This Close to Okay | Book Review

This Close to Okay

Leesa Cross-Smith

4 / 5

While reading this one, I became very attached to the main characters, but my emotions were all over the place with their actions. I realize that people deal with grief, sadness, and PTSD in very different ways, but when I closed the book, I wasn’t sure how I felt, and maybe that’s okay.

Driving home one rainy night, Tallie sees a man poised to jump off a bridge. A licensed therapist, Tallie pulls over and talks the man, Emmett, into having a warm cup of coffee with her. Tallie eventually invites Emmett back to her house, the house she shared with her ex-husband.

The rest of the story is an emotional roller coaster as both Tallie and Emmet do this dialogue dance trying to pull information from each other. Both are grieving, both are hurting but for very different reasons. And neither is being completely honest with the other. 

I loved aspects of Tallie’s personality. She’s empathetic and caring, but hiding that you’re a therapist to a person who is suicidal doesn’t sit well with me, and bringing a stranger into her home? But Emmet stole my heart. Even in the depth of his pain, he longed to protect Tallie from hers.

Cross-Smith writes poignantly about mental health and losses in life. Although the ending felt a little rushed and a bit disjointed (and didn’t turn out the way I wanted), there is still a very big take-away from this story. It only takes one person to make a difference, one person to reach out and say, “𝐈’𝐦 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐈 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞, 𝐈’𝐦 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞.” It doesn’t take the pain away, but it’s a step towards healing.

TW: suicidal ideation, death, loss, grief, divorce, PTSD. 

**If you need someone to talk to reach out, please!

My DM is always open or call the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255. 

This book will be available February 2, 2021.

Rain City Lights | Book Review | Book Tour

Rain City Lights

Marissa Harrison

5 / 5

Harrison has written an intoxicating debut novel. She takes us back to the 1980s deep into the city streets of Seattle, among the drugs and prostitution. But the real shining stars are Monti and Sasha who met as young children and became the best of friends under the worst of circumstances.

Monti Jackson is falling in love with her best friend Sasha. She met him at only seven years old. It was the night Sasha’s mom died, and they have been best friends ever since. They share so much, yet they hide their deepest hurts and true feelings for each other. 

As Sasha and Monti enter high school, things start to change. Although color and money have always separated them, they have never let that come between them, not really. But Monti doesn’t want Sasha’s pity and she doesn’t want to compete with his new friend Tommy.

Monti needs to worry about her mom too. She knows her mom has been selling herself to try and earn rent money, but when Reggie, her mom’s abusive boyfriend, comes back, they lose everything. Now Monti has to find a way to get the money, and it means doing something she never thought she’d lower herself to do.

But Monti is leaving herself vulnerable, as a serial killer has been stalking and killing young, black prostitutes in the area, and the predator is closer than Monti knows.

This story gets pretty heavy on many important topics: racial injustices, drug abuse, mental health, homophobia, child abuse, physical and verbal abuse. [TW] 

It’s a tense thriller and an achingly beautiful coming-of-age love story all rolled into one. I guarantee you will be rooting for Sasha and Monti, but fair warning they will break your heart bit-by-bit.

Thank you to @suzyapprovedbooktours and @marissa.harrison.books for this #gifted copy.

Never Enough | Book Spotlight

Never Enough

Mike Hayes

Thank you @celadonbooks for sending an advance copy of Never Enough my way. But as soon as my husband saw that it was written by a former commanding officer of U.S. Navy Seal Team Two, he grabbed it from me.

Here’ what my husband, a sales executive, thoughts were:

“𝐇𝐚𝐲𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐢𝐭𝐮𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐚𝐬 𝐚 𝐍𝐚𝐯𝐲 𝐒𝐞𝐚𝐥 – 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐚𝐝 – 𝐞𝐯𝐚𝐥𝐮𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐝, 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞. 𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐨𝐦 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞.”

𝘔𝘺 𝘩𝘶𝘴𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘐 𝘣𝘰𝘵𝘩 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘔𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘏𝘢𝘺𝘦𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘺. 🇺🇸

This book will be available on February 9, 2021. 

