Blog Tour · Book Reviews · Memoirs · Nonfiction

Help find your way out of the darkness with today’s self-help/memoir feature ‘Out of the Cave’ by Chris Hodges

Instagram Post (click HERE)

I keep a journal of my favorite quotes, & some of my favorite quotes in it are very relevant to the book I’m featuring today, ‘Out of the Cave: Stepping into the Light When Depression Darkens What You See’ by Chris Hodges…

“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.”- author Madeleine L’Engle

“However vast the darkness we must supply our own light.”- Stanley Kubrich

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”- Desmond Tutu

“Even the darkest night will end & the sun will rise.”- Victor Hugo

“In the midst of darkness, light persists.”- Mahatma Gandhi

“Don’t fight darkness–bring the light, & darkness will disappear.”- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

(and this one that is the first line in ‘Out of the Cave‘ in the book’s foreword, written by Rick Warren, a pastor & author of ‘The Purpose Driven Life’:)
“Sometimes you have to experience the darkness before you can appreciate the light.”

When Pastor Chris Hodges read the news that a fellow pastor had taken his own life, he set out to research more about the #1 health problem in the world that causes more deaths each year than cancer, & that caused his fellow pastor’s demise: depression. Depression doesn’t discriminate. Pastors, along w/ the followers of Jesus, aren’t immune from depression (or suicide), nor are they exempt from the umbrella of symptoms of mental health struggles, such as anxiety, which more & more people struggle w/ every day. (I do, & so do many people I know!).

Bestselling author and pastor Chris Hodges helps those struggling with depression find liberating solutions by drawing from the life of the prophet Elijah.

Shame about the dark thoughts swirling in your mind. Guilt about how powerless you feel to overcome negative emotions. Alternating bouts of sadness and numbness. You might be asking, Should a Christian even be having these struggles?

Depression is the number one health issue in the world today, yet those who suffer are still sometimes stigmatized–especially followers of Jesus. Many assume God’s peace, power, and protection should prevent us from ever feeling anxious, depressed, and afraid. But the Bible teaches otherwise, particularly in its depiction of the life of the Old Testament prophet Elijah.

In Out of the Cave, bestselling author and pastor Chris Hodges uses Elijah’s life to show us that everyone is susceptible to depression. Even when we’re walking closely with God, we can still stumble and get lost in the wilderness of tangled emotions. But we don’t have to stay there, because we serve a God who meets us in the darkness. Out of the Cave helps us:

  • remove the stigma of depression and realize we’re not alone;
  • understand the ways our temperament and view of God affect the way we handle depression; and
  • learn a comprehensive approach to wellness—mind, body, and soul—from Elijah’s journey.

With his trademark blend of Bible-based wisdom, practical application, and vulnerability in sharing his personal struggles, Hodges explores the causes of depression we can’t change, the contributors we can conquer, and offers transformative hope and spiritual power to help us win the battle.

This is an inspiring, motivating, uplifting, deeply personal & honest book about depression that will help many people, spiritual or not, overcome some of the feelings they’re dealing w/ while hopefully helping them to find the right road to recovery. Thank you Thomas Nelson Publishing, TLC Book Tours & Chris Hodges for my gift copy of the book!

Click HERE to visit me on Instagram & give this post a LIKE to show support to the author (& Me!😉)

“The darkness of depression is real even when you’re living in the light of God’s grace.”- Chris Hodges, from “Out of the Cave’

Purchase Links

Thomas Nelson | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Chris Hodges is the founding and senior pastor of Church of the Highlands. Under his leadership, Church of the Highlands has launched campuses all across the state of Alabama and has grown to more than 60,000 people attending weekly. He also cofounded the Association of Related Churches, launched a coaching network called GROW, and serves as chancellor of Highlands College, an accredited ministry training college. Chris and his wife, Tammy, have five children and seven grandchildren and live in Birmingham, Alabama.

Book Reviews · Memoirs · Nonfiction

Here’s one for all you curious foodie’s out there that enjoy learning something new as well as reading engaging stories!

Do you consider yourself a “foodie”? Do you like to try new or exotic fruits from the market/store that seem utterly odd to you, but hey, YOLO? (IE: Have you ever seen a jackfruit & did you know they are quite popular w/ vegans as a meat alternative for their protein content? And they are huge & look like mutant watermelons!)

If so, then ‘The Book of Difficult Fruit‘ by Kate Lebo will surely appeal to you & also to readers that enjoy well-crafted, engaging, lyrical writing & so much more. Thank you to Farrar, Straus, & Giroux Publishing for my gift copy of this delicious & intriguing book, released on 4/6!

