Mikey and Me: A #popupblogtour Book

IMG_6036Mikey and Me:life with my exceptional Sister

Teresa Sullivan

233 pages

August 2017

A riveting memoir about growing up as a typical sibling in a family of four, Mikey & Me is Teresa Sullivan’s tribute to her beloved older sister Mikey, who was blind and developmentally disabled.
When Mikey is young, the Sullivans are a closely-knit unit, devoted to caring for her. But as Mikey grows older, and increasingly violent, it becomes impossible to keep her at home. At twelve, institutionalization is the only option. Without the shared purpose of caring for Mikey, the family begins to unravel. Seeking comfort and connection, Teresa navigates the border between the mainstream and the 1960s and 70s countercultures. Still, the Sullivans are united by their love and concern for Mikey, visiting often and sometimes bringing her home. Sometimes sweet and touching interludes, these visits also reveal evidence of the abuse that Mikey experiences.
Writing with clarity, eloquence, and poignancy, Sullivan shines a light on the complicated issues involved in caring for a special needs child. Even young siblings must become honorary adults and caregivers, grappling with the same conflicting emotions their parents experience.
As she interweaves her exceptional sister’s journey with her own, Sullivan affirms the grace and brutality of Mikey’s life, and its indelible effect on her family.  Goodreads Synopsis

 

This is one of those books you hate to say that you love.  The things this family, especially Teresa, was heart wrenching.  To read of the horrible conditions in the institution that they have to watch Mikey go through and not be able to stand up for herself or explain what is happening to the downwards spiral of Teresa’s teenage life.

Teresa has such talent for writing and telling her family story.  The writer’s voice can make or break a memoir.  While everyone has a best selling story from their lives inside of them, very few can pull it off into a wonderfully written book.  Teresa is one of those authors that can beautifully tell her story.

If memoirs and growing up in the 50s and 60s, and mental health are things you enjoy, then wait no longer and get this book on your TBR list! I’m certain you will hate to say you love it too!

 

Thanks Booksparks for having me be part of another #popupblogtour.  Be sure to follow along with that hashtag to see the many books featured on tour.  There are some fantastic finds there my friends!

 

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Some Outlander Progress

IMG_5983Well guys, I did it.  I FINALLY finished The Fiery Cross.  Phew.

 

A #bookstagram friend and I have been working our way through the world of Outlander for the past two books.  Drums of Autumn was absolutely fantastic!  I was still so into the Outlander world that I wasted hardly anytime jumping into Fiery Cross.

When one of my friends saw me reading it, she warned me about it’s difficulty to get through.  I told her she was a crazy person and this book is just as fabulous as the others.  That was within the first hundred pages……I had to later text her and tell her she was 100% right and this book was tough.  My buddy read pal was having the same struggles as well, and apparently it is just an across the page all around difficult book to finish reading.  At about page 1,200 I felt like the pages multiplied as I turned them, giving the feeling of running on a hamsters wheel.

Alas, in true Outlander form, the ending just SUCKED me right back in and I can’t wait to jump into A Breath of Snow and Ashes.  But that’s going to have to wait until November.  Not only would a break be a good thing, but October is for all the spooky reads!!!!  (yay!!)

 

 

Among the Survivors: a #popupblogtour Book

IMG_5996Among the Survivors

By Ann Z. Leventhal

256 pages

August 2017

Though twenty-one-year-old Karla Most manages 6,829,930 to bag Saxton Perry, a virtual prince thirty years her senior, she has no idea how to live happily ever after, with or without him. Karla cannot get past her anger at having been deceived by her single, now-dead mother, Mutti, who–supposedly a “Holocaust victim,” complete with tattooed numbers–was in fact a German Christian who got into the United States by falsifying her background. So what does that make her daughter? Before she can answer that question, Karla must track down the actual story of her own existence. Goodreads Synopsis

 

I did not find this book to be a page turner of a story, however it was a fast read.  The plot line was a decent enough one.  There was good creativity behind the book.  It just felt like I was missing something, and disconnected through a lot of the book.

