Category: book review

Lost and Found Book Review

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In Lost and Found, Abel had worked tirelessly to earn respect in the courts, avoiding any semblance of a personal life to achieve his goals. Now, his personal and professional lives had collided and he found himself being rejected by the community that had previously supported and admired him. 

About Lost and Found

When community leaders began to doubt Abel Mendoza, the law practice he had spent years building began to crumble. It was the 1960s and there was but a handful of Mexican lawyers in California. Abel had worked tirelessly to earn respect in the courts, avoiding any semblance of a personal life to achieve his goals. Now, his personal and professional lives had collided and he found himself being rejected by the community that had previously supported and admired him. His fears of inadequacy kindled, Abel began to question who he really was, what he did, and where he belonged. A desire to avoid these questions and the people who had provoked them sent this small-town lawyer on a trip to escape not only his community but his own self-doubts, and into a relationship that changed his life completely.

My Thoughts

Lost and Found follows the story of Abel who has worked hard his whole life to be successful. He grows up in a time where people looked down on him (and others) due to him being Mexican. He puts himself through law school at night while teaching during the day in order to be successful. Once he becomes a lawyer, he learns quickly that he is not done fighting and that he will continue to have to fight for the respect and his position in his community.

Abel works hard defending criminals that are court appointed to him after he quickly learns that being Mexican puts him at a disadvantage – even in his own community. He works hard in this role – giving up countless hours and days to devote to his work and slowly he gains the respect of his community and peers. His mentor gives him just a few words of advice, and at the time Abel thinks nothing of them but he quickly learns how hard one can fall. It is when Abel is at the top of his game that he is delivered a blow that feels crippling and when he goes to recover, he makes a few more mistakes that leaves him spinning. He has to really examine himself, his life and where he is going on order to take his next steps forward.

Lost and Found is a well written novel from start to finish. I loved the buildup of the story as we learn about Abel, his journey to becoming a lawyer and how he works to build the trust in his community. He is devoted to his work, something not many people can understand nor appreciate. When all of this comes tumbling down, he is left to pick up the pieces – something we can all relate to at some point in our lives. I liked his story because all of us can relate to the self-doubts, a relationship or friendship that changes our lives and even a pivoting moment in our lives that causes us to step up and rebuild. I think we can all find pieces of ourselves in Abel’s story. You will enjoy every moment of this well thought out and written novel.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Ronald L. Ruiz is the author of a memoir and six previous novels. His novel Giuseppe Rocco (1998) received the national literary prize, 1998 Premio Aztlán Award, and his novel Life Long (2017) was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2017. His work has been compared to Richard Wright’s Native Son (Publisher’s Weekly, featured review) and his writing described as “frighteningly real” (New York Newsday). Ron was born and raised in Fresno, California, and educated at St. Mary’s College, University of California, Berkeley Law, and University of San Francisco School of Law. Ron practiced law for over 30 years in California, as a Deputy District Attorney, criminal defense attorney, and Deputy Public Defender. He was appointed to the California Agriculture Labor Relations Board by Governor Jerry Brown in 1974, and later served as the District Attorney of Santa Cruz County, California. Ron retired from criminal law and continues to write every day.

You can connect with him on his website, and Facebook.

The Giveaway!

You can enter to win a signed copy of Lost and Found here.

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Lead Like a Pro: Effective Leadership Styles for Athletic Coaches

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Lead Like a Pro provides insight into different leadership techniques, and teaches coaches how to evaluate their current practices so they can develop a strong leadership style that fits their personal values and beliefs.

About Lead Like a Pro: Effective Leadership Styles for Athletic Coaches

Athletic coaches are asked to wear more and more hats with each passing season, and in many cases, they are not receiving the support or training necessary to help them succeed in their ever-expanding roles. Drawing on over a decade spent as a college basketball coach and original research conducted on what leadership styles and behaviors help athletic coaches be successful, Lead Like a Pro provides coaches with the resources to transform their leadership practice and reach their full potential.

