Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

February 28, ,2017 – Balzer & Bray

464p – Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary

Purpose: Review, #offmybookshelf

Source: Edelweiss, Publisher, Bookshelf

5 stars

I was given a copy of this title, free, en exchange for my honest opinion. 

his is another book that talks about a white police officer shooting a black male. But make no mistake, it is also a book that stands out on its own. You have probably already heard of this book, as it came out and took the world by storm. I am not one that ever feels that a book deserves a bunch of hype, but in this case I can understand it. It is good for so many reasons, but it is not a perfect book. (I have yet to find one that is.)

Starr is at  party in her neighborhood when shots are fired. Her old friend, Khalil is there with her and quickly gets her out and safely away. While heading to her house or her father’s store, they are pulled over by a white officer for  a busted headlight. While Starr is mentally reciting the lessons of how to behave when pulled over by the police, it is apparent that Khalil did not receive those lessons.  As the police is making his way to the car, Starr does ask if there is any drugs in the car. What could have simply been a routine stop quickly escalates into a homicide. This is due to both Khalil’s mouthiness and the officer’s fear/prejudice/choice.

**With the rising number of shootings, people -black people in particular- have been having conversations with their kids about what to do when you are pulled over by the police? Is it necessary? If you have taught your kids to be respectful of authority then no it’s not. Because, regardless of your opinion of the police or your socio-economic circumstance the police are in a position of authority. EVEN IF YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG. I have been pulled over before and was told that I resembled a suspect that the police were looking for. No I didn’t believe them, but I was still respectful. Sometimes, it’s not about being right, it’s about doing the right thing.**

Starr then struggles with how to reconcile what has happened, with the way the world reacts and how the police handle the situation. It’s murder to Starr and every other black person that was not there that night. But the police do not see it as such. This brings up a lot of emotions, one that just didn’t make much sense to me. She felt that by being with Chris, she was somehow betraying Khalil. After a year of dating, you’re just not realizing that your boyfriend is white and now you think you’re betraying your race? In reality, all of these feelings would have come up at the beginning of their relationships and not now, and they would have been resolved  by this point. Especially with Big Mav as a dad. So, I’m calling flag on the field.

**I am with a white man, I have two biracial babies. My dad always had something about white people. I did not go to a school that was dominantly white, but I was constantly the only black person around.  And before anyone thinks that you only date white guys cause that’s all you’re around, bull. It’s a choice to date outside of your race-regardless of what your race is. It doesn’t happen by accident, so you can’t wake up one day and realize dude my boyfriend’s white. Yes, there are some things that make the differences in race more apparent.  But I’m calling foul on Starr’s sudden realization. **

As Starr deals with the loss of Khalil and with what the news is reporting about him, she is learnign that there is more to him than even she knew about. And she has to come to terms to that. At the same time the communities around her are reacting. Either by trying to figure how to deal with the anger and the hurt that they feel or by trying to get justice in a situation that is all too familiar to them.

This is bringing to light so many things for Starr, not just with her community, but with her family and her fellow classmates. She is learning so much,  she is learning to use her voice but most importantly, she is joining the conversation.

This book is powerful, not just because of the content of its pages. It is joining the conversation. It is lifting back the covers and giving the world an inside peek at how things really are -as much as  a work of fiction can. The Hate U Give acts as a window into Starr’s story that is at once all to familiar and completely foreign-depending on a reader’s own experiences.  Thomas does an amazing job in creating characters that are real and emotionally authentic.  She has taken a situation that is in itself already complex and controversial and pulled back to give 360• view of it. There’s surprises. there’s humor and there’s truth. Truth about the pain, the anger and the feeling of being lost in your own world.


Always Shine!