Accurately described as a “glorious mash-up of memoir, love note & cookbook” by Vulture magazine in an article called Best New Books of 2021, ‘The Book of Difficult Fruit‘ is an amazingly original feast of words, with surprising facts, an abundance of insight & information, & one of those books you’ll be happy to have stepped out of your readerly comfort zone & read.

Inspired by twenty-six fruits, essayist, poet, & pie lady Kate Lebo expertly blends natural, culinary, medical, & personal history..A is for Aronia, berry member of the apple family, clothes-stainer, superfruit with reputed healing power. D is for Durian, endowed with a dramatic rind & a shifty odor–peaches, old garlic.

M is for medlar, name-checked by Shakespeare for its crude shape, beloved by gardeners for its flowers. Q is for quince, which, when fresh, gives off the scent of “roses and citrus and rich women’s perfume,” but if eaten raw is so astringent it wicks the juice from one’s mouth.

In this work of unique invention, these & other difficult fruits serve as the central ingredients of twenty-six lyrical essays (and recipes!) that range from deeply personal to botanical, from culinary to medical, from humorous to philosophical.

The entries are associative, often poetic, taking unexpected turns & giving sideways insights into life, relationships, self-care, modern medicine, & more. What if the primary way you show love is to bake, but your partner suffers from celiac disease? Why leave in the pits for Willa Cather’s Plum Jam? How can we rely on bodies as fragile as the fruits that nourish them?

Taking you on an engaging, illuminating, culinary adventure, Kate Lebo’s unquenchable curiosity promises adventure: intimate, sensuous, ranging, bitter, challenging, rotten, ripe. After reading ‘The Book of Difficult Fruit‘, you will never think of sweetness the same way again.

Click HERE to go to my post on Instagram, & while you’re there, check out my latest giveaways (2 of them!) by clicking HERE & HERE.
You can also click on the highlighted book titles above to add ‘The Book of Difficult Fruit’ to your Goodreads lists. There are currently 50 copies of the book up for grabs in a current Goodreads giveaway (ends 5/23, US only). Click HERE to go to the giveaway.

Kate Lebo’s first collection of nonfiction, The Book of Difficult Fruit, is forthcoming from FSG and Picador in April 2021. She is the author of the cookbook Pie School (Sasquatch Books), the poetry chapbook Seven Prayers to Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Entre Rios Books), and co-editor with Samuel Ligon of Pie & Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter and Booze (Sasquatch Books). Her essay about listening through hearing loss, “The Loudproof Room,” originally published in New England Review, was anthologized in Best American Essays 2015.
Her poems and essays have appeared in This is the Place: Women Writing About Home, Ghosts of Seattle Past, Best New Poets, Gettysburg Review, Willow Springs, Moss, Catapult, and Poetry Northwest, among other places.
Through the Center for Washington Cultural Traditions she is an apprenticed cheesemaker to Lora Lea Misterly of Quillisascut Farm. She lives in Spokane, Washington. 

Audiobooks · Book Reviews · Halloween · MurderinoMonday · Nonfiction · Paranormal · True Crime

If there’s something strange, in your neighborhood, who ya’ gonna call…AMY BRUNI! Then read her book!👻📖

Today is #MurderinoMonday & this book, although not #TrueCrime, it’s kind of in the same genre since there are definitely some dead people, murders, & even a couple serial killers in it!
Thank you @grandcentralpub for my gift copy of ‘Life With the Afterlife: 13 Truths I Learned About Ghosts
by Amy Bruni!

👻Ok, I have to ask all of you this question: Do you believe in ghosts? Maybe some sort of paranormal phenomenon or such? I do. If you are a hard NO to that question, this book, along w/ Amy Bruni’s TV shows ‘Ghost Hunters’ & ‘Kindred Spirits’, may change your mind about that. (And as to why I believe in spirits and/or ghosts, see a couple of my encounters further down in this blog post.👻)

The ‘ghost’ in this pic is ME. It was a pic from our doorbell this past summer.

Paranormal investigator Amy Bruni shares stories from her years of experiences w/ ghosts, organized around thirteen truths that guide her approach to the supernatural.
Amy Bruni, one of the world’s leading paranormal investigators, has learned a lot about ghosts over her years of research & first-hand experience. Now, in ‘Life with the Afterlife’, she shares the insight she has gleaned & how it has shaped her unique approach to interacting w/ the spirits of the dead & those who encounter them.

From her earliest supernatural encounters as a child, through her yrs appearing on ‘Ghost Hunters’ &  the creation of her company Strange Escapes, which offers paranormal excursions to some of America’s most notoriously haunted destinations, & into her current work on The Travel Channel’s ‘Kindred Spirits’, this book is full of astonishing & deeply moving stories of Amy’s efforts to better understand the dead but not yet departed. With Amy’s bright humor & fierce compassion for both those who are haunted & those who are haunting, ‘Life with the Afterlife‘ is an eye-opening look at what connects us as people, in life & beyond.

Copyright ‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999); & can you believe THAT is Donnie Wahlberg??

Life with the Afterlife‘ is downright fascinating, insightful, thought-provoking & will legit make you second guess every creak, squeak & bump in the night you may hear in your home or any strange chill you feel breeze past you. I have personally had some highly unexplainable occurrences happen in my life, & here is a quick story about one of them:

My husband & I built our home in 2005 on property that had been in his family for decades. No other home had ever stood on our acreage. I was also pregnant with my twins when our house was built. Several months after we were living in our home & the babies were born, there were times when I was home alone that I would smell cigarette smoke as clear as if someone were straight up smoking in my home. No one in my home smoked, & no one had recently visited our home that was a smoker.

I would also hear voices of little kids, like an elementary school class full of them, & this was when there was no TV on, & we do not have children or a school anywhere near our home. Yet, I could often hear little kids laughing & jibber-jabbering. Then one day I walked into my bedroom to find the dresser that held all of my babies clothes, diapers, pjs, etc had EVERY single drawer pulled all the way out. And no one was home but me & my babies, who did not talk or crawl or do anything much more than sit in their carriers, baby swings or lay in their cribs. It totally freaked me out.

Copyright ‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999)

Then one day while I was standing at the kitchen sink, a picture that had been high up on top of the cupboard came flying down at me from an angle. It didn’t just fall, or it would have been about 6 ft away from where I stood. It came down at an angle as if aiming for me purposely, & it hit me in the arm, scratching me pretty well. There were other strange things that had happened for several years after that, but the cigarette smoking ‘entity’ seems to have moved on, probably because I live in the noisiest house ever & whomever (whatever) was here was probably like ‘I’m outta here’, yet to this day, I still swear I hear music or small children’s voices when there is no one else here & it’s quiet or late at night when everyone is sleeping. So, Amy Bruni…have your people call my people if you want to come use your ghostbusting gadgets on my home & let me know who all I should be charging rent for squatting here. 😳🎶🤷🏼👻

The book is a quick read & the audio version is enhanced w/ recordings from Bruni & her crew’s paranormal investigations. Fittingly enough, the book was published on 10/27…the week of Halloween.

So, if there’s something strange, in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call…Amy Bruni! And read her book!👻

Copyright Travel Channel

Click HERE to add ‘Life with the Afterlife’ to your Goodreads list.
Click HERE to visit my Instagram post about this book & give it some LIKE love!

Book Reviews · CrimeThriller · Giveaway · Memoirs · MurderinoMonday · Nonfiction · True Crime

It’s Murderino Monday and GIVEAWAY time!

Murderino Monday & a GIVEAWAY! (Please note: the giveaway can be entered by clicking HERE & going to the giveaway post on Instagram. You can comment on this blog post for additional bonus entries, but must enter initially on the IG post.)

Thank you @grandcentralpub for my gift copies of ‘We Keep the Dead Close‘ by Becky Cooper! (pub 11/10)

Things that happened in 1969: American’s landed on the moon for the first time; Charles Manson’s cult members murdered 5 people including pregnant actress, Sharon Tate; Matthew McConaughey & I were both born (I mention him because I just finished listening to his book, ‘Green Light’, which I will be reviewing soon!😉); & a women was murdered at Harvard only to have the mystery of the crime swept under the rug by the university (& even her family) & remain unsolved for half a century.
Enter, Becky Cooper….

You have to remember”, he reminded me, “that Harvard is older than the U.S. government.
You have to remember because Harvard doesn’t let you forget.

1969: the height of counterculture and the year universities would seek to curb the unruly spectacle of student protest; the winter that Harvard University would begin the tumultuous process of merging with Radcliffe, its all-female sister school; and the year that Jane Britton, an ambitious 23-year-old graduate student in Harvard’s Anthropology Department and daughter of Radcliffe Vice President J. Boyd Britton, would be found bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment.

A newspaper photograph of Britton’s body being moved from her building. Then-journalist Mike Widmer (in tie and light-colored trench coat) never forgot the tragedy.FROM DAILY WORLD LOUISIANA

Forty years later, Becky Cooper, a curious undergrad, will hear the first whispers of the story. In the first telling the body was nameless. The story was this: a Harvard student had had an affair with her professor, and the professor had murdered her in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology because she’d threatened to talk about the affair. Though the rumor proves false, the story that unfolds, one that Cooper will follow for ten years, is even more complex: a tale of gender inequality in academia, a “cowboy culture” among empowered male elites, the silencing effect of institutions, and our compulsion to rewrite the stories of female victims.

