Review: Invisible Differences

Marguerite feels awkward, struggling every day to stay productive at work and keep up appearances with friends. She’s sensitive, irritable at times. She makes her environment a fluffy, comforting cocoon, alienating her boyfriend. The everyday noise and stimuli assaults her senses, the constant chatter of her coworkers working her last nerve. Then, when one big fight with her boyfriend finds her frustrated and dejected, Marguerite finally investigates the root of her discomfor: after a journey of tough conversations with her loved ones, doctors, and the internet, she discovers that she has Aspergers. Her life is profoundly changed – for the better.

I think books such as this are really important, especially today. Conditions on the autism spectrum are still very stigmatized and those who are on the spectrum still get stereotyped heavily, so information that can be consumed easily is useful to those looking to learn more. It really addresses the anxiety that can be felt, how being misdiagnosed feels and how it feels when those in their lives don’t understand or accept their conditions.

I loved the color scheme of black and white with accents of red. Red was used to show things contributing to sensory overload (for lack of a better term) and really showed how overwhelming seemingly small things can be when they pile on. There was also a simplified explanation of spoon theory that would be helpful to people who know nothing about it (something that is not exclusive to those on the spectrum, but also applies to those who have anxiety, chronic illness, invisible illnesses and more).

The back section includes information regarding autism history, facts and a list of resources for more information, which would definitely be helpful to people who wanted to know more.

Invisible Differences is expected to come out on August 18th, 2020 from Oni Press. Be sure to pick up a copy if it sounds like something you would like!

Happy reading!

Blog Tour: Truths I Never Told You

After finding disturbing journal pages that suggest her late mother didn’t die in a car accident as her father had always maintained, Beth Walsh begins a search for answers to the question — what really happened to their mother? With the power and relevance of Jodi Picoult and Lisa Jewell, Rimmer pens a provocative novel told by two women a generation apart, the struggles they unwittingly shared, and a family mystery that may unravel everything they believed to be true.

With her father recently moved to a care facility because of worsening signs of dementia, Beth Walsh volunteers to clear out the family home to prepare it for sale. Why shouldn’t she be the one, after all? Her three siblings are all busy with their families and successful careers, and Beth is on maternity leave after giving birth to Noah, their miracle baby. It took her and her husband Hunter years to get pregnant, but now that they have Noah, Beth can only feel panic. And leaving Noah with her in-laws while she pokes about in their father’s house gives her a perfect excuse not to have to deal with motherhood.

Beth is surprised to discover the door to their old attic playroom padlocked, and even more shocked to see what’s behind it – a hoarder’s mess of her father’s paintings, mounds of discarded papers, and miscellaneous junk. Her father was the most fastidious, everything-in-its-place man, and this chaos makes no sense. As she picks through the clutter, she finds a handwritten note attached to one of the paintings, in what appears to be in her late mother’s handwriting. Beth and her siblings grew up believing Grace Walsh died in a car accident when they were little more than toddlers, but this note suggests something much darker may be true. A frantic search uncovers more notes, seemingly a series of loose journal entries that paint a very disturbing portrait of a woman in profound distress, and of a husband that bears very little resemblance to the father Beth and her siblings know.

A fast-paced, harrowing look at the fault in memories and the lies that can bond families together – or tear them apart.

BUY LINKS: Amazon IndieBound Barnes & Noble Apple Books
Books-A-Million Google Play

I was really hoping this book would be an intriguing journey of discovering family secrets, but it ended up being so much more than I expected. In it we follow two timelines in the same family, with the main character, Beth, discovering what happened when her parents were younger. She does this while going through her own difficulties and emotional issues. She and her siblings have to work through a number of things related to their father’s impending death and secrets that start to surface add another layer to the story.

Definite trigger warnings for death of a parent, postpartum depression (and depression in general) and talk of dementia. I really enjoyed the writing style and the dual timelines, with more and more of the past being revealed as time went on. There’s also some good discussion about the way contraception and abortions were looked at in the 50s as well as the roles women were expected to play at that time. Both timelines and the generations of this family were full of personality, depth and secrets and while unwinding them was hard, it was worth it.

Kelly Rimmer is the worldwide and USA TODAY bestselling author of Before I Let You Go, Me Without You, and The Secret Daughter. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. Please visit her at www.Kelly.Rimmer.com


SOCIAL LINKS:
Facebook: @Kellymrimmer
Twitter: @KelRimmerWrites
Instagram: @kelrimmerwrites

Happy reading!