A big part of the book that disturbed me was her relationship she started with Sax.  The fact that he had a daughter her age, and was going through a lot of emotionally heavy stuff with her, and then continues to sleep with then start a relationship with a 21 year old was just a little too much for me.  If you can get past this, I think it will be a much different read for you than it was for me.

The historical aspects of WWII and the discoveries Karla makes about her past and genealogy saved the book from being a complete train wreck in my book.

While I didn’t love Among the Survivors, there’s no regret about reading it.  It was a quick read and I was able to enjoy it in a day.

Thank you to BookSparks for including me on the #popupblogtour.  I love being part of such a fun program that exposes myself and my readers to books we otherwise might not have ever been aware of.

 

 

Worth the Wait: a Review

IMG_5970Worth the Wait

Lori Foster

377 pages

July, 2017

Single dad Hogan Guthrie is getting his life back on track, and working as the “barbecue master” at a local diner is just a temporary detour. He and restaurant owner Violet Shaw constantly butt heads…until one night they end up mingling other parts instead. Hogan thought he had the recipe for happiness all figured out. But loyal, carefree Violet is daring him to trust his impulses…and see just how sweet small-town living—and loving—can be.

Nathan Hawley traded his SWAT team credentials for a sheriff’s badge, but a gorgeous new neighbor is shaking up his orderly life. Nathan has a hunch there’s more to Brooklin Sweet than meets the eye—but given her caution about getting involved, he has his work cut out for him. Still, there’s something about the elusive beauty Nathan can’t walk away from—and helping her come to terms with her past might pave the way to the future they both secretly long for. Goodreads Synopsis 

This is technically the second book in the series.  Not knowing that, this is the first book I read by Lori Foster and Worth the Wait is totally a stand alone book.

I’m not a fan of super smutty romance novels that don’t have a substantial plot to hold them up.  I am reading a book for the plot line, so I want a strong plot and character development, two things that this book have.

While Worth the Wait was extremely predictable at times, it was still an enjoyable story and was a fun light read, exactly the escape I needed with this first week of school starting!

Thank you to booksparks and the popup blog tour for sending a copy of Worth the Wait over for me to review this week.  Be sure to check out #popupblogtour and follow @booksparks for other great reviews and books in the pop up blog tour!

 

All That Makes Life Bright

All That Makes Life BrightIMG_5947

Josi S. Kilpack

336 pages

September, 2017

Shadow Mountain Publishers

When Harriet Beecher marries Calvin Stowe on January 6, 1836, she is sure her future will be filled romance, eventually a family, and continued opportunities to develop as a writer. Her husband Calvin is completely supportive and said she must be a literary woman. Harriet’s sister, Catharine, worries she will lose her identity in marriage, but she is determined to preserve her independent spirit. Deeply religious, she strongly believes God has called her to fulfill the roles of wife and writer and will help her accomplish everything she was born to do.

Two months after her wedding Harriet discovers she is pregnant just as Calvin prepares to leave for a European business trip. Alone, Harriet is overwhelmed-being a wife has been harder than she thought and being an expectant mother feels like living another woman’s life. Knowing that part of Calvin still cherishes the memory of his first wife, Harriet begins to question her place in her husband’s heart and yearns for his return; his letters are no substitute for having him home. When Calvin returns, however, nothing seems to have turned out as planned.

Struggling to balance the demands of motherhood with her passion for writing and her desire to be a part of the social change in Ohio, Harriet works to build a life with her beloved Calvin despite differing temperaments and expectations.

Can their love endure, especially after “I do”? Can she recapture the first blush of new love and find the true beauty in her marriage? Goodreads Synopsis 

 

I discovered that the depth of my knowledge on Harriet Beecher Stowe was she was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  That’s it.  She’s not someone people ever think about, yet hers is a name everyone knows.

There was so much to love about this book.  Harriet, being a freshly married young woman with a big voice, takes her own path to figure out how to be a proper married wife and mother.  Her troubles, while they were happening in the 1800s, are still so relevant.  What new wife or mother doesn’t struggle with their new role at first?

