Coming Soon: Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube

Publication Date: April 21st, 2020

Rating: 2 ¾ Stars

Misconduct of the Heart is an oddly engrossing tale of Stevie and her misfit life. Working as a kitchen manager at a casual dining restaurant, Stevie is surrounded by a melting pot of employees at work and a PTSD son she never really loved. Her life is hectic and uncontrolled, but this story successfully takes us deeper as we wade through the pages of Stevie’s story as she eventually navigates toward a better version of herself.

This read is seemingly randomly peppered with Stevie’s logbook entries as part of a writing class the author details ONCE at the beginning on the book. However, these logbook entries appear to the reader as lazy attempts to add the main character’s internal thoughts and feelings. These entries do little to add to the story other than awkwardly connect us to Stevie’s thoughts. Ultimately, this book reads slower but has a prickly, yet heartwarming story encased within.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Farewell, Four Waters: One Aid Workers Sudden Escape from Afghanistan by Kate McCord

Publication Date: November 1st, 2014

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

Marie is a foreign aid worker in Afghanistan. Farewell, Four Waters is her, mostly true, story of the 14 days post-assassination of an aid worker in Kabul. From saying farewell to her roommate, co-worker and friend as she returns to America, to the approval and maintenance of her foreign literacy project there is a lot packed into these 14 days.

Written in close connection to her own life in Afghanistan, author Kate McCord pens of her painfully real experiences as an American in a Muslim, foreign country. The friendships she develops and the sacrifices she makes are authentically raw and so well captured within the pages here. While some days pass by rather mundane, others are packed in unbelievable sequences of events.

Despite this being one women’s story of looking over her shoulder in a foreign country, it is excruciatingly similar to the realities many women face in America as well. However, as Americans we often skim past the struggles others are facing in the world, and we fail to recognize the good deeds our ministries are going abroad. McCord brings these works to life in this, Farewell, Four Waters.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Two Reviews: The Heart of Recovery: How Compassion and Community Offer Hope in the Wake of Addiction by Deborah & David Beddoe & Living Beyond Pain: A Holistic Approach to Manage Pain and Get Your Life Back by Linda S. Mintle, James W. Kribs

The Heart of Recovery: How Compassion and Community Offer Hope in the Wake of Addiction by Deborah & David Beddoe

Publication Date: December 5th, 2019

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

Author, David Beddoe struggled with addiction himself. After being prescribed synthetic Opioids for his chronic migraines he secretly spiraled into taking 30 pills a day.  His addiction spanned beyond just the pills, but into the lies and financial commitments it required to sustain this habit. His wife, and co-author, Deborah did not struggle personally with addiction, but rather with the seismic effects addiction causes in a loved one’s life. Together, Dave and Deb provide thoughtful insights into overcoming addiction, rehab and recovery. They acknowledge that everyone’s journey looks different, but rarely is it easy on anyone.

What makes this book unique though is their recognition that the Christian faith often tells those suffering from addiction to “pray more,” or “repent fully” without appreciating the need for medical intervention and guidance. While this experience may have been exclusive to them, this account is may be inexplicable relatable to anyone struggling in their faith. The church tells us to seek treatment when we have the flu, in fact, our community often rallies around us when we are physically sick helping with meals, childcare, etc. but the alarming truth Dave and Deb point out is that the stigmatism of drug addiction often comes with a VERY different community and church response – even when that drug addiction is prescribed directly from a licensed medical practitioner.

The Heart of Recovery is a very REAL account of one family’s struggle to overcome addiction and the constructive support of ministry, community and friends they needed to finally be successful.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


Living Beyond Pain: A Holistic Approach to Manage Pain and Get Your Life Back by Linda S. Mintle, James W. Kribs

Publication Date: October 15th, 2019

Rating: 2 ½ Stars

Living Beyond Pain is broken into three sections: (1) Understanding the Pain, (2) Pain Management and (3) Hope and Resilience. This book goes extremely in-depth, reading more like a textbook for people that are serious about understanding and overcoming the pain they or a loved one experience.  It could even potentially be used as light reading for a med student interested in opening a pain clinic. There is a lot of research baked into this book, with brief respites in the form of clients’ personal stories and experiences with pain and recovery.

