Noah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck

Noah's WifeNoah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck

Mary McGarry Morris says it best: “Noah’s Wife may be a contemporary allegory, but Lindsay Starck is a classic storyteller…her novel is an engrossing fusion of wisdom and beautiful writing.” Noah’s Wife is a gorgeously written, brilliantly introspective fable-like novel.

Noah’s Wife is a story of a community battered by a relentless downpour from the heavens, a gray and wet little town teeming with eccentric characters who have learned to endure the extraordinary circumstances of the rain with astonishing human fortitude and willfulness.

When Noah’s wife arrives with her minister husband to this small coastal town, she is driven by her desire to help revive the congregation. However, she is thwarted by the resistance of her eccentric new neighbors and her failure to realize that her husband is battling his own internal crisis.

As Noah and his wife strive to bring the townspeople to the church—and keep the strains on their marriage at bay—the rain intensifies, impeding their efforts. Soon the river waters rise, flooding the streets of the town and driving scores of wild animals out of the once-renowned zoo. And so, Noah, his wife, and the townspeople must confront the savage forces of nature and attempt to reinforce the fragile ties that bind them to each other before their world is washed away.

Full of whimsy and gentle ironic humor, Noah’s Wife is a wise and poignant novel that draws upon the motifs of the biblical flood story to explore the true meaning of community, to examine the remarkable strength of the human spirit, and to ask whether hope can exist even where faith has been lost.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I couldn’t decide what to make of this book until I was nearly finished with it. It wasn’t overly religious as I had feared because of the title, so that was good as I have never really warmed to those books. I loved the concept this book worked with–a town where it never stopped raining.

I liked the small town atmosphere and the way the author allowed us a bird’s eye view of the people in the town. We got to know them as individuals and it allowed the reader to see the dynamic and unlikely connections between them.

This book has a lot of quirky characters, deals with a lot of different issues and retains the dismal atmosphere until nearly the end. I have to say, that for an author with the last name of Starck, this book was pretty stark for much of the reading.

The writing is excellent here, but I’m still not a hundred percent convinced I love this book. If I had to categorise it, I would say that this should be filed under “thought provoking.” The way the author used themes from the bible without trying to force a religious ideal on the reader was interesting. I liked the townspeople, but the use of Noah’s wife as a name for the character rather than giving her a name (on purpose) made me feel more distant from the main character than I was expecting.

Overall, this was an interesting book with a lot to offer the reader, but I can’t pick a specific group I would recommend it to. It is worth a read, most definitely–if you enjoy books that live outside the standard genre fiction groups.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

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The Witches of cambridge by Menna Van Praag

The Witches of CambridgeThe Witches of Cambridge by Menna van Praag

For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Witches of Cambridge reveals an astonishing world where the heart’s deepest secrets give way to the magic of life-changing love.

“Be careful what you wish for. If you’re a witch, you might just get it.”

Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It’s a secret she can share only with her friends all professors, all witches when they gather for the Cambridge University Society of Literature and Witchcraft. Amandine treasures these meetings but lately senses the ties among her colleagues beginning to unravel. If only she had her student Noa’s power to hear the innermost thoughts of others, she might know how to patch things up. Unfortunately, Noa regards her gift as a curse. So when a seductive artist claims he can cure her, Noa jumps at the chance, no matter the cost.

Noa’s not the only witch in over her head. Mathematics professor Kat has a serious case of unrequited love but refuses to cast spells to win anyone’s heart. Her sister, Cosima, is not above using magic to get what she wants, sprinkling pastries in her bakery with equal parts sugar and enchantment. But when Cosima sets her sights on Kat’s crush, she conjures up a dangerous love triangle.

As romance and longing swirl through every picturesque side street, The Witches of Cambridge find their lives unexpectedly upended and changed in ways sometimes extraordinary, sometimes heartbreaking, but always enchanting.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is no secret that Menna Van Praag does magical realism well, but this book brought that talent to a whole new level. Instead of one main character, there are a host of them in this story, and each of them is dealing with different issues in their life, as well as a special magical gift (or curse depending on viewpoint.)

The story revolves around the lives of these various characters and the struggles they are trying to overcome. I appreciated that the magic was more of an accompaniment than the entire point in the story. The magical portions of the story backed up the rest of the important parts and left me feeling like these were real people who happened to be a bit extraordinary instead of a group of crazy witches wielding unbelievable powers that I couldn’t relate to.

As always, I am eagerly awaiting this author’s next book. This is a good book and one that you should check out at the earliest opportunity.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Memoirs of a Dead White Chick

Memoirs of a Dead White ChickMemoirs of a Dead White Chick by Lennox Randon

It began as one of those days when I asked myself, what else could go wrong?
And then I died.

Eleanor, a harried, middle-aged White female elementary schoolteacher (and former police officer), begins her day by dying in the year 1999.

