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Secret Shame

I explained to her once
how sometimes I feel
I’m the shoreline

just longing for the ocean
to come kiss me goodnight,

when she did not run away
I knew I felt something for her,

when I admitted to her
how I hold death like a prayer
in between my palms

she quietly whispered how she did too,
and it almost felt like we were one;

her sadness has a home inside of me
and even though she often
holds back her laughter
I know it is what’s lighting my soul-

this emptiness has become too much to bear on most days

but she always reminds me
I’m never alone

she once told me
her soul looked like a well

with no water waiting at the bottom-
just emptiness

how her voice
gets lost in there,

suddenly my whole life made sense.

I convince myself
the sky is calling me home

she asks me
if I want to build a house
out of the clouds,

she asks me why
I won’t call her by her name

why I won’t introduce her to my family;

she wants to know if I love her,

and I do.

I love her like you’re supposed
to love yourself

except loving yourself
isn’t that easy,

I still refer to her
as a separate person

even though she is a part of me

I still refer to her as her
instead of by what she really is;

but depression will do that to you,

she will move into
the dark house of your bones

she will tell you
there is not enough room
for all of this shame and sadness

she will leave you longing
for the girl you never quite were

as you struggle to create space
for her to live comfortably-

she moved into my heart last week,

as she carved her initials into my soul
I knew her and anxiety would get along just fine

I always feel them dancing in my rib cage,
running up and down the stairs of my chest

and not a day goes by where
they don’t hold a party in my brain,

she and anxiety have become
a powerhouse couple
who use my body as their refuge,

every day I drown in the well
of her secrets

as the blood of her shame
washes over me once again.

The Road Home

Sometimes, it feels the more something happens- the less it should bother you; the more it happens- the less it should intrude in your dreams- make it so every time you close your eyes- all you see are nightmares; all you see is the stuff you never want to talk about; the pain starts somewhere deep in my body; it travels slowly- making sure to hit every surface; there are so many days- my whole world exists in this one single room; these walls become a confidant and an enemy; the sheets entangle me in all of the secrets they hold; this pain will always live in these walls- in this room; I can never seem to run far enough away- the truth will always follow me no matter what; I wear a key with the word strength engraved on it around my neck every day- in hopes I will one day feel the strength to build a house out of my bones; I hope to feel the strength bloom inside of me; I hope one day they will be able to see this strength; maybe then- they will no longer be able to hurt me; one day- I am hopefully going to look back on these moments- and see the strength was always with me- even when I did not feel it; this loneliness right now- is a boat stranded in the middle of the sea; it is the light at the end of a desolate road; but one day- this strength will be what is lighting that road; that road- some days I can see it so clearly; I am slowly working on building that road; that road is somewhere far far away; that road is home; and I am aiming straight for it.

My Body

I watch you make decisions about my body; we all watch them making decisions about our bodies; waiting until we leave the room; building mountains no body wants behind closed doors; what is the sense in a future- when your whole future could be decided by others; the night I was raped- my first thought was hoping he did not make me pregnant; he took my body from me and in an instant he could have left me in charge of another life; a life where I would be blamed if I did not see it through; he took everything from me- but in that moment I could have easily become the monster; I could have become the one who did something wrong; the one who will one day end up in prison longer than he ever will; I learned long ago to hide my body; because even when they are the ones who did something wrong; the blame will always be placed on my back; after they burn us- they will ask us where the scars came from; they will tell us we need to hide them; I have been hiding my whole life; sometimes- I get tired of always hiding; always being afraid of what is around the corner; the problem is- I have never learned how to not hide; the decisions about my body have always been made for me; I want to create a home out of my body; make it a home that does not belong to anyone else; build a home I am not afraid of; I learned long ago to not fight back; if I were to accidentally hurt the person who was was hurting me- most likely I would be the one in trouble; the system has always been built against women; the system has always been built in favor of white men; I watch you make decisions about my body; I want to fight these decisions- but there are so many days where I am just too tired; there are days where the system has been stacked against me so much- I do not even know how to begin fighting it; there are days where I am okay with hiding; but I will never stop fighting- in any way I can; I hope one day I will get my body back; I hope so many others will too; I hope the mountains will shrink; even if only a little bit; I watch you make decisions about my body; we all watch them making decisions about our bodies; yet we will continue to fight for our right to choose.

Who I Am

I am not quite sure who I am; I think I lost myself the second he touched me; I leave pieces of who I want to be- who I think I could have been- scattered around me; when they ask me- if this is why I am so quiet- I pretend not to be offended; I do not think that being quiet is the worst thing to come out of this; the thing I am learning about shame- is that it is something you do not feel- until other people tell you that you are supposed to; the therapist tells me I need to start talking more- when I ask her why- she replies with- don’t you want to be happy?- I cannot remember telling her that I was not; I never understood why me being quiet bothers others so much- why they think this is the root of all of my sadness; why everyone wants to fix me so badly- without even asking me if I want to be fixed; I do not need to be fixed; this is not something I blame him for; he did not do this too me; this is just who I am; it feels like everyone wants my shyness to be something inherited from the trauma- if it was inherited than I can work on changing it; somehow- even with being quiet- I have always been too much; the way it has always been too easy to be too much; I picture myself in another life; one where none of the bad things have happened; one where I never met him; when I picture this life- I hope I am still quiet; I hope I still get to be the one part of me I always knew I was supposed to be; I hope I get to still be the one part of me that was never altered by him- the one part of me that had nothing to do with him.

