Category: reading

Book Review: In Sight of Stars, by Gae Polisner

In Sight of Stars
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  In Sight of Stars
Author:  Gae Polisner
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5/5

Seventeen-year-old Klee’s life has changed immensely in the past year. He’s living in the suburbs. He’s in love with the volatile and free-spirited Sarah. And his beloved father, who taught him about art and explored New York City with him, is dead.

When life with his ice queen mother gets to be too much and an unexpected betrayal sends him over the edge, Klee ends up in the “Ape Can,” a psychiatric hospital for teens.

Klee must deal with his past if he’s ever to get back to his real life, but that means exploring the darkness and the secrets he doesn’t even know are there. Pushing people away has always been the easy way out, but Klee will have to learn to trust if he’s ever to heal.

In Sight of Stars alternates between the present, when Klee is hospitalized, and the past, events leading up to his breakdown. Klee is a fascinating character:  he’s broken, but he longs for wholeness and belonging, despite the blows the world keeps raining on him. This is a look at mental illness from the inside, gazing at the hurt and confusion that ripped one boy’s life to shreds, and how he learns to knit those shreds back into something whole.

I enjoyed reading this, and loved learning the truth right along with Klee, as he searches for the meaning in his past, his present, and his future. There’s a little bit of Klee’s brokenness in all of us. And, hopefully, his strength as well.

Gae Polisner is a family law attorney. She writes women’s fiction and young adult fiction. In Sight of Stars is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)


Book Review: I Found My Tribe, by Ruth Fitzmaurice

i found my tribe
Image belongs to Bloomsbury US.

Title:  I Found My Tribe
Author:  Ruth Fitzmaurice
Genre:  Non-fiction, memoir
Rating:  4/5

Ruth has five active children, and a husband, Simon, with Motor Neuron Disease. Simon can only communicate with his eyes. Ruth’s life is filled with children, caregivers and healthcare professionals, and her love for Simon, but she needs more.

Fortunately, Ruth has her tribe:  The Tragic Wives’ Swimming Club, a group of close friends who help each other through the obstacles they face every single day in their lives, and the waves and frigid water they face in their swimming. Swimming in Greystones cove saves them, and their favorite thing is moonlight swims in the ocean under the full moon.

Sometimes, the most unlikely things can save you.

I think a lot of us are looking for our “tribe.” The fortunate ones find them. Ruth is blessed to have friends who both surround her in her difficulties—and they are so very difficult—and who can fully sympathize because of their own similar circumstances. Ruth is an amazingly strong woman:  she’s raising FIVE kids essentially alone, while writing full-time and caring for a husband who needs total care and an army of medical staff. I cannot even imagine the kind of strength this takes. This book is a wonderful read about the friends who help us shine a light into the darkness surrounding us.

Ruth Fitzmaurice worked in radio before becoming a wife and mother of five children. I Found My Tribe is her first book.

Note:  Ruth’s husband, Simon, passed last October.

(Galley provided by Bloomsbury US in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Southern Discomfort, by Caroline Fardig

southern discomfort
Image belongs to Alibi Publishing.

Title:  Southern Discomfort
Author:  Caroline Fardig
Genre:  Mystery, Southern Fiction
Rating:  4/5

Quinn Bellandini runs a B&B with her grandfather, her sister Delilah, and the ghost of her late uncle Frank—whom everyone but Quinn believes in. She bakes scones, keeps the B&B running smoothly, and plays guitar in a band with her friends. She doesn’t even have time to date.

Her friend Drew runs a restaurant down the street with his brother, Jason, a surly, argumentative guy who fights with everyone—including his wife. When Quinn finds Jason’s body one night, she’s horrified—but not really surprised, considering how everyone disliked Jason.

What does surprise her is her presence near the top of the list of suspects, along with Drew. When Drew suggests they try to uncover a more-likely suspect to save their own necks, Quinn reluctantly agrees. She’s more suited to baking than investigating, but she finds her talent for killing people with kindness to thinly disguise her pointed remarks comes in handy. And she’ll need every trick she has to stay out of jail while she searches for a murderer.

I thoroughly enjoyed Southern Discomfort. I’ve never been to Savannah, but as a born-and-raised Southern girl, I found the setting believable and familiar (especially the popularity of sweet tea). Quinn and Delilah’s relationship was fantastic, and their interactions made the book even better! A great read for cozy mystery fans and anyone who loves Southern fiction.

Caroline Fardig is the author of the Lizzie Hart series, the Java Jive series, and the Ellie Matthews series. Southern Discomfort is her newest novel, the first in the Southern B&B mystery series.

(Galley provided by Alibi in exchange for an honest review.)


What I Read in February 2018

Books Read in February: 14

Books Read for the Year:  28/150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

A Wrinkle in time, by Madeleine L’Engle (classic). I wanted to re-read this, before the movie came out. I loved it again!