This book is a great resource for learning about the different types of pain, some of the most common causes of pain, and treatment options available. Undoubtedly you will learn a lot, such as holistic treatment options like palates and yoga, to more traditional treatments via medications. However, the most important lesson within is the NEED to maintain a positive mentality, as depression and suicide is common in those that experience chronic pain.

This is a rough read for anyone not serious in making changes to pain management, or family members trying to gain an understanding of their options and treatment. But, it is a necessary read for those serious.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Always Look Twice (Uncommon Justice #2) by Elizabeth Goddard

Publication Date: October 1st, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

Harper and her sister, Emily, are in the Grand Tetons escaping Harper’s stressful life as a crime scene photographer. But, when Harper witnesses a murder, she is thrown right back into the PTSD she’s been trying to escape for the last year. Haunted by her past, she is determined to see this crime solved. Enter Heath, who knew Harper as a kid, but has a traumatic past of his own. Can two broken people love each other?

Author, Elizabeth Goddard, has an eye for nature, as she weaves beautiful landscapes and small-town police departments into this newest novel. However, the cohesive entwining of Harper and Heath’s pasts are a bit foggy, perhaps on purpose, but it certainly led to more confusion than was likely needed. These unclear pasts and drawn out town bombings seemed to be too much in the background of an otherwise fast-paced novel.

An at times confusing, this otherwise standalone novel is worth the read for any suspenseful romance lovers.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Two Reviews: 100 Ways to Love Your Husband: The Simple, Powerful Path to a Loving Marriage by Lisa Jacobson & Words of Comfort for Women by Carolyn Larsen

100 Ways to Love Your Husband: The Simple, Powerful Path to a Loving Marriage by Lisa Jacobson

Publication Date: October 1st, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Whether you’ve been married 50 minutes or 50 years this book has relevance to EVERYONE! It is the perfect reminder to make every second count, never take your partner for granted and be reminiscent for why you fell in love with “your person” in the first place. I loved that Jacobson put such great reminders down on paper, from simple things like continuing to create date nights to the power of handholding. Some of my favorites were:

#21 – Protect your marriage – don’t let insecurities get in the way of happiness

#42 – Admire your spouse and remind them of all their “winning” qualities

#49 – Show appreciation for the many things your partner does – like unloading the dishwasher once to your million times. It takes all of two seconds to thank them, be sincere and show gratitude. Make THEM smile.

#58 – Intertwine your lives –point to do everything together, from grocery runs to gas fills it doesn’t matter. So much of our days are spent apart at work, why not jump at the chance to do the small things together.

#70 – Listen sympathetically to their day – this is a hard one for me because I am a firm believer of leaving work at work.

#87 – Gratefully accept his gifts

And lastly, never, NEVER forget to love your spouse. These all seem so easy, but don’t let the routine of life let you forget them.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


Words of Comfort for Women by Carolyn Larsen

Publication Date: October 15th, 2019

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Comfort for Women is a good book to bring along for bible chats with friends. While the description is somewhat misleading, this devotional contains 90 brief passages and then about a page of discussion that provides more simplified, layman’s terms describing the bible passage just presented. This read more like a study of God than a soothing message of comfort the title leads one to believe.

Some passages related the erasing of sin to red stains on laundry. Others related our walk in faith to that of a gymnast on a balance beam. A few comparisons often felt like a stretch, while others took on a strong female tone. But, regardless there were some great quotes that will certainly stick with me, such as “God is not some celestial Santa Claus waiting to give you whatever you want” (P.154).

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Unscripted by Davis Bunn

Publication Date: October 1st, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

This book is phenomenal to the VERY. LAST. LINE.

The story opens to Danny stuck in a Beverly Hills jail awaiting his trial. His future looks bleak until we are suddenly introduced to Megan, a lawyer that seems to appear out of thin air to represent Danny and get him cleared of all charges. Upon his release, a guilt-stricken director asks Danny to join him as producer on a new project. This is when the story truly begins to unfold, and the excitement of the movie industry sweeps the reader away.

