No Names to Be Given by Julia Brewer Daily Review and Giveaway

No Names to Be Given
by Julia Daily

Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Admission Press, Inc

Genre: Historical Fiction

1965. Sandy runs away from home to escape her mother’s abusive boyfriend. Becca falls in love with the wrong man. And Faith suffers a devastating attack. With no support and no other options, these three young, unwed women meet at a maternity home hospital in New Orleans where they are expected to relinquish their babies and return home as if nothing transpired.

But such a life-altering event can never be forgotten, and no secret remains buried forever. Twenty-five years later, the women are reunited by a blackmailer, who threatens to expose their secrets and destroy the lives they’ve built. That shattering revelation would shake their very foundations-and reverberate all the way to the White House.

Told from the three women’s perspectives, this mesmerizing story is based on actual experiences of women in the 1960s who found themselves pregnant but unmarried, pressured by family and society to make horrific decisions. How that inconceivable act changed women forever is the story of No Names to Be Given, a heartbreaking but uplifting novel of family and redemption.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | Powell’s | Target

My Thoughts

This story was captivating. I was vaguely familiar with maternity homes of the past but this book really opened my eyes to them. The story follows 3 young girls from very different backgrounds who meet at a maternity home and spans several decades after this meeting.

The characters were richly developed and very interesting to read about. I tend to gravitate more towards plot driven stories but this book had me thinking about the characters even when I wasn’t reading.

This story touches on racism, segregation, civil rights, adoption, and many other issues. There were scenes in the story that were very difficult to read, especially knowing that they were things that have really occurred in our country in the past.

Overall, this was an excellent book, extremely well written, and thought provoking. I highly recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Praise

“A gorgeous, thrilling, and important novel! These strong women will capture your heart.”-Stacey Swann, author of Olympus, Texas

“A novel worthy of a Lifetime movie adaptation.” Jess Hagemann, author of Headcheese

“An insightful and sympathetic view offered into the lives of those who were adopted and those who adopted them.”-Pam Johnson, author of Justice for Ella

“Readers can expect deep knowledge of the world the characters inhabit.”-Sara Kocek, author of Promise Me Something

“I found myself thinking about Becca, Sandy, and Faith frequently as I went about my day-I was always excited to sit down and find out what happened next.”-Sarah Welch, author of Austin Brown Dogs: The Shelter Dogs Who Rescue Us

About the Author

Julia Brewer Daily is a Texan with a southern accent. She has a B.S. in English and a M.S. degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi.

She has been an educator, Communications Adjunct Professor at Belhaven College, administrator, and Public Relations Director of the Mississippi Department of Education and Millsaps College, a liberal arts college in Jackson, MS.  She was the founding director of the Greater Belhaven Market, a producers’ only market in a historic neighborhood in Jackson, and even shadowed Martha Stewart.

As the Executive Director of the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi (300 artisans from 19 states) which operates the Mississippi Craft Center, she wrote their stories to introduce them to the public. She is an adopted child from a maternity home hospital in New Orleans.

She searched and found her birth mother and through a DNA test, her birth father’s family, as well.  She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband Emmerson and two Labrador Retrievers, Memphis Belle and Texas Star.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, August 3
Review at Books, Writings, and More

Wednesday, August 4
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Thursday, August 5
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Friday, August 6
Review at Amanda in PA

Monday, August 9
Interview at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, August 10
Excerpt at What Is That Book About

Wednesday, August 11
Review at The Enchanted Shelf

Thursday, August 12
Review at Novels Alive

Friday, August 13
Review at Bonnie Reads and Writes

Monday, August 16
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Tuesday, August 17
Excerpt at Coffee and Ink

Wednesday, August 18
Review at Two Bookish Babes

Friday, August 20
Review at The Cozy Book Blog

Monday, August 23
Review at Girl Who Reads

Giveaway

Sign up for Julia Daily’s newsletter to enter free monthly drawings for Kindle Fire HD10 64 GB with Alexa, bestselling books, and booklover memorabilia. Simply click the button, enter your email address and we will contact you if you are the winner!

Kyle’s Little Sister by BonHyung Jeong Review and Giveaway

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the KYLE’S LITTLE SISTER by BonHyung Jeong Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About the Book:

Title: KYLE’S LITTLE SISTER

Author: BonHyung Jeong

Pub. Date: June 22, 2021

Publisher: JY

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 240

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

My name is Grace, not “Kyle’s little sister!”
 