The Weight of Pain

I have tried to send this part of me away- so I will never have to feel the weight of your disappointment tearing into my back; I thought if I was able to disappear- it might make you love me; this ghost floats through my body- floats through every room I walk into; I am sorry I am filled with the wrong kind of love- the second I came out I knew I would be spending the rest of my life chasing your forgiveness; I do not think there is anything more painful than having to live a life where you never get to be who you truly are; I never wanted this sadness to build a house out of my body- to call my bones its refuge; I never wanted to be gay in a world where to be anything different is to ask for a death sentence; whether it be by my own hands that end it- or someone else’s; I beg my limbs for forgiveness- tell them I need someone else to help me carry the weight of all of this pain; I have never known a sadness to be so heavy; I have never known a love to be so light.

I Want You to Love Me

While lying in bed at night I see your face and wonder how deep the darkness lives; the pain goes through to my bones, a constant reminder of where you once were; I wonder, does the moon envy the sun for their brightness, I hope she knows her light is just as powerful; I know you understand the shame more than I understand it myself- you are the reason for it even being alive in the first place- I confess all of my sins to you, even though I don’t really believe they are sins, but I know you do- and I will do anything you want me to; just so I can feel your love; I will do anything you say because I want you to love me- you believe my scars are disgusting- I know this because of the way you look at them; because of the way you look at me- I agree with you; but I do not know if I love you or not; but I want you to love me; so I believe every word you say.

Book Review: When We Were Innocent

I have recently been loving World War II historical fiction books. I used to always try to stray away from them because they could never keep my attention, but lately I have a new appreciation for them. When We Were Innocent by Kate Hewitt was so interesting because it was historical fiction mixed with contemporary fiction. I loved that the book went back and forth between present and past. It flowed well and I simply could not put the book down.

Libby Trent has spent her life working hard and building a life she is proud of. She lives in Virginia with her husband, her two kids, and her father has moved in with them as well. But one day her world turns upside down when a government official shows up at her doorstep and tells her that her father is not who he says he is. He tells her that her father is actually a Nazi War Criminal who escaped Germany at the end of the war and he has stolen someone else’s identity. Now Libby has a choice to help them bring a case against her father, or, to try and protect him at all costs.

Right from the beginning the story had me hooked. I just wanted to know everything and I could not stop reading. All of the characters were interesting and complex. It felt unlike anything else I have ever read. The book also portrayed that sometimes things aren’t always just black and white or either right or wrong. Sometimes there is a middle ground and it is okay if there is.

I rated this book 3.5/5 stars. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. I believe a wide variety of readers would enjoy the book. Personally contemporary fiction is one of my favorite genres so I loved that it was a huge component of the book mixed in with some historical fiction.

Hotline

I practice saying: I forgive you- in the mirror over and over again; I do not really want to forgive him for everything he did to me- nor do I really have to forgive him; but sometimes forgiveness helps with survival; sometimes it is the only thing that will keep your heart beating; I imagine what it would be like to not be a victim; I question if I am even a victim at all; I talk to the moon in the darkness of the night; lay all of my secrets bare for her; the world is falling apart around me; I feel it falling apart within me as well; I dial the number to the rape hotline- hang up after the first ring; how can I describe to someone else what I am feeling- when I am not even sure what I am feeling myself; I dial again- hang up on the second ring- because I know they will ask me the question I dread the most; the question every single therapist and counselor I have ever spoken to has asked me; the question that always brings the conversation to a halt; the question that almost always makes me want to hang up; the question- what can I do for you in this moment- is there anything I can do right now to help; the simple answer is- I do not know; I do not know what I need- or what I want- or how to live one more second in a mind that seems so determined to hurt me; I do not know how to get to safety- or where it lives- or how long it will take to get there; I look down at the number once more; hover my finger above it for another few seconds; turn off the phone; look up at the moon- beg her to please watch over me tonight; I whisper- I forgive you- over and over again; as I will sleep to come save me; I am not sure if I am begging for forgiveness for myself; or if I am still trying to forgive him.

Book Review: Into the Water

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins was not the best thriller I ever read, but I still really enjoyed it. It kept me guessing the entire time, I found the plot to be interesting, and the characters were well written. I also loved the older stories that were mixed in with what was currently happening.

One day a single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a teenage girl had met the same fate. Unfortunately, these are not the first women who have been lost to this water. These deaths disturb the river and bring up history and secrets that have been submerged for a long time.

