Book Review: Cicada Spring by Christian Galacar


Published: March 18, 2015
Genres: Suspense, Thriller
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 368
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Description: On a warm May evening in the spring of 1979, the people of Heartsridge, Massachusetts, are living the American dream. Families are gathered for barbecues. Kids are playing in front yards. Gardens are being kept. 


Meanwhile, Kara Price stumbles home through the woods, raped and beaten, her life shattered by a wicked act of violence, perpetrated by one of the town’s most beloved and public figures. 

Surrounding Kara is a cast of compelling and nefarious characters—a violent-tempered mayor who can do no wrong in the eyes of the town, a sheriff bound by the rules and plagued by a guilty conscience, a father bent on revenge, a serial killer in the midst of an identity crisis. 

And at the center of it all there’s Kara, who just wants to move on with her life and forget everything that happened to her. But how can she do that when everyone thinks she is a liar who is only out for attention? 

With plot and emotion braided together by a careful hand, this haunted group of people all acting on behalf of their own interests begs the question: How far would you go to protect your own?

This was my first read by this author and Galacar did not disappoint. I feel like this author took the risk of addressing sensitive topics into his novel that most authors would decide to leave out. This story starts off with the main character, Kara Price, heading home after being a victim of sexual assault. At first, she believes that she is going to keep her attack secret but by the time she makes it home she breaks down and confides in the authorities the details of her assault. Kara’s courage to acknowledge her assault and identify the perpetrator should be a huge relief for law enforcement, but that is not the case considering whose name it is that is mentioned. 

Kara’s revelation leaves everyone shocked and doubtful: the sheriff, the deputy, the doctor, and other prominent figures of the town. It doesn’t take too long before word gets around about what has happened to Kara and citizens start to label her as a liar. As a result, Kara becomes a target for bullying and cruel comments. As Kara’s world continues to crumble, she does gain an ally in a female deputy who refuses to let Kara’s case go without justice; with her help, lies and alibis begin to unravel and the truth is brought to light by an unlikely source in an ending that won’t want to miss!

A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming by Kerri Rawson

  • Published: January 29, 2019 by Thomas Nelson Audio
  • Edition: Audiobook
  • Time length: 9 hours
  • Rating: 2 stars

What is it like to learn that your ordinary, loving father is a serial killer? Kerri Rawson, the daughter of the notorious serial killer known as BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill), tells the nightmarish story of that discovery and of her long journey of faith and healing.

Kerri Rawson was living a happy, normal life until one day when the cops showed up at her front door with news that would destroy the image that she had painted of her father over the years. It would be unveiled that Kerri’s father, Dennis Rader, was the serial killer dubbed BTK, which stood for bind, torture, kill. The news stunned Rawson and in this book, she shares the side of her father that his victims did not get to see while also sharing with readers what the conviction meant for her and her family and how they coped with the aftermath.

The book’s opening begins during the time that Kerri is informed her father is a serial killer and all emotions that immediately hit her: denial, shock, and other emotions appropriate for the occasion. Rawson goes through the book sharing memories that she had created with her father while growing up: a hiking trip she took with him and her brother, a father’s concern when she was doing poorly in college, and other moments meant to bond families together.

However, the more the author uncovers about the crimes committed by her father she starts to connect dots to the timeline of the murders and that of her childhood. Kerri makes no excuses for her father; she openly expresses sadness for the victims and guilt for not realizing that danger was so close to home the entire time. With her dad’s crimes exposed, Rawson and her family had to be there for one another and help pick up the pieces of the mess left behind. Most people would believe they would “cut all ties” with a loved one if they found out they committed such horrid crimes, but the author is only human and at the end of the day Rader is her father. As she felt her way through her emotions, which was difficult to say the least, she begins the process of forgiving her father and slowly begins re-establishing a connection with him while he is behind bars.

Originally, I was excited to finally read this book, as I’m a huge fan of true crime shows and books. However, this book just could not hold my interest for too long and did not leave me with any lingering feelings after I finished it. I would still recommend this book, though, for lovers of crime shows/books and memoirs; it may not have been the book for me, but it could be for you!

