Book Review: The Soul City Salvation by Jonathan LaPoma

***I received a free copy and am voluntarily giving an honest review***

Ten months–that’s how long twenty-six-year-old writer and aspiring actor Jay Sakovsky decides to stay and teach in the bohemian beach town of Soul City, California, to save up cash and overcome his anxiety before moving on to Hollywood.

But after several “friendly chats” with the vice principal about hangover sweats and black eyes from barroom brawls, Jay sees a therapist who helps him connect his self-destructive tendencies and artistic blocks to his undiagnosed OCD, setting him on a ten-year healing journey that drives him to near madness as he explores the limits of his heart, creativity, and psyche.

A surreal, darkly comic, and psychologically epic novel, The Soul City Salvation explores mental illness, friendship, aging, masculinity, modern love, the creative process, spiritual awakening, and fighting for respect in an uncaring world.

*The Soul City Salvation is the fifth book in a loosely-linked series, with Hammond, The Summer of Crud, Understanding the Alacrán, and Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story as books one-four. Each novel can be read independently of the others.


I enjoyed this contemporary drama. It was written in Jay’s first-person point of view. Jay had OCD, anxiety, and depression—things I could relate to as a reader. In fact, some scenes when he was younger helped me understand the actual things I had been going through as a kid and teenager. My moodiness and “dark” thoughts could be linked to my OCD back then.

Jay stayed on Doug’s couch in California to live out his dreams as a musician or actor. Instead, he ended up becoming a teacher. When Jay and Doug had a fallen out, I was curious to see if they would repair their friendship. I was disappointed when that storyline sort of fizzled out. Doug had a temper. I had been expecting more conflict.

My favorite lines: 1) “I knew that the old me had to die.” 2) “Our dreams consumed the reality of our love.” 3) “Just as I’d had to make peace with death, I also had to make peace with isolation.” 4) “A part of me wanted to self-destruct. It was easier that way.” 5) “You shut them all out. You think anyone’s ever gonna give a fuck about you again?”

I loved when Silas, an old childhood friend, visited California to see Jay. It was nice to see Jay have good moments in his life instead of focusing on just the bad. The story sort of read like a journal. There was a lot of telling instead of showing when it came to character interactions. I would have loved to see the full extent of Jay’s romantic dates or his friendships in Mexico. I felt bad for Jay how his coworkers bullied him. Usually I love bittersweet or depressing endings, but I was really hoping for Jay to get the last laugh. Did he? You’ll have to read to find out.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Orchard View by Deborah J. Miles

Digging in the garden, builder and current owner, Bill Maynard, discovers some old bones. He worries that the discovery will upset his plans for renovating and selling the house. Fortunately, his neighbour tells him the whole area was a burial site at the time of the Black Death and finding bones is commonplace.

“Well, as they’re so old and the museums have enough bones already, I suppose we can ignore them. It’s not like there’s been a murder and we’ve just found the body,” he justified his decision.

But had they?

His discovery sets off a chain of unfortunate events.


I  really enjoyed this contemporary fiction book. I loved that the house, Orchard View, was actually a character. Giving the home human characteristics was interesting.

The story foreshadowed that Etta May know a dark secret about those buried bones. The mystery motivated me to keep reading. Once the suspense built up with that twist…chapter four presented a backstory of Etta’s marriage and their neighbors. Then chapter after chapter showed the different residents of Orchard View. Some took care of her, some took advantage.

Chapter Fourteen brought the suspenseful present back. The circumstances made me wonder who out of Bill and Etta would win. It seemed like every character, especially the neighbors, had a dark secret.

I also wondered why the author stopped the action in chapter three to give all that backstory of Orchard View’s past. I guess because I love suspense and thrillers so much. My favorite part of the book was the ending when multiple characters went buck wild, trying to keep their secrets buried.

I recommend this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby


Book Review: Hammond by Jonathan LaPoma

***I received an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) so I could give an honest review***

A group of troubled but charismatic boys in a tough Buffalo, NY neighborhood play basketball at a local park and dream of winning a state high school championship. Driven by raw talent and killer instinct, they dominate the court, but everywhere else, they feel like losers.

