Book Review: The Family Upstairs

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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My Body: Maybe My Choice?

The world collectively goes to sleep- as my nightmares cast shadows on the walls; tonight- the same as so many other nights- I am completely alone; last night- I dyed a strip of my hair- hoping to reclaim a part of myself; tonight- I will dye another- hoping this tiny act of rebellion will help me claim my body back; it is funny- yet not funny at all- that the only thing separating me from him- are these streaks of blonde and blue throughout my hair; the only thing separating me from him- are my tattoos and my piercings; because in all of these- I had a choice; choice- the most important thing a human can have; while the world falls asleep- I will be planning out the next way I will be able to make a choice about my own body; I will watch as my nightmares play out in front of me; tomorrow- I will belong to no one and everyone.

Book Review: The Caretakers

The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell was a huge hit for me. Every novel I have read by Maxwell so far, I have loved. There is just something about them that makes me fall in love with the book right from the beginning. Even though there are clues that most of them are set in modern times, there is something about them that gives them an older, historical fiction type vibe.

Tessa Shepherd is a filmmaker who helped free a man who she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When he ends up killing again, Tessa’s reputation is destroyed and she is racked with guilt. To add on to the emotional turmoil, her mother also suddenly passes away and tension with her sister, Margot, begin to escalate. Tessa learns of a strange inheritance from her mother. An old, isolated estate known as Fallbrook. The mansion has been abandoned, except by two elderly sisters who are there as caretakers of the old home. The caretakers are also guarding a past full of secrets and mysteries.

I absolutely loved this book. I could not put it down. The characters were so interesting, the plot kept me guessing, and the author did a great job of describing everything so vividly. I almost felt like I was there. I could picture everything so clearly. I wish I could read this book again for the first time.

I gave this book 5/5 stars. I would love to read it again in the future, but I know I am going to lose that original feel of reading it for the first time, but I still think I will love it just as much. As mentioned earlier, I have enjoyed every single one of Maxwell’s novels I have read so far and I look forward to reading more.

Book Review: Bloodline

Bloodline by Jess Lourey was a very intriguing and different read. The whole time I was reading it I felt as if I was watching an episode of The Twilight Zone. I could not put this book down. Honestly, it was a little bit creepier than most books I read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This story is inspired by real events. Joan Harken is a pregnant journalist, who is excited, but also cautious, about moving back to her Fiance’s Minnesota hometown, Lilydale. Lilydale’s motto is: “Come Home Forever” and Joan feels it couldn’t be more inviting. Except, something about it all feels off. She feels the friendliness is almost intrusive. Joan feels like everything she is doing is being watched and tracked. An archaic organization holds the town in thrall and so does the mystery of a little boy who vanished decades ago. Her fiance just keeps telling her she is paranoid, but Joan feels like she may have moved to the deadliest small town on earth.

This book was very different from a lot of the books I read. It was almost was too creepy for me, but at the same time I could not put it down. I just needed to know what was going on and what was going to happen. This novel almost made me feel like I was being paranoid about things.

I gave this book 5/5 stars. I would highly recommend it. Also, if you are a fan of The Twilight Zone I think you would like this book. The characters were interesting and unreliable, it was creepy, mysterious, it made me think throughout the whole novel because I had no idea what was coming. I can’t recommend this book enough. I also read Unspeakable Things by this author and I highly recommend that book as well. I hope in the future Jess Lourey writes more novels because I would 100% read them.

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I am Everything (And Nothing)

*April is an important month to me. Not only is it National Poetry Month, but it is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. These two events collide in my world in an unfortunate way, but I am taking that pain and turning it in to something, that I hope in a way, can be beautiful. I am also taking control of what happened every time I write a poem. I know that what I write is not for everyone and I respect that, but I hope people can respect me and understand why I am writing these poems. Thank you to those who read and support my poetry and have nothing but positive things to say.*

Tonight when I cry the whole world will fall to its knees; tonight everyone will know the pain I feel; behind these walls I know I am nothing- but I try to pretend I am everything; when I cry tonight I will not promise myself this will be the last time; there is no shame in crying; no shame in reaching deep into yourself and prying out the broken; when I cry- do not tell me everything is okay- because nothing is okay right now; right now- my body needs to fall apart- in order to put herself back together; tonight- my body belongs to me- I will cherish every second she belongs solely to myself; the walls surround me; create a false hope of safety; the world outside is so big; behind these walls I know I am nothing- but I try to pretend I am everything.

Book Review: The Edelweiss Sisters

Historical fiction novels are typically a hit or miss for me. The Edelweiss Sisters by Kate Hewitt was one hundred percent a hit. I found it to be beautifully written, heartbreaking, but also there were a lot of happy moments throughout the novel, even through all of the devastation.

