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

This book tells the story of the author’s struggles in life after losing her mother. It was a powerful read, especially since this is something we all have gone through or will go through. It’s part of life. Like some, the author found God and was able to bring her life back on track.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

I enjoyed reading this book. It’s broken up into poems of various lengths and forms. I’ll admit there were a few poems I had to re-read in order to understand them. Though I don’t think it was from the writing, I think it was because I was reading so quickly. It’s easy to get caught up and carried away with poetry, especially short ones.

I felt the author had a nice way of conveying her feelings through it all. At some moments, I felt like I was right there with her.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This was an uplifting read, despite the context, but it was filled with hope. The writing was well done and the story was told well through the poetry. If you enjoy poetry, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book.

Amnesia by Breanna Brown gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com 4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“is there such a thing / as a happy medium / when your body is / swollen with life / but your soul is watching / everything else / walk off with death?” –Breanna Brown, Amnesia

Buy the book:

Amazon

About Breanna Brown

Breanna Brown, Author | RachelPoli.commy name is Breanna Brown, 26 years old, mother of one, in Nevada
writing has been my passion since my mother taught me
before I entered preschool. I love writing poetry and fiction
and I am currently pursuing my masters in English
my literary heroes are Stephen King
O’ Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson, Ellen Hopkins
Rupi Kaur and Christopher Nolan. Coffee
oils my gears, reading horror tames my fears
rap and rock flood my ears
and if I could, I’d live out my years
off french fries and spend my days
listening to classic rap
surrounded by a dozen cats
with paper stacked
both literary and monetary
I’m grateful for the miracle life
and what it has to teach me
so I cringe when people preach to me
unless it’s metaphysics, philosophy
or poetry
but I’ll digress and say I’m very appreciative
you giving your time and kindness
thank you for reading this
I hope you will enjoy
some more of what I got
comin’

Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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Turtles All The Way Down By John Green [Book Review]

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green | Book Review | Young Adult Fiction | RachelPoli.com

Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

The cover for Green’s latest novel is simple. I like the orange coloring of the spiral as it’s not too bright and doesn’t take away from the actual title. The title and Green’s name takes up a lot of space on the cover is in a semi-messy font which goes well with the premise of the story as well. I like it.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I’ve hopped on the John Green train late. Before picking this up, I’ve only ever read Paper Towns by him. His books have always been on my list so when this one was announced, I preordered it right away.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

This plot did not turn out the way I had expected it to. I expected more of a mystery, but it turned out to be more about finding yourself and being true to yourself and your friends. It was about being there for one another. While it wasn’t what I expected it to be, it was still a fun read with a cool mystery in the background.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

Part of the reason I enjoyed this novel so much was that Aza is just like me. She’s more extreme than me, but she has anxiety and some of the things she did and said are some things I can relate to. She made a great protagonist and was good fodder to through into a mystery.

Daisy, Aza’s best friend, was a good character to balance Aza out. She was supportive of her friend but got annoyed with her at times. Still, she was a fun character and I would love to see her in another story.

Davis, their other friend who wasn’t their friend in the beginning, was interesting. It was his father who went missing, his money that Aza and Daisy – mostly Daisy – wanted. Aza and Davis related to each other on so many levels and I found it to be a great dynamic.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

John Green’s writing is always phenomenal. The story was nicely paced and flowed well. There were no stones unturned. The plot was enjoyable enough that it was a quick read and kept me wanting more. While this is a standalone novel, I’d be interested to see these characters in a sequel.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

John Green didn’t disappoint. The plot was intriguing, I fell in love with the characters, and I couldn’t put it down. I would highly recommend this.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com 5 out of 5

Favorite Quote:

“I wanted to tell her that I was getting better, because that was supposed to be the narrative of illness: It was a hurdle you jumped over, or a battled you won. Illness is a story told in the past.” –John Green, Turtles All The Way Down

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

 

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Things That Surprise You By Jennifer Maschari [Book Review]

Things That Surprise You by Jennifer Maschari | Book Review | RachelPoli.com

Title: Things That Surprise You
Author: Jennifer Maschari
Published: 
August 2017 by Balzer + Bray
Genre: Middle grade, realistic fiction
How I got the book: I bought it at Barnes & Noble

Summary:

Emily Murphy is about to enter middle school. She’s sort of excited… though not nearly as much as her best friend Hazel, who is ready for everything to be new. Emily wishes she and Hazel could just continue on as they always have, being the biggest fans ever of the Unicorn Chronicles, making up dance moves, and getting their regular order at The Slice.