Author, Davis Bunn, brings his knowledge of the big screen to the page in this riveting read on the behind the scenes look on movie making. While the romance piece within the pages of Unscripted was rather abrupt and forced, it added a solid supporting role to the underlying narrative. Ultimately, the Hollywood film scene takes center stage, from the producer’s chair to the contract negotiation and shady behind the scenes theatrics, everything is captured so brilliantly. Buckle up, grab your bucket of popcorn, and prepare for a whirlwind ride through Hollywood.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Beginner’s Pluck: Build Your Life of Purpose and Impact Now by Liz Forkin Bohannon

Publication Date: October 1st, 2019

Rating: 4 ¼ Stars

“Beginners Pluck is less about striving and achieving and grasping and more about being courageous and intentional about getting back to who you were create to be.” P. 213

Beginner’s Pluck is the upbeat, hilarious reminder everyone needs. Bohannon reminds us that we are unique, and each have our own path, at our own pace. She tells the story of uprooting her life with a one-way ticket to Uganda and the creation of her socially conscious fashion brand, because starting a non-profit and raising money is one thin,g but when those in need EARN the funds through hard work and business it means SO MUCH MORE.

Bohannon pens 14 crucial principles of owning your circumstances and being intentional in building the life you want. These principles are:

  1. Own your average
  2. Stop trying to “find your passion”
  3. Dream small
  4. Choose curiosity over criticism
  5. Be on assignment in your own life
  6. Find and replace
  7. Surprise yourself
  8. Get your steps in
  9. Get hooked on making (and keeping!) promises
  10. Be good with good enough
  11. Stop, Drop, and WOW
  12. Dream to attract your team
  13. Don’t hide from the shadows
  14. Walk one another home

While the principles to “pluck” may seem odd at first glance, I assure you this book will make you laugh, think critically and embrace your inner “beginner’s pluck.” Bohannon does such an incredible job gripping the reader with her own story of courage, hardship and success that by the last page you feel energized and fully committed to embracing her message in your own life.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Top Performance: How to Develop Excellence in Yourself and Others by Zig Ziglar

Publication Date: September 17th, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

One of the harder lessons I’ve learned in life and my career is that attitude goes a long way. Your attitude and the attitude of others can quickly poison any situation. Ziglar addresses this and may other adages in this new edition of Top Performance.

Management is all about getting things done through people. To be a successful manager you must recognize, develop and utilize the talents of all your subordinates. Ziglar seems to have built a great empire by adopting this “simple” definition of management and book is his contributions in helping readers to do just that. There are several lessons I personally took away from this read. These lessons stayed with me and will positively impact my future. These lessons are:

  1. You have two choices in everything you encounter. You can Respond or React. These are two VERY different paths.
  2. The idea that we are in control of our attitude was clearly brought to my attention via an example provided within. The example was a case of road rage. Likely we can all relate to this; one person cuts you off and your attitude at this encounter determines your path. The person whom cuts you off will probably NEVER think about you again. Meanwhile, are you going to let them throw you off your whole day by controlling your mood? Don’t let other people take up room in your mind, or your mood, that don’t belong there.
  3. Ziglar introduces us to three types of motivation:
    1. Motivation by Fear – described by the feeling of a “tight economy” motivating you to do good work for fear of losing your job
    2. Motivation by Incentive – described via the carrot and the horse analogy
    3. Motivation via personal Change or Growth

Top Performance is a great read for anyone looking to grow themselves into, well…top performers, remind themselves of key life lessons and better themselves both personally and professionally.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Two Reviews: One Final Breath (Dive Team Investigations #3) by Lynn H. Blackburn & Fire Trap: A T.J. Peterson Mystery by Bob Kroll

One Final Breath (Dive Team Investigations #3) by Lynn H. Blackburn

Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

The water is Anissa’s happy place. As the captain of the dive team, she jumps at every chance she gets to be on the water. But, when a kid is shot swimming one night with a friend, the town of Carrington is shaken. Gabe is charged with solving the case, but Anissa’s dark past quickly drags her into the fold.

