NONNIE’S “RAVE” REVIEWS

These reviews are the personal views of Nonnie Jules. 

**ONLY THE BEST READS WITH A 4 OR 5 STAR RATING WILL BE ALLOWED TO SIT ON THIS PAGE**

All other reviews will be posted to Amazon and B&N.  If you follow the sidebar on any page of this site under NONNIE’S NEXT 5 REVIEWS, you will be able to follow what I am currently reading and you will also know which books didn’t make the cut to sit here.  If you are looking for a TRULY GREAT READ, any book which sits on this page will serve you just fine because they have garnered a high mark from me!  No SUGARCOATIN’, these are well-written reads, some more-so than others! These are written works with great story-lines, but all in all, these are all enjoyable reads.   {I review books of RRBC members as well as non-members but only the books of RRBC members will be listed on this page.}

How can an author get better or improve on his writing if the world is constantly saying to him “Your work is great!” when it is clearly NOT?  Let’s all become a bit more honest in our reviews and from that a world of GREAT writers will descend upon us! ~ NJ

“I have been told that people are afraid to ask me for a review, yet they secretly long for one from me because they know that HONEST reviews are CREDIBLE reviews.  HONEST {CREDIBLE} reviews are all that I give and CREDIBLE {HONEST} reviews can boost an author’s credibility and stature.”

Another Option

{If your book has been awarded a 5***** Star Rating here, you may display my “SEAL OF APPROVAL” on your blog/or website.  You may request it be emailed to you in the comments section below.  GOOD LUCK!}

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FROM ONE WRITER TO ANOTHER:

*”Hi, Nonnie, I have read your reviews and respect your honesty and insight.  Also, after having read your “SUGARCOATIN'” book, I respect you as a writer.  I would be delighted if you would review my book  for me, at such a time as you can get to it.  I have a huge TBR list myself, so I fully appreciate how long yours is likely to be! Warmest regards” ~ HK

*”I would like to submit my new superhero fantasy novel to you for review. I love the honest and in depth approach you take towards your reviews which is why I want your opinion. For me it’s not about getting a perfect review every time, it’s about impressing those who are hard to impress.” ~ KD

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5/21/16 – A PERILOUS THIRST by Rhani D’Chae

A Perilous Thirst by Rhani D'Chae

5*****AMAZING!!!!!!

So, a gay Vampire walks into a bar…This is the second book that I’ve read by the author Rhani D’Chae and after her first book, which was my most favorite TOP INDIE READ of 2014, I was hooked and sold as an instant fan of all things Rhani!  When I picked up this little number, I was so sure that I wouldn’t enjoy it, because I’m not a fan of  “vampires” (or people who look at humans as their next happy meal).  After the first page of this short read, I knew that it was going to be good all the way through.  It took me a minute to realize that I was reading about a Vampire who was HIV positive.  What kind of mind creates a concept so brilliant?   Well, my hands are waving wildly in the air and my fingers are pointing at Rhani.  Absolute brilliance!  I would love to see this short as a one-act play and I nominate funny-man Jim Carrey as the lead.  Listen, if you have not read a book by Rhani D’Chae, you are truly not living until you do.  And, if you’re short on time, pick up a copy of A PERILOUS THIRST and I will stake my life on the fact that Rhani will be moved to the top of your ALWAYS MUST READ FIRST list, from that moment on!  She is a truly great writer and this story is nothing short of amazing!  I dare anyone to say otherwise!

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3/29/16 –  LEGEND OF THE WALKING DEAD by Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

Legend of the Walking Dead by Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

4****Stars!!

LEGEND OF THE WALKING DEAD is the second book that I’ve read from this author, and what I know about her, is that she can tell a story.  In line with her first book, she’s continuing to give us more glimpses of her life, her world, her culture, thru her eyes.  These Igbo mythologies seemed to be more like a collection of short stories, as opposed to a super-tale that would have some type of glorious end, and at times, I will admit to being a little confused about whether or not we were in the company of the living or the dead, but that’s what she was after, I think.  This was one of the reasons that I kept at it, because I wanted to clear up that confusion in my mind.  I wanted to be the one who could say “I could tell the difference!”   This book was so interesting to me, that I did my own research on the Igbo people and what I learned about this culture, is that they are a people who truly believe that the dead walks among the living, and they interact so normally together, that you can’t discern which is which.  But, you all came here to find out two things:  1)  if this was a well-written, good book…and my answer is…IT WAS ONE INTERESTING READ!  and 2)  In my humble opinion, do I think you should read it?…and my final answer is:  It was an enjoyable read, and one that I think you would find yourself “falling” right into!  Once again, Joy did a good job!

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3/29/16 – HAUNTING MEGAN by Rebecca Reilly

Haunting Megan by Rebecca Reilly

4****Stars!!

It took me a while to get thru this book;  not because there were “hiccups” in the way, but because I had to continually pull back to think about the scenes as they were happening.  I couldn’t gage what was real and what wasn’t.  The author doesn’t mess around here, she gets you strapped in and fully into the ride at the very beginning!   I’m usually good at picking up on “who dunnit” early on, but this book kept me guessing. I will have to admit that just as soon as a certain person popped back up into the picture,  it wasn’t hard at all to figure out the “who.”   Rebecca Reilly sure knows how to string you along, but the writing was good so I didn’t mind the stringing at all.  It’s a mystery and one that makes you feel that the author has done her research, or lived thru the entire thing.  Well written, characters crafted just right, and a good story-line…all which makes for a great read!  I’m giving this book 4****stars only because of the ending.  I know Megan was Haunted, but I’m still left wondering “how” it was all done.  The sightings, the visions, the sounds…were they all really coming from her dead sister, Jessica?  OR, was this all apart of the murderer’s  plan to make everyone think that Megan was the insane murderer?  I waited for an explanation that would speak to the murderer having dressed up like a ghost and played tricks on Megan’s mind, but I never got that closure.  HAUNTING MEGAN was RRBC’s 2015 BOOK OF THE YEAR and for that reason alone, you should run out and get it and then offer your own take on it, via a review!  There’s no denying, it is a page-turner!

