Book Review: Deadly Proof By Rachel Dylan

34020189-_uy630_sr1200630_

Blurb:

Standing For What’s Right Could Cost Her Everything

Tapped as lead counsel in a corporate cover-up lawsuit against Mason Pharmaceutical, Kate Sullivan knows this case could make her career. What really drives her, though, is getting justice for the victims whose lives were ruined by the company’s dangerous new drug. But when a whistleblower turns up dead, it paints a target on the back of everyone involved.

Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James steps in to handle security for Kate. He’s still haunted by mistakes in his past and is determined never to let something like that happen again. But it soon appears someone is willing to do anything–even commit murder–to keep the case from going to trial.

As danger closes in, Landon can’t help but admire Kate’s courage and resolve–but will her determination not to back down become too great of a risk?

General Thoughts:

I have to say this story was more enjoyable than I initially anticipated it would be. Here I was starting the story and reading and reading, thinking I still had a lot left to cover, and before I knew it, I was at the end of the book. I wondered if I actually read the book that fast, which is a good thing, because it tells me that this book is entertaining—it read like a movie. It was a bit suspenseful and realistic. The author really knows how to develop a compelling story from beginning to end.

Another positive to this story was how easy I connected to the main character, Kate Sullivan. I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed this story is I felt I shared the values and personality that Kate possessed. Observing how she dealt with sensitive issues in a no-time, money and status conscious environment, it was nice how the author created a Godly character who was able to draw on her relationship with God to navigate the society she lived in. I especially like the relationship development between Kate and Landon and how Kate was able to share her faith with Landon who was still struggling to understand where he stood in his relationship with God. It all was written authentically and with a sensitivity that I believe many will appreciate.

When I think about the drawbacks of this story, I will say, it’s not as suspenseful as I imagined it to be. The mystery of who was threatening Kate’s life was obvious from the beginning, even if not specific as to whom. I wasn’t surprised to find out who was after Kate—it was really a matter of when they would reveal themself. I believed because the story seemed to be split with its focus on Kate’s and Landon’s relationship and the mystery of who was threatening Kate to back off of the case, that might have been the reason why there was less attention in developing a lot of mystery to the story.

Recommendation:

Yes, I would recommend this story to those who have an interest in law investigative stories with a bit of suspense, as well as stories that focus on character development and growth.

Rating:

3.5 out of 5 stars. The story was a fast and entertaining read and I really felt that the main character was understandable, if not also relatable. However, though I would consider it a suspenseful story, it was obvious who, from a general sense, was after Kate and why, which eliminated the mysterious aspect I was hoping for.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Advertisements

It’s Okay

 

Rocks or Light

It’s Okay

It’s okay to be
The only one
To be
Left under the sun
It’s okay to go
On this road alone
It’s okay to be lost
Until you find your home

It’s okay to be
The only one
To keep on searching
Until you’re done
It’s okay to feel
Like you’re on your own
It’s okay to try
Try try try
It’s okay to do it again and again
Until you fly

It’s okay to be
Just who you are
Even if what that is
Doesn’t seem to get you far
It’s okay to be
Just who you are
And to keep on believing
On that lucky star

©2017 C.A. Barnes

Guest Post For Wide Open Writing

IMG_2652

Hi everyone 🙂

Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to be a guest writer for Wide Open Writing, an awesome place that supports writers on their specific goals, by connecting them to resources and others who share their vision. They offer online courses, virtual writing groups, retreats, and so much more that I would like to participate in the future.

Nevertheless, they also run a blog, featuring posts from writers sharing helpful advice or discussing specific writing projects and goals. I really can’t say enough, so I encourage everyone to check out their website to see what I mean.

My post featured is on finding success as a published writer. I wrote this originally a few years ago, but it has since been updated to reflect how I currently feel. I mention four major things that I think are essential to finding and keeping success, whatever success means to you in terms of your writing. But ultimately, I point out what is truly important in being a successful writer and why that must be the foundation in order for success to be possible. I think for those of us who write, we already know what that is.

Here’s the link to the guest post: Finding Success As A Published Writer

Book Review: Fatal Trust By Todd M. Johnson

41son7t9ell

Blurb:

A Simple Job. An Unbelievable Payout. But in Risking It All On Blind Trust, He May Just Lose Everything . . .

Ian Wells is a young, ambitious Minneapolis attorney struggling to build up a law practice while caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s. As the stress and bills mount, Ian is nearing the breaking point when everything changes with a single new case. All Ian must do, the client demands, is judge whether three men qualify for nine million dollars of trust funds soon to be paid out by determining whether they’ve been involved in any criminal activity for the past twenty years. Ian’s fee for a week’s work: the unfathomable sum of two hundred thousand dollars.

The job seems too good to be true, and Ian wants to turn the offer down, but his needs weigh more heavily. He warily accepts the job–but is quickly dragged deep into a mystery linking the trust money to an illegal enterprise dating back to Prohibition and the greatest unsolved crime in Minnesota history. Ian soon finds himself the target of a swiftly tightening criminal investigation–realizing too late that this so-called simple job has spun out of control and now threatens his career, his future, and his life.

General Thoughts:

This was a different kind of story for me. I tend to gravitate towards character driven stories, well, more specifically, emotion based and personal growth stories, but this one was primarily plot driven. There was a clear problem that the main character, Ian Wells, had to solve. It had a bit of intrigue, mystery, and suspense that kept me turning the pages until the very last.

On a personal note, I thought it was awesome how the setting took place in Minnesota, where I’m from. I enjoyed seeing Ian travel across town and even the state, passing by familiar places I know and even been to. It was fun wondering which where he would travel to next.

The strange thing about this story is I thought it was an easy read, but at the same time, difficult to follow or understand at times. The author’s writing is very good, and I was able to grasp the big picture in terms of what was going on and what Ian had to do, but sometimes the smaller details, such as how some of the characters became involved in the trust and crime (i.e. Callahan, Harry), were unclear. I also would have liked to know what finally happened to the characters who interfered with Ian’s job of figuring out the distribution of the trust money. It would have been nice to know the final sentence of Callahan, McMartin, Maureen, and Liam.

Overall, the story was an easy read. It had enough elements of mystery, suspense, and intrigue to keep the plot going and interesting. However, it was not emotion based, character based, or message based, so for one who enjoys these elements in stories, I felt I was missing that and therefore couldn’t connect with the characters or story in general—even though it takes place in Minnesota 🙂

Recommendation:

The story was well written and interesting. However, I would recommend this story to those who gravitate towards plot driven stories that have mystery and suspense, than character driven, emotion based, and message based stories, which this story had little to none of.

Rating:

3 out of 5 stars. For me, I couldn’t truly connect with the characters or story. I didn’t find any message that I could take away. The story didn’t make me think or learn something from it, which are the stories I tend to read. However, the story had a clear and succinct plot, and was interesting with elements of mystery and suspense. I think readers who love plot driven stories will enjoy this one.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Turtle

turtle pop2

Turtle

I’m slow, yes I know
I’m a turtle
Always late in every way
You’d think I’d be ashamed
But it’s too hard to explain
I’m okay
And life is great
Being a turtle

I don’t need to be there
By a certain time
I don’t need milestones to reach
At certain ages in life
I don’t care what they do
When or how
Cause I like how things have went
For me and somehow
Life as a turtle sets me free

There’ll be no bucket lists for me
Causing so much anxiety
To have this, to have that
To accomplish things
In no time flat
Oh I don’t care what they say
I love my life, it’s really great
I don’t want for many things
But to live a life of simplicity

There’s no hurdles
In a life of a turtle
So I’m not changing
I’m a turtle
And I’m very glad

© 2017 C.A. Barnes

I Let Her Go

 

doll1

I Let Her Go

I always held on tightly to her
She made me believe I could be anything
I always searched for more of her
She made me think that I was everything
No she made me feel lucky
But sometimes a little bit ugly
In holding on to so much of her
Perhaps on day, I could be what she was
Just because
I knew her so well

I never thought I would tell her goodbye
I thought our childish bond was for a lifetime
I knew I was getting too old
To keep tying her to my identity
Declaring it so bold
Refusing my reality
Refusing the world I now lived in
She could no longer be a refuge for me

Still I couldn’t let go
So I delayed my life, so I could hold
Just a bit of joy that I always had
Even in a world diseased and mad
Just a bit of my dreams that I always knew
Even in a world that left me nothing good
I would hold on to her
Until I no longer could

Now I let her go
I had to let her go
I had to walk away
From the past, my childish days
I had to grow
I had to go
I had to let her go

© 2017 C.A. Barnes

Book Review: The Translation Of Love By Lynne Kutsukake

Book Review: The Translation Of Love By Lynne Kutsukake

 

Blurb:

Against the backdrop of occupied Tokyo, a young girl searches for her missing older sister, who has disappeared into the world of bars and dance halls. In the process, her story will become intertwined with those of others trying to make sense of their lives in a post-war world: a thirteen-year-old Japanese Canadian “repat,” a school teacher who translates love letters from American GIs, and a Japanese-American soldier serving with the Occupation forces. An emotionally gripping portrait of a battered nation, The Translation of Love mines this turbulent period to show how war irrevocably shapes the lives of people on both sides—and how resilience, friendship, and love translate across cultures and borders no matter the circumstances.

General Thoughts:

To begin with, I loved the set up of this story. I would describe it almost as a collection of short stories that come together to illustrate a definite point (or message): that in the end, we as people, are all in this—the battle of life, the uncertainty of life, the struggle of life—however it can be described, together.

The story primarily followed that of the young school age girls, Fumi and Aya, as they learned to navigate and understand the world of Japan in the post WWII era. I loved seeing the different viewpoints of life from the two girls, who had very different early life experiences and backgrounds—Fumi, coming from a traditional prewar Japan society, and Aya, coming from a Canadian society as a Japanese immigrant.

As the two girls’ friendship grew through a common mission to help find Fumi’s older sister, their early life experiences became a roadblock at times as much as it eventually became a source of understanding and growth.

The search for Fumi’s sister eventually tied in the other stories of Matt, the Japanese American solider and Kondo, Fumi’s and Aya’s school teacher. Seeing these characters motivation to want to help, and at the same time, find meaning and make sense of a world broken by war, left me with thoughts of what it truly means to be human, to relate to one another, and ultimately love one another.

The only weakness I saw was there were areas where things seemed to drag a little. I feel the author spent a little too much time on things that really didn’t have much significance in the story, such as the scene when Fumi met the young teen girl. Perhaps the author wanted to further illustrate things that were going on in the post war era, but I felt she had made a lot of things clear early on.

Recommendation:

I would recommend this story to those who are not only interested in historical fiction, but cultural fiction. I learned a lot about life in Japan after WWII, especially in terms of culture shifts and values. Also to those are drawn to somewhat emotional stories focused on the human condition.

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars. The story was beautifully written, in that, the author was effective in illustrating the world of Japan after the war, from the look and feel, to even the atmosphere. As I read, I could feel the culture changing and the frustration of having to assimilate. I could also feel the loss of a time gone by and the fight to hold on to whatever meaning was left. Other than a few slow points, it was a moving read.

Unordinary Being

Rock Face 2

Unordinary Being

This old life
It could never
It never satisfied
Perfect world
It was something
Something I could never hold

I want to go
I need to go home
Let me be this rare
Unordinary being
Sure I won’t fit in with this world
But at least I’ll have joy being
A simply weird girl

Soon I know
Life will lead me
To some other
Simply weird beings
Who learned in time to say
Good bye
To their old life
That never satisfied
To trying to create a perfect world
Which was something they could never hold

I want to go
I need to go home
Let me be this rare
Unordinary being
Sure I won’t fit in with this world
But at least I’ll have joy being
A simply weird girl

© 2017 C.A. Barnes

Book Review: The Invention Of Wings By Sue Monk Kidd

Book Review: The Invention Of Wings By Sue Monk Kidd

 

Blurb:

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

General Thoughts:

This is one of those stories that stayed with me beyond finishing the book in a positive way, which is sort of a rarity for me. The author was effective in rebirthing the Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina (“Nina”), and bringing the predominantly fictional character, Hettie, to life. As I read this story, I became immersed into their world, as if I was them, living during their times, feeling their frustrations, struggles, and internal and external prisons. With this alone, the author was prolific in building the world in which the story took place, and most importantly, the souls of the main characters, so that I, as a reader, could fully understand them and their desires, as if they were my own.

Within the main characters, Sarah and Hettie, though their position in life from the outside seemed to contrast clearly, they very much shared the same limitations. Neither one of them could be who they wanted to be or live as they wanted to live. They were confined by the social constructs of their time and were viewed less than human. Of course, Hettie’s position of a slave was much graver than Sarah’s position of being solely a woman, Sarah’s love and ultimate dream for Hettie could not be achieved by where she stood in society, so it was nothing short of inspiring, when she found the courage to get away from it all, to embrace the person she was told she could never be, and find a better ending for not only herself, but Hettie.

As I completed this story, I found the character of Sarah speaking to me the most. Sarah was that different and ambitious child with bold dreams that were crushed by those—her family especially, around her. For years, all this kept her in a box that prevented her from living the life she wanted, thus leading to a sort of depression. It wasn’t until she was able to get away from her environment that she was able to surround herself with others who shared her goals, eventually leading her to doing remarkable things. She is definitely someone I want to aspire to.

As for negatives, there is none with this story. The author’s writing style was vivid, full of life, and moving. At times, I forgot I was actually reading a book, I felt like I was there, living the lives of Sarah and Hettie. In short, it was a thought provoking and entertaining read.

Recommendation:

I would recommend this story truthfully to any reader. Though this is historical fiction, the subject matter and the lives of Sarah and Hettie will touch anyone, especially those who are struggling to live out their lives in truth, be their true selves, be authentically fearless.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars. For all the things I mentioned above: inspiring, vivid, moving, thought provoking, entertaining.