Souk Daddy by Antony Curtis

Publisher: Anisian Publishing

Date of publication: November 30th, 2022

Genre: Dystopia, Action, General Fiction

Purchase Links Amazon

Amazon Synopsis:

It’s 2037 and after a nationwide campaign following the increase in prisoner death rate, the system has gone fully automatic. Every inmate is on their own with each cell a box of isolation. The juvenile correction facilities are functional, cold and impersonal yet impecable, a stark contrast to the adult institutions where suicide and collapse of mental health for the youth transfering is almost inevitable.

With an iminent transfer date, the clock is ticking. But with an impenetrable prison, long standing feuds and skeletons in the closet, will these strangers ever be able to work together to formulate and execute a plan to save their children whilst keeping their families intact?

First Line:

Miles sat there starting at the eyes that reflected back from the rear-view mirror.

Souk Daddy by Antony Curtis

Sometimes, a book comes along that horrifies you because you can see what was written about happening in real life. But also, sometimes, in that same book, it makes you feel hope because of what the people in the book did. That is how Souk Daddy made me feel while reading it. I couldn’t get enough of this book and finished it within a day.

Souk Daddy takes place in 2037 California. Five boys have committed five crimes and are sentenced to solitary confinement in California’s overhauled juvenile correction system. The authorities will send them to finish their sentences with the adult population when they age out. The adult accommodations are horrible, and the suicide rates are through the roof. Knowing this, the parents of these children devise a plan. They are going to break their children out of jail. But there are obstacles in their way. Will they break their kids out of jail? Can they overcome their obstacles?

Souk Daddy takes place in Southern California in the year 2037. SoCal was not futuristic, except that people no longer drive fossil fuel-powered cars. It wasn’t that big of a stretch, considering that California is planning on phasing out all fossil fuel-powered cars by 2035.

The main characters and their parents were well-written and well-fleshed out. The author portrayed children and parents from every demographic (rich, poor, middle-class, black, white, Hispanic, straight, and gay).

  • Miles—Out of the five kids, I liked him the best. He was also one of the younger kids to be sentenced. What he did was terrible—he was the getaway driver in a bank robbery. I loved his parents: Mike & Mary. They were loving parents who had fostered Miles’s love of racing. I was so upset when I found out that he was almost semi-pro in racing and threw it away because he loved the high it gave him.
  • Ed—I don’t even know where to begin with him. I had two emotions when I read his backstory: pity and rage. Pity because his mother knew what was happening to him at school (extreme bullying) and rage because his parents did NOTHING to help him. I didn’t blame him for what he did, and I was furious with the railroad job his bully’s parents did. Furious didn’t even begin to describe what I felt. I wanted to cry when I read his scenes when he was at the detention center. He was so beaten down by life he shut down. I felt his parents, Peter & Jane, bore some responsibility for what happened to him. Jane was a teacher at his school, witnessed it, and did NOTHING. There was a twist to their plotline that did raise my eyebrows because of what was revealed. I’ll discuss that later.
  • William—He was another one I felt got the short stick in everything. He was the only one who did nothing wrong and was still sent to jail. When the author revealed what was going on, I was disgusted. I didn’t like his mother, Beverly, at first. She was a drunk and could barely cope with life. But once William got arrested, his arrest lighted a fire under her butt, and she became the parent he needed. William’s father, David, left a bad taste in my mouth every time he appeared in the book. He honestly didn’t care that he dinked his son over.
  • Donnie— I didn’t like Donnie from the minute he appeared in the book. He had been raised by criminals and was being groomed to take over their criminal empire. At seventeen, he knew better than to run drugs across the border. But, to get money to disappear (with his girlfriend), he knew he had to do it. It was after that revelation that my dislike of him changed. But his parents, I couldn’t stand. Desi ran a criminal empire out of her bar. She was a lousy human being, but she did love her son and was willing to do whatever it took to get him out of jail. Marcus was willing to let Donnie sit in jail. Marcus was a sleaze and was into human trafficking. Donnie was only in prison because Marcus decided he wanted a more significant pie cut and tried to infringe on Desi’s territory.
  • Chris—Chris was sent to jail because he was dealing at his private school and got caught. His contact was none other than Donnie, and for a reduced sentence, Chris narced on Donnie. Chris wasn’t a bad kid but felt that he had to do something to fit in, and selling drugs seemed good (which made me shake my head). I loved his parents, Taylor (a prize-winning journalist) and Jeremy (a best-selling author). Taylor had been doing an expose on California’s penal system, and he was the one who had come up with the plan to try and break the kids out of jail.
  • Brant—He was the detective on Chris and Donnie’s cases and was gunning to put Marcus or Desi in jail. But, and I stress, there is a twist in his plotline that I didn’t see coming. 

