5 Star Books · Book Reviews · memoir

This Is Me by Chrissy Metz

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This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today by Chrissy Metz

Published: March 27, 2018

Publisher: Day Street Books

Pages: 308

Genres: memoir

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: This Is Us, books that speak to you in the most profound way, Oprah mentions!, self evolutions 

Foodie Vibes: food that feeds your body and nourishes your soul

 

Synopsis:

A prescriptive and inspirational book of life lessons from the Emmy Award-nominee and breakout star of television’s #1 hit show, NBC’s This Is Us.

Debuting in fall 2016, This Is Us quickly became America’s most watched—and most talked about—network television show. Within weeks of its premier, actress Chrissy Metz and her character, Kate, were embraced by countless fans. Seemingly overnight, Chrissy found herself on magazine covers and talk shows, walking red carpets, and the subject of endless conversations on social media.

Chrissy chalks up her popularity to the authenticity of the role. She believes that fans sense she is playing a character whose life is not so very different from her own. It is a performance that comes from her heart and gut, from a universal place that rings true. In reality, Chrissy’s presence, her perseverance in Hollywood, and her success story is as genuine—and as inspirational—as it gets. There is no better person to represent and speak out for the everywoman and her experiences.

Embracing the spirit of Shonda Rhime’s Year of Yes, Chrissy’s touching, wise, and honest book speaks to all of us. Blending love and experience, Chrissy encourages us to claim our rightful place in a world that may be trying to knock us down from all sides. Throughout, her positivity, confidence, and humor are infectious, whether she’s talking about her past or present, and she offers amazing one-liners such as:

Who needs to fit in when you’re meant to stand out?
You need to both know better and do better!
The key is to act deserving, but not entitled.

Not your standard celebrity memoir or essay collection, Why Fit in When You’re Meant to Stand Out is a smart and helpful guide for living through tough stuff and coming out the other side, written by a woman who has done just that. Grounded and spiritual, Chrissy teaches each one of us how to find our own unique voice—and pursue our dreams.

 

Review:

I absolutely flew through this gem of a book. I put aside the other books I was reading, because I could not stop reading this one. I’m a huge fan of This Is Us, so of course I had to read Chrissy’s memoir. We learn so much about her life story. But what’s even better is all the life lessons that she shares with us. It’s like having an awesome, smart, and incredibly kind big sister give us a helping hand in life. I could have highlighted almost every page, because there was so much relatable wisdom shared. I loved the mix of her life journey combined with incredibly relatable anecdotes about her struggles, triumphs, and lessons learned along the way. I cannot get enough of her book, so now I’m going on YouTube and searching for her interviews. She’s brilliant! A quick amazing read that I highly recommend!

 

How many of you watch This Is Us? 

Which Pearson(s) do you relate to most? 

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Essays · non fiction

New Release | Today’s Moment of Happiness Despite the News by Kathie Giorgio

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Today’s Moment of Happiness Despite the News by Kathie Giorgio

Published: October 4, 2018

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Pages: 529

Genres: essay, non fiction

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: unique quirky books, reminders to appreciate the good in life

Foodie Vibes: Starbucks coffee

 

Synopsis:

It wasn’t a typical response to depression. Reaching a new low in her life, Kathie Giorgio, a natural skeptic, decides to fight her sadness by publically posting one moment of happiness every day on Facebook.

The response is overwhelming. People flock to her page to see each day’s new post. Soon, Kathie launches Today’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News as her blog. She vows to continue this daily Today’s Moment for a year.

And what a year! Her husband loses his job not once, but twice. Her autistic daughter is so bullied on social media, she is moved to a new school. And Kathie herself is diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer.

In a year of Down, Kathie finds Up. Today’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News is a powerhouse movement, a force that goes beyond positive thinking. One year. One woman. And many, many lives touched and changed.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Black Rose Writing and Kathie Giorgio for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The book is the author’s collection of blog posts from her journey to find a moment of happiness, despite the news and current political climate, for a year. The concept is not brand new. Daily gratitudes, blessings, happiness, joy, what are you thankful for, and many other forms of the same concept are prevalent online. As they should be. We need all the positivity we can find. The author adds her own unique touch to her writing. It’s quirky, fun, heartfelt, honest and completely engaging. Despite the difficult times in life, the book radiated pure joy. The author had some tough times in 2017, but her writing made me so happy. Experiencing her learn to find happiness in incredibly unhappy situations is beautiful, inspiring, and educating to me, on my own journey of life.

The book also gave me my new favorite word of this week, asshat! Of course referring to the orange man in the White House. So many thanks for the glorious word!

