Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Thursday, November 29, 2018


AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: Behold the Dreamers 

by Imbolo Moue

Release Date: June 26th, 2017
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
12 hours and 14 minutes (400 Pages)
Published by Random House Audio
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating


Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.


This book has been on my shelf for a while now, but one of my book clubs recently chose it as part of 2019 picks. I felt the beginning of the actual book was very slow, so I was able to get the audiobook version from the library and that made a tremendous difference! The audiobook narrator, Prentice Onayemi, did such an incredible job, I was impressed! If you have a chance to listen to the audiobook, do so.

Being a naturalized immigrant myself, there were a lot of parts of the book I could relate to: from the shady immigration lawyer to the several wrong pieces of advice people decide to just give you, I don't think people that have not gone through the "system" truly understand the struggle that Jende and Neni were going through. 

With that said, it's a heartfelt story, very relevant to today's society, and very truthful to the millions of immigrants trying to survive with the promise of a better future for their children.

I would like to have seen more character development, and I wasn't satisfied with Neni's explanation of why she wanted to become a pharmacist. There was no passion put into her chosen path and I feel that it should've been there (although, that so-called "guidance counselor" resembles one that I met years ago)...UGH!

Some other characters, like the secretary, Leah, could have been explored more, while others, didn't really have a purpose.
Anyway, this is a good book and a GREAT audiobook ❤️.  I highly recommend it.

"I'm not ashamed of wanting many things in life. Tomorrow when my daughter grows up I will tell her to want whatever she wants, the same thing I will tell my son." 

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Bone Music by Christopher Rice

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: Bone Music by Christopher Rice (Burning Girl #1)

Release Date: March 1st, 2018
Genre: Mystery Thriller, Fiction
455 Pages (Kindle Edition)
Published by Thomas & Mercer
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My rating on Goodreads


There’s more than one way to stoke the flames of revenge…

Charlotte Rowe spent the first seven years of her life in the hands of the only parents she knew—a pair of serial killers who murdered her mother and tried to shape Charlotte in their own twisted image. If only the nightmare had ended when she was rescued. Instead, her real father exploited her tabloid-ready story for fame and profit—until Charlotte finally broke free from her ghoulish past and fled. Just when she thinks she has buried her personal hell forever, Charlotte is swept into a frightening new ordeal. Secretly dosed with an experimental drug, she’s endowed with a shocking new power—but pursued by a treacherous corporation desperate to control her.

Except from now on, if anybody is going to control Charlotte, it’s going to be Charlotte herself. She’s determined to use the extraordinary ability she now possesses to fight the kind of evil that shattered her life—by drawing a serial killer out from the shadows to face the righteous fury of a victim turned avenger.



Just WOW.

I had no clue what I was getting into when I picked up this book. This was my first book by Christopher Rice, and I got hooked on the first page! I literally could not put it down. I was up until 3:30am one weekend to finish it and I don't regret one minute of it!  This is the magic potion that stirs my love of reading...

The idea of a baby spared and raised by serial killers, finally rescued at 7 yrs old, forced to live with the shadows and grief of that experience....yet, Charlotte seems destined to have no peace and perpetually attract psychotic people in her life, no matter what.  Add to that a pharmaceutical test drug used in her without her knowledge, that makes her "super-hero like strong" and I was jumping with joy when she finally started kicking ass!!!

The story concept is fantastic. It's believable. All of the characters have flaws, which made me like them even more. The result is a fast-paced, engaging story, that is a lot of fun to read.  Charlotte tries really hard to prove that she's not evil, despite of being raised by serial killers, but I'm not going to spoil it for you, so you'll have to read it to find out what happens in the end...

As for me, I can't wait for book 2, Blood Echo, which will come out in February 2019.

"And that’s when I realized, we don’t get to pick the other survivors of the shipwreck, and on our darkest days, they’re all we have..."

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#T5W - Characters You'd Want at FriendsGiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


Characters You'd Want at FriendsGiving

It's time for another TOP 5 Wednesday!

This week also happens to be a special time for us in the US, because we celebrate Thanksgiving with our in the spirit of being Thankful, our theme this week is Which Characters would you invite to your FriendsGiving? 

But what is FriendsGiving exactly?

"The name Friendsgiving is a mashup of “friends” and “Thanksgiving,” and the idea is to spend an evening with the holiday’s classic dishes and your best buds. There isn’t a strict, enduring set of guidelines—Friendsgiving is a totally customizable modern tradition that’s taken off in recent years"  (excerpt from Real Simple).

