Angeline by Anna Quinn

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Date of publication: February 7th, 2023

Genre: Fiction, Coming of Age, Literary Fiction, Contemporary

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks

Trigger Warnings: child abuse, grief, sexual assault, rape, animal killing and abuse

Goodreads Synopsis:

After surviving a tragedy that killed her entire family, sixteen-year-old Meg joins a cloistered convent, believing it is her life’s work to pray full time for the suffering of others. Taking the name Sister Angeline, she spends her days and nights in silence, moving from one prayerful hour to the next. She prays for the hardships of others, the sick and poor, the loved ones she lost, and her own atonement.

When the Archdiocese of Chicago runs out of money to keep the convent open, she is torn from her carefully constructed life and sent to a progressive convent on a rocky island in the Pacific Northwest. There, at the Light of the Sea, five radical feminist nuns have their own vision of faithful service. They do not follow canonical law, they do not live a cloistered life, and they believe in using their voices for change.

As Sister Angeline struggles to adapt to her new home, she must navigate her grief, fears, and confusions, while being drawn into the lives of a child in crisis, an angry teen, an EMT suffering survivor’s guilt, and the parish priest who is losing his congregation to the Sisters’ all-inclusive Sunday masses. Through all of this, something seems to have awakened in her, a healing power she has not experienced in years that could be her saving grace, or her downfall.

In Angeline, novelist Anna Quinn explores the complexity of our past selves and the discovery of our present truth; the enduring imprints left by our losses, forgiveness and acceptance, and why we believe what we believe. Affecting and beautifully told, Angeline is both poignant and startling and will touch the hearts of anyone who has ever asked themselves: When your foundations crumble and you’ve lost yourself, how do you find the strength to go on? Do you follow your heart or the rules?

First Line:

Meg lies prostrate on the stone floor. Her body, a cross. Incense curls around her white gown and spirals up like tiny resurrections.

Angeline by Anna Quinn

Meg was only sixteen years old when she joined a cloistered convent. She believes she is responsible for the car accident that killed her entire family and unborn child. Her way of repenting is to join the convent and take a vow of silence, praying for other people’s suffering. Meg (or Sister Angeline) is transferred to an unconventional convent in the Pacific Northwest when her convent is closed due to a lack of funds. The nuns at that convent are quirky. They believe in the power to use their voices, aren’t cloistered, and do not follow the Catholic Church’s laws. Angeline touches lives with several people during her first months there: an abused child who is being failed by the system, an angry teenager, the teenager’s EMT father who has survivor’s guilt, and a priest who is losing his congregation to the nuns Sunday masses. Angeline also discovers a power for healing that she thought was lost. Will Angeline stay at the convent? Will she be able to heal and help everyone whose life she has touched? Will she be able to forgive herself?

Meg (or Sister Angeline) was the main character in Angeline. I wasn’t sure of her at the beginning of the book, but that was because I didn’t know her entire story. But as I read the book and got a good look at who she was, I was heartbroken for everything she had endured. I also felt that her being transferred to the convent in the Pacific Northwest was suitable for her. Being around those eccentric nuns helped her accept what happened to her. They also made her see that the world wasn’t to be shut away but to be enjoyed.

Speaking of the nuns, I loved them. They were sassy and weren’t afraid to tell people like it was. Of course, they each had their backstory, and how the author introduced those backstories was terrific. One nun had a son who was murdered by gun violence. Another was under political asylum. Another was a raging feminist who was vocal about LGBTQ/abortion rights. And two were mysteries, and I didn’t expect their backstories. It was those backstories that framed Angeline’s story.

As I detailed in the plot summary, Angeline suffered an immense loss. Her loss is an essential part of the main storyline. As was Angeline’s horror of being transferred to a convent with rebel nuns. But, like her Mother Superior, I thought it best for her. And it was. Angeline was able to connect with so many people on the island. She even tried to help a few of them. I loved how the author wove a paranormal element into the book about halfway through and made it an essential part of the storyline. It was almost believable because of the way the author wrote it.

There are some scarier elements to Angeline. They crop up around the middle of the book and aren’t resolved until the end. Be warned, some of these elements can get a little intense (mainly with the priest).

The end of Angeline felt rushed and tacked on. While the author wrapped up all the storylines, I was left with a bad feeling. Mainly because I didn’t like how the ending was.