Hammond is told through the eyes of James Lombardi, a precocious but mentally ill boy who believes winning a championship will ease his “Evil Thoughts” and save his family, long haunted by generations of substance abuse, uncontrollable rage, and suicide.

A dark but humorous coming-of-age novel, Hammond, offers a poetic and disturbing look inside the complex mind of an adolescent boy as he slowly learns that having the heart of a champion can sometimes be more burden than blessing.


I really enjoyed this coming-of-age novel. It starts with Jimmy, and his friends Ray, Gerry, and Tony being in the sixth grade. Jimmy had a crush on Julia who ended up breaking his heart. With so much drama and angst packed into this novel, Jimmy never really recovered.

Even though Jimmy was the main character, I felt something more for his older brother Dan. Maybe because he was a mystery. Dan was depressed, and I felt bad for him, wishing someone would help him, at least listen if he wanted to talk. Jimmy had issues too. He was very mean to his little brother and sisters. He was broken inside due to his evil thoughts, and because his dad always took out his anger on him.

My favorite lines: 1) The family machine was in gear, and nothing could slow it down. No time to check on cuts or bruises or shattered egos. 2) It ends in tragedy. It ends in death. Don’t fool yourself for a second, thinking it can happen otherwise. 3) I had no idea I was now both superhero and villain.

I wish there had been more dialogue during some scenes, especially the pretty intense ones. Once I started imagining the story as Jimmy’s journal entries instead of actual scenes happening in the present, it was easier. The story really started to pick up and become more interesting after the time jump when they entered Kirkland High.

I felt so bad for Gerry. I wanted to give all these boys a hug because they all seemed so lost. The author did a great job with characterization and voice. The drama and angst was very well done as well. I prayed for them to win the basketball championship so they could have something good happen in their lives. Did they win? Did they lose? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

I RECOMMEND the book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Day 6 of #DecTheShelves


I’m all for books that can make me cry, make me feel an emotional connection, make me escape my boring reality. I had to buy this book after reading the blurb. It sounds amazing.

When Kyle French’s father and clairvoyant mother dies in a car crash that he alone survives, the question haunts him. Through his grief and survivor’s guilt, Kyle looks for answers and tries to heal with his remaining family.

A story about the choice of either running away from your problems or making the right decisions to carry on, Pamela Harju’s debut novel is an emotional journey about coming of age and moving on even as your world collapses around you.

If you like strong characters, a distinctly Irish setting and a hint of the supernatural, buy THE TRUTH ABOUT TOMORROW and follow Kyle on his quest to find answers and happiness.

What are you reading?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Defenestration by Matthew W. McFarland

***I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review***



the act of throwing a thing, or especially a person out of a window

All it takes is one random deviation from the run of things to send a life spiraling out of control; An underachiever from the retail sector with a degree in geography and a taste for younger women. An attractive pharmacist with addiction issues. An enigmatic taxi driver with a penchant for theology. All three are brought together when Adam is thrown from the twelfth storey of an apartment complex in mysterious circumstances. As he falls towards almost certain death, he contemplates his fate, killer whales, flying cats, and the untapped potential of the human mind.


I loved this contemporary novella. It was written in Adam’s first person point-of-view, and switched into third person when showing how other characters fit the puzzle. The author did a brilliant job with characterization; every character was given a backstory, a personality, and they shined in whatever scene they were in.  Most importantly, the author did a great job of setting up the reveal of who could have possibly shoved Adam out of the window!

After he was pushed from the window, Adam met Gabriel and Michael. They helped him piece together the mystery of what had happened that night at the party. I really enjoyed reading about the anti-heroes of the story. Life had dealt them a terrible hand. By their own fault or bad luck?  You’ll have to read the story to find out.

Reading this novella reminded me of a Judd Apatow movie. I could picture Seth Rogen and James Franco as starring roles. The sarcasm really made me laugh.

My favorite lines: 1) When a week went by without any contact, she knew his laziness had overcome his libido. 2) “As I was falling, I looked back up, and there were two faces. We found one, so who was the other?”

I REOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby


Book Review: A Portrait for Shy by Justin Kenneth

Fans of We Were Liars will devour this psychological supernova.

