Book Review: Lucky Strike by Bobbie Pyron Arthur A. Levine Books (February 24, 2015)

Category:  Children’s Fiction, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic, Friendship, Bullies

Available in: Print & ebook, 272 Pages

By the award winning author of ‘The Dogs of Winter’, Bobbie Pyron.

About the Book

A rich, southern voice tells the unforgettable story of two vulnerable outsiders, the lightning strike that turns their world upside down and the true meaning of lucky.

Nate Harlow has never had a lucky day in his life. He’s never won a prize, he’s never been picked first, he’s never even won a coin toss. His best friend, Genesis Beam (aka Gen), believes in science and logic, and she doesn’t think for one second that there’s such a thing as luck, good or bad. But only an extremely unlucky person could be struck by lightning on his birthday… and that person is Nate Harlow. By some miracle, though, Nate survives, and the strike seems to have changed his luck.

Suddenly, Nate’s grandpa is the busiest fisherman in their small, beachside town. And Nate finds himself the center of attention, the most popular kid at school, the one who hits a game-winning home run! This lucky streak can’t last forever, though, and as a hurricane draws close to the shores of Paradise Beach, Nate and Gen may need more than just good luck to save their friendship and their town: They need a miracle.

My Review

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Lucky Strike is a fun fantasy for children ages 8-12, but it also addresses some important issues.

At the beginning of the story, you can’t help but feel sorry for Nate Harlowe. Not only is he the most unlucky person in Paradise Beach, but he is bullied at school every day. His best (and only) friend is Genesis Beam, who is very smart and also bullied but she doesn’t let it bother her.

Nate’s luck changes when he’s struck by lightning and lives. His life changes as well. Suddenly, he’s not  only the luckiest person in Paradise Beach but he’s popular. What a wonderful life he has now! Or is it?

Lucky Strike is full of action and adventure and I think children will really enjoy it. It also teaches the importance of family and friendship and what luck truly means.


Praise for Lucky Strike by Bobbie Pyron

“This well-told story of growth, friendship, and small-town life hits all the right notes. The quirkiness of the characters and the town never goes too far, and there is an overall cozy feeling to the book. Genesis’s dad is the preacher at The Church of the One True Redeemer and Everlasting Light, but she is a scientist through and through, which adds complexity to the text, including musings on destiny, fate, probability, and weather. Fans of Susan Patron’s Higher Power of Lucky (S. & S., 2006), Sheila Turnage’s Three Times Lucky (Dial, 2012), and Ingrid Law’s Savvy (2008; both, Dial) will find something new for their to-read shelves.”- School Library Journal starred review

“Even lightly sketched characters leap off the pages, adding rich depth to an already satisfying tale. In the slightly fantastical Gulf Coast world that Bobbie Pyron (The Dogs of Winter, 2012) has imagined, people can change in unexpected ways. With just a spark of magic, bullies can become true friends, those without humor can learn to giggle, and perennial victims can emerge victorious. Amusing, endearing and sometimes even electrifying.”- Kirkus starred review

“Bobbie Pyron offers a gentler take on survival and friendship than in her gritty novel The Dogs of Winter. A dramatic and sweetly poignant story, enlivened by a dash of magical realism.”- Publisher Weekly

Praise for The Dogs of Winter

Junior Library Guild Selection

Kirkus Best Books of the Year!

Packs plenty of punch.” The New York Times

“This story is amazing. I read it in one sitting, I couldn’t put it down. The writing is captivating and the story is heartbreaking. The characters are wonderful, both the good and the bad. The writing is descriptive and filled with emotion. An absolute MUST read.”-Bev Sharp, The Wormhole

“An amazing story that was emotional and realistic? The book is written in first person, and I think this is a perfect story for young adults and older adults alike. The tenacity of the dogs and the boy will enthrall you.
There were no boring portions of the story, and I believe that the author captured the emotions of the characters perfectly. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.”-Ruth  A. Hill, My Devotional Thoughts

” I loved this book. I loved the writing. I loved the characters. The book is adventurous, engaging, happy, sad, and an overall emotional roller coaster all rolled into one.”-BookAngel, As I Turn the Pages

“Bobbie Pyron has a gift for creating characters that live in my heart.  She did it with A Dog’s Way Homeand she’s done it with this one, The Dogs of Winter.  I wanted to dive into the story, take Mishka in my arms and just love him.  Bobbie Pyron has created an emotionally powerful story about survival, love, and healing.  This is not a story I will ever forget.  It is a truly thought-provoking and unforgettable read.”-Heidi, GEO Librarian


About the AuthorBobbie Pyron Outside

Bobbie Pyron was born in Hollywood, Florida and spent her growing up years up in the panhandle, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and dreaming of being a mermaid.  She has degrees in Psychology and Anthropology, and a Masters degree in Library Science, and has worked as a librarian for over twenty-five years.

Her first book, a novel for teens titled The Ring (WestSide Books), was published in October of 2009. Her second book, A Dog’s Way Home (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books), was published to starred reviews in March of 2011. The Dog Writers Association of America recently awarded Bobbie the Maxwell Medal of Excellence and the Merial Human-Animal Bond Award.  It was also named a Banks Street Best Books of the Year.

Bobbie Pyron’s book, The Dogs of Winter (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic), came out October of 2012. The Dogs of Winter is a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Kirkus Best 100 Children’s Books of the Year. Bobbie lives in Park City, Utah with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.

Bobbie Pyron’s Website.


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Book Review: Meditation is an Open Sky by Whitney Stewart

Meditation is an Open Sky banner



Meditation is an Open SkyTitle: Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids
Author: Whitney Stewart
Publisher: Albert Whitman
Pages: 32
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Format: Hardcover/Kindle

About the Book

Feeling mindful is feeling good! You know when you’re having a bad day, you have that wobbly feeling inside and nothing seems to go right? Find a quiet place, sit down, and meditate! In this daily companion, kids of any age will learn simple exercises to help manage stress and emotions, find focus, and face challenges. They’ll discover how to feel safe when scared, relax when anxious, spread kindness, and calm anger when frustrated. Simple, secular, and mainstream, this mindfulness book is an excellent tool for helping kids deal with the stresses of everyday life.

For More Information

My Review

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Meditation is an Open Sky is a children’s book that teaches children how to meditate. At the beginning of the book, it explains that meditation doesn’t solve problems but it does help us deal with problems. It contains 9 different meditation exercises and suggests at the beginning to read through it and then pick one to do. At the end of the book, there are answers to commonly asked questions such as what if you get bored while meditating or what if your legs get sore?

Meditation is an Open Sky is not only easy to understand, but it has cute pictures.

I think it’s a great idea to teach meditation to children. It’s a good skill to learn and a great tool to help them not only now, but when they’re going through their teen years.


Book Excerpt

You know when you’re having a bad day and nothing seems to go right? You have that wobbly feeling inside that makes you scared, sad, and mad all at the same time. Well, find a quiet place, sit down, and meditate.

 Meditation won’t take away your problems, but it will help you deal with them. You’ll learn to watch your feelings pop up and disappear like soap bubbles.

 Read through this book and pick one meditation for today.

 Sit in a chair or cross-legged on a pillow on the floor.

Keep your back straight but not stiff, and put your hands on your knees or in your lap.

 Close your eyes or keep them slightly open and stare at a spot on the floor.

 Inhale and feel your breath fill up your belly.

 Then breathe out slowly. Continue with slow, full breaths during meditation.


About the Author

Whitney StewartWhitney Stewart grew up in New England and graduated from Brown University. She published her first award-winning, young adult biography after interviewing the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the subject of two of her books. She trekked with Sir Edmund Hillary in the Everest region of Nepal; interviewed Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon, Burma; and traveled extensively in Asia to research the lives of Deng Xiaoping, Mao Zedong, and Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. She is the author of three middle-grade novels and multiple middle-grade nonfiction books, including an unknown tale of Abraham Lincoln and artist Francis Bicknell Carpenter. Her newest picture books include A Catfish Tale, a bayou retelling of the Grimm brothers’ Fisherman and his Wife, and Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids.