I recommend Angeline to anyone over 21. There is violence, some mild language, and nongraphic sexual situations.

Many thanks to Blackstone Publishing, NetGalley, and Anna Quinn for allowing me to read and review Angeline. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Angeline, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Diary of an Angry Young Man by Rishi Vohra

Book Cover


Date of publication: August 15th, 2021

Genre: Coming of Age, Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Raghav is an ordinary seven-year-old growing up on the ‘good’ side of Colaba in Bombay. His is a safe, protected world and he is kept well away from the ‘other’, darker side of Colaba, which nevertheless, holds a deep fascination for him with its colorful, busy alleys bustling with activity, people, and mystery – the ‘real’ world as far he is concerned.

But life has other plans and Raghav’s entire world comes crashing down one day. In the space of a few crucial hours, his childish innocence is ripped away brutally, and he also loses the one person who may have made his world right again – his mother. That fateful day alters the course of his life and the ‘other’ side is the only place he can escape his now truly miserable home life and his bitter father who he resents more and more each day. He never tells even his closest friends about the horrific abuse he suffered the day his mother died, the day a fierce, burning anger took root in his very soul.

Now, 20 years later, all his peers and friends are settling down into jobs and the business of growing up. But Raghav is still trapped between his now suffocating relationship with his father, his own inability to find a job and make a life for himself, and the painful memories of his childhood ordeal that still haunt him. And this is when he meets Rani one day, an orphan beggar girl who knows life on the streets of Mumbai, but not in the way Raghav does. He wants to ‘save’ Rani from the beggar mafia and give her a chance at a better life. His strong need to stand up for something, to truly help someone is fueled by the recent Nirbhaya gang rape case in New Delhi, which evokes painful memories of his own past trauma.

Set in Bombay in 1992 and Mumbai in 2012, and inspired by true events, Diary of an Angry Young Man is a coming-of-age urban drama that explores the complex layers of humanity. And the city that engenders them.

First Line:

“Raghav!” Mama’s dulcet voice sounded through the house.

diary of an angry young man by Rishi Vohra

I have found myself reading many books set in Southern Asia or written by Southern Asian authors lately. I enjoy reading these books because I get a glimpse into another culture/another part of the world. So, when the author emailed me to review Diary of an Angry Young Man, it didn’t take me long to accept the invite. I was very excited to read this book, and it lived up to my expectations.

Diary of an Angry Young Man is a coming-of-age story. There are two halves of the book, one set in 1992 Bombay and the other set in 2012 Mumbai. When Raghav is introduced in 1992, he is seven years old and has a pretty good life. His Mama is his world, and when she has a medical emergency that results in her death, he is shattered. But, he is forever changed by a horrendous act of violence. That violence shapes Raghav’s life. Fast forward to 2012, and Raghav is unemployed and can’t get a job. He hangs out with his friends at a restaurant on the bad side of town, gets into fights, and generally is just lost. But everything changes when Raghav meets Rani, a seven-year-old girl employed by the beggar mafia—meeting her sets off a chain of events that will change Raghav and Rani’s life.

It took me one and a half days to read Diary of an Angry Young Man. It was a very fast-paced book. The author seamlessly went from one event to another without breaking that pace. I enjoyed that very much!! Also, the fast pace didn’t hinder the flow of the book. The flow was very smooth.

Raghav’s character felt a little two-dimensional during the 1992 part of the book. But, keep in mind, he was also seven years old. Kids that age don’t have a lot of depth to them. I was a little shocked by what happened to him, and my heart broke for him. No child should have gone through what he did.

I am happy to say that Raghav’s character did gain depth in the 2012 part of the book. The author fleshed out his character and introduced sides to him that I didn’t think he had. He was also a very angry young man, which the author highlighted several times during the book. I did cheer during one of those fight scenes. Let’s say that Raghav finally got to confront the person who hurt him when he was 7.

I felt awful for Rani. She lost her mother to TB and worked for the “beggar mafia.” She told Raghav when he was trying to get her off the streets that the head of the beggar mafia had plans for her. Raghav immediately knew that she would be sold to a brothel and live the rest of her life as a prostitute. I also understood why she left the house a day after Raghav left her there. The streets were the only home she knew.

The coming of age angle was interesting to read. I enjoyed watching Raghav find his purpose in life. It did surprise me how he figured out what he wanted to do with his life.