I love a good thriller and this one did not disappoint. Throughout the entire novel I kept second guessing things and trying to figure it out myself, but I was unable to. Right when I felt I had it figured out something else would happen. I also loved that the story was told from multiple points of view. I enjoy hearing things from everyone’s perspective because it always adds another layer to the story.

I gave this book 3.5/5 stars. I would highly recommend it if you have not read it yet. It had a lot of strong characters, the plot was well thought out, and the overall writing was very good and was able to keep my attention. I found it to be a good summer read.

Book Review: The Scarlet Dress

The Scarlet Dress by Louise Douglas honestly surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. For some reason I was just not really anticipating much going into it, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it. It even made me go on and read more books by Louise Douglas.

Twenty five years ago, Alice Lang was wearing her favorite scarlet dress when she disappeared. It was the summer of 1995, Alice Lang was 22, and she rented a caravan on a holiday park on the outskirts of the holiday resort, Severn Sands. Alice befriended Marnie, who was a shy little girl, whose father is the parks caretaker, and her mother died a few months earlier. Will, whose mother runs the bar in Severn Sands, ends up falling in love with Alice, and becomes jealous of anyone else she is with. Tensions begin to rise and one evening Alice disappears from her caravan. She is never seen again. Only her scarlet dress is found when it washes up on the shore. Now, it is many years later and Alice’s body has been found.They must now string together secrets of the past to find out what happened to Alice.

This book was so interesting to me for some reason. There was just something about it that hooked me in right from the beginning. I enjoyed all of the characters, I felt like the writing was really strong, and I loved the way the story developed. I was invested from the beginning and that does not always happen in a book. It was not only about what happened to Alice, but also about the lives of all the other people living in the holiday park, which I really enjoyed.

I gave this book 4/5 stars. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has not read it. It is also included on Kindle Unlimited, which is a plus. I am so glad I decided to read it. The cover instantly drew me in and made me want to see what the book was about. I look forward to reading even more of Louise Douglas’ novels.

Book Review: Too Late

I don’t even really know where to begin with Too Late by Colleen Hoover. After reading a lot of books by her I have discovered that her novels are always a hit or miss for me, and this one was a complete miss. I considered not even finishing it multiple times, but there was a part of me that was just curious enough to keep to going so I could find out what was going to happen.

Sloan is the type of person who will do anything for the people she loves. Every day she goes through hell with her boyfriend, Asa Jackson. He is dangerous and morally corrupt. Sloan continues to do whatever she can to make it through, until she is able to find a way out. But then one day Carter shows up, and he changes everything for Sloan. To Asa, Sloan is the best thing to ever happen to him, and he will not let anyone or anything, take her away from him. Asa does everything he can to stay one step ahead in business and one step ahead of Sloan and he will not let anything get in his way, including Carter.

The first thing I want to add, is a warning for domestic violence, and sexual assault. That is a huge proponent of this novel, and I wish I would have seen a warning before I started reading this book. This was quite possibly the worst book I have ever read. I have read quite a few of Colleen Hoover’s novels, so I know she is a good author and that I have enjoyed her books in the past, so this is not anything against her. This book was just not good. First off, there were super graphic sex scenes, which I would actually call rape scenes, and I felt like that didn’t need to be there. I am not a prude, or morally objected to sex in books, but this just took it too far, in my opinion. Secondly, the writing just seemed all over the place to me and the characters didn’t seem fully thought out. One of my biggest problems with this novel though, is I don’t believe this is the type of book, that people who have been though domestic violence or sexual assault, want out there to portray what those relationships are like. It almost seemed like it was mocking domestic violence, abuse, and sexual assault in a way. It just didn’t sit right with me.

I gave this book 1/5 stars. I would give it less if possible. Obviously, I had a lot of issues with it and I wish the novel would have been thought out a little bit better. I wouldn’t recommend this book. I don’t think it is worth it and Colleen Hoover has much better books out there and I don’t think anyone needs to waste their time with this one.

May Reading Wrap-Up

It is officially June, so this post is dedicated to all of the books I read in May. Unfortunately, I did not read that many books. For whatever reason I was just having a hard time getting into reading last month. I have high hopes for June though! In May I read 7 books. I really enjoyed all 7. I don’t think I disliked any of them. The 7 books I read in May were:

  1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  2. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
  3. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  4. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  5. The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James
  6. The Scarlet Dress by Louise Douglas
  7. Circle of Doubt by Tracy Buchanan

Of these 7 books my favorite was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. That is shortly followed by Anne of Green Gables though because that is a classic. I have the box set of the Anne of Green Gables series and I haven’t read them since I was younger, so I decided to work my way through it and am currently reading the third one now. I would also highly recommend The Book of Cold Cases this was my second book of Simone St. James and I cannot wait to read more stuff by her.