Daughters of the Night Sky, by Aimie K. Runyan (cultural book). This is about Russian women pilots during WWII, and was a very good read, although sad—the discrimination and issues the women faced was hard to read about. Also, it’s about war, so of course it’s sad.


Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot, by Mo Isom (spiritual, review forthcoming). As I grew up in the (Baptist) church, and sex was something that was never talked about, this was an intriguing read. And Isom’s conversational voice is phenomenal.

For Review:

You Will Be Mine, by Natasha Preston. I expect some twists and suspense from Preston—and this delivered—but the characters that insisted on doing the stupidest things imaginable—like sneaking off alone while being stalked by a serial killer—kind of ruined this for me. Almost DNF.

The Book of Pearl, by Timothee de Fombelle. I enjoyed this translation of a boy from the world of story forced to grow up in a world without magic—here—and how he tries to gather proof of his home’s existence.

the rending

The Rending and the Nest, by Kaethe Schwehn. Very intriguing dystopian novel. Four years ago, most of the population and animals, a lot of the stuff, and the sunshine and weather disappeared for unknown reasons. The survivors are getting by, making new lives for themselves scavenging from the scraps left over.They gain new hope when one of the women gets pregnant, but when she gives birth to an object, the world comes crashing down around them again. This is a strange book, but it’s very compelling and intriguing.

the belles


The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton. On the surface, this book did not seem like it would be right for me:  it’s about a society that reveres beauty above all else, whose inhabitants are born grey and must pay to change their physical appearance to match society’s trends (See? It’s about half of what bothers me so badly about our own society.). Camellia is a Belle, one of the elite who controls Beauty. She is determined to be the Favorite—the leading Belle—but when she reaches court she finds that there is far more going on than she ever imagined, and the darkness she finds has a long reach. This was an engrossing book, and about far more than what I first assumed to be trivial superficiality—though there’s some commentary on that as well. Extremely readable! (Like, I read this in a single day, and can’t wait for the next book!)


The Liar’s Girl, by Catherine Ryan Howard. This is about a girl whose boyfriend was convicted as a serial killer ten years ago…and now that more victims are showing up, he will only speak to her. She can’t rest until she finds out the truth about his claims of innocence.


Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman. This is a fantasy book that deals with some hard subject matter—rape, emotional abuse, women’s’ rights—but above all else, it’s a book about a character that changes in profound ways as a person. Loved it!


Blunt Force Magic, by Lawrence Davis. I enjoyed this so much! The MC is very self-deprecating, but he steps in to helps save a stranger–even knowing it’s going to land him a whole lot of magical trouble! (Please read the review, as it’s more detailed. But I will definitely read more of this series!)


Daughters of the Storm, by Kim Wilkins. This is another one that you should read the full review on, as the writing was great, but I disliked the characters so much that it almost made me DNF the book.


The Coincidence Makers, by Yoav Blum (review forthcoming). This literary fiction is about three Coincidence Makers—exactly what they sound like—who have different specialties. One of them, a former Imaginary Friend, is haunted by the loss of the Imaginary Friend lover that he knew in his past. A dreamy, soothing read.


Sugar Lump by Megan Gaudin. Vapid and superficial, despite the very intriguing premise of the book. (And I love YA, so that wasn’t the problem. But I like real YA, not surface-level, and I couldn’t get past that.)

A Cold Day in Hell by Lissa Marie Redmond. Only made it about 10%. I felt pretty distant from the main character to start with, but stuck it out until she met with the accused killer, a teenage kid who just randomly had sex with a girl he didn’t know in her car, and then she turned up dead a few hours later, and he’s totally confused about why he’s been accused. Here’s the thing: I don’t do stupid people. Or stupid characters. So his blasé attitude about the whole situation was a deal-breaker for me right then and there.

Just Because:

The Dark Calling, by Kresley Cole. I hate the idea that this series is almost over, because I love it so much. SO. MUCH. I think I got the first book free—and I knew the author was a good one—so that’s why I ended up reading the first one…just before the second book came out. And I was sucked in from the beginning. I hate when a character I like gets killed off, but it always makes sense in this series. Also…when a love triangle is involved, I usually have a favorite/one that makes mores sense for the heroine. This time I don’t. I love Jack and Aric both equally, and they both make sense for Evie. So…I kind of don’t want to know who she ends up with…

Linking up with Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.



Book Review: Blunt Force Magic, by Lawrence Davis

Image belongs to WildBlue Press.

Janzen’s life as a package courier in Cleveland, Ohio isn’t glamorous. He works, hangs out at a hole-in-the-wall bar, and goes home drunk to his dog. It’s a life, just a dull one. Five years ago, Janzen was an apprentice Artificer, living on the edge in a group of practitioners intent on fighting evil, but now he’s alone.