Having a good-looking, friendly, outgoing older brother sucks—especially when you’re the total opposite, someone who likes staying home and playing video games. Your parents like him better (even if they deny it!), and everyone calls you “Kyle’s little sister” while looking disappointed that you’re not more like him. I was really hoping I’d get to go to a different middle school, but no such luck. At least I have my friends…until he finds a way to ruin that, too…! Argh! What do I have to do to get out of his shadow?!

My Thoughts:

I was excited to read this book because I, like Grace, also had a popular, good looking older brother that everyone adored. I was quiet and nerdy and enjoyed reading and was cool without even trying.

This story was so much fun to read and reminded me of the days of middle school…the awkwardness, the uncertainty, and the drama. I loved how Kyle cared about his sister but did things “behind the scenes” (such a big brother thing to do).

The artwork is colorful and had a manga feel to it. Overall, I highly recommend this story, very fun!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher/author to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About BonHyung Jeong:

BonHyung Jeong (Bon) studied Cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and Kyle’s Little Sister is her debut graphic novel, made possible with the help of numerous people. She hopes to make connections with others through relatable stories. Currently living in Korea, she’s always busy playing console games – exactly like someone in the book!

Instagram | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of KYLE’S LITTLE SISTER, US Only.

Rafflecopter link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba21291/?

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

6/14/2021Unconventional Quirky BibliophileReview
6/15/2021cindysloveofbooksReview
6/16/2021A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt
6/17/2021@pagesofyellowReview
6/18/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
6/19/2021Jazzy Book ReviewsExcerpt

Week Two:

6/20/2021Hurn PublicationsGuest Post
6/21/2021Two Points of InterestReview
6/22/2021celiamcmahonreadsReview
6/23/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview
6/24/2021@drewsim12Review
6/25/2021The Momma SpotReview
6/26/2021Lady HawkeyeExcerpt

Week Three:

6/27/2021CurlygrannylovestoreadSpotlight
6/28/2021NerdophilesReview
6/29/2021Simply Daniel RadcliffeReview
6/30/2021YA Books CentralGuest Post
7/1/2021Sandra’s Book ClubExcerpt
7/2/2021amandainpaReview
7/3/2021Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post

Week Four:

7/4/2021TLC Book NookExcerpt
7/5/2021hauntedbybooksReview
7/6/2021@bookshelfmommaReview
7/7/2021@lexijava_bookishExcerpt
7/8/2021The Obsessed ReaderGuest Post
7/9/2021BrittreadsalattebooksReview

Jack vs. the Tornado by Amanda Cleary Eastep Review

Synopsis:

Adventures, friendships, and faith-testers . . . all under the watchful eye of a great big God.

The Tree Street Kids live on Cherry, Oak, Maple, and Pine, but their 1990s suburban neighborhood is more than just quiet, tree-lined streets. Jack, Ellison, Roger, and Ruthie face challenges and find adventures in every creek and cul-de-sac—as well as God’s great love in one small neighborhood.

In the first book of the Tree Street Kids series, 10-year-old Jack is shocked to discover his parents are moving from their rural homestead to the boring suburbs of Chicago. Full of energy and determination, Jack devises a plan to get himself back to his beloved farmhouse forever. Only three things stand in his way: a neighbor in need, a shocking discovery, and tornado season. Will Jack find a solution? Or is God up to something bigger than Jack can possibly imagine?

My Thoughts:

When I saw that this book is set in the 90s, I knew that I had to read it. I was a 90s kid and it was such a fun time to be a kid. The author does an excellent job at conveying the time period and the book is filled with fun references that brought lots of nostalgia. This is great for fellow “90s kid” parents who are reading with their children…it has features that both the child and parent can enjoy.

The story was fun and I really liked Jack’s character. The illustrations were a nice touch and the story was a good length for reluctant or beginning readers. Overall, this was a great story with a clean, wholesome storyline.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Pulse by Judy J. Walters Review

Synopsis:

The world has no shortage of moral ambiguity, especially in the emergency room. Dr. Jackson is the emergency room physician who seems to have the big house, beautiful wife, and an impeccable reputation as one of the most respected emergency physicians in Dallas. As the author peels back the layers, Dr. Jackson’s life isn’t so perfect after all. Filled with unique twists, complex medical cases and personal issues, Pulse proves that there is always more to the story! Pulse is the first book in the Vital Signs Series. If you loved Netflix’s Queen’s Gambit, you’ll love this series.

My Thoughts:

When I was pregnant with my daughter in 2006, I discovered reruns of ER. I became engrossed in the series and watched it every morning. The emergency room setting is one that I really enjoy…there’s lots of action and plenty of drama. Pulse, by Judy G. Walters brought back those fun memories of spending time with Dr. Green, Dr. Ross, Carter, and all the other characters (I actually named my daughter Ella, which is the same name as Dr. Green’s daughter). Pulse follows Dr. Jackson…a very dedicated doctor with several issues in his personal life. Doctors always seem to live elusive lives so I always find it fun to see how they are human and make mistakes. The story was full of great snapshots from the ER…the reader meets several patients with interesting experiences.

Chess is also a big part of the story. I was never great at Chess, but reading so much about it made me want to dig my Chess board out of the game closet.

Overall, this was a very fun story to read with lots of surprises. I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book!

I received a copy of this book from the author to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating:

Castle of Refuge by Melanie Dickerson Review

Synopsis:

Audrey is a viscount’s daughter who has suffered her sister Maris’s cruel, jealous behavior all her life. An act of malice led their father to send Maris to a convent, but Audrey was still left with scars. Three years later, Audrey’s father is determined to marry off his damaged daughter, and Maris is returning. Desperate, Audrey sneaks away.

However, life outside her home is dangerous, and she soon finds herself attacked, injured, and in dire straits. She is taken in at Dericott Castle to be nursed back to health. While there, she decides to keep her identity a secret and work as a servant in the castle. But she doesn’t count on falling in love with the young and handsome Lord Dericott, who lost his arm several months earlier.

Meanwhile, Edwin—Lord Dericott—is curious about the new, well-educated servant’s identity. When the man Audrey’s father wanted her to marry comes looking for her, each must make a life-changing decision about what to believe and whether or not love is truly worth trusting.

In this Ugly Duckling retelling, New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson brilliantly crafts a high-stakes, encouraging tale about the power of love.

My Thoughts:

This series just gets better and better! I read A Court of Swans before picking this one up and I would recommend that one be read before this one. The author does a good job in explaining what happened before this book but it’s nice to see it all unfold.

This story was my favorite of the Dickerson books that I’ve read. I loved that there was a villainous character in the story and several nail biting moments of suspense.

The atmosphere is rich and the time period is one that I always find fascinating to read about…living in a time of earls, dukes, knights, and kings…so different from what we experience now.

The pacing was steady and I found myself flying through the pages. I definitely recommend this series!

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion. 

My Rating:

10 Truths and A Dare by Ashley Elston Review and Giveaway

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot
on the 10 TRUTHS AND A DARE by Ashley Elston Blog Tour hosted by 
Rockstar Book Tours. Check out
my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

About the Book:

Title: 10 TRUTHS AND A DARE

Author: Ashley Elston

Pub. Date: May 4, 2021

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Pages: 304

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindle, AudibleB&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

This companion to Ashley Elston’s beloved 10 Blind Dates follows
Sophie’s high-achieving cousin Olivia as she juggles last-minute P.E. credit,
end-of-year parties, and a secret new romance in the chaotic week before
graduation.

It’s Senior Party Week, that magical in-between time after classes have
ended but before graduation, chock-full of gimmicky theme parties, last-minute
bonding, and family traditions. Olivia couldn’t be more ready. Class
salutatorian and confident in her future at LSU, she’s poised to sail through
to the next phase of her life.

But when the tiny hiccup of an unsigned off-campus P.E. form puts Olivia
in danger of not graduating at all, she has one week to set things straight
without tipping off her very big and very nosy extended family. Volunteering to
help at a local golf tournament should do it, but since Olivia’s mom equipped
her phone with a tracking app, there’ll be no hiding the fact that she’s at the
golf course instead of all the graduation parties happening at the same time.
Unless, that is, she can convince the Fab Four–her ride-or-die cousins and
best friends Sophie, Charlie, and Wes–to trade phones with her as they go
through the motions of playing Olivia for the week.

 

Praise for 10 Blind Dates by
Ashley Elston:

2020 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers Top Ten Title

2020 Florida Teens Read Book List


“POSITIVELY DELIGHTFUL—all caps—from beginning to end.”—NPR

“This piece-by-piece romance doesn’t need its Christmas theme to sell, but
it makes it glitter all the more.”—Booklist

“A fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to
know your family.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In a funny holiday romance that has Sophie dog-sitting in a hockey rink,
watching porn at a drive-in theater, and playing the Virgin Mary in a middle
school Nativity, Elston cleverly reflects the family members’ personalities
through their choices of dates for Sophie.”—Publishers Weekly

Grab 10 BLIND DATES now!