This book takes place in 1938 in Salzburg, when the Nazis are occupying Austria. Johanna, Birgit, and Lotte Eder have always lived quiet lives and kept to themselves. They help out their mother at home and help their father in his clock making shop. Their father hires Franz, a jewish man, to help him out in his shop. Johanna begins to fall in love with Franz, which puts the all in danger. Johanna and her sisters work together to get Franz to safety in Switzerland. By doing this they are risking everything. The three of them would die for each other, but now they are being tested to see if they are willing to die for what is right.

There was a lot of heartbreaking moments in this book, but it also showed the strength that people have when in dire situations. It also shows how when someone believes in something, how hard they will fight for it. These three sisters risked everything to help a man who they were still getting to know, but they ultimately knew it was the right thing to do. I found each of these characters to be incredibly strong, well written, and sympathetic. Like I mentioned earlier, historical fiction can be a hit or miss for me just because sometimes I find it to be a bit boring and I enjoy faster paced novels, but I really enjoyed this book. I have read other books by this author and this one is just so different from the others. I’ve enjoyed every book I have read by her, but this one I think may be my favorite so far.

I gave this book 3.5/5 stars. I would not hesitate to recommend this novel, especially if you enjoy historical fiction. This novel definitely left an impact on me and I thought about it for days after I read it. I look forward to reading more of Hewitt’s historical fiction novels in the future!

Just Look Out the Window

I have been thinking a lot lately about time and how as a society we are always on the go. We hardly ever live in the moment or slow down and take in what is going on right in front of us. There is so much pressure to always be working hard and when you take a break or slow down for a bit I find I feel like a failure in some way because I am not working hard enough or because I need a break. I often find myself rushing from one thing to the next. One morning I was rushing through trying to get my morning started. I had taken out my dog, Ellie, I brought her back in and fed her and my cat, Fiona. I was trying to get my list of things I needed to do that day started, but when I walked by my bedroom I noticed Ellie was sitting on my bed trying her best to look out the window with Fiona. Fiona has no trouble getting up to the windowsill so she can look out the window, but Ellie can’t get up there on her own and she needs me to hold her there so she does not fall off of it (she is quite clumsy and has no spatial awareness). I had things that needed to get done, but watching Ellie sitting on my bed trying to see the little bit that she could through the window made me stop and slow down. I walked in to my room and asked Ellie if she wanted to look out the window. It is one of her favorite things to do and she knows what the question means. Immediately she started wagging her tail and running towards me so I could pick her up and put her up on the windowsill. It had snowed the night before and all Ellie and Fiona wanted to do was stare at the snow lying on the ground and balancing in the trees. I could see the joy radiating out of Ellie and it was coming from such a simple thing. This all made me stop and really appreciate just living in the moment and appreciating the small things. I know this all sounds so cliche, but I could have easily ignored Ellie and kept moving on with my day, but because I stopped and slowed down and gave her that little bit of joy, in turn, I was giving myself a little bit of joy. And time. And forgiveness. We can learn so much from dogs and in this moment I learned so much from Ellie. Sometimes, we need to just slow down and look out the window and find joy in even the tiniest of things.

Enjoy the Silence

Sometimes, the silence that lingers- says what we cannot; it holds a key to all of the unspoken words; the words no one wants to say; the ones we are too afraid to admit to ourselves; I know all about silence- it is where I am most comfortable; it is where I live most days; silence does not bother me the way it does others; I find comfort in it; I find myself in it; some think it is a bad thing I am quiet- and maybe it is; but it has never bothered me; sometimes others talk too much- some things are better left unsaid; I have learned to enjoy the silence; sometimes that is when you learn the most about others; you can see who others really are- when all there is- is silence.

The Truth

I picture what could have happened when I told you the truth- my truth; the story that has kept a hold on me for as long as I can remember; I imagined the moment so many times; I wrote a narrative and created a character you would never be able to play; being upset at your reaction-was my fault really; I set you to impossibly high standards; my mind created a version of you that will never exist; when I told you the first time- and you hardly reacted- I should have just left it there; I should have buried the secret back down and never brought it up again; it was my fault really- for thinking you would rally behind me- when you never really cared for my presence in the first place- at one point you did though- which is why I tried to tell you the truth; I honestly thought you forgot I even told you; until one night you bring it up again; once again- it is my fault for feeling hopeful; my heart beating uncontrollably fast when I think you might try to help me; just the thought of you believing me makes the darkness feel less vast; instead- you ask me why I would make up something like that- why I would even say such a thing; I feel the darkness swallow me whole; that night I read a book- the main character tells her truth; everyone she tells believes her; everyone she tells wants to help her; at one point I started crying so hard I could not even see the pages anymore; when I finish the book I throw it against the wall- as the words- why would you make this up- echo throughout my mind; the first time I watched my body being taken I felt like I was not even in the room; afterwards, the pain I felt- felt like it could not possibly be mine; it felt as if it should belong to someone else; I now picture what I wanted to happen when I told you the truth; you listen to every word I say; you ask questions- but do not get angry when I choose not to answer; you tell me you believe me; when I cry- you just let me; you tell me you believe me; it is so good to finally feel at home.