For more about this inspirational book, check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

Salty Strong: The Whole Cajun Story | Book Review

Salty Strong: The Whole Cajun Story

Chris Whitson

5 / 5

Even though my kids are now young adults, I still enjoy children’s books. I love how they convey morals or bigger truths through fun and creative characters. Salty Strong certainly does this well.

Salty is a special little “boy” made out of salt. He lives in the ancient salt domes of Louisiana where he loves cooking for all sorts of critters. He loves to season the food with a tip of his hat – adding just the right amount of salt.

One day the salt miners come and crush Salty into granules and put him into a saltshaker. Salty’s spirit and heart can’t be shaken though. He travels to a restaurant in the French Quarter where he is purchased by a cranky chef, whose food is bland and boring. With the help of his newfound friend, Pep, Salty finds a way to give of himself and make others happy. But what happens when he has no more to give?

This is such a creative story about kindness, friendship, and blessing others. And the illustrations are beautifully done, bursting with color and zest.

Thank you to @booksforwardpr for this #gifted copy and fun spices.

Confessions on the 7:45 | Book Review

Confessions on the 7:45

Lisa Unger

4 / 5

This was my first Lisa Unger book and I had to stew about it for a while before I put my thoughts down.

I will admit that I’m not a thriller groupie like some of you are. But I was at one time, and I’ve come to expect a lot out of a book that vows to thrill me.

Selina Murphy is working hard to support her two boys and her husband who claims he is between jobs, the same husband she just caught doing their nanny. 

On her commute home from work one night, Selina finds herself spilling her story to a strange woman named Martha, who herself admits she is caught in an affair with her boss. 

Days later, when their nanny disappears, the police show up at Selina’s door. She can’t help but wonder if her husband had anything to do with this, and to make it even weirder she receives a text from an unknown number, “It’s Martha, by the way, from the train.” 

There are the typical suspense tropes like cheating and cons in here, even a stranger on the train is nothing new. And you have to be a little patient, as a storyline about a girl named Pearl comes in, and for a while, it’s unclear the connection.

Unger digs into the individual moments of life: talking with your kids about an argument, not crossing that line with an ex, and it’s this type of writing that will make me read Lisa Unger again.

Thank you to @netgalley and @parkrowbooks for this digital copy.

TW: Adultery and spousal abuse

At the Edge of the Haight |Book Review |Book Tour

At the Edge of the Haight

Katherine Seligman

4.5 / 5

Maddy Donaldo and her dog, Root, live on the streets. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is the closest thing to a home she’s had in years and her friends Ash, Fleet, and Hope are the people she now calls family.

Since running away from a foster home, Maddy has learned to stay as lowkey as possible out on the streets. But when she and Root stumble across a dying homeless teen with the killer still hovering about, Maddy’s life gets very complicated.

First, the police come asking questions of Maddy. Then the dead boy’s parents seek Maddy out, believing she can help them understand their son because she was the last person to see him alive. They also want to help Maddy out of her situation – is it due to guilt or trying to replace their son – Maddy is not quite sure. And lastly, the killer is still out there trying to make sure Maddy doesn’t stick her nose where it doesn’t belong.

This book is an absolute gem. It is a social commentary on the homeless population, as much as it is a suspense novel. I love that it is not overtly political. Seligman puts a human face to homelessness and lets her words speak for themselves as we walk alongside Maddy and her friends trying to survive on the streets. We get an eye-opening look at the life of these young people and what led them to this point in their lives. While Maddy embodies courage and independence, we feel that deep need for connection and belonging as well.

Thank you to @algonquinbooks @kr.seligman and @netgalley for an invitation to this tour and a #gifted copy. 

This book is available on January 19, 2021.

The RAINBOW Connection | Book Stack

The RAINBOW Connection 🌈

I love rainbow stacks! And I have been seeing some beautiful stacks posted for the #colorfulspineschallenge put on by @thechicklitbookclub to brighten our feeds. 

I can’t help but sing the muppet song, The Rainbow Connection, every time I see a rainbow, anyone else? 

