Top 10 in Fiction, Nonfiction & Literature Reads (January – August 2017)

10. Down City by Leah Carrol

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Amazon

Blurb:

Like James Ellroy’s, My Dark Places, DOWN CITY is a gripping narrative built of memory and reportage, and Leah Carroll’s portrait of Rhode Island is sure to take a place next Mary Karr’s portrayal of her childhood in East Texas and David Simon’s gritty Baltimore.

Leah Carroll’s mother, a gifted amateur photographer, was murdered by two drug dealers with Mafia connections when Leah was four years old. Her father, a charming alcoholic who hurtled between depression and mania, was dead by the time she was eighteen. Why did her mother have to die? Why did the man who killed her receive such a light sentence? What darkness did Leah inherit from her parents? Leah was left to put together her own future and, now in her memoir, she explores the mystery of her parents’ lives, through interviews, photos, and police records. DOWN CITY is a raw, wrenching memoir of a broken family and an indelible portrait of Rhode Island- a tiny state where the ghosts of mafia kingpins live alongside the feisty, stubborn people working hard just to get by. Heartbreaking, and mesmerizing, it’s the story of a resilient young woman’s determination to discover the truth about a mother she never knew and the deeply troubled father who raised her-a man who was, Leah writes, “both my greatest champion and biggest obstacle.”

JAnn’s Review:

I was heartbroken has I read this memoir! Leah’s life was a life full of tragedy and full of heartache. Reading her story through the pictures, interviews and police records was like living her life with her. I hope this memoir will help other survivors of this accounts overcome their past and look at Leah as an inspiration to us all.

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9. That Which Does Not Destroy Me by Daria J Wagoner

 

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Amazon

Blurb:

A story of survival against all odds. Growing up unwanted with a bisexual, drug and alcohol abusing Orthodox priest as a father Daria left home at age 12 years-old to survive on the streets of Ft Lauderdale. Daria would survive years of physical and psychological abuse, rape, abduction, prostitution and would narrowly escape involvement in murder.

JAnn’s Review

This memoir was a true heartbreaking story about abuse a young girl faced while growing up. While I read Daria’s words I could not but hold my breath from crying Daria is a true survivor plus more. Her story, I hope will help other survivors find their way and their own forgiveness.

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8.  Mending the Shattered Mirror by Analie Shepherd

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Amazon

Blurb:

A hauntingly beautiful memoir! A shocking true account of horrific abuse within therapy! Although these two statements don’t seem congruent, this book, although telling a tragic story, does so in a poetic, life-affirming way.
Analie Shepherd, the author, found herself in need of the support of a therapist after a tragedy in her life. Within the confines of this relationship, Analie suffered extreme abuse: verbal, physical and emotional. As Ananlie says of herself during the abuse, “I had no voice and no reality.”
Finally able to leave the abusive therapist, Analie reached out to TELL, an online support group, whose goal is to help victims in the struggle to regain their lives after abuse by a health care practitioner.
Through TELL, Analie connected with responder Laurie, a retired Psychiatrist who was herself sexually abused in therapy for ten years. Contained within the book, is a four-year email exchange between Analie and Laurie, in which both of their stories are told–the tragedy and the triumph. Laurie, wise and compassionate, speaks truth to Analie and stands by her side on her journey to reclaim her heart, her reality and her voice. The relationship between the two women is a beautiful picture of growing friendship, and the story of this relationship is a lovely part of the book.
Analie’s story is complicated by the fact that she is diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as Multiple Personalities. Much of the abuse within her therapy, was perpetrated on her eight alter personalities, and their voices and stories are included in the book, as well as some of their original artwork and poetry. Analie presents the existence and reality of The Others in a gentle, innocent way which helps the reader understand her experience of living an internally split life. Analie also includes narratives of her early life, to give context and understanding of what caused her to be vulnerable to the abuse she suffered in therapy.
From the very first page, this story will enthrall you … the conclusion of the book is amazingly beautiful and deeply satisfying

JAnn’s Review

I was reluctant to start reading this book, it sat beside my bed for a long time. But I am glad I finally took the time to read this story about the journey through therapeutic abuse. When we think of trusting someone, like a counselor, with our upmost private thoughts and demons, we expect them to be there to help us through and see us achieve. However, this journey was nothing like this until she received the help and guidance through email then a friendship of trust was created. This story will rip your heart out and mend it all back together before you even finish the story. Kudos to Analie for sharing her amazing journey. I just hope this story will bring hope to others.