There were a few secondary characters that fleshed out each storyline. Those characters added extra depth and showed a different side of the characters in several cases. I enjoyed that.

I don’t know what genre Souk Daddy would fit into. There are elements of young adult, science fiction, dystopia, and action. If I had to label it, it would be a mish of those genres.

I loved the storyline detailing how to break the boys out of prison. The author did a great job of making me wonder if the parents would even succeed. The details he put into it (Taylor’s research, Mike and Peter’s driving, and Bev’s science background) were terrific. I was kept on the edge of my seat during those scenes. There were a few times when I did think that the breakout wasn’t going to happen.

The storyline with Peter, Jane, Ed, and Brant did surprise me. There was a twist in that storyline that I didn’t see coming. It changed the whole tone of the book after that. I was apprehensive about Ed, and I didn’t know how he would deal with everything that was going on. His reaction surprised me.

The storyline with Mike, Mary, and Miles did upset me. I wasn’t surprised by what Mike did. I figured that something like that would happen (being the great guy and father he was). I also wasn’t surprised by how their storyline wrapped up.

The storyline with William, Bev, and David did surprise me. I loved that Bev grew a set and decided to tell David what he would do. I wasn’t expecting what happened, though.

Donnie, Desi, and Marcus’s storyline ended up exactly how I thought it would. I loved that Desi had the last laugh. Marcus deserved everything that he got. I thought Desi got off too quickly, but I was left hoping she would get hers eventually. As for Donnie, he got his perfect ending.

As for Chris, Taylor, and Jeremy’s storyline, I was surprised at what happened. I understand why the author made that choice, but at the same time, I was a little irritated.

The ending of Souk Daddy tells the readers what happened after the prison break. I enjoyed reading the updates. There was one that I was both horrified and overjoyed to read about. What I also liked was that there was change brewing. I wish there were more written or even a second epilogue showing that change.

I would recommend Souk Daddy to anyone over 21. There are language, violence, and mentions of sexual situations. There are also mentions of drugs, prostitution, severe bullying, alcohol abuse, drug selling and abuse, and homophobia.

The Man without Shelter by Indrajit Garai

Publisher: Indrajit Garai

Date of publication: September 5th, 2022

Genre: General Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lucy, a young lawyer, is on fast track to partnership in her firm. Arnault, a convicted felon, leaves prison after two decades through a piece of evidence in his favor. The two of them come together during a rescue operation at the centre of Paris, and then they go on with their separate lives.

Months later, their paths cross again at a camp for migrants on the edge of Paris.

First Line:

The key turned twice in the lock.

The Man without Shelter by Indrajit Garai

I almost declined when the author’s assistant contacted me about reviewing this book. I was trying to clean up my backlog of books and keep up with the incoming requests. But, seeing that I had reviewed his previous book (The Bridge of Little Jeremy) and enjoyed it, I decided to give this book a chance. I am glad I did because The Man without Shelter was a great read.

The Man without Shelter had two interesting storylines. The main storyline features Arnault, a Middle Eastern-French man, who is in prison serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. The book starts with Arnault being released from prison. There was DNA evidence found that exonerated him. Arnault is released with little money, very few personal effects, and nowhere to go. The book follows Arnault through the lows and highs of his new life.

The other main storyline features Lucy, a young up-and-coming lawyer in Paris. Lucy accepts a job with an international group of lawyers who work to free unjustly imprisoned people. Lucy gets the case involving Arnault. Lucy needs to find Arnault and serve him papers that would erase his 20 years in prison. But finding Arnault proves tricky, and Lucy is searching homeless shelters, homeless camps, and migrant camps to find him. Will she find Arnault? Will she serve those papers?

