Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers

Hello everyone! It has been super sunny here in south Texas, hoping for a rainy day soon. If there was ever a time that I wish I had a pool in the backyard, it would be today as it is 100 degrees. But alas, I thought it would be so convenient having a community pool. Silly me for not predicting a pandemic sooner. ANYWAYS, I have been inside more and I have been reading more. The book I am reviewing today, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, I actually started at the beginning of the year. But then I had other reading obligations and other things got in the way and I put this away for a bit. But I was able to pick it up again a couple of weeks ago, so here's my review!




Liane Moriarty is an Australian author. Liane has written 10 books, which includes 3 children's books. She

is best known for her novel, Big Little Lies, which was adapted into an HBO limited series, which went on to win multiple Emmy's. Nine Perfect Strangers is the newest book in Liane's collection and is set to have a limited series of it's own come out on Hulu in 2021.





Nine Perfect Strangers is about nine different people who gather at a health resort. Some to lose weight, some to gain clarity and others just to enjoy getting away. But the health resort's main coach, Masha, is not going to let them take it easy by any means. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.


This is my second book that I read from Liane Moriarty and it is just as good as the last book I read. Nine Perfect Strangers brings together a group of characters that are all completely different and come into the tranquillium house with different objectives, but in the end, have the same goal. Moriarty proves that a big cast of characters does not diminish a story. Though, there was one character I kept forgetting about, but that also could have been because I set it down and picked it back up months later.

Each character is able to tell their story about that they are feeling and they are reacting to everything that goes on during their stay in tranquillium house. There does seem to be main character, Frances, but Liane gives all her characters time to shine. It's really impressive how each character has their talking style. Liane does a great job of making each character's voice in the story unique and not just one narrative.

Like Liane's other book I read, and I'm sure all her books, I was ready for all the twists and turns and I was not disappointed.

Overall, I enjoyed Nine Perfect Strangers and I give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is a little long, but still a good read. I enjoyed learning about these and finding out why they are the way they are. The whole book is a perfect example of how to execute multiple characters at once without overwhelming the reader. If you liked the review, I also have it as a BookTube on my YouTube Channel. Until next time, Happy Reading!



Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Book Review: The Key to Everything


THE KEY TO EVERYTHING
by
Valerie Fraser Luesse Contemporary Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell Date of Publication: June 2, 2020
Number of Pages: 352
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Based on a true story, Valerie Fraser Luesse’s new novel takes readers on an incredible journey of self-discovery. The poignant prose, enchanting characters, and captivating settings in The Key to Everything make this a moving story that readers won’t soon forget. Peyton Cabot’s fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from WWII a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon, and distancing himself from his son. When a tragic accident separates Peyton from his parents, and the girl of his dreams seems out of reach, he struggles to cope with a young life upended. Pushed to his limit, Peyton makes a daring decision: he will retrace a slice of the journey his father took at fifteen by riding his bicycle all the way from St. Augustine to Key West, Florida. Part loving tribute, part search for self, Peyton’s journey will unlock more than he ever could have imagined, including the key to his distant father, a calling that will shape the rest of his life, and the realization that he’s willing to risk absolutely everything for the girl he loves.
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Monday, June 1, 2020

Book Review: Waiting for the Past: Poems


Hey everyone! It has been a very rainy spring here in Texas, escpecially these past few days. It has come to my attention that I have not done an independant book review in a while. Lone Star Literary, the organization that I write books for, is really growing and they are getting tons of new authors who want to work with Lone Star Literary and it's been great. I have been reading new books, discovering new authors and enjoying being a book blogger for them.

But I did have a short downtime period and I ended up picking up a few books at my local Dollar Tree and Waiting for the Past happened to be one of them that caught my eye. It's a pretty short book and I recently started a YouTube channel where I also review the books, so in case you don't feel like reading, here's a link.

But I picked up the book, hadn't read a poetry book in a while so thought it could stir my juices and be a great book to review while I read a book for Lone Star Literary. So here's my review on Les Murray's Waiting for the Past.

BUT FIRST....



Leslie Allan Murray, or Les Murray, was born on October 17, 1938 in Bunyah, New South Wales, Australia. He attended the University of Sydney where he studied modern languages, worked as a translator and served in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve.