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12/3/15 – HIEROGLYPH by Wendy Scott

Hieroglyph by Wendy Scott

5*****Star Read!!

I don’t know if you all have heard me say this before (more like, whine about it), but I am a person who definitely judges an actual book, by it’s cover.  Suffice that to say, not only was I not impressed by the cover of this book, the title was a total turn-off to me, as well.  Not because it wasn’t a great title, and not because it was a bad cover, they were both just not my cup of “obvious” tea.  But, you came here for a review, didn’t you?

I thought Wendy Scott was an amateur writer.  Little did I know, that once between the covers of this book, I would be taken on an excitingly wonderful journey (and I don’t mean the one TC took us on).  The journey?  The book itself.  Great story-line.  Characters so real they felt like family, and the research that must have gone into making this book come together so well, was nothing short of amazing!  An amateur, she’s not. I know a bit more about Egyptian history now, than I’ve ever known, my entire life!  (Thanks for all the information, Wendy!)

I’m not one to give a full run down of what a book is about in my reviews.  That’s what Amazon is for.  But, just for the sake of the holiday season, this is an amazing story of TC, an amazing young girl with super-natural powers which no one knows she possesses.  There!  I shared with you what the story is about.  But, what I haven’t shared yet, is that Wendy Scott wrote a book so good, that not only teens will enjoy it because of the adventure aspect, but avid readers of all ages will, too.  Not only that… I am so impressed with the writing and her ingenious character-development, that  I am giving this book 5 stars and hoping that everyone will take the time to read it.  This was truly a clean read and it flowed seamlessly like a constantly moving river.  It was typo and error-free for the most part, so I must thank the author for taking the time to make the read more enjoyable for me, by ensuring that it was properly edited before I was introduced to it.  The one thing that I found that did detract from the book a little, were the animations.  I don’t think that they are at all necessary and actually, are a bit distracting, especially when you happen upon a more serious side of the story, only to look up and be made to feel as if it’s all a cartoon.  In summation, HIEROGLYPH is a coming of age tale with a twist, and one that will leave you feeling good after the read is all over!   {This book would make a great gift for those teenagers in your life.  Ordering and gifting my own daughter with a copy!}

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11/23/15 – SON OF MY FATHER by Peggy Hattendorf

Son of my Father by Peggy Hattendorf

4****Stars!!!

SON OF MY FATHER was a fun read for me.  Initially, when I saw this title, I wondered what would be so interesting about a father and son relationship, that the sister would write about it?  BUT, there is no son in this story, and since I don’t do spoilers, that’s all that I will share with you on that.

This was truly an enjoyable read but the reason that I’m giving it 4 stars and not 5, is because I found there to be too many gaps of time missing or skipped over, without any warning to the reader.  I often found myself looking back, wondering, “Now, how did we jump from that to this so quickly?”  That was disturbing to me and at times, left me baffled.  Another reason that I’m rating this at 4 stars, is that there were no stop signs in conversation between characters, which means, there were quite a few times when I didn’t know exactly who was speaking during certain scenes, because the conversation was run together.  No paragraph breaks between speaking characters, is problematic for me.

Some of you may wonder, because of the issues in the book which I describe above, why would I give it such a high rating?  Well, once you open the book, you immediately “know” that the author is a strong writer, and I love good, strong writing.   I found very few typos, maybe some missing words here and there, but I was really impressed with her writing skills and the obvious fact, that if she didn’t actually live this story, she did some awesome research for it!  The story line, if tweaked a bit, is strong enough for a made-for-TV movie, which should tell you that it was a good read.

One other thing that I found to be an issue in the book as I was reading the Kindle version, was that there were spacing issues, which I hope are just flukes of Kindle and not the same in the actual print version.  With some mild editing to this story regarding the issues that I found, this book would definitely garner a new and improved rating of 5 stars from me and would get my Seal of Approval!  But even still, as it stands right now, this book comes highly recommended!

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9/4/15 – THE ANESTHESIA GAME by Rea Nolan Martin

The Anesthesia Game by Rea Nolan Martin

5*****Star Read!!!!!!!!

THE ANESTHESIA GAME is the 2nd book by Author, Rea Nolan Martin that I have read.  When I initially read the title of the book, I wasn’t thrilled at all.  When I saw the cover (which was absolutely breathtaking), I still wasn’t moved.  I thought it would end up being some Paranormal/Sci-Fi read which was going to bore me to death.  But, then I thought…“This is a Rea Nolan Martin read,” and I was quite sure at that point, that the goods were going to be delivered!  Once again, I was left without words.

This story of 15-yr old Sydney, her mom (Mitsy), her Aunt (Hannah), and her mom’s psychic (Pandora), had me literally “glued.”  I must admit that the first chapter left me a little disappointed because I felt it was moving too slowly, but then, boy, did it get interesting.  (So interesting, that I should be posting a photo of my actual copy of the book, which in a few short weeks was worn and tattered, only to show you how much I was into this book, took it everywhere I went, and couldn’t put it down).

Sydney suffers from a life-threatening disease, which she refuses to put a name to, so I will respect her wishes, and neither will I.  Her mom suffers because her child is suffering, her Aunt Hannah would like to disappear and not think about what her beloved niece is going thru, because she has her own life issues to deal with…and her mom’s psychic, Pandora, is truly invested in what happens to this young girl she’s never even met, yet, she has no clue as to why.  These three women and this young girl, all journey to a point where they realize, they are connected and bound in unimaginable ways.

My reviews don’t usually give a full background on a story, but what they are meant to do, is to tell you whether it was a good read or a bad one.  That being said, this book was truly MAGNETIC as when I say, I couldn’t put it down…I couldn’t put it down, nor did I want to put it down!  As I lay in a hospital bed after having surgery, I imagined Sydney, a child, lying in cold treatment rooms too often, and feeling as if she would not come out when they put her under the “anesthesia.” But each time, she did, as she had taught herself how to survive, by playing what she had coined “the anesthesia game.”  I decided to try this “game”  as it was described in the book.  Suffice it to say, it worked!  (Thanks, Rea!)  That alone shows you how poignant Nolan’s writing is.

I can’t say it loud enough, that you should read this book!  It tugs at your heart-strings heavily as you live thru the possibility of this child’s demise;  you watch a marriage fall apart;  you flinch as a woman throws herself at a man who clearly isn’t interested in her any more, and you feel a mother’s pain at the loss of her child she couldn’t save.  Well written?  Captivating?  Great Read?  You bet it is…it’s a Rea Nolan Martin and I can guarantee absolute, pure satisfaction after reading this book and any others which bears her name on the cover.

Ms. Nolan, you have a fan for life!   For those avid readers who constantly email me asking “Which book should I read next?…” PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…I highly recommend you get a copy of this one todayIt will leave you speechless!

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6/30/15 – LETTING GO INTO PERFECT LOVE by Gwendolyn M. Plano

Letting Go Into Perfect Love by Gwendolyn M. Plano

5*****Star Read!!!!!

{I am definitely one against spoilers, so I hope in this review, I’m not giving away too much as everything I’m sharing, I feel compelled to}.  “LETTING GO INTO PERFECT LOVE”  was an extremely difficult read for me.  So difficult, that I finished the read a while ago but just couldn’t find the right words to put into a review.  So, I sat it on for a while.  This is the true life story of Author, Gwen Plano and her fight for survival, which lasted approximately 25 years.  The book takes you on, not one, not two, but several horrible journeys on this author’s path to finding “perfect love.”  She was a battered wife living in fear, yet knowing that she was surrounded and being protected by angels.  There will be some who will read this book and say: “There’s no way actually she felt the arms of angels around her,” but I will be the first to stand in her defense, because I believed every word she shared about feeling their presence in her life, at those times that she needed it most.

Gwen Plano was a loving mother, yet, I found myself angry with her for allowing her children to be abused by the monster she had chosen to marry.  I might let you (as a man) strike me once (but you probably wouldn’t live to tell about it), but come hell and high water, there is no way I’d ever let anyone harm my children…not even their father, not even the man I thought I loved dearly.  NO WAY!  This book will leave some angry and clearly unable to understand the position of this mom.  Even after I finished the read, I continued to ask the question:  “Why did you allow it to go on for so long?  How could you sleep in the same bed with him at night, knowing that he had abused your children?” Yes, I was judging her.  So, I got on my knees one night and I prayed for understanding…I prayed for forgiveness for judging this mom/author and I prayed for her continued strength which she eventually showed me she had gained.

Although a difficult read, this book is extremely well-written.  It is also a book that I would recommend highly and I hope that one day, it is an RRBC BOOK OF THE MONTH!  I am anxiously awaiting this author’s next release! In the midst of so much junk, thank you Gwen Plano, for an impeccably clean read! But even more than that, thank you for showing me your strength, which I felt you had all along!

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5/8/15 – THE SECOND CRACK by Chelo Diaz-Ludden

The Second Crack by Chelo Diaz Ludden5*****Star Read!

I want to begin this review by saying:  “The author clearly didn’t write this book overnight!”  Oh, no, she took her time, she did her research and she mastered this piece!  Diaz-Ludden is immensely talented in the way she turns every day prose into fantastic, painted pictures in the minds of her readers.  In one passage (I can’t quote it verbatim), she simply said: “The neighbors dog ran across the street,” or something to that effect, and I SAW that dog running vividly in my mind’s eye.

In the  beginning, I found myself wanting the author to hurry and tell us what happened to Anne’s twin sister, Suz.  “Get to the point, already,” is what I found myself saying out loud.  It was almost at the point of my becoming frustrated with the author.

As this story continued on and we got inside of Suz’s diary (which by the way, was a brilliant inclusion by the author), I was too hooked to stop.

The twists, the turns, the ups, the downs, the highs and the lows, all make this tale one everyone will want to read.  Diaz-Ludden’s writing style is creative and almost impeccable.  Her tone was there, her feelings were there, and all of it you experienced as if you, yourself were written inside of this mystery.  And the ending, well, let me just say…that even my mind couldn’t have conjured up such an awesome conclusion.

“THE SECOND CRACK” is one that I must tell you to put at the top of your TBR list.  Do it today!  Good job, to the author and I am looking forward to her next project with great anticipation!

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3/24/15 – MIRROR OF OUR LIVES:  VOICES OF FOUR IGBO WOMEN by Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

Mirror of Our Lives by Joy Bamijoko4****Stars!!

In the beginning chapter of MIRROR OF OUR LIVES, I didn’t quite grasp what was happening, or the direction in which the author was taking me as a reader.  Sitting at my desk, Kindle in hand feeling confused, I trudged on.  But, by chapter 2, Njide Meets Tunji, I was hooked!

Being the kind of woman that I am, coming from very strong female “stock,” I cringed each time Njide allowed Tunji to walk all over her.  I found myself wanting to strangle him myself, to wipe away all those smirks of enjoyment from his face, at the pain he had caused her by parading another woman in front of her, even in her own bed.  And then there were those times when I found my chest heaving with pride, when she decided to take back her strength, and I smiled or laughed out loud at the humor she sometimes used as her weapon.  Njide laughed away a lot and her strength shone thru in those times.  How she kept it together, when every move he made dictated that she’d fall apart, was beyond my grasp of imagination.  She was by far my most favorite character in this book, and since she didn’t take a baseball bat to his head, I readily admit that she is a far stronger woman than I will ever be.

Move along to Ms. Nelly and her dedication and commitment to her family…most notably, her brothers.  Her story moved me as well.  Her silent strength in the face of adversity, caused me to admire the way she chose to handle the lemons life had given her.  We could all take a good lesson from Ms. Nelly.

I’m not going to give away any more of this book, because it was such an interesting read, I want you all to go and read it for yourselves.  This book contains the voices of four Igbo women, but their voices and their stories are those of millions of women around the world.  No matter where we come from, no matter what side of the ocean we live, we still face some of the same struggles.  Your blonde, blue-eyed next door neighbor could be suffering as Njide did…and you’d be none the wiser.  The point I’m trying to make here is, you don’t have to be Nigerian born to have the struggles these women had.  But to survive their trials, you do have to have their strength and determination.

For those of you who would typically pass on this book simply because there is a beautiful woman of color on the cover, you’re doing yourself a great disservice and missing out on a fantastic, well-written read.  I couldn’t put it down and you won’t be able to either…well, that is, until you’ve reached the very end.  This was one enjoyable read and one that you should immediately move to the front of your To Be Read list!!!!  Aside from thanking her for the great messages of triumph for women inside this book,  Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko, you did an incredible job!!!

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3/16/15 – THE PLACE WE WENT TO YESTERDAY by Lisa Mauro

The Place We Went To Yesterday by Lisa Mauro4****Stars!!

The Place We Went to Yesterday is about a young girl and her sad life, and it felt so real, it brought tears to my eyes.  Ella was an unloved, unwanted teenager in New York who was “thrown” away by her parents.  From foster care to group home, Ella fights her way to survival…

This was an excellent read for a debut novel.  I didn’t want to stop reading until I had reached the end.  There were two things that kept me from giving this story Amazon’s highest rating, though, and they are: 1) the Spanish through out the book.  I don’t speak the language so for me, there were gaps in the story, things I didn’t understand because I don’t speak the language, and 2) the story ended too abruptly.  I’m now left wondering what happened to poor Ella, but maybe the author wanted it that way…wanted to keep me “craving” the sequel.  Well, Lisa Mauro, if that was your intent, you did a great job of it and I will be the first in line for a copy (do me a favor, though, and please let it all be in English).  You did a good job… the writing was good and that’s of EXTREME IMPORTANCE to me.  It’s clear that soon and very soon, you’ll be one to contend with in the literary world! Keep writing!

If you’re looking for a really good book (knowing some Spanish helps here), this is the book for you!!!  If you’ve read my debut novel, “DAYDREAM’S DAUGHTER, NIGHTMARE’S FRIEND” and you enjoyed it, this book is along the same lines.  If you haven’t gotten a copy already, The Place We Went to Yesterday should be your very next book purchase!!!!!

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3/11/15 – A PERSONAL JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF TEACHING by John Fioravanti

A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching by John Fioravanti5*****Star Read!!!!!

A Personal Journey To The Heart of Teaching was just that…it was John Fioravanti’s memoir on how he “landed” in the teaching profession.  This book read like a journal to me.  Chapters entitled:  A Small Town Kid, Snow Shovels and a Phone Booth, Meeting My Demon, and Hormones and Respect, were clear indicators that you were learning about John’s life.  His decision to follow a path which he had not been destined for, quickly turned into disaster and disappointment, which is what typically happens when we don’t follow our “true” dreams…the ones that won’t leave us alone even when we’re awake; the ones that stand outside our bedroom windows, on the corner, under the street lamp, staring up at us, making us uncomfortable.  He didn’t know it at the time, but becoming a teacher would be the path that would serve him well his entire life, and even long after his retirement, with all the memories fresh as if they’d happened yesterday, he realized that molding young minds, was what he had been put here to do.

What I found interesting, is that this author experienced constant highs and lows and carried around daily doubts and fears as to whether or not he was good enough to teach.  So much so, that it exhausted me at times and I’d find myself yelling into the book, “Get a grip already!  Everyone says you’re great at this, so believe it!”  Even when those around him kept drilling, “You’re the best” in his head “… often times, he still found it  hard to believe.  Those were his demons.

John Fioravanti is a very talented writer.  With each word, I felt that we were old friends, catching up after many years of high school and college and he was the one who had the best stories to share.  I hung on every word, always anxious to get to the next chapter, the next page, the very next sentence.  Yes, he’s good, my friends, and the book is even better!

I tweet this book out onto social media at times, but BEFORE I read it, I was using the hashtags:  #teachers #teaching #kids.  Since reading the book, I can aptly apply the hashtags:  #life, #lessons #growth, because it’s not JUST about teaching.  It’s about a life’s journey;  a life filled with lessons, and constant moments of growth.  It’s a book, I wish you all would read.  John Fioravanti bared himself when he shared his insecurities, fears, and his struggles with his “demons,” many of those causing him to constantly doubt himself in his profession as well as other areas of his life.  But, he also shared how he worked thru those issues and finally got to what he’d been after for so long;  what he’d gotten to the the bottom of, was learning that honesty, respect and love were at the core of “the heart of teaching.”

This is a feel-good book for everyone…young teachers just starting out, veteran teachers who’ve been around a while, and for parents who appreciate and want to learn more about the struggles teachers face, and how much love they give to the kids, in spite of those struggles.  Finally, I would recommend this book to students, who sometimes view teachers as mere figures, standing in front of their classroom, with moving mouths.  This book will help all appreciate how important teachers are and just how much they give of themselves for the students who are entrusted into their care for a few hours each week.

I’m giving this book 5 stars only because Amazon wouldn’t allow 10!

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2/18/15 – RUNAWAY SMILE by Nicholas Rossis

Runaway Smile by Nicholas Rossis5*****Star Read!

Another book, that in the beginning, I just couldn’t wrap my head around.  Now, I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent woman, but there are those instances (where I might be reading in a little sleepy state), that certain books go way over my head.  Well, since I like to give all books a fair shot in my world, I vowed to Mr. Rossis that I was going to re-read this book (fully alert), so that I could give it my honest opinion.

This cute little children’s book, filled with a most perfect life lesson (which I will not divulge here…you’ll have to get the book to find out), is about a little boy who wakes one morning to find that his smile is missing.  On his quest to find it, he meets some interesting characters along the way.

The writing was perfect for a parent/child bedtime story and the illustrations in the book were fantastic!  The language was age-appropriate and the creativity that was put into developing these characters, especially the dog…phenomenal!  Nicholas Rossis’ writing made me feel like a child again, actually, like the child I never was….adventurous!  This book was a short read and the message within, is one worth teaching to all our children.  If you were to ask me to suggest a “really good” read for children,  RUNAWAY SMILE would be a first choice for me!  Great job, Nich!

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1/21/15 – MAGNOLIA SECRETS by Beth Hale

Magnolia Secrets by Beth Hale5*****Star Read!

I’m going to start this review, at the end.  At the end of MAGNOLIA SECRETS, under About The Author, you will find this in regards to Beth Hale:  “She draws inspiration from everyday life, problems we all face, and expands them into vivid, interesting, hard-to-put-down stories.”  I will have to agree!  Once I really got into this book, which was around Chapter 2, I was hooked! So much so, that I even got upset once when my phone rang, because I didn’t want interruptions during my good read!   The only draw-back to the story for me, was that early on, I knew we were dealing with a _____ cops situation and I also knew that the new guy, was going to get involved with someone he shouldn’t.  I won’t say what kind of cops situation and I won’t say who, because where I come from, that kind of information sharing, is called *spoiling.* (Beth, next time make it harder for me to figure the plot out so early on).  What I didn’t catch onto so quickly, were all the twists and turns of the story that the author took me thru.  Similar to SHADOW OF THE DRILL, which made me feel as if I was watching a really good movie on the big screen, MAGNOLIA SECRETS delivered the same feel.  It was an edge-of-your-seat, deep-in-good-drama, AWESOMELY TOLD story!!  There were a few (minor) typos thru-out the book, but as I said about another recent read, that’s an easy fix for the author and I would suggest she take the time to do so.  (I go back and correct any time I get word that a little comma is misplaced, and that’s what good writers do).  So, here I go saying this again…I was going to give it 4 stars, but dang-it, this story was so darned good, my key is stuck on 5!  Thank you to this author for sharing such a good story with me and I’m so looking forward to the next!

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1/14/15 – ANOTHER SUNSET by Jason Zandri

Another Sunset by Jason Zandri

5*****Star Read!

This story had me confused in the beginning.  I felt there were too many characters introduced too soon, and I was getting them all mixed up, especially with David and Peter Dempsey, and then with Caroline and Charlotte.   I couldn’t remember who was the passenger and who was the truck driver, and then I couldn’t remember which was the child and which was the elderly woman (that confusion very well could have been my own mind, mind you).  After having read the first two chapters twice, I began to force myself to focus better.  Then, I got it!  It all clicked!  I was so moved by this story-line, which was filled with comedy at times, sadness at times, frustration (if you’ve read this already, think David letting Su Ann have it!), then it all leveling out into a marvelously joyous read.  I mean, how many people are there in this world like David?  He made me want to be better, kinder and more generous.  Anytime an author can evoke those feelings inside of you, the reader, HE/SHE is damn good! My original review rating was going to be a 4 star because I found that there were many occasions where punctuation was needed, yet there was none.  For it to be a fluid read for me, I need yellow lights, red lights and green lights guiding my drive…and although not very often, I am guilty of this crime, too. (The good thing about that, is the author, Jason Zandri can fix those minor hiccups in no time!).  With all that said, by the time I had rounded the final bend of this tale, I was so wrapped up in this AWESOME story, this wonderfully crafted story, that ANOTHER SUNSET gets a 5 star rating from me!   Now, let me say what I know you came here to hear…you DO want to read this book and you DO want to read it right away.  The story was better than good, and Mr. Zandri, you have just garnered yourself a new fan!   I hope to see this book as a Rave Reviews Book Club “Book of the Month” selection in the very near future because I know ALL will enjoy it!  And if you are a follower of my reviews, you know I don’t say that very often.  Only when it’s true!

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1/3/15 – LOVE IN THE DARK by Isabel Pietri

 Love In the Dark by Isabel Pietri4****Stars!

Isabel Pietri  can definitely tell a story, and she’s a new favorite of mine!  “LOVE IN THE DARK”  was well-written (and you all know how I love well-written reads), so much so, that I have to admit, that was the main reason I didn’t want to put it down.  It’s been on my TBR list for a while, but because the flu invaded my body over the holidays and forced me to rest, I finally had the chance to complete it.  For two nights my husband asked:  “When are you gonna close that off and get some sleep?”  But the thing is, I didn’t want to get sleep, I wanted to finish that book!  I am a great movie lover and this book reminded me of DYING YOUNG, starring my most favorite actress, Julia Roberts.  This was the same kind of love story, to me, that is.  I watched that movie on a television screen, yet this story, a talented author painted every detail so vividly in words, that the screen in my mind was better than any HDTV!  The one thing that kept me from giving it 5 stars, was that in some areas it was much too descriptive, and although I’m no fan of show more, tell less (because frankly, I don’t even know what that means), in this particular case, I think there could have been a wee bit less “telling.”  All in all, I Thank you, Isabel, because that’s what I say to authors when I have truly enjoyed their read!

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11/21/14 – SURROUNDED BY MADNESS: A MEMOIR OF MENTAL ILLNESS AND FAMILY SECRETS by Rachel Pruchno

Surrounded by Madness by Rachel Pruchno

5***** Star Read!

Where do I begin? SURROUNDED BY MADNESS was one of the best written books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading and I, in my long life, have read LOTS of books! Rachel Pruchno put together a compelling story about her mother’s mental illness; how she opted to adopt just in case that illness had trickled down to her (and not wanting to risk passing that on to her own child), unbeknownst to her and her husband, they adopted a child with severe mental illness issues. What are the odds? I completed this read in record time and that’s saying a lot because I’M EXTREMELY BUSY! I was so touched and moved by the author’s candor, I began reading parts of the story out loud to my husband and my youngest daughter. There were so many times, while sitting in my teenager’s room, reading aloud to her (surprised that she was even interested in what I was reading), that we all would let out collective sounds of “awwwwww,” and phrases like “how sad.” This book moved me to no end and I will forever be touched by the anguish this mother felt, which she made me feel, and the helplessness to have the professional background she did, yet being unable to “fix” her child. Rachel Pruchno is a FANTASTIC writer! Let me repeat that, louder this time… RACHEL PRUCHNO IS A FANTASTIC WRITER!!! If you haven’t read this book, I believe the world should stop spinning until you do! I can’t limit this book to just 5 stars, but, in Amazon’s world, I’m forced to!

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7/13/14 – SHADOW OF THE DRILL by Rhani D’Chae

5***** Star Read!!

There’s only one word I can use to describe Rhani D’Chae’s writing of SHADOW OF THE DRILL and that word is… WOW!!!  There was a time when I could honestly say that the majority of the reads I was picking up, were just poorly written pieces of junk.  Based on the masterpieces that I now have listed on my page here, I am feeling my luck turn around in the Indie Read department, and it seems, each book gets better and  better and better.

When I first saw the  cover of this book, I wasn’t impressed at all.  I was actually pretty turned off because the cover looked a bit “cartoony” and made me think that’s what I’d find between the covers of it.  Was I ever wrong.  THIS BOOK WAS FANTASTIC!  The writing was impeccable, the storylines were awesomely intriguing and I could envision myself in the theater, popcorn spilling all over the guy next to me, as I jumped, screamed and held on to his arm through each magnificent (and at times, terrifying) moment.  I want this book to be turned into a movie!  To me, that is what makes for great writing.  SHADOW is a harsh story and at times, some might consider it to be an extremely harsh read.  There was unspeakable violence in this book, there was profanity and there were sex scenes, but all of these made this story the perfection it turned out to be.  There was just the right mix of each, and the author could not have written any of it any other way, without doing incredible disservice to her perfectly crafted characters.  If I could change one thing about this book, it would be the cover and not a single thing else!

Rhani D’Chae has a fan for life here and I am anxious to see  just how far her brilliant mind will allow us to journey, in her next release.  I dare you to read this book and not enjoy it!  If I could give it 10 stars, I would!

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6/15/14 – MYSTIC TEA by Rea Nolan Martin

Mystic Tea by Rea Nolan Martin5***** Star Read!!

Rea Nolan Martin crafted the most ingenious characters ever and threw them all together in one book.  I don’t typically get into stories or even movies, for that matter, where there are so many different characters, each with a different tale that has to be told…because it makes me feel as if there is just too much going on in one place.    Martin gave life to Gemma, Arielle, Mike, Maya, Grace and Augusta to name a few, and she did it with such ingenuity, I was blown away!  As soon as I started reading page 8, which begins Gemma’s story, I knew that this was going to be an impeccable read…  AND, it was, all the way through.  I love “clean reads” and this one quickly shot to the top of my chart because of this.   This writer is talented beyond measure and she has what a lot of us are in dire need of…a damned good EDITOR!!! (And if I find out that she is her own editor, I will bow down at her feet because even I am not worthy).   I didn’t find one printed hiccup throughout this entire 357 page read (I could have missed something, but I truly doubt it).  The stories within made me laugh, some made me cry, others made me feel very odd emotions as I tried to, at times, wrap my mind around the journey she was taking me on {as a reader} thru her characters, and although I took it upon myself to sip green tea while reading the book, I wished I was being served up some of Martin’s Mystic Tea, as I know it has magical powers.  How do I know this, you ask….because the book, with its many characters and story-lines, kept ME willfully engaged all the way through!  I hope to see this book as a BOOK OF THE MONTH selection for RRBC in the very near future!  Seeing an almost perfectly written piece of work such as this one, might be just the thing needed to send some back to the drawing board until our  own written work falls in line with Mystic Tea. You don’t have a copy yet?  Well, what are you waiting for?  Get one today!

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4/11/14 – PURE TRASH by Bette A. Stevens

Pure Trash by Bette Stevens4****Stars!

Since the book, PURE TRASH was a short story, my review will be short as well.  Bette Stevens did a good job in writing this short, but a few things kept me from giving it a full 5 star rating:

1)  The introduction speaks a lot to the child (Shawn)  being bullied, yet there is no mention of it really happening anywhere in the story (the little hints in this respect wouldn’t count).  Yes, there are some negative comments and treatment by adults in the story, but I’d use the word “mistreatment” as opposed to “bullying,” which would lead us to expect that particular behavior being exemplified by the child’s peers, for example.  The author mentions in the intro that her story “may re-define your concept of bullying…”, but it didn’t for me.  When you’re speaking of a child in relation to an adult, in no way at all can that be constituted as bullying.  Abuse/mistreatment, yes…bullying…NO.  I would suggest that the author re-word the introduction so as to not lend so much emphasis on bullying, as that is what I, as a reader, expected most out of the story based on the intro.  I got very little of it, if any at all;

2)  Although it was meant to be a short story, even with around 5,000 words the ending could have been stronger and a little longer.  I would have liked to have seen Shawn and Willie make it home to their mom so that we could experience her reaction to what had happened during their afternoon away.  The ending left me with no closure.

IN spite of the above, my 4 star rating stems from this:  THE WRITING WAS STILL GOOD.  I know another reviewer mentioned the “level of proofing errors,” but honestly, I found very few editing issues, which is always a plus in my book.  I am definitely looking forward to reading more about Shawn’s journey from childhood to adulthood.  I’m quite positive Mrs. Stevens will ensure that it is a solid 5 star read all around.  I have every confidence that she IS that kind of writer🙂

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4/10/14 – JAZZ BABY by Beem Weeks

A+ Jazz Baby 2 Front Cover

5*****Star Read!!

I love reading great prose and to know that JAZZ BABY was Beem Weeks‘ debut novel, was really impressive to me .  Emily Ann was a young girl growing up in 1920’s New Orleans and her voice, as strong as any teenager/young adult female’s voice, was carefully crafted by a MAN…this is what signifies true “talent” in a writer and this is the main reason that I’m giving this read 5 stars!  Weeks had to have done his research and the proof is in the writing.

I will have to admit, though, that amid the great writing, I did get lost on some of the terminology from that time and place.  I am from Louisiana, but I would suppose certain parts breed certain kinds of speech.  Words like “klaxon” and “Choctaw” and sounds like “Ah-ooo-gah,” had me scrambling for my dictionary, although of course, that last one I didn’t even attempt to find a definition for.🙂

I enjoyed the read but I would ask only one thing of the author…next time, don’t make me work so hard to enjoy it (hence, leaning on Webster a little too much ).  Good job!  This is clearly WRITING WORTH READING!

~~~~~

3/16/14 – OVER MY DEAD BODY by Bruce A. Borders

Over My Dead Body Web Display

5***** Star Read!

When I initially looked at the cover of this book, I said to myself, “Self, you are not going to like this book.” With the guy standing there holding the shotgun, I just knew it was some kind of new-day Western (totally not my kind of read).  But, since I had seen the name Bruce A. Borders floating around social media, and since he seemed to be very supportive of others, I took a “looksie” inside.  After the Copyright page there is a line that reads, “Is it murder if you’re protecting your daughter?” Well, I love daughters, you all know that, so my “hooking” began there.  I turned another page…the first page of Chapter One, ACTION!  I like action so I continued on.  After reading the complete Chapter One, all I could say was “WOW!  I have to finish this now!”  But, before I personally got into the book, I knew that my Dad would enjoy this type of read,  so I called him and told him about the book and that I KNEW he would really, really love it.  I purchased the book directly from the author (as CERTAIN books I like autographed copies of).  He (my Dad) finished the book in a couple of days flat!

Bruce A. Border’s writing was captivating.  You hear people all the time say, “I was hooked from the very first page!” Well, with this book, you really are.  I recently finished reading  “OVER MY DEAD BODY” and let me tell you, the writing was so “real” and so “believable” that I can’t stop thinking about how these things really do, and can happen…to any of us.  I often say to my daughters, “When you awake each morn and walk out your door, you never know what your life will be that day.” OVER MY DEAD BODY will forever have you thinking this very same thought.

A father goes to work one day as he typically does, and then leaves work that day not knowing that when he returns home, his life and that of his wife and child’s will be forever changed because of the events which happen next.

I don’t DO spoilers, but what I do DO, is tell people when they should run out and get GREAT READS!  This would be one of those times!  Now RUNNNNNNN!