Blog Tour: Seduced By a Steele

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Jackson brings you a brand-new story in the Forged of Steele series. Perfect for fans of the popular Westmoreland series and readers of passionate contemporary romances!

A notorious heartbreaker is about to meet his match…Will a damsel in distress be his redemption?

When the “thief” caught driving his stolen vintage car turns out to be a stunning runaway heiress, Mercury Steele is conflicted. On the one hand, Sloan Donahue, penniless and on the run from her tyrannical family, triggers the billionaire playboy’s protective instincts. But she also triggers red-hot desire. Mercury refuses to think his simple seduction is becoming something deeper, especially when Sloan is keeping secrets…

BUY LINKS: Goodreads Amazon Barnes & Noble Google
Indie Bound Harlequin.com

This was my first introduction to the Steele family and I have to say I enjoyed it immensely. I’d have to say that the family interaction was some of the best parts of the book. I did have a hard time believing how naive Sloan was (a vintage car in wonderful condition for $300? even people who don’t know cars know that they are worth quite a bit more than that), but that was a small thing that didn’t dramatically affect the story. It was obvious she was sheltered and had been strictly controlled by her parents, which I think was the author’s intent.

I’ll definitely be picked up more from Brenda Jackson, her writing was easy to read and flowed wonderfully and I loved the interactions with the family. For a quick romance that was a little formulaic it was a great read!

Brenda Jackson is a New York Times bestselling author of more than one hundred romance titles. Brenda lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and divides her time between family, writing and traveling. Email Brenda at authorbrendajackson@gmail.com or visit her on her website at brendajackson.net.

Happy reading!

Review: Master Chocolatier Vol 1

Alex Carret is a talented young Brussels chocolatier whose life takes a drastic turn when he quits his job and agrees to partner with a friend of a friend named Ben. He’s a little wary of him at first, but when Ben comes up with a business plan, a space, a brilliant branding idea, and a 100,000-euro loan, Alex can’t resist the temptation of seeing his lifelong dream come true. Soon he and his team are selecting the finest chocolate from countries around the world and throwing a launch party, which is a smash success. But will that put them in the crosshairs of other local power brokers?

I thought the premise of this graphic novel – following a chocolatier in Brussels would be a fun read, and it was. A lot of the plot was predictable for me, but it was still enjoyable. I liked some of the diversity of characters, such as Manon who is deaf and like the overall individual characters that were created. The art style is very classic and realistic, so it was easy to follow and had great detail.

You can pretty easily see a few ways the following volumes could progress as people’s roles and possible plot points were defined, but there were still enough things that were left up in the air. All in all I would say it’s a good first installment to a contemporary graphic novel series with great information about chocolate and chocolate making.

Happy reading!

Review: Eat, and Love Yourself

A story about Mindy, a woman living with an eating disorder who has to learn how to love herself again.

In pursuit of the perfect body, Mindy buys the low-fat diet products and the glossy magazines which promise the secret to losing weight. One night, while perusing the aisles of the neighborhood convenience store for a midnight snack, she finds a new product. A chocolate bar called “Eat and Love Yourself”. On a whim, Mindy buys the curious candy, not knowing that with every piece of chocolate she eats, she will be brought back to a specific moment of her past — helping her to look at herself honestly, learn to love her body the way it is, and accepting love. Perhaps, she will even realize that her long lost high school best friend, Elliot, was more than just a friend…

As soon as I read the synopsis of this one I knew it was something I wanted to pick up, but also that it was going to be very hard hitting. It follows Mindy, who has a very hard time with her self image, as she takes a look back at her past and the things that shaped her.

Major trigger warnings for body dysmorphia, bulimia, low self esteem, depression and slight fat shaming. While these can be hard to read about, especially for someone who relates to the main character, they are very important topics that should be talked about more. The artwork style is bright and pops with color in all the right places. Mindy’s journey is definitely multi-faceted and I love the touch of magical whimsy included in this story.

Happy reading!

My Favorite Books of 2020…so far

Somehow the first quarter of 2020 has passed us by and I know a lot of us (myself included) are having a rough time, so I thought that today I would talk about a few of my favorite books of 2020 so far. I wholeheartedly recommend picking up each of these books and they are definitely in the running for my top books of the year!

