January reads!

Heyooo! Back after my unexpected two week hiatus to bring you a list of what I’ve read this January. I didn’t read nearly as much as I feel like I should’ve this month (especially considering I bought about 12 new books xD) but I’d like to start doing these posts monthly in order to encourage myself to read as much as I used to. So without further ado, here are my January reads!


The Likeness by Tana French

Previous to this book, I had read In the Woods, Tana French’s debut novel, and could. not. put. it. down!! I bought The Likeness right afterwards because I saw that it was the logical ‘next’ book in the Dublin Murder Squad series (they are standalone novels, they just contain a lot of the same characters), and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. Just like In the Woods, this was an insane page-turner for me- I was up past midnight choking down coffee and trying to crash skidding into the finish when I had a six o clock wakeup the next day because I HAD SIXTY PAGES LEFT I COULDN’T STOP THERE. The story is from the point of view of detective Cassie Maddox, who gets sucked into a case where a girl is found murdered who looks exactly like her and was using an old alias of hers. Cassie poses as Lexie Madison (the fake name of the dead girl) and infiltrates the house where she lived with four of her friends, a set of mysterious characters who attend and teach at the local college and live in a big, historic & isolated house. This book is SO full of suspense, and when events finally unravel to the case’s end it’s like coming to the end of a great rollercoaster ride- not that I know what that’s like, AHAHA. I felt for a lot of the characters, and the ending was just so tragic and perfect and contained a lot of twists a and unexpected elements. (Also, can I just note Cassie is a much better narrator than Rob from In the Woods, one of my only complaints about that book was that he was too whiny xD)


How to be Perfect by Ron Padgett

I got How to be Perfect on a trip to the book barn in Niantic, where the cover arrested me with its simple image and title.  This is a hard book to review not only because it’s the first poetry book I’m attempting to review (and poetry is so much harder for me to critique in any way). I wasn’t the biggest fan of it overall as a collection though I did see it had a lot of high ratings on Goodreads- a lot of the poems didn’t engage me personally, though I will say Ron Padgett is a master of taking poetry from everyday thoughts and musings. His poetry is very accessible and often humorous while still penetrating to a deeper level. I did love the title poem and there were a few others (“The Stapler” comes to mind as well) that resonated with me.


Black Butler volumes 1-3 by Yana Toboso

Premise: In 1800s England, the young aristocrat Ciel Phantomhive forges a pact with the demon Sebastian Michaelis, who poses as his butler. The exchange is to be Ciel’s soul for revenge against those who wronged him by selling him into slavery and murdering his parents two years prior to the story opening. Finally started in on this series after watching the anime a few months back, and so far I am LOVING it! I’d heard that it’s a different animal than the anime entirely (as in, a lot of the anime never happens in the manga, which is 21 volumes so far! AHH! ) and I’m already seeing this manifest. Right now I’m at the place the story starts to deviate, after the Jack the Ripper arc when Ciel and Sebastian go hunting with Elizabeth and her mother. The artwork is beautiful in these books, and I can’t imagine the level of research on Victorian England that must I am obsession-level fixated on Grell Sutcliff (you don’t want to know the amount of amount of needless merch I bought…it’s a veritable Grellection…hahaHA) and I am finding Grell’s character even more amazing in the manga…slightly different from the anime, but in a very good way. Actually, everyone’s character is more shapely and complex here so far, which I suppose I should expect, as it usually is the case in the jump from screen to page. Even Sebastian, who was probably my least favorite (IDK, I know a lot of fans of BB love him, I just found him realllly boring in the anime) is a little more intriguing to me so far. I can’t wait to read further, especially as from hereon out it should be completely new story to me!

Welll, that’s about it! Hope you’re well and I’ll see you next week!


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Identity: Author vs. Writer

This is a question which has probably plagued the minds of anyone who does any sort of writing with any amount of seriousness, especially those of us who have written books in the past. Do I call myself a writer, or an author?

I’ve always favored the descriptor “writer” when referring to myself, though to my understanding this is oft regarded as the less formal, more hobbyist title, “I like to write things” vs. “I write books for a living” (I always interpreted the word Author to be a capital A profession). So given this, I wasn’t sure why I like the term ‘writer’ better. I certainly take my writing seriously, and while I have not made a career out of my writing, I do have published books (self-published, but published all the same) under my belt. For me, while it may never shape into a career, it’s my sole passion and I’ve certainly never used the word “writer” to diminish my status.