This explosive book three is every suspenseful romance lover’s dream. However, the ties to Anissa’s past are at first awkward and murky. Like the other books in this series, Anissa and Gabe quickly become so intertwined, given both are on the dive team. Unlike my previous Blackburn read, One Final Breath ties more heavily into the other books in the series but is still successfully read as a light stand alone suspense.

Blackburn continues to show her talents in this most recent penning for the Dive Team Investigations series. Her depth of knowledge into the art of diving and recovery has you feeling like you are almost there with the team. She continues to be an author to watch.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


Fire Trap: A T.J. Peterson Mystery by Bob Kroll

Publication Date: October 15th, 2019

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

T.J. Peterson has some trauma in his past, including a drug addicted, estranged daughter whom frequently sends him photos of her living situation, his only sign she is even still alive. In this newest Peterson Mystery, the former cop is dragged into a violent porn ring, but the ring turns personal when he is shocked to see one of his daughter’s pictures matches the violent mastermind’s videos.

This is my first look at the T.J. Peterson Mysteries by author, Bob Kroll as his detail allows readers to easily jump into the series, with this nearly reading as a standalone novel. I found myself flying through this novel, devouring all the intricate players and characters introduced to me within. From an old childhood friend, to former colleagues, no stone in Peterson’s life is unturned. However, while this book naturally reads quickly, do not set it down for one minute, because you are likely to forget the MANY characters and their roles within if you do. Arm yourself with paper and pencil to connect all the individuals named throughout, or prepare to spend a few moments reorienting yourself every time you dive back in.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Feast for Thieves: A Rowdy Slater Novel by Marcus Brotherton

Publication Date: September 1st, 2014

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

“Rowdy” Slater isn’t a bad man. He’s a man trying to do what’s right, in a world post-WWII. So, when the sheriff decides to let him choose between serving time in jail or serving one year as the town’s preacher, he chooses the latter. Little does he know this decision will change both his own life and the town of Cut Eye, TX.

Feast for Thieves is a feel-good story of learning from the lord and embracing our sins. This is a heartwarming read full of the fast-paced adventures of Rowdy Slater and all of the precarious circumstances he finds himself in on his path to redemption. The characters within are both parts pleasant and hard fought, lyrical and violent.

Brotherton creates a story well done in capturing the importance of God and showing us that no one is ever “too far gone” to save. The story may be fictional, but the lessons are very, very real.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Forged Through Fire: A Reconstructive Surgeon’s Story of Survival, Faith, and Healing by Mark D. McDonough

Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Losing his mother and youngest brother to a childhood home fire was just one of the MANY obstacles Dr. McDonough has faced in his lifetime. This book is his story, from his early childhood to the present. Each chapter paves his road to survival and healing.

Author, Dr. Mark McDonough teaches readers to maintain their faith through whatever journey they find themselves on. Providing insights into his personal and family dysfunctions and his phoenix-like rise from the ashes, Forged Through Fire teaches each of us a valuable lesson in never giving up. While many chapters have awkward transitions, the ultimate story within holds a powerful message, hidden in the engrossing tale of Dr. McDonough’s trials and tribulations.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels

Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

“Holden Caulfield couldn’t protect his sister. My lies about my past couldn’t protect me. Life finds us, no matter how we try to push it away.” – p. 320

The Words Between Us is a literary love story to classic literature woven between an engrossing tale of Robin Winsor’s past and the life she’s made for herself, despite her parent’s decisions. Alternating chapters between “then” and “now,” we learn the story behind the secrets she hides from among the shelves of her Brick & Mortar used book store. A family drama wrapped in a mysterious past and sprinkled with romance is seamlessly captured within. A story you won’t want to end, this read is perfect for all types of readers and book lovers alike, as Bartels pairs her love for the classics into a tale any mystery lover or romantic would appreciate!