I wouldn’t categorize any of the books I read this month as not worth it, or say any of them were not for me. I enjoyed all of them. My least favorite would have to be Circle of Doubt by Tracy Buchanan, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend all of the books on this list. I really look forward to seeing what I will read in June. So far this year I have read 46 books!

Book Review: Everything We Didn’t Say

Everything We Didn’t say by Nicole Baart was a fantastic thriller mixed with family drama. This novel sucked me in and kept me guessing throughout. I couldn’t wait to get to the end to see what was going to happen. I love a good thriller, but find that often times they don’t live up to my expectations, but this one did.

Juniper Baker had just graduated high school and was involved in a summer romance when Cal and Beth Murphy, a couple living on the neighboring farm, were brutally murdered. When Juniper’s younger brother became the prime suspect, her whole world collapsed. The fun of that summer disappeared in an instant. Juniper left and promised herself she would never return to Jericho, Iowa. Now though, she is back in town to help an ill friend manage the local library. Juniper really returned though because she wants to repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, who has been raised by Juniper’s mother and stepfather since her birth. Juniper also wants to solve the infamous Murphy murder and clear her brothers name once and for all.

This book was so good. I could not put it down. I felt the characters were well written, the plot kept me interested throughout the whole book, and it was able to keep me guessing up until the end. This was another one of those books where I just randomly picked it for my Book of the Month box and I am so glad that I did.

I gave this book 4/5 stars. I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy thrillers. I wish I could read this book again for the first time. I really want to read more books exactly like this. Because I read so much, sometimes I find it hard to keep interested in certain novels and plots, but this one was different and was a refreshing read for me. If you have not read this novel yet, definitely add it to your TBR!

Book Review: No Time to Say Goodbye

At this point I have read a few books by Kate Hewitt and No Time to Say Goodbye was not my favorite, but I still enjoyed it. I think Kate Hewitt does a good job of writing about real life experiences. With her books I tend to get drawn in and almost forget that I am even reading.

Nathan West loved and adored his wife Laura. But now Laura is gone. She was killed in what seems to be a random act of violence. Laura is what held the family together and now Nathan feels life without her is meaningless. Nathan is trying to hold the family together without Laura. He is trying to help his three young daughters as best he can while they all move through the grief in different ways. Nathan ends up turning to Maria, a friend of Laura’s. Maria is helping Nathan see how Laura really felt about him and things at home. Nathan doesn’t really know if he can trust Maria and Maria is holding something back from Nathan. This secret Maria is holding has the power to completely destroy the friendship the two of them have built.

Like I said earlier, this book was not my favorite, but I still was able to enjoy it. It had a very real life feel to it which I really liked and that always makes me appreciate a novel more. I think the characters were well written and sympathetic. I also enjoyed the growth of the characters throughout the novel.

I gave this book 3/5 stars. Not my favorite, but still enjoyable. I would recommend it if you enjoy contemporary fiction. I would also recommend Kate Hewitt overall if you enjoy contemporary fiction. Her historical fiction romance novels are also good, from the ones I have read so far. I look forward to reading more of her novels in the future.

Book Review: The Woman in Cabin 10

I have heard a lot about The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware so I had to read it to see what everyone was talking about. While I liked it, it was not my favorite. It was a pretty decent thriller, but not the best one I ever read. I would still probably recommend it though, but I would just say don’t have too high of expectations.

Lo Blacklock is a journalist who writes for a travel magazine. She has just been given the assignment of a lifetime. She will be on a luxury cruise for a week that has only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s trip is perfect, but as the week goes on things begin to change. One night Lo witnesses something terrible: a woman being thrown overboard. Yet, all the passengers are accounted for, so the ship continues to sail as if nothing has happened. Lo keeps trying to tell anyone who will listen that something has gone terribly wrong and they need to stop the ship.

This is one of those books where as soon as I read what it was about I was excited to read it. Books like this usually hook me in right away. This one did hook me in, but at some points I got a little bit annoyed with the main character, which could make it difficult to read at times. I just felt like at times it was too much and the same things were being repeated over and over again.

I gave this book 3/5 stars. Not my favorite, but also not my least favorite. It was just lacking something for me and I can’t quite figure out what that is though. I thought Lo was a pretty well written character, I just got annoyed by her at times, but I’m not exactly sure why. I think this book is good and I didn’t find it to be a waste of time there was just something missing for me.

Book Review: The Family Upstairs

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell was interesting. I was very confused when I first read what the book was about, so I am going to do my best to describe what it was about, but be warned, you may be just as confused as I was. It wasn’t until I started reading it that everything came together and began to make sense. Overall, I would say it was a pretty strong novel. Not my favorite, but still a good book.

On her 25th birthday, Libby Jones, receives a letter that she has been patiently waiting for her whole life. Through this letter she learns the identity of her birth parents and she also learns that she has now inherited their abandoned mansion that is worth millions. Twenty five years ago the police were called to this mansion with reports of a baby crying. When the police arrived they found three adults dead downstairs in the kitchen, but the baby was alive and well upstairs in her crib. Four other children were reported to live there, but they have never been found. Now Libby is learning about her past and trying to find where the four other children have gone.

