Tag: 5 stars

The Caretaker

The Caretaker
Author: Dan Klefstad

Published:  February 1, 2017  in issue 209 of Crack the Spine Literary Magazine
Date Read: January 9, 2017

My Rating: 5 Stars

Short Story Summary:

Daniel is about to retire after decades of working for a vampire. He’s writing a letter to the applicant who wishes to succeed him; a letter that’s part memoir and part advice. We never hear regret in Daniel’s words, but we get a sense of the sacrifices he made to be able to spend his remaining years in peace and luxury.

My Review:

The Caretaker is a short story and is written as a letter from Daniel to the applicant chosen to replace him, as a message and warning about the job. We are the applicant in this instance and we are warned if we continue reading the letter and don’t take the job it could prove very dangerous. Dan Klefstad pulls you in to this short story from the beginning. You can’t help but read on, despite Daniel’s warning… Do we read on fellow applicant? Yes, we do!

Daniel gives lots of advice on what to do and not to do with our new employer with great care otherwise we will meet disastrous results. Then he goes into part of his story as a caretaker giving us an idea what we are in for by taking this job. It is not an easy job or life that Daniel had working as a caretaker. He earned his money. But at what cost? We must continue reading The Caretaker to know everything…

I highly enjoyed The Caretaker. It is a short story that Dan Klefstad is working to expand into a full length novel. I find myself anticipating that future novel. Do yourself a favor and get this issue of Crack the Spine and read Dan Klefstad’s short story!

The Caretaker is recommend.  Issue 209 of Crack the Spine will be out TOMORROW!

If I Was Your Girl

Author:  Meredith Russo

Published: May 3, 2016
Dates Read: January 1-11, 2017

My Rating: 5 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret, and she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself, including her past. But Amanda’s terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that at her old school, she used to be Andrew. Will the truth cost Amanda her new life, and her new love?

My Review:

If I Was Your Girl is powerful and important book. It is Amanda’s story: She is transgender and finishing her senior year of high school living with her dad after an incident occurred while she was living with her mom. It has been many years since she has seen her father. The chapters alternate between the past and present to give us Amanda’s full story in the order we need to learn everything.

If I was Your Girl is a Young Adult novel, but I think everyone should read this book. For those of us that are not transgender we can be called ‘cisgender’ (a person whose identity and gender corresponds with their biological sex) and we can see a fictionalized story of what transgender people can go through. The author, Meredith Russo is a transgender woman. She does a very good job getting us in the head of a teenage transgender girl. We see Amanda’s pain when she was Andrew. We grow to love Amanda and root for her. We see all sides of Amanda’s journey: her parents facing the fact that they are ‘losing’ their son, but gaining a daughter, Amanda’s new friends, and a possible love. Amanda does her best to keep her distance from Grant and keeping her secret from her friends. She doesn’t know how they will react if they know she was Andrew. She is torn with this, especially when it comes to Grant, as they get closer.

Meredith Russo wrote an afterword that answers some questions the reader may have had as they were reading the book, and even some answers to questions you may not have even realized you had! She writes to both her ‘cisgender readers’ and ‘trans readers’ and explains why she wrote the book the way she did. She explains that she is a story teller, not an educator. Her story is very different from Amanda’s and doesn’t want us to take Amanda’s story as fact. Every transgender person has a different story, and they can be as varied as ours. The Author’s Notes (narrated by the author) is just as important as the novel and needs to be read.

The narrator of the audiobook is Samia Mounts and she does a superb job. A narrator can make or break an audiobook and she shines through the novel! Her voice is perfect for Amanda and the performance is phenomenal. You really feel everything Amanda feels through Samia Mounts’ narration.

The original cover which is shown at the beginning of this post is of transgender model Kira Conley. She is beautiful and I actually pictured her as Amanda as I was listening to the book.

If I Was Your Girl is a novel that will make you think. It is highly recommended. Another book I recommend is Becoming Nicole by Amy Ellis Nutt. This is a true story of a transgender girl, her twin brother and her fight for acceptance.


Stop the World

Author: Sherry Mayes
216 pages in Kindle

Published: December 13, 2015
Dates Read: December 28, 2016- January 7, 2017

My Rating: 5 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

Inspired by a true story


Jody Angel Taylor believes her life is all mapped out: Glamorous, clever and popular, and due to marry her handsome boyfriend, she has it all. Until one night she has a devastating car crash, ending up paralyzed — and her perfect world collapses.

Committing media suicide and publicly blamed for her own accident, everything around her falls apart. She becomes a lonely recluse, feeling she’s lost everything including her legs — her boyfriend to her best friend, her father to an affair, her mother to depression — but above all she fears losing her mind. What she doesn’t know is that someone across the globe is about to throw her a lifeline. Can she find the courage to take it? Determined to love again and clear her name, she embarks on a new adventure that will transform her life beyond all expectations.

My Review:

Jody Angel Taylor has it all: She is a beauty queen, popular, has a new car, and just got engaged. She is also vain, shallow, and the typical self absorbed teenager. Then one night she is involved in a serious car accident and her life changes forever.

Jody is the narrator in Stop the World. She feels her life is over since she is now paralyzed from the waist down. She has a devastating interview, then people begin to blame her for the accident. Besides losing her freedom as she can’t walk anymore, Jody begins to lose everything else in her life in various ways: her best friend, her fiance, and her father. She tailspins into a depression and becomes a recluse of sorts and then she meets someone online. Things start to change for Jody. She begins to feel better about herself, but her journey is far from over. Can she come to terms with everything that has happened to her and what her life could become with being paralyzed?

Sherry Mayes does an incredible job of putting us in Jody’s head. We experience everything as Jody does. You don’t expect to like Jody as she is not likeable in the beginning, but as Jody changes, we grow to like her and begin to root for her. We see her challenges as she becomes determined to be able to walk again despite her doctor telling her that she never will. There are many times you can’t help but root for Jody. There are times you feel the things that Jody goes through. You want there to be a happy ending for her. As I was reading Stop the World, you can tell that Sherry Mayes did her research with showing the physical therapy that Jody goes through and setbacks that she also experiences. This is not a novel about loss, but a novel about the journey of a young woman and ultimately who she becomes.

Stop the World is based on a true story. I can’t help but want to know the actual story and learn about the young woman that this book is based on. If it is anything similar to Stop the World, it is a powerful story.

Stop the World is recommended.