3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · LGBTQIA+ Books · non fiction · religion

New Release | She’s My Dad by Jonathan Williams

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She’s My Dad by Jonathan Williams 

Published: November 8, 2018

Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press

Pages: 200

Genres: non fiction, LGBTQIA+, religion

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: modern day religion, real trans people’s stories, church and the LGBTQIA+

Foodie Vibes: sensible healthy meal to fuel your mind and body

 

Synopsis:

Jonathan S. Williams was three months into pastoring a new, evangelical church plant when his father confessed a secret: he was transgender. His father, Paul, a prominent evangelical pastor, soon became Paula, and Jonathan’s life and ministry went into a tailspin. Feeling betrayed by his mentor and confidante and scared that his church would lose funding and support if Paula’s secret was exposed, Jonathan sunk into depression and alcoholism.

She’s My Dad explores Jonathan’s long and winding journey toward reconciliation, forgiveness, and acceptance of his father as well as his church’s journey to become one of the few fully LGBTQ-inclusive, evangelical churches in America. Jonathan and Paula offer insight and encouragement for those with transgender family members, empathizing with the feelings of loss and trauma and understanding that even being LGBTQ-affirming doesn’t mean the transition of a family member will be easy. Jonathan writes of his family’s continuing evolution, the meaning of remaining loyal to one’s father even when she is no longer a man, the ongoing theological evolution surrounding transgender rights and advocacy in the church, and the unflinching self-scrutiny of a pastor who lost his God only to find God again in his father’s transition.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

She’s My Dad tells the story of Jonathan’s Dad transitioning to her true self, Paula. The book is honest about the challenges, learning process and love that goes into having a family member transition. The process is made even more complex, because Paula is a pastor in the Evangelical church. 

I liked that the chapters alternated perspectives between Jonathan and Paula, allowing the reader to better understand the story from all perspectives. I didn’t realize the focus in religion would be so great. I’m not religious, but I learned a lot about churches excluding or choosing to include LGBTQIA+ people. I think the book could be very helpful and validating for people who are religious and identify as LGBTQIA+. 

While it was hard to hear Jonathan’s struggles about his dad transitioning, it was honest. For awhile he didn’t seem very kind to Paula, which bothered me. I think a lot of people can relate to the loss and confusion they may also feel. I feel like the book focused on the church a lot, and maybe would have been more well rounded by including a wider variety of experiences. 

Overall, an honest, educational and heartfelt book about Jonathan and his dad, Paula’s story. 

  • In the book, Jonathan refers to Paula as his dad, so to my knowledge I’m not misgendering anyone. But if I’m wrong, please correct me.

 

Answer me this:

How can churches work to better serve their LGBTQIA+ congregation?

3 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mystery · POC · Urban Fiction

New Release | Triple Threat by Camryn King

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Triple Threat by Camryn King 

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: Dafina Books

Pages: 320

Genres: contemporary fiction, urban fiction, POC, contemporary romance, mystery

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to: readers who want a behind the scenes look at fame in the elite sports world, fans of indecent love gone wrong, Law and Order SVU, justice

Foodie Vibes: healthy fueling meal of salmon, green salad and whole grains — prepared by a personal chef

 

Synopsis:

Mallory Knight knows all too well how perfect lives can be illusions. And after surviving an elusive stalker and a wrenching investigation, this determined journalist wants to profile someone whose life is an open book. Superstar athlete Christian Graham seems to be the real thing—and he’s the kind of honorable, understanding man Mallory never thought she’d find. He also knows rejection and loss…and their instant attraction burns too hot to resist. Until she gets a strange anonymous lead. Until her instincts uncover secrets that make every generous public gesture seem like a lie—and turn every seductive touch into a trap. Now, with her career and reputation on the line, Mallory won’t stop pursuing the truth—even if real justice devastates everything she can’t afford to lose…

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Dafina Books and Camryn King for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Triple Threat is the story of a journalist trying to investigate the death of her best friend. It was ruled a suicide after some sloppy police work, but Mallory knows better. The evidence doesn’t add up. She uses her resources and skills learned during her career to obtain justice for her friend.

It took me awhile to get into the story. The first 50 pages or so, I didn’t really care about it, but the story and characters slowly grew on me over time. Also there are a lot of people/circumstances that are interconnected but the connections weren’t made clear until later on in the book. The more I know, the more I enjoyed it. Also, certain characters’ disregard for women definitely bothered me. He wasn’t all bad though.

Now onto the positives. The book gives a behind the scenes look at very successful professional athletes. Specifically the world of basketball. Showing the good an athlete can do with their fame was great. The mystery aspect was intriguing too. It reminded me of an episode of Law and Order SVU. So definitely a plus in my book!

Overall some hits and some misses with Triple Threat. Great representation of professionals in an urban setting.

 

How far would you go to find justice for your friend?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

3 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · LGBTQIA+ Books · mystery

New Release | All Things by Amber Belldene

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All Things by Amber Belldene

Published: September 9, 2018

Publisher: Amber Belldene

Pages: 305

Genres: LGBTQIA+, mystery

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: books with great diverse representation, modern day religion, strong friendships

Foodie Vibes: green tea and vegan baked goods from a local bakery

 

Synopsis:

A priest and a rabbi walk into a lesbian bar…

If something is unjust in San Francisco’s Mission District, the Reverend Alma Lee will face it down. She leads her vibrant church of St. Giles’ with compassion and sass. Her busy days involve match-making, meddling, and saving the city’s beloved lesbian landmark, The Carlos Club. Alma meets the intriguing Rabbi Naomi Cohen there, and she’s smitten.

Death comes to the church’s door…

When the proprietor of The Carlos Club turns up dead on the steps of St. Giles’, Naomi’s brother is the number one suspect. She needs help exonerating him, and Alma’s knowledge of the neighborhood makes her the perfect priest to solve the case. If only Alma’s ex-boyfriend, homicide detective Cesar Garza will accept her help. She still feels the pull of their old connection, but she’s convinced the sexy-smart rabbi is her perfect mate. . . Too bad Naomi is playing by different rules.

Can Alma solve the case before the murderer silences her forever?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Amber Belldene for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The book starts out with a lesbian Reverend at a bar. And no, that’s not the beginning of a politically incorrect joke. All Things centers around Alma, a Reverend at the local church. We are along for all the drama that’s happening in her life these days. The book is primarily a murder mystery with veganism, modern day religion, and LGBTQIA+ representation playing a significant secondary role in this unique book.

The characters and inclusivity were the best part. I wanted to keep reading about some of these characters no matter the plot. The character development throughout was good too. Inclusivity and representation of people in non traditional churches is refreshing as well.

However the murder mystery was only okay. It kept me guessing, but I wasn’t as pulled into the mystery as I would have liked. Also there were so many references to veganism. To be clear, I have nothing against veganism, but the references weren’t subtle. Way too much telling instead of showing. The repetitiveness of telling us she’s vegan became annoying after awhile.

Overall, an enjoyable unique murder mystery that has a little something for everyone.

 

Do you love books about religion or steer clear? Or maybe somewhere in the middle?

3 Star Books · contemporary romance · romance

ARC Book Review | Accidentally in Love with the Pilot by Teri Anne Stanely

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Let’s start with the Bookish Question of the Review!

What’s more important to you as a reader? The characters or the storylines? 

Accidentally in Love with the Pilot by Teri Anne Stanley 

Published: August 13, 2018

Publisher: Entangled Publishing; LLC (Lovestruck)

Pages: 255

Genres: romance, contemporary romance

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: contemporary romance, introverted male leads, quirky and supportive families

Read with food: your favorite foods that a kind attractive man will cook for you #goals

 

Synopsis:

Fighter pilot Ben Rutledge loves his solitude. Which means spending a month of leave in overcrowded, over-glitzy Las Vegas isn’t up his alley, especially after his friend ditches him. His first inclination is to bow out, and quickly. Instead, he finds himself sharing drinks—and a whole lot more—with a sexy woman celebrating her birthday. After all, it’s just one night, and he can go back to his quiet life tomorrow.

Megan Shuttlekrump doesn’t have time for a boyfriend, much less a husband. But a night of celebratory drinks with a handsome stranger ends with a ring on her finger—and no memory of how it got there. Her new “husband” is over the top hot, but he’ll be out of her life once his leave is over. As long as they can find out which of the thousand or so chapels in Vegas married them…

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for an ARC copy of the ebook. As always, an honest review.

Accidentally in Love with the Pilot was a bit underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the story, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. Based on the title and summary I thought it would be a typical sexy contemporary romance strongly featuring an alpha male who is a pilot. What we got was a guy who happened to be in town on leave. The pilot aspect really didn’t figure into the story. He could have had almost any other career, and the story would be the same. A missed opportunity in my opinion.

Also Ben is an introvert, which we don’t see as much in romance novels. I quite enjoyed this as it gave the character and book some depth. I also liked that there was a good mix of romance and friendship between Megan and Ben. He truly does encourage her to pursue her dreams while respecting her wishes. The book works well as contemporary fiction and not just romance.

However, the romance aspect wasn’t as great as the rest. There was plenty of sexy time, but the reason Ben and Megan are together feels forced. It moved so fast and didn’t feel at all like a natural progression. For me, it took away from the book.

Overall, I enjoyed the friendship between Ben and Megan. The character growth was enjoyable and added many layers. However the romance didn’t live up to my expectations.

3 Star Books · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

Book Review: Last Witness by Chris Merritt

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Last Witness by Chris Merritt

Published by Bookouture on July 24, 2018

Pages: 325

Genres: mystery, thriller

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: crime thrillers set in the U.K., the balance between police work and family life

Read with: a roast chicken and potato dinner~ appropriately matches the homey feel of the characters’ personal lives

 

Synopsis: 

What if you made one mistake and it came back to kill you? 

Detective Zac Boateng’s old friend, Troy McEwen, is found dead in his home. The official verdict is suicide. But Boateng believes it was murder. And he thinks he might be next on the killer’s list.

If Troy didn’t take his own life, then who did? As he investigates, Boateng discovers a link to an incident from decades earlier. Mistakes were made that day. Lives were lost and secrets kept. Until now…

As more people who were there on that fateful day are found dead, Boateng knows that the killer is closing in on him…

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

Overall I enjoyed Last Witness, but it didn’t wow me. The premise is cliche, but it works. Supposed suicides that only a few people think might actually be murders. As I have found, cliches are cliches for a reason. Because they work. And it does work in this book. The story holds up and generally held my interest throughout. However it took me awhile to be completely pulled into the story. For it to really find it’s footing. I think this might be since the story bounced around a lot at the beginning.

When the book found it’s footing halfway through, I just kept reading to find out who was the killer. I appreciated that both male and female police are represented well. Also, the characters’ family lives are well established and create believable characters. The story still focuses mostly on the mystery, but it’s evident that there’s an entire backstory for all the characters. The author gives them a depth and realness that rounds out the story.

In general, the book has a bit of an unsure start, but comes together to intrigue the reader.

 

What’s the most important aspect of a book for you? 

3 Star Books · Book Reviews

Book Review: Heart Like Mine by Maggie McGinnis

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Heart Like Mine by Maggie McGinnis

Published by: St. Martin’s Paperbacks on April 5, 2016

Pages: 368

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: sweet romances, hospital romances, good people who experience personal growth, Grey’s Anatomy

Read with food: tiramisu and red wine ~ the perfect pairing to go along with the romantic dates between Joshua and Delaney

 

Synopsis:

Delaney Blair loves her job at Echo Lake’s Mercy Hospital, where she’s developed a reputation for being smart, fair, and driven. When she’s assigned to cut funding, she has to temporarily relocate her office, put on borrowed scrubs, and go toe-to-toe with Dr. Joshua Mackenzie, the interim head of the pediatrics department. His killer smile and rock-star body are distractions Delaney could do without, but she’s determined to stay focused while she brings his budget into line. It’s not working.

Beloved by his colleagues and patients alike, Josh is too busy caring for sick kids to talk numbers with the sexy, stiletto-clad Delaney. Every time they talk business, tensions run high…but so does a powerful attraction neither of them can ignore. When an emergency brings Mercy to its knees, Delaney and Josh must work together to save lives. But can they also find a way into each other’s hearts?

Review:

I’ve had Heart Like Mine on my TBR list for awhile now. I finally got around to reading it, but sadly I was a bit disappointed.

The gernal story line and romance was only okay. I enjoyed it more as a contemporary fiction than romance novel. The romance supposedly checked all the right boxes: lakes at sunset, handsome doctor who loves kids, great Italian food, etc. But it didn’t really draw me in that much.

What did really pull me in was the eye opening experiences that Delaney had on the pediatrics floor. Forced to make budget cuts to the pediatrics unit, she is invited to spend time there by none other than Dr. Joshua Mackenzie. He wants her to really learn how important all the hospital services are to the sick children. Spending time on the unit, Delaney grows as a person and rekindles her passion for her career. I really enjoyed this story line.

I also really appreciated the in depth justification of all the services and personnel required to care for the children. I think it will definitely open some people’s eyes.

I wouldn’t recommend it for the romance, but Heart Like Mine ended up redeeming itself in the end. 

 

Reader Question . . . how do you feel when a book that you’ve so wanted to read ends up being a bit underwhelming? Comment below and let me know! Or just say hi!

Book Reviews

Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson and Alex Grayson

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Pitch Dark by A.M. Wilson and Alex Grayson

Published by: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on September 15, 2017

Pages: 430 

Genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, crime fiction

Rating: 3 stars

Recommend to fans of: intense twisted books with satisfying endings, passionate characters, trauma intensive stories

Read with food: Alcohol and nachos 

A shot of whatever alcohol you have lying around to get through the tough traumatic sections (Some cold water if you’re under 21 or don’t drink alcohol) Be safe people!

Football game nachos: quick, cheap, and not that nutritious but it gets some food in your system; much in the keeping of the character of Niko

 

Synopsis:

One girl disappeared. After fifteen years, her cold lifeless body was found on the damp forest floor. Not an inch of her was unmarked by the horrors she endured. Alone, malnourished, abused in horrific ways; this was how she died.

One girl was found walking the streets, covered in dirt and scars. She had no memory of who she was, where she came from, or what happened to her. Even though the marks on her body attested to years of heinous abuse, her strength shone through at every turn.

Revenge and justice were sworn.

Years of searching brought up nothing but dead ends. Detective Niko James was too late to save his childhood friend, but he vows not to let down another.

The clock is ticking and the trail is pitch dark.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. As always, an honest review.

First and foremost, a big trigger warning for torture and sexual assault in graphic detail. It’s definitely intense, and I almost stopped reading the book because of it. That being said, about 10% of the book or maybe less is torture and assault. Also, the authors put a trigger warning at the beginning which I much appreciated.

Niko has spent his entire life caring for people, especially those close to him and in need. As a child, Niko’s friend and neighbor Aislin has a very difficult upbringing. He does his best to be a great friend and protector, even though he’s only 14 years old. Aislin is kidnapped. Niko is devastated and angry. He grows up to be a cop, but never stops searching for Aislin, his North Star.

I had a lot of mixed feelings about Pitch Dark. Overall, I would say that I enjoyed the storylines. The drama, the suspense, and how everything turns out. Works well in the book. It’s the details where I have some issues. Of course there’s the graphic descriptions of the assault. It makes the book what it is, but I didn’t feel it was necessary. At least not to that intensity. Also, the character of Niko is very over the top at times. Obviously he had gone through terrible things, but he acts as if he’s the only one who can solve the case, protect the victims, etc. I appreciate the sentiment and passion, but it gets to be a bit much at times. Also, some of the descriptions are a bit odd and left me asking “do people really talk like this?”

The story overall works well and I’m glad that I read Pitch Dark. I liked the revelations towards the end. The character of Aislin was a welcome breath of fresh air and encouraging strength. I ended up enjoying Pitch Dark, despite my mixed feelings throughout.