ARC Review: Arms of the Ocean- Jamie Webster & M. Dalto

Title: Arms of the Ocean

Author: Jamie Webster & M. Dalto

Publisher: The Parliament House

Pages: N/A

Rating: 5/5

When I saw this beautiful book I knew I had to read it. I love stories that have to do with the ocean and mermaids. Arms of the Ocean takes place in the city of Inara. A beautiful city that’s described as a place where no harm can be done. We meet Tristaine who lives with her alcoholic father who she’s trying to help. After her mother up’s and abandons them, her father turns to liquid poison to deal with her absence, but her brothers as well. He decided to go and make his own life and get married. Who could blame him? No matter how many times he asks his sister to do the same.She simply can’t. She loves Inara too much. It needs her.

But after a situation with her father goes horribly wrong, her limits are tested and she starts to wonder if her love for Inara and her life is even worth it anymore. I won’t tell you the rest, you’re gonna have to find out for yourself. I really enjoyed this book. Webster and Dalto did any amazing job writing it, and it was simply magical like I knew it would be. Thank you to the Parliament House Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Harlequin Blog Tours ARC Review: She’s Faking it- Kristin Rockaway

Title: She’s Faking It

Author: Kristin Rockaway

Publisher: Graydon Press

Pages: 384

Rating: 5/5

This is my first book from Kristin Rockaway and I absolutely loved it. Bree Bozeman feels like crap. She has a job at Grubgetter as a delivery driver, she has a crappy car that finally died on her while making a delivery and ignoring her check engine light that started flashing 3 weeks ago, she lives in a crappy space on top of someone’s garage, her last relationship failed, and one of her professors from college said to her that she doesn’t have what it takes for med school. Something that made her leave school. Life is just really hard for Bree and she just wants something good to happen for once.

Her sister Heather, whom has the best of intentions to help her sister, can come off as standoffish, judgmental, and annoying. With her obsessive organizing business and her husband being a orthodontist. Heather doesn’t need to worry about struggling. You have to admire Bree’s tenacity to better herself though. She may hate her job, but she does it so well. After finding out about a social media influencer, she decides to make her own Instagram and finally chase that lifestyle she so desperately was seeking. Her life seems to be going right on track including finding a hunky guy after creating her social media profile, but at what cost? I really enjoyed this beach read and definitely would recommend it. Huge thanks to NetGalley and Graydon House for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Harlequin Blog Tours: ARC Review: Out Now: Queer We Go Again!- Saundra Mitchell

Title: Out Now: Queer We Go Again!

Author: Saundra Mitchell

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Pages: 416

Rating: 3/5

I REALLY tried to like this book but I just couldn’t get into it for the life of me. Some stories were good, others lacked. With multiple stories like this, I like for the stories to have some sort of realism to them. I just didn’t get that from this book. I feel like I’m being harsh but, I’m just being truthful. I’ve seen people say the first book to this was better, so I might just give that one a go and see if I like it better. Thank you to NetGalley, Harlequin Tours and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Sneak Peek Spotlight(Blog Tour) Ordinary Girls- Jaquira Diaz

I was very happy to see that I was contacted to take part in the blog tour for Ordinary Girls- Jaquira Diaz (winner of the Whiting Award). I wanted to give you a sneak peek into this amazing memoir. It’s coming out June 16th in paperback edition by Algonquin Books. This book has so many powerful messages. It deals with a young woman and her broken home, hoping for a normal family life, and in the process the same young woman deals with finding her true sexuality.

“In this searing memoir, Jaquira Díaz writes fiercely and eloquently of her challenging girlhood and triumphant coming of age. While growing up in housing projects in Puerto Rico and Miami Beach, Díaz found herself caught between extremes. As her family split apart and her mother battled schizophrenia, she was supported by the love of her friends. As she longed for a family and home, her life was upended by violence. As she celebrated her Puerto Rican culture, she couldn’t find support for her burgeoning sexual identity. From her own struggles with depression and sexual assault to Puerto Rico’s history of colonialism, every page of Ordinary Girls vibrates with music and lyricism. Díaz writes with raw and refreshing honesty, triumphantly mapping a way out of despair toward love and hope to become her version of the girl she always wanted to be.