*I read this book on Scribd. If you would be interested in ONE FREE MONTH of this book subscription service, be sure to click this link: https://www.scribd.com/g/7ovkvo

Book Review: A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell


Published: July 23, 2019 by St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Thriller
Edition: Kindle
Pages: 346
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Description: Caroline Stark’s beach house was supposed to be her crowning achievement: a lavish, expensive space to showcase what she thought was her perfect family. But after a very public fight with her husband, she realizes things may not be as perfect as they seem: her husband is lying to her, the money is disappearing, and there’s a stranger on the beach outside her house.


As Caroline’s marriage and her carefully constructed lifestyle begin to collapse around her, she turns to Aidan, the stranger, for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aidan’s infatuation with Caroline, her family, and her house becomes more and more destructive. But who is manipulating whom in this deadly game of obsession and control? Who will take the blame when someone ends up dead…and what is Caroline hiding?

As those that follow my blog know, it is rare for me to reward a book with a five star rating. When it comes to books, there are certain factors that must be present in order to be bestowed a five star rating and here is the list:

  1. Reading speed-Did I finish this book in one sitting or less than three days?
  2. Content-Was the content engaging enough to keep me reeled in until completion?
  3. Predictability-Did I catch onto where the plot was heading?
  4. Re-Read-Would I be able to reread this book at another date?
  5. Purchase-If reading on my Kindle, would I go out and buy a physical copy because it needs to be on my shelf?

This is the first book that I have read from Michele Campbell and I know it will not be the last for me; I finished it in one sitting! This book was the perfect combination of psychological thriller and “whodunit?” The author tells the story from two perspectives: Aidan, a twenty-seven year old man who falls head over heels with a married woman after a one night stand and Caroline: a forty-two year old married woman whose marriage is falling apart and suspects that Aidan is stalking her after their brief sexual encounter. The readers are taking on the journey of hearing both characters recount memories differently from the other, which will leave readers constantly wondering who could be the true culprit when both are accused of murdering someone. Although I caught onto a part of the storyline towards the end, it still didn’t prepare me for what I would discover!

➤ I would like to take a moment and thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This Will Only Hurt A Little by Busy Philipps

  • Published: October 16, 2018 by Gallery Books
  • Edition: E-book
  • Pages: 320
  • Rating: 3 stars

There’s no stopping Busy Philipps. From the time she was two and “aced out in her nudes” to explore the neighborhood (as her mom famously described her toddler jailbreak), Busy has always been headstrong, defiant, and determined not to miss out on all the fun. These qualities led her to leave Scottsdale, Arizona, at the age of nineteen to pursue her passion for acting in Hollywood. But much like her painful and painfully funny teenage years, chasing her dreams wasn’t always easy and sometimes hurt more than a little.

In this stunningly candid memoir, Busy opens up about chafing against a sexist system rife with on-set bullying and body shaming, being there when friends face shattering loss, enduring devastating personal and professional betrayals from those she loved best, and struggling with postpartum anxiety and the challenges of motherhood.

But Busy also brings to the page her sly sense of humor and the unshakeable sense that disappointment shouldn’t stand in her way—even when she’s knocked down both figuratively and literally (from a knee injury at her seventh-grade dance to a violent encounter on the set of Freaks and Geeks). The rough patches in her life are tempered by times of hilarity and joy: leveraging a flawless impression of Cher from Clueless into her first paid acting gig, helping reinvent a genre with cult classic Freaks and Geeks, becoming fast friends with Dawson’s Creek castmate Michelle Williams, staging her own surprise wedding, conquering natural childbirth with the help of a Mad Men–themed hallucination, and more.

Busy is the rare entertainer whose impressive arsenal of talents as an actress is equally matched by her storytelling ability, sense of humor, and sharp observations about life, love, and motherhood. Her conversational writing reminds us what we love about her on screens large and small. From film to television to Instagram and now to the page, Busy delightfully showcases her wry humor and her willingness to bare it all.

I adore Busy and was eager to finally get my hands on this book and read the stories she would include, but was disappointed by most. I applaud her for sharing some heartfelt stories such as: her unexpected pregnancy that led her to a difficult decision, her battle with postpartum depression, and the endless rejections that comes with the entertainment industry. On the other hand, I felt like other stories she was sharing came across as her narrating a script for an upcoming movie. She’d constantly mention going out with friends for drinks or hanging out and smoking endless cigarettes. I just couldn’t find myself always engaged in the book or like I could relate to her as much as I would’ve liked.

