Category Archives: review

“Only Child” by Rhiannon Navin

This is the first book written by Rhiannon Navin.  And its one that grips you by the heart right away, and doesn’t let go even after you finish reading and close the book.  In fact, I sat on my couch and cried into my lunch napkin!  And now I think you should read it immediately!

starting a book

Someone is obviously spying on me if they have these photos, but they are accurate!  “Only Child” centers around Zach, a 6-year-old boy whose life is interrupted by a school shooting.  He is stuck in a closet with his teacher and classmates while he listens to gunshots in the hallway.  19 people die that day.  Zach’s life is turned upside down.  He has nightmares, begins to experience anger and expresses it in ways he never has before, yet seeks to become a better person and help the adults in his life find the secrets of happiness and return to a happy and loving life.

There is so much more to this story that I wish I could tell you, but almost anything else I say would be a spoiler, and I just really want you to read this book.  I fell in love with this little boy, he was such a gentle soul, thrown into such strenuous circumstances, is without a strong voice, and is trying to regain himself in all this madness.  His strength of character is amazing, and his capacity for love and forgiveness is such a beautiful example. This book brought me to tears more than once, and I’m thankful I wasn’t reading it at the coffee shop because I probably would have made a scene.  I really hope you get a chance to read this book, feel all the feels, and are encouraged by this character to seek out happiness, forgiveness, to fight for love and to show sympathy.

You can follow the author, Rhiannon Navin, on Facebook here and on Goodreads here.

Only Child


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My March Reading

I read 15 books this month, not impressive to my daughter if you’ve read my “February Reads” post, however, I felt ok about it! 🙂  My first book for the month of March was “Fifty Fifty” by James Patterson, the second in his series about “Blue” a homicide detective whose brother has been accused of serial murder.  She’s determined to prove his innocence, but her temper keeps her away from his case and the courtroom and gets her sent to handle other cases far away from home.


My second book was “I Survived the Children’s Blizzard, 1888” by Lauren Tarshis.  When my daughter was in elementary school we started reading the “I Survived” series together, and even though she’s moved on to Jr. High and bigger books, when I see a new “I Survived” book comes out, I still have to read it, I guess for old time’s sake.


The third book I read in March was “Bonfire” by Krysten Ritter, a story of a small town Indiana girl turned Chicago environmentalist attorney.  The main manufacturer in her hometown, the company that has brought her town back from the edge of poverty and extinction, is now under investigation for environmental pollution.  When Abby Williams gets home to Barrens, Indiana, she isn’t exactly welcome home with open arms.  Her investigation threatens the economical heart of the town.  Things are not going well for Abby in Barrens, she and her team are squabbling, there is an arson fire in the workspace that contains their files and research against Optimal plastics, destroying everything, and Abby’s father, a devout Christian, dies of an apparent suicide.  She has to wonder if her being her, investigating a company that no one in the town wants her to investigate, is worth all that she is losing while she’s there.  I gave it a 3/5 stars.


My fourth book was “The Last Black Unicorn” by Tiffany Haddish, which I reviewed in full here.

The Last Black Unicorn

My fifth book read was “The Passengers” by Lisa Lutz.  I don’t remember reading a book by this author before.  This was one of my audio-around-the-house books – I download it from my laundry and play it on my phone while I’m busy around the house.  I can play it while I clean, wash/dry/fold/hang laundry, do dishes, prep dinner, bake, dust, carry out trash and recyclables, all but take a shower while listening.  I tried really hard to get into it.  By the time I realized it was still moving slow, it was still predictable, and it still wasn’t going to get better,  I was over halfway done with the book, and just decided to finish it.  I can’t give you a great recommendation for this book, and I probably won’t pursue more books by Ms. Lutz.


The sixth book in March was called “The Tumor” by John Grisham, and he said that its the most important book he’s ever written.  After reading it, I have to agree.  His book reveals an outpatient ultrasound treatment, while not covered by insurance at this time, could save patients with many illnesses, even those we consider terminal.  Terminal patients could have many added years of high-quality life with this treatment.  In this book, John Grisham details two differing paths of one patient – his life without this treatment after a brain cancer diagnosis, where his family goes deeply in debt, and the flip side of the coin, where the patient receives this non-invasive ultrasound, covered by insurance, where the costs are manageable, and his life with stage 4 terminal cancer is extended.