At seventeen, Jared Sedgwick wanted to share his artwork with the world, marry his first love, and get the hell out of Vermont. But he put down the brush when his relationship fell to pieces, and his cracked phone still says it’s another cold day in Bennington.

He only opens up to his best friend Stan, the one who’s there for him when he feels suicidal, who listens to every word and sits through every heartbreaking detail just waiting for some cat food; Stan never offers much advice. But that’s okay now because Jared’s got a new story, and her name is Eloise. She’s a cat-loving bookworm with a passion for starting over, new in town from California, and she’s making him forget that he ever had a past.

It’s a fresh romance for both until she questions the whereabouts of his ex-girlfriend, soon to discover an awful truth much worse than cheating.

A PORTRAIT FOR SHY is a twist-riddled narration of undying love in the wake of tragedy, an upper-YA/crossover contemporary *Mature content novel.


***I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review***

The opening line, There’s this game I play with Stan called Scratch-me-if-you-can, where I tap behind his paws until he tears apart my hand, caught my attention right away. The story was told in Jared’s first person point of view, and Stan was his cat. I loved this story because Jared’s quirky personality kept my full attention. Picture this book as an indie quirky drama or a quirky romance movie. Something you’d see on Sundance or the IFC Channel.

Jared, Jared, Jared. From the beginning, it was clear he wasn’t all sane, but that made him endearing. I felt bad that he couldn’t let go of the past. He was in a love triangle with  his high school sweetheart Shy, and his new neighbor Eloise. I loved that everyone’s backstory was twist after twist. I’m all about mystery.

Even though my favorite scenes where of Jared bonding with Eloise and Shy, I wish there would’ve been a little more interaction with other people. They lived in Vermont, so I pictured a small town, which the author did a great job capturing Vermont’s beautiful landscape. I wanted to get a feel if his neighborhood found him odd or if he just faded in the background. I was happy that he became less lonely when Eloise arrived into town.

Eloise’s dialogue used alot of exclamation points. That made me think she was eccentric or youthful. My favorite line was There was a pause that swallowed. But I closed my eyes, and then I heard her voice. As a reader, I usually have a clear cut couple I’m shipping if there’s a love triangle. However, I really liked Shy and Eloise, both for different reasons.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Into the Deep End By Leesa Freeman

**I received a free copy in exchange for a honest review**

Before didn’t exist–not for Luke Stevenson–not anymore.

He once dreamt of winning Olympic gold and escaping his crappy little New Mexico town, but that dream shattered the night a drunk driver took his twin sister and confined him to a wheelchair. Mourning Bethany and struggling to cope with his new paraplegic life, Luke is blind with rage at everyone and everything.

Adriana Toomey, the only other survivor of the crash, can barely crawl out of bed after burying her fiancé, Luke’s best friend. But what haunts her most, she has no memory of that fatal night.

An old friend who manages a camp for special needs kids, strong-arms the broken pair to act as counselors for three weeks. Seeing each other again is painful. Luke reminds Adriana too much of the man she was going to marry. Luke, who secretly loves his best friend’s girl, has no idea how to be the kind of man any woman would want. Disabled and destroyed, what could he possibly have to offer now?

Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.

I loved this heartbreaking novel. I was wiping tears away left and right. The opening sentence: “Before didn’t exist. Not for me. Not anymore.” hooked my interest right away.  And, I thought it was cool that the main character was American Indian. I enjoyed hearing about some of his culture. 

My favorite line was: “You’re always alone. Ever since that night you’ve done nothing but be alone.”  The story was written in Luke’s first person point of view, which really highlighted how much he was broken. As a reader, I cared for Adriana since he loved her so much. I really rooted for them but sometimes you have to let someone you love go and be free.

The story focused on the camp, then Luke’s life afterward. This was a tearjerker, and had many uplifting scenes. I could see the story as a Lifetime movie because the author was able to capture a vivid picture with her descriptions. 

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Five Years (A Fire In Redbridge) By L.M. Langley

***I received a free copy in exchange for a review***

Nothing much ever happens in Redbridge. Nothing, until Nate, a bright young man who is visiting his family during his freshman year, drives over the town bridge and onto his death.

Casey watches as her high school sweet heart leaps to his death. Together with Alex, his best friend, she will look into what happened. How far are they willing to go for someone they may not have known at all?