But things are changing. At home, Emily and her mom are learning to move on after her parents’ divorce. Hardest of all, her beloved sister Mina has been in a treatment facility to deal with her anorexia. Emily is eager to have her back, but anxious about her sister getting sick again.

Hazel is changing too. She has new friends from the field hockey team, is starting to wear makeup, and have crushes on boys. Emily is trying to keep up, but she keeps doing and saying the wrong thing. She want to be the perfect new Emily. But who is that really?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

This book caught my attention when so many book bloggers were reviewing it here on WordPress back in the summer. It took me a while to get around to it, but I finally did and ended up reading it in one sitting.

rp-plot

Emily Murphy and her best friend Hazel are starting middle school. Hazel sees that as a big step in their lives, but Emily sees it as school. It’s not a big deal. Emily is more excited about a movie based on their favorite book series coming out in a few months. She’s into cosplaying for the midnight premiere of the latest book while Hazel tags along, but just doesn’t seem to be into it as much.

As Hazel begins to hang out with girls on her sports team, Emily wonders what’s wrong with her. This book is about finding who you are as well as discovering who your true friends are. Yet, it’s okay to drift apart from old friends.

Meanwhile, Emily is having a hard time at home as her older sister comes home from being away for so long trying to recover from her anorexia.

rp-characters

Emily made a great protagonist. She was naive and, for the most part, wasn’t ashamed of what she liked. While others around her, such as Hazel and her new friends, believed her to be a “baby,” Emily continued to like what she likes. Her feelings got hurt and she was embarrassed, but without realizing it, Emily stayed true to who she was through and through.

Hazel reminded me a lot of a friend I used to have. We drifted apart in fifth grade as we both found other friends to hang out with. Hazel tried to keep in touch with Emily, but it was hard for her. She wanted to “grow up” and Emily didn’t. Hazel tried to include Emily in group events with her new friends, but those friends were kind of mean girls and Hazel wasn’t the best at sticking up for Emily. It was a bittersweet ending for their friendship.

I loved the parts with Mina, Emily’s older sister. Emily was feeling left out with her friends and even left out at home as her parents focused a lot on Mina’s health. Emily is supportive of her sister but also aches for an older sister who she can hang out with and talk to. Mina was a great character from beginning to end.

 

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Being a middle-grade novel, this was a quick and easy read. The overall story flowed well and between Emily’s parts about finding herself, making new friends, trying to hold onto Hazel’s friendship, and keep her sister, everything intermingled very well.

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This story was adorable and conveyed an important message that I think most middle-schoolers should read. Anyone can read it and I’m sure most of us can relate to its content.

Things That Surprise You by Jennifer Maschari gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“It strikes me that people are kind of like those lollipops with Tootsie Rolls in the center – if you wait awhile, you get surprised by something awesome that sits just below the surface.” –Jennifer Maschari, Things That Surprise You

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Into The Light By Emily Stroia [Book Review]

Into The Light by Emily Stroia

Title: Into The Light
Author: Emily Stroia
Published: 
October 2017
Genre: Memoir, Poetry
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

Into the Light is a memoir-inspired poetry collection in seven parts.

The book shares the author’s life from a transformative perspective of being in a deep state of darkness to finding hope, miracles and light. In the final part, there are notes to the reader and finding one’s inner peace after adversity.