This book was kind of confusing, but once I started reading it it began to make a lot more sense. I have read quite a few books by Lisa Jewell and I have to say she’s not my favorite author, but I do enjoy her novels. I was trying so hard to figure everything out that this ended up being a super quick read. If you are looking for something easy to read or a nice thriller I would definitely recommend this book.

I gave this book 3/5 stars. It was definitely interesting, just not my favorite book I have ever read. I would still recommend it though. If you like thrillers I would also recommend checking out Lisa Jewell’s other novels.

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

I absolutely loved The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It took me about a day to read because I just could not put it down. I can’t believe it took me this long to read. If you have not read it yet I highly recommend it.

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs. He believes he is smarter and has nearly a human soul. He educates himself by watching TV and listening to Denny Swift, his master. On the eve of his death, Enzo recalls his life. He tells the story of family, love, loyalty, and hope.

I love that this book was told from a dogs perspective. As an adult, we don’t really get a lot of books told from an animals point of view. Obviously, this book made me sob. You know from the description that Enzo is going to die, but it still got me at the end. I actually had to stop reading for a bit because I was crying so hard I could not see the page clearly enough to read. Overall though, this book was one of a kind and was written really well. It did a great job at depicting life, but from a dogs perspective.

I gave this book 4.5/5 stars. I would highly recommend this book. I think every single person can get something out of it and also enjoy it. Just be prepared and have your tissues ready because you are going to need them!

Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

I pretty much cried my way through Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. I think I started crying on page one and didn’t stop until the very last page. Even then I think I cried for like an hour after I finished it. I think this may be the best book I have read so far this year and I would not hesitate to read it again.

No one has ever told Eleanor Oliphant that life should be better than fine. Eleanor Oliphant struggles with appropriate social skills and most of the time will just say exactly what she is thinking. Everything in her life is scheduled and each day, each week, is practically the same. Everything changes for Eleanor though when she meets Raymond. Raymond is the IT guy from her office and together they save an elderly man who had fallen. The three of them seem to rescue each other from their lonely isolated lives. Raymond’s big heart shows Eleanor that that there is more to life and he helps her to get help for all of trauma and hardships from her past. Eleanor learns from Raymond that she is capable of finding friendship and love.

This book broke me, but in a good way. Eleanor was a wonderfully written character. Throughout the novel I found that I related to Eleanor in so many ways. Which in some ways, made the book harder to read, but I also believe it made it easier to read. This book did a great job of balancing humor and trauma. I found myself actually laughing out loud at some parts of it, while simultaneously crying, because I really don’t think I stopped crying from page one of this book. I think so many people could gain something from reading this novel.

I gave this book 5/5 stars. I can’t say enough good things about it. It was just beautifully written. It was charming, heartbreaking, humorous, and overall a very important story. I think everyone could learn something from Eleanor Oliphant. I would honestly read this book over and over again. If you have not read this yet, I highly recommend that you do. I cannot say enough good things about this novel.

Book Review: The Liar’s Daughter

The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson was so good. I could not put this book down. As soon as I read the description I was hooked. I love a book that centers around a cult because I find them to be absolutely fascinating.

Seventeen year old Piper was raised in a cult. Piper doesn’t know this though. All she knows is that Father is a prophet. He is the chosen one. She also knows she would do anything for him. She knows that he knows best. Until one day, when the government raids the compound and takes her away from Father and Mother and her siblings. She is now living with a woman who they claim is her real mother. They claim Father stole her from her. Piper doesn’t believe it though, and she is planning her escape.

This book was super interesting. For anyone who has never been controlled by other people I think this concept can be hard to wrap your mind around, but Piper was in this everyday so of course she was going to believe everything Father said. She was brainwashed for so long all of her earlier memories were wiped out. I loved how the characters were written. Especially Piper. It was really interesting watching her character growth throughout the novel.

I gave this book 3.5/5 stars. I would highly recommend this book. Especially if you have an interest in cults. Also if you enjoy mystery and young adult novels I think you would enjoy this book. I randomly found this book on Amazon and decided to order it and I am so glad that I did. It was not the best book I ever read, but I really enjoyed it.

Book Review: The Woman in the Window

I could not put down The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. It wasn’t the best book that I ever read, but there was just something about it that kept me hooked in from the beginning and I could not stop reading it. It was the exact type of thriller I needed to read.

Anna Fox lives in New York City and is a recluse. Living alone she spends her days, drinking wine, watching old movies, thinking about her past and happier times, and also spying on her neighbors. When the Russels move into the house across the street, a father, mother, and teenage son, they appear to be the perfect family. But one night when Anna is looking out her window, she sees something she shouldn’t and her whole world begins to crumble and secrets begin to come to the surface.