Murray's work has been translated into 10 languages and he was awarded the Australian Literature Society's Gold Medal and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. In his time active, he created 30 volumes of poetry, including Waiting For the Past in 2015.

Murray passed away in 2019 at the age of 80.

NOW ONTO THE...




So like I mentioned in the beginning, I did pick this up at the Dollar Tree. I haven't bought books at the Dollar Tree in a while, but this one caught my eye. The cover is just so aestheticlly pleasing and I was even more pleased when I flipped through the pages and found this to be a poetry book.  When I looked up the author, I thought I couldn't go wrong.

Murray writes a lot about his past and how he grew up poor in Australia. This book was no exception. All poems center around Murray's experiences growing up. Since the writer is speaking from the heart, I could really feel Murray's passion for how he felt come out through his writing. His emotions were laid out and he held nothing back. Anyone who reads this book will be able to tell as well.

Although he had such good emotion throughout the 73-page book, some poems stood out more to me than others.  Here is one of those that popped out for me titled, Bread Again:
The Staff of life 
has become
the lunch of staff

It's a haiku, but. I thought it was pretty funny and the one's I really enjoyed are a little bit long for this blog, but if you watch my BookTube review, I might just say it.

While some poems were easy to follow what was happening and what it could have meant, so were not as transparent. Maybe if I read some more Australian history, I would understand a bit better, but I just didn't follow some of the poems.

I also thought this poetry book would go more chronoligal order of Murray's childhood, but it doesn't feel that way. It's more sporadict and I'm not sure if that is how he meant everything to be or not.

Overall, I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars. Some poems were great and I could feel that Murray really put his heart into his poems. I just did not personally understand the context of some of them and I wish they would have told a story more than being sporadic. If you're into poetry, you may want to check out this one out or maybe one of his other poetry books. I have read that this was not his strongest works and that he has some more powerful ones out there. If you're not into poetry books, you then you might want to pass.

Until next time, Happy Reading!



Monday, May 25, 2020

Book Review: Storms of Malhado

STORMS OF MALHADO by
MARIA ELENA SANDOVICI
Genre: Historical Fiction / Ghosts Publisher: Independently Published Date of Publication: March 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 252
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Galveston Island, Texas, September 2008 Katie doesn’t believe in ghosts. And she certainly doesn’t believe the rumors that her family’s home is haunted, despite its tragic history: two young women who lived there in different eras died in hurricanesone during Hurricane Carla in 1961, one during the Great Storm of 1900, the greatest natural disaster to befall the United States. But that was the past, a fact Katie reminds herself of when she returns to Galveston to await Hurricane Ike with her parents and boyfriend in her family’s Broadway mansion, hoping to rekindle her flailing relationship. While Katie is not afraid of the ghost stories she’s heard, she is afraid of the monster storm approaching. As even die-hard Islanders evacuate, her fears grow—fear of the looming hurricane, fear that she’s talentless as a painter, fear that her relationship with her boyfriend is already over. As Katie struggles against her fears, the past whispers to her of the women who died there and the haunting similarities they share with Katie’s own life. 
Through three different timelines, Storms of Malhado weaves a story of Galveston’s past, underscoring its danger and isolation, as well as its remarkable resilience, and its capacity for both nostalgia and reinvention. Full of contradictions, at once insular and open to the world, Galveston Island is as much a character of the novel as Katie, Suzanne, Betty, their lovers, and their confidantes.




PRAISE FOR STORMS OF MALHADO:

“Taking place entirely on a beautifully moody Galveston Island, Ms. Sandovici weaves three simultaneous stories with ease. With a timeless tale, ethereal language, and complicated characters, readers will be entranced by this modern ghost story. How many times can the past repeat itself? How do we recognize people through generations? The author tackles this topic amid a backdrop of violent nature and intangible dreamscapes."  —Courtney Brandt, author of The Queen of England: Coronation, Grand Tour, Ascension ”Three women, three great storms, and one house, haunted by forbidden love and frustrated ambition. Get ready to be swept away by Sandovici’s foray into Galveston Island’s tempestuous history in this tale of lives intertwined across time.” —Donna Dechen Birdwell, author of Not Knowing
CLICK TO PURCHASE
Amazon 
 




First off, I have not ventured to Galveston, Texas in a hot minute. I have been wanting to go, I just haven't gotten around to it and it doesn't look like I'm going to get there any time in the immediate future. Luckily, I read a beautiful book that takes place in Galveston so that I can travel there in my imagination.