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Book Review: Moonchild Dreams by Nadia Gerassimenko

25029601Title: Moonchild Dreams

Author: Nadia Gerassimenko

Genre: Poetry

Publication Date: February 21, 2015

About the Book

(from Goodreads)

“Let us immerse into five imaginary and yet quite believable and relatable mythologies narrated by very mesmerizing Muses. The first to get you plunging are vocal melodies about strength, wonderment, and hope. The second is a struggle between love and its mirrored-self – an inevitable discovery of what true love is and how imitation fails to grasp its pure essence. The third are tales chanted forlornly by Sirens about love and loss and the unattainable, all lost in the abysmal sea. The fourth, less melancholy but profound nonetheless, are words of wisdom to live by from our Mother Nature. And lastly, you come to meet the Moonchild…a part of her inner world and dreams she dared to share.”


My Review

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

I am not a poetry expert by any means. In fact, I’ve only recently started to appreciate poetry. I still don’t like poems that have to be deciphered, but I do like the ones I can understand the first time I read them.

Nadia’s poetry is easy to understand. She also includes footnotes on some of the poems to explain her inspiration which I thought was a great idea. In this collection of poems, you can see how her poetry has evolved over the years.

Some of the poems were pretty good while there were others I really liked. I previously posted the ones that I like the most: Moonchild Dreams, Beauty Inside, The Gift of Solitude, We Keep on Going, and With Eyes.

This is a good first book of poetry and I think anyone who likes poetry would enjoy it.

Buy the Book

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About the Author

(from Goodreads)

SONY DSCNadia never thought she would write. Not until 2004 when she turned 14 that a muse knocked on her door and overwhelmed her with a fiery passion she had to let out. Then she could not stop writing. About hopes and dreams, sorrows, love and passion, childlike philosophies, stories that only happened in her head. Her words were either optimistic or melancholy – a duality she always carried through life. As she grew older, however, she wrote less. Not that the flame ever stifled, she was only looking for a way to convey something meaningful not only to herself, but something that many can relate to.

In the beginning of 2015, Moonchild Dreams was born. It is a collection of poems she gathered from 2004 to 2015 that show her evolution as a poetess as well as a person from her early teens to adulthood. Although one can notice her maturation, she still holds onto the dreamy child inside her – a duality she now carries. With this collection of poems, she hopes to touch hearts of the readers with something relevant to their own experiences, struggles, and feelings, and to inspire them to chase their own dreams.

Book Review: Double Blind by Tiffany Pitts

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8-24-2014 8-05-59 PMTitle: Double Blind
Author: Tiffany Pitts
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Pages: 280
Genre: Action/Adventure/Humor/Sci-fi
Format: Paperback/Kindle

About the Book

Delilah Pelham’s brother, Paul, is missing. She should probably be worried about that but honestly, he’s been in trouble since the day he learned the words “trust me.” In fact, if it weren’t for his roommate, Carl, she would gladly leave him to his fate.

Carl is a good guy, even if he’s a bit of a dork. Okay, a large slice of a dork. Possibly the entire cake.

But he wants to help, as do his gamer friends, which is how Deli finds herself in the middle of Hong Kong with the King of the Dorks, running from creepy guys with slicked-back hair and shiny black guns.

 Back at home, Carl’s friends aren’t faring nearly as well. All they had to do was monitor the situation and feed Deli’s cat while she was gone. How could that possibly end in bloodshed?

 There is an answer, of course, but no one ever thinks to ask the cat.

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I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Double Blind is a mystery with some suspense, a little science fiction, and a lot of humor. It grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept it throughout the book.

The characters are all unique. There’s Deli who is small but a master at fighting even men 2 or 3 times her size. Her twin brother, Paul, is an extreme jerk. Paul’s roommate Carl, however, is a great guy although a bit of a nerd. That’s just a few of the quirky characters. My favorite is Deli’s cat, Toesy (named that because he has extra toes).