This whole book kept me guessing. At times I even felt as if I was going crazy. I really enjoyed that you could not figure out whether or not Anna was a reliable character and witness. All of the characters were very mysterious and the whole time I was just trying to figure out who was actually reliable. I just could not put this book down for some reason.

Overall, I gave this book 3.5/5 stars. It was not the best thriller I ever read, but clearly I enjoyed it and there was something about it that just made it feel different from other thrillers. I have been really happy with the books I have read so far this year. This year might be my best reading year and I look forward to seeing what other great books I read throughout 2022.

Book Review: Burned

Burned by Ellen Hopkins is a novel that is written completely in verse. It was a very interesting read and I look forward to reading the sequel Smoke in the future. Ellen Hopkins has a way of writing that instantly pulls the reader in.

Pattyn Von Stratten is different than most teenage girls. She is being raised in an extremely religious, but abusive, family. Pattyn is beginning to question things and when she starts questioning things, her father does not approve. Pattyn begins questiong god, a woman’s role, sex, love, and she can’t stop thinking about love. She wants to know what it is, where is it, and most importantly, will she ever be able to experience it? She is not even sure she is deserving of it. These questions could be the first steps toward hell and eternal damnation. Pattyn’s father catches her in a compromising position and things begin to spin out of control and Pattyn ends up suspended from school and is sent to live with an aunt she does not know. When she moves in with her aunt for the first time in her life she finds love and acceptance.

From the beginning of this book I couldn’t stop reading. There was something about it that just instantly pulled me in and made me want to keep reading. I think Pattyn was a really well written character. I think this book can also help people understand everyone better. In Pattyn’s community she was made out to seem like she was rebellious, and uncaring, when in fact she was the complete opposite.

I gave this book 3.5/4 stars. I would definitely recommend this book. With it being written in verse it had an extra element to it that made it that much more interesting. The characters were strong, the plot was complicated and riveting. The whole novel just kept me hooked until the very end. If you have never read any of Ellen Hopkins books I would definitely recommend them!

Book Review: Appalachian Daughter

I read Appalachian Daughter by Mary Jane Salyers last month and I highly recommend the book. It was a short, fast, interesting read. I happened upon it randomly on Kindle Unlimited and I am so glad I decided to read it.

Maggie Campbell lives on a farm in Campbell Hollow, a narrow mountain valley in East Tennessee. Maggie Martin is the oldest of eight children and her family struggles to make ends meet. At the end of eighth grade Maggie begins to dream of a different life. She wants to escape her hometown one day and make her own way in life. While working hard throughout high school Maggie continues to help her family out. Her mother, Corie May, is extremely strict and Maggie strives to fit in at high school, with all of Corie May’s rules. She turns to find support in her father, Ray, who is much more easy going than Corie May. This novel follows Maggie through high school as she tries to find herself while also trying to be the person her mother wants her to be.

This novel was really interesting to me and a very good story. I liked that it was a coming of age novel, but it started with Maggie in eighth grade and the book ended when she graduated high school. When you are in high school it feels so important at the time and I liked that this novel was able to depict that. When you are at the age of 14-18 there is a lot of change and a lot of big decisions and I think people don’t take it seriously because they think kids of that age are too young to make decisions or understand what they want. Maggie was trying so hard to please her mom while also trying to figure out who she was. Even though this is a historical fiction novel, I think a lot of kids in high school today could relate to Maggie and I think this book is a good read for that age range.

I gave this book 3.5/5 stars. I thought it was well written, there were a lot of strong characters, and most of all, for me, it was very realistic and relatable. I would highly recommend this novel. It was short and really didn’t take me long to read at all. I think even if you don’t really enjoy historical fiction you would enjoy this novel!

Book Review: April Reading Wrap-Up

Now that it is officially a new month it is time for my April Reading wrap-up! This is one of my favorite posts each month because I love looking back at everything I have read the last month and it makes me more excited to see what I will read next. In April I read 12 books, which I am really happy about. I felt like I was lagging a little in February and March and I wanted to try to read more in April. The 12 books I red in April were:

  1. The Lake House by Kate Morton
  2. Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford
  3. The Kinfolk by Eliza Maxwell
  4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  5. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
  6. The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate
  7. All the Forgivenesses by Elizabeth Hardinger
  8. After She Left by Claire Amarti
  9. Appalachian Daughter by Mary Jane Salyers
  10. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  11. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
  12. The Liar’s Daughter by Megan Cooley Peterson

I really enjoyed every book that I read in April. There was not one book on this list that I wished I didn’t read. I would say this was probably my best reading month this year. I would recommend every single book on this list. My favorite book I read this month is probably Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford. I wrote a review on that book already so be sure to check that out!

My least favorite read this month was After She Left by Claire Amarti. I liked the concept of it, but I just wasn’t really feeling it. My review on that book is already up, so you can see more of my thoughts on that in the blog post. Overall though, I would highly recommend each book on this list. My goal is to read 15 books in May and I am looking forward to seeing what my favorites will be!