Not only did I travel to Galveston, but I traveled through 3 different timelines. The book dealt with 3 sets of characters from 3 sets of timeline whose red thread connects them at the end of the book through the events of 3 different hurricanes, The Great Storm (1900), Hurrican Carla (1961), and Hurricane Ike (2008). The author does a fabulous job of traveling back and forth between the different times without having the reader get too confused or sounding choppy. All characters had their own personality in each timeline, even if they were all supposed to be the same characters. Of course, they did have some of the same characteristics, they were still their own person and that made me happy to read because sometimes I wonder if when I die, will I come back in a different timeline until the world ends? 

"She was the kind of woman who cried over the gardener, smoked in the attic, contemplated drowning herself in the bathtub, and neglected calling her mother." 

The imagery in this book is also something to rave about. I could distinctly create each decade's surroundings, how everyone looked, what everyone wore and what the house of Malhado looked like as time passed on. The author does a great job at painting the picture for you, much like our main character likes to paint and she does it well. Made me want to really visit Galveston.

There was nothing really wrong with this book, the only thing for me was the ending. I thought that while I understood the ending and why everything happened, I thought it was a little corny, but that's just me.

Despite my opinion about the ending, it was still a great and interesting book that you will not be able to put down once you start. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars. It was not what I had thought it was going to be when I first read the synopsis. I thought it was going to be more ghosty it wasn't but it turned out to be even better than a ghost story. Defintiley recommend putting this on your list of books to read. Until next time, Happy Reading!





Maria Elena Sandovici is a full-time writer, artist, and gallery owner living in Houston, Texas. After obtaining a Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2005, her curiosity led her to Texas, where she taught at Lamar University for fourteen years. She felt attracted to Galveston Island from her first visit and lived there part-time for three years before her artistic career took her to Houston. 
Sandovici is a 2008 graduate of John Ross Palmer's Escapist Mentorship Program, a program that teaches artists business skills. She resigned from her tenured academic position in December 2018 and opened her own private gallery space. Her previous works of fiction are Dogs with Bagels, Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches, Lost Path to Solitude, The Adventures of Miss Vulpe, and Lone Wolf. She is also the author of Stop and Smell the Garbage, a volume of poetry in the voice of her dog, Holly Golightly. You can follow her daily adventures on her blog HaveWatercolorsWillTravel.blog.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Rainy Book Blitz: Thank You, Garden


THANK YOU, GARDEN
By LIZ GARTON SCANLON
Illustrated by Simone Shin
Children's Picture Book / Poetry / Environment / Ages 3-7 Publisher: Beach Lane Books / Simon & Schuster
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 32



A community garden unites neighbors in this celebration of all the things that grow there, from flowers and fruits, to friendships!  This ode to working together for a better world will have young readers wanting to plant gardens of their own!
CLICK TO PURCHASE








Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of many beloved books for kids, including the brand new Thank You, Garden, as well as the Caldecott Honor book All the World and others, including several co-authored with her pal Audrey Vernick. Scanlon also wrote the middle grade novel The Great Good Summer and is published in numerous poetry anthologies. She serves on the faculty of the Vermont Faculty of Fine Arts and is a frequent and popular presenter at conferences and festivals. Find more about her life and work at www.LizGartonScanlon.com





Follow illustrator Simone Shin on Instagram!
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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Rainy Thoughts: Quarantine Life Week 8

You guys, it has been 8 weeks since I started quarantine(ing) and I am measuring my quarantine by when I started working from home, so that has been a full 8 weeks. It's crazy. Week 8. It has me writing letters to friends and doing renditions of Broadway musicals. For those of you who don't know, I took theatre from middle school to high school and even took a class in college. That was actually going to be my major in college until I came to the realization that if I can't sing, I was not going to make it. So here I am, making my poor furbabies and husband endure my performances.