I would actually love to have an informal FriendsGiving celebration with some of my favorite characters...let me know if you agree with my choices ♥

1. Gallowglass from the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, because he's not just a drop-dead gorgeous vampire, but he's also sweet and in love with the wrong person.  He deserves a hug...

2. Tom Sawyer from the Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, because that little troublemaker kept me company for many years during my childhood and we sure have a lot of tales to share.

3. Jude from The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, because I just love a girl that can kick-ass and doesn't follow all the rules!

4. Jules Ember from Everless by Sara Holland, a girl that can stop time might become extremely useful at the dinner table :-)

5. Fat Charlie Nancy from the Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, because he made me laugh out loud, and we all need a funny friend at the table...


Do you play games with your guests during dinner and/or events?  How about a "What If" scenario game?  Click this link to download it for free (no strings attached).


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The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Release Date: April 3rd, 2018
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
454 Pages
Published by Riverhead Books
My rating on Goodreads ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman when she meets the woman she hopes will change her life. Faith Frank, dazzlingly persuasive and elegant at sixty-three, has been a central pillar of the women's movement for decades, a figure who inspires others to influence the world. Upon hearing Faith speak for the first time, Greer--madly in love with her boyfriend, Cory, but still full of longing for an ambition that she can't quite place--feels her inner world light up. Then, astonishingly, Faith invites Greer to make something out of that sense of purpose, leading Greer down the most exciting path of her life as it winds toward and away from her meant-to-be love story with Cory and the future she'd always imagined.


I finished it a while ago but didn't want to post a review right away because I needed time to think this through and take it all in.

I enjoyed this book but I didn't love it. But why didn't I love it? I couldn't figure out why. The book is too long (and I had both the physical book and the audiobook). Her writing is phenomenal, let's get that out of the way. Maybe I dove into this book with hopes of experiencing an "A-Ha" moment OR maybe it was because the book tackles situations that are SO real and yet, there are no simple solutions, no formulas to fix them all.

Meg Wolitzer's novel follows four personalities: Faith, Greer, Zee and Cory. Their paths, personalities and experiences are very real to our modern day lives. They experience trauma, privilege, betrayal, acceptance, being judged, feeling lost and the question that burdens us all:
"am I making a difference?"

So that's when I finally realized the brilliant pattern of this book: I walked away from it confused and with more questions, and maybe that was Wolitzer's intention (maybe not). I don't think it was a bad thing. It's life. It's how it is. We do what we can and in the end, "the turtle might outlive us all"...(you'll understand the quote once you read the book).

If you're looking for a book to spin your thoughts around and turn your feelings upside down, this is it.  Grab a copy and read it before the movie comes out :-)

"But she thought that maybe there had been a series of moments, and that this was the way it was for most people: the small realizations leading you first toward an important understanding and then toward doing something about it. Along the way, too, there would be people you would meet who would affect you and turn you ever so slightly in a different direction. Suddenly you knew what you were working for, and you didn't feel as if you were wasting your time."
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The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos

Sunday, November 11, 2018


Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos

Release Date: October 9th, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, World War II
345 Pages
Published by Atria Books
My Rating on Goodreads ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


On a freezing night in January 1941, a little Jewish girl is found on the steps of an apartment building in Bucharest. With Romania recently allied with the Nazis, the Jewish population is in grave danger, undergoing increasingly violent persecution. The girl is placed in an orphanage and eventually adopted by a wealthy childless couple who name her Natalia. As she assimilates into her new life, she all but forgets the parents who were forced to leave her behind. They are even further from her mind when Romania falls under Soviet occupation.
Yet, as Natalia comes of age in a bleak and hopeless world, traces of her identity pierce the surface of her everyday life, leading gradually to a discovery that will change her destiny. She has a secret crush on Victor, an intense young man who as an impoverished student befriended her family long ago. Years later, when Natalia is in her early twenties and working at a warehouse packing fruit, she and Victor, now an important official in the Communist regime, cross paths again. This time they are fatefully drawn into a passionate affair despite the obstacles swirling around them and Victor’s dark secrets.
When Natalia is suddenly offered a one-time chance at freedom, Victor is determined to help her escape, even if it means losing her. Natalia must make an agonizing decision: remain in Bucharest with her beloved adoptive parents and the man she has come to love, or seize the chance to finally live life on her own terms, and to confront the painful enigma of her past.


Based on the true story of her mother's life, Veletzos was able to piece together a beautifully written, emotional page-turner, filled with historical details about the WWII and the Soviet rule on Romania.  The result was an impossible to put down book, showing the sacrifice, perseverance, hope and love of two mothers for the child they shared.