There is a lot of action, unbelievable but hilarious fighting, several twists, and a little romance. There was a little more swearing than necessary but still a great read. I definitely recommend Double Blind.


About the Author

8-24-2014 8-04-18 PMTiffany Pitts grew up in the Seattle area in a time when the Super Sonics were huge and Starbucks was just a store at the end of the Market. Tragedy struck early in her life as her family moved to New Jersey mere months before Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” album hit record stores. It took nearly a decade to wean herself off the hairspray. But Seattle called her back, so she went; eventually earning a degree in Botany (pronounced “Bar tending”) at the University of Washington. 

She made one more valiant attempt to leave the PNW after college by travelling around the country doing not much of value and making very stupid decisions. She is thankful every day that the internet was not a huge deal in those years. Then Seattle called again so she picked up and moved home where she spent many years being a scientist of middling talent in several labs that she absolutely did not blow up—except for that one time and everyone agreed not to talk about that any more.

 Now she divides her time between writing fiction and raising two kids who are wonderful but, for some reason, will not stop licking things.

Her latest book is the action/adventure/humorous/scifi, Double Blind.

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Book Review: Adam by Teresa Gabelman


22051230Title: Adam (The Protectors #5)

Author: Teresa Gabelman

Genre:  Paranormal Romance

Publication Date:  June 24, 2014

Description (from Goodreads): 

Half-breed vampire, Adam Pride, has an almighty chip on his broad shoulders. Trying to move on after finding Angelina married to another, Adam has a decision to make. Remove the chip and move on or kill the man who took what he wanted most in the world, his Angel.

With his heart in pieces, Adam’s on a mission to become the best VC Warrior he can be. It’s not long before fate steps in, turning his world and life as he knows it upside down. Shocking revelations will realign allegiances and draw the VC Warriors onto a new path. This journey is not Adam’s alone. Every Warrior, half-breed and human will be affected by what is to come. The unknown awaits. The battle has just begun.


 I had the privilege to be a beta-reader for Adam. I read Duncan and Sid, #3 and #4 in the series, and was hoping I’d get to beta read this one as well.

I’ve read 3 of the 5 books in the Protectors series and one of these days when I have the time I’ll go back and read the first two books in the series. I couldn’t wait for this one to come out after reading Sid and Duncan.

Teresa Gabelman’s writing is easy to read and flows well. I always enjoy her sense of humor as well.

I liked Adam because some questions were answered. There wasn’t as much of the character Adam in the book as I expected though. This was more like a continuation of the previous stories, tying up some loose ends, and it would be difficult for someone to read it without reading at least one of the previous books.

If you like vampire romances, I recommend Adam but I also recommend reading the other books in the series first.

Book Review: Secrets & Lies by Christine Amsden


17972727Title: Secrets & Lies

Author: Christine Amsden

Genre:  Young Adult Fantasy

Publication Date:  November 2013

Description (from Goodreads)

Cassie Scot, still stinging from her parents’ betrayal, wants out of the magical world. But it isn’t letting her go. Her family is falling apart and despite everything, it looks like she may be the only one who can save them.

To complicate matters, Cassie owes Evan her life, making it difficult for her to deny him anything he really wants. And he wants her. Sparks fly when they team up to find two girls missing from summer camp, but long-buried secrets may ruin their hopes for happiness. Book 2 in the Cassie Scot Mystery series.


I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

This is the second book in the Cassie Scot series, and it starts where the first book left off. Just like the first book, Cassie Scot Paranormal Detective, once I started Secrets & Lies it was hard to put down. Christine Amsden has a great writing style that flows well and is easy to read. 

Not only does Cassie have a disappearance of a distant cousin to look into, but she ends up having to do it with Evan. She is conflicted about spending so much time with him because she’s still trying to figure out her feelings.

Cassie experiences a lot of heartache in this book but she’s strong…stronger than she realizes. Her friends are also dealing with a lot and, of course, she wants to help them deal with their problems too.