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7. Toxic Desires by Ellie Douglas

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Amazon

Blurb:

Imagine waking up from a blackout, your memory betraying you as to where you have been or what you have done. This is what happens to beautiful and sexy, 24 year old, Annabelle Worthington.

Growing up, Annabelle’s life was anything but normal. Living with loveless parents, she was subjected to unimaginable abuse and torture at the hands of those who should have protected her. Her saving grace was her relationship with Ivy and Eva.

As an adult, she met Brett Campbell and finally her world became filled with the happiness, stability and love that she had never known. Then something unthinkable happens that destroys her idyllic life and fills her with rage. Annabelle’s blackouts increase and memories of her abusive childhood threatens to imprison her.

When Ivy and Eva comes back into her life, Annabelle elicits their help to rid the world of all cheating bastards.

Is there anything that can stop them before they wreak havoc on California? Which of them really poses the most danger to those who least expect it?

How many lives will be lost because of sexual desires and memories from the past?

JAnn’s Review

This book was packed full of excitement and steamy scenes and murderous plots. Throughout the story is every type of chaotic events a reader would want, The pace of the story is in full force. Ellie’s writing is so engrossed with talent on creating each chapter of charters that just continued to build till the end. Ellie’s imagination had to be captured onto paper for all of us to enjoy her characters of Toxic Desire, the overall feeling of the book is a turbulent ride of flashbacks with the urge to get even.
The cover of Ellie’s book is what drew me to choose this book to read. Her color scheme was eye catching and the image of the city with a lurking view of a girl intrigued my thoughts of wanting to read her book. The title definitely fits the book with toxic desire of wanting to get even and rage of hate.
I give big kudos to Ellie for her writing is so easily paced and so chair griping. I would highly recommend anyone who is looking for a hot steamy murderous read to grab her book and enjoy over a weekend read!

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6. Love, Lies and HeartBreak by Blaque Diamond
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Amazon

Blurb:

First, comes love, then lies, and then heartbreak. Well, at least that’s the case with the couples in these captivating short-stories in this collection of love gone wrong. It seems like some people say, “I love you” and don’t mean it and loyalty to their partner isn’t their strongest character trait. How would you feel if you were Davon and you found out a child you have raised for the last ten years wasn’t yours? How about if you were in Regina’s shoes, dealing with a husband who thinks you’re his personal punching bag? Lisa isn’t being satisfied at home the way she thinks she deserves, so she seeks pleasure elsewhere, and guess who it is. Tamika thinks she has the perfect man, but she’s wrong when his other woman shows up to get what she believes is rightly hers. When you’re scorned, sometimes it causes you to do things you wouldn’t normally do, such as in Kimberley’s case, but you can snap when you’ve been pushed too far. Come along for the journey through the relationships of these five couples as they deal with love, lies, and heartbreak. Love isn’t perfect, and these couples prove just how imperfect love can truly be.

JAnn’s Review:

Blaque’s writing was so natural and easy to enjoy. Each short story captured my attention and held it there until the end. My favorite story about Regina & Calvin. It clicked close to situations a lot of women find themselves in and her character building was tremendous and done just at the right moment throughout the story. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a piece of good literature.

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5. Christmas Past An Angel’s Story by Ron Shaw

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Amazon

 

Blurb:

Travel back to 1958 with an angel on a mission to a CHRISTMAS PAST, as we’re shown a heart-rending story of a destitute family who happiness and Christmas had all but passed over.
Do the impoverished deserve kindness, generosity, or love?
Striving to survive life’s frigid and bitter winds, a jilted mother and her four, young children will be tested like never before.
Despite the crushing odds, will one boy’s prayers be answered?
Only time and AN ANGEL’S STORY will tell.

JAnn’s Review

This was such a sad story based on true events with a happy ending. I give kudos to Ron for writing this book with such a force where one can feel as if they were there at Christmas in 1958. His words bring hope back into Christmas and what it really means. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a warm-hearten story to read. A great piece of literature.

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4.  Eye of the Storm: The Silent Grief of Miscarriage by Rachel McGrath

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Amazon

Blurb:

“There is no heartbeat . . . ” Those four words will stay with me forever.

Sadly about thirty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and many of those women who have suffered this loss often grieve in silence.

This short novella details the experience of one woman’s loss during the early stages of a pregnancy. McGrath tells her story with full transparency, sharing all of her raw emotions and baring her soul through an incredibly difficult time.

This short account provides a heartfelt perspective on a subject that is sometimes still considered taboo.