*I read this book on Scribd. If you would like to have ONE FREE MONTH of this book subscription service then click this link: https://www.scribd.com/g/7ovkvo

Stronger: Forty Days of Metal and Spirituality by Brian “Head” Welch

  • Published: November 30, 2010 by HarperCollins
  • Edition: E-book
  • Pages: 208
  • Rating: 2 stars

This 40-Day devotional from Brian “Head” Welch, former lead guitarist of Korn and the New York Times bestselling author of Save Me From Myself, is an intimate tour through the Bible passages that have meant the most to him on his trying journey from substance abuse to salvation. Save Me From Myself, Welch’s self-effacing story his against addiction and his reawakening to divine love, has made the metal band icon into a hero of Christian rock. Uncompromisingly honest about his demons, and equally fervent about his faith, Head and his impassioned devotional offer a uniquely voiced guiding light perfect for young Christians and rock music fans everywhere.

Brian “Head” Welch co-founded the highly successful metal band named Korn and had everything he could have asked for: nice vehicles and houses, loads of cash, and let’s not forget the most important, fame. It came as a huge shock to everyone when in 2005, the musician made the decision to give his life over to Christ and walk away from his band and all the luxuries attached to it. In this book, Welch carries his readers into spiritual discussions for the span of forty days that he will compare this journey to that of the biblical Moses. Each day, the author shares a few biblical verses that have meaning to him and shares stories of times throughout his relationship with Christ that he needed to apply those specific ones.

This book is not my typical read; I am not familiar with many scriptures of the Bible and don’t practice the religion frequently, so it made it hard to connect with the book. It is for that reason that I decided to rate this one a two star read for me. Although in his defense, I did find that Welch breaks down the verses he shares in a way that is easy to understand. This book is the perfect read for those seeking spiritual guidance, those who love hearing more on Welch’s life after seeking Christ, or those that are looking for a light, uplifting read.

*I read this book on Scribd. If you would be interested in ONE FREE MONTH of this book subscription service, be sure to click this link: https://www.scribd.com/g/7ovkvo

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

  • Published: July 12, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
  • Genre: Memoir, True Crime
  • Edition: E-book
  • Pages: 304
  • Rating: 3 stars

Jaycee Dugard was a normal eleven year old girl from a rural town in California when the course of her life took an unexpected turn. As Jaycee was walking up the street to catch the morning bus, a couple by the names of Phillip and Nancy Garrido drove up beside her, stunned her, and placed her in the backseat of their vehicle before speeding off. The world would not know the status of her life or the horrors she would ultimately survive for the next eighteen years.

In this memoir, Dugard provides a detailed retelling of her eighteen years in captivity. She documents the first day that Phillip took her into the bathroom inside his home and groomed her private area to his liking before sexually assaulting her for the first time. She documents the moment that she found out she was pregnant with both of her daughters and shares the stories of their births without having proper medical care. Dugard talks about how she established a school system for her daughters despite the fact that she herself only held a fifth grade education. Last, but not least she talks about the moment that she was properly identified as the missing girl from 1991 and how difficult it was to break free from the years of manipulation from her abductors in order to truly be free.

For those that followed Jaycee’s story on the news, this is the perfect read for you. I’d also recommend this book to those that would like to educate themselves more about Dugard’s story or those that love reading about true crime.

This book was the winner of Goodreads Choice Award for Memoir/Autobiography in 2011.

Save Me From Myself by Brian “Head” Welch

Description:

The amazing true story of an out-of-control rock star, his devastating addiction to drugs, and his miraculous redemption through Jesus Christ.

In February 2005, more than ten thousand people in Bakersfield, California, watched as Brian “Head” Welch—the former lead guitarist of the controversial rock band Korn—was saved by Jesus Christ. The event set off a media frenzy as observers from around the world sought to understand what led this rock star out of the darkness and into the light.

Now, in this courageous memoir, Head talks for the first time about his shocking embrace of God and the tumultuous decade that led him into the arms of Jesus Christ. Offering a backstage pass to his time with Korn, Head tells the inside story of his years in the band and explains how his rock star lifestyle resulted in an all-consuming addiction to methamphetamines. Writing openly about the tour bus mayhem of Ozzfest and The Family Values tour, he provides a candid look at how the routine of recording, traveling, and partying placed him in a cycle of addiction that he could not break on his own.