Casey has always been an outsider in the small town of Redbridge. Her only tether was Nate. When he died, she turned to the person who had been closest to Nate when they were in school, best friend Alex. Casey doesn’t know that Alex has a few secrets of his own… secrets that are about to affect her life in unimaginable ways.

18755888I enjoyed this 20 chapter book. My favorite lines: 1) He sounded so far away, it almost felt pointless to answer him. 2) “I’m–I always wondered how much happier everyone would be if it had been you in that car…”

The story was written in Casey’s first person point-of view and Alex’s third person point-of-view. They hadn’t been friends even though they were both close to Nate, a friend who died in a car crash. I thought it was cool that Casey lost her memory after Nate’s car went over the bridge–sort of like the brain blocking painful memories. The mystery of if it was murder, suicide, or an accident was intriguing. Finding out the answers kept me motivated to continue reading until the end. It turned out that the Sheriff’s daughter, Clara, was crazy and pretty obsessive over Nate. Unrequited love. Did she have something to do with Nate’s brakes not operating correctly? You’ll have to read to find out.

L.M. Langley did a brilliant job of making me care for the characters. I’m a sucker for sympathetic characters. I felt bad that Casey returned to town; she was an outcast. She lost her ex-boyfriend and friend just like that, without any closure. Talk about a mind trip. I definitely, definitely, definitely felt sympathy for Alex and Nate. They held a secret that there was no reason to be ashamed of, but their small-minded town shunned them. Casey found out that Alex and Nate had hooked up once. I hated the way Alex’s mother treated him.

I loved the characterization. It helped that the story seemed character-centric, so it helped me feel like I was going on a journey with the main characters. Even the secondary characters were full of personality. I loved the drama and tension on all ends. Alex’s fiance broke up with him after his secret came out, Nate’s older brother had fathered a child with Alex’s ex-fiance. It was great how all the characters were three-dimensional. There definitely weren’t any Mary Sues or Gary Stus in the bunch. As a reader, my favorite characters tend to be the bad guys or villains.

What would you do if you wanted to get revenge? That was the main theme that Alex and Casey had to face throughout the book. From Nate’s journal entries, they figured out that Clara was sort of stalking him. They devised a plan to avenge their best friend’s death. They felt so lost and lonely without him. It was cool seeing the different stages of their relationship–first, Alex and Casey hated each other, which turned into an acquaintance-ship in order to find answers, which turned into becoming buddies. I always got a kick out of Alex asking to sleep on her couch.

At first, it was confusing because of the time jumps without any warnings. But once I figured out what was going on, it was pretty smooth sailing. It was a very interesting twist at the end, regarding Nate’s brother. I didn’t see it coming! It made the story even more clever. What would you do after you got closure? You’ll have to read the book to see what Alex and Casey decided to do.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Interview With L.M. Langley, Author of Five Years (A Fire In Redbridge)

I would love to welcome my special guest L.M. Langley, author of Five Years (A Fire In Redbridge). Please enjoy her insightful interview.


1.  Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

I think you just need to be patient. Be good, and keep your motivation up. I know it’s easier said than done, but it will pay off eventually.

2.  Do you have anything specific that you want to say to  your readers?

Thank you for giving my story a chance. I know it’s always a bit of a gamble to go for self-published writers so I hope it has paid off.

3.  What are your thoughts on the fact that both trade and self-published authors have to promote their own work?

I think it’s terrible, to be honest. If you are giving away a huge chunk of your royalties over a certain amount of time, you should get some marketing done for you. Now you do your own marketing and even if the Big Six are publishing you, there is nothing there but name association. It is a very difficult part of the process. I think the shift towards self-marketing is taking advantage of first time authors with trade publications.

4.  What genre do you write for? Your favorite aspect? Your least favorite aspect?

I write young adult books. I think of my books as consumable literary fiction–the type you could read in an airport, but have to think about to get. My favorite aspect is the actual writing. The planning is probably my least favorite part–I wish it could all just flow and fit perfectly.

5.  What are your current/next projects?

I have started working for a small alternative publishing house called Dark Nexus Fiction and should have something published by them very soon. My next novel is a coming of age set in Newcastle Upon Tyne and tentatively titled the City Steps.