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Always We Begin Again: Stepping Into the Next, New Moment by Leeana Tankersley

Publication Date: August 20th, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

Always We Begin Again is a powerful reminder of carrying on and persevering through the hard. Containing 100 daily devotionals, Tankersley reminds us to remain true and not let our hard days define us. Some of the MANY powerful reminders within include:

  1. Recognizing how we think, talk about and talk to our dear friends versus how we think, talk about and talk to ourselves. Why are we so quick to beat ourselves up, but reassure and lift up our friends?
  2. “No matter how beautiful and epic and glorious life is right now, the sun goes down. And no matter how ugly and rejecting and hurtful life is right now, the sun comes up,” (p. 118). The day begins again, tough things happen, but like the sun we will set and rise again.
  3. Your issues are NOT your identity – you are not the abuse, anxiety, depression or infertility you experience. Sometimes we forget this as they overwhelm and take over our lives.

Tankersley speaks from experience as she herself is currently in a “messy middle,” going through her own divorce and anxieties she provides readers exercises, reminders and encouragement, reminding us all that we can “Always Begin Again.”

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Coming Soon: The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones, What Makes Us by Rafi Mittlefehldt & I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak

The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones

Publication Date: September 10th, 2019

Rating: 4 ¼ Stars

I was hesitant to read this after previously reading Wynne-Jones’ bizarre book entitled The Ruinous Sweep. However, against prior first impressions I chose to pick up his most recent read, The Starlight Claim, and I am certainly glad I did!

After the disappearance of his best friend, Nate is eager to set out on his first unsupervised camping trip into the Canadian wilderness, hoping to gain closure or answers for himself. But, when his friend bails at the last second, knowing his parents won’t let him go entirely alone, Nate decides to lie to his trusting parents in an effort to ensure the trip carries on as planned. However, upon arriving at his father’s cabin in the dead of winter, it is clear nothing about this trip is going to go as planned.

The Starlight Claim is an extraordinary feat of penmanship. In a story that allows for minimal character conversing, Wynne-Jones gives readers an engaging and fast-paced novel. Often, authors rely heavily on conversations within the pages to develop characters, however when the story is limited to a teenager relatively alone in the woods there are marginal opportunities for spoken development, instead forcing the author to show their true talent in character creation. Well done to Tim Wynne-Jones in creating a teenage character we can simultaneously balk at and root for, as well as giving the reader som serious tips on wilderness survival.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


What Makes Us by Rafi Mittlefehldt

Publication Date: October 15th, 2019

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

Eran grew up with a single mother, never gaining any information about who his father was, or their history before moving to Texas. Then, one day after a protest he organized turns violent, Eran’s unknown past is suddenly viral. As he struggles to understand how his father’s actions define him the author introduces us to Jade. Jade has both of her parents, but also grapples with her own hazy past in New Orleans. As Jade and Eran’s friendship develops, the world around them continues turn.

Author, Rafi Mittlefehldt, gives us a timeless story on the identity struggles we all face. Whether our past is known or unknown What Makes Us gives readers a coming of age tale in the friendship between two unlikely teens. This story seemed both timely and extremely important in an era where we are far to quick to rush to judgement. Eran’s town rapidly turns on him based on the actions of a father he never even knew. This story is powerful, serving as an important reminder to keep an open heart and mind as we continue to grow as a country. Mittlefehldt’s most recent novel serves as an important reminder to love your neighbors, be slow to judge and most importantly find the good in people.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak

Publication Date: December 24th, 2019

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

Families are such a hard and traumatic topic for children and I, Cosmo introduces a light hearted angle from the eyes of an aging dog.

Cosmo has been in the family since mom and dad got together, he was there when Max and Emmaline were born, and he has sworn himself to love and protect them forever. So, when the family begins fighting and the word “divorce” is thrown around Cosmo takes his job EXTRA seriously, aching joints and all.

I, Cosmo is both laugh out loud and a heartfelt read. Author, Carlie Sorosiak, introduces a unique prospective into her story telling as she provides us this family’s story through the eyes of their dog, Cosmo. Sorosiak tackles some extremely difficult topics while maintaining appropriateness for middle school readers. Cosmo’s inner dialogue also serves to remind us to hug our furry friends extra tight as they truly do know and see everything. I enjoyed the clever unraveling and storytelling of the family within, thanks to Cosmo’s hilarious assessment of life and his surroundings.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano

Publication Date: August 20th, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

“It’s important to remember who you are. Names have great significance, and we cannot let the world twist them,” (p. 259).

Raina and Sully are childhood friends. So, when Raina thinks Sully has died, she takes an opportunity to escape by becoming a “replacement” Lady for the Earl, Mitchell Enderly. Determined to use her position for good, others quickly become skeptical, will Raina have what it takes to pull off the deception?

Straight out of a Netflix “switcheroo” movie, this story brings readers every type of character. From rags to riches Cinderella story, to drunkards, heroic survivals, blackmail and villains, Politano delivers them all. However, the historical factor and speech portrayal are somewhat daunting, but remain true to the times portrayed within. Finding Lady Enderly is a story with heart and important lessons for all to be reminded of.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Two Reviews: Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart by Niki Hardy & Protecting Your Child from Predators: How to Recognize and Respond to Sexual Danger by Beth Robinson & Latayne C. Scott

Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart by Niki Hardy

Publication Date: August 6th, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

The author of Breathe Again speaks from a position of understanding. After losing her mother and sister to cancer, she becomes diagnosed with rectal cancer (yes, there are many hilarious references to the area of her cancer), but Niki Hardy refuses to let her diagnosis take the life from her. This is her story of the steps she took to keep breathing and persevere.

Hardy recognizes her life story isn’t unique, but that’s exactly her reasons for sharing it. After reading book after book the author couldn’t help but feel like it was her fault she had cancer. For instance, maybe she didn’t have enough faith, she wasn’t good enough, strong enough or praying enough. This book is her homage to letting everyone struggling know that it isn’t their fault. Injected with humor only one with rectal cancer could make (be prepared for lots of poo talk), Hardy captures the attention of readers as they learn to breathe again.

When life throws us curve balls Breathe Again helps us find joy in the journey.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


Protecting Your Child from Predators: How to Recognize and Respond to Sexual Danger by Beth Robinson & Latayne C. Scott

Publication Date: August 6th, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

This is an incredible book for providing resources, insights and direction for protecting your child against predators, just as the title insists. This read is broken into three sections by age group – 5 and under, 6 to 11, and 12 and older. In each section the authors provide guidance on what your kids should know at that age, as well as examples of cases Dr. Robinson has faced from kids of that age.

The examples provided from real life predators are extremely powerful. These examples included games such as “find the candy” younger kids may place that leads to inappropriate touching, to the diligence needed in trusting your child to ANYONE’s care, including daycare, bible studies and even coaches. Throughout the reading of this book I recognized relationships peers had with those in authority that may have been inappropriately driven such as one-on-one coaching attention and school sponsored travel events.

This read certainly opened my eyes to being more aware of my own loved ones and watching out for others. In every case, the authors highlight a situation that “could happen to anyone,” these cases are terrifying enough to put you on edge, increase your attentiveness and stress the need for collecting references/background checks. Teaching your children they have control over their own body and the ability to say no to authority are paramount learning opportunities addressed in every age group within Protecting Your Child from Predators. I highly recommend any parent, educational processional or mandatory reporter pick this book up.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Vow of Justice (Blue Justice #4) by Lynette Eason

Publication Date: August 6th, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

Linc and Allie are partners in the FBI, but when Allie goes undercover into a dangerous household Linc realizes his feelings for her span beyond just that of “partners.” When Allie’s cover is blown Linc thinks he’s lost her for good. What he doesn’t know is the fight for their lives is only just beginning.

This is the fourth and newest, thrilling ride in the Blue Justice series and while I’ve read others in the series it had no merit, or influence on my enjoyment of this. Vow of Justice is fast paced, standalone novel that grips readers immediately and is full of twists you didn’t see coming at every corner. Eason knocks another one out of the park in her most recent crime solving family romance.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Soulman: The Rocky Johnson Story by Rocky Johnson

Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019

Rating: 2 Stars

I recently read Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow, which was incredibly entertaining. So, I figured I would continue the professional wrestling theme and pick up this read. I am not familiar with the stereotypical “popular” and “famous” professional wrestlers having never followed the sport myself. However, I am extremely familiar with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, son of author Rocky Johnson and arguably a huge marketing draw to get consumers to pick up this book as Dwayne pens the book’s foreword as highlighted on the book’s cover. Yet, despite this draw, this book fails to entertain.