Harriet’s personality shines in this book.  She’s certainly and eccentric and free spirited person.  Calvin, her husband is also learning his role as her husband.  Watching the two of them grow and discover was refreshing to read about.

Some of the proper romance titles released by Shadow Mountain have more Christian undertones.  This one has a little more than others, especially since the Beechers and Stowe’s were both historical very religious themselves.  I personally enjoy that in a book and have no problem with the references to God and Bible, but I can understand that it’s not for everyone.

I want to give a big thank you to Shadow Mountain for sending me a copy of All That Makes Things Bright for review.

The Summer That Made Us

THE SUMMER THAT MADE US Robyn CarrŸ

On sale: September 2017

#1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Robyn Carr is back with THE SUMMER THAT MADE US, a powerful multi-generational story about mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins, and the ties that bind us together forever. Everyone has a summer they’ll never forget, and for the women of the Hempstead family, this has never been more viscerally true.

Praise for #1 New York Times

Bestselling Author Robyn Carr:

“Capturing the best of small-town romance.”

— The Washington Post

TheSummerThatMadeUs_FinalCover.jpg

 

For Louise and Jo Hempstead—sisters who married brothers and each had three daughters— summers at Lake Waseka were the happiest of times, filled with days of boating, swimming races, and the sound of children laughing. For years, the lake was the place where the women and their daughters loved each other the most. But when an unthinkable tragedy strikes in the form of an accidental drowning, the family closes up the lake house for good, never to return.

Now, more than 25 years later, Louise’s daughter Meg is sick with cancer and enlists her sister, Charlene, to reopen the lake house and gather the family for one last summer at the lake. But years of pain and unspoken grief have pulled the Hempstead women in different directions, away from each other: Meg might be dying; Charlene is unexpectedly jobless; Hope is reckoning with the break-down of her marriage; Krista has just returned from a long prison sentence; Beverly is still traumatized by the drowning; and Louise and Jo haven’t been close in years.

But blood is thicker than water, and Charlene hopes that time and family might be able to heal even the deepest wounds. In this beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and female relationships, return to the lake with the Hempstead girls for a season of healing, second chances, and finally making peace with the past.

 

I love family dramas.  Combine family drama with summer setting at the lake house.  Sold.  Robyn Carr nails the combination in The Summer That Made Us.  I devoured this book in two days (that’s saying a lot during the busy summer with kids home from school!).

Everything was done so well: the story line, the character development, the setting.  This was the perfect summer read to be enjoyed while lounging at the pool, beach, or even better at the lake house surrounded by trees and water.  Or in my case, the backyard pretending I’ve escaped to my lake house with family.

Thank you Little Bird Publicity for sending me a copy in exchange for my review.

Something Like Happy:a Review

IMG_4750Something Like Happy

Eva Woods

384 pages

September 2017

With wry wit and boundless heart, Eva Woods delivers an unforgettable tale of celebrating triumphs great and small, seizing the day, and always remembering to live in the moment.
“It’s simple, really. You’re just meant to do one thing every day that makes you happy. Could be little things. Could be big. In fact, we’re doing one right now…”
Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she’d once taken for granted—and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.
Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn’t want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it’s that your time is too short to waste a single day—which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission…
One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie’s convinced it’s impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences—and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men—Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there’s still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly’s about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking. Goodreads Synopsis

 

I want to say what a fun read, or what a happy little story, however, it is so much more than that.  It’s the reminder of how far an act of kindness can go.  It’s the reminder that someone’s day can be completely changed with something as simple as a smile or a how area you.

There’s a little bit of Polly….and Annie.. in every woman.  Eva Woods did a fantastic job building her characters with past glimpses and present change of attitude and the personal growth they endure thanks to severe medical hardships and loses.

In a way, the quarky writing reminded me much of Me Before You.  So fans of that book would probably enjoy Something Like Happy as well.

After reading this book, I’m looking for a little bit of happy in everyday life and passing along some happy to others who might need some.

 

Thanks to Little Bird Publicity for sending an ebook my way to review.