So, Janzen works, drinks, and sleeps. And repeats. Until the day he’s delivering a package and finds himself fighting for his life against a Stalker—a creature from the Abyss—defending a young witch against the dark predator.

Now Janzen must figure out who sent the Stalker, delving into his past for any scrap of help he can find, before the monster succeeds in killing him—and the witch. All in a day’s work, right?

This book. From the first page, I was drawn in by Janzen’s dry, self-deprecating humor and his unflinching honesty. He left the magical life behind years ago, but he doesn’t hesitate to step back into his role when danger threatens a young stranger. This character made the book—but the whole gritty urban fantasy/detective noir feeling didn’t hurt, either. A great read!

Lawrence Davis is the author of Blunt Force Magic, the first book in The Monsters and Men trilogy.

(Galley provided by WildBlue Press in exchange for an honest review.)


More reviews at <a href=””>Tomorrow is Another Day</a>

Book Review: The Rending and the Nest, by Kaethe Schwehn

the rending
Image belongs to Bloomsbury USA.

One moment, Mira was at the mall shopping with her little brother. The next instant, 95% of the world’s population vanished, along with sunlight, most of the animals, food, and stuff. What isn’t missing is in huge random piles. The survivors eke out a living by scavenging the Piles and banding together in haphazard communities.

Four years after the Rending, Mira spends her days scavenging for her community of Zion, hanging out with her best friend, Lana, and avoiding people she might come to love—she can’t bear to lose anyone else. Then Lana tells her she’s pregnant, the first pregnancy since the Rending. For the first time since everything changed, Mira feels hope.

But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object—and so do other women in Zion—Mira’s world crumbles again. An outsider named Michael lures Lana away, and Mira must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice to save her friend, her community, and her own pregnancy.

I’m not going to lie:  this is an odd book. Dystopian, with no explanation for why the Rending occurred (so if you must have a “why,” you’re out of luck here). The world is both strangely familiar and oddly skewed, like everything is just a bit off-kilter. Mira and Lana—well, everyone—are hiding secrets from their before, secrets that they need to deal with before they can truly accept their now. The Babies are creepy—and weirdly fitting—and I was drawn into the story from the first page as Mira struggles to make sense of this new world while still trying to sort out just who she is. Despite the oddness, this is an enthralling book, with a vividly realized setting that’s just as intriguing as the characters.

Kaethe Schwehn is an award-winning writer of prose and poems. The Rending and the Nest is her new novel.

(Galley provided by Bloomsbury USA in exchange for an honest review.)

Current Adventures in Reading

I started reading two books this week—and stopped reading them shortly thereafter. Choosing to not finish two books back-to-back is highly unusual for me, but I found the characters in Sugar Lump by Megan Gaudino to be vapid and superficial, despite the very intriguing premise of the book. (And I love YA, so that wasn’t the problem. But I like real YA, not surface-level, and I couldn’t get past that.)

Then I started A Cold Day in Hell by Lissa Marie Redmond. And only made it about 10% into that one. I felt pretty distant from the main character to start with, but stuck it out until she met with the accused killer, a teenage kid who just randomly had sex with a girl he didn’t know in her car, and then she turned up dead a few hours later, and he’s totally confused about why he’s been accused. Here’s the thing:  I don’t do stupid people. Or stupid characters. So his blasé attitude  about the whole situation was a deal-breaker for me right then and there.

Both of these might be great books for someone else. Just not for me.

Then I started reading The Rending and the Nest, by Kaethe Schwehn, and couldn’t put it down. I do love dystopians. So that was a win! Review to come soon.

the rending


What I Read in January (2018)

I upped my reading goal this year from 100 to 150, since I read 174 books last year. Who knows if that’ll happen, but it’s good to have goals.

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books

The Birdwoman’s Palate, by Laksmi Pamuntjak (cultural book of the month). Rather conveniently I thought, this was one of the Amazon First picks for January, so I snapped it up. This books was pretty much all about food, but I enjoyed the characters very much.

O Pioneers, by Willa Cather (classic book). I was actually very surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. I thought it would be kind of dry and boring, but there was a lot going on!

Satisfy My Thirsty Soul, by Linda Dillow (spiritual book). I enjoyed this very much.

To Review


The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin. So…I have mixed feelings about this book. Or, at least, less than positive feelings about it. It’s about four kids in the 1960s who go see a Gypsy psychic, and the woman tells them the exact dates of their deaths. Then it’s an in-depth look at the lives of each sibling in turn. I found the first two sections almost annoying, because of the choices the first two siblings made. The third was moderately more interesting, but still evoked mostly head-shaking from me. The final section was the best, in my opinion, and allowed me to actually care about the final sibling.

before i let go

Before I Let Go, by Marieke Naijkamp. I still don’t know what to think about this book. The writing is good. The characters are interesting—with a side of weird in some cases—and the setting is vividly drawn. (Okay, the thought of having to live in a tiny Alaskan town gives me the heeby-jeebies on a lot of levels.) Corey and Kyra grew up as best friends, but Corey left Kyra behind when she moved away. Then Kyra dies, and Corey goes back to say goodbye, and finds her hometown has become a strange, dark place, filled with secrets and people she doesn’t understand, all of them linked—somehow—to Kyra’s death.

an eye for an eye

An Eye for an Eye, by Caroline Fardig. The second murder mystery in the Ellie Matthews series. While the book fits comfortably in the murder mystery niche–forensics, questions, running out of time—the characters make it stand out from the rest. Ellie is a very conflicted person.