New Beginnings

The moon never apologizes for how much-or how little light she decides to cast upon the night; so I will learn from her and try to stop apologizing for the way I show up in my life; it was a Tuesday afternoon and I was crying; I was not crying from anything bad-for what felt like the first time in forever- I was crying from laughing so hard; we both started laughing and at some point it developed into tears and now neither of us can breathe in the best way; it is in these moments I realize the strongest things always make it through; there are so many days where the sadness camps itself inside of my heart and I cannot get her to go away; but the happiness is determined to push through; and when I really need her to show up- somehow she always does; there are bad things- but I am working on not letting it dictate the good; my happiness is all there is to separate him from me; he may have taken many things from me the night he took my body; but I will work on not letting him take it all away; I am standing in the middle of my new apartment- the one I worked hard for- the one so many people told me I would not be able to get- and I think of all of the people who have told me I would never be successful; I envision all of the nights where giving up seemed like the best option- sometimes the only option- and right now I am so glad I never gave up; I am learning there will always be people who will doubt your ability; there will always be people who want more from you than you are able to give; but in the end the right people will always show up; the right people will always be happy for you and support every decision you make; it is a Tuesday afternoon and the world does not feel like it is closing in around me; it is a Tuesday afternoon and I will accept the happiness and try to not diminish it; the moon never apologizes for how she shows up; and from now on- I will try to not either.

Part Three

I live in a body that was never really mine; I count backwards from ten- try to find the number that will make all of this mean something; try to find the number that will convince me that all of this is okay; my assault is a story told in three parts; part one- your love is unconditional; you come to save me from the wreckage- you promise me you love me; you promise me you will not hurt me; I believe every word you say- even when I know better; part two- your anger begins to explode into small moments throughout the day; your dislike for me slowly becoming the loudest thing in the room; you tell me you know what is best for me; tell me you are helping me; you tell me I am always wrong- yet you still tell me that you love me; still promise me you will never hurt me; I still believe every word you say; part three- you steal my body from me- claim it as your own; when I feel you inside of me- I have to pretend to just not; I spend hours in the shower scrubbing away your touch; call a rape crisis hotline- hang up on the first ring; call again and again- only to just keep hanging up; I write down all of the reasons it is my fault; I ice the bruises- wash all of the wounds you left behind; try to call the hotline just one more time- but the fear and shame are just too persistent; the walls collapse around me- I see your face every time I close my eyes; there is a forgetfulness that takes over the memories- a wall that closes around my mind; I wish to forget every detail- yet I am fighting to remember any of the details; I call the hotline one last time- when the person on the other end reminds me I am not alone- I want to tell her that that is the problem- instead I just hang up; I check all of the locks three times; I look for the moon through my window- make sure she can see inside; I promise the moon I will make it to the morning; I follow the moon on my drive every morning; I thank her for getting me through another night; before I start my day- I count backwards from ten- try to find the number that will make all of this mean something; try to find the number that will convince me that all of this is okay- learn to accept- that maybe I will never be okay.