We Keep the Dead Close’ is a memoir of mirrors, misogyny, and murder. It is at once a rumination on the violence and oppression that rules our revered institutions, a ghost story reflecting one young woman’s past onto another’s present, and a love story for a girl who was lost to history.

Jane Britton. (DON MITCHELL)

Not since Ronan Farrow’s book ‘Catch & Kill‘ & Michelle McNamara’s ‘I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” have I read a book so well-researched, positively captivating, & addictively all-consuming. Part-memoir, part true-crime/whodunit murder mystery that you will solve right along w/ the author, until the shocking end when the crime is solved. (Tip: Don’t Google about the murder before hand or risk ruining the mystery for yourself.) Cooper’s decade long obsession w/ Jane Britton & who murdered her is reminiscent of McNamara’s fixation on the Golden State Killer.

We Keep the Dead Close‘ is fascinatingly informative, hypnotically engaging, & vividly atmospheric.True crime fans will love this comprehensive & twisty tale. And I have a hardback copy to send to one of you! To enter this giveaway, click HERE to go to the Instagram post. (*Giveaway is not affiliated w/ Instagram.)

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About the author: Becky Cooper is a former New Yorker editorial staff member and Senior Fellow at Brandeis’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Reporting. Her undergraduate thesis, a literary biography of David Foster Wallace, won Harvard’s Hoopes Prize, the highest undergraduate award for research and writing. Research for this book was supported by the Fund for Investigative Journalism and the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists. She is also the author of Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers (Abrams, 2013).

Book Reviews · CrimeThriller · MurderinoMonday · Nonfiction · True Crime

Murderino Monday and a True-Crime book to get on your winter TBR list…

It’s time for Murderino Monday! Thank you @celadonbooks (partner) for my gift copy of ‘Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, & Murder in Queer New York’ by Elon Green! (pub 3/9/21). (The above photo is my Instagram post & I would love it if you would click HERE to go give that post a LIKE or a SHARE now.)

The gripping true story, told here for the first time, of the Last Call Killer & the gay community of New York City that he preyed upon.The Townhouse Bar, midtown, July 1992: The piano player seems to know every song ever written, the crowd belts out the lyrics to their favorites, & a man standing nearby is drinking a Scotch & water. The man strikes the piano player as forgettable.

He looks bland & inconspicuous. Not at all what you think a serial killer looks like. But that’s what he is, and tonight, he has his sights set on a gray haired man.
He will not be his first victim.
Nor will he be his last.

The Last Call Killer preyed upon gay men in New York in the ‘80s & ‘90s & had all the hallmarks of the most notorious serial killers. Yet because of the sexuality of his victims, the skyhigh murder rates, & the AIDS epidemic, his murders have been almost entirely forgotten.

This gripping true-crime narrative tells the story of the Last Call Killer & the decades-long chase to find him. And at the same time, it paints a portrait of his victims & a vibrant community navigating threat & resilience.

This is Celadon Books first true crime book & boy, is it a good one! Elon Green really did a fantastic job creating this fascinating, non-fiction book, & it is very well researched. As I always do when reading true crime books or listening to podcasts, I went down the Google rabbit-hole to devour even more information about Richard Rogers, who was dubbed the Last Call Killer, watching interview videos, looking at crime scene pics, & reading more & more about Roger’s heinous crimes. True crime show ‘Mark of a Killer’ (on Oxygen) has an episode about the LCK that I plan to watch on Prime soon, too.

This book does get pretty graphic & I did have to put it down a few times to regroup. It also brought to mind a more well-known serial killer who also killed gay men & dismembered them (sometimes ate parts)…Jeffrey Dahmer. (Oh, & please do not confuse LCK, Richard Rogers, w/ the fabulous composer, Richard RoDgers, who has a theater in NYC named after him where ‘Hamilton’ is currently housed.👇🏻)

Last Call‘ is positively gripping, riveting, & addictive reading for true-crime aficionados like myself. This is a book you will want to devour in one sitting & then research more about (like I did w/this book & many others, like last years ‘American Predator‘), just don’t blame me when you have nightmares. ‘Last Call‘ releases this coming March 9th, so pre-order it & get it on your TBR lists.

Click HERE to add ‘Last Call’ to your Goodreads lists.
Click HERE to pre-order this book at an indie book store near you using BookStoreLink.
Click HERE to go to my Instagram post & give it a LIKE or a story share.

Click HERE to go to Elon Green’s website & learn more about him & this book!