It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: On her twentieth birthday, Andie Mitchell stepped on the scale and discovered that she weighed nearly 300 pounds. At 5′ 9″–even knowing that she was big and hating herself for it–she was stunned. How had she gotten there? Without following wild diet trends, she lost 135 pounds over thirteen months and has kept it off for six years.

It Was Me All Along shares the at times heartbreaking, yet ultimately uplifting and motivating, story of how Andie kicked her habit of binge eating, which she developed during a traumatic childhood, and developed a healthy relationship with food, which she still loves to cook and enjoy.

My Thoughts: In this memoir, Andie Mitchell shares her story of her weight loss and how she deals with her obsession with food. I was eager to read this as I’ve struggled with my weight since Junior High School. Unfortunately, it was a bit difficult for me to relate to her, as she described herself as having many friends and having fairly normal social life as a teenager. I was a recluse as a teenager and never wanted to step out socially because of fear of ridicule for how I looked. I realize that every person’s story is different, and I appreciate her story, but it wasn’t relatable to me. I was also very turned off by one moment in the book, where the author seems extremely selfish in one of her decisions.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and found it inspiring to see how the author lost so much weight. There are several helpful tidbits in the emotional battle of weight loss that really made sense to me. It was an easy read, as well as enjoyable.

My Rating: 3 and a half stars

I received this book from the publisher and Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell

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Plot According to Goodreads: 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.

My Thoughts: I generally am not the type of person who cries when reading a book. It’s rare for me to feel a deep connection with a character, so deep that I have a physical response to what they are experiencing. This book caused me to gasp, cry, and feel sickness in my stomach.

The story is a beautiful, gritty tale of tragedy, grief, and hope. It follows Amanda, who loses track of her 12 year old daughter’s friend while chaperoning a field trip in pre-Katrina New Orleans. It is not an easy or entertaining book to read…there are many things that are difficult to swallow, especially when considering that these are things that actually occur in the world today. My heart broke for most of the characters and raged against one of them. I wanted to reach through the pages and hug these people who were facing so much anguish. (Again, this is extremely rare for me).

If ever there were  a thought-provoking book, this is it. It will stick with me for years. Hope is sprinkled throughout the book and the grittier parts are implied or referred to in a way that allows the reader to understand what’s occurring without reading graphic details. I was very thankful for this…I have read books in the past about abductions and was often turned off by the graphic descriptions as they didn’t add to the story, in my opinion.

I flew through this story as I needed to know how it would end, I recommend this to anyone who’s up for a good cry.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Booklookbloggers and the publisher in exchange for an honest reveiw.

The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson Review

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Plot According to Goodreads: Ben Jones lives a quiet, hardscrabble life, working as a trucker on Route 117, a little-traveled road in a remote region of the Utah desert which serves as a haven for fugitives and others looking to hide from the world. For many of the desert’s inhabitants, Ben’s visits are their only contact with the outside world, and the only landmark worth noting is a once-famous roadside diner that hasn’t opened in years.

Ben’s routine is turned upside down when he stumbles across a beautiful woman named Claire playing a cello in an abandoned housing development. He can tell that she’s fleeing something in her past — a dark secret that pushed her to the end of the earth — but despite his better judgment he is inexorably drawn to her.

As Ben and Claire fall in love, specters from her past begin to resurface, with serious and life-threatening consequences not only for them both, but for others who have made this desert their sanctuary. Dangerous men come looking for her, and as they turn Route 117 upside down in their search, the long-buried secrets of those who’ve laid claim to this desert come to light, bringing Ben and the other locals into deadly conflict with Claire’s pursuers. Ultimately, the answers they all seek are connected to the desert’s greatest mystery — what really happened all those years ago at the never-open desert diner?

My Thoughts: After reading mostly thrillers (which are usually my favorite types of books) I was in the mood for something a bit different. This book was definitely unique. It possessed a literary feel with some mystery as well as a bit of romance. Set in the isolated desert in Utah, the author was gifted at transporting the reader to another place.

The characters in this book were extremely well developed. They each had many facets and felt very real. The reader rides with Ben, an independent truck driver, who delivers to people on Route 117, in the desert of Utah. The people who live on this stretch of road are colorful, eccentric characters.

The plot was a bit muddy. If I were to describe this book to someone, it would take a while to explain what it’s about. The story started out strong but seemed to weaken over time. The romance was extremely rushed and felt like insta-love. I wasn’t convinced by the romance, it didn’t feel genuine. The characters that were “so in love” didn’t seem to have chemistry other than the sexual variety. I think this book would have been better, had the story focused on some of the side characters, who were more interesting to me than the characters that were the main focus.

The book was good, I enjoyed the setting and characters as well as the uniqueness, but I didn’t love the plot.

