Blog Archive

Monday, February 15, 2021

A Shot At Normal by Marisa Reichardt


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  • Publication date: February 16, 2021 by Farrar Straus and Giroux
  • Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
  • Pages: 352

Dr. Villapando told me to get a good attorney. He wasn’t serious. But I am. I’m going to sue my parents.

Juniper Jade’s parents are hippies. They didn’t attend the first Woodstock, but they were there for the second one. The Jade family lives an all-organic homeschool lifestyle that means no plastics, no cell phones, and no vaccines. It isn’t exactly normal, but it’s the only thing Juniper has ever known. She doesn’t agree with her parents on everything, but she knows that to be in this family, you’ve got to stick to the rules. That is, until the unthinkable happens.

Juniper contracts the measles and unknowingly passes the disease along, with tragic consequences. She is shell-shocked. Juniper knows she is responsible and feels simultaneously helpless and furious at her parents, and herself.

Now, with the help of Nico, the boy who works at the library and loves movies and may just be more than a friend, Juniper comes to a decision: she is going to get vaccinated. Her parents refuse so Juniper arms herself with a lawyer and prepares for battle. But is waging war for her autonomy worth losing her family? How much is Juniper willing to risk for a shot at normal?

Find her on her website, Facebook, IG, and Twitter!

Marisa Reichardt is the critically acclaimed author of the YA novels UNDERWATER, AFTERSHOCKS (2020), and A SHOT AT NORMAL (2021). She has a Master of Professional Writing degree from the University of Southern California and dual degrees in English & American Literature and Creative Writing from UC San Diego. Before becoming a published author, Marisa worked in academic publications, tutored high school students in writing, and shucked oysters. These days, you can probably find her huddled over her laptop in a coffeehouse or swimming in the ocean.

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Friday, February 12, 2021

When I Was Someone Else by Stephane Allix


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  • Publication date: February 16, 2021, by Park Street Press
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 408

While on a spiritual retreat in Peru, journalist St├ęphane Allix experienced a vivid waking vision of a soldier dying on a snowy battlefield, followed by scenes from the soldier’s earlier life. He also clearly saw the man’s name, Alexander Herrmann, and felt a disturbing sense of closeness with the soldier.

Obsessed by the power of this extremely real vision, Allix began an intensive investigation that revealed this individual had actually existed: a German soldier who died in World War II during the 1941 Russian campaign. As he began retracing Herrmann’s past, he found that the other images accompanying the battle scene were also of people who had truly existed and were close to the man who died. Diving deep into German military archives, meeting the man’s surviving family members, and following his own intuitive hunches, the author also discovered that the soldier was part of the Waffen S.S., the infamous Totenkopf Brigade, and his investigation broadened to explore what drove Herrmann to become part of such an organization.

While Allix’s initial impression is that this German soldier was a past life, as he progresses in his rigorous investigation and his decoding of the events surrounding it, he realizes that it was actually his own work with the paranormal and his unresolved feelings over the death of his brother and his father that made him particularly sensitive to the veil between life and death, culminating in the soul of this dead soldier coming to him in search of forgiveness and healing. Allix realizes that his mission is not to bring about the rebirth of this person but to heal him--and the victims of his ignominious actions during the war.

Offering a fascinating exploration of visions, synchronicities, reincarnation, and the connections between the spiritual and physical planes, When I Was Someone Else shares a powerful message of healing after death along with the profound epiphany that light needs darkness to be perceived.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Beautiful Facade by Kathryn S. Rose

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  • Published: February 2, 2021
  • Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
  • Edition: ARC
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

On the day that 16-year-old Winter Starling had her life and dreams shattered by a sexual assault, she meets Kai, a boy from her high school obsessed with music. They develop a deep friendship, which comes to an abrupt end when Kai unexpectedly has to leave. Winter has no idea why he went or any way to contact him.