Rocky Johnson undoubtedly had a rewarding and successful career in professional wrestling, travelling across territories and continents to bring his talent to fans everywhere. Soulman: The Rocky Johnson Story is written to collectively capture Rocky’s life, yet the timeline is jumbled and entirely confusing. Rocky’s stories relied on readers having some previous understanding of the industry and industry language and lacked the entertainment factor. For someone that spent their career in the wrestling entertainment field I was hoping Rocky would have more hilarious tales and trials from raising a kid and spending many laboring decades as a professional wrestler. In addition, given the draw to his now world-famous son, very little ink was dedicated to Dwayne and Rocky’s relationship and upbringing.

*Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The String (Deadly Games #1) by Caleb Breakey

Publication Date: July 16th, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

“The Conductor” is ensnaring people into his “string” via manipulation. Using their biggest secrets and greatest weaknesses against them, forcing them to play along. But Trenton University cop Markus Haas isn’t going to play nicely. What follows is a wicked, brutal, creepy “game” that will both keep you up at night from racing through the pages and because the terror within feels so real.

Described as Caleb Breakey’s “debut” novel, this reads like anything BUT. So incredibly fast paced and terrifying the Deadly Games series promises to be an exciting one. I am simultaneously shaken by this read and on the edge of my seat waiting for the next one. However, this is not a book for everyone, it is at times disturbing, violent and entirely terrifying as the Conductor preys on the weaknesses of his victims. But, if you enjoy horror this quick read is sure to please!

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Two Reviews: The Cranky Mom Fix: Get a Happier, More Peaceful Home by Slaying the “momster” in All of Us by Becky Kopitzke & Called to Forgive: The Charleston Church Shooting, a Victim’s Husband, and the Path to Healing and Peace by Anthony B. Thompson

The Cranky Mom Fix: Get a Happier, More Peaceful Home by Slaying the “momster” in All of Us by Becky Kopitzke

Publication Date: June 4th, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

I may not have kids, but I live with another person and a dog so I definitely have my moments of crankiness. During the reading of this book, I really focused on embracing the message, so much so that at one point my husband asked me why I was being so “chill” about an otherwise home catastrophe, I happily explained to him the teaching within this book.

While this book leaned HEAVILY on scripture and felt more like a bible study at times than a read, there were many benefits I gleaned:

  1. Know your triggers – is it a messy house, exhaustion or something else that sets you off, acknowledge these triggers, take a break and ask for forgiveness.
  2. Relating to those around you, “are you protecting them from harsh weather, or are you sometimes causing the tornado” (p.38). This was mind blowing to me as I think of my own impact on my household.
  3. Kopitzke’s idea of family meetings, while more formal in nature, took me back to my own childhood filled with weekly (or even more often) family dinners. These had such a profound impact on me.
  4. I loved the three all encompassing household rules beginning with obey the first time, ending with no hurting someone on purpose, and squeezed in there was no disrespectful talk (p.153-158).

If you can get beyond the bible study feeling and heavy reference to scripture, sometimes taking away from the overall message, then there are strong lessons to be learned from this book. However, it involved MUCH wading through the bible to come out the other end of this one.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


Called to Forgive: The Charleston Church Shooting, a Victim’s Husband, and the Path to Healing and Peace by Anthony B. Thompson

Publication Date: June 4th, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

A chilling story of Myra Thompson, one of the victims of Dylann Roof’s senseless killings in Charleston, SC at the predominately black Emanuel AME Church in June 2015. This is Rev. Anthony Thompson’s story of forgiveness as he recounts the day of his wife’s murder and the milestones since it occurred.

