☕ Book Break ☕ |~I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter~

 

~I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter~ “All These years I’d thought being a spy was challenging. Turns out, being a girl is the tricky part.”
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This young adult novel by Ally Carter is absolutely wonderful. .
Cammi Morgan attends an exclusive private school. In fact, it’s so exclusive only certain people are allowed to attend. The students of the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a training facility for spies. The future of America depends on them. To complicate matters, Cammi’s mom, a former spy herself, runs the school.
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Cammi is a genius, fluent in multiple languages, and knows how to blend in. She can crack codes and kill a man with her bare hands. She has no idea what do do when she meets an ordinary boy. .
I’d Tell You I love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You made me smile and laugh. This is the first in the Galligher Girls series by Ally Carter. Fun book. A light easy read.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |Finding Hero by Diana L. Sharples

~Finding Hero by Diana L. Sharples~

Finding Hero is a young adult mystery, but rather than a straightforward whodunit, the characters each have their own story. I first read Diana Sharples’ work with her book, Running Lean, a story about a girl with an eating disorder. All of Diana Sharples’ characters in Finding Hero encounter problems other than simply solving a mystery. She writes a complex story.

Finding Hero is a multi layered tale involving teenage life, complicated family history, and a mystery from the past that could have severe consequences for Daniela and Devon. A storm wreaks havoc in their lives, not the least of which is uncovering a long buried body.

I like this new book. When I first downloaded it and saw all those little dots I thought it was on the long side, but as I was listening it did not seem long at all. It’s hard for a book to keep my interest when I listen to it on kindle, but Finding Hero did. I was hooked from the beginning.

I’ve been a sucker for Shakespeare since I first encountered The Bard, so when the book opens it with the character Daniella Cooper auditioning for a part in Much Ado About Nothing my antenna went up. If you’re not a Shakespeare fan the title is referring to a character in the play. You don’t have to be into Shakespeare to enjoy this book, by the way.

The only thing I did not like in this book was the behavior of some of the adult characters. I found myself getting angry at the failure of the grownups, but I understand that that was intentional. They just made me mad! However, simply having a child does not make one a mature adult. These characters reflect true people and the behaviors and obstacles encountered in real life. .
Finding Hero is a clean read. All of Diana Sharples books that I’ve read are, but this one is actually published by clean reads.

I received an advanced copy of this book and was asked for an honest review.

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☕ Book Break ☕ | ~Educated by Tara Westover~

~Educated by Tara Westover~

Tara Westover grew up never going to school, working in her dad’s junkyard, and assisting her mother as she prepared herbal remedies and served as a community midwife. The family practiced Mormonism and Tara’s father had strict beliefs that went beyond the mainstream. The book is about her experiences. I feel like it was it sensitively done. Often as I was reading this I had to put the book aside. It was difficult to read at times.

Is it possible to disentangle oneself from the influences of their childhood? How much do the things we experience growing up affect the rest of our lives? Familial bonds are far reaching, probably influencing us more than we realize.

Educated is a well written account, if at times stretching the limits of believability, but that is the nature of memory and Tara Westover makes note of that. I’m glad I stuck with this book because there’s something deeper here.

It made me reexamine my own childhood. While reading the narrative, I was deeply touched at times. I teared up when she was recounting a specific incident with her mother that appeared to be a restoration, giving hope for that relationship.

This is one complicated family. Her father doesn’t believe in doctors and, according to a now grown up Tara, displays signs of bipolar disorder. Paranoid, he stockpiles food and guns, ranting about the government and the Illuminati. He seems unaware of the danger he constantly puts himself and his family in, causing many injuries by refusing to take basic safety measures.

This is an important story to tell, showing how living with a parent who suffers from a mental illness can affect the entire family. By reading this account I have garnered a greater understanding of why adult children have a difficult time breaking free from their dysfunctional family.

As I read this memoir I pondered gender roles and the tragedies that can occur in a structure that allows only one member of the family to have authority.

