Posted in book reviews

WWW Wednesday – June 12, 2019

So… Happy Wednesday!!!  It’s time once again for WWW Wednesday ! WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.
Don’t know what WWW Wendesday is or how to participate??? All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to Taking on a World of Words, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog! (You can also leave your link in my comments to be sure I don’t miss your post!)

The three WWW questions are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:

WWW Wednesday – June 5, 2019

I didn’t manage to finish The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin last week, but should finish it up this week and then I’ll be moving on to the next book on the Harvard Classics list!

WWW Wednesday – June 5, 2019

I finished up Hillbilly Elegy and now I’m beginning Appalachian Reckoning. I just started it so I’m not gonna say much here other than… I’m currently reading it.

Recently Finished:

WWW Wednesday – June 5, 2019

The only book I managed to finish up reading this past week was Hillbilly Elegy. Pretty much my entire household has been sick and so that’s about all I had time for. I’m hoping this next week’s reading goes better!

Hillbilly Elegy really got to me though… I guess you could say it hit home a little too hard.

Reading Next:

WWW Wednesday – June 5, 2019

Half Finished by Lauraine Snelling
Published byFaithWords on March 26, 2019 
ISBN: 1478920076 
Pages: 324 
Goodreads

WWW Wednesday – June 5, 2019

The LunaticsPublished byCreatespace Independent Publishing Platformon April 17, 2012 
ISBN: 1475183399 
Pages: 234 
Goodreads

Posted in book reviews

Be back June 1!

Hey guys! Just a quick post to let everyone know I’m not gone forever, just until June 1. And… I’ll have a new sidekick joining me when I return!

Till then, happy reading everyone!

~Jess

Posted in book reviews

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonaldThe Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald
Published by Gallery Books on February 5, 2019
ISBN: 1501184008
Genres: General (Adult) Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

I received this book for free from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

My Thoughts on The Night Olivia Fell:

The love I have for my daughters exceeds anything else found on this earth. If you ask Thing 1, she’d tell you I love my children more than most other parents love theirs… to the point that it gets annoying and suffocating at times!

Thing 1 and I are especially close and she knows my biggest fear is to get “the call.” Even if you’re the type of parent that spends 20 hours of your 24 hour day complaining about your teenager, you know and fear “the call.” It’s the one that causes your stomach to drop before you even pick up the line, the one that changes your life forever, the one where a complete stranger tells you your child is seriously injured — or dead.

It’s every parent’s worst fear.

Thanks to some past events in my life, I suffer from PTSD. My particular trauma involves harm to my children and so this fear is even more magnified for me (probably why I get all suffocate-y sometimes).

It’s probably also why The Night Olivia Fell was such an emotionally gut-wrenching, roller-coaster ride of a story for me!

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of it… But it was hard to get through. I saw so many similarities between Olivia and Abi’s relationship to my relationship with Thing 1 that it all felt way too personal and real!

Abi and her daughter are obviously super close and Abi loves Olivia fiercely. But then comes the night Olivia falls… suddenly, Abi has to come to terms with the fact that maybe she didn’t really know her daughter at all.

Not only does she have to keep processing that bit of life-altering, earth-shattering news, but her daughter’s pregnant, the police refuse to believe the fall wasn’t an accident, and Abi’s life is just all around spinning out of control! She’s built her entire adult life around Olivia and now she’s gone. Even if she does find out what happened that night, how does she go on???

Final Thoughts:

I’ve got to tell you, this book gave me chills! (And nightmares.) I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a good suspense novel featuring relatable characters and a totally believable plot!