Speaking honestly about his addiction, Head details his struggles with the drug that ultimately led him to seek a higher power. Despite his numerous attempts to free himself from meth, nothing—not even the birth of his daughter—could spur him to kick it for good. Here Head addresses how, with the help of God, he emerged from his dangerous lifestyle and found a path that was not only right for his daughter, it was right for him.

Discussing the chaotic end to his time in Korn and how his newfound faith has influenced his relationship with his daughter, his life, and his music, Head describes the challenging but rewarding events of the last two years, exposing the truth about how his moments of doubt and his hardships have only deepened his faith.

The readers are taken on a journey with the author in Welch’s debut memoir. Welch’s success with Korn did not happen overnight like most would believe. Before the stardom, Brian “Head” Welch was just an ordinary teenager in Bakersfield, California trying to make his dreams of being a musician a reality. He spent hours practicing his guitar skills and starting up several bands that ended after one live show. It seemed like no matter what he did, the dream was not any closer to being within his reach.

Then one night after having recently established a new band that was in need of a lead singer, Welch and another member decided to scout local clubs in hopes of finding the right person for the position. The night was not looking hopeful and they were in the middle of calling it a night when the last band took the stage and the band’s lead singer had not even sung a single note yet and the duo already knew this guy was the man they were looking for. Who would that be you ask? Jonathan Davis.

With their band formed, they started creating beats and writing lyrics. It was not too long afterwards that Korn was deemed the band’s name despite reluctance from their manager about the name not being ideal on landing them a record deal. Welch’s dreams had finally came true, but unknown to him at the time it was to be the beginning of some dark and troubling times.

Welch is very honest with his readers about his addiction to meth, pills, and alcohol. He talks about using drugs with fellow members and while writing, recording, and touring. He tried quitting on his own and with the help of rehab, but to no avail. His last option was to trying placing the situation in God’s hands.

The world was shocked when “Head” announced that he was leaving Korn and had been saved. The decision was a tough one, but ultimately saved his life. With the help of Christ, he was able to become a better father, friend, and son. By finding Christ, he was able to finally ditch the drugs and become sober for good. The decision to walk away from everything was not one made lightly, but Welch is making the most of it and taking it one day at a time.

This memoir is a must read for those that enjoy the band’s music, want insight on why “Head” turned to Christ and has pursued the journey to walk beside Him, or for anyone like me that enjoys a memoir that is personal, honest, and unbiased. I give this book 3 stars.

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Conquering Chaos by Catelynn Lowell & Tyler Baltierra

Millions of people around the world will recognize these two from their Teen Mom franchise, but through their memoir you’ll get to know a side of the couple that does not end up on your television screen.

It’s not a secret that Catelynn and Tyler are one of the most beloved cast members of Teen Mom and appear to be the “goody two shoes” type, but in their book they are quick to educate you on their mischievous past and previous drug use. I know what you’re thinking…but it is true! The duo were picking up some risky habits and exhibiting behaviors that could have landed them in some serious trouble, but once Catelynn found out she was pregnant it all started to change.

Catelynn knew from a young age that she wanted to become a mother one day; she describes herself as very maternal and caring, which is easy to pick up on if you watch the show. However, her home life at the time of the pregnancy was anything but stable. Ultimately, she and her boyfriend decided it would be in their child’s best interest to be placed for adoption. This news did not go over well with their parents, which is captured on the television show.

“Less than one percent of women choose adoption for their babies. Ninety-nine percent of women who parent choose to get pregnant or have an abortion. That’s why it’s so ironic and amazing that Catelynn chose adoption, because for someone who had dreamed about parenthood for so long and had such a strong maternal instinct, it was the ultimate sacrifice. She’s in that one percent of women who made that decision.”

-Tyler commenting on Catelynn’s decision to place their first born child up for adoption.

It was no doubt the toughest decision the couple had faced up to that point in their relationship, but they do not regret it one bit. They now advocate for adoption and keep in touch with their firstborn’s adoptive parents through their counselor, Dawn.

Rating: 3 stars. I hope this review encourages you to add this book to your TBR.