The Man without Shelter was a differently-written book. I say different because there was barely any dialogue between the characters. The author took much of the book from Arnault and Lucy’s perspective, and I saw Paris through their eyes. It was a different Paris than what I have usually read about. This Paris, which is away from the touristy areas, has problems with crime and homelessness. But it was almost pure what I saw through Arnault’s eyes. He considered living in a tent with geese as companions as something good. Same with living in the migrant camps. Instead of being described as chaotic and frightening, those scenes were described as people helping each other cope. It was a refreshing way of looking at it. Lucy’s Paris, though, was a little different. Through her eyes, I saw a Paris where people didn’t care enough and were out for themselves. The people that did care were stretched thin. There was almost a hopelessness in her perspective until she met Arnault. Then it started to change, and Lucy changed with it.

I rooted for Arnault the entire book. From the minute the warden gave Arnault the “good news” to the last scene in the book, I was his number one cheerleader. I felt terrible for him only when his girlfriend killed herself. Besides that one chapter, his storyline showed how he overcame everything to succeed.

I wasn’t sure what to think about Lucy when she was introduced. She did come off as somewhat naive (the whole business with her firm and what they were doing). But she did grow on me as her storyline progressed. As I stated above, I liked seeing her eyes open to what was happening around her and her attitude change.

The end of The Man without Shelter was interesting. I loved how the author wrapped up Lucy and Arnault’s storylines. There was justice served in Arnault’s girlfriend’s suicide too.

I would recommend The Man without Shelter to anyone over 16. This is a clean book with no apparent sex. But there is language and moderate violence. There is also a scene where suicide is explained; people disfigured themselves so they could panhandle, and rape is alluded to.

Love Secrets Lies by Teresa Vale


Date of Publication: May 10th, 2021

Genre: General Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon | Alibris | IndieBound

Goodreads Synopsis:

Paradise is no more. She’s a stranger in her new home…

… as she sails the choppy waters of teen life. Teresa longs for picture-perfect love, but in the real world you often have to say “No”, even if it breaks your heart.

From tropical Mozambique to drab, 1970s Lisbon, from the golden beaches of Durban to five-star holidays in verdant, mountainous Madeira, and even the Moroccan kasbah, follow Teresa as she stumbles and falls and picks herself up again.

Will Teresa’s grandparents let her out of their sight for a minute? Can she forge her own path in a country that struggles to emerge from fear and taboo? Will she find true love, or is she forever fated to navigate an ocean of boys who demand more than she is willing to give?

First Line:

I detested my first kiss.

Love Secrets Lies by Teresa Vale

When I first got the email from the author requesting that I review her book, I almost said no. As a rule, I do not review anything that resembles even resembles a biography or an autobiography. But the sweetness of the request email and the blurb that I read on Amazon sold me on reading the book. I am glad I did because this was a fantastic book.

Love Secrets Lies is the story of Teresa and her journey to adulthood. Teresa was forced out of Mozambique as a young teenager when that country became politically unstable. She, her brother, her grandparents, and her parents fled to Portugal. Teresa and her brother settled in Libson with her grandparents while her father and mother (divorced) went to North Portugal and England. Teresa is a headstrong, opinionated young lady growing up in 1970s Portugal. Can Teresa overcome the obstacles of her childhood (mainly her very strict grandparents) and become the woman she wants to be?

I loved Teresa. She was a vibrantly written character who made me laugh during the book. I have a seventeen-year-old daughter, and I could see her getting into some of the shenanigans that Teresa got into. The whole kissing scene had me in tears laughing because, well, it was relatable. How many of us enjoyed our first kiss? And how many of us had the experience that Teresa had? I did find her a little tiring during certain scenes (the political scenes I skimmed over). But other than that, I loved her joy in life. It exuded from the book.

I liked seeing what it is like for a teenage girl growing up in the 70s and outside of the USA. It was very refreshing. Plus, I got to experience the 70s through her, which was a trip in itself.

Teresa had several romances throughout the book. The author didn’t hold back with them. She showed the good, the bad, and the ugly. And oh man, did the ugly get nasty towards the end. Teresa went through a terrifying situation that could have turned out bad if a certain someone didn’t step up for her.

Sexually, this is a very clean book. There are a few kissing scenes, one where Teresa and her boyfriend do heavy petting, and one very memorable scene where Teresa’s boyfriend uses a pillow as a cover for his privates (and as a supposed sexy gesture??). The author never details what Teresa is doing, but there is enough said that I could figure it out. I knew she wasn’t having sex (the author often stressed her virginity in the book).

