Book Review: The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston

The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston


Published: February 16th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire


Lie, torture, kill—there’s nothing Chris and Derek wouldn’t do for their younger brothers…

When Chris wakes up tied to a chair in a dark basement, he knows that he’s trapped—and why. He shot and killed Derek’s little brother. He had his reasons, but no matter how far Derek goes to uncover the truth about that night, Chris’s story won’t change. It can’t. There is far too much at stake…

Derek is desperate to prove his brother didn’t deserve to die. And if kidnapping his brother’s killer is the only way to the truth, than he’ll go to extremes. But Chris’s truth is far more dangerous than Derek could have imagined, and knowing could cost both their lives…


At a mere 240 pages this book packs a serious punch. Excellent use of tight and concise prose ensuring every single word matters.

The story is rooted around family and loyalty to those we love. Yes, it is a very, very dark story but it is absolutely poignant and riveting at the same time.

Chris is a seemingly mundane sixteen year-old…As we learn more about him we see that he is everything but ordinary. In his short life he has been delivered many devastating and life changing blows. His heroic father lost his life in the line of duty. After his beloved protector and police officer father has left this world, Chris is left with the responsibility of being the man of his house and tending to both his mother and younger brother.

Ever the protector, Chris responds to a noise in the kitchen in the middle of the night. An incident with the burglar leaves Chris with the weight of knowing he has ended the life of another young adult.

The book begins when Chris wakes up in a room bound to a chair with the older brother of the boy he killed wanting answers. With the threat of his fingers being cut off by garden shears, Chris has to tell the truth about what really happened that night.

The story is told from a ‘past’ and ‘present’ tone and it works fantastic for the nature of this story.

A stunning read that must be experienced.

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Book Review: The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner

The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner


Published: April 25th 2017 by Little Brown and Company


The discovery of long-buried secrets brings three generations of women together to Cape Cod for the summer homecoming of a lifetime.

Marin Bishop has always played by the rules, and it’s paid off: on the cusp of thirty she has a handsome fiancé, a prestigious Manhattan legal career, and her father’s hard-won admiration. But with one careless mistake at work, Marin suddenly finds herself unemployed and alone. Before she can summon the courage to tell her parents, a young woman appears, claiming to be Marin’s half-sister. Seeking answers, Marin agrees to join her on a soul-searching journey to Cape Cod, to meet the family she didn’t even know she had.

As the summer unfolds at her grandmother’s beachside B&B, it becomes clear that her half-sister’s existence is just the first in a series of truths that will shake Marin’s beliefs–in love, and in her own identity–to the core. Filled with shocking revelations, heartfelt romance, and resilient women banding together against the most unexpected twists of fate, THE FOREVER SUMMER is an emotionally resonant page-turner, and a delicious escape for any season.


I read this book during a spring blizzard and it was a perfect escape. My go-to favourite for summer favourites has always been Elin Hildebrand, but it’s safe to say she now has some competition!

I loved that this book jumps right into the action, by page 2 the plot is beginning to unfold. The prose is concise and tight, effectively taking the reader on a journey at the snap of our fingers. I find that sometimes summer fiction novels seem to be a bit too wordy, heavy on the details and slim on the action. The Forever Summer, captured the perfect balance. There was just enough details and dialogue to make the story come to life.

This story explored the dynamics of family–the good, bad and everything in between. It is so much more than a fluffy beach read. There are lessons to be learned from a dynamic set of characters we come to adore by the ending of the novel.

Check this story out, you won’t be disappointed!

Thank you, Hachette Book Group for the review copy.

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Author Fun: Erin McKean Interview

Erin McKean, author of one of my favourite novels, The Secret Lives of Dresses was kind enough to entertain my blog readers with an interview. If you haven’t read The Secret Lives of Dresses yet—do it! It is a beautiful story exploring the relationship between a Grandchild and her Grandmother, it is beautifully written & is just amazing! You won’t be disappointed. 

Lisa: As a child, what were your career dreams?

Erin: I really wanted to be a lexicographer

( from the time I was about

eight years old. Seriously! I even have the article in the paper that

inspired me — I put a scan of it up here:

Lisa: Are there any literary influences from your childhood

that particularly played a role in shaping you into a writer?

 Erin: Oh, that’s a tough one. It would probably be easier to say what writers

DIDN’T influence me! I read voraciously and insatiably (and still do). I

would say that my favorite romance writer is Kathleen Norris — her

descriptions of clothes and food are wonderful, even if her plots are a

little creaky. I’m also a devotee of Trollope, I love Kipling, and O.

Henry, and Noel Streatfeild, and E. Nesbit, and Donald Westlake, and …

too many other to list!

Lisa: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Erin: I’m still not sure I consider myself a writer-with-a-capital-W. I’m not

very literary!

Lisa: If you won the lottery, what would be your first big purchase?

Erin: I suppose I should be sensible and say something like “two hours of a

financial planner’s time” but then again, it’s not very sensible to play

the lottery. I think I would buy my husband a very fancy chair that he’s

always wanted. 

Lisa: How did you make the leap from writing about the world of words, to the world of dresses?

 Erin: It wasn’t so much a leap as a juggling — I still do write occasionally

about words, and for a very very long time I did quite a lot of both,

simultaneously. Writing about sewing and dresses sort of grew out of

becoming more serious about sewing; I was doing all that sewing (which

is very good for thinking) and didn’t really have anyone to talk about

it with, so of course I thought: “I’ll start a blog!”

Lisa: Which do you prefer writing: fiction or non-fiction?

Erin: Oh — they’re so different to me, it’s like asking whether you prefer

dancing or the moon! I like fiction because you can create a world; I

like non-fiction because the world that already exists is so fascinating!

Lisa: In your novel, The Secret Lives of Dresses, a beautiful relationship

between a grandchild and granddaughter is explored.

What inspired the relationship between Mimi and Dora?

Erin:  I really have no idea! I know it seems odd, but one day I just thought

about what it would be like to raise a grandchild after losing a child,

about doing things “the second time around,” and then about what it

would be like to be that grandchild. And then it was “Mimi and Dora.”

Mimi is named after a close friend of my family, whose own grandchildren

are like my cousins. She always had a kind word for everyone, too — but

that’s where the resemblance ends.

Lisa: The Secret Lives of Dresses is one of the most amazing pieces of

literary art I have ever read. While writing this novel, what message

did you want to send to readers?

 Erin: Oh, how kind of you! I’m afraid I’m not a very message-y writer. I just

wanted people to have an enjoyable few hours with fun people and pretty

dresses. 🙂

Lisa: What drives your love for vintage?

Erin: I love the silhouettes — vintage is really just FUN to wear. Not like a

costume is fun to wear, but the feel of a vintage dress, full skirts and

big collars and interesting prints. That’s what I like best.

Lisa: What are some of your favorite places to shop for dresses?

Erin: Right now, my sewing room! I have so many patterns and fabrics waiting

for me to make them, I haven’t bought a ready-made dress from a store in

a long time! When I do look for dresses I tend to look for vintage on

Etsy or Ebay (and I think Lands End has some nice shirtdresses right

now, too). My favorite “store” right now is probably Betabrands

(, mostly because their copywriting is so hilarious (and

their mens’ corduroys are very nice).

Lisa: Any style icons?

Erin: I think Diana Vreeland was the most stlish woman that ever lived. She was amazing.

I can’t wait for the new movie about her to come out (The Eye Has To Travel)!

Lisa: There is so much hype surrounding the undead in both the worlds of

cinema and literature. Are you team Zombie, or team Robot?

Erin: I love to read about zombies — I’m a huge fan of World War Z and

Walking Dead (the comic — can’t deal with the tv show) but I really

prefer robots, aesthetically.

Lisa: Any inspiring words for hopeful fashionista’s and writers?

Erin: Just find something that makes you really, really enthusiastic. If your

friends can’t get you to shut up about it, that’s what you should be

writing about.

Lisa: You are a woman who knows your words!

What is your favourite word in the English language?

Least favourite?

Erin: I don’t really have an unfavorite word (me not like a word? That’s

unpossible!) but I do admit to having a big list of “loved” words on

Wordnik — it’s here:

 Be sure to check out The Secret Lives of Dresses!

Follow Erin on twitter @emckean

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Book Review: Felicia Day–You’re Never Weird On The Internet

 You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day


Published: August 11th 2015

*Review first appeared in September 2015 Auxilliary Magazine



Is there anyone that doesn’t love Felicia Day? This quirky cutie is the official ‘Queen of Geeks.’ She has dominated the world of entertainment from both her acting career, writing and her heavy online presence including her own webseries.


You’re Never Weird documents Day’s journey growing up in the south as a home-schooled hippie to her life in Hollywood. Day dreamed of being an actress but her experiences in Hollywood were nothing like the stereotypical fast-lane of rags to riches. Day had many misadventures in the world of entertainment before she found her overwhelming success.


Day is not the typical face of young Hollywood. She is someone all young-adults can relate and identify with. She is weird, geeky and nerdy—and that is absolutely okay. She encourages and motivates readers to truly be themselves. One of the biggest lessons this book teaches is perseverance. When times get tough, hang on and work harder.


The addition of photos is fantastic and clever. Readers can see Felicia growing up and going through all the odd stages of adolescence. Her stories are bizarre, whimsical and sometimes stunning. Many of her experiences are ones we can relate to. Maybe the world is finally realizing there is nothing wrong with being different.


Whilst this book does continually have a light tone, she does tackle heavy issues in the latter half. Unlike most autobiographies, Day is able to discuss darker issues and maintain a genuine bit of humour. She tells readers of her journey through depression and severe anxiety. A brave, and bold decision that all readers will benefit from. It is always encouraging to those struggling to learn how others have navigated through similar situations.


What really stood out for me was the fact Felicia doesn’t shy away from discussing the dysfunctional parts of her life. This honestly is what reels the reader in. It helps that the book is absolutely written in Felicia’s own voice, and that voice is delightful: charming and earnest. What’s more, she’s led a strange life and isn’t bashful talking about it with disarming honesty.


Felicia’s delightful turn of phrase translated really well to the printed page. It actually made me laugh out loud in places. Her writing style is distinct and grips the reader from the very first page. Reader’s familiar of her work will find themselves reading this book with her sweet voice in their mind. A must-read for, well—everyone. Did I mention the foreword is by Joss Whedon? Pick up a copy! Now!

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Book Review: Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death and Drums, Drums, Drums by Travis Barker

Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death and Drums, Drums, Drums by Travis Barker


Published: October 20th 2015


Travis Barker’s soul-baring memoir chronicles the highlights and lowlights of the renowned drummer’s art and his life, including the harrowing plane crash that nearly killed him and his traumatic road to recovery—a fascinating never-before-told-in-full story of personal reinvention grounded in musical salvation and fatherhood.

After breaking out as the acclaimed drummer of the multiplatinum punk band Blink-182, everything changed for Travis Barker. But the dark side of rock stardom took its toll: his marriage, chronicled for an MTV reality show, fell apart. Constant touring concealed a serious drug addiction. A reckoning did not truly come until he was forced to face mortality: His life nearly ended in a horrifying plane crash, and then his close friend, collaborator, and fellow crash survivor DJ AM died of an overdose.

In this blunt, driving memoir, Barker ruminates on rock stardom, fatherhood, death, loss, and redemption, sharing stories shaped by decades’ worth of hard-earned insights. His pulsating memoir is as energetic as his acclaimed beats. It brings to a close the first chapters of a well-lived life, inspiring readers to follow the rhythms of their own hearts and find meaning in their lives.

ReviewThis is one of the best musician memoirs I’ve ever had the privilege of reading. I, like many others, have been a Travis Barker fan since his days in Blink 182. I followed his career from his brief stint on reality television, to his many musical endeavors as a drummer. Barker has an aura about himself that is just intriguing. He is unique, a seemingly quiet soul that has finally opened up to the world in the pages of his book. It has always been evident that he led a hard life, this book goes into explicit details of how rough his life has been.

The concept of working hard was embedded into his brain since he was a child, and this has consistently defined him–he always worked hard, even when addictions and chaos took their toll on his private life.

It was interesting to read about Barker’s love for drumming as a child. Idolizing The Muppets is not something you could easily connect Barker with today. This sense of innocence is rare to find in the Barker family and their story. Even as an adult, Barker holds on to the memory of being a child fascinated by the sounds of an instrument. Moments of childhood bliss are very precious and often rare to find.

Very graphic, disturbing and raw–nothing is sugar coated or glossed over.

” Dreams don’t work unless you do.”

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Harley Quinn Fashion

1616430_10152234554850908_943087229_nHarley Quinn Fashion


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Book Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude


Published: May 3rd 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers


Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

ReviewSarah Jude, I am your new, number one fan. This was one of the most enthralling novels I have read in years. Everything I adore in stories, May Queen Murders delivered. I am quite p passionate about the energy and healing of the earth and it’s many divine beauties, this was the only novel I have EVER encountered that referenced Granny Women! I though this was so charming and gave even more realism to the story.

Granny Women are purported to be healers, practicers of folk magic and folk healing. This is what the backbone of the story rests on. Magic, omens, charmed beliefs.

Jude, weaves all of our favourite gothic conventions into one heck of a story. I loved the electrifying nature of the characters. There was not a single character that wasn’t fully developed and known to the reader as the story came to a close.

Fans of Beautiful Creatures, you’re in for a treat!

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