Somehow, while her essence is en route to wherever one’s essence goes upon death, she inadvertently ends up occupying the body of a 16-year-old Black male in 1858 Philadelphia.

Not only does she have to deal with the obvious gender, race, and time period changes, but she also has to figure out whether, when lives are at stake, she should interfere with history as she knows it.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I do not believe it is humanly possible to read this book and not love it. Historical fiction with a unique twist has always been one of my preferred genres, and this book filled that niche perfectly.

Here’s what I loved:

Lennox Randon writes with such humour that I couldn’t help but giggle out loud. This is the kind of book that you are better off reading at home, unless you want people staring at you as if you have lost your mind for the sudden outbursts of giggles it causes. It has been a while since a book did that to me.

The main character is highly likable in both forms, and I could easily identify with her lifestyles in the beginning–and later became enthralled with the transition and the times she was living through. This novel is witty, intellectually stimulating, hilarious and also makes you stop and think about how much the world had changed in the last hundred or so years–as well ass how many things that should have changed–haven’t. It deals with some very serious issues–race, gender, etc., but is done in such a way that it still feels like a fun, enjoyable read.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an excellent read. I must buy this book as gifts this year for others who could use an escape from daily life.

Two thumbs way up for this one.

This review is based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Everybody has a story…these are ours by Audrey N. Lewis

Everybody has a story... These are ours...Everybody has a story… These are ours… by Audrey N. Lewis

Family relationships. Friendships. Finding our Place. This collection is a series of narratives exploring events, experiences and memories. Each short work, while unique, brings the reader in touch with the inner monologue of the characters bringing their reality to life. Mother, Father, Sister, Brother, Daughter, Son, Wife, and Husband – this book pulls together seven independent stories into a compelling, and thought-provoking anthology. While the focus is on the women – the men in these stories provide an interesting counterpoint. Readers meet: Lexi’s mom, as she struggles to understand her daughter; Abigail, now grown, remembering her nanny Chamele and the life lessons she shared; a sister trying to forge an adult relationship with a once-adored older sibling; a woman finding beauty in a place others have forgotten; another woman finding a true understanding of what holds meaning to her; Claire, the empty-nester and her “girls night out” group with an unusual twist, and Megan – lost but not forgotten. But don’t judge a book by its cover, in each story nothing is exactly as it seems.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Audrey Lewis is an amazingly versatile author. She has written a book of short stories that anyone can relate to, regardless of your family/relationship situation. I was enthralled with the first story in this book and knew right away that I would spend the remainder of my evening reading, reluctant to take a break.

This author has a way with words. She can find her way into your heart with her passionate writing and make you consider things from angles that you may not have done otherwise. You can tell that she cares about her craft, from the first pages of the evolving story, to the ending that leaves you feeling as if you know these people, in some cases, perhaps, that you have lived through these things yourself and can easily identify with them.

I love the way she uses dialogue to create her atmosphere. You can really feel the tension, the fear, heartbreak, happiness, everything through the way she writes. I am usually not much of a short story person, but these are too good to miss. The stories in this book match the title perfectly. These are “our” stories, because the author made sure that the audience would feel included.

I definitely recommend this book to those who are interested in family dynamics and relationships in general.

This review is based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Featherbones by Thomas Brown

FeatherbonesFeatherbones by Thomas Brown

Felix walks the same way to work through Southampton every morning, and the same way home again in the evenings. His life up to this point feels like one day repeated over and over; a speck of silt caught in the city’s muddied waters. Sometimes it is all he can do to sit and watch while the urban sprawl races indifferently around him. But when the city stares back at him, one evening after work, everything changes.

He doesn’t see the statue’s head move, but he feels its eyes on him, studying him from its lofty perch in East Park. From then on he continues to glimpse it, or something like it, encroaching with every visitation. With it come memories, spilling through the streets, crawling through the dark, haunting his night-time flat, until he isn’t quite sure what is real anymore and what is imagined, in this hard, grey place where the gulls watch him sleep…
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What to call this experience? Magical realism doesn’t quite fit right. Magical-psychological-philosophical-realism. Maybe. This is a book that will be unlike any other that you have read, and that, for this reviewer, is why it earned 4 solid stars.

There are some very well crafted passages in this book, and some amazing uses of language. It is really the beautiful language, in my opinion, that makes this a book worth the time to read and share with others. I liked the characters, especially the Main character and one of the secondary characters. I liked the way the story developed and the way the reader is never quite sure if what is happening is actual reality or just the imaginings of a confused mind.

If you enjoy reading books that make you think, and make you wonder at the author’s ability to turn every day ordinary into something else, something a bit more extraordinary, then I recommend this book to you.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Monsterland by Michael Phillip Cash

MonsterlandMonsterland by Michael Phillip Cash
Welcome to Monsterland – the scariest place on Earth. All guests can interact with real vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by an actual werewolf on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.
Wyatt Baldwin, a high school student and life-long movie buff is staring bleakly at a future of flipping burgers. Due to a fortuitous circumstance, Wyatt and his friends are invited to the star-studded opening of Monsterland. In a theme park full of real vampires, werewolves and zombies, what could possibly go wrong?

