Living Dead Lovers by Jonathan Dunne

living dead lovers

 

With a story full of gypsies, ghosts, mental health issues, love, death, outcast animals, and family issues; how could you go wrong? You can’t. Not in my opinion anyway. I loved every page of this book.

In this fictional tale, Valentina “Cabbage” Moone has written her autobiography which may or may not be used in an educational syllabus with select edits. No worries, Cabbage lets you know what areas should be omitted for educational use. She tells her life story from conception to how she came to fall for her dead lover. Literally and metaphorically.

With a helplessly romantic father and feisty gypsy of a mother, Cabbage has her hands full. But the living aren’t the only ones she has to deal with. She also has a gift passed down from her gypsy white-witch grandmother; she can communicate with the dead. In the first days of her life she meets her guardian angel and that is only the beginning of what is to come.

This tragicomedy novel will have you laughing and cringing at the same time as you follow Cabbage on her adventure through life, as short lived as it may be. With the setting in the European countries of Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, and Spain; this book had me reminiscing of my time spent in Europe and longing to visit again.

I found it especially unique that Cabbage speaks directly to the Reader. Yes, you, the actual reader of the book. This offbeat, fresh, funny, and lively (or not so lively in some cases, he-he) book will appeal to a wide variety of readers. It is part coming-of-age tale, part paranormal mystery, and part tragicomedy that had me reading late into the night.

U.S. readers need to put Irish author Jonathan Dunne on their radar. You will not be disappointed. I gave it a ‘5 star’ rating and would highly recommend to all readers, especially ones that enjoy zany characters and a wild ride.

Find all of Jonathan Dunne’s work here (Kindle versions on sale for $0.99 each! As of the date of this post only, no guarantees):

Living Dead Lovers

Balloon Animals

Hearts Anonymous

The Nobody Show

Hide the Elephant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May Book Club Review

This month we completed our five-part challenge of 2016 by reading a book that has been banned. We read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

With a forward by Markus Zusak, interviews with Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney, and four-color interior art throughout, this edition is perfect for fans and collectors alike.

Overall, everyone in the book club seemed to really like this book. We all agreed that it was unfortunate that this book had been banned and it really shouldn’t have been.

What really got me confused was the fact that it was banned because it spoke about masturbation. I get it, some mothers and fathers out there didn’t want their children to have access to a book that talks about masturbation. What I don’t get is the fact that masturbation wasn’t really a subject matter in the book. I mean it was hardly mentioned at all, only in passing. I think it was meant to reflect the true thoughts of a young man, the protagonist of the story. I don’t feel it was done in untasteful or inappropriate manner at all. It felt true to the story and the boy’s voice, allowing the character to seem real.

So why was it banned if it hardly even mentions the subject?

Your guess is as good as mine.

My guess: People with too much time on their hands wanting to control what others can and can’t have access too. (I am 99% sure this is an accurate guess.)

What was really compelling about this novel was the boy’s coming of age story about his life on the Indian reservation. This book does delve into some deep aspects about life, poverty, alcoholism, and family. That is the real gem about this book, it is real to everyday life.

It is told in an often funny tone with art depections. The art in this book was so much fun and felt so real to the things my friends and I use to draw as adolescents. The use of art as an expression for the boy in this book gave me a new appreciation for the book as a whole.

I gave this book a rating of 4 of 5 stars. I would highly recommend to middle-school readers up to adult. There is a lot to get out of this book from any age.

 

 

The Butterfly Garden

I would like to give a special thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer (publisher) for providing me with a free copy of The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison in exchange for an honest review.

Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…

I finally got approved for my first NetGalley book! As a new blogger I am stoked to have been chosen to give a review. I got so used to seeing my requests denied that I didn’t quite know what to think when I saw an email saying my wish had been granted. “They like me, they really like me” pretty much sums up the huge grin on my face.

First thing is first, if you like horror or thrillers, you NEED to get his book stat.