What the Valley Knows, by Heather Christie (read to review, but didn’t finish). I read about 30% of this—maybe—before giving up. The characters struck me as one-dimensional and the foreshadowing was pretty…blatant, to me, so I just passed on the rest of it.


This is Not a Love Letter, by Kim Purcell. I’m not sure I can talk about this book yet. I picked it up on a Friday evening…and finished it around 11 p.m. Two days later, it is still fresh in my mind, and I’m still sad over the ending. And, let me tell you, I was sobbing when I finished it. True story. This is about love, race, and mental illness in a small town.


Intraterrestrial, by Nicholas Conley. This book is about traumatic brain injury, bullying, and aliens. Yes, really. When Adam is injured in a car wreck, the voice he’s been hearing in his head makes sense, as the alien asks for his help escaping the Nothing that will destroy them all. Are there really aliens, or are they part of Adam’s TBI?


White Chrysanthemums. Okay. This is an emotional, sad book. It’s about the Korean women/girls who were forced to be military sex slaves in the Korean/Japanese conflict. The idea is horrifying to me, but the book is so well-done and evocative it’s well-worth reading.

the night child

The Night Child, by Anna Quinn. This was not what I thought at all, but it was a good read.

lullaby road

Lullaby Road, by James Anderson. This is the second Anderson book I’ve read, the second about Ben and the desolate stretch of highway he lives and works on. While the book doesn’t sound all that interesting—a middle-aged truck driver hauling freight from one desert ghost town to another—the book is very, very good. The characters are quirky, but so believable! Definitely read Never-Open Desert Diner first, but read this!


The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert. Sheer magic. Dark magic, to be sure, but I was enthralled from the first page of the story about Alice, who has spent her 17 years on the move with her mother as bad luck plagued them. When her mother is kidnapped by the Hinterland, Alice must brave the Hazel Wood and face her own story if she is to rescue her mom. So good!

the gone world

The Gone World, by Tom Sweterlitsch. I’m not going to lie:  this was a weird book. NCIS meets time travel, with space travel and multiple futures thrown into a murder investigation.

Just Because

Ricochet Joe, by Dean Koontz. I got an email about this book on January first, and decided to read it because…I used to read everything Koontz wrote. I’m a chicken, and his books used to terrify me, but sometimes his writing was so lyrical it amazed me. (There was one sentence, in one of the Odd Thomas books, that took my breath away. Making a mental note to read all of those again this year…) I found the Kindle in Motion aspect of this tale kind of cool, but the story itself was…sub-par, in my mind. Perhaps it’s been too long since I read a Koontz book?

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.

Book Review: Lullaby Road, by James Anderson

lullaby road
Image belongs to Crown Publishing.

Ben Jones hauls freight on the lonely highway of Route 117, through the desert of Utah. The few people he meets are reclusive at best, possibly dangerous at worst. And winter is coming to 117, covering everything in a blanket of snow and ice.

When Ben finds a small, mute Hispanic girl abandoned at a gas station with a note pinned to her shirt that reads “Please Ben. Watch my son. His name is Juan. Bad Trouble. Tell no one,” he is unprepared. He has no idea what’s going on, but he knows it’s bad, so he takes the girl. And finds himself in the midst of dark circumstances he’s not sure if he can find his way out of. But he’s determined to keep the girl safe, even when she’s set on disappearing into the snowy wilderness without a trace.

Lullaby Road, like the first book, The Never-Open Desert Diner, is set in a startling and memorable place and filled with characters that are…quirky and frequently scary and sad at the same time. Ben is both an awesome character and a hateful one, with his temper and his lack of impulse-control. The land is as much a character as any of the people, and this compelled me from the very first page. But I don’t think I’ll be visiting Utah anytime soon.

James Anderson was born in Seattle and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Lullaby Road is the follow-up to The Never-Open Desert Diner.

(Galley provided by Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

What I Read in 2017

My goal for 2017 was to read 100 books. I actually read 174 books. Kind of mad I didn’t get to 175…

Here’s my Year in Books on Goodreads, if you want to see what I read.

And here are my monthly recap posts:













My goal for 2018 is 150. Let’s see how this year in reading goes.

What did everyone else read in 2017?