​Whether you are a volunteer coaching your child’s team, a part-time high school coach who’s also a teacher, or a full-time college or professional coach, this book will teach you new ways to enhance your leadership style and become a better coach for your athletes and team. All coaches should be constantly working on improving their leadership abilities, but not all coaches have the time or opportunity to attend leadership conferences, training sessions, or classes. Lead Like a Pro provides insight into different leadership techniques, and teaches coaches how to evaluate their current practices so they can develop a strong leadership style that fits their personal values and beliefs.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, Mascot and BN.

About the Author

After obtaining his Bachelor of Arts in history and classical studies from Indiana University, Dr. Matthew Raidbard decided to pursue his dream of being a college basketball coach. His first college basketball coaching job was at Western New Mexico University, where he also completed his Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership. In 2018, Dr. Raidbard conducted a study on how college basketball coaches perceived themselves as leaders, finding that many coaches were unsuccessful because they lacked the necessary tools and training to be effective leaders. His findings inspired him to write this book and dedicate himself to helping coaches at all levels improve their leadership abilities so that they can be the best and most effective leaders for the athletes they are entrusted to coach.

Disclosure: This is a spotlight tour, I did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Day She Died Book Review

In The Day She Died, after a traumatic head injury, Eve questions every memory and motive in this mind-bending psychological thriller.

About The Day She Died

Eve Gold’s birthdays are killers, and her twenty-seventh proves to be no different. But for the up-and-coming Vancouver artist, facing death isn’t the real shock — it’s what comes after.

Recovering from a near-fatal accident, Eve is determined to return to the life she’s always wanted: a successful artistic career, marriage to the man who once broke her heart, and another chance at motherhood. But brain damage leaves her forgetful, confused, and tortured by repressed memories of a deeply troubled childhood, where her innocence was stolen one lie — and one suspicious death — at a time.

As the dark, twisted pages unfold, Eve must choose between clinging to the lies that helped her survive her childhood and unearthing the secrets she buried long ago.

My Thoughts

The novel, The Day She Died, moves between past and present following Eve and the dark path her life has taken and the twists and turns along the way.

Our story starts with Eve and a near-fatal accident, she must begin the slow recovery and the chance that she will never be the same again. We are brought back to her childhood, her teens and the present as we learn the difficult history that makes up her young life. She loses not only her best friend but her Mother – and as we learn, she is a suspect in these murders, which is almost unthinkable. Her Grandmother, Button, is her source of strength, happiness and love in all of her darkness. But even Button can see something is wrong after the accident, and how Eve is not quite the same. Most of these changes can be seen in her artwork, but many times it is evident in her actions, her personality changes and her demeanor.

This is the story of a young girl who trusted those older than her to keep her safe, protect and to love her. Instead, she is met with hostility, manipulation and abuse. Many times throughout the novel, you had the sense that something was not quite right in her relationships but you could not put your finger on it. When you learn the truth, it feels like the chair is pulled out from under you. You feel anger and hurt that someone can do this.

I really enjoyed reading this novel. At times, I did have to go back a few pages or to the start of the chapter to confirm what time period in her life we were in but I found that these glimpses at each stage of her life added to the story. It gives us just the right amount of information at just the right time to help her story along. I had to finish this story in one sitting, as it was such an unique plot that I had never read before.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 4/5

About the Author

S.M. Freedman is the author of The Faithful and Impact Winter. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and worked as a private investigator on the not-so-mean streets of Vancouver, where she lives with her husband and two children.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Son of the House Book Review

In The Son of the House, the lives of two Nigerian women divided by class and social inequality intersect when they’re kidnapped, held captive, and forced to await their fate together.

About The Son of the House

In the Nigerian city of Enugu, young Nwabulu, a housemaid since the age of ten, dreams of becoming a typist as she endures her employers’ endless chores. She is tall and beautiful and in love with a rich man’s son.

Educated and privileged, Julie is a modern woman. Living on her own, she is happy to collect the gold jewellery lovestruck Eugene brings her, but has no intention of becoming his second wife.

When a kidnapping forces Nwabulu and Julie into a dank room years later, the two women relate the stories of their lives as they await their fate.

Pulsing with vitality and intense human drama, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia’s debut is set against four decades of vibrant Nigeria, celebrating the resilience of women as they navigate and transform what still remains a man’s world. 

My Thoughts

In The Son of the House, two women who are from two classes and social walks of life are brought together by a kidnapping and as the story unravels we learn just how connected these two women really are.

The story starts in the present with the kidnapping but we are soon brought back to the beginning of their personal stories and learn the personal stories of each of the women. Reading their journey left me in awe – their stories are powerful and moving. Each journey, while different, has similar elements. The women have struggled, suffered, and despite it all keep moving forward, day by day.

Nwabulu is a bright woman, who was full of promise – she was smart, hard working and determined. She balances her role as housemaid, caregiver for her young charge with her studies. Her downfall? A young, rich man who promised her the world but left and denied her when she needed him the most. While her dreams begin to unravel, she remains her dignity, strength and courage. I was in awe of her strength and determination, despite the way she was treated by those who should have protected her.

Julie, in so many ways is the opposite – a young modern woman living on her own and infatuated with a married man. She is independent and does not want to settle down and get married. All of this changes when she loses several people close to her. She sets herself down a very dangerous path of lies in the pursuit of happiness and honouring her family.

I loved every moment of this novel – learning about the history of both women, the path their lives took, their resilience and how their lives were connected. I have to admit, I did not see the twist coming at all! But it fit perfectly in the novel. The story is full of hope, forgiveness, pain and the impact of family and cultural beliefs can have on our journey. The Son of the House is a must read novel for both young adults and adults – you will not want to put this one down.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic, and writer. She holds a doctorate in law from Dalhousie University and works in the areas of health, gender, and violence against women and children. Cheluchi divides her time between Lagos and Halifax.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Safe Harbour Book Review

In Safe Harbour, as far-fetched as her father’s plan sounds, sticking to it is easy for Harbour — until it isn’t.

About Safe Harbour

Fourteen-year-old Harbour is living in a tent in a Toronto ravine with her dog, a two-month supply of canned tuna, and an unconventional reading list. She’s not homeless, she tells herself. She’s merely waiting for her home — a thirty-six-foot sailboat — to arrive with her father at the helm. Why should she worry when the clouds give her signs that assure her that she’s safe and protected?

When her credit card gets declined, phone contact from her father stops, and summer slips into a frosty fall, Harbour is forced to face reality and accept the help of a homeless teen named Lise to survive on the streets. Lise shows Harbour how to panhandle and navigate the shelter system while trying to unravel Harbour’s mysterious past. But if Harbour tells her anything, the consequences could be catastrophic.

My Thoughts

Safe Harbour is a powerful book that touches on several important topics including homelessness, child welfare system and mental illness told with compassion, understanding and sensitivity.

Fourteen year old Harbour has found herself living in a Toronto ravine in a tent with her dog Tuff Stuff while she waits for her Dad to join her on his sailboat. As we learn, this is not unusual – Harbour has had a very interesting childhood. She has been homeschooled in an untraditional manner – learning more about real life application about topics close to her Father’s heart. Harbour is kind, thoughtful and independent. She is used to being on her own and making do, this time getting by on cans of tuna and crackers. But this time, something is not quite right as the days turn in to weeks waiting for her Father. She develops a friendship with a young woman named Lise, who helps show her how to survive on the streets of Toronto especially as fall is closing in quickly and the weather is changing quite quickly. She also helps her to realize and support her when it appears something bad has happened to her Father and he may not be coming.

This was a beautifully written book that many times had me in tears over the kindness and compassion that Harbour finds in Lise. Being witness to their struggles on the streets of Toronto hurts, hearing the stories of the youth, their struggles with the system breaks your heart because you know that these stories hold true for so many of our youth. Lise approaches life with caution but with humour, getting by by trusting her instincts and the people who have been there for her judgement free. Both young women are trying to get through each day looking for food for themselves and Tuff Stuff, to keep warm and clean, and to find a way to move forward while facing extreme weather, mistrust of the system and being judged by society. While the ending may not be an ending that all youth will experience, it warmed my heart and helped bring the story full circle.

Safe Harbour was an incredible read from start to finish that I could not put down. It is perfect for all age groups and covers some very important topics with compassion. Safe Harbour is a definite must read novel this summer!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Christina Kilbourne is the author of Safe HarbourDetached and the award-winning Dear Jo. Her writing has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Slovenian, and Ukrainian. She lives in Bracebridge, Ontario.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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