What do you think? Have you read The Night Olivia Fell? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

four-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

A Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery

A Light in the Desert by Anne MontgomeryA Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery
Published by Treehouse Publishing/Amphorae Publishing Group on November 6, 2018
ISBN: 1732139113
Genres: General (Adult) Fiction
Pages: 286
Source: the author
Goodreads
three-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

A Light in the Desert traces the story of a lonely pregnant teenager, a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper who, as he descends into the throes of mental illness, latches onto the girl, and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. The Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst’s, a deadly act of sabotage. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when local and state police, FBI investigators, and a horde of reporters make camp by the twisted wreckage of the Sunset Limited. As the search for the saboteurs continues, the authorities find more questions than answers. The girl mysteriously vanishes, the assassin struggles to maintain his sanity, and a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

My Thoughts on A Light in the Desert:

I have some very conflicting/mixed emotions about A Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery. It isn’t that the book was necessarily bad or that I didn’t enjoy it, but I can’t say it was one of the best books I’ve read lately either.

The beginning started out a little too slow for my taste, yet at the same time it introduced way too many people, circumstances, and information too fast. The result was that I became confused on what was going on, who was who, and how all the different characters fit together.

Eventually, I did figure out what was happening. Eventually it all made sense how all the different people were linked, but it caused me to have a really hard time sticking with the book.

That being said, once I got over my initial confusion, I did really start to enjoy the story…. which is where all my mixed emotions come from.

Another strange thing that happens in this book is that it almost reads as two separate stories.

There are multiple main characters – Kelly Kelly/Kelly Garcia, Jason Ramm, Billy, and a couple of members from a cult-type group which call themselves “the Children of the Light.” At one point, it seems like the main story that draws them all together is over, but then it picks back up again with a completely new central issue. I was literally halfway through the book and things had been pretty much all worked out and I thought “do I even need to read the rest of the book?” That’s never happened to me before and I still don’t know how I feel about it.

Like I said, I still ended up enjoying the book. And actually the second half turned out to be my favorite… it was just a different experience than I’m used to.

Final Thoughts:

I know this has been a really vague post, but this a book where I feel my reactions and feelings about it are probably more helpful than actually talking about what happens in the book itself. Especially since telling the characters stories would probably give away a lot of the “surprise” about how they all fit together.

Overall, I think it’s worth the read. There are some trigger warnings that you should be aware of before picking it up. They include: incest, rape/attempted rape, violence, PTSD, and sexual abuse of a minor.

three-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

After the Green Withered – Blog Tour Review

It’s Day 7 of The Write Reads‘ Ultimate Blog Tour! That means it’s FINALLY my turn to talk about After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward!!!

About the Book:

After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward
on May 18, 2018
ISBN: 9781982900731
Genres: General (Adult) Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult
Pages: 283
Source: the author
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

They tell me the country looked different back then.

They talk of open borders and flowing rivers.

They say the world was green.

But drought swept across the globe and the United States of the past disappeared under a burning sky.

Enora Byrnes lives in the aftermath, a barren world where water has become the global currency. In a life dominated by duty to family and community, Enora is offered a role within an entity that controls everything from water credits to borders. But it becomes clear that not all is as it seems. From the wasted confines of her small town to the bowels of a hidden city, Enora will uncover buried secrets that hide an unthinkable reality.

As truth reveals the brutal face of what she has become, she must ask herself: how far will she go to retain her humanity?

I received this book for free from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

My Thoughts on After the Green Withered:

I was hooked on this book from the very beginning!

It starts with a description of the world Enora has grown up in, and the little bit she’s aware of how it got to be this way. The way everything played out was so believable it gave me chills! I could totally see this happening in real life and it terrified me.

The Story:

Basically, we’ve destroyed the planet and now there’s not enough water or other basic resources for us to survive on. Years go by without a drop of rain. Water credits are now the world currency and most families are given barely enough to survive on.

Enora is 17 and is about to graduate from school. Upon graduating, she must choose a job from her limited options (none sound appealing to her) and start working – probably in the mill like her parents. At least, that’s what she expected to happen…

Instead, Enora is recruited by the DMC, the organization that “saved” the world from it’s population of destructive humans. The DMC is a global powerhouse that started out small, but now governs the entire world. Enora doesn’t want to work from them. It’s the thing she never saw as a possibility and thought of as the worst possible outcome for her future.

But no one really cares what she wants.

And no one says no to being recruited by the DMC.