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was how bratty and immature Teresa sometimes came across. But, saying that, she was a teenager living under stringent rules. So I kept an open mind while reading.

I also want to mention the locations that this book took me to. South Africa, different areas of Portugal, and Mozambique are among the few places that the author mentioned in the book. The author vividly described every site to the point where I could picture it in my head.

The end of Love Secrets Lies was a bit of a cliffhanger, and I am looking forward to reading book 2!!

I would recommend Love Secrets Lies to anyone over 16. There is mild language, violence, and mild and non-graphic sexual situations. There is also underage drinking and smoking.

The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

The Woman in the Mirror: A Novel by [James, Rebecca]


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Date of publication: March 17th, 2020

Genre: General Fiction

Where you can find The Woman in the Mirror: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

Rebecca James unveils a chilling modern gothic novel of a family consumed by the shadows and secrets of its past in The Woman in the Mirror.

For more than two centuries, Winterbourne Hall has stood atop a bluff overseeing the English countryside of Cornwall and the sea beyond.

In 1947, Londoner Alice Miller accepts a post as governess at Winterbourne, looking after Captain Jonathan de Grey’s twin children. Falling under the de Greys’ spell, Alice believes the family will heal her own past sorrows. But then the twins’ adoration becomes deceitful and taunting. Their father, ever distant, turns spiteful and cruel. The manor itself seems to lash out. Alice finds her surroundings subtly altered, her air slightly chilled. Something malicious resents her presence, something clouding her senses and threatening her very sanity.

In present day New York, art gallery curator Rachel Wright has learned she is a descendant of the de Greys and heir to Winterbourne. Adopted as an infant, she never knew her birth parents or her lineage. At long last, Rachel will find answers to questions about her identity that have haunted her entire life. But what she finds in Cornwall is a devastating tragic legacy that has afflicted generations of de Greys. A legacy borne from greed and deceit, twisted by madness, and suffused with unrequited love and unequivocal rage.

First Line:

Listen! Can you hear it?

The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

My Review:

I haven’t read a good Gothic mystery in a while. A long while, now that I have had time to think about it. That was the main reason why I decided I wanted to read The Woman in the Mirror. I wanted to see if they were as good as I remembered. And guess what, they were!!!

The Woman in the Mirror had fast-moving storylines, which I enjoyed. I feel that if the storylines had been slower than the book would have dragged on. The flow of the book was good. There were no dropped storylines, but I did have a question about Alice’s pregnancy during WWII. I couldn’t quite place what happened (if she had the baby or not).

Speaking of Alice, I felt awful for her. She had some mental issues that followed her to Winterbourne. That alone made her chapters fun to read. I couldn’t tell if she was losing it because of that or if the house caused it. I loved it!!!

Rachel was a different story, though. She inherited Winterbourne from an unknown aunt (she was adopted). Rachel thought it would be a great way to see where her mother came from and see her roots. Of course, what she discovered was something way more sinister.

The paranormal/mystery was well written. I did have an issue with the whole reason why Winterbourne was cursed not being revealed until the end of the book. I also didn’t like how that storyline was resolved. It was a little too tidy. But other than that, both were wonderful. I don’t think I will look at gilded mirrors and murals the same again.

There was a small romance angle of the book. Honestly, I didn’t see it between Alice and the captain. It didn’t grab me. Mainly because of the way he treated her. Of course, that was explained away but still. It left me going, “Really?” I also didn’t see it between Jack and Rachel until the end. I could have gone without the romance, but I can see why the author wrote it in. It made what happened to Alice even more disturbing.

The end of The Woman in the Mirror was terrific. I loved how everything came together. And then there was the epilogue. I had to reread it. The way it was written and what was written!! Will there be a 2nd book?

I would give The Woman in the Mirror an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The Woman in the Mirror. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

Things in Jars: A Novel by [Kidd, Jess]

4 Stars

Publisher: Atria Books

Date of publication: February 4th, 2020

Genre: General Fiction

Where you can find Things in Jars: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book synopsis:

In the dark underbelly of Victorian London, a formidable female sleuth is pulled into the macabre world of fanatical anatomists and crooked surgeons while investigating the kidnapping of an extraordinary child in this gothic mystery—perfect for fans of The Essex Serpent and The Book of Speculation.

Bridie Devine—female detective extraordinaire—is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.

First Line:

As pale as a grave grub she’s an eyeful.