First I have to mention Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith. This one took my completely by surprise but I LOVED it. It tackles so many issues that are relevant in the gaming and streaming community, as well as in society in general. The friendships and relationships that Smith crafted were wonderful and there were so many beautifully crafted scenes in this book. I can guarantee this is going to be on my top books of the year as I don’t see many books being able to top it.

Next let’s talk about Poems to See By. This one was really interesting as it was comics created to accompany classic poems. Each comic is a different style that goes along with the subject matter or tone of the poems. While I knew a lot of the poems included already, this would be a great way for someone to be introduced to the poems themselves. It gives a new avenue for people to be exposed classic poetry with beautiful imagery.

Another poetry collection that I have absolutely loved this year was the latest installment from Amanda Lovelace, Break Your Glass Slippers. I’ve read most of her poetry collections and enjoyed them all to different degrees, but Break Your Glass Slippers was by far the best in my opinion. It shares themes with her other works, but this one really spoke to me. It’s definitely going to take a lot for her to top this one in my opinion.

Finally let’s talk about the book that was easily my most anticipated book of the year, Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa. This was the conclusion to the Shadow of the Fox trilogy. I knew this one was likely going to wreck me and oh boy, it did. It was an amazing conclusion to the trilogy even though it destroyed me. If you’re looking for a trilogy that reads like an anime and is a thrilling adventure, definitely check these out.

Do any of these sound good to you? If so, I’ve made sure to link to the amazon pages for each one. Check them out and see if they are new favorites for you too.

Happy reading!

Review: Lost Beast, Found Friend

Keelee is a brave, young girl who discovers a purple, fuzzy, funny beast! Together the two must make their way across this fantastic land to return Beast to his home. This is a touching tale of friendship and fun that children will want to revisit again and again. The children’s book is the debut of painter Nick Kennedy and comics writer Josh Trujillo (Dodge City). Lost Beast, Found Friend transports readers to a lush, tropical world, and Kennedy’s unique style gives Keelee and her new friend a vivid fantasy world to play in. This book will stick with readers of all ages long after story-time is over. Lost Beast, Found Friend is a charming and vibrant adventure story for the explorer in all of us!

This is an adorable little children’s book that is a quick and colorful story about friendship. I absolutely loved it even though it is short and sweet. Not only is it a story about friendship, but has a touch about not judging based on appearances and found friends/family. The artwork is fun, colorful and dynamic.

This is a great story for children, especially those that may feel different or want to understand about making friends. It has a very sweet message as well as some humor.

Lost Beast, Found Friend comes out June 9th from Oni Press, so be sure to pick up a copy for your little ones!

Review: Forgotten Ones – Drabbles of Myth and Legend

For as long as men have lived, myths and legends have permeated cultures across the globe. But for every known monster, are there creatures of lore, gods of fable, and rituals of old that have been forgotten by time?

Delve into the darkness that came before and witness over 100 short drabbles resurrect the ancient world in 100 words or less.

Featuring award-winning horror and fiction authors from around the world, we dare you to remember the fear of the unknown and to dive headfirst into the beyond.

Within these pages the old gods have awoken and with them, chaos will reign again.

I thought the concept of this collection was really interesting, as I’d never heard of a collection of drabbles (100 word stories) before. It may not be the best format for me as there were so many of these that I was sucked into and left wanting more. For me I’m not sure if I can be satisfied with only 100 words. Still it was a great way to get acquainted with a number of different authors and their writing styles.

There were so many of these that were written beautiful and had a great punchline, but there were also some that just didn’t do it for me, which is something you can see with any collection. Still, I did enjoy the stories but I’m not sure if drabbles are something I’m going to read a lot in the future as I feel like I will always want more in some way.

Happy reading!

Excerpt: Secret Investigation by Elizabeth Helter

A new miniseries from Harlequin Intrigue. Welcome to the Tactical Crime Division, a rapid-deployment joint team of FBI agents specializing in hostage negotiation, missing persons, IT, profiling, shootings and terrorism, with Director Jill Pembrook at the head.

Today I’m featuring an excerpt from book 2 in the Tactical Crime Division mini-series, Secret Investigation. Enjoy!

In the wake of a tragedy, the Tactical Crime Division is the first call. When ironclad body armor inexplicably fails and soldiers perish, the Tactical Crime Division jumps into action. Agent and former ranger Davis Rogers asks to go undercover to find the traitor responsible for the death of one of his friends, and Petrov Armor CEO Leila Petrov is happy to provide access to her company…especially once she discovers she’s being framed. But will their joint efforts be enough to uncover the truth?

