book review · books · reading · Self Help

Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis {Review}

Blurb:

Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of not being enough.

In Girl, Stop Apologizing, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call. She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.

Review:

I want to start this review off by saying that self help books are not books that you can pick up and start reading and expect to enjoy if you are not in the right mind frame for the content. I read and really enjoyed Rachel’s first book Girl, Wash Your Face and was very excited when I learned that she was going to be writing a second book with more content to help women. I know that there is so much controversy behind the first book and I am pretty certain that there will be some behind this second book as well.

While listening to the audio version of this book, even though the publisher gifted me a beautiful advanced copy, I have to admit at first I had some major eye rolling moments. I knew that I probably needed to stop and step away from the book at that moment and maybe come back to it. Which is what I did and that helped so much. Now, while I am not out here trying to build a multimillion-dollar company, Rachel does have some nuggets of advice and inspiration that I know I will be able to apply to my everyday life such as having goals no matter how big or small, asking for help with confidence, planning, and most importantly learning to say no.

I enjoyed her pop culture references because they were things that I could personally relate to and I find that very important when dealing with books like this one. At the same time, I could also see where some may think that she is coming off as pretentious and privileged. I don’t think that she means to come off that way, but I also take some of her personality traits with a grain of salt. I am not here to dissect her book and life because I feel like she doesn’t know my struggle. I am here to get what I can from what she has written and apply it the best way that I can.

Once again with this book, I feel that there is something for everyone to take from it. You cannot go into a book like this with the author on a pedestal because you will be disappointed. She is a human being and she is not perfect. She has flaws just like everyone else. What she wants you to do is stop apologizing for your flaws and work on what you can. Take charge.

I would recommend giving this book a chance. Do not be fooled by the placement of this book in the Christian section of a bookstore because that is not where it belongs. Inspirational does not equal religion. Inspirational is just what it is. To inspire someone.

Rating:

3.75 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, ebook and audio

Thank you HarperCollins Leadership for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

books · Historical fiction · reading

Temptation Rag by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard {Feature}

    

I want to take a moment and spotlight a book that has come into my possession. I hope that you will take the time to check it out and see what it’s all about. Most of you know by now that I enjoy a good historical fiction. While I read mostly war stories, it is good to come across historical fiction that is not based on a war but another period of history.

Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old May Convery, unhappy with her privileged life in turn-of-the-century New York City, dreams of becoming a poet. When she meets the talented young Mike Bernard, an aspiring concert pianist, she immediately falls in love. But after their secret liaison is discovered, neither is prepared for the far-reaching consequences that will haunt them for decades. As Mike abandons serious music to ruthlessly defend his hard-won title, Ragtime King of the World, May struggles to find her voice as an artist and a woman. It is not until years after their youthful romance, when they cross paths again, that they must finally confront the truth about themselves and each other. But is it too late?

The world of ragtime is the backdrop for a remarkable story about the price of freedom, the longing for immortality, and the human need to find forgiveness. From vaudeville’s greatest stars to the geniuses of early African American musical theater, an unforgettable cast of real-life characters populates this richly-fictionalized historical saga.

Words for thought:

Looking for some historical fiction with a bit of twist? Check out this Ragtime Era story.  This era is as important in history as the world wars and everything else. It’s a breath of fresh air.

Thank you Historical Virtual Book Tours for this opportunity to spotlight this novel!

Availability:

Available now in paperback and ebook

book review · books · Family · memoir · reading

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs {Review}

Blurb:

Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents–artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs–Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa’s father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and private schools. His attention was thrilling, but he could also be cold, critical and unpredictable. When her relationship with her mother grew strained in high school, Lisa decided to move in with her father, hoping he’d become the parent she’d always wanted him to be.

Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s poignant story of a childhood spent between two imperfect but extraordinary homes. Scrappy, wise, and funny, young Lisa is an unforgettable guide through her parents’ fascinating and disparate worlds. Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the seventies and eighties, Small Fry is an enthralling book by an insightful new literary voice.

Review:

Let me start by saying that as with most celebrities we have a certain belief of how their life is and should be. We forget that they are just everyday people like us, and they make mistakes, they have no so desirable qualities that money doesn’t make disappear. The work that Steve Jobs put in has definitely made lives easier and more entertaining, but we have to remember that he was just a man who happened to put in work to become successful. He was not perfect no matter how hard we want to believe that he was. He has flaws and he was just a normal man who happened to be extremely successful.

This story is about his oldest daughter Lisa and told thru her eyes and experiences. She shines another light on Steve that I would never have thought about before. She didn’t write this book to put a spotlight on his flaws. She wrote a story to tell what it was like for her to have Steve in her life. The Steve we didn’t see or know about and at times during this story, don’t want to really believe. I am glad that she wrote this story. It goes to show that money doesn’t always make someone better as a person.

Lisa had an interesting childhood to say the least. She did not grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth and had to work to gain even the smallest bit of affection from her father. She had to work, not in the monetary sense but she had to put her emotional development on the line as well as her peace of mind. Even at a young age. Her mother was not perfect either. Lisa grew up in a very interesting and at times, dysfunctional environment.

