#BookReview Unmuted: Stories of Courage and Resilience from the GenPRIDE Community by Steven Knipp et al.

If you’re looking for a book that will stir your emotions but also remind you that you’re not alone, this is it!

Unmuted: Stories of Courage and Resilience from the GenPRIDE Community is a delightful book with many short stories within its pages.

Background: GenPRIDE is a nonprofit I had not heard of before I picked up this book. It sounds like it’s doing fantastic work by focusing on helping the lives of midlife and older LGBTQIA+ people. And, fun fact, individuals from this group wrote this book! So that’s pretty darn cool, if you ask me. This book helped build a community and I am absolutely honoured to be able to pick this book up!

This book starts out with a breathtaking and beautiful dedication to Kevin Charles Patz. He was not only a writer in this book, but a good friend of the other writers. The dedication was heartwarming and made me smile. I’m sad to hear that Kevin has passed, but I’m glad he lived so fondly in others hearts.

The feelings this book gives is just insane. You’ve felt what these authors have felt, you’ve just maybe not known how to express them. The anxiety of people, the feeling of pure loneliness – having someone write those out and see that I’m not alone was an amazing coping mechanism for myself. Especially in these wild times – quarantine and pandemic – knowing that I’m not the only one feeling these crazy feelings is nice and soothing. You hate seeing other people having these feelings, but at least you know you’re not alone.

The heartbreak of Do Young’s Ghost hit home a little too hard. The pain of learning someone you love is dying from a source that isn’t kind… It hurts. My heart goes out to Greg. We can sit in the same boat together.

Hiding yourself from others or hating what you have to hide – Jenny, you give me strength and hope that I can be who I strive to be.

Loss from Steven Knipp, Hope’s story of birthdays, Shayla’s story of addiction and Linda’s purely incredible comment – “Why don’t people use non-gendered pronouns when they have doubts” is an age old question for me. Funny story, I used to teach classes and couldn’t always tell what names matched genders. Oftentimes, I would call the kids “Dude” as a non-gendered term as I was learning what names/nicknames they liked being called and what pronouns they went by. Dude was always an incredible non-gendered term in the world of children. That sentence reminded me of the amazing times I had back then, what a nostalgia trip that was!

Overall, this is a beautiful set of stories. I hope this group writers more and I’m able to pick up all of their books. This is a mesmerizing, must read on my list!

My summary sentence for the whole book: It amazes me how writing can soothe the soul and bring people together.

Five out of five stars!

I received this book for free from the editor, Jennifer Haupt, in exchange of an honest review.

You can find this book by clicking on the following links:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

Looking for more non-fiction and feeling-full reads to spice up your life? Check out some of my other faves that have been featured on my blog:
#BookReview Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 by Jennifer Haupt et al
#BookReview Produce Poetry or Die by Narada Voux Sanders
#BookReview Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

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#BookReview Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms by Kiyohisa Tanaka

Juana and the Dragonewt’s Seven Kingdoms Volume 1 is an absolutely adorable manga!

I truly loved this little manga and I cannot get enough of it! It’s sweet, fast paced, adorable and magical. It’s also super relatable since it’s dealing with outcast-like characters!

Nid, a young dragonewt, comes across a human girl named Juana. They do not speak the same language and Juana is an unknown species to Nid. Nid is an anxious fellow who doesn’t fit in and is a carnivore among herbivores. He feels misplaced yet somewhat familial with Juana. He decides to go on a quest to help his new friend.

Nid is our eye into the story. We see Juana and watch her interact with the dragons, but Nid is the true lead of this story. His frustrations, anxieties and sense of adventure are all present. It’s really fun to see the non-human side of things for once. Plus, making Nid so relatable to the population of readers that is going to read this book is wickedly smart.

This book is super heart warming and sweet. I need the remainder of this series ASAP. It’s just so kind and lovely and everything I need during a stressful time. It’s a great and happy way to escape everything going on right now. I will say that this book will not be for everything. It did seem kinda niche, but I still think it’s lovely and everything I needed and wanted it to be. Additionally, I could see middle graders, YA readers and adults loving this story. It’s universal for it’s age group.

Also, I love the art style of this manga. The cover itself drew me in and then the illustrations kept me there. It’s colourful, fun and whimsical. I love it!

Five out of five stars!

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Kobo
Indigo

 

If you like fantasy and manga, here’s some other books featured on my blog that you’ll love:
#BookReview The Boy Who Cried Ghost by Richard Clark
#BookReview Loki’s Wolves by K.A. Armstrong and M.A. Marr
#BookReview Boston Metaphysical Society by Madeleine Holly-Rosing

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#BookReview Nothing is Strange by Mike Russell

Nothing Is Strange or everything is strange?

Mike Russell is a master at oddball books. I always go into these books not knowing what to expect and come out with my mind blown. It’s a similar feeling to watching David Bowie music videos or trying to come up with a valid WandaVision theory (Mephisto or Magneto?).

This selection of short stories is an easy to read and mind boggling adventure. You can jump in and out without the need to worry or fear that you’ll forget something. Each story stands alone and will mess with your mind (in a good way, I promise). This book will grab your attention and keep in the a strange and exciting way. If you love bizarre and want to be enticed, welcome to the world of Mike Russell.

I really enjoyed these stories, if I’m being honest. Their kooky, odd, curious, bizarre, strange and all of the other synonyms you can come up with. It’s the oddity of Alice in Wonderland – it’s delightfully fun yet makes you question reality. The absurdity is what makes it so much fun. Is there meaning there? What is normality anymore?

My personal favourites: Cream Tea, The Diaries of Sun City, and Dunce. The entire book has stories about love, death and grief, some tentacles, miracles and insanity.

This will definitely be a niche book! It’s not for every reader and that’s okay. The books aren’t always straight forward so it can be hard to read in that respect. Either way, these stories will make you grin or grimace in a world full of fun.

Four out of five stars.

I received the book for free from StrangeBooks in exchange of an honest review. Thank you yet again for another lovely and mind boggling book.

Go give this book a gander:
Goodreads: Nothing is Strange
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

Check out the fabulous world of Mike Russell by clicking on the links below:
http://www.strangebooks.com/
Twitter: @strangebookseye
Goodreads: Mike Russell

If you love this book (or even the review) clickity clack some of these other links that will take you to other books you might love:
#BookReview ExtraHumans by Susan Jane Bigelow
#BookReview Strungballs by Mike Russell
#BookReview Strange Medicine by Mike Russell

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**Featured image/cover provided by the Publisher – StrangeBooks.

#BookReview The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker

Ahh, romance is in the air! This February I’ve loaded the bloggity with lots of romances, and here’s another lovely one! Mary Jayne Baker is definitely up there for my fave romance authors. Give this rom-com a look-see!

 

Mary Jayne Baker is proving to be a Queen of romantic comedy, let me tell ya!

I’ve been enjoying books by Miss Mary Jayne and couldn’t resist when I saw this book floating around on NetGalley. Because it’s so good, I even bought myself a copy too! I can’t get enough of these super sugary sweet romantic comedies because they are just so feel good! And full of laughs! Man, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to consistently find romantic comedies that have me giggling!

So, we have this group of friends who named their little get together group. The Marry, Shag, Kill Group became so many other titles, but finally settled on The Never Have I Ever Club! So a new group is formed and is gonna try to do something new that they always wanted to try! A fair amount of these folks are elderly, and we all know they will have time left in life to learn. This all came about though because Robyn’s ex broke up with her, and now she appears to be falling for his twin brother, Will. Did I mention Will’s a hot doctor? That totally helps.

This adorable pair slowly begins to fall for each other, and they lean on each other in tough times. They are quite the pair! I liked watching this slow burn romance develop over time, to be brutally honest. It was a great change from the sudden love at first sight books I’ve been picking up recently.

There’s so many fun pop culture references in this book that it has me grinning. Honestly, I think these books are just a barrel full of fun (or monkeys, whatever quote you want, really).

My only potential negative is that this book could be a little bit shorter and the story wouldn’t have changed. But, that’s just my opinion! I still think the book is an absolute delight and it doesn’t affect my enjoyment at all.

If you like romantic comedies, this is a fun book to pick up! It’s a laugh out loud funny kind of book with a wonderful friendship growing into romance trope that will melt your heart away. I couldn’t get enough of this book and I know I’ll be following Mary Jayne Baker in the future because I think her books are just fantastic. I am definitely in her reader base! What a talent!

Four out of five stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and Aria for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

If you love romance, here’s some other books featured on my blog that you’ll love:
#BookReview Seeing Colour by Amber Faucher
#BookReview The Perfect Fit by Mary Jayne Baker
#BookReview A Bicycle Made for Two by Mary Jayne Baker

 

Find out more about the amazing Mary Jayne Baker on:
http://www.maryjaynebaker.co.uk/
Twitter – @maryjaynebaker
Goodreads – Author Page

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#BookReview Wild Cowboy Ways by Carolyn Brown

Ah, it’s the season of love! February comes around and it’s the perfect time to pick up an adorable romance. This month I will feature tons and tons of my fave romance books. Hopefully you find a new book to add to your TBR! Here’s one of my guilty pleasure reads by Carolyn Brown:

 

Carolyn Brown’s Lucky Penny Ranch series is 100% one of my guilty pleasures. I love curling up with a cup of tea, a warm blanket and this series and just binging my little heart out. It’s sweet, delightful and the happily ever after book I need! Who doesn’t love a super adorable romance?

I ended up grabbing book #3 a couple years back and had been working on grabbing the remainder of Carolyn Brown’s books ever since. I managed to grab a few at a local book store and they’ve been sitting and calling my name for quite a while. I needed something ooey, gooey and lovable, so I picked this book up! I was not disappointed!

Allie Logan is a trades girl and ends up getting hired by Blake Dawson to help fix up his house. He’s a new, hot cowboy in town at a very famously bad luck stricken ranch. The two end up working together on his house, and slowly but surely find out they like each other’s company a bit more than just friends… well, more than a bit! It’s hot and steamy levels of “a bit”.

There are so many great one liners in this book! Not only do you get all the cute romance and sexy, steamy scenes but you also get comedy! I was giggling and chuckling and oohing and ahhing my way through the book. I absolutely adorable how lovable the characters were, how relatable the characters are, and just how great Carolyn writes. This book was so easy to read and fall into!

Irene is hilarious, but the boys also get some quirky one liners in there as well. That kept me chugging along through the book.

There are negatives in this book, but they are more little annoyances for me than anything. Every woman falls over every man in this book. It’s kind of amusing, but also seems unrealistic. I don’t live in such a tiny town though, so maybe it’s more accurate than I think it is? I do know that small towns are gossipy, heck my town is and it’s not that small! Somehow everyone knows everybody’s business – it was somewhat annoying, but it does happen!

I highly recommend this book if you love cute romance, hot cowboys, a spectacular series or are just seeking some HEA in your life.

Overall, this is just a wonderful book! It’s romantic, it’s feisty and it’s funny. It has everything I needed in a happily, ever after romance with sexy cowboys in it. I will one hundred and fifty percent be picking up as many books of this series (and other books by Carolyn Brown) that I can to sink into my guilty pleasure more.

Four out of five stars!

Check out this book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

If you love romance, check out some other books featured on my blog that you might enjoy:
#BookReview Donut Disturb by Melissa Williams
#BookReview After the Sack by Savannah Adams
#BookReview Love, All by Tamsen Parker

 

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#BookReview Once Upon a Duke by Erica Ridley

Once Upon a Duke by Erica Ridley is a darling, historical, holiday-themed romance that is perfect to add to your TBR shelf!

This book is just a sweet delight. I was seeking something fast, light-hearted, comedic, romantic and simple and this book fit the bill.

Benjamin, the Duke of Silkridge has returned to his old town when his Grandfather died for the will reading. He stumbles upon his first crush and lost love, Noelle, who worked for his Grandfather. The feelings are very much mutual for Noelle as well. Ben, our resident Scrooge, must complete a Christmas-themed task to be able to get what his Grandfather left him in the will, but it brings him closer to Noelle in the process… Sparks fly and drama ensues, all in a town called Christmas and during the holiday season.

This is one of those books you curl up under a good blanket with some hot tea and just sink into it. Relaxation and simplicity works super well for titles like these, and I mean that in a good way. It’s fun and lovely, exactly what a romance and historical romance reader loves! It’s also PG, so it’s a lovely book to get started into the historical romance genre.

I am definitely going to continue with this series if I can find it. I’d like to see all 12 of the Dukes find love since this series is just so lovely! Good job Erica Ridley, you’ve crafted a historical romance masterpiece.

Four out of five stars.

I found this book via Bookbub!

 

Check out this wonderful book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.com
Amazon.ca
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Find more books and information about Erica Ridley on:
Goodreads – Author Page
http://www.ericaridley.com/
Twitter – @EricaRidley

If you liked this book (or even just the review!) here’s some other books you’ll also enjoy:
#BookReview Christmas in Silver Bells Falls by Samantha Chase
#BookReview Miss Kane’s Christmas by Caroline Mickelson
#BookReview The Gaucho’s Lady by Genevieve Turner

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#BookReview Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Let’s get into the Christmas spirit with an adorable Christmas book by the always lovely Debbie Macomber!

 

Call Me Mrs. Miracle is an absolutely delightful Christmas romance book!

Emily Merkle is mistakenly called Emily Miracle, and takes on the name Mrs. Miracle. She’s an older woman who does wondrous work at the toy store she got hired at. Jake is her boss, and he’s ordered what seems like WAY too many toy robots that his father, the owner, is not too pleased about. He meets Holly Larson, a woman taking care of her nephew since his Mother has passed and his Father (her brother) is in Afghanistan. Gabe, her adorable nephew, really wants one of those robots. She might be in luck, since her and Jake meet and he’s more than happy to set one aside for her. Will there be a Christmas miracle?

This book is so utterly cute! It’s the perfect book to curl up with a blanket and some tea and just sink into. It’s full of Christmas spirit and packed tight full of ooey gooey romance. It is predictable, especially since this turned into a Hallmark movie, but it’s everything I wanted and more in a Christmas romance book. It’s sugary sweet and just fun.

Four out of five stars.

 

Check this book out on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo

 

If you love Christmas romances, check out these delightful book featured on my blog:
#BookReview Miss Kane’s Christmas by Caroline Mickelson
#BookReview Christmas in Silver Bells Falls by Samantha Chase
#BookReview Christmas on Mistletoe Lane by Annie Rains
#BookReview Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis

 

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#BookReview Christmas in London by Anita Hughes

Cozy, holiday reads are excellent – cozy, romantic, holiday reads are even better!

Anita Hughes has crafted a lovely, heart warming story about two women finding their loves during Christmastime.

Louisa works in a bakery, when suddenly Noah shows up needing Christmas desserts for a reality television show he is working on. When those desserts make the lead dangerously ill, Louisa is hired to take her place!! Meanwhile, the assistant Kate finds love again with a man from her past… Oh, and Noah and Louisa get along quite well.

I found this book to be very sweet. It’s your typical holiday romance with a bit more description than romance. The beautiful displays at expensive stores take the forefront with Anita painting beautiful pictures in my head of these designer stores. I wish there would have been more fluffy romance throughout the pages, but this book was more contemporary fiction with a hint of romance than full on holiday romance.

The romance itself is quite bland at the beginning. Lots of cheek kisses to establish the leads might like each other. Also throwbacks to the relationship failures, instead of the current love that should be occurring on the page. Again, this book is more contemporary than romance. The men are also… weird. They aren’t normal men (or even romance novel men), they all act very strange and have very aggressive or manipulative behaviour. It was still an okay read if you get over the fact that they are kinda weird.

If anything, I found this book to be the perfect feel good book. While I was reading it, I just wanted something to escape and feel nice and fluffy. This book fit the bill. It doesn’t need to be the romance book I hoped it to be, it was perfectly nice to escape from the insanity of the real world. Thank you Anita Hughes for giving me an escape. If you’re looking for descriptions of Christmas displays and beautiful Christmas desserts, this book is perfect!

Three out of five stars.

 

You can find this wonderful holiday story on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Indigo

 

Pack that TBR up tight with many more holiday romances:
#BookReview Christmas in Silver Bells Falls by Samantha Chase
#BookReview Christmas on Mistletoe Lane by Annie Rains
#BookReview Hot for the Holidays by Marie Force, Tamsen Parker et. al

 

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#BookReview A Very Scalzi Christmas by John Scalzi

If you’re looking for a humorous, seasonal book packed full of holiday comedy, you need to pick up A Very Scalzi Christmas by John Scalzi.

I am new to John Scalzi. I have been informed his writing is superb and he can be quite snarky, so of course I was in. To top it off, who doesn’t want some Christmas cheer during a time like this?! Even if it is making fun of the whole holiday season! Honestly, this book was exactly what I needed in my life right now.

This collection holds fifteen short stories, poems and snippets that will leave you giggling and breathless. Here’s just some of the lovely, little pieces of literature you’ll come across (in no particular order):

1. An Interview With Santa’s Lawyer – this one was by far the best of the bunch for me. Seeing this lawyer explain Santa’s liabilities and how Rudolph screwed everything up had me chuckling the way no other book has managed. It’s absolutely ridiculous while being funny at the exact same time. Santa’s corporation, his billionaire coal master status, and the elves’s union rights are just some of the wildly amusing topics brought up. Not gonna lie, I want an entire book just on this alone!

2. A Bitter November – I also thoroughly enjoyed watching the months go off at each other. Poor November is upset over December and it’s shining glory. The personification in this little story could be used in a master class. I’m thoroughly impressed by John Scalzi’s writing here, it’s too good and too funny.

3. Christmas in July – this one had me guessing for a while what was going on. Why did Santa move Christmas up to July suddenly? We see a peek inside the government trying to figure out why there was a mass home invasion leaving everyone exactly what they wanted. The ending was quick, short and sweet, but I wanted just a little bit more out of it…

4. Interview with Santa’s Reindeer Wrangler – the interviews are apparently the pieces of this collection that had me laughing the most. The conversations are so dumb funny and yet perfectly written. It’s exactly what you’re picture a reindeer wrangler complaining about if he had the job. Rudolph never existed and gave everyone a bad name, and the reindeer positions are actually jobs. It’s a super witty take and I applaud John for the cool idea.

It’s shocking this book has so many reviews and ratings, because I absolutely LOVED this book. Very rarely can I find a comedy book that keeps me interested the whole way through, and this one did just that. There’s satire in here, pure comedy and so many great takes on holidays – and it’s not just Christmas!

You don’t need to celebrate Christmas to find joy in this book. Since it is so satirical, it’s a great way to laugh at the holiday season in general and how ridiculous it can be. So, I highly recommend this book if you love or hate Christmas, if you love comedy and want a laugh, or if you just want a really well written book. Spice of your book shelf with this collection! Everyone will be able to find at least one story in this collection that will have them chuckling and chortling away.

Five out of five stars!

 

Check out this epic book on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Kobo
Indigo

Find out more about John Scalzi on:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/
Twitter – @scalzi
Goodreads

 

If you’re looking for more comedy in your life, here’s some other book recommendations to help fill up your TBR:
#BookReview Schmuck the Buck: Santa’s Jewish Reindeer by EXO Books
#BookReview Life Seemed Good, But… by Richard Bell
#BookReview Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen

 

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#BookReview Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie is an intense YA thriller by Courtney Summers.

This book is unique, let me tell ya! It’s from two point of views: a podcaster in the form of a script for said podcast and Sadie, the missing teenage girl.

Things get pretty wild: Mattie, Sadie’s little sister, was brutally murdered. You need to understand that Mattie was Sadie’s whole life, especially since their Mom decided to walk out on them. Sadie was a surrogate Mother to Mattie, so her whole life was ruined when she died. Sadie ran off, out to seek justice, and she’s not gonna stop until she gets it…

The thing about this book – I saw SO many people reading it that I was kind of nervous. Everyone loves it, and often times I don’t agree with the crowd. BUT MY GOSH I DO I DO I DO (to quote Abba, of course). This book lives up to all the hype, but I recommend going into it just for a good read.

This book is WILD. I did not see the ending coming, not from a mile away! Once you get close enough to it all the pieces fit together, but man… It was intense! I’m super impressed and pumped about how this book was strung along. My heart strings were pulled, my heartbeat went crazy up at the thrilling parts and I just couldn’t put the book down. Honestly, I binged the whole thing in one go because I NEEDED to know the ending. It was that fantastic!

The book is super uncomfortable. Some of the content is just creepy and scary, and it reminds me of why this world is so scary. But Courtney Summers wrote it so well that it’s hard not to scream about it from the hill tops. I could almost feel Sadie’s pain, and as more of the story unfolded I only got more angry and hurt about what happened. Poor Sadie…

My biggest complaint: The open ending. There is no concrete proof on the exact ending, AND I HATE IT. I truly hate cliffhangers and this one is killing me. I have an assumption of what happened, but it’s an assumption at best. The book does kind of hint at it, if you look at the words the right way… but nothing concrete. If Courtney did what I think she did… Good job. If not, I’m annoyed!

There are major trigger warnings in this book: pedophilia, child neglect/abuse, violence and substance abuse. Beware readers, because this book can be tough.

Overall, this book was insanely good. I haven’t read YA that goes so heavily into the topics AND make the main character a bad*ss. Go Courtney Summers!

Four out of five stars.

I received an ARC copy courtesy of Goodreads First Reads.

 

You can find Sadie on:
Goodreads
Amazon.ca
Kobo
Indigo
B&N
Amazon.com

 

If you love thrillers, here are some others featured on my blog you should add to your TBR:
#BookReview In Search of Valor by Gary Corbin
#BookReview The American Crusade by Mark Spivak
#BookReview Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio

 

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