Silent Ache

I trace the flowers planted out front; breathe in the love you once so seamlessly provided; it was just a spilled glass of water- yet always so much more to you; I return to the site of ache every night my foot touches the doorstep; I open the front door- careful not to keep it open for too long- for fear all of the bones of trauma that live here will tumble out; my body covered by the hands of your shame; I pray to the stars in the night sky- pray one day there will be a way out; behind these walls- only loneliness exists; I drown over and over again in the secrets I keep for you; I feel the ache between my thighs- the only proof I have you were ever here; my rib snaps in half; I offer you a part of it- I give you pieces of me in hopes it will feel less like you are taking all of me; guilt builds a home inside of my body- she invites shame to occupy every space you have not touched; when the blood comes- I will ignore it for as long as possible; the door to your love has been locked for a long time now; I follow the destruction you always leave behind; I carve more pieces out of my body for you; I spend nights scrubbing away your touch; to live in a body that has been raped- is to live with a silent ache only I will ever know is there; some of us can build a house made of stone- turn the trauma into strength; but what are you supposed to do- when the trauma seems to be breaking you- instead of making you stronger; what happens when you cannot build a house out of stone; what happens when you are simply too tired to rebuild what once was; how do you rebuild yourself- when you cannot follow the narrative everyone else has written; my body hollow and bruised; loneliness lives in every corner; I say goodnight- and I try to not mean goodbye; I watch my body being taken from me night after night; day after day; I watch the shame wash over me- she haunts me through every room I enter; my nightmares occupied by your face; I try to scream- but no sound ever seems to come; I cling to the idea that this is all just a dream- but the quiet ache always returns; I am bruised and broken; my soul damaged; I return to the site of ache- breathe in once- quietly push the door open- careful not to keep it open for too long- for fear all of my secrets- your secrets- will tumble out; my body always covered by the hands of your shame; to live in a body that has been raped- is to never fully own your body again.

Wounded Love

We live with trust printed on the back of our hearts; drowning in all of your words hoping to believe the truth lies somewhere in them; your words left wounds; the same way your love does; it is not that I do not believe in your love; it is more that I stopped believing you when you told me you loved me; I think about your family often; I wonder if they miss you; or at least miss who you once were; but will never be again; I try to scrub myself clean of the memories of you; try to make all of the parts of me you have touched disappear; when the light comes shining in through my window just right- it almost does look like you love me; I do not know why I want you to love me; it would be much easier if you did not; it would be much easier if I would not let myself drown in all of the lies you cover me in; it is not that it always feels so impossible to fully love you; it is more that it feels like you want me to love you more than anything; yet you never want to reciprocate any of this love; I drag your love onto the grave site that sits on my heart; I worship the ghosts of the love that you were at one time able to provide; I wish over and over that you will one day turn back into the person you once were; I still drown in all of your words while I tirelessly search for the truth; believing it has to be hidden somewhere in there; no matter how far it is hidden- there are so many days where I am still determined to find it; determined to turn the wounds your love leaves back into anything else; I still look for the light to shine through just right- to prove the person you once were- still exists somewhere; even if it is hard to find.

Broken Sadness

This sadness is the gospel I worship every night; thoughts of ending it all race through my mind- more often than I would ever care to admit; I know too many people believe I choose this; there are so many days where I question whether or not I am making it all up; I worry what if I do like the suffering; maybe all of this suffering is what makes me interesting; I wonder what I would be without this sadness; what would happen if the trauma were to disappear; there are different things that make us whole; so many parts that make up who we are; what are you supposed to do when the parts of you that scare everyone else- make up most of who you are; I do not know who I would be without the skeletons of my trauma following me into every room I enter; the brokenness builds a home out of me; making me whole in a way others will never understand; when you have been broken for so long- sometimes it feels as if there is no other way too be; I am saying all of this to tell you- I am sorry if all of this is too much for you; I am sorry if my sadness makes you uncomfortable; I am working on building homes out of the happy moments; but it will take some time; the body has to build a tolerance to everything; and for now- my body is trying to figure out how to hold happiness.

My Ocean of Secrets

Sometimes I feel the more I think about it the more control he has over me; if I pretend it never happened- maybe I can convince myself it never actually happened; no matter what the scars on my soul tell me; no matter how many nightmares I have; if you keep hiding from the truth- you might be able to convince yourself of anything; I convince myself that something else happened that night- anything else happened that night; except convincing yourself never really works- but what is the harm in pretending; what is the harm in ripping the truth out of yourself and throwing it into the ocean; hoping with each wave the truth of what happened will drown a little bit more; my truths cover the entire ocean floor now; when you swim in the ocean- be careful not to cut yourself on the shards of my secrets.

Timmy

When I was 8 years old every girl in my class had a crush on a boy named Timmy; of course I said I did too- because the way they talked about him made it seem like he placed all the stars in the night sky; made it seem like if I did not like him- there was something wrong with me; I stared at him everyday of second grade trying to figure out why I could not see it; trying to figure out why I could not feel what every other girl so easily felt; that was the year I realized I was different; people do not always like different; from that year on I have buried myself so far into the closet there are days where sometimes I have to make sure that the door is still able to open; I have hidden this secret in the dark house of my bones and have let the shame of it nearly kill me; there are so many days I promise myself I will take this secret to the grave with me; from that year on I have become a girl who is made up of apologies; this closet keeps getting darker and darker; I cannot quite decide if I am more terrified of the dark; or the guilt and shame that always seem to come with it.