I hope you’ll join in and tag @thechicklitbookclub and use the hashtag, so she can see your colorful stacks. 

🌈 Speaking of connections, what makes you follow an account? Love the aesthetics, read similar genres, referred from a bookstabuddy, or other? 💜

Snowy Stack for a Cause | Bookstack Challenge

☃️ Snowy Stack for a Cause ☃️

Last week parts of Texas got a few inches of snow, but we got nothing but a few flurries. That’s okay with me, but my daughter was not happy.

I am excited to join in with @readalotwritealot and her #SnowyStacksForFood challenge. She will donate $1 to her local food bank (up to $100) for every stack that uses the hashtag and tags her. Plus you will be entered into her giveaway for a book up to $20 value!

Both @mama_bookshark and @transportedfl have joined in and are now matching donations!! So $3 will be going to food banks per each stack tagged. Isn’t that awesome?!

They are encouraging you to give to your local food banks as well. *(See her post over on Instagram on how you can earn extra entries). 

Our family helps out our local church which has its own food pantry and feeds over 300 families each week. We also support a homeless outreach called Hands of Hope.

Make sure you check out all these lovely ladies’ pages and remember: Melissa’s challenge closes on 2/13/21, so let’s see those snowy white stacks for this great cause!

☃️ Have you seen snow in your area this year?

Pretty Things | Book Review

Pretty Things 

Janelle Brown

4.5 / 5

Another fabulous audiobook! Julie Whelan is one of my favorite narrators, and she really brought this one to life.

Nina Ross has followed in her hustler of a mother’s footsteps and hooked up with Lachlan, a handsome Irish con-man. Growing up Nina never had a lot, but she always envied the rich and famous, especially the Liebling family. Now that Nina’s mother is sick, Nina decides to go for a big target to help pay the bills.     

Vanessa is the heiress to the Liebling fortune, and has become an Instagram influencer, putting herself out there for the world to see. But when her life starts to crumble, she slinks back to her family’s cold, dark mansion in Lake Tahoe: Stonehaven.

Nina and Lachlan travel to Stonehaven under the guise of Ashley and Michael, a happy couple who wish to rent out the guest house. But when the past and present collide, the lines of who is conning who becomes dangerously blurred and twisted.

There’s a lot that goes down in this book because it’s all about con artists, facades, and past secrets. I could see where some people may find it a bit repetitive because we hear both Nina’s and Vanessa’s POV, but Brown writes both characters with such keen accuracy. Showing them as flawed, damaged women who came from very different beginnings, and yet really they are just trying to survive. 

News of the World | Book Review

News of the World

Paulette Jiles

4 / 5

I chose to listen to the audiobook for this one, and thanks to this cover and the movie trailers, I kept hearing Tom Hanks in my head even though he was not the voice of Captain Jefferson Kidd! 

This story is concise yet told with just enough description. And although the characters’ words may be few the emotion still comes through.

Captain Jefferson Kidd is a Civil War vet who now, in 1870, earns a living reading the daily news to audiences in North Texas. While in Wichita Falls, Kidd is offered $50 by a free black man to return a girl, who had been taken by the Kiowa, to her only living relatives in San Antonio.

The 10-year-old girl, taken some four years ago when the raiders killed her parents and sister, was raised by the Kiowa and does not speak English. Now rescued by the U.S. Army, the little girl feels as though she has truly been captured.  

The unlikely pair set out on the 400-mile journey over the rugged unsettled territory of Texas. Kidd gives her the name Johanna and while he is constantly on vigil for danger on the trail, he must also try to wrangle Johanna and her “wild” ways. 

As the treacherous miles pass, Captain Kidd and Johanna start to become attached, two survivors alone in this world. Upon arrival in San Antonio, Kidd is faced with a decision that may change their lives forever. 

**The author gives a great reference book in her notes on the true historical facts of children having been taken captive by Native Americans and then re-assimulated back into their own families. (Their words may surprise you).

Thank you to @williammorrowbooks for this #gifted copy.