The novel is separated into three parts (Anton & Despina, Natalia, Victor), which perfectly paints the picture of  wealth, reversal of fortune and rise to top at a time of war.   The characters are well developed and Veletzos' descriptive writing style allow the reader to imagine the smells and sounds both at happy and tragic times. 

What I loved the most about the story was how both set of parents loved and cherished Natalia.  How they vowed to protect her at all costs.  Their ultimate sacrifice is an inspiration for the human kind.

I truly enjoyed this debut novel and will be looking forward for the author's next book! 

"To love is much easier than to despair, even when all of your hope has been burned to ashes."

To learn more about the author and in case you're looking for the "reading group guide" for book clubs, click here for  Roxanne Veletzos website.

I received a copy of the book from JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.
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#T5W Largest Books on TBR

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


Yay! Guess what day it is?  It's time for TOP 5 Wednesday!

Top 5 Wednesday is a Book Meme hosted by Samantha on Goodreads Groups.  If you're interested in joining the group, and/or find out what the other weekly topics are, click here.

This week, we're covering the Largest Books on TBR, so before jumping into my list, I have to tell you a little secret: I don't usually pick up books that have more than 600 pages.  In order for me to read a book that is something like 600 pages, it would have to be Extraordinary!
Just saying...

485 pages
I just got this book at a local Book Festival and it will be my first book by this author, so I am really looking forward to reading it. 

"In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe’s life is in ruins."

THE FALLEN by David Baldacci
421 pages
I attended an event where David Baldacci was the speaker and I was impressed by both his personality and the fact that he donated his time to help raise funds for a library.  The man won my admiration right there and then.

"Something sinister is going on in Baronville. The rust belt town has seen four bizarre murders in the space of two weeks. Cryptic clues left at the scenes--obscure bible verses, odd symbols--have the police stumped."

THE WOODS by Harlan Coben
405 pages
I'm ashamed to admit that I never read any of Harlan Coben's books but after watching the adaptation of one of his books on Netflix, I finally decided to give this book a try.

"Twenty years ago at summer camp, Paul Copeland's sister died in the woods, the alleged victim of a serial killer. Her body was never found. Now, Paul is the prosecutor for Essex County, New Jersey, immersed in one of the biggest cases of his career-a case that will change everything he believes about the past...and the truth"

HOUSE RULES by Jodi Picoult
532 pages
I lost count of how many Jodi Picoult's books I've read, and when I saw this one at a library sale, I couldn't resist buying it.

"Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject - forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crime scenes, and he's always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he's usually right."

LEGENDARY by Stephanie Garber (book 2 of Caraval Series)
451 pages
My local book club picked up this book for our 2019 list, so I'll be reading this one soon.

"A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name."

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A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Book Review


Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Genre: Adult Fiction
352 Pages
Published by Ballantine Books
My rating on Goodreads: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services clinic—its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage.

After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.

But Wren is not alone. She will share the next and tensest few hours of her young life with a cast of unforgettable characters: A nurse who calms her own panic in order save the life of a wounded woman. A doctor who does his work not in spite of his faith but because of it, and who will find that faith tested as never before. A pro-life protester disguised as a patient, who now stands in the cross hairs of the same rage she herself has felt. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy.

And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard.
Told in a daring and enthralling narrative structure that counts backward through the hours of the standoff, this is a story that traces its way back to what brought each of these very different individuals to the same place on this fateful day.


Jodi Picoult tackled yet another controversial issue with this novel.  Abortion is not a simple "black and white" conversation and even as she points out in the book, "I don't think we, as a society will ever see eye-to-eye on this issue".

Only a skillful writer such as Picoult would be able to write about a controversial item without taking sides and/or trying to persuade the reader.  If you think you know every possible angle that involves abortion, think again, because as we get to hear the different thoughts and reasonings from opposite sides in this story, we remember how different we are from one another.   

The story is told in a reverse chronological order, so the first chapter is the end of the hostage negotiation with a cliffhanger.  Of course, as a reader, I just wanted to read fast, absorb it all and find out what happened.  At first, I didn't quite appreciate the reversal time aspect, but towards the end of the book I felt that the plot made a lot more sense this way, as we understood the paths each character took that brought them to that specific situation.

This book is emotionally profound, and like every Picoult's book, it is a necessary reading, that opens the possibility of both discussion and understanding of women's rights. 

It's a story that I highly recommend, but please do me a favor, read it with an open mind and maybe, just maybe, we, as a society, can start to understand and accept each other...

Book Review

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Words We Don't Say - Book Review and Giveaway

Thursday, November 1, 2018


It's time for another Blog Tour Review & Giveaway! A Huge Thank You to Rockstar Book Tours for this FUNtastic book! Seriously, You. Must. Read. This. Book. I'm getting ahead of myself here, so let me tell you more about it first...

