Source: complimentary review copy

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Book Review: Ana of California

July 24, 2015 Book Review 7

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Ana of CaliforniaAna of California by Andi Teran
Published by Penguin Books on June 30th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: complimentary review copy
Amazon
Goodreads

The re-telling of the timeless classic Anne of Green Gables, Ana of California is a lovely tribute to the L.M. Montgomery series.

Fifteen year old Ana Cortez is on her very last option for foster care.  She’s been to a group home and multiple foster homes since entering “the system” at age 7.  Ana has a fierce protective spirit of others who are being mistreated and she is both unable and unwilling to keep injustices to herself.

I was impressed with Teran’s creation of Ana.  She was both a bit of Anne but a whole lot of Ana {like fauna not banana}.  Ana is street-wise yet also still a child in need of adult love and protection.  She’s older than Anne Shirley and of a diverse background {as is her best friend, Rye}.  The Northern California town plays a distinct role while the supporting cast of characters are refreshingly their own persons. While Ana could be a much more tragic figure than Anne Shirley there is a lightness to the novel.  Yes, Ana’s circumstances are horrific.  Yes, the brother and sister duo have pain and grief of their own.  What Teran succeeds at most is telling their stories without any one character succumbing to the weight of the world.

Words of Wisdom from Ana

You know when we were leaving and Alder said he thought bees were really angels on earth?….Maybe they have stingers for that very purpose.  To give life, take it, and also to maybe keep the rest of us from realizing how good they can be.  And maybe when we see one, away from any others, nowhere near a hive, maybe it’s there to remind us that goodness in disguise is always buzzing around in the periphery. {p. 136}

Sent to the organic farm as a very last resort Ana brings as much to the brother and sister owners as they share with her.  Truly a sweet novel for fans of Anne of Green Gables. Lighthearted, hope-full and a lovely summer read.  Grab some fresh strawberries and cream, hot tea and a porch swing then sit awhile and enjoy Ana’s story.

Penguin has created a free book club kit resource full of recipes, additional reading and even a Spotify playlist.

Are you a fan of re-tellings or do you avoid them at all costs?

Congratulations to Katherine of Story Matters for winning the Classic + A Re-Telling Giveaway.  Hope you enjoy!

 

 

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Book Review: Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps

July 14, 2015 Book Review, Life Well Lived 6

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Conquer Your Pain in 9 StepsConquer Your Pain in 9 Steps by Carole Staveley
Published by Influence Publishing on May 1st 2015
Genres: Non-Fiction, Wellness
Pages: 220
Format: Paperback
Source: complimentary review copy
Amazon
Goodreads

 

Chronic Pain.  Everything from chronic back pain to chronic toe fungus is like a debilitating descent into Hell.  When first approached about reviewing Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps I knew I had to get on the blog tour {even though I really try to stay away from tours because of my crazy schedule}.  But, I knew this was a book I needed to read.

At age 18 I was in an auto accident that left me in ICU for three weeks, hospital for three months with a traumatic brain injury,  my entire face reconstructed with titanium plates; I needed a new cornea and eye socket and subsequently required cataract surgery; my left hand and wrist were crushed and had to be re-built and 5 thoracic vertebra were crushed as well as 2 cranial vertebra {I went from 5’2 to 5’1 in an instant – talk about fast un-growth!}.  Although the doctors were incredible miracle workers, there was nothing they could do to prevent the lifetime of chronic pain I was now prescribed.  It’s just something I’ve dealt with.

Fast forward 10 years and a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.  The simple explanation of what is MS?  Multiple scarring of the myelin sheath of the brain which leads to a host of problems, including, but oh so not limited to, chronic pain.

Finally, one of the effects from the accident that I talk about here is chronic migraines.  Did I mention chronic pain is a debilitating descent into Hell?

With all that depressing gunk out of the way, on to the hope-full stuff!  I wanted to summarize how I know what I’m talking about when I talk about chronic pain.

So, there was nothing Carole Staveley could have thrown at me that I didn’t already know.  For the most part, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I”m a relatively positive, easy-going kind-of gal.  I have to be in order to keep those pesky triggers away, like stress and pessimism and depression and frustration and anger and, well, you get the picture, right?

