Monday, November 30, 2020

Review of Just Shelby by Brooklyn James


Welcome to the book review tour for Just Shelby by Brooklyn James. This really was a most intriguing coming-of-age novel that I won't soon forget. Read on for an excerpt as well as more of my thoughts and then follow the tour to find out what others have to say. Be sure to let the author know what you think along the way! Best of luck entering the giveaway.

A secret note square found in a handmade guitar proves that small town gossip is not only ubiquitous but occasionally true. This gossip comes with strings rivaling those on Ace Cooper’s guitar, the safest strings he will ever have around his heart.

Ace’s father warns him to stay away from the Lynn girl. Daughter of a deceased bootlegger and a barely living addict, Shelby Lynn is no stranger to small town contempt. She keeps her nose in the books and feet to the ground, a college scholarship the only escape from her tumultuous life.

As Ace’s heartstrings unravel, so does his family’s role in Shelby’s broken past. Thrust into a precarious journey of their roots brimming with music and betrayal, the two have never been closer…to the truth of how Shelby’s father died. One truth transforms every facet of their lives forever.

A dual POV friends-to-first-love story, Just Shelby is an unsuspecting mystery that depicts how growing together can sometimes hurt worse than growing apart.

Read an excerpt:
From male—Ace—protagonist POV (269 words):

I close my eyes and breathe meditatively. With the wren feather in hand, Shelby fans over me the smoke—or the smudge. Then she starts chanting in a language I cannot make heads or tails of. I don’t think she’s got it down either. But I love her for trying. Talk about courage!

“Do you feel anything?” she asks sounding hopeful, breaking from her chorus.

Cold. I feel cold. Underdressed for the light snowfall the higher elevation is about to receive. But I know that answer won’t do. I dig deep and at least tell the truth. “I feel like I could be a better son.”

“Oh. Okay. Cool.” She fans faster. “What about colors or images. Do you see any?”

Feeling isn’t enough? I’m supposed to see, too. Smudging, feather, wren—too obvious. Birds, feathers, owl—“I see an owl.”

“An owl!” she screeches, much like the feathered avian. “I think that’s a bad omen. A symbol of death?” She extinguishes the herbs, crushing them and their embers to bits. “I must have done something wrong. Unelanahi, disregard everything I just sent you!” She shouts into the sky, as innocent as the stars.

I chuckle, sitting upright and sliding forward on the hood, my legs encircling her hips. “Yes, death. If you don’t kiss me, I just might die.”

Her lips, so alive, are the perfect antidote to the grim reaper. The smudging may have been a flop, but she is a healer.

Spending time with her has begun to heal things within me that I didn’t know needed healing. My future aspirations, my relationship with Mom, the emptiness—she fills it.

Book Links
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**My thoughts**
This is the first book to hold my attention in a while. Part of that is that I have been sick. But really, it's because this was an intriguing story. I was drawn to Shelby from the get-go and her desire to get out of Appalachia and do something different with her life, escape from her difficult home life. But then we also started to get to know Ace and how their histories were so deeply entwined from the very beginning. Life choices were made about them and all around them that shaped who they are and what their destinies are supposed to be. The more they unravel the truth, though, they find that their destinies are actually something different than they had ever imagined.

The story of these two friends who fall for each other has plenty of twists and turns that keep you guessing as everyone is trying to sort out the truth. And just like the characters, I was unsure about which direction I wanted some of it to go. 

There's a lot being said about the power of friends and family, and those friends who are actually your family. Is blood really thicker than water? Can you really change your perceived destiny in life and do something different? Can you learn to trust and to love again, even after betrayal throughout your life? Can you really start over? And are people always the way they seem? Can't someone change?

So much was happening in this book and the two characters had so much growth. They're so good together and learn so much. And then of course, there is the power of music. I wish my exhausted brain could better articulate all of my thoughts right now. But this is a story that is going to stick with me and one I will be quick to recommend to others to pick up and read.

Thank you to the author and to Goddess Fish for providing me with a requested review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Brooklyn James is an author/singer-songwriter who savors any opportunity to blend books with music. Her first novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me, has an original music soundtrack, making for a unique Audible experience. Out of Boots grew a platform where it was Brooklyn's honor to serve as a guest speaker with a focus on awareness and prevention of domestic violence and suicide.

