Friday, July 20, 2018

Review: Us People by Maxwell Gruber

About the Book

Us People by Maxwell Gruber
Published on January 1, 2018 by Clovercroft Publishing

I was given a copy of this novel by the publisher in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

GoodReads Description

How far is a person willing to go to escape their own personal demons -- the bottle, a drug, possibly a vacation? A past mired with trauma and heartbreak, Sam Case seeks what he believes will be the safety of the streets. A place to escape the demons that once haunted him and tugged at the deepest parts of his mind. Struggling to survive with the aid of his best friend Cam, a mentally unstable veteran, Sam finds solace amongst the chaos. Initially an escape from his past, the horrors of insanity and heartbreak coax him back towards confrontation. Sam must make an impossible choice – a stigmatized imprisonment or the freedom of the streets.

My Thoughts

When I received the query asking me to review Us People, I almost said no.  My TBR is like 6,000,000,000 feet tall and I'm only 5'7".  But there was this little voice in my head saying that I would absolutely regret not reading this one. So, I accepted the query.  Turns out that little voice in my head knows what it's talking about!

Us People is not for the faint of heart. To get through this book, you have to be willing to experience every emotion in the book.  But, it is definitely more pain, violence, and anger than it is happy fluffy love bunnies.  Gruber took the chance to smack us upside the head with the cold and dark reality of the world and he succeeded.  There are times when this book physically hurts.

At first, I abhorred the overly simplistic writing style.  I was expecting something with a little more artistic flow.  The more I read about Sam and Cam and their adventures on the streets, the reasoning behind the styling finally slapped me in the face.  This book is written simply because on the street, Sam and Cam have to live simply.  They don't get to take time paying attention to artsy fartsy things. They live.  They search for food in trash cans.  They panhandle.  That's all there is.  This simplicity is demonstrated by Gruber's writing style and brings a whole new level of elegance to the story he pens.  

While Sam may be the main character, Cam was definitely my favorite. He took on the role of Sam's protector in such a harsh lifestyle.  It's hard to say much more about Cam's relationship with Sam without spoiling too much.  I will say this,  "Curse you, Gruber!  You know what you did."

I just wanted to hug Sam.  There is no freaking way an eighteen year old kid should go through everything that he does before and during this book.  I know that there's no way a hug could fix everything, but it would be a good start.  

Gruber states that he wrote this book to bring attention to the homelessness issue.  He does exactly that.  The author has done his research and makes sure to discuss not only the need for shelter, food, clothes, and water but the prevalence of mental illness among homeless individuals.  

The biggest thing that I took issue with was that during some of the flashbacks, it wasn't obvious that I was reading a flashback.  Every time this happened, I found a very disorienting interruption to the plot and it took me a few moments to get myself back into the flow of the plot.  Thankfully, this doesn't happen very often.

Like I said, this book hurts.  It shows reality for what it is. I was impressed by such powerful writing.

My Rating

Cover Reveal: Sugar Spells by Lola Dodge

Sugar Spells
Lola Dodge
(The Spellwork Syndicate #2)
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: October 30th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
After her run-in with a jealous warlock, apprentice baker Anise Wise can’t wait to get back into the kitchen where she belongs. But thanks to her brush with death, the land of the living isn’t all cupcakes and marshmallows.
Anise’s magical mojo is way out of whack and her changed powers are stirring up trouble. The town’s abuzz with news that Anise can bake deathly spells, and unsavory characters start lining up for a taste. They’ll stop at nothing to use Anise and her witchcraft to further their own plots.
She plans to hole up researching solutions until the attention dies down, but then she discovers the horrifying terms of her bodyguard’s contract. Wynn has saved her life so many times, she can’t leave him trapped. Doing the right thing will mean risking death or worse—losing her dream job.
For this witch, justice might not be as sweet as advertised.

Author Bio:
Lola Dodge is a compulsive traveler, baker, and procrastinator. She earned her BA in English from Stonehill College and MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University–and hasn’t stopped moving since. When she’s not on the road, Lola spends her time indoors where the sunlight can’t melt her, writing or bingeing on anime and cherry soda. She can be summoned in a ritual involving curry, Hello Kitty idols, and a solid chocolate pentagram.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

About the Book

Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers on June 5, 2018

I received this book from Uppercase Box.  Neither the author nor the publisher requested this review.

GoodReads Description

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

My Thoughts

Unfortunately, this is one of those times when I have no choice but to be painfully honest.  I subscribed to Uppercase Box as a birthday present to myself and was really excited.  I got my first box, saw Save the Date, and thought, "Oh yay.  Another stupid girly romance book."  Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm a hopeless romantic and I love a good rom com, but I HATE when the lead in them is a super girly girl.  And, based on the cover, that was exactly what I thought I was getting myself into.  I simply knew that I could not handle a book filled with, "Like, omigod! Frfr he's so cuuuuuuuuteeeeeee!"  But, I bought the dang book, I'll be danged if I don't read it.


This was definitely not what I expected!  Instead of a cheesy romance, I found a book filled with character development, comedy, and a character who really steps into her own skin for once in her freaking life.  I loved it!

What I Loved

  • The character development in this novel was amazing.  Matson started this novel with a main character who was blinded by her strange perceptions of her family and the boy she had a crush on.  These perfect images were completely shattered and Charlie was left to deal with the reality of what was beneath the illusion.  I loved watching Charlie grow like this. It felt like I was watching a baby turtle come out of it's little shell for the first time!
  • This was definitely one of the funniest books I've read so far this year!  A few of the gags were a bit predictable but most of them weren't.  There were a few times that I absolutely needed to take a breather so that I could continue reading.  In the past, I've described my own family as a group of Lokis and the Grant family is much the same!
  • The relationship between Jesse and Charlie was very predictable.  Therefore, I thought I knew what would happen between Bill and Charlie. Without spoiling it, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised.

What I Didn't Love

  • There were a few places where I felt like the plot just dragged on and on and on and on and on *deep breath* and on and on and on.... It would definitely have been more effective if these parts had been shortened so that more emphasis could be placed on some of the more important world and character developing pieces.
  • At times, I felt like more detail was needed.  I think Matson could have developed a better novel if it was more fleshed out.
  • The entire family we really stand-offish to Danny's girlfriend.  I could not get over how rude that was!  I hated it, so did she, because most people wouldn't be so f'n rude!  The girlfriend repeatedly asked if she could help and tried to get into the family traditions but was brusquely pushed aside.  
This may have been my first time reading Matson's work, but it will not be the last.

My Rating