I think it’s the fact that Writer just looks better on paper, gets straight to the point, says out loud, in your face: I WRITE THE THINGS. And there’s a certain amount of satisfaction I get out of that. Just last year I made a Facebook page for myself and after waffling only a fraction of a second, chose the ‘writer’ description over ‘author’. There’s also the fact that I write poetry in addition to novels. I’ve always thought of the word “author” as strictly limited to novel-writing, and if novels are my passion, poetry is my soul, and I couldn’t just leave it out in the cold like that. “Writer” also seems to suggest someone who is constantly writing, consumed in the act of it, whereas “Author” seems more concentrated on “having written”, having credits to one’s name. I’m technically both, but I feel much more connected to the act of writing itself, producing new stuff, than I do to my past work.

So, great! Why are you telling me about this? It’s just that now I’m thinking about it critically, I’ve begun to wonder if I made the right choice for myself.

Before sitting down to write this, I went and did a simple google search for the difference between the two terms, which turned up a lot of interesting but varying and ultimately inconclusive takes on the matter. Here are some of the common ideas:

  • Author: someone who has published works to their name. Also, one who is the originator of their own ideas and plot. Treats their craft like a career, but also spends perhaps equal time promoting past work to what they do writing new material.
  • Writer: someone who writes anything, either as a hobby or for money. However, when paid, someone described as a writer is often doing work that more commissioned in nature- think Freelance Writer, Technical Writer or Ghostwriter, anything with an expected outcome they do not dictate themselves.

At the end of this research, I had to conclude that “Writer” is simply a much broader category that refers to a much broader range of people, which is what attracted me to it in the first place- it gave me more perceived ‘freedom’. I write. Therefore I am a writer. But I am also an author, and a poet- these are more specific types of writer, and I’m beginning to think of them as less confining than helpful, defining. I am an author, I am a poet. These are my areas. I’m willing to bet there are tons of people who are really extremely multi-faceted, for whom the phrase, ‘writer’, no qualifiers attached, is more helpful than harmful- but for me, I’m starting to find it’s a bit misleading.

Is this vague way I categorize myself the reason people sometimes come to me with a ‘great project’ in mind that I could take? In my head in these instances, I’m thinking, ‘by god, of course I will not write your novel for you, I only write my own. I will not write that article about something I am not equipped to write about, in fact, I will not volunteer to write anything I’m not absolutely passionate about- in other words (I’m fucking terrible, but) anything that was not my idea in the first place is pretty much out of the picture, I suppose unless I’m pitched something I really REALLY like (I’m starting to feel like this post could be called ‘why I’m shit at making any profit from writing’, but maybe we’ll save that for another day). But when I’m a self-described writer, how are they to know? How are those who don’t me as well to know what type of writing I do, or take on- if I’m an author, a freelancer, a journalist, a poet…? I’m unintentionally muddying the waters by leaving things false possibilities wide open. I guess, to be completely honest, I’ve thought of ‘author’ as a snottier term, but even so, I must admit I’m pretty fucking snotty about what I will and will not write, so perhaps even in that light it fits xD.

At the end of the day, neither term is really ‘better’ than the other in truth, it all depends on what is most helpful/useful to the person defining themselves. I’ll probably keep ‘writer’ up as my Facebook descriptor, seeing as you can’t make yourself both an author and a poet to my knowledge, and I honestly still prefer the term, the look of it on the page, but now I feel like I have a better grasp on the terminology. I’ll always be a writer, or, one who writes. It’s just time to get a little more specific when the situation calls for it.

Has anyone else had this dilemma before? I know there are other people who write novels who tend refer to themselves as simply writers (like I’ve been doing until recently), and I know there are even some who feel they’d like to identify as an ‘author’ but aren’t published, or don’t feel they have enough merit to their name to qualify. It’s an interesting topic for something you’d think would be so simple. Where do you fall in the spectrum/what is your own understanding of the difference between what it means to be a writer versus an author?