JAnn’s Review

came across Rachel’s book one night on Twitter and I just had to read it. Eye of the Storm is Rachel’s story about her loss of her unborn child. It meant something very deeply to me and moved my soul to read her words, for I too have suffered the loss of a child. Unlike her I got to spend a few months with my daughter. My heart broke with each page I turned, but at the same time it gave me peace hearing about someone else’s loss. Her words made me feel as if I wasn’t so alone and that I had a connection with her. Even though it’s been 23 years since my daughter’s passing, it never gets any easier. I give Rachel great kudos for sharing her story and I pray that others will find her story to be a blessing, just like her unborn child was.

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3.  Archipelago: A Problem by G H Neale

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Amazon

Blurb

ARCHIPELAGO, a literary fiction of four characters’ discrete lives one random day in one random town.

The reader is chaperoned through the animated reality of this town. A town which “not in all historie, any memorable thing concerning it” occurred and, through performances of the characters, is invited to consider his own communal actions.

The novel commences with inquisitive poet Philomena Isabela Cordova passing her second novel to newly found friend Parveen Pattni, a young Hindu lesbian and burgeoning fine artist. Parveen begins to read Philomena’s book at the same time as Stephen Rei, disillusioned and hedonistic literary agent of some fifty years, is reading another one of Philomena’s “scribblings”. Philomena is lustily pursued by her step-sister’s husband and, as per the classical myth, Stephen and Parveen read of her assault, her retribution and more.

For ARCHIPELAGO is a very queer affair, unbearably queer perhaps

JAnn’s Review

This book reveals the minds of some of what life is like for the deepest & greatest thinkers. It depicts a novel where one may scratch their head and wonder or one may find themselves agreeing what is written on the fine pages of this book.

Archipelago tells a rather interesting story about several characters, one being a shy but geeky poet. As you read about her travels and life in a small England village the reader becomes captivated by how G H creates so many characters and their lives all in one day of life in this village. Simply put, the complexity of this story is that it covers so many lives in such a short about time

G H’s words play out in many different elements of literacy and prose that entice and keeps the reader wanting to flip the page and read more. He pushes every boundary just likes the greats of Yeats, Elliot, & Joyce. This is a must read for anyone who seeks to find a great work of literacy.

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2. Everything Happens For A Reason by Tina-Marie Miller

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Amazon

Blurb:

Shaken from the sudden death of her mother, Poppy Jackson’s only light amidst all the darkness is the prospect of embarking on an exciting new career with major investment stockbrokers Hawkins, Munroe and Sable, working as PA to the amiable Greg Sable.

The company’s Annual Conference is a big deal in the stock broking world and though keen to impress, Poppy’s focus wavers at the appearance of the cheeky Oliver Sullivan. After a rocky start, an unexpected romance begins to bloom. Can their love overcome their conflicting backgrounds? And how will Poppy cope when tragedy strikes a second time?

Meanwhile, having made the shocking discovery of his real birth father’s identity, Richard Jones decides to earn the right to take control of the family business and not just because he’d inherited it. His mother, however, is growing increasingly frustrated at his refusal to step up. Itching to put her own plans into progress she increases the pressure, completely oblivious to the consequences.

Curl up and relax with this tale of love, loss and everything in between, and watch as the worlds of Poppy and Richard are drawn together in a twist of fate, proving that everything really does happen for a reason…

JAnn’s Review

I truly enjoyed Poppy’s story! Poppy’s adventure through was will written and not your usual chick lit that is staged. I found it to be a light read with unexpected twists and challenges in Poppy’s life. Being career driven but also seeking and wanting the love found in a marriage and family Poppy faces many ups and downs but always comes out strong. Between Poppy’s memories of her mom and past and looking towards the future, this story was one many of us face daily.

Tina-Marie did an excellent job in creating her characters and plot planning was incredible by showing us two sides of life, one in the city and one in the country which kept things rolling smoothly throughout the book. She wrote this has if it was everyday life for many of us to relate too.

The cover is what actually caught my eye on Twitter. The bright colors and illustration gave me the feeling of a warm, clean read and that is exactly what I received. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an adventurous story about life, love, and everything else.

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1.Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin

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Amazon

Blurb: 

Former RC priest, DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood fifteen years earlier.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inextricably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when twin boys go missing. One twin is recovered in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?

As Farrell investigates the two cases he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.

 

JAnn’s  Review:

Jackie’s words had my attention within the first page of her book. This was an chair gripping excitable read! The characters were will created with a tendency to be the kind that stays with the reader long after finishing the book. Jackie’s plot is so thrilling with the twists and turns brought into the plot at the right moment when it is least expected and keeps the reader wanting more.

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