Review: Love Story By Karen Kingsbury

Love Story (The Baxter Family, #1)

Love Story by Karen Kingsbury 

The Baxter Family #1

June 6, 2017 – Howard Books

345 pages – Contemporary, Romance, Fiction, Inspirational

Source: Publicist

Purpose: Review

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Oh man, why did I wait so long to pick this up? I was contacted a long time ago about reviewing this title. And it being one of Kingsbury’s titles, I immediately said yes. I really love Kingsbury, and do plan on catching up with all of her backlist titles that I have yet to read. But, she is one of those authors that you forget how much you enjoy until you pick up her books. Or at least I do. When I do -finally- pick it up, I am never disappointed.  This goes back and tells the love story of John and  Elizabeth Baxter, the beginning of the Baxter family. So if you  have not read any of the other titles this is a good place to start, though there are references to previous events and characters from other stories, it is a story that can stand on its own.

There are three stories going on in this book. John is going down memory lane, for his grandson’s (Cole) heritage project, and reliving the heartwarming and aching story of is love story with his first wife, Elizabeth. Ashley is forced to confront her own past and rocky love history when her son, Cole, asks to know the story about his dad.  Cole knows that the man that has raised him all of these years is not his biological dad, and Ashley assumes Cole is asking for a story that she is not ready to tell.  Finally, Cody must admit that he has lost the one and only love of his life when he let Andi break off their second engagement and walk out of his life.

Each story requires each person to confront the mistakes that they made, relive the moments where love and God’s grace changed things for them. It is a sweet story, not just about the romance between couples. In each story, each memory that is shared, you can see how God is courting each person with all of their failings and flaws. It is beautiful as well as heartbreaking. The ebb and flow graceful dance between God and the people that He loves in classic Kingsbury style.


What You Should Know: 

-This is the first in a new trilogy set in the Baxter Family saga

-The Baxter Family saga consists of 20+ books broken up into multiple trilogies and quartets.

-I have not read any of the Baxter books, but I have read quite a few of Kingsbury’s other titles.

-This book is worth purchasing, unless you are the type that has to have a series in all of its entirety. In which case I recommend borrowing from the library first to see if its for you, since this is such a long running series.


4 Stars 

Always Shine!


Featured Post: Darby Karchut on Writing

Darby Karchut has stopped by for a guest post, and the reality of writing a book!

Book World Reality
Darby Karchut

Let me be right up front with you—there’s no easy way to write a book. There’s also no correct way to write a book. You can outline or you can make it up as you go. You can write it backwards. You can write it from the middle and work outward. You can write just the action scenes and fill in around them. Use any system that gets you to the magical The End.
Which, of course, is really The Beginning. Almost everyone who writes a book wants to get published, too. A Very Cool Thing. So, I thought I’d share some of the stuff I’ve learned about publishing and the publishing industry:

Finish your book – No matter how terrible you think it is, do not stop writing until you reach the end.

Nothing—and I do mean nothing—will ever teach you more about a writing a book than writing your first book. Worried that it stinks? Remember, you can always fix your writing. You cannot fix a blank page. One of the best ways to complete the first draft is to guard your writing time. Teach yourself to write when you have a 15 minute (or more) block of time. I wrote my first six books while working full time by writing on my lunch break and in the evenings. Here’s an old trick: stop in the middle of an exciting scene where you know exactly what’s going to happen next. That way, when you pick up your manuscript again, you can jump in without that warming up period. By the way: save and back up everything. Early and often. Minimum: hit the save key at the end
of every page. Be that person whose work is on the Cloud, two different flashdrives, and even email a copy to yourself. I take one of my flashdrive with me when I leave the house in case my house burns down. Paranoid, much?

Read to Write

Read as much as you write. Read all the time. In your genre and out of your genre. Know
comparable books to yours. You will be asked to craft a book proposal at some point and will need at least three titles that are similar to yours. One title can be a classic, but the other two should be within the last few years. Ideally, you should mention comparable titles in your query letter.

Work It
Speaking of querying. Submitting your manuscript to agents or editors takes time and effort. Start making a list of those who might be interested. Keep adding to it. One great place to start is Twitter’s #MSWL (that stands for Manuscript Wish List). You can also Google agents and editors. I would recommend narrowing your search for the last 24 months. Writer magazines (The Writer and Writer’s Digest are two examples) often have a list of editors and agents in the back.
Set Up for Success
Keep your manuscript within the sweet spot for word count, especially if you are a new writer:

Middle Grade: 20,000 — 60,000
Young Adult: 55,000 — 90,000
Romance: 70,000 — 100,000

Mystery & Thriller: 80,000 — 110,000
Literary Fiction: 80,000 — 110,000
Sci-Fi & Fantasy: 80,000 — 120,000
Stay Within The Lines (At Least, For Now)

Every agent and editor has a detailed submission page. Read it. Make sure that particular editor or agent is seeking your kind of book. Then, follow the submission directions exactly. This is one way many of them cull out potential authors. Who wants to work with someone who can’t/won’t follow straight forward directions? Believe me, this will put you ahead of 80% of the rest of the writers.

Live like Churchill
Never, never, never surrender. Keep trying. Assume everything is a yes until it is a no. You never know what the day will bring. That next email may be a response to your query letter asking to see more.
It’s A Small World
The book world is, indeed, a small world. And it’s even smaller within genres. Everyone knows everyone, and editors and agents and authors and reviewers talk to each other. Never, never, never be anything but gracious and professional. If you act like a jerk, word spreads quickly. Editors and agents and fellow authors and bloggers are people, too, and they don’t want to work with jerks. Don’t be that person. It will destroy your career.
Join at least one professional writing organization. This shows editors and agents that you treat your art as a profession. If you write MG or YA, I would recommend SCBWI (The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). Each state or region has their own branch. By joining SCBWI, you automatically become part of your regional branch at no extra cost. But, it is expensive – $80.00 a year. One cool thing about that: editors with Big Houses are often interviewed and they allow SCBWI members to submit to them for a short window without an agent.

The Dreaded “P” Word
“P” stands for Promotion. And promotion is a fact of life for authors. No one will care about your book as much as you do. Ever. No matter what they say. You are the most important factor in your book’s success. But promotion will differ depending on you and your genre. Adult books tend to take off like a rocket—you have about a three month window to make an explosion—then it levels off. MG and YA tend to start slower and build an audience over time. A longer shelf life, don’t you know. Have a website at the minimum. Participate on social media however you can. Editors and agents do check to see how active you are on social media. Blogs versus websites? Depends on your genre. Newsletters are becoming popular right now, so that might be a better fit for you than a
blog. To be successful, you must decide early on what promotion looks like to you and your genre. With my Middle Grade and YA books, social media is one part of my promotion strategy. Facebook and Twitter are fun places to hang out with friends and fans and fellow writers, and occasionally, I throw in some stuff about my books. The best part is that I’ve met some amazing folks who’ve become friends. *Grins and waves at Starr.*
I also contribute articles to Owl Hollow Press and Spencer Hill Press (two of my publishers) and Writing from the Peak (the Pikes Peak Writers’ blog), as well as articles for magazines such as VOYA and Sweet Designs Teen Magazine. I’ve also done some radio interviews and podcasts.

However, my main focus is literacy/educational conferences, book signings, and author festivals. School visits are my sweet spot (in person and Skype); places where I can connect face-to- face with my young audience. Speaking of school visits…

Bless the Children
If you write for children and teens, never pass up an opportunity to talk with them. Face to face, eyeball to eyeball. Say yes to every school visit you can. Say yes to every library event you can. The more you fire up kids about the magic of books, the better for all of us. Sure, you’ll sell books, but more importantly, you’ll be inspiring kids to read. And kids who read grow up to be adults who think and feel.

More Than You Can Imagine
I once thought being a published author would be amazing. I had all sorts of delightful little daydreams when I first started writing and querying and learning about the publishing world. The reality is way, way better. Maybe not in the way our society labels success, which is mostly determined by fame and money. My “success” came in November of 2011. I was still teaching 7th grade social studies and the last half hour of each school day concluded with a study hall period. If a student was finished with their homework, they could read silently. I was helping another student when I noticed one of my boys put away his work and pull out a paperback book. Good on him. He was leaning forward over the book, one elbow resting on the desk. He laughed at something on the page, then glanced at me and held up the book so I could see the cover.
It was my debut novel, Griffin Rising.


Thank you Darby, for taking the time to stop by the blog! I am looking forward to reading more of your books and I am so grateful for our friends. *Waves*


Always Shine!

January Featured Author: Darby Karchut

If you have followed my blog at any length of time,  then you  have heard me rave about Darby Karchut. So it only makes sense that she becomes a featured author, after all, she is one of my few D.E.A.R. authors.  I didn’t know that a review that I posted almost 6 years ago would blossom into a dear friendship. Darby is a wonderful person and amazing author.  But here is my journey from the beginning to now. Darby has also stopped by her for a couple of guest posts, and I am happy to host her. So check by throughout January for some Darby Karchut-goodness!

Darby Karchut author photo

About the Author: If you want to know about Darby, please check out her website. But in short, she is a former middle school teacher, originally from New Mexico but currently resides in Colorado with her husband.  She has won multiple awards (well deserved) and is currently getting ready for new release (which we will be discussing here, later!)

Current works:  You can click on the covers for my reviews!


Griffin Rising (Griffin, #1) Griffin's Fire (Griffin, #2)

Griffin's Storm (Griffin, #3)

The Adventures of Finn MacCullen

Finn Finnegan (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, #1) Gideon's Spear (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, #2)

The Hound at the Gate (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, #3) Finn's Choice  (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, #4)

Bannerman Boru:

The Stag Lord (Bannerman Boru, #1) Unholy Blue (Bannerman Boru, #2)

Stonewall Wheeler

Stone's Heart


Upcoming Release:

Del Toro Moon temp cover



Always Shine!


Featured Author: Top 7 Reasons to Read The Iron Druid Chronicles

Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #1)

As I stated in my last post, I have started to re-read The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. And everything is coming back to me, all of the things that I love about the series and the characters. I thought that I would share with you all some of those reasons, and encourage you all to pick up the series if you haven’t already.

1. Oberon and Atticus’ mental bond- Oberon is one of my favorite characters in the series. He is a dog and his joys are simple. But, listening to their banter is hilarious.

2.  Somehow Atticus borrows trouble left and right. Though it’s always big trouble, it doesn’t always come to pass immediately. It’s never boring with him.

3.  There is a mixture of supernaturals that make an appearance, and somehow they all work together to make the story fun. You have a druid, the fae, witches, werewolves and vampires.

4. Familiar and comfortable- Each book feels as if you are spending time with longtime friends.

5. Nothing is ever what it seems. Just when you think you know a character they do something you never saw coming.

6. Throwability- I can’t remember if it was  Hammered or Tricked,  but I do remember being so mad that I threw the book. But I had to know what was going to happen so I immediately walked across the room to retrieve it and finish reading.

7.  Good Times- each book is fun to read. Regardless of what is going on, you can count on humor, never-ending danger and sausages to get you through.


In all seriousness, this is a fun series. And it is well worth your time. In fact, this is the perfect time to start as the final book is due out in April of 2018!


Always Shine!


Blog Tour: Black Goat Blues by Levi Black

I am working with Jean Book Nerd for this blog tour. If you want to check out reviews or read excerpts, please check out the other stops on the tour, here.

Black Goat Blues


In Red Right Hand, Charlie Tristan Moore was thrust into a nightmarish world of lurking Lovecraftian horrors when The Man In Black, a diabolical Elder God, chose her as his unwilling Acolyte. Discovering her own power, Charlie ultimately defied The Man In Black, but at a cost.

Now armed with a magic coat made from the skin of a flayed angel, Charlie is out to destroy The Man In Black and save her boyfriend Daniel–and she doesn’t care how many bloodthirsty gods and monsters get in her way…


Red Right Hand is a perfect blend of old-school horror and modern storytelling sorcery. Levi Black is absolutely riveting! ―Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Predator One and Deadlands: Ghostwalkers.

Visceral and creepy, Red Right Hand is a sincerely twisted tale that’s every bit as thrilling as it is macabre. ―Cherie Priest, bestselling author of Boneshaker and Maplecroft

A merge of horror and dark fantasy that will grab you by the throat! ―Faith Hunter, New York Times bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock series.

Red Right Hand is a beautiful, terrifying nightmare of a book. Stylish and nerve-wracking, it held me constantly in an iron grip as I read it…and has yet to let me go. More, Levi Black! ―Nancy Holder, New York Times bestselling author of The Rules

Levi Black writes with bare knuckle confidence and a champion prizefighter’s skill. Red Right Hand is his first round combination that leaves you flat on the canvass, dazed and impressed. Get in the ring and be ready for battle. ―Nate Southard, author of Pale Horses and Will the Sun Ever Come Out Again?

Levi Black‘s Red Right Hand is visceral, violent, and sexy. This book has jaggedly-sharp humor, snappy patter and tight pacing that can literately leave you breathless at some points. It’s crazy fun with unspeakable horrors! ―R.S. Belcher, author of Nightwise and The Six-Gun Tarot

Imagine that one of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones showed up at your door and said, ‘You work for me now.’ That’s the premise of Red Right Hand, Levi Black’s grim and gory tale that takes urban fantasy into the darkest places of both the universe and the human heart. Riveting in both senses of the word: it grips your attention, and it feels like bolts punching through your flesh. ―Alex Bledsoe, author of Long Black Curl

Levi Black mixes deft characterization, vivid description, and H. P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horrors to create a thoroughly engaging urban fantasy. ―Richard Lee Byers, author of The Reaver and Blind Man’s Bluff

With Red Right Hand, Levi Black gives us an exciting, pulse-inducing mashup of Urban Fantasy and Lovecraftian Horror. Charlie Moore is a great entry into the pantheon of urban fantasy heroines, and The Man in Black is a Mythos character made even more terrifyingly real. I can’t wait for the sequel. ―Gini Koch, author of the Alien/Katherine”Kitty” Katt series

Levi Black’s Red Right Hand is a perfect fusion of noir, action and horror. Urban decay, Lovecraftian madness and emotional desperation are only a few of the ingredients in the mix that powers this breakout novel. The engine on this beast is burning high-octane fuel and running hot. Highly recommended! ―James A. Moore, author of the Seven Forges Series and Alien: Sea of Sorrows

Sleek, savage and brutally well-written, Black‘s story hurtles you into a world where the elder gods view humans as expendable playthings or tasty snacks. Even as you obsessively turn the pages, you’ll be rooting for good to triumph over endless evil. A brilliant blend of horror and urban fantasy, Red Right Hand proves that truth is chaos, and hell is only a tentacle away. ―Jana Oliver, award-winning author of the Demon Trappers series

If Mickey Spillane had delved into the Cthulhu Mythos, he might have turned out something like this. Hard-hitting and truly scary, Red Right Hand is a postmodern Lovecraftian nightmare of a tale. Dark and bloody and bad to the bone. ―Charles R. Rutledge, co-author of Congregations of the Dead

Levi Black
Levi Black lives in Metro Atlanta with his wife and an array of toys, books, records, and comics. He’s been weird his whole life and is almost as scary as he looks. Red Right Hand is his first novel.

Photo Content from Levi Black

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You also have a chance to win a copy of Black Goat Blues!!!
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

– 10 Winners will receive a Copy of Black Goat Blues by Levi Black

If you want to enter for a chance to win, click here 
ENDS: December 1, 2017
Good Luck!!
Always Shine!