6.  Do you prefer to work alone or with critique partners/beta-readers?

I usually do my first draft on my own and then call in the cavalry. I’m just one person and I make mistakes, so it is always useful to ask my writing group for feedback.

7.  How do you find time to write?

In between assignments. I guess that’s one of the advantages of being a freelance writer.

8.  Did you always want to become an author?

Yes, since I was very little.

9.  Is there any writing rituals you complete before creating your manuscripts/drafts?

Not particularly. If I have an idea, I write a paragraph, leave it for around a day and then reread it. If it clicks, I continue writing it.

10.  Do you write the beginning/opening first or do you tend to write out of order (with whatever scenes interest you the most)?

I always write the beginning first. I can’t just go around writing other scenes when they may be changing slightly as I write other things that lead up to them.

11.  Have you ever hated something you wrote?

Yes! All the time. Writing is hard and sometimes I’ve had to abandon projects because I hated them, even though I loved the concept.

12.  Which is the easiest for you–novel, novella, or short story? Why?

Probably a short story. I have a short attention span and I like words to be condescended. To me, good writing is tidy writing, and it is easy to get there with a short story.

13.  While you were writing, did you ever feel like you were one of your characters?

I really hope not! My characters are very flawed. I love them but I really hate them.

14.  How did you come up with the title?

Five Years was the song I was listening to on repeat while I was writing my book. It is also the span of time that the book takes. It’s not very specific, so I thought referencing a certain, pivotal event in the book was important.

15.  What inspired you to write your latest book? What is the book about?

I wanted to use an academic concept–The Death of the Author–and use it in a literal sense. I thought about the way that a young person would react if they could find someone else’s thoughts but they weren’t allowed to ask them any questions, especially if that person was not who they thought he was in the first place. The book is about these two young people trying to find closure after their friend dies and realizing that his death may not be an accident.

16.  Any blogs, websites, social media you’d like to share?

Sure. My author site, my Facebook, and my twitter:  @lmlangleyauthor.

Book Review: Triceratops By Marcus Gorman

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

A story of musicians, writers, painters, and alcoholics.

Set in New York City, Henry & Charlotte — two twentysomethings who never thought they’d see each other again — reunite for three short weeks filled with art, music, and liquor that cause them to rethink their relationships, their pasts, and their futures. Told from both Henry and Charlotte’s perspectives, Triceratops speaks to a generation of readers raised on nostalgia, sitcoms, antidepressants, and iPods.

16112760I loved this 8 part, no chapter book. I loved the author’s writing style, and I thought he was very talented with characterization and voice. Since he was very descriptive, I could picture this as an IFC or Sundance movie. But on the other hand, Henry and Charlotte (plus the other characters) were quirky, cool, witty that I could also picture the story as a Judd Apatow movie.

  • It was pretty intense when Xavier killed himself in front of Charlotte. She has to find a place to stay, and runs into Henry. They had hooked up once on the west coast. Henry had a crush on Sophia, and Noah had a crush on Charlotte. As a reader, I really enjoyed all the scenes where Henry and Charlotte hung out. I liked that she was very sarcastic, keeping him on his toes while he was the sensitive guy type. As a reader, I was really invested in their friendship, even hoping they may get back together again.

My favorite lines: 1) “There’s no honor in being a cockblock.” 2) “We need the what-the-fuck factor. Its power knows no bounds.” 3) “Confusion is a powerful weapon.” 4)  With Xavier, we can be silent for days and not have it be some kind of relationship red flag. Because it’s not a relationship. We hang out, we fuck a lot, I stay over but don’t live here, and neither one of us says anything about our goddamn feelings.

It was cool that Charlotte had complete knowledge of sitcoms. I enjoyed the references of taking it old school. As you can probably tell, she was my favorite. The story was told through Henry and Charlotte’s first person point-of-view. My favorite scenes: 1) when Noah confesses his feelings to Charlotte 2) when Henry and Charlotte first meet in New York 3) the stealing-the-painting heist 4) finding out Shelby and her boyfriend’s secret 5) the ending 6) all the scenes with the older female neighbor who loved Xavier but could care less about Charlotte.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby