Sunday Post/Mailbox Monday 7/11/2021: Summertime Updates

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog…
Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists….

Hello all and happy weekend. I haven’t posted an updates post since May and time is flying as usual. I hope you are doing well and enjoying your summer. Summer tends to get busy for us because both my kids and my husband have birthdays back to back, and it seems like each weekend we have plans, then we try to fit in a vacation trip as well. I can’t complain, I love the summer months and enjoying the sunshine as much as I can.

Maybe TMI but in the midst of being busy with work and family these past few months, I had to have a root canal. A painful complicated one that involved two one and a half hour long visits to a specialist who gave me THREE shots of Novocain per visit, a round of antibiotics and prescription painkillers which after taking just one pill I decided to stick to Advil forever. I’m glad it’s over and done with and I hope to never have to go through that again in this lifetime or the next.

Anyway, on a good note, work announced the hybrid schedule is permanent so I am happy about that. It’s great working from home a few days a week then driving into the office a few days. I’m finding it a nice balance.

And I was finally away on vacation recently doing alot of this which was very relaxing:


Onto my bookish updates…..


recently on the blog:

I shared my thoughts on Sarana and the Dark King by Ivy Keating.


I reviewed The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah.

In my mailbox:

After loving The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah I ordered The Great Alone by the same author.

I received The Bookshop Murder by Merryn Allingham via Bookouture, The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews via St. Martin’s Press and Neon Gods by Katee Robert via Sourcebooks Casablanca.



I purchased The Power by by Naomi Alderman and this fun bookish tote at the coziest little Indie bookstore I found while on vacation. It was a little book cabin and the owner was very nice.






crochet
I crocheted a coffee cup coaster and cozie for my cubicle.



I finished up my son’s blanket. I made this for him as one of his birthday gifts in May.



watching:
We watched all 3 Thor movies and are watching the Avengers films next so we can watch the new Loki series. Have you watched any of these?

That wraps up my updates, what are you up to? What are you reading? Otis says enjoy your weekend and stay safe 🙂



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Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is available for download. Some of these links are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. The photos in this post are my own and not to be removed from here.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah



source: purchased
title: The Four Winds
author: Kristin Hannah
genre: historical fiction
pages: 464
published: February 2, 2021
first line: Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars

Blurb:
The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it―the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.-quoted from Amazon

My thoughts:
The Four Winds was my first foray into author Kristin Hannah’s work and it won’t be my last. I picked this one up after seeing a few book bloggers rave about it.

This book was my vacation read last week and I was transported as I read. I could not put it down, reading as many as 200 pages in one day which is alot for me since I usually tap out at maybe 100 pages a day.

Without giving too much away, the story takes place during the 1930’s Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The book centers around Elsa Wolcott who by age 25 has been written off by her family as an old maid. She is born in Texas to a well off family since her father owns a tractor business. Elsa loves to read and wants to have fun and be a flapper and become a writer one day. Everything changes for her and she becomes a mom and suffers through the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. With themes of family, motherhood, the bonds women form, poverty and American life during the 1920’s and 30’s this was an epic story that utterly drew me in. I could not turn the pages fast enough.

The author writes about the Dust Bowl and the storms so vividly I could easily imagine it. Of course while reading I had to google the Dust Bowl to familiarize myself with the details and I was shocked at what I learned and what so many people suffered at that time. The images of these dust storms look like something out of a nightmare. The dust from the Plains region even reached up as far as Washington DC and New York City at one point. The author paints such a vivid picture of what people went through at that time and of the poverty people suffered that it both shocks you and pulls at your heartstrings as you read.

Kristin Hannah’s descriptive writing style and the way she shaped these characters had me enthralled. I felt for them and I wanted them to be alright. The relationships within the story are what grab ahold of you as you read. Elsa is a good mother trying to survive it all and take care of her children. The people she meets who are going through similar struggles become like family to her. This is a story about strong women and about surviving against all odds and pushing forward no matter what.

The Four Winds is definitely one of my top reads for 2021 and I highly recommend it if you are looking to get swept away into a well written historical family saga. Have a box of tissues handy.
As per the photo below, my reading view last week was perfect. I’m so glad I chose The Four Winds as my vacation book. Have you read this one?



“Books had always been her solace; novels gave her the space to be bold, brave, beautiful, if only in her own imagination.”– p14, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

“Heartache had been a part of her life so long it had become as familiar as the color of her hair or the slight curve in her spine. Sometimes it was the lens through which she viewed her world and sometimes it was the blindfold she wore so she didn’t see.”- p.117, The Four Winds

“Love is what remains when everything else is gone.” -p.425, The Four Winds

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About the author:
Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week.-quoted from Amazon


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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of The Four Winds. Some of these links are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. The book photo here is my own.

Sarana and the Dark King by Ivy Keating


source: free review copy from the author
title: Sarana and the Dark King
author: Ivy Keating
genre: fantasy
pages: 268
published: March 22, 2021
first line: In ancient times, a powerful sorcerer played a trick on the rulers by creating maps with the location of tarilium, the strongest metal in existence.

Blurb:
The fearsome Dark King of Bounten, with a magical creature known as a Valomere by his side, is on a quest to find the rare metal tarilium. His brutal ways incite the powerful psychic Allani. But when news of his plans to invade the kingdom of Attaveer spread, a new opponent emerges—Sarana, the daughter of a farmer…or is she?

At birth Sarana was sentenced to death for her “cursed” white hair. The delivery nurse, Meriden, whisked the fair-haired babe to a loving home across the waters from Bounten. Her entire life she hid her appearance to avoid prejudice. Things changed when she discovered she too had a Valomere. She strived to learn the creature’s magic and master fighting skills with the hope of becoming a warrior. Her dreams came true when she was allowed to join the Attaveerian king’s network of spies–a group poised to help defend the kingdom from an invasion by the Dark King and his powerful army.

When word of the white-haired messenger reached the Dark King he vowed to stop at nothing to capture or kill his opponent.

The time for hiding is over.

Can Sarana save herself and her kingdom? Follow Sarana from death to destiny as she joins forces with psychics, Valomeres, and the power of inner strength, to defeat an evil king.


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My thoughts:
Sarana and the Dark King by Ivy Keating is an entertaining read centered around the Dark King, a gifted young woman named Sarana and the magical beasts the Valomeres.

The story begins Sarana is born with bright hair, infected eyes and a pale complexion all of which can be taken for a curse. In order to keep Sarana safe, nurse and healer Meriden whisks her away to safety while telling everyone the child has died. Meriden takes Sarana to her sister and brother in law who raise her as their own in Attaveer.

Without giving too much away, as Sarana grows up, the Dark King of Bounten continues to be obsessed with the rarest metal tarilium. Also woven into the storyline is the King wanting an heir from his Queen while keeping his mistress hidden on the side. The King’s mistress has a sister named Alani who is an oracle and who wants to take the Dark King down and free her captive sister.

As the plot twists and turns Sarana learns there will be war over the tarilium. With the help of her friends and her Valomere named Halo Sarana is willing to fight against the King and defend her homeland of Attaveer. It all culminates to an exciting ending where secrets are revealed and the story closes with the hint of more to come.

The story is brimming with adventure and the plot twists and turns made Sarana and the Dark King an engaging read. The author writes the main characters in such a way that you are drawn into the storyline immediately. I also enjoyed the imaginative world building. However, I would have liked further details as to some of what was going on. Specifically with the magical Valomeres and their powers because some of their abilities seemed unclear to me.

All in all, while fantasy is not my usual genre I enjoyed this one and I would recommend it if you’re looking for an entertaining adventure.

“The land in Attaveer was mostly flat with gentle rolling hills. It piqued her imagination when he spoke about the topography of his kingdom. There were mountains and waterfalls that spilled into rapids. He also told her about the native animals, like bears and caribou.”- 26% Kindle app, Sarana and the Dark King


“The oracle never liked the king of Bounten. His policy on metal taxes caused too much suffering, but now his behavior affected her personally. With Whisper curled up on the floor next to her, she could read him well. Tonight, she learned about his plans to trick the kingdoms and prepare his army to invade Attaveer.- 58% Kindle app, Sarana and the Dark King


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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received a free copy of Sarana and the Dark King by Ivy Keating from the author in exchange for my honest thoughts. Some of these links are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.

Book Spotlight: Any Dumb Animal by A.E. Hines




Good morning all. I hope you are enjoying these summer months and reading good books. Today I am spotlighting a poetry book called Any Dumb Animal by A.E. Hines.

With every pre-sale purchase of Any Dumb Animal by A.E. Hines between June and November 2021, a group of anonymous donors will match dollar for dollar each sale and donate it to The Trevor Project.

The Trevor Project was founded in 1998 and is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.

The publisher also is offering a limited time advanced sale price of $8.50 + shipping. Order here: https://mainstreetragbookstore.com/product/any-dumb-animal-ae-hines/

About the book:
Any Dumb Animal (Main Street Rag, 2021), the debut poetry collection by AE Hines, presents a memoir-in-verse as told by a gay man raised in the rural South who comes of age during the AIDS crisis. Flashing back and forth in time, a cast of recurring characters and circumstances are woven into a rich tale of survival and redemption, exploring one man’s life as a queer son, father, and husband, over a span of more than thirty years.