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New Year’s Resolution Time! {2016 edition}

OH HEY. Long time, no see, blogging world! I started last year by writing down a list of my resolutions for the new year and at that time I promised a check in of sorts around the end of it. So this post is going to be both addressing last year’s resolutions and how well I did in keeping them and putting up some new resolutions. LET’S SEE HOW I DID.

Last year’s resolutions:
1. submit writing more places: I actually did really well at this in the first few months of the year. Before 2015, my poetry hadn’t seen much more than the inside of my filing cabinet, and now it’s been published in a few excellent journals online. (you’ll eventually be able to see a list of places my poetry appears on the MY POETRY page here, once my ass gets around to it). I wish I’d kept this up for the whole year, but alas, I did not.
2. keep up with this blog: once again, after the first few months, this one went to the wayside (as you might’ve been able to deduce from the complete lack of activity on here).
3. read 100 books: I don’t even want to talk about how hard I failed here. I not only didn’t make it to the goal, but I read less than I’ve read any other year since I started listing my yearly books read (nearly 10 years ago, before I was on goodreads). My grand total was 21. I WEEP.
4. Eat healthier: didn’t take this one seriously until the end of the year, when I’d had it with feeling like total shit all the time, some of which could be attributed to my total shit diet (who knew? lol) and now I do a bit better with it. Not much to report, I’m no health guru by a long fucking shot, but hey, sometimes I snack on fruit instead of cupcakes so I don’t think I failed utterly here : )
5. Get dressed every day: nope. Nope. noooope.

Now, to be fair, 2015 was astonishingly successful in some ways that never showed up in my resolutions. I 1: finished the first draft of one novel and wrote an entire first draft of another novel, 2- began driving on the highway. This is a big breakthrough for me, as I’ve always had a lot of anxiety surrounding driving and highway driving in particular. 3- summoned the courage to participate in open mics for poetry and a couple book promotion events. These things are SUCH A MAJOR WIN for me.

Now, instead of going straight into listing my 2016 resolutions with bright-eyed and bushy-tailed vigor, I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to something I ordered completely on impulse this year along with a new wall and desk calendar, which is THIS BOOK (pictured below and available for purchase here  by Lisa Jacobs )


I waffled about whether to buy this for a while before getting it, but MAN am I glad I did. It starts off with a section for review of the past year, filled with prompt questions, then moves on to plans for the new year, and then the final section is set up like a monthly planner in order to keep track of the stated goals, complete with a midyear review section and quarterly reflections. The questions are so pertinent to my craft too, which I was a little surprised at- I don’t know why, though, writing is after all a ‘creative business’. It’s so well-organized and thorough that it helped me put my thoughts in order in a way I’ve never done before. I always thought ‘sure, I know what I want to get out of this year’, but this book really is effective in peeling back vague ambitions to reveal concrete goals (also, may I just say that when the author uses her own workbook every year, you know you’ve struck gold). If you work at anything creative with any real seriousness and struggle due to being completely in charge of your own schedule/fitting that around the rest of your life, this is for you!! (I wasn’t paid to advertise this book, I’m just hella enthusiastic, guys.)

Okay, anyway. One of the things the Your Best Year 2016 book prompted me to do was to actually write out not only the things I failed at last year, but WHY it was that I failed and examine how not to make the same mistakes again.

For example, when I planned to submit more writing, I ultimately failed due to giving myself too much of a structured schedule to follow for submissions/hours spent working in general. When an event would come up in my life and I missed a day, everything went to hell because of this bizarre brand of perfectionism. This has been a character flaw of mine for a long time, something I’m trying to erase this year. When I planned to keep up with this blog, I did really great with weekly posts, until I got over-enthusiastic and decided I wanted to try and post 3 times a week instead of one. Don’t remember that? That’s because it didn’t fucking work. I tried to do too much and the stress on my mind burnt me out before I got too far at all. When I planned to read 100 books, I failed because I wasn’t being serious about placing restrictions on any other type of media that would get in the way of enjoying reading. Once I got down to the root of the reasons I missed the mark here, I was able to make some clearer 2016 resolutions.

