Book Review: After Death by Jacqueline E. Smith

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After Death

by Jacqueline E. Smith

5/5 stars

The third installment of Cemetery Tours did not disappoint. In fact, it appointed… hard! I felt the same excitement as when I read the first. Smith’s ghosts, action, and characters sync incredibly well together. And the dialogue never misses a beat. I feel like I’ve known Kate, Michael, and Luke for ages. I can’t think of a moment I did not thoroughly enjoy (a carnival was perfect ghostly setting by the way). Romance, intrigue, and another jaunt with America’s favorite ghost, Eugene Brinkley? I think I’ll read the series all over again. Maybe you should too!

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Book Review: Insomnia’s Ink by Susie Clevenger

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Insomnia’s Ink

by Susie Clevenger

5/5 stars

Susie Clevenger is a seasoned poet, writing with all the force of years behind her. I have probably read this book three or four times already (to be honest, I’ve lost count). There is a high mastery of structure and emotion in her verse from which the reader cannot easily escape. I find myself drawn back to the comfort and truth she delivers so readily. Tremendous poetry for those who wish to understand and feel.

Book Review: Lurking in the Deep

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Lurking in the Deep

4/5 stars

Lurking in the Deep is an anthology of water and fear. I enjoyed most of the stories, but had favorites: The Water’s Edge, The Reluctant Seamstress, Wrath, and Dark Waters were by far the most frightening. I enjoyed the dark twists and original plot in The Reluctant Seamstress, whereas the beauty of The Water’s Edge was something to be marveled. My only criticism is that though the stories are individually good, it felt there was too much emphasis on dark creatures.

Book Review: Boy Band by Jacqueline Smith

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Boy Band

by Jacqueline E. Smith

5/5 stars

Boy Band surprised me. I wasn’t sure going in if I would connect with the characters of a modern boy band. Author Jacqueline Smith however is a tremendous writer with a gift for storytelling. Her characters are rich, successful, influential, but still relatable. There’s something very human in their struggle for acceptance and love. And I never knew how lonely or lost people at the top could feel. Add to this the relationships: oh, god, the relationships! They were a rollercoaster ride but I won’t give anything away. My favorite part of Boy Band was that though there was a degree of humor and YA silliness, the author was not afraid to get serious: whether it was the crushing double-edged sword of success or the pitfalls and ramifications of normal breakups. There are also several other observations on life that I found interesting. Whether you’re a girl, a guy, young, or old I think you will find something to enjoy in this book. It’s fascinating to look behind the music and be a part of the band.

Book Review: Jack Learns to Grill by Paula Walker Baker

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Jack Learns to Grill (Volume 1)

by Paula Walker Baker

5/5 stars

Jack Learns to Grill is a great story. People may not think this of children’s books, but it’s true. Jack is an adopted dog taken in and nurtured by a loving family. He finds his way in the world through curiosity and playful humor calling his owners “mom” and “dad” respectively. Not only will children love hearing and reading this book, but I think there’s a more important message behind it. We should treat animals kindly and with love; not only because they need us, but because we need them too.

Book Review: Borrowed Wings by Regina Puckett

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Borrowed Wings

by Regina Puckett

5/5 stars

It’s no secret I have high expectations for children’s books. I think they should challenge the young and old alike to interpret and feel a broad range of emotions. Borrowed Wings by Regina Puckett hits this on every level. The cover is brilliant, grabbing your attention, and the story is no less fantastic. The artwork and story are supremely touching. I’m 27 years-old and the tale of a mother and son dragon brought tears to my manly eyes. But I’m also a teacher and see great value in the lessons taught about the importance of love and family. You will love this book no matter what your age. I only wish it had gone on forever.

Book Review: My Way to Anywhere by Jean Lisette Brodey

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My Way to Anywhere

by Jean Lisette Brodey

4/5 stars

My Way to Anywhere is a profound and passionate collection of poetry. It felt as if the author connected deeply with the words she wrote. There is a heavy realism, that remains both beautiful and gentle. However, I was not as enthralled by the second half of the book. The children’s poems were wonderful but did have the same intensity. I believe children are capable of understanding a great deal and we should challenge them more thoroughly. That said, I am extremely grateful her daughter Lisette put the book together. It was a pleasure to read.

Book Review: Groovy Cool Writing Techniques by Cinta Garcia de la Rosa

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Groovy Cool Writing Techniques

by Cinta Garcia de la Rosa

5/5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Groovy Cool Writing Techniques. It felt unlike other books on writing: informative, fast-paced, even humorous. I primarily write poetry and the exercises helped inspire me as well. No matter what your medium of writing, I think everyone can benefit from reading through the author’s explanations. You will understand not only how to get through writers’ block, but why you have it in the first place. I found this particularly enlightening. My favorite part however was book itself: from the front cover on you realize it will be fun. I liked the light and friendly tone, that was never condescending or confusing. It was clear that the author cared and wants her readers to enjoy the writing process.

Book Review: Broken Places by Rachel Thompson

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Broken Places

by Rachel Thompson

5/5 stars

Some poets are born, but most are made. I believe Rachel Thompson possesses an inner-strength transcending both ideals. Perhaps her poetry would not be possible without her story, but that is immaterial. She was born and makes a difference. I am not a survivor of sexual abuse, but I feel the intensity of her writing and the strength that it provides. There is courage in the ability to speak that I know others will find because of Broken Places. I better understand the enormity our actions and indifference can cause to victims of abuse. And I find solace in the truth and beauty of her words that touched my soul. If you like great writing or poetry, please give this book your time. It will be well worth it. Two of my favorite passages were:

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can a ghost of air and dust
hold me now?

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It’s beautiful, this hill we climb
To the quiet, most private silence of our souls

Book Review: Between Worlds by Jacqueline E. Smith

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Between Worlds

by Jacqueline E. Smith

4/5 stars

I am not usually a fan of sequels, but author Jacqueline E. Smith has found new ways to challenge her characters. Michael, Kate, Luke, and Brink (my favorite ghost) are incredible as they investigate and unearth the mysteries behind Stanton Hall Manor. Relationships are tested and romance emerges despite overwhelming circumstances. The second half of the novel where they encounter the terrifying and dangerous ghost Sterling was by far my favorite. I also enjoyed the first half and the development of Kate and Michael’s relationship. There were only a few reservations I had: I would have liked to see more ghosts in the lead-up to the climax. I understand the characters and stories are moving forward, but Michael has an amazing and exciting gift. I think more ghosts could have helped or provided interesting obstacles along the way. Perhaps Brink could find a ghostly girlfriend as well. He is my boy after all and I hate to see him lonely. Between Worlds however is a fantastic novel and engaging read I highly recommend. I cannot wait to read the next installment.