For What It's Worth

Monday, June 29, 2020

Monday minis…

I put the puppies down for a nap in their crates and have a rare, blissful moment of silence lol
I got a lot of reading in before they arrived but I don’t have time to blog now. Here’s a quick rundown of the books I read pre-puppy blizzard.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson ~ Goodreads

Gorgeous memoir. Johnson's essays (although it never really feels like a series of essay's) on living in the US as a queer, Black man is honest, raw, informative, funny, bittersweet, heartbreaking, loving and inspiring.

“Navigating in a space that questions your humanity isn’t really living at all. It’s existing. We all deserve more than just the ability to exist.”

This is a must read for readers of all ages and backgrounds but especially queer and Black boys. There's a lot of pain and trauma in his life but also a wonderful, large supportive family and fraternity that's rarely portrayed in this way. 

CW: All content warnings are given at the beginning of the book but include: sexual assault (described on page), death, cancer, physical assault, use of homophobic/racial slurs as it relates to the authors lived experiences.

Me by Elton John ~ Goodreads

I was a little disappointed that Elton John wasn’t narrating the audiobook at first (he does the foreword and afterword) but Taron Egerton (who played John in the movie Rocketman) was fantastic. Very conversational and animated.

Me covers his early career with a veritable who’s who of rock royalty, his childhood all the way to adulthood, coming out as gay, marriage and children.

There’s a lot of pain and loss in his life and it’s remarkable that he was able to come out the other side while so many of his friends have not. He was refreshingly honest about his wild days and mistakes while not being salacious or tarnishing others.

He does seem to still posses a bit of a narcissist streak with tantrum tendencies so he’s probably still a work in progress. Aren’t we all - but this was really interesting. (Thanks to A Book A Week for the rec)

Clap When you Land by Elizabeth Acevedo ~ Goodreads

The only thing bad about an Elizabeth Acevedo book is that it has to end and I have to wait a year for the next one. 

Clap When You Land is told in the alternating pov’s (& in novel –verse) of two young women – Yahira in NYC and Camino in the Dominican Republic – unknowingly tied together by one mans death.

Acevedo touches on so many subjects in her books and writes such powerful girls. They are knocked down by life but never out. Family is also a theme. And in this case family comes with major flaws but was written so beautifully and with nuance.

She doesn't give away too much in the blurb so I'll leave it at that.

Read Clap When You Land – read all her books! And on audio if you can!!! Acevedo's narration is perfection. Although there are two narrators for this one.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer ~ Goodreads 

This was a clear off my TBR cart and buddy read with Lindsi from Do You Dog Ear read (her review here

This was my first book by Kemmerer and it wasn’t quite what I was hoping but overall I did like it. Juliet leaves letters to her dead mother at her grave while Declan, on probation mowing the cemetery’s lawn, finds one of the letters and responds after feeling connected to the words of loss and grief.
They begin writing to each other and pouring their hearts out. In the meantime – they unknowingly interact at school and really dislike each other.

There is so much that is left unsaid and a lot of miscommunication between these two so while they are supportive in letters – they (especially Juliet) could be really judgmental in person. It could be irritating to watch but I liked how their letters sort of transferred over to real life and made them both consider their actions and do better over the course of the book. Declan with his temper and starting to believe in himself and her with her actions towards her dad and panic attacks.

Juliet’s relationship with her father is strained as she idolized her jet setting, war photographer mother but I liked how it played out. I didn't love how convoluted the story got to get to that point. Kemmerer kind of detoured into a mystery about the cause of the moms death that felt unnecessary.

Declan’s situation was abusive and I hated how it was resolved. His mother was negligent, at best, and his step father was cruel and it was sort of played off in the end as oooh we were just worried about you and things are better now that we had this chat. I felt it was so bad that if I were to encounter them in real life, I would have called child protective services or help him get emancipated.

This didn’t 100% connect with me but would recommend it to readers who like messy, complicated characters and books that explore grief.

And I really want to read book #2 about Declan's best friend, Rev. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Big news!

This isn’t news to most of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram but I’ve been MIA for a pretty good (exhausting) reason…

Meet Kai and Ripley!

Kai is 6 months old/male – very chill and sweet and also very much like my Fonzi. Ripley is 4 months old/female and named after Ripley from Alien and is….WILD lol

We lost Fonzi several months ago and it’s been horrible without him. In general, and especially with the lock down. Being home in all this quiet was very lonely and depressing. I am not meant to live my life without a dog.

I had tried to foster or look for dogs in need a of a home but the shelters were empty out here.

The woman I got my other shelties (she also does rescue) from was telling me about a litter she had that had parvo (a very serious disease that mostly affects puppies. Ripley was from that litter but never got very sick. One puppy died and two others are still in recovery. They can shed the virus for up to 6 weeks though even if they aren’t sick so Ripley was isolated alone in a pen for over a month. She’s not housebroken or socialized except for knowing one person and is a bit of a hot mess lol

Kai, was not from her litter but didn’t have all his shots at the time, so also had to be isolated for a few weeks until he got the all clear. He’s a bit better than her because he had been going out and meeting people and being exposed to things before this happened. Unfortunately, he’s lost a little ground with socializing and housebreaking because of it.

I, in my infinite wisdom, decided…I’ll take them BOTH because no one wanted to take on the task of super shy/scared puppies. What else do I have to do during a pandemic anyway?? lol

So, we’ve had our hands full this past week. They are awesome dogs with great personalities and I think they will come around over time with some work.

I read a lot of great books in the week before they came but I’ve been too exhausted to post anything but I’ll try to get back on track next week.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Blog tour: Review of The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis

Brynn Turner desperately wishes she had it together, but her personal life is like a ping-pong match that’s left her scared and hurt after so many attempts to get it right. In search of a place to lick her wounds and get a fresh start, she heads back home to Wildstone.

And then there’s Kinsey Davis, who after battling serious health issues her entire twenty-nine years of life, is tired of hoping for . . . well, anything. She's fierce, tough, and she’s keeping more than one bombshell of a secret from Brynn -- her long-time frenemy.

But then Brynn runs into Kinsey's best friend, Eli, renewing her childhood crush. The good news: he’s still easy-going and funny and sexy as hell.

The bad news: when he gets her to agree to a summer-time deal to trust him to do right by her, no matter what, she never dreams it’ll result in finding a piece of herself she didn’t even know was missing. She could have real connections, possibly love, and a future—if she can only learn to let go of the past.

As the long days of summer wind down, the three of them must discover if forgiveness is enough to grasp the unconditional love that’s right in front of them. ~ Goodreads

Source: ARC was provided via the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: In my early days of blogging, Jill Shalvis was one of my go to authors. Somehow I drifted away from her books (too many books - too little time syndrome) for a few years but noticed I had Rainy Day Friends on my book cart from a conference years ago. Wondering if my reading tastes had changed and if she was still a “go to author”, I picked it up to read with a little trepidation. I should not have worried – it was like coming home to a good friends and family.

Shalvis’s books are filled with love, family and connections. The characters are real and flawed but struggle to do the right thing. And there’s always an adorable pet or two!

The Summer Deal has all these things but surprised me with three POV’s. Brynn – coming home after a bad break up, moves in with her wonderful but hovering moms, Kinsey – Brynn’s childhood nemesis, prickly af, and dealing with serious health issues and one humdinger of a secret, and Eli – Kinsey’s best friend and Brynn’s childhood crush (it was very mutual).

Once Brynn is home, she realizes she can’t live in the same house as her overbearing mothers and takes up Eli’s offer to move into his place to help with rent. One problem. Kinsey lives there too.
Well, really multiple problems. Kinsey and Brynn's growing feelings for Eli. Can she trust either of them? Or her own judgement?

These three carry so much baggage – from their childhoods, with each other and the present day secrets they all keep. Secrets is not a trope I like. At all. But I think it was done really well here.
Being able to see each POV and the why of the secrets really helped me to understand where they were all coming from. It wasn’t malicious or done out of selfishness. In fact, it was born out of love and trying to keep each other safe.

I don’t want to say too much because the blurb keeps things vague so I will too but watching all three learn to open their hearts and learn to trust again was a beautiful thing.

The supporting characters were just as wonderful. Eli’s brother (hopefully he gets a book!), Kinsey’s boyfriend (if he gets his way), Brynn’s mom’s with their open hearts.

I’m SO glad I rediscovered this author and I won’t be taking a break from her again.

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Photo Credit: Susan Zweigle, ZR Studios

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