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

My Review:

When I read the blurb for Things in Jars, I knew that I needed to read the book. A mystery set in Victorian England that had a paranormal/fantasy bent to it. Another thing going for this book is that I had read Himself by the author and loved it. So, yes, I was excited to read the book. I am glad that I did because Things in Jars were fantastic!!

Things in Jars had a great storyline. Bridie Devine is a female detective who takes on a case that she thinks will be easy. A 6-year-old girl has been kidnapped, and her father is frantic to get her back. But, as Bridie starts to investigate this story, she notices that things aren’t adding up. Then Bridie’s past collides with her present in a way that could derail her investigation. What is so special about that girl? Why are so many people after her? And what will happen when Bridie is forced to face her past?

The plotline for Things in Jars was lightning fast. That surprised me because when a book goes from past to present, there is always some lag. But not in this case. The author was able to keep up the pace of the plotline and seamlessly go from past to present. There are also no dropped characters or storylines. It made reading this book absolutely a joy!!

I am not a massive fan of when books got back and forth in time. But in this case, the author made it work. As Bridie investigated Christabel’s kidnapping, the author showed what it was like for Bridie growing up. It wasn’t pretty. There were parts of her childhood that made me want to hug her. The time spent in the Eames household, and what Gideon put her through was awful. But, it showed where she got her medical skills and how it shaped her into the woman she was in the present day.

The storyline with Christabel’s kidnapping was interesting. I liked it because I had to figure out if Christabel being a freak of nature was true or not. For a time, I did think that Christabel was an innocent child. But, then there was a crucial scene that involved snails and feet that changed my mind.

I liked that the author took the Irish myth of the Merrow and ran with it. I wasn’t familiar with that myth and spent some time reading about it after I finished the book. I loved it!!

I also loved how the author tied Bridie’s past and present together. There were a couple of people from her past that showed up, not including Ruby Doyle. I was surprised at how they were tied in.

I loved the paranormal angle of the book. I did feel that Ruby’s storyline was dragged on, and I did think, for a time, that his connection to Bridie was forgotten. But, it wasn’t, and the reveal was heartbreaking. I’ll admit, I cried.

The end of Things in Jars was nothing short of amazing. The author did a fantastic job of wrapping everything up. My heart broke a few times when reading the ending. I was wondering if there was going to be another book, but I don’t think so. If I’m wrong, that’s great. But the vibe I got was no.

I would give Things in Jars an Adult rating. There is no sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Things in Jars. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

The God Game by Danny Tobey

The God Game: A Novel by [Tobey, Danny]

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: January 7th, 2020

Genre: General Fiction

Where you can find The God Game: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life—does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

First Line:

The blue light of the computer screen was flickering on Charlie’s and Peter’s faces, making them look like astronauts lit by the cosmos.

The God Game by Danny Toby

My Review:

I know I start 99.9% of my reviews off like this, but the blurb caught my attention. I have read plenty of books that use gaming a part of their main plotline. I have also read plenty of books where a game is using people for its agenda. So, what was different about this blurb that caught my eye? It was the shiver of suspense that I got from reading it. I needed to know what the GOD game was and how it was played. I will say that this book did deliver on that shiver of suspense, and it added a massive dollop of thriller also.

The God Game’s plotline is super fast. The whole book takes place within a couple of weeks of Charlie and Peter starting the game. It was so fast that I did end up having to reread some chapters because I missed things. Usually, I would be annoyed by that. But in this case, I wasn’t.

The plot for The God Game centers around Charlie and his group of coding friends, “The Vindicators.Charlie and Peter discover The G.O.D. Game on the dark web. Charlie initially didn’t want to play the game, but Peter talked him into doing it. The G.O.D. Game is augmented reality and to play, The Vindicators got special glasses to play. The game was fun at first. Well, if you call breaking into the school and painting bloody pentagrams first. Since this was a morality based game, each good action was rewarded to Goldz or different prizes. But, each adverse action was rewarded with Blaxx. Get enough Blaxx and terrible things happen. The Vindicators soon find out that there is no getting out of The G.O.D. Game. But Charlie isn’t deterred. He and his friends (well minus Peter) are determined to quit the game. Even if that means someone dies.