I first saw this book on Amazon and added to my to-read list on Goodreads immediately. I was back and forth on purchasing it, looking at it on Amazon every other day trying to decide. The only thing that was holding me back is the fact that I have 150+ books on my shelves at home to read and I tend to get a little carried away with over purchasing. This month I have been trying to rein in my book addict purchases. Logging in to NetGalley to request a few books, there it was again, calling my name. I decided to request it and lucky me I got approved. I feel like it was some sort of book fate that this book landed in my hands.

I downloaded it immediately and got started. Once started I couldn’t stop. What an addicting read! I flew through this book in 2 days. A book of this length would typically take me 3 to 4 days based on the amount of time I can dedicate to reading. But I found myself glued to the couch reading way too late into the night, unable to put it down, dreading work in the morning due to lack of sleep. I had to know what happened in the butterfly garden. I had to know about the Butterflies. I had to know about the Gardner.

This book put a strong grip on me. It’d definitely been a long time since I was so intrigued with a novel in the horror genre. I love horror and/or thrillers, but lately I found most the books I read lacking an undefined uniqueness and tended to stray away from them after the last couple of lackluster reads. This book has me itching for another great horror read.

The writing was quick and easy to read, but don’t let that lead you to think the story wasn’t complex. The characters each had their own depth and complexity. The author was able to project such clear ideas and scenes. I saw the garden, knew the Butterflies, and felt the presence of the Gardner. In fact, at times I felt like I was one of the FBI agents and wanted to scream “Tell us what happened in the garden Maya!” It was during these times that I kept telling myself I would go to sleep after the next page, the next page, the next page.

I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars and would highly recommend to anyone that enjoys a great horror/thriller. Just make sure your schedule is clear when you pick it up, you won’t want to put it down.

The kindle book is a steal at $4.99 on Amazon and is available free for Kindle Unlimited members. So go ahead and break your book budget, you won’t regret it. I know now that I would have really regretted passing on this one. Dot Hutchinson is on my radar now, I can’t wait for another book from her.

 

Library Book Sale

A few weeks ago I headed out to the Garden City Library Book Sale. I gathered up my mother and boyfriend and off we went, not sure what to expect.  I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. The books were divided into categories, there was a wide selection, prices were reasonable, and the volunteers were very nice.

I was beyond excited that five of my finds were on my to-read list. There is something so thrilling about finding a book you already want to read at a sale. I guess that is part of the reason I cannot stop buying books!

I spent $20.00 and was able to score 29 books and 1 audio book.

Here are all the titles, lumped in to some random categories for fun. The link below each will take to the Goodreads page if you want to add any to your to-read list or get a detailed description.

 

Girls just wanna have fun:The Last Girls

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/126873.The_Last_Girls

Girls in Trouble

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/227781.Girls_in_Trouble

The Girls

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47076.The_Girls

The Girl with All the Gifts

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17235026-the-girl-with-all-the-gifts

 

Bittersweet Treats:

Bitter in the Mouth

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10006917-bitter-in-the-mouth

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6218281-the-sweetness-at-the-bottom-of-the-pie

Bitterroot Landing

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/318494.Bitterroot_Landing

8612030

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8612030-sweet-valley-confidential

Make Lemonade (Make Lemonade, #1)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/250924.Make_Lemonade

 

Nature’s Bounty:

Little Bee

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6948436-little-bee

The Butterfly Clues

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11418182-the-butterfly-clues

House of Sand and Fog

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7944648-house-of-sand-and-fog

Cane River

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5167.Cane_River

Tuscan Rose

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15801686-tuscan-rose

The Weight of Water

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/228534.The_Weight_of_Water

Prodigal Summer

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14249.Prodigal_Summer

 

The Sixth Sense:

The Witch of Portobello

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1252043.The_Witch_of_Portobello

The Haunting of Maddy Clare

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11832043-the-haunting-of-maddy-clare