Book seven was “Sworn to Silence” by Linda Castillo, the first book in the Kate Burkholder series.  Kate is a former Amish girl turned police chief in the small town of Painter’s Mill.  In Sworn to Silence Chief Burkholder deals with a serial killer who carves Roman Numerals into the abdomens of his victims.


I followed that up with my eighth book, the second book in the Kate Burkholder series, “Pray for Silence”, in which Chief Burkholder must solve the mystery of the death of an entire Amish family, seven people, in one household.


My ninth book was “Breaking Silence”, you guessed it, the third book in the Kate Burkholder series.  I was on a roll…..  Parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, apparent victims of methane gas asphyxiation, no, not from dinner (hahaha), but rather from a poorly vented cesspit.  Which is totally plausible, until a head wound is discovered on one of the bodies.


I took a Burkholder break for number ten with “The Quest” by Nelson DeMille.  This is a book he originally wrote in 1975, then rewrote in 2013, doubling its length.  Two journalists and their photographer are taking refuge from the Ethiopian Civil War in the jungle when an elderly, wounded priest comes upon them, and during the night tells his story of 40 years captivity for knowing the location of Christ’s cup from the Last Supper.  He dies from his wounds, and by the time the sun rises the three have decided that they must find this relic for themselves.  This trek takes them to and from the Ethiopian Civil War, through captivity, negotiations, escape, Rome and the Vatican, and back to the jungle.  But did the priest tell them a fanciful daydream, the fantastic imagination of a man kept in solitary confinement for forty years, or an incredibly detailed memory held on to for decades?


Book eleven was “Home Sweet Murder” by James Patterson, which details two of the real-life true crime stories seen on the Investigation Discovery: Murder Is Forever show on the ID channel.


Now into the James Patterson/TV books, I read “Murder Games” by James Patterson for my twelfth book of the month.  The new TV show Instinct is based on this book.  For the most part, I like the people they’ve chosen to represent the characters in the book, however, there are quite a few cheesy lines in the show, which make it not quite as enjoyable to me as the book.


For number thirteen I was back to Kate Burkholder.  I had previously read book number four as it was the only one available, then this month I read one, two and three.  “Long Lost” by Linda Castillo is considered number 4.5 in the series.  Its a shorter story, published in e-book form, detailing Chief Burkholder on vacation.  She is told the story of a local girl who went missing under strange circumstances, and as one does on vacation, she spends her time interviewing people unofficially outside of her jurisdiction to gain more knowledge about the missing girl.


Book fourteen was neither the interesting Chief Burkholder, nor James Patterson’s TV/Books, it was “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen (very serious intro by Newt Gingrich). The story is about a college town in a small mountain town in North Carolina, and how they fare after the United States is attacked with an EMP bomb.  (Electro Magnetic Pulse).  The EMP fries most all circuits in everything electrical.  Cars, computers, phone systems, generators, down to the smallest things we take for granted – like a glucose meter.  With no running water, electricity, or vehicles from the last 30 years that work, the town is plunged back to the ways of a century ago.  Currency is no longer paper money, but bullets and food.  How do you run a city when you have no infrastructure.  How do you maintain law and order?  How do you protect your city and its meager supplies from groups of people who want to take it by force?  How do you keep your hospital patients and nursing home residents alive when you have no medicine, no running oxygen/ventilator systems, no electricity, no running water, no alarmed doors to keep the Alzheimer’s patients confined to one wing, and prevent them from leaving the building and wandering out alone?  These are things that 95% of the population is not prepared for.  How do you gather and ration food for a city?  Provide protection?  Put out fires when people start cooking in a fireplace indoors with no running fire trucks or water?  This book is obviously fiction but written with so much forethought that it sounds like a premonition of something to come.


The last book of the month, number fifteen, was the continuation of the last story, called “One Year After” by the same author.  The small town in North Carolina has survived one year, albiet with a lot less population than they had 366 days prior.  They’ve built an infrastucture, and have a few running vintage vehicles.  Some of the college students have found old magazines detailing how to build and grow things the “old fashioned way” that have turned out to be very useful.  They have gardens, ration cards, most of the sick have died from lack of medicine, oxygen or food.  Their borders seem secure, and they now have a small trained military force.  They have very basic communication with the towns on either side of them and seem to be gaining their footing in this new world.  Of course, something has to come in and ruin that, so the newly formed US government sends in troops to help regain control, establish a draft, and secure national borders which other countries have encroached upon during this collapse.