There is so much that I want to say about this book. But doing so will end up with me giving away major spoilers. And it’s driving me nuts!! I will say that the author did a fantastic job of keeping me glued to my Kindle. I started reading this at breakfast (after dropping my six-year-old at school), and I was finished by 11 am. It was that good.

I would give The God Game an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The God Game. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

Twenty-one Truths About Love: A Novel by [Dicks, Matthew]

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: November 19th, 2019

Genre: General Fiction

Where you can find Twenty-one Truths About Love: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

1. Daniel Mayrock loves his wife Jill…more than anything. 
2. Dan quit his job and opened a bookshop.
3. Jill is ready to have a baby. 
4. Dan is scared; the bookshop isn’t doing well. Financial crisis is imminent. 
5. Dan hasn’t told Jill about their financial trouble. He’s ashamed. 
6. Then Jill gets pregnant.

This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances—he wants to become someone.

1. Dan wants to do something special. 
2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary. 
3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure. 
4. Of living in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.

Dan is also an obsessive list maker, and his story unfolds entirely in his lists, which are brimming with Dan’s hilarious sense of humor, unique world-view, and deeply personal thoughts. When read in full, his lists paint a picture of a man struggling to be a man, a man who has reached a point where he’s willing to anything for the love (and soon-to-be new love) of his life.

First Line:

Ways to keep Jill from getting pregnant

Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

My Review:

When I started reading Twenty-one Truths about Love, I wasn’t a massive fan of it. I mean, a book that is told through lists. I was expecting to DNF it after the first chapter. Then a funny thing happened. I started to get involved with the book. I began to care about Dan. I wanted to know if he was going to carry out his crazy plan. I wanted to see if he would ever contact his father.

I liked Dan. He had his quirks (don’t we all) and was trying to do his best. He also had an excellent sense of humor. But, he was also insecure. He was jealous of his wife’s first husband, who seemed to be a saint. He felt that he couldn’t live up to his brother’s success. He was also the most affected by his mother’s affair, the divorce, and his father not contacting them again.

I laughed my butt off at his plan to get more money. It wasn’t what he was going to do. But it was how he went about doing it. I liked that he turned that episode into something he learned from.

The end of Twenty-one Truths About Love was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I had a huge smile when the book ended. The book that I was sure I wouldn’t like ended up being a fantastic book!!

I would give Twenty-one Truths About Love an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I am on the fence if I would reread Twenty-one Truths About Love.  I am on the fence if I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

Campusland by Scott Johnston

Campusland: A Novel by [Johnston, Scott]

3 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: August 13th, 2019

Genre: General Fiction

Where you can find Campusland: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

A tumultuous and often hilarious first novel about one year of insanity at the Ivy-like Devon University, a blissful bubble of elite students and the adults at their mercy.

Eph Russell is an English professor up for tenure. He may look and sound privileged, but Eph is right out of gun-rack, Bible-thumping rural Alabama. His beloved Devon, though, has become a place of warring tribes, and there are landmines waiting for Eph that he is unequipped to see. The cultural rules are changing fast.

Lulu Harris is an entitled freshman—er, firstyear—from Manhattan. Her singular ambition is to be a prominent socialite – an “It Girl.” While most would kill for a place at Devon, to her college is a dreary impediment. She is pleasantly surprised to find some people she can tolerate in the Fellingham Society, a group of self-professed campus monarchists. When things become socially difficult, Lulu is forced to re-channel her ambition in a most unexpected way – as a militant feminist. In the process, she and Eph will find their fates at odds.

Also in the mix is Red Wheeler, who is in his seventh year at Devon, and is carefully managing his credits to stay longer. As the alpha dog atop Devon’s progressive hierarchy, Red is the most “woke” guy on campus. But when his position is threatened, he must take measures.

All paths collide in a riotous climax. Campusland is a timely and gleeful skewering of the modern American campus and its tribal culture.

First Line:

“D’Arcy!” Milton cried from his office.

Campusland by Scott Johnston

My Review:

I was eager to read Campusland after reading the blurb. I thought that it was going to be a comedy mixed with today’s social issues. For the most part, that is what I got. But there were certain parts of Campusland where I felt the author was trying too hard. And it was those parts of the book that made it fall short for me.