So she’s thrust into a whole new world as she begins preparing for her new life. She loses touch with her only friend and starts a path to becoming someone she doesn’t recognize. But her parents are much better off and she does make some new friends, although she still feels like an outsider.

Even though things aren’t all bad, Enora continues to be plagued by a feeling that things aren’t right. However, she rationalizes all her doubts away, ignoring the warning signs until she can’t ignore them anymore.

Themes:

There are a couple of different themes that run throughout the book and I feel like I could write a whole series of posts on them! But I’ll spare you from my ramblings and just break them down real simply here.

Enora, like many others, want to resist the pull of the DMC, but can’t see a way out. The consequences of resistance are just too severe. The phrase “resistance is futile,” while never actually used in After the Green Withered, ran through my head continually during my reading.

This is the bleak reality that I need to face. Beyond the fence of every community is nothing. No water, no food, no chance of survival. The Company knows this, depends on it. I suppose that there are some who live beyond the borders. God knows not everyone was rounded up as the Company swept through, but where those people live and how they live is beyond my imagining.

Enora, After the Green Withered

There’s also a major theme of the haves vs. the have nots. I won’t expound on that since it’s a pretty simple concept.

Of course, the underlying message throughout the entire book is basically “take care of the earth now before it’s too late.”

Also, don’t allow a single entity to become so powerful that it dictates everything for every person in the entire world!!!

The Writing:

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this story. After reading the synopsis, I was excited about getting to read it for the Ultimate Blog Tour, but the writing style wasn’t what I expected – or what I normally enjoy.

My preferred reading experience is heavy on the dialogue. But After the Green Withered actually has little of that.

Somehow, I found myself pulled more into the story than I ever have with a book written in this way. I wanted to point this out because I think it shows what amazing skill the author has in spinning a tale!

There was only one negative thing I could find in the whole book that bothered me… It happened pretty far in and so I was already hooked and fully immersed in the world and then suddenly I was thrown back into reality like I’d rode in on lightening!

About halfway through the book, there’s a place where Enora and her partner, Springer, have parked and are walking through a parking garage type structure. They’re far away from their vehicle when suddenly I read “He parks the jeep outside a large building…” It took me a good 10 minutes to get past that point and be able to jump back into the story. This isn’t something that may have bothered anyone else as much as it did me. This is the only time that happens, so it’s not a reason to ditch the book,
but if this is one of your reading pet peeves… you’ve been warned!

Final Thoughts:

I loved reading After the Green Withered and I recommend it for just about anyone! It’s thought-provoking and entertaining and I just loved it!!! I will say though, it’s caused me to feel some guilt about how much water I use!

What do you think? Have you read “After the Green Withered?” Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

About the Author:

Kristin Ward has loved writing since middle school but took thirty years to do something serious about it. The result is her Best Indie Book Award-winning novel, After the Green Withered, followed by the sequel, Burden of Truth. She lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, three sons, and many furry and feathered friends. A SciFi geek to the core, she is fueled by dark chocolate and coffee and can be heard quoting eighties movies on a regular basis.

four-half-stars
Posted in book reviews

Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang

This may be the weirdest review I’ve ever written. Probably not for anyone reading it, but definitely for me personally.

Why? I’m glad you asked!

Okay, you probably didn’t, but I’m gonna tell you anyway…

I’m not normally big on war/battle scenes outside of the fantasy genre. I have no idea why, but give me a smoked orc, a decapitated goblin, burnt elf flesh – even a highly bloody GOT battle – and I’m all in! But a real life battle scene? Machine guns, fighter jets, human vs. human in a horrific and pointless war??? Nope. Can’t do it.

But of course, that’s exactly how Wings of a Flying Tiger began — with a jet fighter shoot out and a pilot seeing his best friend being shot out of the sky while trying to parachute to safety… right before his own plane is brought down! This is NOT my kinda thing!!

So why did I love this book SO much???

