Two Floors Above Grief – Book Review

When I am sent a non-fiction book, I have to consider if reviewing the tales told in it will be interesting enough to want to publish on my blog. I’ve been sent some non-fiction stories out there. This time I was okay with deciding if I wanted to review Two Floors Above Grief. The title was attention-catching. I had to know what that was about. Not many instances do you get to read about the life lived by families in funeral homes. I am sure if the need arose, I could find a funeral home willing to answer questions about their day-to-day lives, but there is something delightfully intimate about a memoir written by someone who lived it. So I was very excited to be able to sit down and read this book.

Two Floors Above Grief by Kevin M. O’Connor is an exciting visit to a man’s childhood home and the unorthodox but fascinating family he grew up around. Not only did our author grow up above a funeral home, giving him a look into a grasp at death that many a young child has a hard time understanding, but he also had a combined family of relatives. Our author’s uncle owns the funeral home, and his father helps run it. This resulted in two households living in the apartments above the funeral home and creating a family of four parents and various offspring, as the author refers to himself, his brothers, and his cousins. Creating a complex living environment where he could learn from all four parents.

The family history of O’Conner’s family and the funeral home is told in memories and letters that were saved throughout his life. This allows us to see these reminiscences from not just the author’s memory but also from the letters sent and received before and after the events resulting in a colorful tapestry of family history. The multiple views allow us to better grasp what life for a funeral home family was like for those living in the household and their relatives. If you are interested in memories, I suggest you pick up this family’s tale.

The Key to Circus-Mom Highway- Book Review

The Key to Circus-Mom Highway by Allyson Rice is an entertaining adventure following three siblings traveling to Florida to collect their inheritance. The catch? This inheritance comes from a mother they did not know they had! Along the way, they are given the sad tale of their mother and the trauma she went through before deciding to give them up. The only way I can sum up this novel is by saying that Allyson Rice has given us one hell of an adventure, mixing dramatic trauma events with fantastic humor that makes every page of this book exciting.

Only a few books easily mix two extremes of drama and humor. The book almost feels like a movie with its emotional ups and downs and the various plots that all come together in a theatrical climax. However, despite the often silly humor and circumstances, the characters in this story are genuine and entirely relatable. If you have ever had a disgruntled family relationship, you will undoubtedly understand once you pick up this book. The conversations and jokes made between family members could happen, even if some of the events are exaggerated for entertainment.

Now this book takes place in the modern-day United States, though the author still took part in some exciting worldbuilding by giving us exciting homes, shops, and side characters. Even these side characters feel exciting to learn about as Rice gives us humorous introductions to each one. While, for the most part, these paragraphs of amusing tidbits have nothing to do with the story, they certainly keep the fun aspects of the story going, even as particularly dark subjects come up.

The Key to Circus-Mom Highway is a must-read if you want a book that stands out. I will be rereading it as soon as I have time.

Usually, this would be a book review, but due to some timing issues with the book, I am instead showcasing where you can purchase this book. Soon I will have a copy and follow up with a book review. However, here are some things that can entertain you regarding The Beginning of Arrogance in the mean time!

First of all you can buy this book pretty much everywhere.

You can also check out Goodreads reviews here!

Gathering of the Four – Book Review

Gathering of the Four by A.E. Bennet is book one of the Serrulata Saga, not counting the prequel Yours and Mine that covers how a couple of characters met. Gathering of the Four follows Leora of Mae, Roland Shallowbrook, Aurora Verte, and Leopold as they struggle to deal with being outcasts in The Realm and try to survive long enough to bring justice to a cruel and powerful sovereign. While the four come from very different living situations, they must work together and cope with the secrets that tie some closer than one would expect. The book is filled with exciting turns, making it difficult to put it down.

The first thing I want to address about Gathering of the Four is that it does contain scenes of abuse and sexual situations. So if you are uncomfortable with either of these, this is probably not the sort of book for you. The scenes of abuse and implied abuse explain the situations characters are in or have lived through. As for the sexual problems, they are delightfully steamy but not exceptionally detailed. However, the apparent affection between the feelings involved makes reading them enjoyable. These situations are few and far between, but they are common enough to make a note of.

Another thing I want to discuss is world-building. When you first pick up Gathering of the Four, you might think this is another fantasy series, and it certainly does have fantasy aspects. However, as I read, I was delighted to find out that there are some problematic dystopian situations, and this book does, in fact, take place on our very own Earth. I will not go into further details on the subject in order not to ruin any twists in the book, but the world that A.E. Bennett has created is one of the most exciting I have read about in some time.

I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

Mandate: Thirteen – Book Review

Mandate: Thirteen by Joseph J. Dowling is an exciting dystopian novel. Like many of these books, this one centers around the dropping fertility rates of the human race. An ultra-conservative group has control of England, and due to the rapidly dropping rates, they released a new law, all females thirteen years and older must be checked for hormones and the ability to carry children. When Micheal Randell’s daughter Hope is marked as fertile, he goes as far as he can to keep her safe.

When I first saw the offer to review this book, I thought, oh boy, another one of these. Female infertility blame dystopian future has been done a lot. However, Joseph J. Dowling’s take on this popular genre is well done. While much of the focus is on female infertility, everything from birthing schools to baby farmers, there are also several instances when it is stated that males are also to blame. I found this to be a satisfying change to an often worn-out concept. Another pleasing difference in this book compared to many of its kin of a similar genre is that the main characters are father and daughter. So instead of being given a single view from a female perspective, we are also given the additional complications of a strained father-daughter relationship. Anyone who has et sort n a teenager can recall how complicated parental relationships can be.

While I touched on it briefly above, I will go into more detail here. The father-daughter relationship between Micheal and Hope is realistic, in all its ups and downs and half-thought-out comments. No man can entirely comprehend what a young teenage girl is thinking, and no young adolescent girl has any idea what a middle-aged man is thinking. This leads to several complications throughout the story that feel as though they could have been witnessed in real life.

So the real question is, is Mandate: Thirteen worth picking up? Yes. Refrain from letting the similar-sounding story fool you. Joseph J. Dowling’s take on this popular genre is a breath of fresh air.

Drive – An Expanse Short Story Review

This review contains not only my honest opinion but a affiliate link for Audible that will lead you to the story. If you sign yup for Audible using my link I get a percentage of the money and it will be used to support this blog. For more information on my affiliate disclosure please see this page.

So some time ago, I started watching The Expanse on Amazon Prime. I know picking up any Amazon show, more so one based on a set of books is a touch-and-go, which is odd, given how the company became so popular. Anyway, naturally being more of a reader than a watcher, I opted to see what I could find about the books the series was based on. I found the series on Amazon, and even better, I found it on Audible. Perfect. I can multitask, getting stuff done around the house and satisfying my curiosity.

Since Audible has the collection labeled by order, I have been going down the list. The first part I listened to was a short story that is part of the series Drive. Drive is, of course, written by the author of the series James A. Corey and is, as I stated before, a short story, which makes it a concise read or on Audible, only about an hour of a listen. While I have not read the series so far, many of the reviews in the comments stated that Drive is optional to take in the rest of the series, but it sure is an enjoyable story.

The story of Drive follows Solomon Epstein as he experiments with a ship he purchased without his wife’s permission. (Never a good idea, guys and gals.) It also flashes back to his life, meeting his wife and friends he spent time with when he was younger. I will not be going into fine details as this is a short story and a quick listen. It would be far too easy to ruin the plot for those unfamiliar with the story. However, I am currently interested in reading more. I may go back and compare the series as I go.

Oh yeah, and if you want to check out Drive and Audible, feel free to use my link here!

Armadas in the Mist – Audiobook Review

Armadas in the Mist is the last novel in Christian Klaver’s Empire of the House of Thorns series. Justice, her extended family, friends, and her crew continue their war against Faerie. From the start of this book, we enter the story’s climax. Plots and loose ends are pulled together in this book, giving each character and plot a satisfying conclusion. Though not the expected conclusion, this final book is all the more exciting to read as you have no idea where it is going.

Now, as this story has been told mainly in the first person for three books, we knew from the start that the main character would survive. However, the state in which she survives and those around her are entirely up in the air. The conclusions of most of the characters are well-suited and comfortable, though I found the placement of one of Justice’s brothers to come off as a bit odd. However, the rest of the cast had a good finale, and it was worth getting invested in the plots of each character.

I listened to this book in audiobook format like the first two, and once again, Fiona Hardingham gives us a fantastic performance and narration. Character voices and reactions remain spot-on for the age and personality of each character. Over Armada’s in the Mist and the rest of Klaver’s Empire of the House of Thorns series is worth reading or listening to. I will be revisiting this series at some point. It is going on my vacation playlist!

Justice at Sea – Audiobook Review

In Justice at Sea, the second book in Christian Klaver’s Empire of the House of Thorns series, we are again thrown into the complicated life of Justice and her siblings. This book picks up shortly after the first book. This second novel shows more development in both story and the characters. Justice and her siblings are growing up both emotionally and physically in some cases. Her sister has the most apparent changes as she takes on her role as a magician. However, this is just one noticeable change in what happens to the Kasric siblings as they work through a war-torn and highly complex family life. Some changes are for the best, others quite sad.

As exciting as the first book in the series and just as well written, in Justice at Sea, we spend a bit more time in Faerie and learn more about the world that has been created. This fantastic world is much more varied and has more creatures and wonders than was hinted at in the first story. This keeps the world feeling vibrant and alive. The newer characters we are introduced to in this book are as colorful as they have been in the first. Christain Klaver certainly has a knack for creating exciting characters. Some even react in ways one may not expect. I did not see the ending of this book coming.

As with the first book, I once again listened to the audiobook version of this young adult novel, and once again, Fiona Hardingham presents us with fantastic acting and narration. The characters continue to be spot, and the voices fit well. Once again, this is a must-read. Though if you enjoyed the first one, you’d want to inhale this one as quickly as you can anyway.

Shadows Over London – Audiobook Review

Shadows Over London is the first book in the Empire of the House of Thorns series by Christian Klaver. This first novel introduces Justice Kasric and her family as they are violently torn from their pleasant lives in Victorian London and tossed into a paranormal war against the Faerie. As if finding out her family is attached to supernatural creatures is not enough, Justice still has to cope with internal family struggles, sibling rivalry, and a mother who downright dislikes her. These are all painfully relatable issues for anyone who is, or was ever, a teenager.

Shadows Over London, like many books in the young adult genre, follows a teenager through the trials of life and the even greater conflicts they find themselves buried. Christain Klaver does a fantastic job of balancing the complications of being a sixteen-year-old girl with the epic war story that builds up around Justice. She and all the characters of this novel are realistic in their behavior and actions, making them solid and believable characters with personalities. The world that our author has built is also fantastic. While Victorian London is well documented, the bits and pieces of Faerie, the fictional side of the war in this series, are creative and colorful and have a delicate balance of common myths and original creations.

As I was given a copy of the audiobook of Shadows Over London to listen, I will take a moment to cover that aspect. Fiona Hardingham’s reading is spectacular. A talented narrator Fiona Hardingham gives us a well spoked and brilliantly acted narration. Each character has a voice that fits perfectly. The narrator’s voice and accent are spot-on for the characters and locations of this novel. In short, I can’t find a single complaint about Shadows Over London and suggest you pick it up.

The False Prophet – Book Review

The False Prophet by J.M. Hart is the fifth book in her Chronicles of the Supernatural series. This exciting novel, picking up right after book four, Separated by Evil, follows the characters, Jade and Casey, as they travel back to the US and, with the assistance of some of Jade’s native friends who she got close to in a previous book, try to get as many people as they can to a sacred site to prepare for the end of the world. The two go through various physical and emotional complications. Dealing with loss, particularly during an apocalypse, more so when you are still a teenager is difficult.

As this is the fifth book in the series, you can tell J.M. Hart has grasped the characters she has created. They remain in the same vein as in previous books though they also have further development. After five books, how much further can characters develop? Well, you will be amazed! Jade comes into her own in this novel, and Casey manages to at least cope with the difficulties he has been facing. The story of this novel is as exciting as the previous ones. The high-stakes feeling remains in most of the actions of the characters. The story itself remains compelling, and you are on the edge of your seat, wondering what will become of the survivors. Will they get to ascend?

Like the rest of J.M. Hart’s work, this book is worth picking up. However, I can not wait till the last book comes out!

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