Her being able to share this story about a man who is so beloved speak volumes for her. She tells the story in a matter of fact way. In no way do you think she is bitter because of how she grew up. You see the love that she has for both parents regardless of what they all had to endure from each other while she was growing up.

I am very glad that I read this memoir before I head into possibly reading a biography about Steve Jobs himself.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available now in ebook, hardcover, and audiobook

 

 

books · Bootlegging · reading · reading wheelhouse

Reading Wheelhouse

As a book lover, many of us have heard the term “wheelhouse” a time or two. For me it didn’t really sink in until recently. I have always considered myself a reader of just about everything minus the hardcore romance stuff but I have come to realize what my jam genre really is. Now don’t get me wrong, I love trying new things but I know that if it is not in my wheelhouse, I won’t always get the same enjoyment out of it that others may get if it is in their wheelhouse. I am also a tougher critic on the work  when it comes to reading and reviewing something out of my wheelhouse. I try to keep an open mind but sometimes it is very difficult especially if the novel has gotten rave reviews. I want to be blown away if I am stepping outside my wheelhouse. I believe that is true for other readers as well when they step out of their comfort zone of wheelhouse reading.

My Jam Genre(s)

My jam genre(s) would have to be literary fiction and historical fiction. I find more comfort in books that cause my emotions to run all over the place and I enjoy books that have take place during historical times. I came to this realization a few weeks ago as I was preparing some books to review on the Reading Envy podcast. One of the books I picked  has been a favorite of mine since I was about 12 years old. It is I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Conde. It is not only a historical fiction but it is also a novel that puts me in my feelings each time that I read it. The other two novels I picked were The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle and The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib. Both of these were books that both took me on an emotional ride. I don’t that The Dinner List was supposed to be an emotional read but it took me on a different route than most readers.

Wheelhouse Dilemma

What do you do when you find a book that is in your wheelhouse but it just doesn’t do anything for you? Do you keep reading, hoping that there is something that you just haven’t picked up on or do you scrap it and move on to the next? I will admit there are some books that are considered to be in my wheelhouse but they just didn’t seem to do it for me. On the same note, there have also been some books that aren’t in my wheelhouse that have caught me by surprise with how much I enjoyed them.

 

In Conclusion

What I have learned through all this is that, read what makes you happy and read what you enjoy. Don’t be tied to what you think you have to enjoy just because it falls into your wheelhouse and don’t be afraid to scrap something that falls into your wheelhouse but you just aren’t enjoying it.

 

book review · Bootlegging · dedication

Innocence Lost by Sherilyn Decter {ARC Review}

Blurb:

In a city of bootleggers and crime, one woman must rely on a long-dead lawman to hunt down justice…

Philadelphia, 1924. Maggie Barnes doesn’t have much left. After the death of her husband, she finds herself all alone to care for her young son and look after their rundown house. As if that weren’t bad enough, Prohibition has turned her neighborhood into a bootlegger’s playground. To keep the shoddy roof over their heads, she has no choice but to take on boarders with criminal ties.

When her son’s friend disappears, Maggie suspects the worst. And local politicians and police don’t seem to have any interest in an investigation. With a child’s life on the line, Maggie takes the case and risks angering the enemy living right under her nose.

Maggie’s one advantage may be her oldest tenant: the ghost of a Victorian-era cop. With his help, can she find justice in a lawless city?

Innocence Lost is the first novel in the Bootleggers’ Chronicles, a series of historical fiction tales. If you like headstrong heroines, Prohibition-era criminal underworlds, and a touch of the paranormal, then you’ll love Sherilyn Decter’s gripping tale.

Review:

What initially caught my attention with this novel is that it takes placed during Prohibition and the Roaring 20’s.  I love historical fiction and this is an era that I don’t have the pleasure of reading about enough.  Another thing that drew me to this story is that it is a self published debut and although I admittedly try to veer away from those types of novels, this one made me want to see what the author had in store.

The story opens with children being mischievous and getting into some trouble, although you don’t find out right away what that trouble is. Tommy and his friends are spying on men working in an illegal warehouse filled with booze. Bootlegging was a lifestyle that these young men unfortunately looked up to at that time. During this spying fiasco, we are introduced to an older cop by the name of Frank Geyer. Frank turns out to not be what you expect and I will admit that his part of the story was a bit more difficult for me to extend my mind to accept but I grew to appreciate Sherilyn’s approach with him.

The story begins to develop around the disappearance of a young boy who is from a neighborhood that is not so well off. Right away you see how the influence of money makes Philadelphia tick. The search for this young man is called off almost as soon as it started. This is when Frank has to employ the help of  Maggie Barnes, a widow and the mother of Tommy. She is just a single mom who is trying her best to take care of her son and make sure that they are safe. She has just recently decided to open her home to boarders in order to have some extra income for her and her son. You can see right away that she is not a weak woman and is willing to do what she can to make a way, while still being a lady.