 

My Thoughts:

What a fun story! This book follows Olivia as she scrambles to complete a PE credit in order to graduate from high school, all while trying to keep it a secret from her mom who is out of town but tracking her every move on Life360. I loved the dynamic between Olivia and her cousins…it seems like families do not get together as often now as they used to so it was great to read about her large family gathering each week (and some mornings) at her grandmother’s house.

I am definitely not the target audience for this story but I still really enjoyed it. It make me get a glimpse into my 17 year old son’s life and what it’s like to be “tracked” constantly. I also enjoyed following Olivia at the golf course and learning a little bit about golf. The graduation parties were a lot of fun to visit as well…they all had different themes and seemed like they would be a blast to attend.

I have noticed that it is difficult to find YA books that are appropriate in content for the target audience (in my opinion). This book was an exception to that. The story was very sweet and the “intimate” moments were age appropriate. There was one scene where the characters were drinking alcohol (which I didn’t love considering they were all underage) but mentions of designated drivers were frequent.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. I am planning on picking up the first one in the series, 10 Blind Dates, that follows Sophie, who was also in this book.

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

About Ashley:

Ashley Elston is the author of
several novels including: 10 Blind Dates (a Top Ten ALA Quick
Pick and the companion to this book), The Rules for Disappearing (a
finalist in the Best Young Adult Novel category of the International Thriller
Writers Thriller Awards), This Is Our Story, and The Lying
Woods
. She has a liberal arts degree from Louisiana State University in
Shreveport and worked for many years as a wedding photographer before turning
her hand to writing. Ashley lives in Shreveport with her husband and three
sons. For more information about Ashley and her books, please visit
http://www.ashleyelston.com.


Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

 

Giveaway Details:

3 winners
will receive a finished copy of 10 TRUTHS AND A DARE,
US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

5/1/2021

The Book View

Review

Week Two:

5/2/2021

What A Nerd Girl Says

Excerpt

5/3/2021

YA Books Central

Excerpt

5/4/2021

Fire and Ice

Review

5/5/2021

BookHounds YA

Excerpt

5/6/2021

YA Book Nerd

Review

5/7/2021

Lifestyle of Me

Review

5/8/2021

Moonlight Rendezvous

Review

Week Three:

5/9/2021

Jenguerdy

Review

5/10/2021

Ficticiouswonderland

Review

5/11/2021

Book-Keeping

Review

5/12/2021

Amani’s Reviews

Review

5/13/2021

booksaremagictoo

Review

5/14/2021

Eli to the nth

Review

5/15/2021

Emelie’s Books

Review

Week Four:

5/16/2021

Kait Plus Books

Excerpt

5/17/2021

Zainey Laney

Review

5/18/2021

onemused

Review

5/19/2021

Midnightbooklover

Review

5/20/2021

amandainpa

Review

5/21/2021

Geauxgetlit

Review

5/22/2021

two points of interest

Review

Week Five:

5/23/2021

Book Briefs

Review

5/24/2021

Momfluenster

Review

5/25/2021

Star-Crossed Book Blog

Review

5/26/2021

michellemengsbookblog

Review

5/27/2021

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review

5/28/2021

Do You Dog-ear?

Review

5/29/2021

Books and Zebras

Review

Week Six:

5/30/2021

My Fictional Oasis

Review

5/31/2021

Popthebutterfly

Review

A Mother’s Promise by K.D. Alden Review

A MOTHER’S PROMISE BY K.D. ALDEN

Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Forever/Grand Central
Paperback & eBook; 384 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Based on the true story behind a landmark U.S. Supreme Court Decision, K.D. Alden’s debut is a rich and moving story of one woman’s courage and strength at a pivotal point in America’s history.

Virginia, 1927. A chance to have a family. That’s all Ruth Ann Riley wants. But because she was unwed and pregnant, she was sent away and her baby given to another woman. Now they’re trying to take Ruth Ann’s right to have another child. But she can’t stand the thought of never seeing little Annabel’s face again, never snuggling up to her warmth or watching her blue eyes crinkle with laughter. Good thing she has a plan.