Book Review: After She Left

After She Left by Claire Amarti had a lot of potential, but overall I felt the writing was a bit too simple. It was a nice, easy, quick read, but there was just something lacking for me. There were choices that the characters made that just confused me at times and I don’t know exactly what it was, but there was just something missing for me.

Gillian’s sister, Abigail, is gone. On December 26th, Abigail walks out of her house, located in the suburbs of Westchester, New York. Only leaving behind a strange note on the kitchen table. She is also leaving behind her ten year old son, Sam. Abigail has always been a little bit unreliable, but she has not done anything like this since Sam was born ten years ago. Now Gillian has to take care of Sam, while also trying to figure out where her sister went and when she will be back. At this time though, Gillian is also dealing with issues at home with her husband. His behavior has been odd and he has been out late into the night. Gillian has to now face all of these issues head on and when she discovers why her sister left, the truth will upend her whole world.

I had a lot of hope with this novel. I really was into in the beginning and I was eager to find out the ending, but when the truth came out about where Abigail was, it honestly fell really flat for me. I felt like there was a lot of build up for nothing really. In some regards I understand it, but overall I was pretty disappointed with this book. I think it was an easy read that for the most part kept me entertained though. I just wish there had been more to the story.

Overall I gave this book 2.5/5 stars. It definitely was not my favorite, but by no means did I hate the book. Like I mentioned earlier, it just kind of fell flat for me and left me longing for something else, and not in the satisfying way. I would definitely read another book by Claire Amarti because I did enjoy the real life feel to it, it just was not my favorite book or something I would ever long to read again.

Book Review: All The Forgivenesses

I absolutely loved the novel All The Forgivenesses by Elizabeth Hardinger. It told the story of hardships, and trauma, and family, and addiction, and sacrifice, in such a beautiful way. All of the experiences of the main character were real and raw and the reader could feel the pain she was feeling.

On a farm in rural Kentcuky, 15 year old Albertina, also known as Bertie, Winslow has learned a lot from her mom, Polly. She knows how to take care of the house, cook, and most of the chores, but what she does not really know, is how to take care of children, how a mother should. When Polly is overtaken by an illness and dies, Bertie takes on the care of her four younger siblings. No matter how hard she tries though it is all just too much. Her father is also an alcoholic who is unreliable. Bertie makes the difficult decision to break up the family, in order for them all to survive and thrive. She sends the younger boys to live with one of her older brothers and she takes the girls. Bertie marries young and is grateful she found a husband willing to take on the care of her younger sisters. But Bertie quickly realizes marriage can’t fix everything, and it seems the grief and heartache from her past will always catch up with her.

Bertie was a very well written character. She was strong, but also vulnerable. The pain she experienced throughout the novel was palpable. Throughout a majority of the novel Bertie was only 15 and at times I would forget that because she had to take on so much. Lately I have been really loving historical fiction and coming of age novels, and this one did not disappoint. It was exactly what I needed.

I gave this book 4/5 stars. I would not hesitate to recommend it, especially if you like historical fiction and coming of age novels. This book was included with my kindle unlimited and I just randomly picked it one day and I am so glad that I did. The cover is what initially drew me in and from the beginning I could not stop reading it. I highly recommend this novel if you have not read it.

Book Review: The Book of Lost Friends

I cannot stop thinking about The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate. This novel was so good. It was beautifully written and left a lasting impact on me. It jumped between time periods which I loved, and all of the characters were strong and sympathetic.

Louisiana 1875, Hannie, Juneau Jane, and Lavinia are on a journey together heading for Texas. For Juneau Jane and Lavinia this journey is for an inheritance from their father, for Hannie, this journey is to find her family who she was separated from before the end of slavery. All Hannie wants to know, is if her family is still out there somewhere. Louisiana 1987, first year teacher, Benedetta Silva is working in a poor rural school. The town is not very welcoming of newcomers and Benny feels as if this is all too much. She doesn’t know how to reach her students, nor can she begin to comprehend their poverty-stricken lives. But amidst all of this, lies the history of three young women on a long ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything and help Benny finally be able to reach her students.

I found this novel to be so interesting and different. I loved that it jumped back and forth between time periods and that the characters mentioned in 1875 were being connected to the characters from 1987. I found that with it jumping back and forth between time periods, it made the book go faster because it almost felt like two different novels. This book also contained real letters from newspapers in 1875. These letters and articles were known as The Lost Friends where people would write letters looking for their family, whom they were separated from during slavery.

I gave this book 4.5/5 stars. I would highly recommend this novel. I have been on a bit of a historical fiction kick lately and this novel made me just want to keep reading historical fiction. I honestly kind of randomly bought this book and I am so glad that I did. It was a super fast read for me, but I was able to take away so much from it. If you are looking for a good historical fiction novel, I would not hesitate to recommend this book.

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

I feel like I am kind of late to the game with Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, but I am so glad I finally read it. I can’t believe it took me so long to read this book. This book is a story of survival, but that is not all. It is also a story of resiliency, heartbreak, trauma, and ultimately love.