So, without further ado, here they are, my new and improved resolutions for 2016:

  1. Get the rough draft of a book I’ve had laying around edited and acquire an agent. – The biggest, most daunting goal, probably, and the one I spent the most time mapping in Your Best Year. As a self-published author, I’ve had little experience with traditional publishing, but I want to give it a shot for the first book in the rough trilogy I finished last year. The rough draft of the first book has been finished for nearly a good four years now and this has always been something I wanted to ‘try doing eventually’ but never initiated. Game on!
  2. Limit time spent online unless it’s for work purposes – this resolution helps out my “read 100 books” goodreads challenge goal, which I’m giving another go-around this year. I know if I successfully limit my time wasted doing god-knows-what-I-do to eat 500,000 hours a year online, I will read more books in my spare time as a direct result (I’m not a TV person). It will also kill off my biggest distraction to getting writing/editing/you name it done. Your Best Year gave me the excellent idea of giving myself a little chunk of time faffing on twitter, instagram, youtube, wherever as a reward if I spend a bigger chunk of time devoted to working and keeping away from checking my phone.
  3. Show up at office as many days as possible- This one’s exciting mostly because for the first time I have a real office space, separate from the place I sleep, and even five days into the year, it’s really helping. I’m not going to give myself a stringent, impossible-to-follow schedule. Instead I’m going to endeavor to 1- wake up at a reasonable time. I do my best work earlier in the day, and 2- show up for however many hours or tasks I’ve allotted that day. Even if it’s a day I have to be at my other, paying job, I want to get in maybe an hour in the morning.
  4. Get a chapbook of poems together- The original resolution was going to be something more vague like “get back into writing fresh poetry”, but I came out with this one instead. I’ve always wanted to pull a collection of poetry together, and a chapbook is a great place to start. Over the past few months, I’ve been attending poetry open mics and I’ve been honored to meet and hear and be inspired by so many amazing fellow poets, and yet… I still feel blocked when it comes to my own writing. If I resolve to have a chapbook out this year, I will HAVE to write new things.

That’s about everything! Well, there are more small goals, but these are the major writing-related ones at least! If you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks, I wish I had a cookie to give you because you really deserve one. What’ve you got planned for 2016? Do you enjoy planning resolutions out or do you like to take it as it comes? I’d be interested to know!
Until next week!



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Review- The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson


The copy of this book I bought smelled INSANELY good. I ate half the pages while reading. JUST KIDDING! (…or am I?)

4.5 stars

Warning: the ‘things I really really liked’ section gets a tad spoilery, so read at your own risk ; )

Description from the back cover of the book:
“On a dark road in the middle of the night, a car plunges into a ravine. The driver survives the crash, but his injuries confine him to a hospital burn unit. There the mysterious Marianne Engel, a sculptress of grotesques, enters his life. She insists they were lover sin medieval Germany, when he was a mercenary and she was a scribe in the monastery of Engelthal. As she spins the story of their past lives together, the man’s disbelief falters; soon, even the impossible can no longer be dismissed.”

This book was addictive reading. I started it for a book club, and the description on the back cover drew me in, but I still didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. The Providence Journal apparently said this “reads like the mad spawn of Anne Rice and Stephen King” and I am inclined to agree. Considering I love both Rice and King, this is a good, good thing. The way the narrator talks to himself internally and his personification of the ‘snake’ in his spine after the accident makes me think of King, and his experiences with Marianne Engel and her eccentricity and lifestyle make me think of Rice. Like, really, that was spot on. 😀 DERP. Anyway.

This book is graphic, especially in describing the narrator’s burns and the treatment thereof, but I didn’t think it was nearly so graphic as some reviews complain, and I actually enjoyed these details, as they taught me a lot about the subject that I didn’t know. Then again, I’m not a squeamish person, so…eh!

Things I really really liked:

  • The fact that the narrator is not named throughout the entirety of the book, even though much of his life story up until his accident is described, never once is his name mentioned. Also feel I should mention it’s so flawlessly and effectively done that I DIDN’T FREAKING NOTICE until I FINISHED THE FREAKING BOOK, and went back to look for his name. Ohhh boy.
  • you never quite get a “case closed” conclusion as to whether Marianne Engel is or is not schizophrenic or “crazy”, but by the end you do get the sense she was probably not and the narrator made the right decision by BLANK BLANK BLANKETY BLANK (spoilers, lol)
  • PAST LIVES. I love anything involving the concept of reincarnation. Yess.
  • The fact that the narrator starts out as an atheist and ends, not in the same place, but not on the complete other end of the spectrum. Because of his love for Marianne, and because of her hyper-religiousness, I felt sure there’d be some type of “And then he FINALLY believed the same way she did!” type thing near the end. I’m so glad that shit didn’t happen. I mean, he comes to believe certain aspects of everything he’s told, but it’s natural and he retains his own outlook to a large degree while still making a personal transformation. It makes the story more powerful that they were able to be on the same spiritual level anyway through their love alone.