You Are So Undead to Me (Megan Berry, #1)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3965854-you-are-so-undead-to-me

Mertales: Short Stories of Water, Fin and Pearl

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9533915-mertales

The Nature of Monsters

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/923497.The_Nature_of_Monsters

 

All these Feelings:

Love in the Time of Cholera

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1954203.Love_in_the_Time_of_Cholera

The Pleasures of Men

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12934962-the-pleasures-of-men

 

Hide and Seek:

Sights Unseen

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/179125.Sights_Unseen

These Things Hidden

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9166559-these-things-hidden

What Happened to Hannah

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13158772-what-happened-to-Hannah

Secrets of a Lady (Rannoch/Fraser Publication Order, #1)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/595145.Secrets_of_a_Lady

The Hundred Secret Senses

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/913371.The_Hundred_Secret_Senses

 

The Awkward Phase:

Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22571576-unabrow

Ten Miles Past Normal

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8663305-ten-miles-past-normal

Can’t wait for next years sale!

 

 

 

Find a book club, Find yourself

Joining a local Book Club last July has been one of the best decisions I have made for my mind and my soul.

Four months before I found my local book club in the tiny town of Kuna, Idaho I had been diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. The diagnosis and subsequent surgery to remove a ten pound tumor larger than a cantaloupe had me spiraling into a deep depression. I had an ovary and fallopian tube removed along with parts of my uterus as it was discovered I had endometriosis during the surgery. My body was struggling with regulating my hormonal balance due to the changes. Overwhelmed, stressed, and scared I was facing some huge decisions in my life.

I was told that if I wanted to have children I would need to do so immediately because a hysterectomy was inevitable and it would have to be performed as soon as another tumor started growing. The average time of reoccurrence was two years. I definitely wanted children but I was not in a point in my life where I was ready. The thought of not being able to carry a child was killing me with sadness and worry. But I wanted to be fair to the child I might bring in to the world and not have one just because it may be my only chance. If I was to have a child I wanted to be able to provide and care for it properly. I decided to keep my fingers crossed and see if things were in a better position for children in the coming years; praying that I wouldn’t have a reoccurrence before I had a chance to have a child.

I felt like my emotional state was spinning out of control. I had little to look forward to and even less to feel joyful about. My boyfriend was becoming increasingly worried and began encouraging me to find a local book club I could join. He knew it would be good for me but I was hesitant. I am very introverted and feared that I wouldn’t fit in if I did try to put myself out there.

Eventually I did decide to go to a meeting, figuring the worse that could happen is I didn’t like it and I wouldn’t have to return. I still remember how awkward that first meeting was as we were all getting to know each other and I was asking what each woman did for a living and replied “That’s really interesting!” to each person. An eruption of laughter started from the group after I said it the third time. I joined in, realizing that in my anxious state I was trying way too hard. To me that simple moment was the beginning of my friendship with the group. It helped me to loosen up and tell them why I had decided to join and the struggles I had been going through. They were kind, understanding, and very welcoming.

Now I find myself looking forward to getting together with my book club ladies constantly throughout the month; counting down the days until coffee, updates on our lives, and of course all the juicy book talk. I have grown so fond of the four women in my book group. Each of us are so different but we are bonded by our love of books.Their friendship and kindness has helped me through a very difficult year and has helped me grow as a person. Best of all they have given me the courage to follow my dreams, to get out there and try new things, and fall even more in love with the world of literature. I’m getting a little mushy here, but I don’t think they even realize what an amazing impact they have had on me. I appreciate that they have helped to rekindle my passion for books and writing and I feel a great sense of gratitude towards them for helping me regain my emotional strength.

So go out there and find a book club, in doing so you will find yourself.

 

 

Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner

Find it here on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14748.Good_in_Bed

Description from Goodreads: For twenty-eight years, things have been tripping along nicely for Cannie Shapiro. Sure, her mother has come charging out of the closet, and her father has long since dropped out of her world. But she loves her friends, her rat terrier, Nifkin, and her job as pop culture reporter for The Philadelphia Examiner. She’s even made a tenuous peace with her plus-size body.

But the day she opens up a national women’s magazine and sees the words “Loving a Larger Woman” above her ex-boyfriend’s byline, Cannie is plunged into misery…and the most amazing year of her life. From Philadelphia to Hollywood and back home again, she charts a new course for herself: mourning her losses, facing her past, and figuring out who she is and who she can become.

I don’t usually read the typical “chick-lit” books that many are fans of. Mostly because I don’t like all the whiny, woe-is-me, and why-can’t-I-find-a-man story lines. I did take a chance on this novel because my mother gave me free rein to order 10 audiobooks for us using her account. I wanted to get us a wide variety of books and try a few new authors. I have seen several of Jennifer Weiner’s novels around at book stores and library sales, so I thought I would take a chance and try it.

I wasn’t expecting much going in; especially after the recent flop when I listening to Big Girl by Danielle Steel. I knew that the book wouldn’t be a life changing read. I simply wanted something somewhat light and the plus-size protagonist had me intrigued. Good in Bed turned out to be what I had wanted and expected from Big Girl. I felt her struggle with weight was more realistic and I bonded to the character much more.

I rated it 3 of 5 stars. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a simple read (or listen in this case).

The Truth: Part 1 (flash fiction)

I’ve said the wrong thing, again. This is unbeknownst to me as the words slide casually out of my mouth. Quickly I become aware of my mistake and I flinch as his words start flying at me. Sharp as daggers, slicing and dicing the skin of my soul. Another mistake on my part, it seems. And another meal for his ravenous psychosis.

It is always a small comment I cannot clearly recall after the storm. But it is undoubtedly something simple that brings the rain. Maybe a comment on the fabric of my new blouse, asking if he is hungry for dinner, asking does he like lemon pie (I seem to have forgot, silly stupid me),  exhaling too loud after a long drag on my cigarette, or the ultimate disgrace of eating anything that makes a crunching sound. Things that I say and do every day that I never really think about until it is too late. The extra fun zinger being that I never know when or what will bring out his tornado of fury. I may do something all the time but it may be only this one particular time, for unknown reasons to me, that may be so offensive to him that I must be punished and berated for my actions.

The punishments vary greatly but I know each well. Well enough that the sequence of events is clear to me before they happen. Knowing the events, however, is not enough to stop them or lessen their effects on me. At the first signs of attack I quickly question my memory. Does crunching down on an apple too loudly equal a verbal lashing or being locked out of the house? Does asking a question he deems stupid equal being ordered to leave his sight immediately or having items thrown at me? If I make a face he doesn’t like in reaction to his behavior will he threaten to kill me or himself?

There are too many rules to keep straight and they are ever changing. There is no way to keep them straight or avoid the consequences. If they were straight forward and always had the same repercussion I could write them down or memorize them to keep myself in the clear. But I have tried and it is tireless because there are no definitive answers. There is no way to keep up with his changing moods and rules. I must always be prepared for the battle coming my way. With no way to win, I strive only to survive the wreckage. And I do survive each time, adding mental or physical scars, but I still live. The version of me that survives each time is a little duller, more damaged, jaded.

My wounds aren’t visible to the naked eye which helps my outward façade that nothing is wrong. It helps that when asked how my day is I can always lie and say it is good. I am able to quickly turn away from the returning thoughts of unpleasantness and inquire how the questioner’s day is. Happy that in the conversation I seem believable and unfazed. What it doesn’t help is my ability to be productive. I go about my day as if looking through a steamed up window. Seeing what is there but not the sharpness, no edges or definition. Accomplishing little to nothing; my real accomplishment for the day is that I am still here, still breathing, still thinking. While inside I am dying. Dying a slow death of mental torture and abuse.