I admired Maggie’s and Frank’s tenacity throughout the story even if the story went in a different direction than what I was expecting or wanting but that doesnt take away from the enjoyment I had while reading it.

I do believe that I will check out the other books in this series just to find out where things go with Maggie and also to see if they ever solve the crime of the missing boy.

Decter’s use of the language and phonetics during the 1920’s provides an entertaining backdrop. The descriptions of the women and the attitudes that men had toward them at that time provide another aspect toward the story considering the role that Maggie takes on with Frank. Decter has a very simplistic writing style and that makes this a light read even with the dark moments during the story.

Rating:

3.5 Stars

I received this book to read and review for the Historical Fiction Blog Tour. I want to take time to thank Amy Bruno and Sherilyn Decter for this opportunity to provide my honest opinion.

Availability:

Available

abuse · book review · Family · reading · secrets

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie {Review}

Blurb:

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They’re completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating.

As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins’ laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.

Review:

This is the second novel I have read by Adichie and because I enjoyed Americanah so much, I had very high hopes for this story. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was even more blown away with her beautiful prose and style of writing.

This story is told from the perspective of a fifteen year old girl named Kambili. She is the daughter of a well to do businessman and a religious fanatic. From the outside, the world believes that Kambili, her older brother Jaja, and her mother live the perfect life of happiness. In reality, their home life is everything but that. Kambili’s father has horrifying standards for his family and they often pay in pain when they disappoint him.

Although I did like the story being told by Kambili, there were moments when I wanted to get Jaja’s perspective on what they were going thru especially when they went to visit their aunt, Ifeoma.

Adichie draws you in and forces you to connect to her characters in such a way that you don’t even realize it’s happening. The story flows at a remarkable pace. The dynamic nature between the characters is astounding. I admit when I first started reading this story, I didn’t think I would connect with Kambili and I thought her character wouldn’t develop like it did.

Reading this story and seeing what Kambili and her family went thru, broke my heart in many ways. This story makes you think about how an outside perspective can often cause disillusionment when it comes to someone’s life and what they may be dealing with or going through. You also think about how much you are willing to take or deal with when it comes to your loved ones. How much you are willing to sacrifice. Does being a religious figure or devout believer really separate you from those you believe to beneath you for being non believers when you aren’t living as perfectly as you think?

I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Adichie. I still can’t believe that this was her debut novel.

This book was the first of my backlist buddy read that I’m hosting on Instagram this year.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audio.

books · reading

Reading Life

Happy New Year everyone!!!!

I don’t have any reviews just yet but I have been thinking about my reading life. As usual, I begin thinking about what changes I want to make in my reading life as the new year begins. There are so many options and ways to improve your reading life, or just make enough changes to tweak it a bit. I will be discussing some of them in this post.

 

Reading Challenges

At the end of every year you begin to see reading challenges for the new year pop up. You start thinking to yourself, “new year, new me?’ or “let me stick to what I know?’ I thought long and hard about each of the challenges I was seeing that were available to take part in. The Unread Shelf Project, The Read Harder Challenge, The Reading Women Challenge and countless others. There are so many options to either strengthen your reading life or diversify it. Also, there is the good ole Goodreads Challenge to just track how much you have read.

Reading Journals

I started keeping a reading journal a couple of years ago and I am so glad that I did. However, the only problem about keeping a reading journal and having an ever reading life, finding a journal that will accommodate it is very difficult. I read over 60 books last year and the journal I had been using did not have enough spaces for me to write about the books that I read. I begin the search for a reading journal but just couldn’t find what I was looking for to suit my needs and wants. As the year was coming to a close I began to panic because I had not been able to find a journal that I wanted to use for the new year. I ended up making my own and so far I have been very pleased with myself.

Buddy Reads

Buddy Reads was something I was introduced to in the Bookstagram world and the end of 2018.  I don’t know where these have been all my reading life but I love participating in them. They help me read books that have been sitting on my shelves forever as well as get some good conversation in with people who have the same interests that I have. This especially comes in handy since my real life book club just doesn’t seem to have it together and that can be very frustrating at times. Now buddy reads can get overwhelming if you try to take on too many for the month.  I am trying to discipline myself to only participate in one or two per month. I have even decided to host my own Buddy Read on Bookstagram called the Backlist Buddy Read.

Reading Goals

Usually I make my reading goal focused mainly on the number of books I want to read each year. This year I decided to go a different route and not be as focused on the number of books I want to read but on the types of books I want to read. I did still make a numerical goal on Goodreads that I hope to exceed but I will be concentrating more on my other goals this year. I want to read more of the books that I already own, diversify my reading, engage more on my Bookstagram account, improve my reviews and work more on my blog(even though it seems like the old fashioned blogging is slowly going away). With all that being said, my top priority will be remembering that reading is my PASSION first because there were times I became a bit overwhelmed last year and almost lost sight of that.

Happy Reading to you all! Let’s get some reading done and have fun while doing it!

What are your reading goals?