For years, Kya Clark, has been dubbed as “The Marsh Girl” by the residents of Barkley Cove. Kya has lived her life in the marsh by herself, as her family has one by one abandoned her. When Chase Andrews, who is a popular town resident, is found dead, the community of Barkley Cove immediately turn to Kya as the culprit. Kya though, is not what everyone believes, she is smart, and gentle, and kind. She has the skills to live in solitude forever, but she discovers that she does not really want to be alone forever. Kya opens herself up to two young men from town who are both intrigued by her, but then the unthinkable happens.

This book holds a lot. It is a historical fiction, coming of age novel, while also being a murder mystery novel. On top of that, romance is also thrown in and plays a big part in this novel. This book beautifully written and Kya Clark is such a strong character. Her growth throughout the novel was just so well written. And I felt the ending of the novel was perfect. It didn’t leave me longing for more. I found I got everything I could have wanted out of this book.

I gave this book 4.5/5 stars. Like I mentioned earlier, I absolutely loved this novel and I am so glad I finally read it. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone. I think everyone could get something out of it and enjoy it.

Book Review: The Grave Tender

At this point I have read quite a few books by Eliza Maxwell and I have to say The Grave Tender may be one of my favorites by her. It was super dark and chilling, but also incredibly interesting, and I all of the characters were well written and different.

Hadley Dixon feels haunted by her childhood in East Texas. People say that Hadley’s mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but one night irreparable act by her mother, shatters Hadley’s life forever. The aftershock after that night will haunt Hadley throughout her life, but she also knows the secrets and lies had all started long before that night. Now it is years later and widowed and pregnant Hadley is returning to her childhood home. Things don’t feel the same as before with a local boy’s disappearance hanging in the air with no answers. The townspeople are still whispering about Hadley’s reclusive Uncle Eli, and Hadley’s grandmother and her father, who are everything to her, avoid all of her questions. Hadley needs to figure out if this is a safe space to raise her children, but all of these questions begin shining light on all of the lies that have been surrounding Hadley her whole life.

As mentioned earlier, this book was really dark, but it was so interesting and I could not stop reading it. I would add a trigger warning because this book does deal with sexual assault. Throughout the whole novel I didn’t know who to trust. From the first page I was hooked in and I think I read the book in about a day. Hadley was a really strong character and all of the characters were well written. Reading this novel made me want to just keep reading books by Eliza Maxwell.

I gave this book 4.5/5 stars. I could not put this book down and when it was over I wished that there was more. I wanted to keep reading about Hadley and her life. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book or any of Eliza Maxwell’s novels.

Book Review: Somebody’s Daughter

Somebody’s Daughter is a beautiful memoir by Ashley C. Ford. It was a quick read, but very powerful, and exquisitely written. I would not hesitate to read this book again, nor would I hesitate to recommend it.

Ashley’s father has been incarcerated for most of her life and for as long as she can remember she has put him on a pedestal. She only has vague memories of seeing him in person, but she feels like he is the only person who really truly understands her. She believes she understands him as well. She believes one day they will be reunited and she will finally feel complete. The problem with this though is that he is in prison, she has no idea when he will get out, and she also does not know what he did to end up in prison. Through her difficulties at home with her mother, dealing with the aftermath of being raped, and through puberty and poverty, Ashley kind of leans on the image of her father as a comfort and as encouragement. When Ashley finally finds out why her father is really in prison that is kind of where the story really begins for her.

For being a relatively short book there was a still a whole lot to unpack in this memoir. I honestly cannot stop thinking about it because there were things in it that I related to, other things I was able to learn from. One of the things I personally love about reading memoirs is I feel that you can learn a lot from them, but you also can find yourself in them as well and learn from that and also know that you are not alone. Even though your experience is unique to you it is also comforting to know someone else has gone through something similar and you are not alone even if it feels as if you are.

I gave this book 5/5 stars and like I mentioned earlier, I would not hesitate to recommend it. I honestly will probably read this book multiple times. I am so glad I picked this book in my Book of the Month box a couple of months ago.

Gaslighting

It was supposed to be some sort of an apology; it started out as an apology-but somewhere along the way it turned into a list of things that is wrong with me; the sink has been dripping throughout this entire conversation- the longer the conversation goes on- the louder the sink seems to drip; you are getting closer and closer to me; your breath is hot on my face- and I cannot pinpoint the exact smell- but I do not like it; I am staring at the wall behind you- it is not particularly interesting- but it is better than staring into your eyes; a flicker of flames seem to be dancing inside of them; in this moment your eyes hold so much hatred; I do not remember ever seeing love in your eyes; I am sure it was there at some point- but it must have been long ago; thunder is rolling in the distance as wind whips across the trees; I do not see a way out of whatever this is; I can feel my lip quivering; I berate myself in my head for showing even the slightest sign of weakness; like an animal- I know you can smell fear.