All the rich and fancy folks may call her feeble-minded, but Ruth Ann is smarter than any of them have bargained for. Because no matter how high the odds are stacked against her, she is going to overcome the scandals in her past and get her child back—and along the way, she just may find unexpected friendships and the possibility of love in the most unlikely of places.

A Mother’s Promise is a powerful, heart-wrenching, ultimately uplifting novel about the bonds of family and one woman’s courage in the face of adversity. K.D. Alden brings history to life with rich storytelling and deep emotion.“―V.S. Alexander, author of The Magdalen Girls

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | BOOKS-A-MILLION | HUDSON | INDIEBOUND | POWELL’S | TARGET | WALMART


My Thoughts

This book took me through a range of emotions. It is difficult to believe that this story is based on something that happened in history and that forced sterilization is still legal and occurring today (along with other forms of eugenics that are even worse).

The story takes place in the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded and focuses on Ruth Ann, a young lady who is living in the institution because she became pregnant out of wedlock. The doctor at the colony informs her that she will be having an operation so that she can “no longer breed”. Some of the things that the doctor said about the people at the institution were so vile and wicked, they turned my stomach.

This book is written extremely well and I stayed up way past my bedtime on a work night to finish it because I had to know how it would end. Because it is based on true accounts, the ending is not as satisfying as I would have liked (but reality usually isn’t).

This ranks in my top 5 favorite books of 2021. The characters were rich, the writing was very strong and the author described the scenes in a way that I felt like I was right beside Ruth Ann in the institution.

I highly recommend this book, not only is it an extremely interesting read, it also raises a lot of moral questions and could prompt many discussions.

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating

About the Author

K.D. Alden is the pseudonym of an award-winning author who has written more than twenty novels in various genres. She has been the recipient of the Maggie Award, the Book Buyer’s Best Award, and an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. A Mother’s Promise is her first historical novel.

K.D. is a graduate of Smith College, grew up in Austin, Texas, and resides in South Florida with her husband and two rescue greyhounds.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 17
Review at Nursebookie
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Tuesday, May 18
Review at Booking With Janelle

Wednesday, May 19
Review at Amanda in PA

Thursday, May 20
Review at Niki Loves to Read

Friday, May 21
Interview at Jathan and Heather

Tuesday, May 25
Interview at Books & Benches

Friday, May 28
Review at Two Bookish Babes

Giveaway

Enter to win a $25 Gift Card to Amazon or Target!

A Mother’s Promise Tour2

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on May 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Direct Link: https://gleam.io/competitions/Wgghu-a-mothers-promise-tour2

https://gleam.io/Wgghu/a-mothers-promise-tour2

Until I Find You by Rea Frey Review and Giveaway

Until I Find You

by Rea Frey

April 26 – May 21, 2021 Tour

 

Synopsis:


uifySoon, Rebecca Gray won’t be able to see. Diagnosed in her twenties with a degenerative eye disease, each day her world grows a little darker. She’s moved to the suburbs to raise her son, Jackson. In the wake of her husband\’s death, it should be a quieter, easier way of life. It won’t be.

 

The Set-Up

The Moment That Changes Everything

When Bec awakes after fainting in the park, she makes promises to start taking better care of herself. When her son begins to cry, she approaches the crib. Reaches in. Picks him up. But he’s not her son.

The Search

There’s nothing Bec won’t do to find Jackson. But she’s a blind woman in a world where seeing is believing. The police think she’s confused. Her friends don’t see any differences. Relying on the conviction of her instinct and the power of a mother’s love, Bec must push the limits of her world to uncover what happened to her baby boy…and bring him home for good.

 

Book Details:

Genre: Domestic Suspense
Published by: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: August 11th 2020
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 1250241588 (ISBN13: 9781250241580)
Series: Until I Find You is not a part of a series.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

1
BEC

Someone’s coming.

I push the stroller. My feet expertly navigate the familiar path toward the park without my cane. Footsteps advance behind me. The swish of fabric between hurried thighs. The clop of a shoe on pavement. Measured, but gaining with every step. Blood whooshes through my ears, a distraction.

One more block until the park’s entrance. My world blots behind my sunglasses, smeared and dreamy. A few errant hairs whip across my face. My toe catches a crack, and my ankle painfully twists.

No time to stop.

My thighs burn. A few more steps. Finally, I make a sharp left into the park’s entrance. Jackson’s anklet jingles from the blistering pace.

“Hang on, sweet boy. Almost there. Almost.” The relentless August sun sizzles in the sky, and I adjust my ball cap with a trembling hand. Uncertain, I stop and wait for either the rush of footsteps to pass, or to approach and attack. Instead, nothing.