Advance Praise:
“This compellingly candid work speaks the language of courage, of breath-taking transcendence. Finely crafted, it is a remarkable debut collection. Take note, world: a powerful lyric poet has emerged. Take note and rejoice!” ~ Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita

“I was amazed over and over at the bravery of these poems, never shying from the difficult moments in life, and all the while staying true to the clear-eyed, fearless vision of their author.” ~ James Crews, Editor of How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope

“With a strong gift for storytelling and an eye attuned to detail, Hines ultimately shows us the beauty and knowledge made of experience.” ~Richie Hofmann, Author of Second Empire



About the Author:
AE Hines (he/him) grew up in rural North Carolina and currently resides in Portland, Oregon. His poetry has been widely published in anthologies and literary journals including I-70 Review, Sycamore Review, Tar River Poetry, Potomac Review, Atlanta Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal and Crab Creek Review. He is winner of the Red Wheelbarrow Prize and has been a finalist for the Montreal International Poetry Prize. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Writing at Pacific University. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

Visit Poetic Book Tours for details on the blog tour.

Bird’s Eye View by T.K. Ray

source: free copy via Pump Up Your Book Promotion for review.
title: Bird’s Eye View
author: TK Ray
genre: fiction/novella/family drama
pages: 103
published: July 15th 2020
first line: Cancer.

About:
A Bird’s Eye View is a twisted tale of deception with acts of love overshadowed by the pains of a troubled teen. As traces of laughter and love are left amongst the whispers of chilling prayers, this once tight knit family faces a rollercoaster of emotions and a call to heal. This blindsided attack leaves the family devastated and takes this family on a journey none of them could prepare for.

My thoughts:
Bird’s Eye View by T.K. Ray is a story revolving around a family and the pain they go through and the ties that bind them. As the story starts off Cara narrates. She is a widow and mother of three daughters who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her life has not been easy she and her deceased husband used drugs and she’s gotten clean and tried to pick up the pieces after his death. She has twin daughters aged 18 and a younger daughter about to go into high school when she starts making arrangements. She decided to leave her youngest Carli to her niece Mirabel. As the chapters flows the other women in the story narrate in turn. Carli lives with her cousin Mirabel and spends most weekends with her sisters.

As the book flows and each character tells their story, there is sadness and heartache but also hope and strength. As a teenager Carli starts to rebel and I wondered how it would turn out for her. She drops a bombshell towards the middle of the book that was quite the plot twist. This bombshell causes a ripple effect that threatens to tear the entire family apart.
Some of the chapters end with the women saying a prayer as Mirabel especially is religious. I will mention a trigger warning for domestic violence and gun violence during a scene.
With author TK Ray’s writing style, I felt like I was being told a story by a friend as I read, if that makes sense. The writing flows smoothly as you get each character’s POV.

This is a story about family and how tough times make you stronger. One of the main themes here is that family is the most important thing. I enjoyed reading Bird’s Eye View by T.K. Ray and I recommend it if you enjoy stories revolving around family dramas and persevering.

“Crazy how that works. You pray against these moments-that they never come, that they don’t penetrate as deep as the last but of pain did-but when it comes, it’s there and then it’s gone. You’re forced to formulate new prayers, new peace, and a new life after the trauma.”-p.24,Bird’s Eye View by T.K. Ray

“The family I knew us to be, we always pull together in struggle. We were the strongest women I knew. Strength was becoming our thing.”-p.60,Bird’s Eye View by T.K. Ray



About the author:
“Write what hurts and watch it heal.” That is the mantra that has empowered the imagination and willpower to tell her story for upcoming Author, TK Ray. Using colorful language and descriptive tone, Tk provides a safe space to unpack a beautiful and twisted tale based on a true story of real family dynamics.

TK Ray was born in San Diego, California to a fifteen-year-old mother and fourteen-year-old father in the late eighties. Born to two young teens, TK found herself tainted by the statistics of becoming a teen mother herself. She found solace in the world of literature as her own private journals became her voice when shyness took over. She began to understand the world in more intuitive way and birthed that intuition into an imagination that has fueled much of her writing. Much of her writing is personal however as the years have gone by, have included poetry, music, obituaries, blog posts and now literature.

TK is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner and practicing Massage Therapist in southern California. She fuses her knowledge in holistic health with that of her knowledge of her bachelor’s degree in health science to better serve her community in wellness and education. – quoted from Amazon


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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received a free copy of Bird’s Eye View via Pump Up Your Book Promotion in exchange for my thoughts.