Book Reviews

#BlogTour My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach #TLCBookTours

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward cover

 

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward gives readers an intimate and often heartbreaking look into the lives of author Mark Lukach and his wife, Giulia. In their third year of marriage, Giulia suffered a psychotic break. Delusional and suicidal, she was confined to a psych ward for twenty three days before she was allowed to return home. In time, she recovered, and they welcomed their son, Jonah, into the world. Sadly, Giulia would suffer two more psychotic episodes over the next few years, and had to be confined to the psych ward, again, each time.

Giulia’s journey is often distressing to read about, as is the way it affected all those who loved her. Lukach tells how he felt as a husband—and later, as a father—as he watched his beloved wife slide into episodes of delusional thinking, and the terror he felt when Giulia became suicidal. He also writes about how the role of caretaker took a toll on him physically and emotionally, and is brutally honest about the anger he sometimes felt toward his wife, and how overwhelmed he became in trying to care for both his wife and son during these times.

It feels weird to say I enjoyed a book about so serious a topic as mental illness, but I did. It’s beautifully written, and I know I’ll be thinking about this book for quite some time.

Highly recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs, and books dealing with mental health issues!

 

Author: Mark Lukach

Title: My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

Genre: Memoir

Published: May 2nd, 2017 by Harper Wave

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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About the Book

A heart-wrenching, yet hopeful, memoir of a young marriage that is redefined by mental illness and affirms the power of love.

Mark and Giulia’s life together began as a storybook romance. They fell in love at eighteen, married at twenty-four, and were living their dream life in San Francisco. When Giulia was twenty-seven, she suffered a terrifying and unexpected psychotic break that landed her in the psych ward for nearly a month. One day she was vibrant and well-adjusted; the next she was delusional and suicidal, convinced that her loved ones were not safe.

Eventually, Giulia fully recovered, and the couple had a son. But, soon after Jonas was born, Giulia had another breakdown, and then a third a few years after that. Pushed to the edge of the abyss, everything the couple had once taken for granted was upended.

A story of the fragility of the mind, and the tenacity of the human spirit, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is, above all, a love story that raises profound questions: How do we care for the people we love? What and who do we live for? Breathtaking in its candor, radiant with compassion, and written with dazzling lyricism, Lukach’s is an intensely personal odyssey through the harrowing years of his wife’s mental illness, anchored by an abiding devotion to family that will affirm readers’ faith in the power of love.

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About the Author

Mark Lukach is a teacher and freelance writer. His work has been published in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Wired, and other publications. He is currently the ninth-grade dean at the Athenian School, where he also teaches history. He lives with his wife, Giulia, and their son, Jonas, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Find out more about Mark at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Instagram.

TLC Book Tours The Sky's The LimitTour Schedule

Tuesday, May 2nd: A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, May 3rd: bookchickdi
Friday, May 5th: Tina Says…
Tuesday, May 9th: StephTheBookworm
Wednesday, May 10th: Back Porchervations
Thursday, May 11th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, May 15th: Stranded in Chaos
Tuesday, May 16th: Dreams, Etc.
Wednesday, May 17th: Wining Wife
Thursday, May 18th: Jathan & Heather
Monday, May 22nd: Book Hooked Blog
Tuesday, May 23rd: Thoughts On This ‘n That
Wednesday, May 24th: The Geeky Bibliophile

 

Book Reviews

#Review: The Final Trade by Joe Hart @AuthorJoeHart

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At the end of The Last Girl,  Zoe and her friends helped her attack the ARC and rescue some of the girls who remained there… but not all of them. Her friends Lily and Terra were killed, as well as Lee’s father, Simon—Zoe’s Cleric when she was imprisoned in the ARC. Zoe nearly died after being shot, and was left temporarily paralyzed from her injury. Worst of all, Lee abandoned her because she was a constant reminder of his father’s death.

In The Final Trade, Zoe has regained the use of her legs and life goes on as usual. While interrogating a NOA spy, she discovers the location of copies of records on all the women formerly held in the ARC. In the pursuit of this precious knowledge, the terrible truth about NOA’s association with the “Fae Trade” comes to light, and Zoe sets her sights on a new mission… to destroy the Fae Trade.

The Final Trade is book two in The Dominion Trilogy series, and there’s never a dull moment in this action-packed sequel. The story is told from the perspective of Zoe, as well as that of a mysterious woman called Wen, who travels with the Fae Trade as a cook. While Zoe plots the destruction of the Trade, Wen and her friend are planning their escape. Both sides of the story were equally compelling, and when the two merged, it set the stage for an explosive reveal that slowly built from the beginning of the book.

The evil specter of NOA takes a backseat to the Fae Trade this time around. Ingloriously repulsive and chilling in its purpose, Hart does an excellent job of portraying the depravity of the Trade without going too far.

With intense situations and thrilling action sequences alongside moments of raw emotion,  The Final Trade makes for a powerful read that will have you clamoring for the final book of the trilogy. Highly recommended for readers of dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Thomas and Mercer.

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Author: Joe Hart

Title: The Final Trade

Series: The Dominion Trilogy #2

Genre: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic

Published: September 13th 2016 by Thomas & Mercer

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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About the Book

The thrilling sequel to the runaway bestseller The Last Girl.

Zoey is not the woman she once was. She’s watched her friends die at the hands of their captors, been hunted, and returned from the brink of death. Now she must find the truth about who she is.

In search of the family she never knew, Zoey learns of personal records stored in an Idaho missile silo that may contain the information she and the other women seek. With the help of her group of newfound friends, Zoey travels to the missile facility, but among the records, they uncover information that leads to an insidious and horrific new foe: the Fae Trade, a macabre carnival of slavery and pain.

Zoey’s journey into the darkest parts of the human psyche brings her perilously close to the ever-thinning line between good and evil, and the final cost in her quest for justice might be her own humanity.

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About the Author

Author Joe Hart
Author Joe Hart

Joe Hart was born and raised in northern Minnesota. Having dedicated himself to writing horror and thriller fiction since the tender age of nine, he is now the author of nine novels, including The River Is Dark, Lineage, EverFall, and the first two books in the Dominion Trilogy, on which this graphic novel is based. When not writing, he enjoys reading, exercising, exploring the great outdoors, and watching movies with his family. For more information on his upcoming novels and access to his blog, visit http://www.joehartbooks.com.

Author photo and bio via Amazon.

 

Book Reviews

#Review: And Then There Was Me by Sadeqa Johnson @Sadeqasays

And Then There Was Me cover

And Then There Was Me is a beautifully written novel about friendship, marriage,  secrets, and betrayal.  The protagonist of the story is Beatrice (Bea) Colon. Married with two children, Bea is pregnant for the third time as a surrogate for her husband’s cousin. And she’s pretty sure her husband, Lonnie, is cheating on her again. Needing support, Bea relies on lifelong friend, Awilda, who has troubles in her own marriage due to her husband’s illness. No one knows Bea is hiding a secret of her own—she’s bulimic, and she fights a daily battle not to binge and purge. A terrible betrayal shatters her world, and Bea must find a way to piece her life back together again… and decide who will be in it.

I’ve had this ARC for a while, and I regret not reading it sooner. It’s such a good book! Before I got halfway through the first chapter, I was firmly stuck in Bea’s corner. My heart went out to her as I read about her insecurities, doubts about her husband’s fidelity, and the discomfort she feels living in the upper class, non-diverse neighborhood that Lonnie insisted upon.

As much as I was wrapped up in Bea’s present-day life, I found the flashbacks to her childhood even more interesting. It showed me why her friendship with Awilda was so important to her, as well as giving insight into how food became such an important (and distorted) part of her life. It also gave insight into why Bea forgave (or tolerated?) her husband’s cheating so many times throughout their marriage.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the ending. Not because it was bad, but because I didn’t want it to end! I thought there was a bit more left, and when I realized I’d reached the end, I whined out a pathetic noooooo and kept stabbing my finger at my Kindle, as if that would cause another chapter to magically appear. Sigh. If only…

Overall, this was a great story with vividly written characters you either loved or hated… and maybe felt a bit conflicted about, as well. I thought the scenes regarding Bea’s struggle with bulimia were thoughtfully written; the anguish Bea felt each time she couldn’t find the need to binge and purge was palpable, and painful to read. Kudos to Ms. Johnson having handled such a delicate subject with sensitivity and empathy.

This is the first book I’ve read of Johnson’s, but I doubt it will be the last. I highly recommend this to readers who enjoy reading women’s fiction. This is a story you don’t want to miss!

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Thomas Dunne Books.

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Author: Sadeqa Johnson

Title: And Then There Was Me

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Published: April 11th, 2017 by Thomas Dunne Books

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Purchase Links

Macmillan | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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About the Book

Bea and Awilda have been best friends from the moment Awilda threw her fourteen year-old self across Bea’s twin-sized bed as if they had known each other forever. Bubbly, adventurous Awilda taught sheltered, shy Bea how to dress, wear her hair and what to do with boys. She even introduced Bea to her husband, Lonnie, in college, who pledged to take good care of her for the rest of their lives. But philanderer Lonnie breaks that promise over and over again, leaving Bea to wrestle with her self-esteem and long time secret addiction.

Recently Lonnie has plopped the family in a New Jersey upper class suburb, which lacks the diversity that Bea craves but has the school district and zip code envy that Lonnie wants. The demands of carrying a third child and fitting into this new environment while pretending that her husband is not cheating on her again, is more than she can handle. And just when she thinks things can’t get any worst, the ultimate deception snaps the little thread that was holding her life together and all comes tumbling down.

And Then There Was Me is the story of secrets, lies and friendship, heartache and betrayal. It’s the journey of a woman stripped down to her lowest point and needing to find the will to press on.

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About the Author

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Author Sadeqa Johnson

Sadeqa Johnson, a former public relations manager, spent several years working with well-known authors such as JK Rowling, Bebe Moore Campbell, Amy Tan and Bishop TD Jakes before becoming an author herself. Her debut novel, Love in a Carry-on Bag, is the recipient of the 2013 Phillis Wheatley Award for Best Fiction and the 2012 USA Best Book Award for fiction. She is a motivational speaker, inspirational blogger, wife and mother of three incredible children.

Author photo and bio via Goodreads.

Book Reviews

#Review: Safe With Me by K.L. Slater @bookouture @KimLSlater

Safe with Me cover

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Bookouture.

When Anna was a child, something terrible happened and destroyed her family. Anna has always laid the blame for that horrific event at the feet of a single person: Carla Bevin. Thirteen years later, Anna is leading a boringly routine life and having difficulties at work, her only friend her elderly neighbor, when she is witness to a car-motorcycle accident. She is enraged when she recognizes the driver as Carla, who calls herself Amanda Danson. Anna is determined to make her pay for what she did to her family, and manages to ingratiate herself with Liam—the injured motorcyclist—and his grandmother, Ivy, in order to keep tabs on the police investigation. Anna’s obsession with Amanda, and the need for revenge drives her to do whatever it takes to protect Liam from Amanda. But who really needs protection—and from whom?

This is not a book to be read while half-asleep. Told from multiple POVs, with scenes taking place in the past as well as the present, you can easily get confused about who did what, when they did it, and why. I certainly did, so much so that I started and stopped reading it a couple of times before I finally got serious and paid attention… otherwise known as NOT reading while I was half-asleep. (It’s amazing how much your reading comprehension improves when you can actually concentrate on the words you’re looking at…)

If ever a character ran me through the full gamut of emotions, it was Anna. There were times early on that I thought she was quite possibly the most uninteresting character I’ve ever read in my life. Ah, but those first impressions aren’t always to be trusted! Anna was actually a character of surprising depth. Once I knew all the details of what shaped Anna into who she was, everything she said and did made perfect sense to me. Huge kudos to Slater for creating such an intricate character!

All was definitely not as it seemed in this deliciously convoluted story, and I absolutely LOVED that.  K.L. Slater definitely has a fan in me. I can’t wait to read more of her work!

(Can convoluted be used in a complimentary way? I hope so, because that’s how I meant it!)

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Author: K.L. Slater

Title: Safe With Me

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Published: November 3rd, 2016 by Bookouture

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Thirteen years ago someone did something very bad to Anna. Now it’s her turn to get even …

Anna lives a solitary existence, taking solace in order and routine. Her only friend is the lonely old lady next door. She doesn’t like to let people to get too close – she knows how much damage they can do.

Then one ordinary day Anna witnesses a devastating road accident and recognises the driver as Carla, the woman who ruined her life all those years ago. Now it’s Anna’s chance to set things straight but her revenge needs to be executed carefully …

First she needs to get to know Liam, the man injured in the accident. She needs to follow the police investigation. She needs to watch Carla from the shadows…

But as Anna’s obsession with Carla escalates, her own secrets start to unravel. Is Carla really dangerous or does Anna need to worry about someone far closer to home?

A compelling, gripping psychological thriller, perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and The Sister.

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About the Author

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Author K.L. Slater

For many years, Kim sent her work out to literary agents but never made it off the slush pile. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating, she received five offers of representation from London literary agents which was, as Kim says, ‘a fairytale … at the end of a very long road!’

Kim is a full-time writer and lives in Nottingham with her husband, Mac.

Author photo and bio via Bookouture.

Book Reviews

#Review: Bad Little Girl by Frances Vick @franvicksays @bookouture

Bad Little Girl cover

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Bookouture.

Everyone, even her parents, says Lorna Bell is a bad little girl. But when a child tells you someone is abusing her, you have to believe her, no matter what. Because a little girl would never lie about something so terrible. Would she?

Bad Little Girl is a dark psychological thriller that will leave you feeling horrified at how truly evil someone can be, and how far they are willing to go in order to get what they want.

There were several things I liked about this novel. The story is much different from anything I’ve read in a while, with strong characters and vividly written throughout. I could easily picture everything in my mind as I read; even as I write this review more than a month later, I can still ‘see’ several scenes that played out in the story.

The one thing I was disappointed with, and what ultimately led me to give a three star rating rather than a four star rating, was being able to figure out a few key things in the story long before it was ultimately revealed near the end of the novel. I’m still torn on whether or not it’s fair to give it the lower rating, but I’ll leave it as that’s how I rated it immediately after I finished it.

Rating uncertainties aside, Frances Vick is definitely a worthy addition to my Author Radar. I’ll be on the lookout for more of her work!

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Author: Frances Vick

Title: Bad Little Girl

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Published: February 22nd 2017 by Bookouture

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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‘I’m not safe – you have to help me…’

Little Lorna Bell is from a notorious family on a rundown estate. Everyone thinks she’s a nasty piece of work. The schoolchildren call her a thief. But Lorna’s hair is matted, her shoes pinch her feet and school teacher Claire Penny can’t help herself; some kids just need a bit more support, a bit more love, than the rest.

As the bond between teacher and pupil grows stronger, Claire sees Lorna’s bruises, and digs to uncover the disturbing tale behind them. Heartbroken, Claire knows she has to act. She must make Lorna safe. Just when Claire thinks she has protected Lorna, a chance encounter brings enigmatic stranger Marianne Cairns into their lives. Marianne seems generous and kind but there is something about her story that doesn’t quite add up. Why does she feel so at home, and why is Lorna suddenly so unsettled?

Claire has risked everything to save Lorna. But what can save Claire from the shocking truth?

An utterly unputdownable and darkly compelling read that will have fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister, and Gone Girl absolutely hooked.

About the Author

frances_vickThe only child of parents who worked at a top security psychiatric hospital, Frances grew up receiving disquieting notes and presents from the patients. Expelled from school, she spent the next few years on the dole, augmenting her income by providing security and crewing for gigs, and being a guinea pig for medical trials. Later jobs included working in a theatre in Manhattan, teaching English in Japanese Junior High Schools, and being a life model in Italy, before coming back to London and working with homeless teenagers and refugees.

Author photo and bio via Bookouture.