I lick my dry lips and half turn, one hand still securely fastened on my son’s stroller. “Hello?” The wind stalls. The hairs bristle on the back of my neck. My world goes unnaturally still, until I choke on my own warped breath.

I waver on the sidewalk and then lunge toward the entrance toWilder. The stroller is my guide as I half walk, half jog, knowing precisely how many steps I must take to reach the other side of the gate.

Twenty.

My heart thumps, a manic metronome. Jackson squeals and kicks his foot. The bells again.

Ten.

The footsteps echo in my ears. The stroller rams an obstacle in the way and flattens it. I swerve and cry out in surprise.

Five.

I reach the gate, hurtle through to a din of voices. Somewhere in the distance, a lawn mower stutters then chugs to life.

Safe.

I slide toward the ground and drop my head between my knees. My ears prick for the stranger behind me, but all is lost. A plane roars overhead, probably heading for Chicago. Birds aggressively chirp as the sun continues to crisp my already pink shoulders. A car horn honks on the parallel street. Someone blows a whistle. My body shudders from the surge of adrenaline. I sit until I regain my composure and then push to shaky legs.

I check Jackson, dragging my hands over the length of his body— his strong little fingers, his plump thighs, and perpetually kicking feet—and blot my face with his spit-up blanket. Just when I think I’m safe, a hand encircles my wrist.

“Miss?”

I jerk back and suck a surprised breath.

The hand drops. “I’m sorry,” a woman’s voice says. “I didn’t mean to scare you. You dropped this.” Something jingles and lands in my upturned palm: Jackson’s anklet.

I smooth my fingers over the bells. “Thanks.” I bend over the stroller, grip his ankle, and reattach them. I tickle the bottom of his foot, and he murmurs.

“Are the bells so you can hear him?” the woman asks. “Are you . . . ?”

“Blind? Yes.” I straighten. “I am.”

“That’s cool. I’ve never seen that before.”

I assume she means the bells. I almost make a joke—neither have I!—but instead, I smile. “It’s a little early for him to wear them,” I explain.

“They’re more for when he becomes mobile, but I want him to get used to them.”

“That’s smart.”

I’m not sure if she’s waiting for me to say something else. “Thanks again,” I offer.

“No problem. Have a good day.”

She leaves. My hands clamp around the stroller’s handle. Was she the one behind me? I stall at the gate and wonder if I should just go back home. I remind myself where I am—in one of the safest suburbs outside of Chicago—not in some sketchy place. I’m not being followed.

It’s fine.

To prove it, I remove my cane, unfold it, and brace it on the path. I maneuver Jackson’s stroller behind and sweep my cane in front, searching for more obstacles or unsuspecting feet.

I weave toward Cottage Hill and pass the wedding garden, the Wilder Mansion, and the art museum. Finally, I wind around the arboretum. I leave the conservatory for last, pulling Jackson through colorful flower breeds, active butterflies, and rows of green. My heart still betrays my calm exterior, but whoever was there is gone.

I whisk my T-shirt from my body. Jackson babbles and then lets out a sharp cry. I adjust the brim of his stroller so his eyes aren’t directly hit by the sun. I lower my baseball cap and head toward the play-ground. The rubber flooring shifts beneath my cane.

Wilder Park is packed with last-minute late-summer activity. I do a lap around the playground and then angle my cane toward a bench to check for occupants. Once I confirm it’s empty, I settle and park the stroller beside me. I keep my ears alert for Jess or Beth. I think about calling Crystal to join us, but then remember she has an interior design job today.

I place my hand on Jackson’s leg, the small jingle of his anklet a comfort. Suddenly, I am overcome with hunger. I rummage in the diaper bag for a banana, peel it, and reach again for Jackson, who is playing with his pacifier. He furiously sucks then knocks it out of his mouth. He giggles every time I hand it back to him.

I replay what just happened. If someone had attacked me, I wouldn’t have been able to defend myself or identify the perpetrator. A shiver courses the length of my spine. Though Jackson is technically easy—healthy, no colic, a decent sleeper—this stage of life is not. Chris died a year ago, and though it’s been twelve months since the accident, sometimes it feels like it’s been twelve days.

Jackson’s life flashes before me. Not the happy baby playing in his stroller, but the other parts. The first time he gets really sick. The first time he has to go to the emergency room, and I’m all alone. The first time I don’t know what to do when something is wrong. The first time he runs away from me in public and isn’t wearing bells to alert me to his location.