Campusland is the story of Devon University and the year of upheavals that it endures. Caught in the middle of everything is Eph Russell, an English professor trying to make tenure. He is also trying to make it through the year. Lulu is a first-year who has aspirations to become an Instagram star and a socialite. Instead, she is attending Devon University and hating it. Red, in his seventh year at Devon, is the top social activist on campus. His activities have been limited to small protests. When he is threatened, Red takes drastic measures, which affect Eph and Lulu in ways that they can’t imagine. What will happen when all paths collide? What will happen?

Like I mentioned above, I was excited to read Campusland. I enjoy reading about social issues that are affecting today’s youths (holy crap, I sound so old here!!). The events that happen at Devon University have been ripped, for the most part, from the headlines. As I got into the book, though, I started to feel a disconnect from Campusland.

I did feel sorry for Eph. He was the real victim in this book. He got no say to defend himself from every accusation that was brought against him. Instead, there was an internal investigation. The internal investigation was biased because the woman running it was hell-bent on proving him guilty.

I couldn’t stand Lulu. From the moment she appeared in the book, I disliked her. She was a self-centered, spoiled brat with kleptomaniac tendencies. Everything she did was to promote her brand, which disgusted me later on in the book.

I also didn’t like Red. At first, he came across as one of those stoner activists. But as the book went on, he became more and more devious. His activism became almost militant. I was waiting with bated breath to see if he would leave the book.

I did enjoy seeing what a glimpse into what college is like today. When I was in college, there was nothing like the groups that were shown. Or if there was, they stayed well underground and out of the spotlight.

I was relieved when I finished Campusland. I thought that the author tried too hard to form the characters into stereotypes. While there was humor in the book, the humor felt forced. I will say that the ending of Campusland was interesting. But I didn’t think that the ending was appropriate. I can’t get into it but what Lulu and Red ended up going on to do didn’t make me happy.

I would give Campusland an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would not reread Campusland. I would not recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

The Kilwade Tragedy: Tragedies don’t just happen by Terry Keys

The Kilwade Tragedy: Tragedies don't just happen. by [Keys, Terry]

5 Stars


Date of publication: August 6th, 2019

Genre: General Fiction

Where you can find The Kilwade Tragedy: Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

Terry Keys, USA Today bestselling author of Lie No More and The Missing pens his most captivating book to date. This is the heart-breaking story about a small-town boy who’d taken everything from everyone until he could take no more. 

Seventeen-year-old Blaze Planter is a Jr. at Kilwade, High School. 
His parents have recently divorced. 
His grades are slipping. 
His anger is growing with each day. 
Relationships with his closest friends are failing. 
Secrets about his life are being uncovered. 
No one understands what he is going through. 
And everyone who has betrayed him needs to be taught a lesson. 
So now he stands with the one friend that has never betrayed him. 
The one friend that does what he asks every time he squeezes the trigger. 
The only friend that he can depend on. 
Tragedies don’t just happen. The signs are simply overlooked every day until it’s too late. 

After the read be sure to review the author’s note where resources for additional help are listed. There are also discussion questions to generate conversation & get adults and student’s talking. 

First Line

Let me just start off by saying that no kid is ever born thinking one day I’m going to kill myself

The Kilwade Tragedy by Terry Keys

My Review:

Before I start this review, I do want to let you all know that this book is trigger heavy. The triggers are bullying, casual drug use, physical violence, online bullying, underage drinking, and the planning/execution of a school shooting in Texas. The Kilwade Tragedy isn’t a book for everyone, but it is a book that needs to be read. So, read with these triggers in mind.

I am not going to lie. The Kilwade Tragedy was a tough book to read. There were points where I wanted to put the book down.

The Kilwade Tragedy explores the events that led Blaze to do what he did. And what is revealed is frightening.

As a mother of school-age children, The Kilwade Tragedy struck a nerve with me. I am uneasy about sending my kids to school. Even though I know that their schools have upgraded their security measures. But the security measures don’t extend to recess, school trips or sporting events. So, yes, what happened at the end of the book chilled me. Reading that was my worst nightmare.

I was impressed with the research that the author did. At the same time, I was chilled. He was able to gain access to several different middle/high schools in his area. NO ONE ASKED WHY HE WAS THERE. I couldn’t believe it.

What saddened me the most about The Kilwade Tragedy is that Blaze was let down. He was screaming for help and kept getting brushed off. By the time his mother got him to a therapist, it was too late. He was already pushed past his breaking point.