This book explores trauma, abuse, sexual abuse, mental illness, loss, healing, spirituality, meditation, inspiration and empowerment.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

This isn’t the kind of book I would typically read. I’ve read poetry before and I do enjoy memoirs. However, if I saw this at the bookstore I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. It’s a dark, sensitive topic, but it’s a quick read and it never hurts to branch out a little. Since this is a memoir, this review will be written a little differently.

rp-plot

This memoir is told through the author’s point of view from birth and beyond. It goes through all the motions as everything she witnessed as a child between her father’s relationship with her mother as well as her father’s relationship with herself. She describes both of her parents and watches them both continue on with their lives, though not necessarily in an upbeat way.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. It’s hard to describe as the story is so short. This one is better if you just read it yourself.

rp-writing-style

This book is a quick read being only 158 pages. It’s told entirely through poetry, so it goes fast. Some pages only have a few words written on them.

The poetry was well written and easy to follow. Some pages rhymed while others didn’t. Some of the poetry was written in longer sentences and some weren’t. It flowed well and no matter how it was written, it just read poetically. The author does have a way with words.

The book is broken up into several parts as well. We start at the very beginning, go through the journey and pain, and end up with her breakthrough and finally forgiveness. It goes through the motions very well almost as if it were the stages of grieving.

It’s fast-paced, but I think it worked well for this particular topic. As I read the story, I felt as though the ending, the redemption, was slower than the beginning. That was my interpretation of it, but I liked it. You want that happy ending.

rp-overall

This was a great read. While I can’t personally relate to the author, I’m sure there are others out there who can. It’s easier said than done, but there are positive moments in life and everything does and will get better. I think that’s what this story is about. You go through tough times, but there always is a light at the end of the tunnel. It was well written and I commend the author for sharing her story.

Into The Light by Emily Stroia gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“If you ever wonder what you could
have done differently
remember you were doing your best
with what you knew how.”
-Emily Stroia, Into The Light

Buy the book:

Amazon

About Emily Stroia

Emily is an intuitive teacher, spiritual leader, author, and artist. Emily first discovered her gifts of intuition and creativity as a child and was placed in a highly gifted program for children. She often explored her gifts through writing, art, and experienced frequent visions and dreams that would turn out to be accurate. Not understanding fully why or how she was able to do this, she decided to study.

She has always felt a strong attraction to the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of life and continues to delve deeper into each. Believing strongly in her intuitive gifts, as well as wanting to express her deep desire to help people, Emily decided to utilize her abilities to turn her passion into a profession.Her mission is to inspire people to find the gifts in

Her mission is to inspire people to find the gifts in their stories and live powerful transformed lives with ease and peace. Her life is a breathing expression of intuition, passion, spirituality and creativity. Most days you can find her coaching clients, writing, practicing yoga and playing with her dog in Los Angeles.

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The Fragile Thread Of Hope By Pankaj Giri

The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri

Title: The Fragile Thread of Hope
Author: Pankaj Giri
Published: 
November 3, 2017
Genre: Mainstream inspirational fiction
How I got the book: I was given a free eARC by the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

In the autumn of 2012, destiny wreaks havoc on two unsuspecting people—Soham and Fiona.

Although his devastating past involving his brother still haunted him, Soham had established a promising career for himself in Bangalore.

After a difficult childhood, Fiona’s fortunes had finally taken a turn for the better. She had married her beloved, and her life was as perfect as she had ever imagined it to be.

But when tragedy strikes them yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart.

Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief?

Will the overwhelming pain destroy their lives?

Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok, The Fragile Thread of Hope explores the themes of spirituality, faith, alcoholism, love, and guilt while navigating the complex maze of familial relationships.

Inspirational and heart-wrenchingly intimate, it urges you to wonder—does hope stand a chance in this travesty called life?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I was certainly interested when the author reached out to me about what the book was about. Death is a hard topic to talk about, it’s hard to put into words. Yet, it’s a topic that everyone can relate to and feel for. So I was certainly intrigued.

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This book follows the point of view of a couple characters, but the main characters are Soham and Fiona. They both lost someone dear to them early one. However, Fiona’s loss wasn’t a death. I still took it as a metaphorical death though. If that was done on purpose, I found it clever.

For the sake of spoilers, I won’t go into too much detail. Soham found it hard to admit the death in his family. It took him years to find peace as he felt guilty and lonely. Still, life pressed on.

Fiona was the same way. She couldn’t accept the death. While she didn’t feel guilty, she felt betrayed by Jesus and lonely.