Reminiscent of Tara Westover’s Educated, Kiese Laymon’s Heavy, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club, and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries, Jaquira Díaz’s memoir provides a vivid portrait of a life lived in (and beyond) the borders of Puerto Rico and its complicated history—and reads as electrically as a novel.”

ARC Review: This is How I Lied- Heather Gudenkauf

Title: This is How I Lied

Author: Heather Gudenkauf

Publisher: Park Row

Pages: 336

Rating: 5/5

Holy wow!This the first novel that I have read from Heather Gudenkauf and it will definitely not be the last one. This book really kept me on the edge of my seat. I can’t even begin to put into words just how amazing this book was. 

The novel has three narrators throughout the story, and it takes place between two years, 1995 and 2020. The three narrators are Maggie O’Keefe, Eve Knox, and Nola Knox. Maggie O’Keefe is investigating the death of her best friend Eve Knox 25 years ago after the cold case reopens after a kid finds a boot that belonged to Eve O’Keefe. Maggie, super pregnant (after trying so many times with her husband) and dealing with personal issues of her own, decides to take on the case after many of her loved ones including her husband Shaun question her if she’s going to be ok tackling it being as though Maggie cannot go through any stress. Maggie assures everyone that she will be okay and begins her investigation. She also realizes how difficult this will be as many secrets will come to surface as well.

Eve Knox is a 15 year old girl who lives with her hardworking mother at the time and her strange sister Nola Knox. Eve is also in a horrible abusive relationship with a guy named Nick. Eve doesn’t want to admit it but she’s a great danger around Nick. He slaps her around constantly, squeezes her, pinches her, and verbally abuses her as well. Maggie and Nola see the abuse she goes through on a daily basis as well and have advised her many times to dump the scum that is Nick. But, Eve keeps making excuses. The story goes between the year she was murdered and present day to gives a trial of events that eventually led to her death that fateful day. 

Nola Knox is a rally strange girl and I’ve caught myself many times being disgusted and irritated by her. I really wanted to jump through the book and strangle her but, woozaaaa. Nola is a psycho, there’s just no easy way to sugarcoat it. She has a weird fascination with dissecting animals and collecting animal bones etc. During the novel were also given a look into her and her psychiatrists transcript from her appointments. It was advised for her to attend a psychiatrist after her sister Eve has passed away. During these transcripts you really start to think how someone like Nola is out and about in regular society. She was really a cringy character and I was so suspicious of her from the very beginning. 

Throughout the book Heather Gudenkauf leaves you guessing who the killer of Eve was and just when you think you have it figured out she throws major curveballs your way. I must admit she really caught me a few times like that. The book was fast paced and fills you with a high anxiety adrenaline rush in your body. I felt exhilarated! Any author that can make you feel that way is definitely someone I would read another book from. Do I recommend this book? ABSOLUTELY! This book was written amazingly and not once did I catch myself bored. Go get your copy today!

HUGE thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Park Row books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Harlequin Blog Tours- ARC Review: Truths I Never Told You- Kelly Rimmer

Excerpt:PROLOGUE


Grace
September 14, 1957




I am alone in a crowded family these days, and that’s the worst feeling I’ve ever experienced. Until these past few years, I had no idea that loneliness is worse than sadness. I’ve come to realize that’s because loneliness, by its very definition, cannot be shared.

Tonight there are four other souls in this house, but I am unreachably far from any of them, even as I’m far too close to guarantee their safety. Patrick said he’d be home by nine tonight, and I clung on to that promise all day.


He’ll be home at nine, I tell myself. You won’t do anything crazy if Patrick is here, so just hold on until nine.


I should have known better than to rely on that man by now. It’s 11:55 p.m., and I have no idea where he is.


Beth will be wanting a feed soon and I’m just so tired, I’m already bracing myself—as if the sound of her cry will be the thing that undoes me, instead of something I should be used to after four children. I feel the fear of that cry in my very bones—a kind of whole-body tension I can’t quite make sense of. When was the last time I had more than a few hours’ sleep? Twenty-four hours a day I am fixated on the terror that I will snap and hurt someone: Tim, Ruth, Jeremy, Beth…or myself. I am a threat to my children’s safety, but at the same time, their only protection from that very same threat.