It’s exactly the kind of book I like, one that makes you think. Educated is an excellent book for discussion and book clubs.

On a personal side note, we unschooled our children. In my opinion, what Tara is describing is not unschooling or homeschooling but is neglect. She does mention that other family members homeschool their children and those children appear to be receiving an adequate and genuine education. This memoir is not a criticism of homeschooling or religion but an account of her own experience told from her perspective.

 

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Finding Writing Support

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
~Thomas Mann

Writing can be a lonely occupation. Writing groups give encouragement, direction, and a place to commiserate when the inevitable rejection comes. For the past several years I’ve been limited to online support groups for writing, and those are wonderful, but there’s just something about meeting face to face with other writers.

I’ve been blessed to have access to a local group, NOLASTARS, in nearby Shreveport. They are affiliated with RWA, Romance Writers of America. While the focus is on romance, membership in NOLASTARS is open to serious writers in other genres. NOLASTARS is a well established group and has events throughout the year. It’s a wonderful group! RWA offers a long list of benefits accessible online to members.

I’ve found online friends and help as well. The amazing Sarah Tipton edited my YA I wrote for National Novel Writing Month, NANOWRIMO 2017. (Anyone else getting excited for NANOWRIMO 2018? Let’s do it!) Sarah was a godsend. I could not have managed without her. Her website is  www.sarahtiptonbooks.com.

Diana L. Sharples gave me an incredible amount of useful feedback on another of my books. She has also been an encouragement at the exact right moment.

Diana has a book coming out this month! She has been a busy bee with several releases this year and more to come soon. I am enjoying her book, Finding Hero. If you like YA Mysteries, you should check it out. It’s available for preorder here.

I found both of these wonderful online friends through Facebook. It’s good to have friends to help you along the journey.

Where do you find support for your creative pursuits?

 

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn~

~Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn~

Kira is returning home after spending a year away at her aunt’s while her dad has been in rehab. All she wants is to return to her normal life, but it’s not so easy to pick up the threads of friendship. Besides that, she arrives at her house only to be greeted by three strangers. Her dad has opened their home to his friends from rehab. Normal isn’t anywhere in sight. Kira devises her own twelve steps in an attempt to regain her former life.

I loved this book. Drawn into Kira’s plight, I was immersed in the story right away. All my sympathies were with her as she navigated the problems of her teen life.

Beautiful story arc. Kira grows and changes, finding her way through the difficult readjustment period and learning to trust again.

This novel gave me all the feels. Realistic and well written. A bit of teen romance. Highly recommended.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrick Backman~

~Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrick Backman~
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“At a certain age almost all the questions a person asks him or herself are really just about one thing: how should you live your life?”

I loved this book. I like all if Fredrick Backman’s books I’ve read so far.

Britt Marie is a fussbudget neatfreak. At age sixty-three she leaves her cheating husband. Even though she hasn’t worked outside the home in years, Britt Marie is determined to find a job. She finds temporary employment as the caretaker of a recreation center that will soon close. Here she encounters a variety of people from the community. Socially awkward in the extreme, she often says the wrong thing, but Britt Marie is at heart, tender. Even though she doesn’t know a thing about soccer, she ends up being the coach for the children’s team.

This novel is chock full of wonderfully quirky characters. There’s something a bit sad about Britt Marie. She is a complicated soul. Backman has such an ability to write compelling characters. I finished this book in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you liked A Man Called Ove or Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, I think you would like this book. Easy to read, touching, and satisfying. A lovely, emotional, feel good read.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner~

I’ve been meaning to review this one for a while and right now it is on sale for Kindle for $1.99. It seems like a good time to post about it!

~Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner~

I find stories about this time period intriguing. WWII novels and nonfiction have been a special interest of mine for the last fifteen years or so, I suppose because we are fast losing those who experienced the war.

This is a story about choices and consequences and this is skillfully illustrated throughout.