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a glutton for punishment. We never learn as a society that monsters that are capable of eating us are never a good plan for a theme park. Thank goodness we are slow learners though or there wouldn’t be books like this to keep me entertained.

This book has zombies, werewolves, vampires and all manner of crazy stupid people, just the way a horror novel should be. I can’t say that it wasn’t predictable in the slightest, because that would be an outright lie, but the carnage made it worth turning the pages and see who would become the next victim.

This book has one of those…”man I really hate that guy and hope he gets what he deserves” moments that makes it worth the time to read. Pure satisfaction.

I liked the main set of characters well enough and the dialogue was good, so even aside from the action, it was set up well and interesting to read. If you like carnage and chaos and things that go bump during the day and night, this book will be one you enjoy.

Overall, this was a lot of fun.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

The Feathered BoneThe Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They’re soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.

Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks in depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.

Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.

Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book that you will require at least one full box of tissues beside you in order to read. I was enthralled with this story, and the characters. It doesn’t take long for the story to lift off and leave you praying, hoping, wishing that you could do something to help the characters escape the situations they are in.

This book deals with many heavy themes, but somehow still presents itself as hopeful in the end. The author did an exquisite job of layering her novel with compound issues the characters had to face, and reminding the audience that we can not only survive nearly anything, but can also begin to heal, even from the worst of trauma in our lives.

Whilst this is not always an easy book to read, and will touch upon subjects and explore areas that may be harder to face for some than for others, it is a beautiful book. The guilt the main character feels over the various situations she is involved in is present throughout the story, and I thought it made her seem more realistic and made it easier to identify with her.

I liked this book mostly because it isn’t about perfection. The people here are faced with real world issues and have to overcome them in order to move on. The descriptions of New Orleans were amazing and the way the author described the feelings of the characters made me want to hug them.

I did predict what was going to happen in some parts pretty early on, but with the nature of this story, I think that was to be expected. Overall, I thought this was an emotional and beautifully written book with a lot to offer anyone who reads it, and is certainly worthy of a recommendation.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review and was downloaded through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Stress Relief

Color books and advice to destress…uh…no shameless promo here…well, maybe a little.

Julian Froment's Blog

Stress is a natural part of daily life in the modern world. From the trials and tribulations of the world at large, the idiot that cuts into line at the store, to the moron that cuts you up at the intersection. There is no avoiding it. It pervades everything we do.

So what do we do about it? How do we deal with this feeling that can gnaw at us until it drives us crazy?

There are a multitude of accepted techniques for dealing with stress such as a beer after work, chain smoking, relaxing with your other half, exercise, meditation, yoga. The list is endless. But what works for one, may not work for another.

How do you deal with the rigours of life, the stresses that get to you?

One newly accepted method is that of adult coloring. Not the coloring we all did as kids, or continue…

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Adult Coloring Books

For the artistic types…and everyone else

Julian Froment's Blog

No! Not Adult in ‘that’ way. But a whole lot of fun all the same.

Description

Coloring is not just for kids. It has been proven to be an excellent way for adults to destress, create mindfulness and slow down from daily life, all while enjoying an activity that you can truly make your own.

There is no right or wrong way to color in the images in this book, and you are free to choose the tools you wish to work with. Markers, paint, colored pencils, pens – the choices are unlimited.

Sit back and unwind and let your stress melt away while you spread color across the page. All pages are single sided to avoid bleed through.

Relax and enjoy the books in this calming series

creative calm book 1amazon.com

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creative calm book 2amazon.com

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creative calm book 3amazon.com

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creative calm book 4amazon.com

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creative calm book 5amazon.com

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Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns

Sanctuary BaySanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns

In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah’s new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this “school” is something much more sinister.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For me, the redeeming factor in this book was how close I felt–pretty much immediately, to Sarah, the main character. Perhaps because she is different than the other students at the academy and her thoughts seem somehow more natural and realistic, or maybe just because she is one of those easy to love characters. Either way, I wanted to know more about her and it kept me chugging through this story.

As far as set-up goes, this book does a lot of that, building a foundation for the future of the series. The school is very interesting. I liked the concept of a school that keeps track of its students at all times. The characters were each unique and added a lot of support for the main character, but I do think that mostly what keeps you reading in this book is the constant twists.

I felt like I was following a trail that often led one direction and then suddenly switched and went somewhere else. The end is a bit of a cliffhanger, which felt a little anticlimactic after chasing my tail for so long during the rest of the book. I am curious to see where the author is going to go with this.

If you enjoy books that are full of suspense–this one will thrill you.

I’m intrigued. I demand answers!

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.