Each chapter opens with a truthful retelling of Dylann, his family or the other families impacted by loss, whether that impact arises from Dylann, the Rwandan Genocides or other senseless murders that have occurred. Rev. Thompson describes his biblical and unconditional forgiveness, different from reconciliation or the need for an apology, in a way that opens your heart to the horrors of the world. Rev. Thompson, his family and many of Dylann’s victims’ families forgave the murders, lifting them of the burden of carrying hatred for Roof’s acts. As recounted in this memoir, the reader encounters the love of a community, brought together in love and forgiveness, rather than hatred and fear. At the back of the book the author provides bonus bible study resources and materials, allowing the reader to participate in activities such as the one Myra so lovely facilitated at the time of her death.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Winning Your Blood Sugar Battle: How to Prevent and Control Type 2 Diabetes by Richard Furman

Publication Date: July 2nd, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

I have several loved ones and friends that currently have type two diabetes, given the vast majority of Americans suffer from this disease I felt I had nothing to lose by picking up this book and better educating myself. The author is a vascular surgeon and does a great job of using his expertise and research to scare readers straight! While this book is peppered with facts, figures and research, I did not feel overwhelmed by the content. Rather, this book spurred me into action, not only causing me to be more aware of my own actions but helping to better educate my loved ones into making fundamental changes.

Diabetes is considered the equivalent of a heart attack, a shocking statement to read for sure. Type two diabetes is preventable and often the factors that cause it also led to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s – a scary list for sure! In fact, diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death! But, the author provides tips and tricks to prevent, reduce and even reverse diabetes.

Do yourself a favor, read this book and actively work to prevent or control the onset of diabetes, your heart and loved ones will forever be grateful.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker

Publication Date: July 16th, 2019

Rating: 4 ¼ Stars

“A Sky once filled with light from distant stars was overwhelmed by streetlights and headlights and the glow of the monolithic hospital a few blocks south” (p. 116) – this sentence perfectly captures the entire story past to present day in it’s graceful capturing of Cohen’s early life, move with his father and present-day hospital.

Light from Distant Stars is so well written you fall deeply into the pages. Even to the last page you are lost and enraptured in Cohen’s life you feel like you are right along side him searching for the final answers.

I was first introduced to Smucker in his book two of the series The Day the Angels Fell entitled The Edge of Over There. This book was a fantastical read that took me far outside my comfort zone and dare I say had me enjoying the fantasy genre. Given this experience with Smucker, I was excited to jump into this newest one, and I was not disappointed. However, I did find myself impatiently waiting to again encounter the fantasy elements he does so well, and while there were some bits of realism in Light from Distant Stars, it served in aiding the understanding of Cohen’s psyche.

This most recent penning by Shawn Smucker deserves another hats off as he continues to astound. His talent to spin engrossing novels endures.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Candlewick Press: Weird Little Robots by Carolyn Crimi & On Snowden Mountain by Jerri Watts

Weird Little Robots by Carolyn Crimi

Publication Date: October 1st, 2019

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

Penny Rose is new to town, lacking in friends she spends her time creating robots in the family shed out back. So, when she discovers Lark, also friendless and never without her sunglasses, they quickly become best friends. Penny Rose and Lark are perfect compliments – Penny Rose in her creation of robots from “junk,” and Lark in her artistic love for making bird houses. Together they create the perfect Robot Town.

Author, Carolyn Crimi, gives readers a heartwarming read of friendship, trust and forgiveness with so many lessons handpicked for readers young and old. Especially enduring is Crimi’s nod to female scientists and engineers throughout, a great reminder that girls can do anything! The illustrations dispersed within further add to the marvel and imagery Penny Rose’s robots spark in the reader’s mind.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.


On Snowden Mountain by Jerri Watts

Publication Date: September 10th, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

With her father off fighting in WWII Ellen doesn’t know how to care for her sunken, depressed mother. Upon reaching out to her estranged Aunt Pearl, Ellen and her mother are whisked off to Snowden, Virginia, a small town lacking in Baltimore’s comforts. In her newly simple life, a life without electricity and indoor plumbing, Ellen meets an unlikely friend, Russell. Like Ellen, Russell hides his family life from prying eyes. This is a story of friendship, healing and finding home where you least expect, but is it enough to save her mother from her all-consuming darkness?

On Snowden Mountain places WWII so far on the fringe you forget the book is set in the 1940’s, this could have easily been a current day story not unlike the non-fiction Hillbilly Elegy and while Ellen’s story of tough times and resilience are fiction, the lessons and themes enraptured within are far from it. Heartwarming, heartbreaking and heart stopping, this is a read for all ages.

*Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.