I have learned a hard lesson these past few years; the more difficult life is, the louder your feelings become. On an ordinary day, I trust facts more than feelings, but when the world feels like it’s ending, it’s hard to distinguish where my thoughts are even coming from. Is this fear grounded in reality, or is my mind playing tricks on me again? There’s no way for me to be sure. Even the line between imagination and reality has worn down and it’s now too thin to delineate.


Sometimes I think I will walk away before something bad happens, as if removing myself from the equation would keep them all safe. But then Tim will skin his knee and come running to me, as if a simple hug could take all the world’s pain away. Or Jeremy will plant one of those sloppy kisses on my cheek, and I am reminded that for better or worse, I am his world. Ruth will slip my handbag over her shoulder as she follows me around the house, trying to walk in my footsteps, because to her, I seem like someone worth imitating. Or Beth will look up at me with that gummy grin when I try to feed her, and my heart contracts with a love that really does know no bounds.


Those moments remind me that everything changes, and that this cloud has come and gone twice now, so if I just hang on, it will pass again. I don’t feel hope yet, but I should know hope, because I’ve walked this path before and even when the mountains and valleys seemed insurmountable, I survived them.


I’m constantly trying to talk myself around to calm, and sometimes, for brief and beautiful moments, I do. But the hard, cold truth is that every time the night comes, it seems blacker than it did before.


Tonight I’m teetering on the edge of something horrific.


Tonight the sound of my baby’s cry might just be the thing that breaks me altogether.


I’m scared of so many things these days, but most of all now, I fear myself.






Excerpted from Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer, Copyright © 2020 by Lantana Management Pty Ltd. Published by Graydon House Books.


Title: Truths I Never Told You

Author: Kelly Rimmer

Publisher: Graydon House

Pages: 352

Rating: 5/5

“‘Everything changes’ was his consolation when things were rough. It was his reminder to stay humble when things were good”.
-Beth, Things I Never Told You 

TW/CW: Post-Partum Depression, Infertility
Beth is the youngest of three. She has two older brothers named Tim and Jeremy, and a older sister named Ruth. They lost their mother Grace when they were just kids. Despite everything and the clashing amongst themselves, they were a tight knit family and loved their father, Patrick. Unfortunately, their father’s health is declining because of heart disease and dementia. Beth along with her siblings decide to put Patrick into a nursing home. Beth has taken the grueling task of cleaning her father’s home and trying to sell the house. She’s on maternity leave from giving birth to her son Noah. What perfect time to do it then now. Beth however hasn’t been herself lately. Ever since she had Noah she doesn’t have the patience to deal with him, she doesn’t get good sleep, and she’s constantly giving Noah to her mother in law to babysit to try and get away from him. She’s constantly questioning her motherly skills. Even her family notices this change with her. They always ask her if she’s ok. She says she’s fine but, they all know it’s not true. As a psychologist she knows she isn’t well, but she refuses to get professional help for herself because she doesn’t want her professional career to go down the crapper.

As she cleans her father’s attic she comes across a locked door. She wonders why her father has this locked door and where the key for the lock is at. When she finally get’s a hold of the key she realizes all the things her father has been hoarding including some papers that her mother wrote. Papers that reveal some deep dark secrets about her father and their marriage. Beth can’t believe it. The hardworking and amazing father she knew was different then the young husband her mother married. As a young husband, he stayed out late, didn’t help out with his four kids, was always drunk, and provided no type of income because he spent all his money. There was a whole family that Beth and her siblings knew nothing about, including a aunt that knows the actual truth about Grace’s marriage and death. The book flips in between the 1950’s and the 1990’s. It wasn’t hard to keep up with the story like some other books. 

It was great seeing how both mother and daughter dealt with Post-partum Depression. Grace had a little more of a hard time with it in the 50’s because they just expected you to deal with it. I will say though, Beth was not my favorite. She was a selfish and entitled person and that really turned me off from her as main character. The Truths I Never Told You was a amazing book that tackled serious issues such as PPD, infertility, and motherhood. I would definitely recommend this book. Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Graydon House for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Fallible- Kyle Bradford Jones

Title: Fallible

Author: Kyle Bradford Jones

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Pages: 348

Rating: 4/5

I chose to read this book because of the title and blurb. As a person who suffers from clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder myself, it’s always refreshing to read about others who suffer from the same issues. 
Fallible is a doctor’s memoir of dealing with mental illness and how it’s affected his personal and professional life. It discusses all his dark moments, the issues he’s faced, the positives and negatives of being a medical professional and suffering from mental illness. He talks a lot about his family and his religious views too, which I will admit I’m not a fan of. Especially when he said that: “for some faith may have a detrimential effect on their mental health”. Personally, I don’t think faith or religion have anything to do with mental health and it should be left out of discussions having to do with mental health. It’s already hard enough for people to talk about it with other people. Jones should know because he’s had rotten luck with therapists. There’s nothing worse than a biased therapist.