Secrets & Lies is full of drama, action, magic, and twists. I recommend it to readers of all ages.






Book Review: Hypocrisy by D.M. Annechino

5-13-2014 8-59-10 PMTitle: Hypocrisy

Author: D.M. Annechino

Genre: Medical Thriller, Murder Mystery

Book Synopsis:

Dr. Lauren Crawford is a brilliant research scientist who discovers a revolutionary treatment for cancer that not only extends life, but much improves the quality of life for terminal cancer patients. The treatment, in some instances, can even cure certain cancers. On the evening before Dr. Crawford holds a press conference to announce that the FDA has given preliminary approval of her new cancer treatment, somebody follows her to her car and puts three bullets in her head. Was it a planned murder with a motive, a mugging gone badly, or merely a random act of violence?

Two New York City homicide detectives, Amaris Dupree and T.J. Brown, are assigned to the investigation. The detectives evaluate the circumstances surrounding Dr. Crawford’s death, and follow a trail of clues that exposes a sequence of startling facts. One by one, the detectives carefully examine each suspect and piece together a puzzle with unimaginable implications. As the investigation gets more intense, and the detectives get closer to solving the murder mystery, someone threatens Dupree’s life. The detectives now realize that Dr. Crawford’s murder was much more than a homicide. And if they don’t arrest the murderer soon, Dupree might be the next victim.


I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Hypocrisy grabbed my interest from the start and never slowed down. It is a good detective murder mystery. It begins with the murder of a brilliant doctor who was about to revolutionize the way some cancers are treated. 

The case is given to Amaris Dupree and T.J. Brown. They have been partners for a few months and work well together but they don’t know each other personally. They decide to change that during the course of this investigation so, as they get to know each other, the reader learns about them as well. I thought it was a good way to develop the characters and introduce their pasts.

Hypocrisy flows well and is easy to read for the most part. There were times when I got confused about who was talking because a new paragraph wasn’t started when someone new was talking during a conversation.

I definitely recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good murder mystery.


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Author’s Bio:

5-13-2014 8-59-37 PMDaniel M. Annechino, a former book editor specializing in full-length fiction, wrote his first book, How to Buy the Most Car for the Least Money, in 1992 while working as a General Manager in the automobile business. But his passion had always been fiction, particularly thrillers. He spent two years researching serial killers before finally penning his gripping and memorable debut novel They Never Die Quietly. His second book Resuscitation (Thomas & Mercer 2011), a follow-up to his first novel, hit #1 in Kindle sales in both the USA and UK. He is also the author of I Do Solemnly Swear (Thomas & Mercer 2012). Hypocrisy, is Annechino’s fourth novel.

A native of New York, Annechino now lives in San Diego with his wife, Jennifer. He loves to cook, enjoys a glass of vintage wine, and spends lots of leisure time on the warm beaches of Southern California.

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Book Review: The Magician’s Doll by M.L. Roble

The-Magicians-Doll-cover-192x300Title: The Magician’s Doll

Author: M.L. Roble

Publication Date: February 2, 2013

Publisher: Independent

Pages: 320

Recommended Ages: 10+


“They are stronger. They are coming. They will arrive!”

Life would be so much better for twelve-year-old Natalie if she and her mother weren’t different; other kids wouldn’t pick on her; she wouldn’t have to get into fights. She would have friends. But Natalie has abilities that set her apart, and despite her very best efforts to have a normal life, her developing “gift” has a way of upending them all. Then one day a big top circus rolls into town bringing with it Beausoleil the Magician, his daughter Louisa, and his mysterious doll. Strange things are afoot with Beausoleil’s arrival, and in his wake, an eerie storm is approaching. Soon Natalie discovers there is more to her world and the people around her than she knew, and that being different is just the tip of the iceberg… The Magician’s Doll sparks readers’ imaginations with a tale of magical discoveries, profound friendships, a fight against evil, and the growth that comes with facing your fears and accepting who you are.


I received a free ecopy of this book for an honest review.