Hopefully that last one’s not tooooo much  of a spoiler, I just wanted to make that known in case anyone started to read and stopped because they thought it might end up cliche. This story is really anything but cliche, can’t believe it’s a debut! Wow. Just, wow!

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book. The ending brought tears to my eyes. There were a few parts where there was more meat maybe than there needed to be, but it was such a surprisingly quick read because I got so entrenched in it every time I picked it up again. I found myself upset I couldn’t read more sooner due to other obligations, a sure sign of a good book!!



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it is a long, whistling walk in the corridors of time

those rose-tinted, slow motion memories
you can’t retrieve (there is a sadness
to the past, perhaps, because the you of
fifty years back, or even a day ago,
is more alive than the you doing the dreaming,
dying daily.

this is what I propose, you misty-eyed, fading
get up.
open to the soul of your dying.

hold nothing back.

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I survived Camp NaNoWriMo- April 2015

Okay so this post is a little late. And by a little I mean A LOT. I finished Camp Nanowrimo April 30th, and here we are on June 10th. But better late than never, eh?

For a long time now I’ve had some thoughts/reflections on my first experience with Camp NaNo I wanted to get down. So here goes.

Starting out, as I detailed in my week one post here, I was having a lot of anxiety about my story not being good. (I’m proud to report now at nearly 50,000 words, I’ve been able to tell my internal editor to bug off loudly enough where this isn’t the case anymore).  So that wasn’t so great. What was great about that first week was the fact that even despite my doubts, I was able to stay on track with my word count. Great! I thought, I’ll write a blog post for each week chronicling my journey! It will be stressful but epic!

Clearly this did not happen.

By week two, I was crashing and burning. I would get up to write and only get a few hundred words in some days, while others I would ignore my writing schedule altogether and distract myself with other things. This caused a good deal of mental anguish for me, considering I am the type of writer who likes to stick religiously to a routine- once I deviate, even once, I start to feel like I’m slipping, and it only becomes easier to deviate again in the future, and again and again.

Tie that to the fact that towards the end of May, I was going to a Harry Potter convention in New Hampshire- MISTI-Con 2015, which turned out to be one of the best times ever and which I’ll have to chronicle in a later post. But even mid-April, convention nerves were setting in. On top of that I kept thinking of how I would continue to write during the convention (I didn’t, nor did I for most of May). Basically, it was just another excuse to stall, to wallow in the fact that I’d lost control of my plot and didn’t know where things were going.

Just when I thought I might give up on Camp NaNo for good, I realized I could change the word-count goal for the month. I switched from aiming for 40K to 30K. Okay, I thought, I can do this, surely. I took a couple days to plot instead of write, and suddenly I had more than a good idea of where everything was going. Then I went to change my goal again, and realized I couldn’t anymore! Realistically I knew I could still finish, with just a little catch-up. And I did! I felt a wild flash of triumph as I went from feeling sure I could lose to stepping over the finish line the last day of April.


Here are the pros and cons as I saw them after completing Camp NaNo:

Pro: It’s a well-needed kick in the pants, much like NaNo OG. Have a project you’ve been thinking about doing forever but never got around to? Now’s the time!

Pro: You can have whatever goal you want. This is especially helpful, I think, if you’re trying to finish a novel you’ve already started or edit one you’ve finished.

Pro: VALIDATION. It’s amazing just how typing in your wordcount and seeing that arrow creep closer to the bullseye in the target affects the mind 😉

Pro: The virtual write-ins were incredibly helpful near the end for me. I wish I’d done them all the way through. Something about writing with others present doing the same, even if it’s online, makes me more productive than I probably would have been alone nine times out of ten. Plus it’s just fun to hear what others are writing during the talking breaks 🙂

Con: I actually didn’t like the fact that you could edit your goals until a certain point (I think around the 20th?) I feel like knowing I could do this made me more lax about the whole thing.