Pub. Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 288
Available at Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Joel Higgins has 901 unsent text messages saved on his phone.

Ever since the thing that happened, there are certain people he hasn't been able to talk to in person. Sure, he shows up at school, does his mandatory volunteer hours at the soup kitchen, and spends pretty much every moment thinking about Eli, the most amazing girl in the world. But that doesn't mean he's keeping it together, or even that he has any friends.

So instead of hanging out with people in real life, he drafts text messages. But he never presses send.

As dismal as sophomore year was for Joel, he doesn't see how junior year will be any better. For starters, Eli doesn't know how he feels about her, his best friend Andy's gone, and he basically bombed the SATs. But as Joel spends more time at the soup kitchen with Eli and Benj, the new kid whose mouth seems to be unconnected to his brain, he forms bonds with the people they serve there-including a veteran they call Rooster-and begins to understand that the world is bigger than his own pain.


OMG! I just Loved this book so much! I feel like I need to text all my friends and tell them that they need to read this book - although, unlike Joel Higgins, I will actually send all the texts.

The characters are so real. Our main character Joel is an anxious teenager, who happens to also be insecure and his thoughts fly at 100 miles a minute (oh, and he probably suffers from PTSD as well). We have Eli, the girl he's secretly in love with, but thinks that she's totally out of his league. There's Benj, the new boy that has no filter but turns out to have problems of his own (we all had a friend like that, right?). Alex, the genius that can't drive. Jacey, who is Joel's little brother and I just wish I could hug. Plus, the adults, parents and teachers who play an important part of the story and also felt amazingly authentic.

Joel made me laugh out loud and cry the next minute. Like any person that goes through trauma (teenager or not) he has difficulty accepting that not everything can be fixed. His dad tells him something like "it is what it is", which in Joel's mind, is just not fair. He tries to make sense of all the injustices in the world, while at the same time keeping all his emotions bottled up inside.

"We can feed them, but we can't fix them". The lady at the Soup Kitchen told him.

Joel was told that writing a journal would be a form of therapy to help him through this trauma. Nah, he writes texts that he saves as drafts and never sends. About 900 of them. To Eli, to his friend Andy and to the school principal.

The book deals with common problems going on in our society, such as banned books, PTSD, hunger, homeless, anxiety, depression and guns. You might ask, how can a story that deals with all of these issues be funny? Because of the dialogues, the ramblings and a lot of the situations are sarcastic and hilarious (you know, teenager style).

This is a beautiful coming of age story. Of how to move on after trauma. How to accept one's vulnerability and find hope. And finally, how to love.

Here's my final thought: Teenagers still have to read the same classic books that we all had to read back in High School. A teacher told me the other day that teenagers have lost interest in reading, but I have to disagree with that. I think that we need to give them books that they will connect with, instead of only classics. Words We Don't Say is a clear example of such a book. Please give a copy to a teenager. I know I will.

"The way I figured it, he was probably not a priest or minister but more like a brother or a monk or maybe an extraterrestrial emissary sent by a higher power to foster the spiritual evolution of young earthlings."

I am the author of the (contemporary social issue) Young Adult book, Words We Don't Say (Disney Hyperion Oct 2, 2018).


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Tour Schedule:

Week One:
10/8/2018- BookHounds YA- Excerpt
10/9/2018- Utopia State of Mind- Review
10/10/2018- Here's to Happy Endings- Review
10/11/2018- Abellafairytale- Review
10/12/2018- Do You Dog-ear?- Review

Week Two:
10/15/2018- YA Books Central- Excerpt
10/16/2018- The Pages In-Between- Review
10/17/2018- A Dream Within A Dream- Excerpt
10/18/2018- Book-Keeping- Review
10/19/2018- Beware Of The Reader- Review

Week Three:
10/22/2018- Rainy Day Reviews- Excerpt
10/23/2018- Moonlight Rendezvous- Review
10/24/2018- The Cover Contessa- Review
10/25/2018- Jena Brown Writes- Review
10/26/2018- A Fictional Bookworm- Review

Week Four:
10/29/2018- PopTheButterfly Reads- Review
10/30/2018- Cindy's Love of Books- Review
10/31/2018- The Desert Bibliophile- Review
11/1/2018- Trendy Simple Life- Review
11/2/2018- Patriotic Bookaholic- Review

Week Five:
11/5/2018- Coffee, Books and Cakes- Review
11/6/2018- Savings in Seconds- Review
11/7/2018- Novel Novice- Excerpt
11/8/2018- For the Love of KidLit- Spotlight
11/9/2018- Two points of interest- Review
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