There weren’t any cons in the book for me. Even a few days after finishing, the memories from reading it wrap me up in a big blanket of warmth, happiness and a positive practical perspective on life.

So overall, an absolute joy to read. The highlight of my week. I highly recommend Today’s Moment of Happiness Despite the News!

 

In keeping with the author’s theme, what’s your moment of happiness today? 

Please share in the comments. I love hearing about everyone’s happy moments! 

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · Domestic Fiction · fiction · mental health · psychological drama

New Release | The Girl In His Eyes by Jennie Ensor

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The Girl In His Eyes by Jennie Ensor

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Pages: 353 

Genres: fiction, domestic fiction, mental health, contemporary fiction, psychological drama 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: Law & Order SVU, karmic justice, validating books about surviving sexual abuse

Foodie Vibes: warm cup of tea with sugar ~ to soothe your soul and keep your energy levels up during this difficult time

 

Synopsis: 

Her father abused her when she was a child. For years she was too afraid to speak out. But now she suspects he’s found another victim…

Laura, a young woman struggling to deal with what her father did to her a decade ago, is horrified to realise that the girl he takes swimming might be his next victim. Emma is twelve – the age Laura was when her father took away her innocence.

Intimidated by her father’s rages, Laura has never told anyone the truth about her childhood. Now she must decide whether she has the courage to expose him and face the consequences.

Can Laura overcome her fear and save Emma before the worst happens?

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, Bloodhound Books and Jennie Ensor for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

First of all, a major trigger warning for the entire book. There are many mentions and fairly graphic descriptions of child sexual abuse and rape. So please be sure you’re in a good head space while reading the book.

With that being said, I really enjoyed The Girl In His Eyes. The book gave a fairly accurate representation of the horrors and difficulties of dealing with the aftermath of surviving child sexual abuse. Both for the individual survivor and the family as well The novel gives a voice to the voiceless. It also makes it easier to understand how and why these pedophiles and perverts can manipulate children, entire families and societies into believing they’re good people. There were so many times when people suspected something was “off” about Paul, but brushed off their concerns because he seemed like a nice guy. Always trust your gut, people! These life lessons are so relevant.

There wasn’t anything that I really disliked about the book. However there was a lot that disgusted me, which given the general book topic was bound to happen. Some chapters are from Paul, the pervert’s, point of view. We hear all the disgusting horrifying things he thinks. It adds to the suspense and explains a lot. Also some of the reactions of people seem a bit too cookie cutter at times.

Overall, a really worthwhile read to further understand the topic but done in a fictionalized manner.

 

Who can relate relate to this story? 

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · LGBTQIA+ Books · Young Adult

The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

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The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

Published: April 3, 2018

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Pages: 284

Genres: young adult, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, LGBTQIA+

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: summer fun books with substance, adorable romances, books about bloggers

Foodie Vibes: the best burger you can get

 

Synopsis: 

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.

Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?

But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?

Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)

 

Review:

The Summer of Jordi Perez is the perfect book for a late summer read. Fashion, photography, pink hair, fruit patterned dresses, internships, new relationships, and the search for the best burger in town. It’s a winning combination to create a fun but substantial read. Even though we look nothing alike (her fashion sense is way better than mine) I definitely relate to Abby. She’s unsure of herself, doubting her abilities, even though she’s very talented. I also appreciated that Abby’s whole personality doesn’t revolve around being gay. It’s discussed with her friends and family, and she has a girlfriend. But it doesn’t define her as a character. She’s so much more than one thing. And a book with characters who blog, Abby and her mother, a definite win for me!

There are very few things that I disliked in the book. As with many young adult books, some of the situations could have easily resolved with communication. However, it’s realistic that teenagers may not be great at communication and problem solving all the time. 

The Summer of Jordi Perez is seriously cute! I cannot get enough of it. I hope the author writes a sequel or other books with similar vibes. I highly recommend it!

 

Have you read The Summer of Jordi Perez?

How many of you have dyed your hair a fun color before?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense

ARC Book Review | The Secret by KL Slater

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Scroll down to the bottom of the review for a fun bonus question. I would love to hear your answers!

 

The Secret by KL Slater

Published: July 27, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: — doesn’t list (Kindle)

Genres: psychological thriller, suspense, mystery

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: psychological thrillers, characters with a chronic illness or disability, family drama

Read with food: tea and popcorn ~ tea to relax and popcorn because its like a movie that you can’t stop watching

 

Synopsis:

You turn your back for a minute. And now your son is in terrible danger …

Louise is struggling to cope.  As a busy working mum, she often has to leave her eight-year-old son Archie at her sister Alice’s flat.

Alice and Louise used to be close.  But there’s a lot they don’t know about each other now – like the bottle of vodka Louise hides in her handbag, Alice’s handsome new friend and the odd behaviour of her next-door neighbour.

Archie is a curious little boy. He likes to play on his own at his auntie’s flat until one day when he sees something he shouldn’t. Now he has a secret of his own.  One he can’t tell his mum. One that could put him and his family in terrible danger.

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and KL Slater for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

Captivating! Terrifying, in a good way! Can’t stop reading!

The Secret is a book that many people will be talking about for awhile. While taking notes for my book review, I must have written down “can’t stop reading” at least 5 times. There’s not just one good aspect, but various sort of random bits that I loved. So here we go:

– Alice! (the main character) She’s sweet, caring, concerned, the kind of honest person you’d want in your life.
– Chronic pain is represented well in the book. #ChronicIllnessWarrior #ChronicPain
– Sister relationships as adults ~ very authentic
– the suspense – I can’t say too much more without giving it away . . . but read the book!
– Alice’s relationship with her young nephew gives you hope.

There were very few parts of the book that I didn’t like. However the ending felt rushed to me. There was maybe 10% of the book left, and so many storylines to wrap up. I wish it was a bit longer to do justice for all the storylines.

And of course there are a lot of love to hate characters that make the book absolutely work. Sometimes I wanted to scream at them. But that’s more the mark of a great book.

So overall, I really enjoyed The Secret by KL Slater. Pick it up for a can’t put down read!

 

Random Question of the Review:

What book genre can you not get enough of?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mystery

ARC Book Review | Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

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Shoutout to my wonderful mom who grows these gorgeous flowers featured in the photo. Thanks Mom!

 

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Published: July 24, 2018

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, mystery

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: contemporary romance with a twist, complicated characters

Read with food: chocolate cake and tea

 

Synopsis: 

Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.

When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

Review:

I won this book for free through a Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to the author and publisher as well. As always, an honest review.

I was a bit unsure about Ghosted before I started reading. Contemporary romance books have to wow me for me to enjoy them. And wow me, it did!

Sarah and Eddie meet along a countryside road one day, immediately feel a spark, and spend the next week together. They know they have something special. Eddie goes off on his previously planned vacation. Sarah never hears from him again. And this is where the mystery begins.

The premise drew me in and captivated my attention throughout the entire read. As with many contemporary novels, it was a quick, easy and enjoyable read. Ghosted brought up so many relatable questions. Do you trust your heart? Your instincts? What other people are telling you? Logic and reasoning? Or hold out for hope that the best will happen?

I really liked that a lot of the writing was in the form of letters – both formal and informal. Eddie writing to Sarah. Sarah writing to Eddie. Both of them writing to other people. Except, most of the letters go unread or at least without a response. The unsent letters form a sort of journal of their mental processes through all of this. The writing style works really well and is quite enjoyable to read.
I can’t say too much more without spoiling the book. I will say this, when you get to a certain unforeseen twist, everything will make perfect sense.

There was very little I didn’t enjoy. However when Sarah was moping around about missing Eddie, it became a bit redundant and annoying at times.

Ghosted has a little something for everyone. Romance, heartbreak, hardship, caregiving, and mystery. Give it a read!

 

Random Question of the Review:

Where’s your favorite place to read?

5 Star Books · Audiobooks · Book Reviews · mystery · non fiction · True Crime · Uncategorized

Book Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Published by Harper on February 27, 2018

Pages: 328

Genres: true crime, non fiction, mystery

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: true crime

Read with food: strawberries and homemade whipped cream ~ this food choice really has nothing to do with the content of the book, but I was listening to the audiobook while washing and processing the strawberries from my garden, so those foods and this book will forever be linked for me 

 

Synopsis:

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark —the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

Review:

I’m obsessed with this book!

Everyone I’ve talked to about it, loves it as well. As I was listening to the audiobook version, my mom was asking me about it too.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is a methodical, obsessive, and intriguing search for the Golden State Killer. She takes us through his crimes, the police investigations, and her painstaking research. I don’t think there are enough words to accurately convey how much I enjoyed this book.

As a true crime book, it discusses the crimes without going into unnecessary graphic detail. She does justice for the victims and their families, first through her blog and then through her book. Michelle helped so many people even after her death.

At the time of publication the killer had not been identified or taken into police custody. A few months ago both happened, and it’s so satisfying. Almost immediately after finishing reading I searched for news articles and videos about his capture.

I so, so recommend giving this book a read!

 

Question for you all:

If Michelle McNamara were still alive today, what would you tell her about her book and the real life capture of the Golden State killer?