Con: There was definitely less community. Granted, I didn’t take advantage of the forums, but there weren’t any official meetups like there are with NaNo proper. Also, my cabin this year around was a little dead so xD

As you can see, the pros are double the cons. NaNoWriMo in all its incarnations is really such a wonderful idea and I’m thankful to everyone who pitches in to make it possible each year.

Currently what was my April Camp novel is less than halfway done, and I can’t see finishing in June, though YES I will be working on it steadily. I am considering doing Camp NaNo in July and making my goal finishing whatever’s left of this book to finish by then. If anyone else did camp in April or is going to do it in July, let me know! What’re you working on?


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Review- There’s a Hula Girl on My Dashboard by Logospilgrim


Five Stars

This little book is one of the most beautiful things I’ve read.

There’s a Hula Girl on My Dashboard is a deeply personal memoir of self-discovery, the quest for meaning and for belonging. The author goes from Evangelical Christianity to Secular Humanism, and explores several belief systems, illustrating succinctly yet powerfully the periods in her life where she tried these things on, all the time looking for a final Answer, for a resting place and for security.

This is a book that is ultimately about uncovering the pure spirituality of just being human, of being alive in the moment and reveling in all it has to offer, even-especially!- the simpler pleasures, and one person’s journey to overcome oppression, abuse, and self-doubt, and find peace in that simplicity. I found myself relating to a lot of what the author experienced: disagreeing with religion and feeling like an outcast because of it, the struggle with sexual & gender identity.  I related to the searching, the frustration of finding truth in everything but the inability to connect with any ‘method’…to the nihilistic period, and finally coming to embrace ambiguity.

Belief is a very organic thing. There’s no choice- you do or you don’t believe this or that, and both are okay. You can’t actually control what you believe, what you TRULY believe, and thinking you can or should is highly stressful. After all, beliefs about what we cannot truly know are only damaging if they’re poisonous to ourselves or others. A lot of belief systems teach that our very morals must be tied inextricably to some supernatural cause or entity, and if we don’t have the proper beliefs in that cause or entity, we can’t be decent people. Bullshit, really– no matter where you believe they come from, common decency and goodness are also more human (and honestly, more RATIONAL) than many people realize, and Hula Girl does a beautiful job of really illustrating this through various conversions and encounters with kindred spirits.

It is also worth mentioning that the author handles controversial topics in a way that is not at all hostile or condemning, a great feat considering some of her rough experiences. Every feeling with each experience in each chapter is described, the good and the bad, through a subjective lens that does not assume authority and is as unpretentious as it gets. It may sound weird since the author arrives at atheism by the end, but her experiences are told in such a way that it actually helped remind me to be more empathetic rather than judgmental of religion- it shed light on why some people gravitate towards it, a good boatload of them with the purest of intentions, simple desire for order and community, or determination to reform a system they feel a passion for- all beautifully human motives.  Throughout this memoir, you really feel what the author is feeling in her spiritual journey- you felt the darkness, you felt the hope, and near the end I was almost in tears (good, very good tears!). It’s at the very least a very feel-good read, that takes you back to the heart of what’s important and says you are enough and you are whole, just as you are.

Please don’t pass this up as a book *only* for atheists or for secular people! While I have never been religious, I do believe heavily in the existence of the supernatural and I (obviously by this point, lol) found this an absolutely worthwhile read! Logospilgrim’s journey through this book really embodies what it is to be human and on the search for self we’re all on, a search that can become tricky, pushing past other’s conceptions of who we should be to find our truth. Our personal truths may be different from person to person, but it’s the questing itself that’s really the heart of this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s ever felt torn apart both inside and out, anyone who’s ever felt isolated in their own personal quest. Anyone who’s ever struggled with religion or self-actualization or feeling shunned or ostracized for simply being true to who they are- which I’m willing to bet is most anyone with a pulse at some point or other. This book is poetic and inspiring and so heartfelt it hurts. Could not put it down from start to finish!!

To buy this book or check out some other reviews click here

Logospilgrim’s official site: link


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