Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fellow Readers...

I have moved my site to

This site will either remain as is, or be deleted....I haven't decided because I can't let go of the work I have put into it. Please keep updated with my reviews over at the new site. I hope to see you there.

Much love,


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Review: What Makes It Worthy

What Makes It Worthy
by David Paul Kuhn


What Makes It Worthy is the personal story of Taylor Solomon and Cait Ellis. Taylor is a rising star at America's fastest-growing political media machine. Cait is a young New York Times reporter who wrestles with the shadow of her legendary mother.

And it is an historic--yet familiar--campaign. The Republican, who hails from one of America's power clans and has long been in the national spotlight, seeks to become the first female president. Her Democratic opponent, a State Department veteran setting the election afire with populism, hopes to make his own history as the first Hispanic president. On the campaign trail, as ethics gray and events envelop politicians, operatives, and reporters--as Cait and Taylor struggle with how much distance must be accepted between their ideals and their choices--the political not only becomes personal, but also threatens to upend their lives, as well as the presidential campaign itself.

Written by well-known political journalist David Paul Kuhn, What Makes It Worthy is "a heartfelt page-turner that proves a good novel can both entertain you and inform you," in the words of former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

The novel is also perhaps the most accurate depiction yet written about how the relationship between the media and the modern presidential campaign shapes American politics.


This book - my gosh- THIS BOOK. If there was ever any curiosity as to what it is to be in a political campaign - this book here will quench some of that. What Makes It Worthy creates an inside look for the reader to observe the life of candidates and reporters while on the campaign trail. It is quite the page-turner and Kuhn does a fantastic job with his character development. I would go as far as to say that reading this book is as close as being a fly to the wall as you can get. 

Typically, I do not read anything having to do with politics. Not for any reason except that I just don't. What Makes It Worthy has enough of everything else (drama, a love story....) to balance the politics for me. With that said, however, the political campaign itself with reporters was in itself a gripping read. 


Read if you like good characters and a story that is gonna draw you in!

About the Author

David Paul Kuhn is a writer and political analyst living in New York City. He is the author of the political novel What Makes It Worthy—an “absorbing novel” that is “all too real” (political strategist James Carville), “captivating” (novelist Matthew Thomas), “a genuinely tender love story” (Kirkus Reviews).

Kuhn has held senior writing positions across the political-media landscape, from Politico to RealClearPolitics to He has also written for The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The Washington Post Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, among other publications, and regularly appears on networks ranging from BBC to Fox News. As the Macmillan Speakers Bureau described him, “David Paul Kuhn is an expert analyst of presidential and gender politics.” He is also the author ofThe Neglected Voter, which General Wes Clark called “a brilliantly insightful analysis of American politics.”

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Review: Overcoming Anxiety

Overcoming Anxiety
by David Berndt

The good news is that anxiety can be overcome without relying on medication. Psychologist David Berndt, Ph.D., in Overcoming Anxiety outlines several self-help methods for relief for anxiety and worry. In clear simple language and a conversational style. Dr. Berndt shares with the reader powerful step by step proven techniques for anxiety management.

You will learn:
  • A Self-hypnosis grounding technique in the Ericksonian tradition.
  • Box Breathing, Seven Eleven and similar breathing techniques for anxiety relief.
  • How to stop or interrupt toxic thoughts that keep you locked in anxiety.
  • How to harness and utilize your worries, so they work for you.
  • Relief from anxiety through desensitization and exposure therapy.

Designed to be used alone as self-help or in conjunction with professional treatment Dr. Berndt draws upon his experience as a clinician and academic researcher to give accessible help to the reader who wants to understand and manage their anxiety.


This review was a little different for me, fellow readers. First of all, as you can see above, it is non-fiction. Not only is it non-fiction, but it is a self-help book (or whatever name they are classifying self-help with these days). Aside from that, however, reviewing this was different for two reasons (1) I am in the mental health field (as a case manager at a university counseling center; I have my Masters degree in Clinical Psychology) and (2) I have dealt with anxiety all my life - since I was a kid.

It just got real folks.

As for the book - it gives fantastic techniques for recognizing and "dealing" with your anxiety - but it does more than that. One of the many awful aspects of anxiety is that it helps distort your thoughts, disorienting you, and maybe even making you believe things that aren't true. It's so much easier to believe the negative - especially when anxiety wants to be your best friend. This book, through its thorough explanations offers the reader a fresh look at their anxiety. It offers an opportunity to recognize what is happening with your thoughts and techniques on how to turn it around in the best attempt to "turn it off."

As it explains in the book, anxiety in and of itself is not a bad thing to experience. It is what alerts us, motivates us, etc. It is when the anxiety is overwhelming where it becomes something of a problem. Dealing with anxiety is not about making it go away forever 100%. It is about managing it so that we can feel it and still be "okay."

During my practicum (think of it like an internship), I counseled many individuals. It was a year (and then some when the center asked for me to come back to fill in an empty spot on their staff) of listening and attempting another perspective for many individuals. I heard a lot of awful things. Anxiety, sadly, was one of the most common worries I heard about. Maybe it was because it hit close to home, but it was also the worry that made me the most empathic toward my clients. Anxiety is not something that we have to let overcome our lives, yet it is so easy to let it do just that. With the help of this book and others like it as well as reaching out to mental health professionals - we can learn to feel anxiety without letting it become our ruler. Learning a set of skills/techniques like learning to distract yourself, mindfulness, and breathing exercises can help overcome that downward spiral of anxiety.


If you or someone you know has problems with anxiety, pick this book up. It is a good start and a way for you to recognize what is going on.

About the Author

David J. Berndt, Ph.D. was an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago where he published or presented over 80 papers and articles before establishing a private practice. Dr Berndt currently lives in Charleston, S.C. where he also teaches in an adjunct capacity at the College of Charleston. He is best known for his psychological tests TheMultiscore Depression Inventory, and the Multiscore Depression Inventory for Children, both from Western Psychological Services. He also contributes to several psychology websites including

Praise for Dr. Berndt’s work:

About Overcoming Anxiety

“Dr. Berndt is a creative and forward-thinking psychologist who has contributed to advancing psychology both with his research and clinical practice. He has helped countless patients with their depression and anxiety, and his conversational and accessible style of writing makes Overcoming Anxiety a book you would want for your top shelf.

- Charles Kaiser, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the College of Charleston


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: Midnight Burning

Midnight Burning
by Karissa Laurel


Solina  Mundy  lives  a  quiet  life,  running  the  family  bakery  in  her  small  North  Carolina hometown. But one night, she suffers a vivid nightmare in which a wolfish beast is devouring her twin brother, who lives in Alaska. The next morning, police notify her that Mani is dead. Drivento learn the truth, Solina heads for the Land of the Midnight Sun. Once there, she begins to suspect Mani’s friends know more about his death than they’ve let on. Skyla, an ex-Marine, is the only one willing to help her.

As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina is stunned to learn that her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his death, and the fate of the entire world. If she can’t learn to control her newfound gifts and keep her friends safe, a long-lost dominion over mortals will rise again, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.


This is the kind of book I live for - some mystery and romance? And and and - mythology is mixed in there? Yes, please! The story has a great pace and it had me reading it from cover to cover (and annoyed when I had to put it down to attend to life - ugh!). I don't want to go into depth with the characters, but they are wonderful and well-rounded characters. It's truly a thrilling book with likable characters. Solina in particular is a strong female character - which any fan of this blog will know how much I love strong female characters/protagonists. 

All in all, this is a thrilling story that will keep you wanting more!


So - where's book 2?? *thumbs up*

About the Author

Karissa Laurel always dabbled in writing, but she also wanted to be a chef when she grew up. So she did. After years of working nights, weekends, and holidays, she burnt out and said, “Now what do I do?” She tried a bunch of other things, the most steady of those being a paralegal for state government, but nothing makes her as happy as writing. She has published several short stories and reads “slush” for a couple of short-story markets.

Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky. She loves to read and has a sweet tooth for speculative fiction. Sometimes her husband convinces her to put down the books and take the motorcycles out for a spin. When it snows, you’ll find her on the slopes.

Karissa also paints and draws and harbors a grand delusion that she might finish a graphic novel someday.

Follow Karissa Online:

Twitter: @karissalaurel

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: Making It

Making It
by Amanda Gibbs


Making It, Amanda Gibbs' debut short story, invites readers into the most intimate and personal moments of a couple's life spanning throughout decades. The story is told through prose, poetry, dialogue, lists, and focused vignettes, all with Amanda's signature concrete voice.  Each entry of Making It represents a day in a year of the couple's relationship, spanning from first meeting to 30th anniversary.


There are not many books that can do what Making It has done. It gives us individual snapshots of a couple's life. The reader is given the opportunity to go along for the ride in this relationship as each person experiences the important milestones of their relationship. It's not a long book whatsoever, but Gibbs has made her story work in the short amount of pages. I'm guessing that was intentional (or a happy accident?) - either way, it works for this story. The story is unique in it's execution and I am very satisfied and happy with reading it. Love stories can very easily turn cheesy, but this one is elegant and lovely.

About the Author

Amanda Gibbs is an eighteen-year-old student, photographer and actress from Toronto, Canada.  Writing since preschool with Crayola crayons, Amanda’s passion is writing stories that make the mundane beautiful, and the little moments in life profound.  

Inspired by writers like Michael Faudet, Jamie McGuire, and Walt Whitman, Amanda loves experimenting with form, dialogue, and combining poetry and prose.  

In her spare time, Amanda trains in mixed martial arts and takes care of her six dogs, as well as procrastinating schoolwork to write her next book.

Author website:

Author Amazon:

“How am I supposed to know when to say I love you?”
She passed him the tomato plant to put on the apartment balcony.  It was the first thing they had ever owned together.
“When to say I love you, or when you know you love someone?”
He reached over to rub the dirt smear off her cheek.  He licked his finger first to make sure he got it all.  She didn’t think twice of it.
She stopped planting for a moment to look out at the industrial view facing her.  Hotels, factories, more apartments.  A couple was having sex against the window across the street.  She didn’t look away as she said it.
“I think you know you love someone when you do things for them when it’s inconvenient for you.  I think you say I love you when they do too.”
-A week before the tomato plant died

The first time he said it, they were assembling an ikea baby crib for his sister’s newborn.  He was kneeling on the ground reading her instructions while she lay partway under the crib, screwdriver in hand to do the hard bits.  She didn’t even hear him the first time. She wore his old painting t-shirt and a pair of Roots sweatpants, and he had just yelled at her a half hour before for spending too much money on Wendy’s.

“I love you.”
She reached her hand out to pat his knee affectionately.
“No, babe, it’s fine, you didn’t shove me at all.”  
She had the screwdriver in her mouth so she could use both hands to piece the thing together, making it difficult for him to understand much of what she said either.  He did one of those nervous laughs reserved for 10th graders about to give a presentation on the reproductive organs, but, to his credit, he said it again quite factually and even toned, especially for a man who had only ever previously said “I love you” to his mother and goldfish.
“I love you.”
She dropped the screwdriver.  On her face.
“What did you just say?”  It barely came out as a whisper.
“I love you.”

The first time she said “I love you” was 13 weeks after he did.  He was sleeping, she was propped up on her elbow staring at him, as she had been for the past three hours trying to garner the confidence to spit out the three words.  It was his snore that did it.  He did this thing where he simultaneously exhaled and inhaled, while making a spitting noise which included an elephantine snore.  She started giggling uncontrollably, and didn’t even realize at first when the words popped out.  

“I love you.”

It didn’t matter that it would be six more months before she said it to his face, because she said it.  It was out there in the universe.  And she meant it.

- How she chipped her front tooth from a screwdriver

Her: If you could delete one thing off this Earth, what would it be?
Him:  Kim
Her: Tinder.
- mid back rub conversations

“I always get so sad when I see 80 year old couples eating at restaurants, not saying anything the whole time.”
She turned the pepper grinder over his soup exactly three and a half times; he didn’t need to ask.
He poured her wine to the half way mark; she didn’t need to ask.
“Because.  They’ve been around each other so long, they have nothing left to say.  I never want to be like that.”
He toyed with the stem of his glass for a moment.
“But what if they’re so comfortable around each other, they know each other so well, they don’t always need words to communicate?  They’ve gotten to the point where silence is comfortable...then I’d want to be exactly like that.”
They ate the rest of the meal in comfortable silence.

  • Tomato Soup and Chardonnay

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Spotlight: Sandcastle

by Justin Bog


The Complete Edition of Justin Bog's First Collection of Dark Psychological Suspense Tales.

An award-winning collection, Sandcastle and Other Stories reveals twisted secrets that are mined like plutonium. These twelve literary tales are nothing short of an adventure through a roiling sea of emotion. With authenticity and eloquence, author Justin Bog holds a provocative and compelling mirror on the human condition.

"The stories are those of everyday people who might live next door or in the walk-up across the street . . . A man with a personal crisis takes a singles cruise – a woman leaves her toddler girl at the beach while having a romantic tryst – a B-list actor’s character is killed off – a girl is sucked below the sand into an underwater chamber . . . an old gardener who has dark secrets interacts with the bosses daughter in a most unforeseen way. The only commonality in these tight, little stories is they are unexpected. Having this book is like having a string of black pearls – each one slightly different, but each a perfect, dark, little gem . . . Bog paints pictures with words as Titian did with oil paints – startlingly detailed with deep perspective and rich complexity."

--Rosi Hollenbeck, San Francisco Book Review

About the Author

Justin Bog lives in the Pacific Northwest on Fidalgo Island. Justin Bog was Pop Culture Correspondent and Editor for In Classic Style. He enjoys cooking, lawn mowing not so much, and spends time walking and handing out treats to two long coat German shepherds, Zippy and Kipling, and two barn cats, Ajax The Gray and Eartha Kitt’n.

Sandcastle and Other Stories: The Complete Edition  on Amazon:

*The author will be selling two new stories separately in one bundle under the title: Speak the Word! as an eBook only for $1.99

Justin’s creative writing blog is here.
On Twitter @JustinBog

On Goodreads:

Friday, July 3, 2015

Review: The Fire Inside

The Fire Inside
by Michelle Bellon


Aiden had the perfect life. A job he loved, a beautiful son and loving wife. In an instant everything is taken from him and Aiden assumes his life is over. Falling into a deep depression Aiden has all but given up on his job, his friends and himself. But when a mysterious force gives him the power to heal those around him, Aiden is forced to pull himself out of his depression in favor of the greater good. When he meets Ryan, a young woman living on the streets, and Norma, a woman whose marriage is crumbling around her, Aiden acknowledges that maybe his life still has a purpose and his ability to heal maybe more powerful then he may ever imagined.


The Fire Inside is a well-developed story that is focused on three characters whose lives become interconnected. Like real life, what connects these individuals is their pain - each character has reached a low point in their life. Aides loses his family. Ryan is at a crossroads in which she could end up having a harder life than anyone would want for her. Norma is having her marriage crumble because she's unable to see anything besides her want in the relationship. Through varying point of views we're able to get each character's perspective and really understand what each person has not only gone through, but eventually how love and caring for each other is power enough to heal.


This is an emotional book that is dramatic in the best way. If you enjoy books like that, definitely give this one a try!