The bullying scenes were heartbreaking. I liked how the author showed the escalation of the bullying. It went from name-calling to mental to physical over a year. I liked that the author showed how the school failed Blaze. Oh boy, did they ever. Because the bullies were on the football team, they chose to turn the other cheek until it was too late. When the police went to arrest the boys for assault, they chose to let one of the kids walk because of who his father was. Unfortunately, scenarios like that one are played out all over the country. A zero bullying policy only works if the staff chooses to enforce it for everyone.

The end of The Kilwade Tragedy was chilling. The speech that the principal gave is given too often. But, in this speech, the principal acknowledged that Blaze was failed. And he vowed that change would start with his school.

The author’s note included several links where people could go for help. He also had a question and answer prompt if the book would be read in book clubs.

As I mentioned above, this is a heartbreaking book to read. Reading about what lead a teenager to decide to do a school shooting was hard for me. But I needed to read it.

I would give The Kilwade Tragedy an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The Kilwade Tragedy. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White

We Are All Good People Here: A Novel by [White, Susan Rebecca]

4 Stars

Publisher: Atria Books

Date of Publication: August 6th, 2019

Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction

Where you can find We Are All Good People Here: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

From the author of A Place at the Table and A Soft Place to Land, an “intense, complex, and wholly immersive” (Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author) multigenerational novel that explores the complex relationship between two very different women and the secrets they bequeath to their daughters.

Eve Whalen, privileged child of an old-money Atlanta family, meets Daniella Gold in the fall of 1962, on their first day at Belmont College. Paired as roommates, the two become fast friends. Daniella, raised in Georgetown by a Jewish father and a Methodist mother, has always felt caught between two worlds. But at Belmont, her bond with Eve allows her to finally experience a sense of belonging. That is, until the girls’ expanding awareness of the South’s systematic injustice forces them to question everything they thought they knew about the world and their places in it.

Eve veers toward radicalism—a choice pragmatic Daniella cannot fathom. After a tragedy, Eve returns to Daniella for help in beginning anew, hoping to shed her past. But the past isn’t so easily buried, as Daniella and Eve discover when their daughters are endangered by secrets meant to stay hidden.

Spanning more than thirty years of American history, from the twilight of Kennedy’s Camelot to the beginning of Bill Clinton’s presidency, We Are All Good People Here is “a captivating…meaningful, resonant story” (Emily Giffin, author of All We Ever Wanted) about two flawed but well-meaning women clinging to a lifelong friendship that is tested by the rushing waters of history and their own good intentions.

First Line:

Daniella’s father steered the Dodge Pioneer up the serpentine drive of Belmont College, home to more than five hundred girls renowned for their Beauty and Brains, or at least that wsa what the boosterish tour guide who had shown Daniella around the previous spring had claimed.

We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White

We Are All Good People Here was an interesting read. I usually don’t like books that follow characters over the decades. Often, I find myself getting confused with what is going on and losing track of the plotline. Not in this book. We Are All Good People Here was an interesting, character-driven book that had me engrossed the entire time.

What I liked the most about this book was how the characters changed with each decade. Each decade showed a different side to Eve and Daniella. I enjoyed seeing the different sides of Eve and Daniella. I liked seeing how they related to each other in those periods of their lives. I loved seeing how their friendship evolved during the 30+ years the book covers. It made for a fantastic read.

I liked how the author had Eve and Daniella be on opposite ends of the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War protests. It was interesting to read about Daniella’s time in Mississippi. I was interested in how Eve was immersed in a radical group. It fascinated me.

We Are All Good People Here covers so much that this review would be forever if I wrote about them all. Racism and discrimination were two of the main things discussed. Also discussed where same-sex couples, date rape, drug use, and radicalism. All these issues combined into one book made for a great read.

What I didn’t like was how Eve changed. It didn’t sit right with me. She was immersed in the culture of the underground radicals. So, for her to marry a lawyer and become a “perfect” wife was a hard pill to swallow.

I wasn’t a fan of Eve and Daniella’s kids taking over the book. But, I understood why the author did that. She wanted to introduce the issues that my generation had to deal with growing up.

The end of We Are All Good People Here was almost anticlimactic. I figured that Eve would end up doing what she did. Daniella, I didn’t expect her life to take the course that it did. It was an excellent ending to a great story. The talk that Daniella and Sarah had at the end of the book touched me.

I would give We Are All Good People Here an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread We Are All Good People Here. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**