There was a slight action-angle that showed up whenever Raghav would fight. That I enjoyed because Raghav didn’t come out the winner every time. It was realistic, and I enjoyed that.

There are trigger warnings associated with this book. The main trigger warning involves child abuse (1992 and 2012). There is also talk about true life events in India in those times. In 1992, there was strife with religion that turned to riots. In 2012, there was a gang rape on a bus in New Dehli (I remember hearing about this). So, this is a warning if these trigger you.

The end of Diary of an Angry Young Man was interesting. There was a point where Raghav went to find the head of the beggar mafia that did feel a little Bollywoodish. Raghav says something similar after the police get to the scene, which I found a little amusing. I liked that everyone was on their way to getting a HEA or already got it. I ended the book with a smile.

I would recommend Diary of an Angry Young Man to anyone over the age of 21. There is violence, mild language, and child abuse.

Intertwined: A Biker’s Tale by Andrew Hartman

Book Cover

Publisher: Self Published

Date of publication: August 1st, 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

When a young man’s world is turned upside down, some things become clear and others blurred. Jacob Schitz’s plain life in Florida quickly erupts into a series of drastic events as he navigates young adulthood and a bleak future. When the biker gang, The Panteras, enters his life as a third obstacle, he will begin to truly understand himself and the violent world of underground crime as their paths become intertwined.

First Line:

Jacob walked into the room; it was dark. Pitch black, the staircase was hard to walk down.

intertwined: A biker’s tale by Andrew Hartman

I will let you all in on a secret: I love reading biker books, well, mainly romances, but still. I also like to read young adult. So, when I read the blurb for this book, I thought I had hit the jackpot. I was super excited to read it.

Intertwined starts slow, but after a couple of chapters, it morphs into a fast-paced book. There is a slight lag towards the middle of the book, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of it.

Intertwined had an exciting plotline. Two college kids, out on a bucket list adventure, get mixed up with a biker gang. The biker gang quickly assumes that the kids are out to get them since they keep showing up in the same area. Will the kids be able to outsmart the biker gang? Or will they become their victims?

Like I mentioned above, I enjoy reading books about bikers. Something about that lifestyle intrigues me. The author did a great job of showing the inner workings of a biker gang. Willow came across as a paranoid leader willing to do whatever it takes to protect his gang. That aspect of the book enthralled me.

I wasn’t too sure how to feel about Jacob at first. He came across as too needy. But, as the book went on and I began to understand what he had gone through and what he was going through, I started to like him. He had an inner strength that shone throughout the book. I wish that he was a little more upfront with people about what was going on with him. It would have saved a lot of trouble further on in the book.

There is a lot of violence in Intertwined. I wasn’t surprised at the level of violence, but if you don’t like it, this might not be the book for you.

The end of Intertwined was bittersweet. I was surprised at what happened and what a certain someone did. Talk about a selfless act!! The author also left the book on a cliffhanger, so I will assume that there will be a book 2.

I would recommend Intertwined: A Biker’s Tale for anyone over the age of 21. There is violence, drug use, alcohol use, and language.

Lies in Bone by Natalie Symons

Book Cover

Publisher: Boyle & Dalton

Date of publication: September 6th 2021

Genre: Coming of Age, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Told by a tart-tongued young woman with a love of Bruce Springsteen, Lies in Bone is at once a mystery and coming-of-age tale fueled by dark secrets involving love, murder, and the truths worth lying for.

On Halloween 1963, eleven-year-old Chuck Coolidge and his brother Danny are lost in a toxic smog covering the steel town of Slippery Elm, Pennsylvania. When the smog lifts, half the town is sick and twenty people are dead. And Danny is missing.

Now, over twenty years later, Chuck’s teenage daughter Frank plots escape from this “busted and disgusted” town. When a murdered child is found in the river, investigators link the crime to the disappearance of Danny in ’63, and Frank’s life is turned upside down. In the face of her worst fears, she must uncover her family’s dark past if she wants to keep her sister Boots from the hands of The State. Led to discover the unimaginable truth about Danny’s disappearance, Lies in Bone culminates in a shocking eleventh-hour reveal and an emotionally charged finale.