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Classics · Literary Fiction · Young Adult

Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith 

Published by Harper & Row in 1943

Pages: 493

Genres: fiction, classics, young adult, bildungsroman

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: life changing books, classic literature that you will actually enjoy, coming of age novels

Read with food: roasted chestnuts and black coffee … treats of the era and enjoyed by France

 

Synopsis:

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

Review:

I had put the audiobook version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on hold at my local library … a year ago. I was hoping to read it for the 2017 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. Obviously that didn’t happen. I read another book to meet that challenge. No big deal. I then figured that if I had waited this long, why not a bit longer to read it, and kept my place on the hold list at the library.

I am so glad that I did! A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an amazing novel. A true literary classic that almost everyone can learn something from. 

I was captivated with Francie’s story from age 11 to 17. Her observations, intelligence, progressive nature, and life lessons are still relevant to me as an adult 100 years after the book takes place. I can absolutely see why people would read this multiple times. You could probably pick out a new life lesson with each reread. 

I can’t really say anything bad about this novel. Of course, there are some actions, societal rules, and words of the time that would be unacceptable today. But nothing that detracts from the story. 

I highly recommend this amazing novel! Don’t let the length deter your, it’s worth the time. 

 

Fun fact:

I learned a new word and book genre today, bildungsroman. Definition: a novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education. A sort of coming of age novel that focuses on psychological and spiritual growth. 

 

Also, bonus!

If you’re participating in the Great American Read, this is one of the books on the list. 

5 Star Books · Book Reviews

Book Review: Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme disease by Yolanda Hadid

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Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme disease by Yolanda Hadid

Published by: St. Martin’s Press on September 12, 2017

Pages: 288

Genres: memoir, autobiography, health

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to: people living with chronic illness, caregivers, really almost anyone 

Read with food: watermelon, aloe and honey slush to nourish your body with a tasty treat 

 

Synopsis:

From the star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills comes an emotional and eye opening behind-the-scenes look at her descent into uncovering the mystery of chronic Lyme disease.

In early 2011, just before her wedding to David Foster, Yolanda fell ill. From an outspoken, multi-tasking social butterfly she became trapped in a paralyzing mental cocoon. She suffered from severe debilitating fatigue, migraines, joint pain, anxiety, insomnia, Bell’s palsy, tremors, muscle weakness, severe brain fog, word retrieval difficulty, memory loss and intermittent loss of eyesight. As a diehard health fanatic, Yolanda always knew she had an infection in her brain, but due to the lack of proper diagnostic testing she landed in a dark maze of medical establishments that were quick to treat her symptoms but without clear answers to the cause. She fought tirelessly and traveled the world to find an answer; her determination left no stone unturned. Her perfect marriage became strained and let to divorce; but the strong bond with her children Gigi, Bella and Anwar was her motivation to fight through the darkest days of her life.

After a year of searching, discharged by Cedars Sinai with a chronic fatigue label, Yolanda Hadid was finally diagnosed with chronic neurological Lyme disease. She was honest, unapologetic, and raw in how she shared her battle with Lyme disease on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and her social media outlets. She received thousands of e-mails and letters, and met families who were suffering, lost, and scared, throughout her journey. She calls, gives advice, and lends support whenever she can to share her words of wisdom and hope.

In her book, Yolanda shares details of the western and holistic treatments she has done over the past five years, lab results, intimate details of her personal diary; her spiritual growth; the trials and tribulations regarding the stigma around chronic Lyme disease, how her relationships on camera and off have been affected by her illness; and how she uncovered the mystery of her own chronic disease through research, hard work and in a matter of fact and systematic fashion.

Review:

Let me start by saying this: I always have a blank sheet of paper as my bookmark to jot down notes as I read, to refer back to later while writing my book reviews. I didn’t write down any notes for this book. Not one! That wasn’t on purpose. I was completely engrossed in Believe Me, and forgot to do anything but read.

I’ve never watched the Real Housewives franchise, so I wasn’t coming into this book as a fan of the show. But I left this reading experience as a fan of Yolanda Hadid. Her strength, courage, tenacity, and kindness in the face of a very difficult chronic illness is inspiring. I learned so much about her journey and battle for health. She embraces conventional and unconventional medical treatments, doing her research to find out what may help her. I learned so much from this book, and I can’t recommend it enough. 

The only slight downfall that I should mention is that Yolanda had a lot of unconventional, untested by the FDA treatments, that cost a lot of money. I hope that people don’t randomly think to try all the treatments without extensive research and guidance by a health care provider. She does warm about this multiple times throughout. 

Believe Me is a book I will be thinking about for a long time.