I will give him though that being in a medical professional has it’s major stresses. Especially med school. They put so much pressure on students especially with all the material they have to cram in on a daily basis. Now more than ever I think we understand how stressful it is for medical professionals with this pandemic going on. Essential workers and them are the front lines of this country and even in the world. 
Overall I really enjoyed this book, especially his relationship and love for his family. Also the quotes and songs in the beginning of the chapters was refreshing to see. Like I said the only thing I disliked was his religious talk. Thank you to Booksirens and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

ARC Review: Becoming-Renaada Williams

Title: Becoming

Author: Renaada Williams

Publisher: Andrews McMeel

Pages: 152

Rating: 5/5

Becoming is a collection of short poems by Renaada Williams. The poetry she’s written has themes of heartbreak, mental health issues, being a person of color in America, feminism, and self-love. I can resonate with some of the poems, and I had a few favorites as well. I liked how she broke up the poems into different sections. I’m a huge fan of these types of poems. When I worked in a bookstore they used to shelve them into ‘internet poetry’. It was a fast read so you can definitely finish it in half an hour or less. I felt and understood every poem. Below are 4 of my faves from the different sections in the book.

Heartbreak:
It’s funny
how easily the monster in my head
can cuddle me
so softly
while laying in bed

Mental Illness:
I know what hands clenched to the chest
from crying all night feels like
and I think you do too
-normal

Being Colored in America:
I just want to live in a world 
that I’m not afraid 
to be alive in

Self-love:
You
have to stop customizing yourself 
to fit someone who doesn’t even deserve 
you

Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: Smash it- Francina Simone

Title: Smash It

Author: Francina Simone

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Pages: N/A

Rating: 5/5

I jumped into this novel without knowing who Francina Simone was. I saw this cover and and the blurb and I knew I had to read it. 
Francina Simone did amazing delivering this masterpiece that deals with major issues that teenagers deal with everyday…especially young adult females. She touches on the topics of body positivity and acceptance, dating, friendships, sex, and being African American in a problematic white society.
I really love Olivia’s character. She decides to make a F*ck it list and vows to make it her year to accept herself, be brave, and just go for things and not be scared anymore. The first thing on her agenda is going to try out for a rap version of the Othello play at her school. Her friendship with her friends was admirable as well. Simone did an amazing job with putting us in the shoes of a 17 year old and having us imagine ourselves being there at that very moment going through everything with her. Thanks to Simone for reminding us that it’s okay to be ourselves and that we shouldn’t be so harsh with ourselves either. Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ARC Review: An American Summer- Alex Kotlowitz

Title: An American Summer

Author: Alex Kotolowitz

Publisher: Nan A. Tales

Pages: 282

Rating: 5/5

An American Summer is a riveting inside look in to the lives of those living in the rough areas of Chicago. Stories of young men who grew up surrounded by the ever growing violence in chicago. Chicago is known for related violence, low income, and segregated neighborhoods. Most of the violence being tied into gang violence.
The author interviewed social workers, police officers, convicted killers, politicians etc. The young men being interviewed basically were forced to join these violent gangs to protect either themselves or their families. They believe in the “No Snitching” rule and frown upon law enforcement.

This book gives you an insightful look at how terrifying it is just to walk down the street with a fear of possibly getting shot or being a victim of some type of violent crime. One young man in particular talks about being a kid and killing a gang rival and 20 years later still thinking about it. Things like that just mess with your mental stability. It’s so heartbreaking seeing what these young men are going through. What could have been done to prevent all this? I think every school, including colleges and universities that deal with Criminal justice need to have this book in their curriculum. It’s definitely one of those eye opening books. I’m so glad I had a chance to read this. This is one of those books that sticks with you forever. Thank You to NetGalley and Nan A. Talese for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.