Ten years pass and Winter has constructed a new reality for herself. Now living in Melbourne, she has a successful career in advertising and is engaged to Liam King, a star player in Australian Rules Football. Winter has a perfect life.

During a night out, Winter runs into Kai, now the lead singer of ‘The Stonevilles.’ Winter and Kai rekindle their friendship, and to everyone around them, their attraction is evident. With Kai back in her life, Winter’s past threatens to ruin her relationship with Liam and everything she has worked to achieve. But can she risk losing Kai a second time?

Emotional and edgy, Beautiful Facade is about love, loss, healing, self-discovery, and the messy battle between one’s head and one’s heart.

Winter Starling is a young woman who appears on the surface to have it all, but that quickly changes when she unintentionally crosses paths with an old friend from the past. She gradually begins to understand that the things she's clinging onto currently aren't what she truly wants, but she is conflicted on whether or not it's worth taking the risk of letting it all go.

On one hand, Winter loves the relationship she has with her fiance. However, she dislikes the constant attention from fans and media when they are out and about. She longs for dates where it is just the two of them and none of the usual fanfare. On the other hand, her old friend was there for her during a difficult time in her life and she feels regret that they grew apart and feels like this chance meeting is her second chance at true love and happiness.

Readers will fall in love with these characters as there is so much self-reflection, personal growth, and vulnerability to be exposed within these pages. I think those who pick up the book will be happy with the ending as I was. 

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Friday, January 22, 2021

Fully Alive: Using Your Individuality To Conquer Addiction by Michael Surdyka


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  • Tentative Release Date: March 2021
  • Genre: Self-Help
  • Edition: ARC
  • Rating: 3 stars

Addiction has been ravaging the world for centuries, yet lifelong sobriety continues to elude many who search after it earnestly. Why is this? The current uninspired success rates for sustained, long-term sobriety provide a significant clue to this question. It appears that there is a conceptual link absent from the addiction-recovery and relapse prevention processes: the ability to harness the power of one’s individuality in a productive and beneficial way. Although many treatment programs teach generalized recovery concepts, Fully Alive: Using Your Individuality to Conquer Addiction adopts a more personalized approach to developing, and then preserving, rewarding life of sobriety. Packed with self-diagnosing worksheets, multiple full-color infographics, and a revolutionary recovery tool called The Sobriety Blueprint; this detailed plan maps out your new life in a format that is instinctive, purposeful, and based upon the most important part of your recovery—YOU. 

By strategically focusing on your unique personality, likes, dislikes, interests, talents, and past failures, particularly when creating a plan of attack, your recovery becomes an extension of who you are, and thus more natural and gratifying. The practical advice, in-depth techniques, and real-life insights laid out to you in this action guide are powerful weapons to help you cultivate a deep-rooted, rock-solid recovery foundation. In addition, we will explore the fundamental task of devising a battle plan for relapse prevention. This, combined with The Sobriety Blueprint gives you the firepower to protect against the constant barrage of cravings, urges, and triggers commonly experienced during the volatile first year of sobriety. Soon you’ll be living a healthy, invigorating, and inspiring life, leaving addiction far behind as you finally gain the happiness you deserve.

Although I have not personally struggled with a substance abuse problem, I have several family members that have been inflicted with this crippling disease. It is because of this reason that I am interested in self-help titles centered around addiction. However, I must say that this title was a refreshing take on the self-help genre and how to look at addiction from a modern-day standpoint.

I personally admire the author's passion to truly help struggling individuals and his hard work and efforts shine through this book in practically every chapter! The author provides visual graphics for those who are more of a visual learner, provides motivational quotes, provides testimonials from others who have overcome their addiction, and more! 

Surdyka does not serve readers with the typical "run of the mill" scientific spill about how an addiction is formed and what havoc it wreaks. He instead focuses solely on the individual and understands that one method is not for everyone and that it takes time to tailor a recovery program that will best serve you on your journey to recovery. He provides helpful information and breaks it down in a simplistic form that makes it easier for struggling persons to follow along and really reap the benefits.