I didn’t connect with the title, but have read many of her books and selected this after reading As Bright As Heaven. I got another of her titles at the same time, titled A Bridge Across the Ocean, about the time period immediately after WWII and kept confusing the two.

Loved the idea of a bridal shop, and the revisiting of the “bride’s box” of bridal gown sketches throughout. A good afternoon read. Everything ties up neatly. This is a story with a point, and the tale is well crafted, delivering the main point in a story readers can enjoy and relate to.

I liked all the characters who had a part. Susan Meissner is a gifted writer. Plenty of good and uplifting messages throughout. I unexpectedly teared up at one scene. I was hooked by Emme’s plight from the beginning and could not put the book down until I knew what happened to Julia!

I do prefer stories set in England to have a bit more of the flavor of England to them in dialog and description, but this was a good novel for those looking for WWII fiction.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~The Storyteller’s Secret: A Novel by Sejal Badani~ 

Bonus Review! I know it’s not Wednesday, but it took me so long to get this up and if you haven’t picked your August selection yet I wanted to let you guys know what I thought about this book.

~The Storyteller’s Secret: A Novel by Sejal Badani~
I chose this as my August Kindle First Read. This wasn’t a book I would have normally selected, but I was glad to have the opportunity to read it. One of the best things about Kindle first reads is that the program reduces my options so I discover new authors I would’ve otherwise passed over.

Jaya is struggling to come to terms with repeated miscarriages and the disintegration of her marriage. Leaving New York behind, she travels to India to reconnect with her mother’s past. .
The story spans of three generations of women. The novel immersed me in a culture I was unfamiliar with. I was fascinated by the people and descriptions. I could relate to each of these women and the story gave me a window into a different world. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, general fiction, or women’s fiction.

A rich, well told, historical/contemporary read. This novel was a wonderful surprise. If you haven’t selected your August first reads choice, this is a good one. I plan to look for more by this author.This book has no language or graphic violence.

Do you have kindle first reads? What book did you pick?

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish~

~Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish~

What a lovely read. Christa Parrish is one of my favorite contemporary Christian fiction writers. Her prose always touches me. It feeds my soul.

Liesl McNamara spends her days making bread. She learned this talent from her mother and her grandmother. Her days are busy with her bread making business, and life is simple until people and event complicate it. The delivery man, a single father, begins to win her affection, and one of her employees enters Liesl as a contestant for a cooking show. Secrets her parents kept from her are revealed and she must deal with them.

The novel has flashbacks scattered throughout, but I had no difficulty following any of the storylines. .
Another cast of true to life characters who are less than perfect and uniquely human. The novel is not preachy, but the message is there. I like Christa Parrish’s voice, her style. Excellent writing. Parrish is one of those authors whose books I pick up without even bothering to read the description because I know I will enjoy the read.

This one didn’t seem as complex plot wise as some of her others, but I still loved it. I will reread it again and again. Sweet story.

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☕ Book Break ☕ |~Beartown by Fredrik Backman~

~Beartown by Fredrik Backman~

Fredrik Backman can always hook me with the characters he creates, plunging me into a story. Beartown is no exception.

A small town is slowly dying. The one thing they have going for them is their hockey team. With little else to hold on to, the pride of the townspeople is tied up in the performance of their young men.

Beartown is fiction that portrays a realistic picture of what a sports town looks like and goes into the reasons why people get so involved and invested in sports. The characters in this book are complex. This book makes you think. Watching the story unfold, one can understand how something like the incidents and crimes that take place could happen.

There is violence. A lot of language in this book, but it feels natural. This is how it is. This is what can happen.

I did start to get worried towards the end, and while there’s no unringing the bell, there is a certain level of satisfaction with the way the story wraps up. An well done portrayal of a sports crazed town and of human behavior.

This one is a serious read that will stay with you for a while. It’s not an easy read due to some of the subject matter, but definitely one on my must read list. Gritty. Thought provoking. There are issues that may be of concern for some. There is a sequel, Us Against You.

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