~~~~~

2/24/14 – OUR LADY OF VICTORY:  The Saga of an African-American Catholic Community by Shirley Harris-Slaughter

Our Lady of Victory Book

5***** Star Read!

Let me start off by establishing one very important fact:  I AM NOT CATHOLIC!  And because of that fact, I felt there wouldn’t be much for me inside the covers of this book.  I bought the book because I wanted to support this author.  I read the book all the way through because of the INTRODUCTION, paragraph 2 which states:  “This book will present the facts – and some of those facts may not make for pleasant reading.  I make no apologies since I had nothing to do with making the policies that shaped Our Lady of Victory and our lives…I ask that you understand that I am only the messenger.”   So, let me explain to you why the INTRODUCTION, paragraph 2 got MY attention:  1)  I like facts, and I’m impressed by people who feel no qualms about sharing factual information, be it comfortable or not; and 2)  I love people who make no apologies for speaking their truths!

OUR LADY OF VICTORY is a story of a black, Catholic community that is no more.  I was in awe of the author for the time and patience it must have taken to secure all this data and these facts and to lay it all out the way it is now…in this great book.  This author wants everyone to understand that her book is a NARRATIVE HISTORY.  Don’t mistake it for a novel, a short story, fantasy, or any other genre.  It is the HISTORY of this church and how it’s existence and it’s demise shaped so many of the lives that passed thru it’s doors.

Should I be ashamed to admit that when the author said “…some of those facts may not make for pleasant reading,” I instantly knew there was a cover-up involved here?  And who doesn’t love a good cover-up/mystery, especially one that get’s UN-COVERED?   Shirley H. Slaughter uncovered some things about the higher-ups and the powers-that-be in that church that a lot of people would have never touched with a ten-foot pole and I’m sure, some are still “whispering” about today.

Let me get to what you came here for…this book was one of the most detailed books I’ve ever read.  At first glance, I thought, “All this information is going to give me brain freeze,” but once into it, I found myself anxious for more.  Again, I’m not Catholic and don’t know much about the religion (other than I love this new POPE you guys have!) so I really enjoyed being “schooled” by an author who writes as well as this one does.  I’m a stickler for (almost) perfect anything, but especially (almost) perfect writing.  Mrs. Slaughter delivered a home-run with me.  It was clean, it was detailed, but most of all, it was interesting.  The best part is, you don’t have to be Catholic to enjoy this book.  She gets 5***** stars from me, and we all know how hard that is to do!

~~~~~

1/10/14ALLERGIC TO LIFE:  My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope by the late, Kathryn C. Treat

Allergic To Life cover

5***** Star Read!!!

When I first began reading Allergic to Life by Kathryn Treat, I, for some strange reason felt as if I was about to be bombarded with a ton of medical jargon and my brain would instantly be thrown into information overload (something I always try to avoid). This is one of those times where you have to remind others NEVER TO JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER (and by the way, the cover of the book is what made me want to read it!).

Once inside and deep into the story, I found myself so engrossed in her journey, that I didn’t want to stop reading.  And that’s what this book does, it PULLS you into this author’s journey, one that I now feel, we all must go on. I am a mother of two daughters, just like this author, and to have an illness keep you away from the joys in their lives…to sit on the sidelines while your daughter plans her wedding, to not be able to be as involved as you would normally have been in the birth of your grandchildren…I found my own heart breaking for Kathryn and her daughters.

This book teaches a lot about the many allergies that we can become afflicted with, things we’ve never even thought of in our every day lives, the foods we eat, the clothes we wear…..can I be so bold to say… even the air we breathe? What was so amazing about this author is that she began to document her journey. She would write things down (it was very clear that she was a true organizer) but who, being as sick as she was on some days, would have the clarity of mind to do something so brilliant? Well, Kathryn Treat did.

I don’t like spoilers and so I’m not going to give you ANY, but what I am going to give you today, is some priceless advice. I am a book reviewer and critic of the worst kind and I have to say, that this book is one for the ages. You will do yourself a great dis-service if you don’t pick it up, read it, learn from it and share it with the world.

I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Kathryn’s journey. I feel that she will one day stand in front of millions and share her story with the world. And even though she might still have to wear a mask over her face, that alone will prove to you how strong even YOU can stand in the face of any obstacle. Kathryn Treat’s life was turned into a pure hell by her allergies, beginning with mold, and although I felt extremely sad for her, her strength and her courage to win each and every battle, her endurance to keep going when all she felt like doing was hiding under her covers, is what kept me rushing through my work and my extremely busy life to get back to read more of her story. This book will do the same for you.

I think even in the best fiction books which are meant to entertain us, there is always a lesson we learn. Kathryn Treat taught me that no matter how bad, no matter how hard I might think my life is, there is always someone who has it a little bit worse, and if they’re anything like Kathryn Treat, they’re probably not even complaining about it.

I don’t give 5***** star ratings easily but this was truly ONE EXCEPTIONAL READ!

~~~~~

If you are seeking a book review by Nonnie, please complete the form below.  Book reviews are done on a first come, first serve basis and areposted here as well as on Amazon.  An e-book copy must be gifted to me via Amazon for the review, or a paperback/hardcover mailed to me, if requested,  but not done until I have informed you that you are in my queue.  A request does not guarantee a review. {Absolutely no requests for Smashwords downloads will be accepted}.  You will be contacted via email as to whether or not your book is in my review queue.  Thanks!

65 responses

  1. Wow! As a new member here still trying to get my footing, I had no idea this page existed. Good reviews are good, but honest and fair reviews really help an author out!

    Like

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