My rating: 3 stars

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

Brave Girls Beautiful You by Jennifer Gerelds Review

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Goodreads Synopsis: Whether you are outgoing or shy, a tomboy or a girly girl, silly or serious, it can be really hard to feel comfortable with yourself. This devotional is filled with stories and thoughts about how God created us to be healthy, strong, and confident—both with our bodies and our minds—because we are daughters of the great heavenly Father.

My Thoughts: I’ve been on the lookout for a good devotional for my 9 year old daughter…something that would be age appropriate and enjoyable for her to read. When I was about 9 or 10, I had a devotional (Angel in My Attic by Mary Lou Carney) that made a very big impact on me and was something I looked forward to reading daily. This book seems to have a similar impact on my daughter.

It features 90 days of devotions that are interactive in nature. They ask questions with multiple choice answers that cause the reader to reflect on the subject. Each day begins with a Bible verse, which is followed by a story and ends with a prayer. The devotionals are 1-2 pages long and focus on relevant subjects for pre-teen girls such as inner beauty, forgiveness, trusting God, and serving others. My daughter liked that the days are not dated so they can be started at any time of the year.

I was very pleased with this devotional, it is age appropriate but is also filled with important Biblical truths. This would be a great devotional for any girl between the ages of 8 and 12.

My Rating: 5 stars

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Annabel Lee by Mike Nappa Review

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Plot According to Goodreads: Fourteen miles east of Peachtree, Alabama, a secret is hidden. That secret’s name is Annabel Lee Truckson, and even she doesn’t know why her mysterious uncle has stowed her deep underground in a military-style bunker. He’s left her with a few German words, a barely-controlled guard dog, and a single command: “Don’t open that door for anybody, you got it? Not even me.”

Above ground, a former Army sniper called The Mute and an enigmatic “Dr. Smith” know about the girl. As the race begins to find her, the tension builds. Who wants to set her free? Why does the other want to keep her captive forever? Who will reach her first?

Private investigators Trudi Coffey and Samuel Hill need to piece together the clues and stay alive long enough to retrieve the girl–before it’s too late.

My Thoughts: I was thrilled to receive this book. As soon as I saw the cover, I knew it was something I wanted to read…I love everything about the cover: the font, the title, and the creepy tunnel. I expected a creepy story with some thrills. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I expected but I still enjoyed it. The story was more of a crime fiction story then a horror or thriller.

The story has a lot of mystery. For most of the book, the reader doesn’t really know why certain things are happening and what is really going on. I was also unsure who was a “good guy” and who was a “bad guy” at first.  By the end, things are clearer, but I was still left with a few questions and felt that some parts of the plot were left unresolved. This is the first book in a series so I’m assuming that as the story continues, things will be explained.

I loved Annabel’s character, a very intelligent 11 year old girl, she was a great protagonist. The investigators, Coffey and Hill were also likable and will be fun to follow throughout the series.

Something about the pacing felt a bit off. I never felt like I couldn’t put the book down and it took me a while to get through. There were a few times when I felt bored with the plot.

The book is classified as Christian fiction, and although the author touches on Christianity, it doesn’t feel forced or preachy.

I am happy to have read Annabel Lee, but it wasn’t the amazing book that I hoped for.

My Rating: 3 stars

I received this book from Baker Publishing in exchange of an honest review.

 

 

 

Freedom’s Child by Jax Miller Review

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Plot According to Goodreads: Freedom Oliver has plenty of secrets.  She lives in a small Oregon town and keeps mostly to herself.  Her few friends and neighbors know she works at the local biker bar; they know she gets arrested for public drunkenness almost every night; they know she’s brash, funny, and fearless.

What they don’t know is that Freedom Oliver is a fake name.  They don’t know that she was arrested for killing her husband, a cop, twenty years ago.  They don’t know she put her two kids up for adoption.  They don’t know that she’s now in witness protection, regretting ever making a deal with the Feds, and missing her children with a heartache so strong it makes her ill.

Then, she learns that her daughter has gone missing, possibly kidnapped.  Determined to find out what happened, Freedom slips free of her handlers, gets on a motorcycle, and heads for Kentucky, where her daughter was raised.  As she ventures out on her own, no longer protected by the government, her troubled past comes roaring back at her: her husband’s vengeful, sadistic family; her brief, terrifying stint in prison; and the family she chose to adopt her kids who are keeping dangerous secrets.

My Thoughts: I had no interest in reading this book when I first saw the cover, but I read the synopsis and thought I’d take a chance (I’m glad that I did). This story follows Freedom, who is in the witness protection program and has a slew of issues. Freedom was the kind of character who I really disliked in the beginning of the story but as it progressed and I began to understand her, she grew on me.

The story has many facets and subplots that all merge together. It explores a religious cult which was extremely interesting and chilling. As a reader I went through a range of emotions, from anger to frustration, to fear, and sadness.

The story touches on religion, which often frustrates me in secular fiction, but the author handled it very well and I was pleased with the way things were presented.

Overall, this was a fast paced, action packed story that was enjoyable to read.

My Rating: 4 stars

 

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange of an honest review.