First Line:

The fog snuck in over the wooded road, but Chuck didn’t care.

lies in bones by natalie symons

Lies in Bone is the story of Frank, her father Chuck, and Boots, her younger sister. Frank hasn’t had it easy growing up. Her mother left and never returned. Chuck compensated by becoming a drunk and indulging in get-rich-quick schemes. One day, Chuck decides to move everyone to his hometown to move in with his mother. Once there, Frank discovers that her father has a past, and it isn’t good. He is suspected of being involved in his younger brother’s disappearance 20 years earlier and the murder of another boy that same night. Frank brushes off the rumors as just that until another child is murdered and her father is arrested. Determined to prove her father’s innocence, Frank investigates. What she finds out will shatter her world. What does Frank find out? Is her father innocent?

I loved Frank. She was blunt, not afraid to tell people how she felt, and she was like a bulldog when she got an idea in her head. She also was very hurt over her mother’s abandonment. I connected to her on so many levels and was rooting for her the entire book. She wasn’t an easy character to like, but she acknowledged that.

The mystery angle of Lies in Bone was very well written. The author kept me guessing about what happened to Danny, the other little boy, and Bernie. She threw out red herrings left and right. I usually can figure out what happened pretty early in the book. But in this case, I was left guessing until the very end.

There are several significant twists in Lies in Bone. The first one did take me by surprise. There was no way that I would have even thought THAT happened. The second one, which was revealed relatively close to the end, was also just as shocking. I felt terrible for Frank when she found that out. And the third twist, well, that came out of the left field. It was revealed at the end of the book, and it turned everything on end.

I was not a huge fan of many of the secondary characters in Lies in Bone. The main subject of my dislike was Ruth, Frank’s grandmother. I couldn’t stand her. The way that she talked to Chuck was awful, and I didn’t blame Chuck for what he did.

The end of Lies in Bone was bittersweet. The author did a great job wrapping up the storylines and making a somewhat happy ending for Frank. But then the twist happened and poor Frank. She forever has to carry the burden of her family on her shoulders, and man, what she learned was catastrophic.

I would recommend Lies in Bone for anyone over the age of 21. There is violence and sex but no sex.

Sip Lake by Joe Basara

Sip Lake by [Joe Basara]


Date of publication: June 22, 2021

Genre: Fiction, Coming of Age

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Format Read: ARC

Received From: Author (Book’s former title was Cypress Lake)

Goodreads Synopsis:

Hospital orderly Owen Cloud falls in love, and to him, it seems someone has turned up the volume on the Buzz of Being. Everything is as it always was, only more. Three women he meets help him advance through three phases of love–passion, friendship, and finally generosity of heart.

“Sip Lake is what the locals call it. It’s great fishing, and I’ve got a boat, so why not move up here?”

Sip Lake by Joe Basara

When I first read the blurb for Sip Lake, I was interested. As you can see (lookup), the blurb is small, but it packs a punch. I was very interested in Owen and seeing how his journey with love was going to pan out. By the time I finished the book, I was “meh” about it.

Before I start the critical part of the review, I want to mention a couple of things. Sip Lake was originally titled Cypress Lake. I couldn’t find any mention of Sip Lake on Goodreads. It wasn’t until I googled the author’s name plus Sip Lake did I find out that there was a title change. While it didn’t affect my review, it was frustrating to find out after the fact. The other thing was the formatting on my Kindle was messed up. Again, no effect on my review, but it caused me to read the book very slowly because it was one continuous paragraph. So, what should have taken me a day or two took me a week to read.

Sip Lake was a medium-paced book with a well-written and interesting plotline. There were no twists in the plotline. It was a straightforward book that made me feel old (I was born in 1977).

Owen was an interesting character who had a rich inner life. But I did have an issue telling when his imagination took over. There were certain sections that I had to reread to figure out if it was imagination or not.

The romance angle of the book was interesting. Owen had an interest in several women and had two actively pursue him. I did think that he gave off stalkerish vibes at one point in the book (when he was trying to ask one of his co-workers on a date and kept calling her house).

The end of Sip Lake was typical. It did seem a bit rushed, and everything that happened did seem to come out of left field. I wondered why Owen decided on that person mainly because he was very adamant about his feelings towards her halfway through the book.

I would recommend Sip Lake to anyone over the age of 16. This was a clean book. There was no sex (some kissing), no violence, and some very mild language.

