Mercy Snow review

Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker
Grand Central Publishing // Jan 14, 2014
Hardcover, 336pgs
ISBN 9781455512737
source: egalley from the publisher

About the book:
In the tiny town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire, the paper mill dictates a quiet, steady rhythm of life. But one day a tragic bus accident sets two families on a course toward destruction, irrevocably altering the lives of everyone in their wake.
June McAllister is the wife of the local mill owner and undisputed first lady in town. But the Snow family, a group of itinerant ne'er-do-wells who live on a decrepit and cursed property, have brought her--and the town--nothing but grief.
June will do anything to cover up a dark secret she discovers after the crash, one that threatens to upend her picture-perfect life, even if it means driving the Snow family out of town. But she has never gone up against a force as fierce as the young Mercy Snow. Mercy is determined to protect her rebellious brother, whom the town blames for the accident, despite his innocence. And she has a secret of her own. When an old skeleton is discovered not far from the crash, it beckons Mercy to solve a mystery buried deep within the town's past.

My thoughts:
I had a very difficult time getting into this novel. The build up was too cumbersome. It was very drawn out and took a long time to get to the action.
The characters were very interesting and well developed though, but it wasn't enough to hold the story afloat in my opinion. However, with the characters, I was quite impressed.
The writing all together was solid, but a bit wordy at times. Sometimes I just wanted to scream "spit it out" at the pages. I also felt like she added in a big vocabulary and lots of complex words (that felt unnatural coming from the characters) just to show off - they didn't have a point and they didn't feel like things some of the characters would say.
Overall, my biggest issue is that it took much too long to get to the climax. I will say that it raced from there. The ending was well done and didn't leave any loose ends which I appreciate in a novel. It was the redeeming quality that got this novel 2 stars instead of 1.
Mercy Snow was a haunting tale of good and evil, the sinner and the Saint... it is just too much work to get to those beautiful parts of the story, in my opinion.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Book image and synopsis from Netgalley.com


Stepmom Tips to help you through

101 Tips for the Smart Stepmom by Laura Petherbridge
Bethany House
May 20, 2014
Paperback, 160pgs
ISBN 9780764212215
source: egalley from the publisher

About the book:
In this down-to-earth book, Laura Petherbridge offers real answers from someone who's walked in your shoes--and not only survived, but thrived as a stepmom. Here you'll find compact solutions arranged by topic, such as parenting, coping with the children's biological mom, finances, and dealing with the holidays.
You will learn
-how to better understand your blended family
-what to do when you feel like an outsider
-ways to navigate the drama
-keys to gaining the respect of your stepkids
These bite-sized tips are perfect for a busy stepmom, offering at-a-glance advice you can use today--and see change begin.

My thoughts:
At this point, I've read my fair share of stepmom and stepfamily related books. Even though I won't be a stepmom *officially* until June of next year, Barrett and I have been together for quite some time and have  owned our home together now for 2 years. Madeline and I have a fabulous relationship, and have since she was younger and I was first introduced into her life after her father and I were dating a few months. While we've never asked her to call or refer to me as her stepmom, she started introducing me or mentioning that I am her "stepmom" or her "kind of stepmom" during the summer of last year. I think it was partly because she views me in that role and partly because it was easier to say to her friends, rather than "my Dad's girlfriend" which can often bring looks and comments. Since our engagement last February, Madeline is now constantly referring to me as "pretty much my stepmom" or "soon to be stepmom" when talking about me, but that hasn't changed anything- I'm still Jenna and we continue to have a great relationship. She is thrilled and so am I. As thrilling as it is and as wonderful as life is as an "almost stepmom" it isn't one that doesn't come without prejudices and bumps along the way. I get comments, looks, and advice- but most of that advice is ill-informed off-the-cuff comments about stepfamily life from people who have no idea. This is why I turned to reading material on the subject, especially from child psychologists and stepfamily experts. I've also made it a point to use my background (both personal and professional) to fill my brain with stepfamily information. All I can say, is that through this journey I am learning a lot- both through experience and through literature.
Sooo, back to this book.
I must admit that it was a very quick read, but was also very informative. I felt like I got a lot of little tips and reminders while reading it. There is a lot of encouragement sprinkled throughout, which as any parent or stepparent knows, is vital to our sanity. Reading this and being able to say "hmm, I'm not alone in this thought, experience, backlash, comment, advice, etc." is powerful. As every step family is different, I was able to skim some parts that didn't pertain to my situation. There are sections about having your own children or blending more than one family together and some other tidbits that just didn't fit my stepfamily life. However, the book as a whole was still informative and allowed me to remember that I'm not alone in my journey.
I must add that I didn't gather from the description that it would be as heavily religious though. I think readers would appreciate knowing right off the bat that there is a lot of religion woven into the book. However, even with my views on religion, I can appreciate the fact that those parts will be immensely helpful to some. There were areas I grazed over and some that I did read- specially some of the Psalms. They were beautifully written and I can see how they fold right into the life of a stepfamily and would really be beneficial to some readers.
In all, I would recommend this book to those who are looking for guidance- especially those looking for a religious aspect to the guidance they seek. For those of you in the journey that are not religious or practice another religion or form of spirituality, I would say it is up to you on how you feel about reading a title that weaves a lot of Christianity into it. Only you can decide what fist for you as a reader. Like I said, I still found that it is a beneficial read.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


The ties that bind... mini review: Precious Thing

St. Martin's Press / Minotaur Books
March 4, 2014
Hardcover, 304 pgs


source: egalley from the publisher

About the book:

I know her inside out. I know what she’s thinking, I know what she wants. So I can’t give up on her, she knows I never will.
Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last forever.
They met in high school when Rachel was the shy, awkward new girl and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Instantly, they fell under one another’s spell and nothing would be the same again. Now in their late twenties Rachel has the television career, the apartment and the boyfriend, while Clara’s life is spiraling further out of control. Yet despite everything, they remain inextricably bound. Then Rachel’s news editor assigns her to cover a police press conference, and she is shocked when she arrives to learn that the subject is Clara, reported missing. Is it abduction, suicide or something else altogether?
Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it...

My thoughts:
Absolutely riveting novel. An intense psychological thriller that kept me guessing the truth behind all the lies. This book was a page turner. The characters of Clara and Rachel were spellbinding in their mystery. Discovering the connections was like untying a knot... What would come of their ties and how did they bind together? The dark history and bleak future that theses two friends shared was thrilling to unravel. The ties that bind can never be severed and this novel proves that beautifully. The form this book took- written as a long winding letter, was exciting. It added to the mystery and allowed the questions of sanity to bubble to the surface. This was a great read that haunts and is disturbing in its final chapters. Highly recommended!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Book synopsis and image from Netgalley.com


Confessions of a Sociopath

Confessions of a Sociopath by ME Thomas
Broadway Books
(reprint) May 13, 2014
paperback, 336 pgs
ISBN 978-0307956651
source: blogging for books / crown publishing

About the book:
As M.E. Thomas says of her fellow sociopaths, “We are your neighbors, your coworkers, and quite possibly the people closest to you: lovers, family, friends. Our risk-seeking behavior and general fearlessness are thrilling, our glibness and charm alluring. Our often quick wit and outside-the-box thinking make us appear intelligent—even brilliant. We climb the corporate ladder faster than the rest, and appear to have limitless self-confidence.  Who are we? We are highly successful, noncriminal sociopaths and we comprise 4 percent of the American population.”
Confessions of a Sociopath—part confessional memoir, part primer for the curious—takes readers on a journey into the mind of a sociopath, revealing what makes them tick while debunking myths about sociopathy and offering a road map for dealing with the sociopaths in your life. M. E. Thomas draws from her own experiences as a diagnosed sociopath; her popular blog, Sociopathworld.com; and scientific literature to unveil for the very first time these men and women who are “hiding in plain sight.”
Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content

My thoughts:
Confessions of a Sociopath was an incredibly interesting memoir. I've always been interested in the inner workings of the mind, and have read many books with psychology as a major role in the title. This one certainly compares to those, but it had a different feel about it. Unlike other books about sociopaths, this one truly shows the inner workings of an anti social personality disorder. This book isn't about the outsider looking in- it's the insider looking out. That memoir story telling made this more of a diary feel. ME Thomas shares her thoughts and lack of emotion in relation to the world around her. It fully encompasses the sociopathic mind. Even the writing feels wild- lots of stories but so many disconnects. It was a herky-jerky rollercoaster from page one.
I did ultimately come away with a sense of knowing the common sociopath next door a bit more. Additionally, in my line of work, I've encountered ASPD youth and feel like this book helped me see them in a new way and will help me work with them in the future.
It also shed a light on the common misconceptions which is why I strongly suggest this book to readers interested in ASPD / sociopath / psychopath. It didn't come with the bias that I've seen in other books on the topic.
Fun and engaging, this book moves at a quick pace and will take the reader on the journey into the depth of the ASPD mind. Be warned though- you may start seeing "quirks" in a whole new light.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Book image and synopsis from Amazon.com


The People Inside - it's lucky I even finished it.

The People Inside by Ray Fawkes
Oni Press
August 13, 2014
Hardcover, 132pgs
ISBN 9781620101681
Source: egalley from the publisher

About the book:
A new original graphic novel from the Eisner-nominated cartoonist of One Soul!
This ground-breaking new book looks at the lives and relationships of 24 individuals in a way only the medium of sequential art could.
Relationships change, grow, and end, but the one thing that always remains is the people inside who define both ourselves and our liaisons.

My thoughts:
I was not a fan of this book. I was really excited about the concept but it just fell flat to me.
The images weren't strong enough to carry the story.
Some relationships were intertwined, but those seemed far fetched.
The drama was intense but not moving- when it really could have been. Some very tough topics were highlighted, but they were not even close to developed.
As I moved on I felt more like "when will this end?" rather than "what comes next?".
Not my cup of tea.
One star is a stretch- really, I'd give it half if I did half stars in my rating system!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Book image and synopsis from Netgalley.com