I really enjoyed The Magician’s Doll. It’s the story of Natalie and Phillip who have been friends all of their lives and they find out that they are different from most of us. They both have always felt like they are different but Natalie is finding it difficult to accept. Phillip, on the other hand, is excited about it. They have both had to deal with a lot in their young lives but it’s nothing compared to what they have to deal with in this book!

The Magician’s Doll is easy to read and is written well. It’s full of drama, suspense, mystery, and humor. There are also a few surprises along the way. The characters are well developed and there’s a definite good vs. evil theme.

I definitely recommend The Magician’s Doll for readers of all ages.

Purchase the Book

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About the Author: M.L. Roble

M.L. RobleM. L. Roble’s desire to write a children’s novel stems from the nostalgia of her own middle grade reading years where she first experienced books like “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Shattered Stone”. There have been different books and genres since, but those years fueled an enchantment for story that continues to this day.

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Book Review: The Author Training Manual by Nina Amir

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4-20-2014 7-00-54 PMTitle: The Author Training Manual
Author: Nina Amir
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
Pages: 256
Genre: Nonfiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

About the Book:

Anyone can publish a book and become an “author,” but if you want to become a successful author with a profitable publishing career, you need a clear, step-by-step guide to help you develop book ideas that sell. In The Author Training Manual, expert editor and book coach Nina Amir reveals the exact process successful authors have used to create business plans and proposals for their books and teaches you how to view your ideas through the eyes of acquisition editors and literary agents.

 Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, plan to traditionally publish or self-publish, The Author Training Manual provides you with the tools you need to achieve your goals and become the author publishers and readers want. Inside you’ll find concrete steps, evaluations, sample business plans, in-depth training activities, editor and agent commentaries, and much more – all designed to help you stand out, from the slush pile to the shelf.


I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

This is a great book for authors who are serious about getting their book published whether it’s through a publishing company or being self published. One of the many topics is which one is best for you.

The first chapter and Step #1 of the Author Training Process are mostly motivational, helping the author to get the right attitude which can be so important. After each step of the Author Training Process, there are exercises at the back of the manual which the author states is “the real training.”

The Author Training Manual presents writing a book like starting a business. Before you start writing your book it states you should have a business plan/business proposal whether you plan on trying to go through a publisher or being self published. It includes a lot of resources and samples of proposals and business plans.

This is definitely a good resource for any writer who is serious about getting their book published.


Purchase your copy:



About the Author:

4-20-2014 7-00-03 PM Nina Amir, the Inspiration to Creation Coach and author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, transforms writers into authors. She inspires people from all walks of life to create books that positively impact readers and to develop careers as authors, achieve their goals, and fulfill their potential. Nina is a sought-after nonfiction developmental editor, proposal consultant, and author, book, blog-to-book, blog, and results coach. Some of her clients have gone on to sell 300,000+ copies of their books and to land deals with major publishing houses. She writes four blogs, has self-published 12 books and is the founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge.


You can find all of Nina’s blogs by visiting her main website,

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Book Review: Savior by Anthony Caplan

cover11small-200x300Title: Savior

Author: Anthony Caplan

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: April 18, 2014

Description (from Goodreads):

A father and son stumble into the secret world of the Santos Muertos, a crime cartel bent on global domination. The son must find his father and keep the secret of the Chocomal, the ancient Mayan code underlying the creation of matter in the universe, from falling into the wrong hands. A story of sacrifice and love set in a contemporary, dystopian America.


I received a free ecopy of this book for an honest review.

This is a difficult review to write because this book has some really good qualities but I had a couple issues with it. After reading the first chapter, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get through the book; however, after the first chapter it got much better and I’m glad I stuck with it. I do suggest the use of quotation marks in the author’s next novel, though. The lack of quotation marks makes the story much more difficult to follow.

The main characters were likable. I felt sorry for Al and Ricky who continued to mourn the loss of their wife and mother. I was impressed, though, at how quickly Ricky grew up and stepped up when he needed to.

The story got a little slow toward the end but overall it was a good read and I’d read it again (with quotation marks).