Will I be able to keep him safe, to protect him?

I will the dark cloud away, but uneasiness pierces my skin like a warning. I fan my shirt, swallow, close my eyes behind my sunglasses, and adjust my ball cap.

The world shrinks. I try to swallow, but my throat constricts. I claw air.

I can’t breathe. I’m drowning. My heart is going to explode. I’m going to die.

I lurch off the bench and walk a few paces, churning my arms toward my chest to produce air. I gasp, tell myself to breathe, tell myself to do something.

When I think I’m going to faint, I exhale completely, then sip in a shallow breath. I veer toward a tree, fingers grasping, and reach its chalky bark. In, out. In, out. Breathe, Rebecca. Breathe.

Concerned whispers crescendo around me while I remember how to breathe. I mentally force my limbs to relax, soften my jaw, and count to ten. After a few toxic moments, I retrace my steps back to the bench.

I just left my baby alone.

Jackson’s right foot twitches and jingles from the stroller; he’s bliss- fully unaware that his mother just had a panic attack. I calm myself, but my heart continues to knock around my chest like a pinball. I open a bottle of water and lift it to my lips with trembling hands. I exhale and massage my chest. The footsteps. The panic attack. These recurring fears . . .

“Hey, lady. Fancy meeting you here.” Jess leans down and delivers a kiss to my cheek. Her scent—sweet, like honey crisp apples—does little to dissuade my terrified mood.

“Hi. Sit, sit.” I rearrange my voice to neutral and move the diaper bag to make room.

Jess positions her stroller beside mine. Beth sits next to her, her three-month-old baby, Trevor, always in a ring sling or strapped to her chest.

“How’s the morning?” Beth asks.

I tell them both about the footsteps and the woman who returned the bells, but conveniently leave out the part about the panic attack.

Beth leans closer. “Scary. Who do you think was following you?”

“I’m not sure,” I say.

“You should have called,” Jess says. “I’m always happy to walk with you.”

“That’s not exactly on your way.”

“Oh, please. I could use the extra exercise.”

I roll my eyes at her disparaging comment, because Beth and I both know she loves her curves.

“Anyway, it’s sleep deprivation,” Jess continues. “Makes you hallucinate. I remember when Baxter was Jackson’s age and waking up every two hours, I literally thought I was going to lose my mind. I would put things in odd places. I was even convinced Rob was cheating.”

I laugh. “Rob would never cheat on you.”

“Exactly my point.” She turns to me. “Have you thought about hiring a nanny?”

“Yeah,” Beth adds. “Especially with everything you’ve been through.”

My stomach clenches at those words: everything you’ve been through.

After Chris died, I moved in with my mother so she could essentially become Jackson’s nanny. And then, just two months ago, she died too. Though her death wasn’t a surprise due to her lifelong heart condition, no one is ever prepared to lose a parent. “I can’t afford it.”

“Like I’ve said before, Rob and I are happy to pitch in—”

I lift my hand to stop her. “And I appreciate it. I really do. But I’m not ready to have someone in my space when I’m just getting used to it being empty. I need to get comfortable taking care of Jackson on my own.”

“That makes sense,” Beth assures me.

“It does.” Jess pats my thigh. “But you’re not a martyr, okay? Everyone needs help.”

“I know.” I adjust my sunglasses and rearrange my face in hopes of hiding the real emotions I feel. “What’s new with both of you?”

“Can I vent for a second?” Beth asks. She situates closer to us on the bench. Thanks to the visual Jess supplied, I know Beth is blond, petite, and impossibly fit—and is perpetually in a state of crisis. She’s practicing attachment parenting, which, in her mind, keeps her glued to her son twenty-four hours a day. I’ve never even held him.

“Vent away,” I say.

“Okay.” She drops her voice. “Like, I love this little guy, truly. But sometimes, when it’s just the two of us in the house all day, I fantasize about just running away somewhere. Or going out to take a walk. I’d never do it, of course,” she rushes to add. “But I just have this feeling like . . . I’m never going to be alone again.”

“Nanny,” Jess trills. “I’m telling you. Quit this attachment parenting crap and get yourself a nanny. And if she’s hot, she can even occupy your husband so you don’t have to.”

I slap Jess’s arm. “Don’t say that. You’d be totally devastated if Rob ever did cheat.”