They find their way through life, having good days and bad days. It was realistic to real life as they both struggled and sought peace.

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I found all the characters to be relatable and well liked. Soham and Fiona both had in-depth backgrounds. I felt as though there was just enough information without it being “dumped” on me.

Sharon, Fiona’s mother, was an excellent character. She was the perfect mother trying to do anything and everything for the best interest for her daughter. She was amazing and probably my favorite character.

Joseph, Fiona’s husband, was great as well. However, I felt as though I didn’t get a good enough chance to get to know him. The novel starts off with Joseph and Fiona and then goes to tell us their story together, but I still felt as though pieces of him were missing.

rp-writing-style

This story is told through the point of views of Fiona and Soham and then Sharon on occasion. Each time it switched point of view, I took that as a new chapter beginning. I found this a clever way to tell their sides of the story and then weave them in together.

There were also dates as well. However, the dates jumped around. Well, they went in order for the most part, but sometimes Fiona’s story would be shared, then we’d have to jump back a couple of months to share Soham’s part of the story. While this makes sense, I did get confused a few times. I found it hard to keep track of the dates and years.

Still, the story was easy to read and flowed well. There wasn’t too much information and there wasn’t too little. It was a great pace and kept me turning the pages.

rp-overall

This certainly was an inspirational read. Death is something that we all have to overcome multiple times in our lives and we all face it at some point. I think the author handled it well and portrayed it well through his characters. It’s certainly a good read if you’re feeling down or lonely.

The Fragile Thread of Hope by Pankaj Giri gets…
4 stars book review 4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“But disgust sliced through her heart as her eyes caught his teeth–they looked as if they were borrowed from a dead rabbit.” -Pankaj Giri, The Fragile Thread of Hope

Buy the book:

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About Pankaj Giri

Pankaj Giri was born and brought up in Gangtok, Sikkim—a picturesque hill station in India. He began his writing career with a book review blog, and now, after several years of honing his writing skills, he has written a novel—The Fragile Thread of Hope, a literary inspirational fiction dealing with love, loss, and family relationships. He is currently working in the government sector in Sikkim. He likes to kill time by listening to progressive metal music and watching cricket.

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Real Friends By Shannon Hale [Book Review]

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Title: Real Friends
Author: Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham (illustrator)
Published: 
May 2017 by First Second
Genre: Graphic novel, memoir, middle grade
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

When best friends are not forever . . . 

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group—or out?

Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Timesbestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends—and why it’s worth the journey.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I have seen this book floating around the book blogs of the WordPress world. I love a good graphic novel so when I found it at the bookstore, I decided to pick it up.

rp-plot

This is a fictionalized memoir based on the author’s childhood. A lot of it is true, but she fictionalized some things to make the story flow better. We follow Shannon as a young girl and watch her grow up as she tries to hold onto friendships and figure out who she is.

Her best friend is Adrienne, but then they meet a group of girls who follow Jen around. And they’re not nice all the time. Shannon doesn’t know whether they like her or not, but she still hangs out with them because she doesn’t have anyone else.

This is a good story all middle schoolers should read. It teaches an important lesson about being nice to others and also that it’s okay to not have a large group of friends. It’s okay to not be “popular.”

rp-characters

All the characters were portrayed well. I could relate with Shannon so much. She was being bullied, she didn’t have a lot of friends, and she developed anxiety along the way.

Adrienne was a good character as well. She was nice to Shannon but was also friends with Jen. When Jen was mean, Adrienne didn’t do anything because she didn’t want Jen to be mean to her in return. It was a vicious cycle. The other members of “The Group” were pretty much the same way.

It was typical behavior of middle-schoolers. But Shannon managed to push through.

rp-writing-style

The writing was well done, using a good amount of narrative and dialogue. The art style was great too. It really made the story, especially when Shannon was using her imagination.

It was a quick read being a graphic novel, but it was enjoyable (and relatable) enough that I was able to read it in one sitting.

rp-overall

This is a great story with an important lesson on bullying and just being true to who you are. Everyone should read this, no matter what age.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“All a person needs is one good friend.” -Shannon Hale, Real Friends

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