As the author previously told me, "I believe addiction is one of the worst epidemics the world is currently facing. I truly feel it's important to get as much information and assistance out to those in the grips of it as possible. Almost everyone has someone in their life who is affected negatively by addiction." I couldn't agree more and hope that this review encourages other grappling addicts to seek out this book and start their own personal road to sobriety or for loved ones with addicts to seek comfort in this title and find ways to help aid in their loved one's battle.

*I was giving a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Origins by Lyla Oweds


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  • Published: August 21, 2018
  • Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
  • Edition: Kindle
  • Pages: 219
  • Rating: 3 stars

The things I see aren’t for the faint of heart.

And I am no longer willing to ignore them. Not even when my family, and my best friend, tell me to keep quiet about what’s happening. They say people will think I’m crazy.

Maybe I am.

But the spirit haunting my professor’s house is definitely trying to tell me something, and I’m the only one who can see it.

The one person who can help me is my best friend's brother. But I don’t know if I can trust him or his friends. Or if I can step outside the protective bubble I’ve built around myself.

At this point it’s a toss up: the ghosts will kill me or my panic attacks will.

Either way, I figure I’m going to die.

This was my first book by this author and it immediately took me back into my middle school years, where young adult vampire novels were my jam. This novel reminded me of The Vampire Diaries series in the sense that there are two brothers, one with a bad reputation and the other is viewed as a saint with a young woman battling to decide who to put her trust in.

At a little over two-hundred pages, this makes for a quick read filled with paranormal magical goodness! I'll definitely be looking into the other books of this series in the near future and encourage others to do the same!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

2020 Reflections & 2021 Intentions

2020 Reflections:
  • I'm aware that I did not post a monthly wrap-up for the month of December. Honestly, I feel like it's too late to post one now. I'll instead let you know that my book count for December was 31 books! 
  • I had made my Goodreads reading challenge for the year 175, but blew it out of the water with 375 titles for the year! ­čĄ»
  • I'd like to thank every person who follows my blog, subscribes to my posts, takes the time to read them, and to all the authors who have reached out in the past year. It's been a pleasure getting to know y'all!

2021 Intentions:

  • Last year, I realized I was taking on way too much and my overall wellbeing suffered because of it. This year, my mantra is: more no, less yes! 
  • Although I crushed my reading goal last year, I decided to only add an extra twenty-five books to my reading goal making it 200 for the year. I didn't want to add pressure onto myself!
  • In case you didn't know, I started a new podcast: The Waking Hour! The lovely Krystal, @bon_bookreviews, is my co-host. You may recall her from my Special Guest Saturday post featuring her. New episodes are every Monday at 8 AM EST!

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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Alex and the Dinosaur Prints by Alex Mika


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  • Published: January 12, 2021
  • Genres: Humor, Memoir, Creative Nonfiction
  • Edition: ARC
  • Pages: 52
  • Rating: 3.5 stars

By examining dinosaurs and the asteroid that made an impact on their lives, this book explores the personal process of growing up, finding a voice, and seeking a meaningful life. 

Alex and the Dinosaur Prints features facts (all dinosaurs laid eggs), speculations (is the T-Rex the dinosaur version of Rambo?), and a ruined pair of pants (pockets are not for storing tree sap). Oh, and the asteroid gets its own song.

This was my first book by the author and even though it was short in length, I'm still thinking about it over two months after reading the book! For those that follow my blog, you are aware of my love for memoirs; even though this one is a bit different than my norm, it was still great having the author provide personal stories along with his interesting facts about dinosaurs and other nature topics.

This one would be perfect for families of young children who are interested in such scientific topics, for families trying to get their young children into reading, or perfect for anyone of any age looking for something out of their norm to provide some lighthearted reading enjoyment!

*I received an ARC of this title via the author in exchange for an honest review!

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