Quarantine also has me feeling accomplished. I have done quite a lot, and purchased quite a lot, for stuff I've been needing to do and get for the house but just didn't have time or was using the money for something else. But now, I don't have any excuses. My husband and I also have this great cleaning schedule going on and I'm definitely going to miss that once we go back to work.

Quarantine also has me missing everyday life. When I get out of quarantine, I am going to enjoy movies again with popcorn and a spiked Icee. I am going to go to 90's night at Brass Monkey and I'm going to Emo Night at the Paper Tiger and drink that red drink at The Amp Room. I'm going to visit my family and my in-laws in Corpus. And I'm going to take my dog out to the dog park again. And I'm going to plan my next vacation.

But for now, I'm going to continue to stay home (with the occasional walk around the trails). Quarantine has made me appreciate the things and people in my life. I love the feeling of being in a cool room, reading a book, watching YouTube videos, writing and playing Animal Crossing. I love spending time with my husband and our cat and dog. And though we are in a sucky situation, I still love my life.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Book Review: Full Circle


FULL CIRCLE: A MEMOIR
by
PAMELA LOMBANA
Genre:  Memoir / Domestic Abuse / Forgiveness  Publisher: Wordfall Publishing
Date of Publication: December 5, 2019
Number of Pages: 217 Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

Alcoholism and domestic abuse creep silently into people’s lives, shattering dreams. For Pamela Lombana, the excitement of marriage turned into paralyzing fear as alcohol became her husband’s best friend. Surviving the daily physical and emotional abuse was the norm for her and their children. Full Circle tells the story of how love and God’s abiding grace helped Pamela find the strength to leave her husband, Fernando. During this journey, healing and forgiveness allowed her and the children to be there for him when he needed them the most.
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I love to read memoir books. I just find that learning about other people and how they have experienced life just really puts me into perspective and always reminds me that we are all human. This book is no exception. The author was so honest about her feelings throughout this book that it never felt like she was faking something to make the plot seem thicker than what it was. She was open to everything that happened with her father, her husband, her family, herself. You can tell that she has come a long way from where she was and by the end of the book,  I was just so proud and happy for her.

When you are on the other side reading and hearing about these stories of abuse, it is easy to say how you wouldn't have let that happen and that you would have just left at the first sign. But the author does a great job of giving us the insight we need to understand where she is coming from. Why she chose the path she did. Why she stayed. She lays it all out for us so that we can better understand where she is coming from.

The author also just lives an interesting life that you can't help but want to know more about. She made her won wedding dress, she went on random trips to China, and she helps people from all walks of life. You also can't help but admire the resilience she has when she is going through the tough times. And how open and honest she is not just with her reader, but with her own kids.
 
While there were sad times throughout the book, there were also happy moments that shined out and made the reader happy that she got to experience happy times as well. One of my favorite happy moments is when the author lets us know that when something good happens she and her kids throw their hands in the air and say "I love my life!" I just found that to be an awesome thing to do, something I would like to do when I decide to have children.
 
I also appreciated the personal touch of this book when the author puts in her letters that she wrote to her kids. She doesn't put a ton, but she puts in the ones that make sense on where the story is going. That simple touch just makes the story seem more authentic. 
 
Overall, I give this book a 5 out of 5. I loved the honesty and gives great insight into her life. She lives an interesting life that keeps you turning every page and wondering what will happen next. This is also an easy read, so a good pick for those of you who like to read but may not always have a lot of time And it was fun to jump for joy in the happy moments with our author as she reminds me and all of us that we should love our life! Until next time, Happy Reading!
 


Pamela Lombana grew up in Colombia, South America, and emigrated to the United States to attend university. In 1999, Pamela became a pediatric nurse practitioner and went on to run a pediatric clinic in Spring Branch, Texas. Pamela loves working with families and children and focuses on educating her patients and their families. Pamela values strong family ties and friendships. She has three children and four stepchildren. Writing is a passion that started in Pamela's teenage years. She enjoys being amongst nature and loves to go hiking with her husband, Mark. Pamela is passionate about empowering women and providing them with tools to navigate life through her book, Full Circle: A Memoir, her blog, and Wordfall Publishing. Pamela wrote her memoir to offer hope and courage to women experiencing alcoholic and abusive situations.
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