***

Excerpt from Until I Find You by Rea Frey. Copyright 2020 by Rea Frey. Reproduced with permission from Rea Frey. All rights reserved.

 

My Thoughts:

This book had so many things that I found interesting…switched babies, a single mother with very little vision, and several mysteries along the way. 

I really found Bec’s life interesting, walking in the shoes of a single mother who is blind really made me think. Darkness has always been a little scary for me, even as an adult. Living in constant darkness and caring for an infant must add a whole new layer of fear. The author did an excellent job at portraying the fears and anxieties that Bec experienced. I also appreciated learning the different things that Bec used to adapt to this world (talking alarm clocks, Siri, and bells on her son’s ankles so that she would always know where he was). 

It was sad to see the reaction that Bec received after realizing that the child in her son’s room was not her son. I can’t imagine the frustration that she experienced…blind or not, a mother knows their children!

The mystery was very well thought out and kept me guessing. A few red herrings along the way made it a lot of fun and I loved how everything wrapped up in the end. I highly recommend this mystery story. It reminded me a little bit of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (one of my favorite books) with the mystery aspect and the mom groups. 

I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Author Bio:


unnamedTo learn more, visit reafrey.com or writewayco.com.
REA FREY is the multi-published, award-winning bestselling author of three suspense novels and four nonfiction books. She’s been featured in US Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Popsugar, Hello Sunshine, Marie Claire, Parade, Shape, Hello Giggles, CrimeReads, Writer’s Digest, WGN, Fox News, Today in Nashville, Talk of the Town, and more. She is also the CEO and Founder of Writeway, where aspiring writers become published authors.

Catch Up With Rea Frey:
ReaFrey.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @ReaFreyAuthor
Instagram – @reafrey
Twitter – #ReaFrey
Facebook – @reafrey

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Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar Review

Synopsis:

Can a Canaanite harlot who has made her livelihood by looking desirable to men make a fitting wife for one of the leaders of Israel? Shockingly, the Bible’s answer is yes.

Pearl in the Sand tells Rahab’s untold story. Rahab lives in a wall; her house is built into the defensive walls of the City of Jericho. Other walls surround her as well–walls of fear, rejection, and unworthiness.

A woman with a wrecked past; a man of success, of faith…of pride. A marriage only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another’s worth and find healing in God.

My Thoughts:

I have only dabbled in Biblical fiction but each time I’ve read it, I’ve enjoyed the genre. When I saw that Moody Publishers had released a 10th anniversary edition of Pearl in the Sand, I was eager to read it. I’ve seen Pearl in the Sand on recommended pages and book sites many times and it has very high ratings. The story of Rahab from the book of Joshua, this story imagines what happened to her after she was rescued from Jericho.

There were some beautiful analogies in the story. I found that the author did an excellent job at portraying the multi-faceted and sovereign nature of God throughout the story. I also loved the descriptions of the Israelite camp and their way of living…it became much more easier to picture when reading the Bible story after being given the pictures from Afshar’s story.

I also appreciated that there were some bits of humor thrown in to break up the sometimes dark and difficult life that these people were living.

Overall this was an excellent story and I am planning on picking up more books by this author in the future.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher to read and review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating

Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill Review

Synopsis

Amara Alvarez’s first case as a homicide detective drags her into the murky world of computer hackers. When she finds herself under attack by cybercriminals, she has no choice but to use unconventional methods to expose the truth and find a killer.

My Thoughts

The beginning of this book had my attention right away. A teenager is found dead on a raft in the lazy river (my favorite summer attraction) at a water park. At first it looks like heat stroke but after further investigation, it becomes more suspicious.

This is the second book in a series and although reading the first book is not necessary, (I didn’t) it would be very beneficial as the first case that the main character worked on is mentioned often.

The main character, Amara Alvarez is chomping at the bit to investigate the case and earn some recognition in her police department. It’s her first case and she takes it very seriously. Unfortunately, I really struggled to like Amara. She was unwilling to ask for help when she was clearly in over her head and at a point in the book, she offers to buy dinner for her mom and her mom’s boyfriend…her mom starts a conversation that she doesn’t like and Amara pretends to get a phone call, lies that she needs to go for work and as she’s leaving her mom’s boyfriend asked her about paying…Amara says, “what? I can’t hear you”. I found this scene infuriating, especially knowing that it’s published by a Christian publisher.

The case was interesting and I did find the resolution satisfying but overall, the main character was a big turn off for me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My Rating