4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · coming of age · contemporary fiction · mental health · Young Adult

The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson | ARC #BookReview #MeToo #IReadYA

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The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson

Rating: 4 stars 

Published: June 18, 2019 

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers 

Pages: 304

Genres: contemporary fiction, young adult, mental health

Recommend to fans of: teenagers exploring difficult topics and phases in life, young women finding their voice, the #MeToo movement 

 

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Laurie Halse Anderson and Sara Zarr, one girl embraces the power of her voice: rules are meant to be broken and she won’t stay silent.

Seventeen-year-old Skye has her sights set on one thing: getting the heck out of Dodge. Art school is her ticket out and she’s already been accepted to her first choice, MICA. All she has to do is survive her senior year, not get too drunk at parties, and be there for her little sister, Emma. Sure, she’s usually battling a hangover when she drives to pick Emma up, but she has everything under control. Until he returns.

When her mom’s ex-boyfriend slithers his way back into her family, it’s all Skye can do to keep the walls of her world from crumbling. Her family has no idea Skye has been guarding a dark secret about her past–about him–and she never thought she would have to face him again. She knows she has to get away from him at all costs. But how can she abandon Emma? Skye’s heart is torn between escaping the man who hurt her years ago and protecting her loved ones from the monster in their midst. Running away from her fears isn’t an option. To save her sister–and herself–she’ll have to break all the rules.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Viking Books for Young Readers, and Laura Sibson for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Trigger warning: sexual abuse of a child 

Like: 

  • The foreshadowing – good, but is about terrible things to come 
  • The main character: Skye
  • Good perspective about college: a way to be who you could be and learn lots about yourself, life and a career
  • The abuse isn’t too graphic or triggering in my opinion
  • Very realistic portrayal of a teenager coming to terms with being sexually abused by her step father and the impact it has on her life 

Love: 

  • Discusses very difficult to talk about topics (sexual abuse) as the character is experiencing them 
  • Art as a way to express oneself in a way that words can’t 

Dislike: 

  • Lots of drugs, drinking and partying – it’s realistic to the character and her situation, but it’s not something that I enjoyed reading about 
  • The teenage boy that she had a relationship with/ didn’t consent to/ doesn’t remember that night — confusing and not sure if I read that scene correctly 
  • Most of the book in some manner, revolves around the main character being sexually abused 

Wish that: 

  • there was more opportunity for her mother to explain, think about, and remember what happened on the day her daughter was sexually abused. The story wraps up rather quickly and doesn’t give much time to explore what happened further. 
  • The story was a little more balanced, in terms of content. 

Overall, a good realistic portrayal of Skye, a teenage girl, coming to terms with being sexually abused by her step father years ago. A definite trigger warning for most of the story revolving around this topic, but it doesn’t get too explicitly graphic. I would have liked a more well balanced story, but in general an important and fairly enjoyable read. 

 

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3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · LGBTQIA+ Books · Medical · romance

Love to the Rescue by Radclyffe | #BookReview #LGBTQIA+ #RomanceBooks

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Love to the Rescue by Radclyffe

 

Rating: 3.5 stars

Published: April 1, 2019

Publisher: Radclyffe

Pages: 240

Genres: Romance, medical, LGBTQIA+

Recommend to fans of: Radl

 

Synopsis:

 

The last time Brody Clark left the Rivers, she walked away from her life―her foolish dreams, her few friends, and the secrets she’d kept from everyone. For ten years she’d told herself there was nothing in her past she cared about―not the family who’d given her a home or the one girl she never stopped thinking about. But now she’s back as part of the new medevac flight crew, for at least as long as it takes to finally bury her ghosts.
Val Valentine, DVM, planned on a big city boutique vet practice with high profile clients, easy hours, and lucrative profits. All until the man who was more father to her than her own asks for her help, and she ends up back in the backwater where all she has are bad memories.
Brody figures cutting her ties to the past would be a hell of a lot easier if she could only avoid the woman she’s never been able to forget. Since Val never even knew she was alive back in high school, that shouldn’t be too hard now. When their lives collide, both women discover what might have been is closer than they think.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Radclyffe for the ebook copy to review.

Like:

– The publisher: almost always creates great books and many that are centered around the medical world
– ER, medics, vet practice all in one book – authentic and well written as always
– Lots of details to get to know the town and make it feel like you’re really there in the story
– Romance, but need to wait until more than half way through for it

Love:
– Good representation LGBTQIA+
– Romance in the medical field – a personal favorite of mine
– Medical info is well done – always makes for a much better, more authentic read
– There’s a trans character as well

Dislike:
– Couldn’t get into the book in the beginning – I read other books from the same author and was captivated right away. To be fair, I was tired when reading Love to the Rescue so that may have been a factor.
– The tension, awkwardness and almost hatred at the beginning
– Family drama – might be realistic but not enjoyable to read about

Wish that:
– Captured my attention more
– More of a feel good book. It’s not bad, but lately I’m not quite in the mood for drama and tension in my personal life.

Overall, good but not my favorite novel that I’ve read by Radclyffe. As always, I love the romance, medical field setting, and LGBTQIA+ centric characters. I didn’t love the tension and family drama throughout. I would still recommend Love to the Rescue by Radclyffe.

 

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Young Adult

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

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Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Rating: 5 stars 

Published: June 4, 2019 

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 368 

Genres: contemporary, young adult, retellings 

Recommend to fans of: fun upbeat books, family drama and romance combined

 

Synopsis:

A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.

Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Berkley Books and Uzma Jalaluddin for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

– Labeled as a modern day Pride and Prejudice

– Set in Canada – allows the story to be told without all the political ramifications of the current U.S. President

– The colors of the book cover will make sense once you read the book 

Love:

– Shows the varying degree to which Muslims practice their religion and engage in the culture while living in the Western world

– Brings me such joy to read. You’ve gotta love a book like that!

– The love story is so darn cute

– I couldn’t stop reading. Something about the characters, the drama, the love story … all of it combined makes for a can’t put down read.

– The perfect mix of religion and culture, family drama, and contemporary romance – needed all of these elements to make the book come together so well

– The family dynamics … aka DRAMA but in a good way filled with a lot of love

– The rishtas (arranged marriage proposals) — I’m not a fan of the concept, but it was fascinating and endearing to read about. 

Dislike:

– The prejudiced boss

– The judgmental people in general 

– Certain characters being forced into an arranged marriage

Wish that:

– There’s a sequel to the book – cannot wait to read more

– The ending didn’t wrap up so quickly- would have liked another 20 pages or so

Overall, a wonderful book that was an absolute joy to read. At its core the story is a romance while still including complex family dynamics, community, and the realities of being Muslim in the Western world. I would love to read another book by the author.

 

 

I LOOOOOOOOVED this book!

What about you?

Have you read it?

What did you think?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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Book Reviews · Bookish Posts · Uncategorized

April and May Reading Wrap Up | #BookReviews

I’m back here on my blog. If you follow me on Twitter (@BooksAndLife1) and Instagram (@bookslifeandeverythingnice)  you’ll see my recent tweets about my absence. Sorry about that. I’ve had a lot going on and the stress (and extra time it takes) to blog was too much. I’ve still been reading and reviewing books on my Goodreads.

I’ve read a lot of great books (and some not so great) that I want to share with you …. but catching up on a backlog of 20+ books is not realistic. So I’m going to do a very quick wrap of the books I’ve read since my last book review posted on my blog. Organized by star ratings and click on the title of each book to be taken to my review on Goodreads.

 

2 Stars

              The Woman in the Blue Cloak                                 The Favorite Daughter

                      by Deon Meyer                                                            by Kara Rouda

2.5 Stars

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Before She Was Found

by Heather Gudenkauf

 

3 Stars

Waisted  by Randy Susan Meyers                    

   Women Talking by Miriam Toews         

The Mother-in-Law  by Sally Hepworth                 

Midnight at the Wandering Vineyard by Jamie Raintree

3.5 Stars

 

 All Our Broken Pieces                         Dear Wife                            The Lovely and the Lost

  by L.D. Crichton                         by Kimberly Belle                     by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

 

4 Stars

The Doctor Takes a Detour by Bren Christopher

The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour by Sunita Puri

Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer

4.5 Stars

 

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Roar by Cecelia Ahern

 

5 Stars

 

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin 

Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea

Keeping Lucy by T. Greenwood

Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs 

 

 

So that was a lot of books to recap, but I hope you enjoyed it!

 

Which ones have you read? What did you think of them? Which books do you still need to read? 

 

 

Uncategorized

My #EtsyShop

white and pink floral freestanding letter decor
Photo by rovenimages.com on Pexels.com

 

That’s right, I have any Etsy Shop!

I’ve posted about it some on Twitter and Instagram, but I wanted to formally announce it on my blog as well. 

Sings Of Our Life on Etsy 

https://www.etsy.com/shop/SignsOfOurLife

featuring Photography, Adult Coloring Pages, Digital Art, Printables, and Garden Signs 

Right now I create digital download products – available instantly – so no waiting or paying for shipping 

I would love for you to check it out, favorite my shop and purchase an item that strikes your fancy if you feel so inclined. 

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · memoir · non fiction · Sports

Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic #Gymnastics Culture by Rachel Haines | ARC #BookReview

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Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic Gymnastics Culture by Rachel Haines

Published: April 12, 2019

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 

Pages: 144 

Genres: non fiction, memoir, sports

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: gymnastics, women speaking out, learning more about the culture of abuse, strong women 

Foodie Vibes: oooh, that’s a tough one when it comes to gymnastics – ideally it should be a healthy mix of lean protein, complex carbs and lots of vegetables, but in reality it’s probably a lot of disordered eating 

 

Synopsis:

Two-year-old Rachel Haines didn’t know that she would be committing to twenty-one years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance as she jumped into the foam pit during her first “mommy and me” gymnastics class. She had no idea that one day she would become a two-time National Team Member, two-time National Champion, and a Division I college gymnast at the University of Minnesota. Nor could she have known that she had just signed herself up for serious injury, emotional distress, and continuous sexual assault by world-renowned trainer turned serial molester, Larry Nassar.

In Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic Gymnastics Culture, Rachel details her experiences as a competitive gymnast and the painful realities of being one of Nassar’s many victims. With honesty and candidness, Rachel shares how the sport she loved that gave her so much—friendships, accomplishments, a college education—is also tangled in a dangerously toxic culture that needs to be fixed. In a world that was setting her up for a lifetime of recovery, she tells how faith, family, and an army of survivors made healing possible.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, and Rachel Haines for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • She was able to speak her truth and current perspective of John Geddert. She enjoyed having him as a coach. Many other people have spoken out against his abusive coaching techniques, which I absolutely believe. But the problems of the sport of gymnastics are not one sided, so its good that everyone can tell their story. 
  • Hearing her perspective of the story (her’s only), not just what we were getting from the media
  • I can see this being the first of many books written, by different authors, about the same subject. Finally the world is getting a more complete view of gymnastics – the good and the bad.

Love: 

  • She’s using her voice to tell her story and speak out against the abuse and toxic culture of the sport.
  • Discusses the abuse without being unnecessarily overly graphic, IMO
  • Discusses the abusive culture of gymnastics as a whole, because it’s not just one person’s bad actions 

Dislike:

  • The culture of abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual) that’s been allowed throughout the sport of gymnastics, because of the people in charge not putting athlete safety and well being first 

Wish that:

  • It was a bit longer. The content is great and the perfect length, but I would have liked to hear more about the sport as a whole and the culture of abuse across multiple gyms. Maybe that’s for another book and I would absolutely read that too.

Overall, a very necessary book about the current culture within the sport of gymnastics. A great read about a difficult topic. I think everyone needs to read Rachel’s story, especially anyone currently or ever involved in the sport. 

 

How many of you did gymnastics as a kid?

 

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Uncategorized

Where I’ve Been . . .

I’ve been super busy lately. Well and have some migraines that make reading and type book reviews a bit difficult. But mainly busy with life and creative projects. So for now to save time, I’m not posting my reviews here on my blog. They’re still being posted on my Goodreads and NetGalley. So be sure to follow me there, so you don’t miss out!

 

And you can find me on Twitter and Instagram, talking all things bookish, fun, and creative.

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · feminism · history · non fiction · Uncategorized

The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home by Heath Hardage Lee | ARC #BookReview

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The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home by Heath Hardage Lee 

Published: April 2, 2019 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 336

Genres: non fiction, history, feminism 

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: books about strong military wives 

Foodie Vibes: coffee and a freshly baked coffee cake to offer guests even when you’re grieving the loss of your husband —- because you have to be a good Navy Wife

 

Synopsis: 

The true story of the fierce band of women who battled Washington—and Hanoi—to bring their husbands home from the jungles of Vietnam.

On February 12, 1973, one hundred and fifteen men who, just six years earlier, had been high flying Navy and Air Force pilots, shuffled, limped, or were carried off a huge military transport plane at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. These American servicemen had endured years of brutal torture, kept shackled and starving in solitary confinement, in rat-infested, mosquito-laden prisons, the worst of which was The Hanoi Hilton.

Months later, the first Vietnam POWs to return home would learn that their rescuers were their wives, a group of women that included Jane Denton, Sybil Stockdale, Louise Mulligan, Andrea Rander, Phyllis Galanti, and Helene Knapp. These women, who formed The National League of Families, would never have called themselves “feminists,” but they had become the POW and MIAs most fervent advocates, going to extraordinary lengths to facilitate their husbands’ freedom—and to account for missing military men—by relentlessly lobbying government leaders, conducting a savvy media campaign, conducting covert meetings with antiwar activists, most astonishingly, helping to code secret letters to their imprisoned husbands.

In a page-turning work of narrative non-fiction, Heath Hardage Lee tells the story of these remarkable women for the first time in The League of Wives, a book certain to be on everyone’s must-read list.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Heath Hardage Lee for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • I could see this making a good movie. 
  • Different women and their personalities represented 
  • Recognize some of the POWs as future politicians 
  • A not too political look at the Vietnam War 

Love:

  • The feminism
  • The wives went from shutting up, behaving themselves, and being good Navy Wives to forces of nature changing thoughts and minds during the Vietnam War #BadAssLadies

Dislike:

  • Many parts are boring and drawn out – the first 1/2 of the book 

Wish that: 

  • It was not as underwhelming 
  • Got to the interesting parts quicker 

Overall, a good interesting book about the strong women whose husbands were POW/MIA soldiers during the Vietnam War. It’s a heartwarming story about a terrible event, but the details don’t interest me that much. 

 

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3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · feminism · non fiction · psychology · science · Self Help · Uncategorized

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski  | ARC #BookReview

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Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski 

Published: March 26, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Pages: 320

Genres: non fiction, self help, science, psychology, feminism

Rating: 3.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: stressed out caregivers, women trying to figure out how to make their life better

Foodie Vibes: a healthy balanced meal with a dessert that you can eat at a leisurely pace without stress

 

Synopsis: 

This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.

Burnout. Many women in America have experienced it. What’s expected of women and what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s world are two very different things—and women exhaust themselves trying to close the gap between them. How can you “love your body” when every magazine cover has ten diet tips for becoming “your best self”? How do you “lean in” at work when you’re already operating at 110 percent and aren’t recognized for it? How can you live happily and healthily in a sexist world that is constantly telling you you’re too fat, too needy, too noisy, and too selfish?

Sisters Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, are here to help end the cycle of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead of asking us to ignore the very real obstacles and societal pressures that stand between women and well-being, they explain with compassion and optimism what we’re up against—and show us how to fight back. In these pages you’ll learn

• what you can do to complete the biological stress cycle—and return your body to a state of relaxation
• how to manage the “monitor” in your brain that regulates the emotion of frustration
• how the Bikini Industrial Complex makes it difficult for women to love their bodies—and how to defend yourself against it
• why rest, human connection, and befriending your inner critic are keys to recovering and preventing burnout

With the help of eye-opening science, prescriptive advice, and helpful worksheets and exercises, all women will find something transformative in these pages—and will be empowered to create positive change. Emily and Amelia aren’t here to preach the broad platitudes of expensive self-care or insist that we strive for the impossible goal of “having it all.” Instead, they tell us that we are enough, just as we are—and that wellness, true wellness, is within our reach.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Ballantine Books, and Emily and Amelia Nagoski for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like: 

  • Very educational, especially the science behind burnout and stress
  • There’s a book talking about burnout – need more of these!!!
  • Examples of how family and friends can step up and help reduce the stress on the caregivers – even though I don’t anticipate my family doing those things to help me

Love:

  • The explanation about the emotional expectations for caregivers – so spot on !
  • Goes into how stress can affect the body physically 

Dislike: 

Wish that:

  • It was more what I was hoping for. I was hoping for more practical applications, not just telling me the science of it. 
  • More examples of people dealing with burnout that related to me — didn’t see myself represented much in the book despite myself being a caregiver experiencing stress and burnout

Overall, there’s lots of good, science based information about stress and burnout. However, I wish that I related to the book more as I thought it was really going to help me. 

 

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4 Star Books · Book Reviews · crime · memoir · non fiction · True Crime

A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming by Kerri Rawson | New Release #BookReview

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A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming by Kerri Rawson

Published: January 29, 2019 

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Pages: 336

Genres: non fiction, memoir, true crime 

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: truly honest memoirs, true crime books from a different perspective

Foodie Vibes: barely anything, because you’re too stressed to eat

 

Synopsis:

What is it like to learn that your ordinary, loving father is a serial killer?
 
In 2005, Kerri Rawson heard a knock on the door of her apartment. When she opened it, an FBI agent informed her that her father had been arrested for murdering ten people, including two children. It was then that she learned her father was the notorious serial killer known as BTK, a name he’d given himself that described the horrific way he committed his crimes: bind, torture, kill. As news of his capture spread, Wichita celebrated the end of a thirty-one-year nightmare.

 For Kerri Rawson, another was just beginning. She was plunged into a black hole of horror and disbelief. The same man who had been a loving father, a devoted husband, church president, Boy Scout leader, and a public servant had been using their family as a cover for his heinous crimes since before she was born. Everything she had believed about her life had been a lie.

Written with candor and extraordinary courage, A Serial Killer’s Daughter is an unflinching exploration of life with one of America’s most infamous killers and an astonishing tale of personal and spiritual transformation. For all who suffer from unhealed wounds or the crippling effects of violence, betrayal, and anger, Kerri Rawson’s story offers the hope of reclaiming sanity in the midst of madness, rebuilding a life in the shadow of death, and learning to forgive the unforgivable.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Thomas Nelson, and Kerri Rawson for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Like:

  • It’s about the infamous BTK killer without being too graphic
  • Shows how manipulative BTK was to even his own family
  • Interesting to read 
  • Sparked a conversation when I told other people what I was reading 

Love:

  • Get a different perspective than many other true crime books
  • The author gets to speak up about how her dad’s crimes impacted her life – seems validating

Dislike:

  • There was so many pages about a family hiking trip, early on in the book. It made some good points, but became redundant. 

Wish that:

  • I knew why there American society as a whole is fascinated by serial killers. 
  • The pacing was a bit better.

Overall, an interesting book that I would recommend to people looking to read about serial killers from a completely different perspective. 

 

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