[Tweet “Positive Thinking + Daily Dosage of Belly Laughs = Good Healing Energy”]

It was refreshing to read a real account of overcoming chronic pain.  Her struggles with diagnosis, treatments and doctors were all completely relatable, especially “it must be in your head.”  Well for me, yeah, it literally is!  I’ve had fun making a joke out of it for years ~ yeah, my brain has been bounced around in my skull and it has a few scars so yes Dr., it IS in my head. 😉

Beginning with “discovering your why,” we learn that developing our ultimate life purpose helps to focus our efforts externally rather than internally.  And on to the chapter to “Never, Ever Give Up” that reminds us it is in overcoming adversity where we find our strength.  The quotes included along with the action steps are both motivating and encouraging.

In my thirties I came to the realization that self-worth is at the heart of so many human behaviors, particularly those behaviors affecting our health and wellness.  If you don’t value yourself, then why would you take on behaviors that are good for your health and self-esteem? (p. 19)

A couple of issues I have with the book is that not everyone has a history of physical activity to fall back on as did Staveley.  She talks about growing up participating in sports and of playing tennis through her twenties.  While it is partially an excuse and partially a handicap, it is difficult to put that first foot forward.  Also, her tips on healthcare professionals to engage with is, while fantastic in that it encourages natural methods as well as western medicine, there’s really no magic wand of how in the world one can afford an acupuncturist, massage therapist, yoga teacher, nutritionist, etc.  The recommendation is to make healthy living a priority and weighing the value of missed work versus the value of a service.

For the most part, Conquer Your Pain in 9 Steps is filled with positive actions to take in order to move from feeling sorry for yourself to making the most of the life you have been given. Staveley has an engaging voice, the book is easy-to-read and broken up into bite-sized pieces.  And there really are great action steps for chronic pain-ers to incorporate into their lives.  I’m not certain the IronMan is for me, but a 5k is in my sights!  Recommended for anyone who suffers from chronic pain.

[Tweet “Recommended reading for sufferers of chronic pain by @carolestaveley”]

To learn more about Carole Staveley visit her Website | Facebook | Twitter.

Many thanks to iRead Book Tours for inclusion in this Book Tour!

For additional thoughts on Conquer Pain please visit the blogs on the Tour Schedule.

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[Tweet “”What does it mean to be as healthy as can be?” by @CaroleStaveley #HealthChampion”]

 

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Book Review: A Week at the Lake

July 7, 2015 Book Review 7

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: A Week at the LakeA Week at the Lake by Wendy Wax
Published by Berkley Books, Penguin on June 23rd, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction
Pages: 432
Source: complimentary review copy
Goodreads

 

Y’all know the only book I was able to read while on family vacation was Wendy Wax’s A Week at the Lake from this tongue-in-cheek confession.  The book came back from the beach a bit water-logged, though not quite as soaked as the book my daughter was reading.  She left a borrowed paperback in her beach chair. . .that was on the edge of the water. . .and a wave crashed ~ a large wave. . .you get the picture, right?  Her version includes something about me sitting in the chair next to hers. . .My defense? I bet you can guess ~ I was reading!

Long-time friends Emily, Mackenzie and Serena are to meet up at Emily’s lake house after a 5-year absence.  Since their college days they had an annual vacation tradition at Emily’s Grandmother’s historic Millionaires’ Row home on Lake George.  Emily is from a long line of actors.  She became favorite media gossip when, as a teenager, she divorced her famous parents.  Gifted clothing designer, Mackenzie, married her college sweetheart, but after 20 years of marriage, they seem to have hit a rough patch.  Serena is the famous sultry voice behind a popular animated television series {along the lines of the “Family Guy” or “The Simpsons”}.  Serena is a popular media darling as well with her long line of affairs.  The women have each suffered from their lack of connection for five years.

Favorite quote

Serena’s therapist tells her, “If you’re going to expend time and energy imagining scenarios, you really need to allow for the positive.”  Now that feels like great advice for anyone!

[Tweet “If you’re going to expend time & energy imagining scenarios, allow for the positive @wendy_wax “]

My thoughts

Set in New York City and Lake George, A Week at the Lake is a departure for Wax.  Most of her novels have been set in the south and evoke the particular landscape and feel of the South.  The descriptions of the old lake ‘house’ from Millionaires’ Row were breathtaking.  I was able to visualize the lake house.  Older homes and description is definitely Wendy Wax’s strong point.

Early on, I figured out what happened to distance the women, and why they went five years without communicating.  I can understand how time gets away from us all and we lose touch with friends, but it was clear that such was not the case for Emily, Mackenzie and Serena. My issue with A Week at the Lake is that I could not relate to any of the women nor their situations in the novel. My expectations based on the cover and the title had me thinking A Week at the Lake would be a perfect beach read.  I know, I know “never judge a book by its cover!”  The build-up to the reveal of why the five year distance lasted almost the entire novel ~ revealing the secret earlier along with the aftermath would probably have kept me better engaged.  Unfortunately, this one is a miss for me.  

Will I give Wendy Wax another try? Absolutely!  Her Ten Beach Road series is laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming and engaging.

How is your summer reading coming along? Any stand-outs?

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Book Review: Let Me Die in His Footsteps

June 16, 2015 Book Review 6

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Let Me Die in His FootstepsLet Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy
Published by Dutton on June 2nd, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Southern
Pages: 336
Source: complimentary review copy
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Goodreads

 

There’s an old wives tale/superstition that if a young girl looks down a well she will see the face of her future husband.  In a 1952 small Kentucky town, that belief is taken to extremes.  At exactly midnight, on the half-birthday between a girl’s 15th and 16th year, each girl in this small town looks down a well while most of the town looks on.  It is a celebratory event and one greatly anticipated by most girls.  For Annie Holleran, the half-birthday she expected and what actually occurred are vastly different.  Annie has the “know-how” just like her grandmother and her real mother, Aunt Juna.  Annie lives in fear her real mother will return after disappearing 15 1/2 years prior and after accusing the oldest Baine boy of raping her, fathering the baby that became Annie, and of disappearing Juna’s younger brother.

With the passages devoted to tobacco farming and lavender harvesting, Let Me Die in His Footsteps is infused with atmosphere.  Strong on southern gothic elements as evidenced with Aunt Juna’s “evil” black eye color.   The writing is solid; Roy has infused the novel with enough melancholy to allow the reader to feel immersed in the story while the mystery kept me guessing til the end.

What ‘old wives tales’ or superstitions did you hear growing up? or even still use to this day?

Thank you so much TLC Book Tours for inclusion in the Let Me Die in His Footsteps tour.

To read additional reviews please visit TLC Book Tours.

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Book Review: Ivory Ghosts

June 3, 2015 Book Review 1

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Ivory GhostsIvory Ghosts by Caitlin O'Connell
Published by Alibi on April 7th, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 240
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

A new female heroine to watch, American wildlife biologist, Catherine Sohon, escapes tragedy in South Africa to take a position at a remote wildlife preserve in Namibia, South West Africa.  It is there that Catherine has been planted to both study the elephants and in her undercover role, discover who is poaching the elephants.

On her way to the preserve, Catherine stumbles upon a brutal murder thrusting her headfirst into the mystery of poaching and this preserve.  The vast knowledge O’Connell has of elephants becomes apparent early on.  It is the majestic elephant and the raw beauty of Namibia that highlight the novel.  Catherine is an unlikely heroine finding her strength through tragedy and her love of Africa and it’s elephant plight.

The first person narration was not my favorite choice.  At times it made conversation seem stilted.  Overall, the plot was fast-paced with a slight dip in the middle of the novel.  As a debut novel, Ivory Ghosts is a good beginning to what should prove to be a smart series with a female protagonist that has both heart and intelligence.

Recommended for those who enjoy smart, unexpected heroines like T.E. Woods The Fixer  or Jaime Lee Moyer’s Delia’s Shadow.

 

Thank you so much TLC Book Tours for inclusion in the Ivory Ghosts tour.

To read additional reviews please visit TLC Book Tours.

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