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.

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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.

Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham

Publication Date: July 2nd, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

Penny works in the dead letters’ office (otherwise known as my dream job). It is here she falls in love with other people’s lives through their lost correspondence. One day she stumbles upon a heartbreaking letter from Thomas to a mysterious female in Alexandria. As she researches both the location of the undeliverable female and the source of the letter’s origination, she decides to take a leap of faith in search of her own love story.

Fordham weaves a tale showing the power of words. She takes the otherwise deadened art of penning letters and gives us a romantic story straight from a Lifetime Network movie. This read, while disjointed, took an undervalued letter and started Penny’s life anew. At times the plot line felt rushed to wrap in a perfect bow, but Fordham captured the period and setting perfectly while telling a story of forgiveness and joy. Overall, this was an enjoyable read as I anxiously awaited the next letter, right alongside Penny, but the disjointed plot and rushed wrapping of the final suspense took me aback.

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

ECW New Releases

Sea Trial: Sailing After My Father by Brian Harvey

Publication Date: May 7th, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

Sea Trial is a poetic riff between sailing and the life of the author’s father. This memoir is a last love story to the author’s father and all his faults, as he finally lets him go through the understanding of the malpractice trial that ripped his father’s good name; an event his father never got over.

While I am not a sailor or lover of water, but I felt the author balanced his love for Vancouver Island, his work as a biologist, his childhood and his current adulthood into a cohesive memoir that was poetic, adventurous and at times a bit sad. He was so convincing in fact that my EXTREMELY sea sickness prone self even thought for a moment about how fun it might be to go sailing.

As Harvey closes the chapter of his father’s life, he invites us in to his renewed passion for sailing, and his grasp in understanding his father’s obsession with the malpractice trial. Sea Trail is a very intimate look at Harvey’s life, his father’s success and failures, and life in a sail boat.

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


One Thing – Then Another by Claire Kelly

Publication Date: April 16th, 2019

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

This was my first book of poems. Like many, I typically steer away from poetic reads and the genre as a whole. I always fell for the stereotype that poems take a creative eye and require a deeper level of understanding that I can’t even pretend to possess. However, I was pleasantly stunned by the richness of my experience with this collection.

While the author wrote these poems for separate, individual publications, she creates a cohesive story by tying them together as she did in One Thing – Then Another. The back-cover flap does a great job of aiding the reader in understanding the layout of this book: “East” being the constraints of living in poverty, “And” being the move to “West” which ultimately enraptures the richer demographic. With this description I was able to follow along and enjoy the journey through Kelly’s words.

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


Mahoney’s Camaro: A Crime Novel by Michael J. Clark

Publication Date: May 28th, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

Steve Mahoney is the driver of Unit 36, a tow truck owned by Hook Me Up Towing. Steve, along with is gang of car aficionados and mechanics take on a suicide cover up, but will their own investigation derail his plans to open his own auto shop? This entertaining read is filled with colorful commentary, car humor and A LOT of car love.

This attempt at suspense makes for an otherwise disturbing, yet entertaining, ghost story as the reader falls into step with Mahoney’s quirks and passions. From the smell of the plant next door, to the odd car dealership employees, author Michael J. Clark paints a hilarious picture in this unconventional crime solving group of car lovers.

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


Self Help: Life Lessons from the Bizarre Wrestling Career of Al Snow

Publication Date: May 7th, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

I have never watched WWE wrestling in my life, but I know some pretty hardcore fans, so when the opportunity to read this book presented itself, I jumped on board. I had NO idea what I was in store for when I picked this book up. I laughed at the crazy “male” antics and chuckled at the “life lessons” Al prescribes (not because they aren’t real but because the story behind the learning of the lessons are always obnoxious). I won’t pretend this book made me a hardcore fan, like many I know, but I certainly gained some respect for the sport. Hats off to a great and entertaining read. You will not be disappointed by the level of entertainment within this book, but you will need to prepare for gut wrenching laughs. I am actually looking forward to reading more WWE themed books after so thoroughly enjoying this one.

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

Secrets of Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar with Kevin Harrington

Publication Date: May 21st, 2019

Rating: 3 Stars

Secrets of Closing the Sale has sold millions of copies with this latest iteration revamped to include “modernized” additions to Ziglar’s classic techniques. Kevin Harrington, of the original cast of Shark Tank, injects several boxes of commentary in his attempt to zap Ziglar’s techniques into the modern age. Author, Zig Ziglar, came to a career in sales at a time when door-to-door sales was still wide spread. The techniques he’s developed for selling are applied throughout the book in illustrations given during his time selling cookware the old-fashioned way, via demonstrations to groups in people’s houses. Now, in the age of heighted security and advancing technology, this type of selling has gone to the wayside. Making many of Ziglar’s literal stories irrelevant.

However, there is still much of Ziglar’s technique that can still be useful. Secrets of Closing the Sale begins with an extremely relevant piece of knowledge – we are ALL salespeople. Whether we are selling ourselves to potential future employers (looking at you recent graduates), to selling our coworkers on a solution or customers on a product, we are all practicing the art of closing sales. Some of our closes are more successful, like ending up with our dream job, or selling our spouse on that new pair of shoes, but Ziglar highlights our rejections too.

I chose to read this book to give myself a better understanding of the day-to-day life of the “sales” teams I support in banking, but I ended up gaining a few key tips and tricks for myself. However, I could have done without Kevin Harrington’s brief and seemingly irrelevant interjections throughout. And I CERTAINLY could have gained just as much from this book without being reminded of Harrington’s five billion in global sales every other chapter (eye roll).

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

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

Rating: 4 ¼ Stars

Publication Date: June 4th, 2019

Annie is the middle child with one older and one younger brother. Her mom has raised them alone for the last 12 years after their father, a Korean War veteran with his own demons disappeared. As the Vietnam draft starts, Annie’s oldest brother enlists hoping to be saved from the worst of the front. All Manner of Things is Annie’s story of growing up, loving and persevering.

Author, Susie Finkbeiner, does an incredible job of placing the reader in the thick of the times. From the diner Annie works at, to the newscasts on Vietnam the reader feels like one of their own family members is off fighting. This story is further captivating as we are enticed every few chapters by correspondence from the soldiers in Annie’s life. Finkbeiner expertly uses Annie’s first-person narrative to drop you in to the Jacobson family, from their estranged relationship with their dad, to their grandparents and even their boss, the reader never lacks in feeling fully submerged in this story.

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