Her latest speaking engagements centered around accessibility, rights, and choice in birth, as well as writing workshops on how to put pen to paper composing one's own birth story with the release of her birth memoir, Born in the Bed You Were Made: One Family's Journey from Cesarean to Home Birth.

Just Shelby gifted both the challenge and the thrill of this author's primary exploration into the Young Adult genre. She cherishes reader reviews, if you should be so inclined.

Moonlighting occasionally in voice-over and film, Brooklyn played a Paramedic in a Weezer video, met Harry Connick Jr. as an extra on the set of When Angels Sing, appeared in Richard Linklater's Boyhood for all of a nanosecond, and was a stand-in and stunt double for Mira Sorvino on Jerry Bruckheimer's Trooper pilot for TNT. Although reading, dancing, working out, and a good glass of kombucha get her pretty excited, she finds most thrilling the privilege of being a mother to two illuminating little souls and a wife to the one big soul from whom they get their light.

Brooklyn holds an M.A. in Communication, a B.S. in both Nursing and Animal Science, and lives in Texas Hill Country.

Social Media Links:






Twitter: OR @BrooklynJames7

Brooklyn is giveaway away a $10 Amazon/BN GC during the tour. 

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Monday, November 2, 2020

Read an exclusive excerpt from Our Friendship Matters by Kimberley B. Jones


This book feels like an important one for our youth to read. And it wouldn't hurt for adults to read it, too. So today, you get an exclusive look inside with a special excerpt from Our Friendship Matters by Kimberley B. Jones. Be sure to let her know what you think and then follow the tour to read even more. Best of luck entering the giveaway!

Leah and Sasha are 17-year-old friends who had been close to one another since elementary school, but as the summer approaches they find their friendship tested in ways they never anticipated.

Following graduation, Sasha’s privileged life and perception of the world around her is suddenly altered when an old childhood friend persuades her to join in a campaign against an injustice after his best friend is killed by a cop.

But joining the protest has unforeseen consequences for Sasha, distancing her from Leah, who becomes jealous of Sasha’s new friends and finds herself on the opposing side, protesting alongside her group of new white friends.

As the tension mounts between the two bitterly opposed factions, a tragedy strikes and threatens to make Sasha and Leah enemies. Can they find a way to resolve their differences, putting them to the side and learn to accept each other’s viewpoints? Or is their long friendship finished for good?

Read an exclusive excerpt:
As we pulled out of the driveway, Dad waved goodbye. I could picture the smile on his face once he walked into the house and noticed Mom was cooking lasagna.

“So, how is the public-school life at Eastview High?” I asked Ricardo. “Other than Chester beating your guys in sports.”

“Ya’ll just have better resources than us,” Ricardo said.

“How come we couldn’t just be good at what we do?”

“What! Anyway . . . Eastview is great, I guess, but we are dealing with some issues. It’s our senior year and I am just thinking about leaving this place.”

“Why would you want to leave?”

“Because I feel trapped in a box. Everywhere I go, I feel like a suspect.”

“A suspect, what makes you think that? You shouldn’t feel like that,” I said as my brow lifted from his response.

“Yeah, I know you wouldn’t understand because you go to this perfect private school and stay in this big, beautiful house.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’m sorry. Just drop me off at the next block. I got it from there.”

I pulled to the curb and, as Ricardo got out of the car, he leaned against the closed door—with half his body leaning over the window—and said, “Wake up and find out who you really are.”

I squinted my eyes, “Okay.” I drove off. Why would he say such a thing to me?

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Kimberley is a professional early childhood educator. She was born in the small town of Saint George, South Carolina, on September 12, 1982. Graduated from Woodland High School in 2000, Benedict College in 2004 with B.S., Child & Family Development, and from Ashford University in 2013 with a Masters in Early Childhood Education.

After receiving her education and being a military spouse, she held several jobs as a preschool teacher and a preschool director, but she wanted to her education to use by writing children’s books. She wrote her first book in college for her children’s literature course. She has self-published several children books on Amazon.

Currently, she is branching off into writing fiction YA, NA, and A novels on issues in society. She loves writing and would not change it for nothing in this world She is now published by Rhetoric Askew. Kimberley is the author of Our Friendship Matters.

Kimberley B. Jones will be awarding a signed copy of Our Friendship Matters (US ONLY) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. 

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