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman: A Novel by [Stefani, Brady]

Publisher: SparkPress

Date of publication: June 7th, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Aliens, Fiction, Teen, Fantasy, Coming of Age

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | IndieBound | Indigo | Kobo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Fifteen year old Courtney wants to be normal like her friends. But there’s something frighteningly different about her—

My grandpa Dahlen was crazy. According to my mom, anyway. I was seven when he had me tattooed, and then tried to drown me in his bathtub to escape the bad men. Whether his obsession with alien visitors drove him over the edge or he just knew things we didn’t, I can’t say.

He used to tell me things, though. Things that normal people would never believe. Secrets about an ancient alien-human bloodline, covert societies, and wormholes to the alien universe.

My grandpa’s dead. But people still say that I have his same silvery-blue eyes. What they don’t know is, I inherited far more from him than just his eyes.

This book was fantastic. The book starts with Courtney as she runs through her backyard. She is trying to escape alien visitors and her memories of her beloved grandfather.

I felt bad for Courtney. Her mother was a grade-A bitch. At some points in the book, I wanted to reach through the pages and take Courtney away. She was in competition for Mommy Dearest. The best thing that happened to Courtney was when she was sent to live with her father. He was more accepting of her.

The story got going once Courtney met Agatha. Once Agatha came into the picture, the ball got rolling. Everything Courtney remembers wasn’t the truth. The truth was so much more than what I expected.

The ending was great. There were a couple of twists that I saw coming from a mile away and that I went eh at. The biggest one was saved for the end. I was disappointed that events were forgotten by everyone except Agatha and Courtney. It made me want to scream. I did like that the author left it open for a possible sequel (Jorge and his blue eyes….swoon)

I would recommend The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman to anyone over 16. There is mild violence, mild language, and no sex.

If you enjoyed reading The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman, you will enjoy reading these books:

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Faithful: A Novel by [Hoffman, Alice]

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Date of publication: February 9th, 2017

Genre: Contemporary, Magical Realism, Coming of Age, New York

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible |Apple Books |WorldCat

Goodreads synopsis:

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

I cried while reading this book. I, unemotional as a rock, cried while reading this book. The heartbreak that is portrayed is mind-numbing. But what rose from the ashes….well, that was something special.

The writing was fantastic. I love a story that draws you in and makes you feel for the character, and this one does. I felt for Shelby. She was broken, and she managed to piece herself together. Not perfect, but perfect for her right then.

The ending wasn’t what I expected, but it went well with the book.

If you enjoyed reading Faithful, you will enjoy reading these books:

Born to Run (North Oak: Book 1) by Ann Hunter

Born to Run (North Oak Book 1) by [Hunter, Ann]

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: March 1st, 2015

Genre: Horses, Young Adult, LGBT, Coming of Age

Series: North Oak

Born to Run—Book 1

Yearling—Book 2 (review here)

Morning Glory—Book 3 (review here)

To Bottle Lightning—Book 4 (review here)

Far Turn—Book 5 (review here)

Dark Horse—Book 6

Against the Odds—Book 7

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads synopsis:

Experience the glamorous, fast-paced world of horse racing in the young adult series North Oak.

Running away from the scene of a murder is not how Alexandra pictured spending her thirteenth birthday.

Then again, she wasn’t expecting to be swept into a world of high stakes racing and multi-million dollar horse flesh a few days later either.

Alexandra Anderson is on the run from the law. When the thirteen-year-old orphan can run no further, she collapses at the gates of the prestigious racing and breeding farm, North Oak. Horse racing strikes a deep chord in her. She hears a higher calling in the jingle jangle of bit and stirrup and in the thunder of hooves in the turn for home. It tells her she has a place in the world. But when the racing headlines find her on the front of every sports page, she realizes North Oak is no longer a safe haven… or is it?

This is a fantastic book for tween/teen readers, even younger!! When I was reading it, I immediately flashed back to The Black Stallion series (one of my all-time favorite horse books!!!).

Alex’s story isn’t an easy one to read. She had been abandoned in the foster care system. Which treated her badly. She ended up doing something that could change her life. I wanted to cry when it was revealed how she had been treated where she was.

There are some twists in the book, but the major plot twist was the one that came at the end. Not going to reveal it.

If you enjoyed reading Born to Run, you will enjoy reading these books: