Book Review: Decide to Hope by June Converse

Summary: An unimaginable trauma. A future that seems impossible. When your world shatters, how do you put it back together?

For 950 days, Kathleen Conners has struggled with that choice. Behind a scarf and sunglasses, she hides from the world, from herself, from The Event, from any future with anyone.

After receiving a box of letters from his deceased mother, Matt Nelson is shoved from his predictable, controlled life to a secluded beach in North Carolina. While trying to understand his mother’s intent, he discovers Kathleen. Matt must choose whether to follow the path his mother orchestrated or rescue the woman who has captured his heart.

When the only person Kathleen blames more than herself reappears, can Matt be the strength Kathleen needs to create a new life, or will he be forced to walk away if she decides the climb is too great?

Release Date:  May 2018
Age Group: Adult, Fiction, Tragedy
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

Well, this story was a lot to take in, it was not an easy read. Decide to Hope is emotionally draining and sad but sprinkled with flecks of hope.  For over half of the book, I was thinking that this was possibly the worst existence anyone could ever be forced to live... and at the close of the book I still thought that but I was a little bit more hopeful for Kathleen.

Imagine the most horrific events from the news all piled into one woman's awful existence and that would sum up Kathleen. Take a workaholic, middle-aged attorney and that sums up Matt. Their "love" was described as a "gift" and it felt like Matt had an instlove attraction to this broken little bird. I tried really hard to feel invested in his endearment to Kathleen but it was all just too dang fast, sad and just odd. 

For instance, Matt starts to refer to Kathleen as love literally after knowing her for 48 hours... I haven't had near the trauma in my life as Kathleen and if any man started referring to me as love and saying that he was "my gift" I. Would. RUN. ... FAST.

Typically as bits and pieces of a characters past are revealed you build up to the climax and man was her story just savage but in the end it just fell short for me. I wanted to crawl into a ball and weep for mankind.

There is a very specific audience that will just love Decide to Hope and unfortunately it just wasn't for me. I think fans of womens fiction and adult contemporary lit would enjoy this journey of hope and healing.


Book Review: Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong

Summary: Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there's no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn't a victim; he was a shooter.

Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don't heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend--Skye.

Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can't resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer.

Release Date: May 2018
Age Group: YA, Thriller, Mystery
Source: Review Copy from Publisher/NetGalley
Reviewed By: Nat

I accepted Aftermath to read solely because it was by Kelley Armstrong and then I read the blurb... I had an "oh crap moment" and was very hesitant to read about a school shooting. I am not usually drawn to books that just make you weep and lose faith in mankind-- that's what I feel every time the news reports such a tragic incident. But as the title implies, this was a story about the aftermath of a dark situation.

What must it be like to be the family of the shooter? All the "Why's" and "What if's" and the "Did they know's" and then the terrible backlash that they must face as simply being family of the shooter. But Aftermath was everything I wasn't expecting-- love, loss, anger, confusion, deceit and redemption all wrapped into a thrilling ride.

The plot doesn't focus on the harrowing details of the school shooting but rather the effects on the family left behind but with a mastermind of a twist, a mystery. The plot was so well calculated that I didn't figure it out until the moment it clicked with the characters. So dang clever.

There is a quiet fondness for both Jesse and Skye who are in opposite positions after the shooting, one convicted & guilty by association and the other the tragic victim, the great loss to suffer. But whose loss is worse? One is allowed to mourn and the other is not.

The characters throughout were so well developed that at times I didn't know who or what to believe, what was truth and where were they headed. At times I suspected every single person! They were all guilty, of what I wasn't sure but they were all suspicious.

Aftermath is a diverse work of turmoil & hope and further proves that there really isn't any genre that Armstrong can't conquer. Fans of YA, Mystery/Thriller will love this standalone!


Also by Armstrong, Missing. A 5-Star Thriller!

Summer Reading Challenge: The Great American Read {sponsored by PBS, encouraged by Goodreads}

It is easy to find a summer reading program at the local library for your kids but what about the tweens and up? I know when mine turn 12 they become way too cool for the library and my super cute book bags. It's always a challenge to cultivate summer reading because apparently reading parties are uncool... pshhhh... amateurs.

So I thought I'd spread the word on the coolest summer challenge to date and what my tween and I will be doing this summer! She is currently very unexcited but I am super persuasive & very charming (and I can take her phone away) so I think we are going to have a fantastic time choosing from the top 100! {read below for details} My goal is to read 5 this summer and she hopes to read 2. #smallsteps

PBS is sponsoring The Great American Read and they have a list of America's 100 Most-Loved Books >>HERE and if you are like me and need a list to check off visit >>HERE to print the checklist.

I was surprised by some of the choices: 50 Shades of Grey 🙅🏼 #hardpass but The Color Purple, Jane Eyre, The Giver... YES! YES! YES!

📖 📚 📖 How many have you read?! 📖 📚 📖

Our friends at Goodreads are on board too, they have created two exclusive reading challenges {download image HERE} and several reading lists of their own.
Goodreads also has compiled several book lists to make summer even easier! You don't have to search out the next great read, you just choose a list group and go with it! Book lists are the only instances where I am perfectly fine with being told what to do.
The Hottest Books of Summer list courtesy Goodreads

Every Kind of Getaway list courtesy Goodreads


Happy reading friends! May your days be filled with sun, books, giggles and great escapes!

📖☀️🌮⛱📚 {Repeat} 📖☀️🌮⛱📚 {Repeat} 📖☀️🌮⛱📚

#GreatReadPBS  #goodreads #soratherread