I have been anxiously looking for the third book, “The Final Day”, which neither my library nor my libraries online e-book or audio Overdrive have, so I will apparently have to purchase it to find out what happens!


That’s my wrapup for books read in the month of March.  I need to have an entirely separate post for the books I acquired during March.  Many more than 15, and of course, so many added to my TBR pile from my online book groups and other reader friends!

Have you read any of these books?  What was your favorite March read?

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April 6, 2018 · 12:28 PM

Spectacle by Rachel Vincent



“Spectacle” is the second book in the Menagerie series, (Find the review of “Menagerie” here) and follows the story of Delilah Marlow, the small town Oklahoma girl who finds herself gone from paying visitor at the infamous Menagerie, to a caged prisoner, expected to perform IN the Menagerie, although she doesn’t remember what happened to put her in this position. She fights the imprisonment, with disastrous results, and when hurting her does not bring about the desired results, the Menagerie handlers begin hurting other cryptid prisoners to force Delilah to revert to the monster that put her in her cage.
“Spectacle” details the journey of the ending of the Menagerie as it had been, and a new dawn for the cryptids held prisoner there. While this does not last, they are given a small taste of what freedom might look like for them and have gained enough self-respect that even those raised in captivity yearn for the feeling, and are dangerous in their pursuit of this right. While the Menagerie seemed like hell on earth, things can almost always get worse, and The Savage Spectacle becomes the cryptids new home, and lower level in the hell they are becoming reaccustomed too. While bars, cages and malnutrition seemed unbearable before, permanent electronic collars that can be used in varying degrees to take away cryptids powers, limit their locational movement, take away their voice, and even paralyze them with the touch of a remote now seem much worse. No sunshine, no wind, no freedom and no bargaining with the handlers. While Delilah was able to give hope to the cryptids while in the Menagerie, and coordinate their efforts, is there any hope when even she is confined by her collar and cannot even speak?
I loved this continuing story, and am so looking forward to the continuation in the third book, “Fury”, out in October, 2018. I’m a big fan of Rachel Caine, if she needs an early reader and/or reviewer, I’m willing to volunteer! 🙂


For a quick teaser of “Fury”, click here.


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“All We Can Do Is Wait” by Richard Lawson



“All We Can Do Is Wait” follows a group of teenagers through a harrowing day in a hospital waiting room after a bridge collapse in Boston. Each is waiting to hear news of loved ones, one a sister, one a girlfriend, two their parents, and one a father. Not all of them receive good news. But it is more than that too. It tells their background – being a teenager is complicated, full of drama and shadows. Life is big and emotions are bigger. Some secrets seem insurmountable, and we believe they have the power to destroy us. We pull away from those we love, those who know us best, and try to close ourselves off from those who may see through our walls, our facades built of pain, to protect ourselves, to curl up around our secrets, protect them like the Golum in “Lord of the Rings”, hoping no one ever finds out, while we wait for someone strong enough, who cares enough, to break down the wall and come find us. To come find us and tell us we are loveable anyway – despite the secrets that we find so big, despite our pain, our mistakes, and our insecurities. This isn’t limited to our teenage years, even though it can be really hard then. This book talks about secrets, love, life, family, how you feel when you realize that you may never have a chance to see that family again – with all its flaws, and thorns, and who that makes you in this great big world without them.
While this book is a written with young adults in mind, the lessons and emotions felt here are everyone’s age. Definitely worth your time!




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Menagerie by Rachel Vincent


Menagerie focuses on Delilah Marlow, an everyday, small-town Oklahoma girl, whose boyfriend purchased four tickets to Metzger’s Menagerie, a “circus” of cryptids, or beings that are not fully human or fully beast – anything that is a mix of two or more species. These cryptids have lost all rights under the law after the “reaping” in the 1980’s, and are now either shot on sight, or captured and used in circuses, private collections, and freak shows. Metzger’s is the most interesting, well-stocked menagerie in the US, and tickets are ridiculously expensive. While Delilah would have much preferred a quiet dinner and movie with her best friend and their boyfriends, she knows her boyfriend is trying to be thoughtful, so she goes along with it. She feels both guilty and enthralled watching the creatures at the menagerie, but when she sees a young werewolf pup being mistreated and tazed in order to make her change her form in front of the spectators, something snaps inside her, and she has to speak up for the young pup, even though she knows they have no rights. This has disastrous results, with her waking up in jail, and that’s only the beginning. Things go quickly downhill for Delilah, and she learns what it means to have no rights, exist in a cage and made to perform for spectators. Can she fight back when she’s in chains? Can she get justice for herself from a cage? Can she hope to gain justice for the werewolf pup and others like her when she’s no longer free herself?
I enjoyed reading Menagerie, and am impatiently waiting for the second book, Spectacle, to become available at my library!




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Artemis by Andy Weir



I loved Andy Weir’s first book, “The Martian”, it was more humorous than I expected, and “Artemis” is like that. The main character, “Jazz” (Jasmine Bashara), has lived on the moon in Artemis since she immigrated there with her father from Saudi Arabia when she was six years old. She grew up there, and although she could have been a master welder, and has “so much potential” according to her father, a devout Muslim, she has become a bit of an outlaw. Her official title is Porter, however, she is actually a smuggler, and she uses her job as a porter to deliver smuggled goods that are banned on Artemis. Flammable goods, light drugs, cigars, etc., but she does have standards, no heavy drugs, and no guns! The one law enforcement officer on Artemis, Rudy, has been trying to catch her red-handed for years, and his main goal in life seems to be catching her so he can deport her to Earth/Saudi Arabia. Of course, Jazz wants no part of Earth or gravity sickness, nor any of the things it would take to get her to acclimate to Earth again. She just wants to be rich. She currently lives in what is not so fondly called a coffin, as it is only big enough to sleep in, not to stand up in, she doesn’t have a private bathroom or shower, and she wants to make enough money to get a place she can walk in and have a private bathroom. (without working for her father). In her goal to become rich, she takes a job above her smuggler status and gets in over her head. She can lose her citizenship on Artemis, she’s being chased by Rudy, her father is now in jeopardy, there has been a double murder, and unbelievably, the entire citizenship of Artemis is in danger, and a mob hitman from Brazil is on the moon, in Artemis, and chasing her. Andy Weir does not disappoint with this novel. It is just as good as The Martian, and it would make a fun movie to watch.


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“Gone Missing” by Linda Castillo

Gone Missing


This is the first book I’ve read by Linda Castillo, and one of the few books I’ve read about the Amish culture. I kind of jumped in mid-series, because this was the only book available at the time I needed a book, and while the characters do progress through the series, I don’t think I lost much in reading this one out of order.
Kate Burkholder is a police chief in a small town near an Amish community, and she is also a former Amish person. She was raised Amish, but during her 18th year she decided that she wasn’t cut out for the plain life, and left home to pursue a career in law enforcement. Based on some traumatic events that happened to her, which she addresses briefly, she had a falling out with her parents, and sadly, she never saw her father again.

In this book, several Amish girls have gone missing during an event called Rumspringa. During Rumspringa an Amish teen can live an “English” lifestyle, their poor decisions are mostly overlooked, and they can experience things they would never experience as an Amish person. Typically they choose to come home, be baptized, and continue on with the plain life after experiencing this rite of passage. There are a few that decide not to stay Amish, choose to live an “English” lifestyle, and do not come home. Some of them do not come home because they are taken. And it’s Kate’s job to find out who took them and why.

The case rapidly becomes personal when one of the girls who goes missing is from Kate’s Amish family back home. When a dead Amish girl is found, Kate becomes nearly frantic with worry and begins to dig deeper into the secrets of the Amish community. Who were these missing girls seeing, and what were they doing before they were taken? One was dating an abusive English boy, one was pregnant and contemplating abortion, and another was hooked on drugs. Kate knows that no one can keep secrets like an Amish family, but she is desperate for answers, and some of the answers she gets just might put her own life in jeopardy.

I enjoyed this book enough that I will read the next book in the series because the epilogue left me hanging.  It picked up two months after the book ends, and now I must know how it continues – which of course, is the mark of a good author/plot line.

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