Wings of a Flying Tiger by Iris YangWings of a Flying Tiger by Iris Yang
Published by Open Books on May 20, 2018
ISBN: 194859806X
Pages: 254
Source: Open Books
Goodreads
five-stars

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Synopsis

World War Two. Japanese occupied China. One cousin's courage, another's determination to help a wounded American pilot.

In the summer of 1942, Danny Hardy bails out of his fighter plane into a remote region of western China. With multiple injuries, malaria, and Japanese troops searching for him, the American pilot’s odds of survival are slim.

Jasmine Bai, an art student who had been saved by Americans during the notorious Nanking Massacre, seems an unlikely heroine to rescue the wounded Flying Tiger. Daisy Bai, Jasmine’s younger cousin, also falls in love with the courageous American.

With the help of Daisy’s brother, an entire village opens its arms to heal a Flying Tiger with injured wings, but as a result of their charity the serenity of their community is forever shattered.

Love, sacrifice, kindness, and bravery all play a part in this heroic tale that takes place during one of the darkest hours of Chinese history.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.

I received this book for free from Open Books. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on AmazonBuy on Book Depository

My Thoughts on Wings of a Flying Tiger:

I’m going to try my best to write a spoiler-free review, but it’s going to be tough. There’s so much I want to say about this book! At the same time, I don’t want to give too much of the story away or ruin any twists.

Let’s get this out of the way first – This book takes place during an incredibly brutal war. There are LOTS OF TRIGGERS: rape/sexual assault; extreme violence and lots of dead bodies; in-depth depictions of war scenes and horribly cruel crimes. But if you can make it through all that, you’re probably going to add Wings of a Flying Tiger to your favorites!

The Story:

While the violence is horrific, the story itself is compelling, well-written, and super fast-paced! I found myself pausing so my heart had time to slow down.

Yes, the story takes place in a war. Yes, it’s gruesome. Yet it’s also filled with hope, love, and joy.

The main character, Jasmine Bai, leaves school to travel home to convince her parents to leave Nanking before the Japanese invade. But her warning comes too late and she finds herself in the middle of Japanese-controlled territory! She ends up taking refuge at an all-women college inside the International Safety Zone, a 2-mile stretch that’s supposed to offer safety to the surviving civilians. But the Japanese military doesn’t obey the rules of the zone for very long!

Just when it seems Jasmine’s life might regain some level of safety and “normalcy,” her life is shaken up yet again when she and her cousin come upon a Flying Tiger (an American pilot volunteering to fight for China against the Japanese) named Danny.

The Characters:

The characters in Wings of a Flying Tiger are part of what keeps the story flowing at such a fast and engaging pace. They’re so well-written it’s hard not to find yourself completely enthralled with them, wondering what’s going to happen next and how they’ll get out of their current predicament.

Jasmine and her cousin, Daisy, are sweet and innocent in the beginning of the novel and somehow manage to maintain some of that in the most brutal of situations. Daisy especially seems sheltered from the harshness of the war as the two girls go through life just trying to survive.

The Fighting Tiger, Danny, is suffering from PTSD (obviously not referred to as that in the book) and struggles with nightmares while at the same time being anxious to get back to the fight after his plane is brought down. If I talk too much more about Danny, I’m afraid I’ll ruin some things so I’ll just end right there on him.

There are plenty of other supporting characters, good and bad. Everyone I either loved or hated.

Final Thoughts:

This was an incredibly hard book to read. Not because the story, writing, characters, or anything like that was “bad,” but because the story, writing, characters, and scenes were so good! The story takes place in the middle of a war, while Japanese soldiers are committing the most horrible atrocities imaginable — and the author doesn’t back down from that. She writes it in all its horridness. Normally, I can’t stomach this stuff…

So I cannot believe how much I loved this book. The entire time spent reading I either cried, laughed, experienced joy, pain, relief, fear, love or hate. And I felt emotionally spent by the time I reached the end. But sometimes, the best books just do that you!

What do you think? Have you read Wings of a Flying Tiger?

Have you ever read a book that had all the stuff you hate reading, yet loved the book anyway? Leave me a comment below and thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet!

five-stars