***

As in the Bureau, dying in the field was a possibility you accepted. You did whatever you could to prevent it, but if it happened, you knew you’d be going out doing something you believed in. But not like this. Not the way Jessica had died, trusting the military, trusting her training, trusting her equipment.

“I want to take the lead on this case,” Davis blurted. Gazes darted to him: from profiler Dr. Melinda Larsen, silently assessing, suspicion in her eyes, as if she somehow knew he had a history with one of the victims. Always buttoned-up Laura Smith was quiet and unreadable, but her Ivy League brain was probably processing every nuance of his words. JC, staring at him with understanding, even though he didn’t realize Davis knew Jessica personally. No one on the team did. “Is your personal investment in this case going to be a hindrance or a help?” Pembrook asked, voice and gaze steady.

Davis’s spine stiffened even more. She was talking about his army background. She had to be. But if she thought he was going to fidget, she underestimated the hell he’d gone through training to be a ranger for the army. “A help. I’m familiar with how the army works. And I’m familiar with the product. I’ve worn Petrov Armor vests.”

Petrov Armor had supplied the body armor Jessica and her team had been wearing during the ambush. That armor—supposedly the newest and best technology—had failed spectacularly, resulting in the deaths of all but three of the soldiers and one of the locals. In his mind it wasn’t the insurgents who had killed Jessica and her team. It was Petrov Armor.

He didn’t mention the rest. He’d more than just worn the vests. He’d had a chance to be an early tester of their body armor, back when he was an elite ranger and Petrov Armor was better known for the pistols they made than their armor. He’d given the thumbs-up, raving about the vest’s bullet-stopping power and comfort in his report. He’d given the army an enthusiastic endorsement to start using Petrov Armor’s products more broadly. And they had.

“I’m not talking about the armor,” Pembrook replied, her gaze still laser-locked on his, even as agent-at-large Kane Bradshaw slipped into the meeting late and leaned against the doorway. “I’m talking about Jessica Carpenter.” Her voice softened. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

The gazes on him seemed to intensify, but Davis didn’t shift his from Pembrook’s. “Thank you. And no, it won’t affect my judgment in the case.”

Pembrook nodded, but he wasn’t sure if she believed him as she looked back at the rest of the group and continued her briefing. “Petrov Armor won a big contract with the military five years ago. The armor this team was wearing is their latest and greatest. It’s not worn widely yet, but their earlier version armor is commonly used. The military is doing a full round of testing across all their branches. They’ve never had a problem with Petrov Armor before, and they don’t intend to have another.

“Meanwhile, they’ve asked us to investigate at home. We got lucky with the news coverage. We’re still not sure how it was leaked, but not all of it got out. Or if it did, the news station only played a small part. And somehow they don’t have the name of the body armor supplier. Not yet,” she said emphatically. “Rowan, we don’t have to worry about PD this time. I’m putting you on the media. Hendrick can lend computer support if you need it.”

Rowan Cooper nodded, looking a little paler than usual, but sitting straighter.

***

Buy Links: Goodreads Amazon Barnes & Noble Google IndieBound Harlequin.com

Publishers Weekly bestselling and award-winning author ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists and a little romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages. Visit her at www.elizabethheiter.com.

Review: Happily Ever After & Everything In Between

From the bestselling author of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and Book Love comes a funny and adorable collection of comics about married life, specifically an introvert married to an extrovert! Debbie Tung’s tender, funny, and utterly relatable comics are the perfect gift for anyone in a relationship.

The comics in Happily Ever After & Everything In Between may be inspired by Debbie Tung’s marriage to her extrovert husband, but any couple can relate to increasingly relaxed anniversaries, slowly seeing more of each other’s weird sides, or the punishment for taking care of your sick loved one (catching whatever they had). Happily Ever After humorously captures what everyday love looks like—both the sweet moments and the mundane—making it a fitting gift for weddings, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day.

As soon as I saw Debbie Tung had a new collection coming out I had to get my hands on it. I’ve read her two previous books and loved them and this one was no different. This one deals with married life and how she and her husband interact with each other as well as the outside world. It is super relatable and perfectly illustrates how relationships can be when you’ve found your person.

Debbie Tung is great at portraying what it’s like to live with anxiety and being an introvert – and how it is to have someone in your life who gets you. Her signature art style is great for her slice of life comics. This one is definitely a great addition to her collection of books.

Happy reading!