US of Books~Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver~Arizona


Source: Public Library
Paperback, 342 pgs.

Entertainment Weekly says, “In this richly moving novel about a woman who returns home to take care of her father, Kingsolver draws heavily on the state’s Native American and Hispanic cultures.” (Arizona)

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver on its surface is about a broken young woman who finds that she is drawn back into the web of her childhood in Arizona. It’s a childhood that she doesn’t look back on fondly and one that she barely remembers, other than two tragic events and the distance between herself and her father. She had taken the best part of her childhood with her when she moved away, and that was her sister, Hallie. Codi is forced to return home to care for her father because Hallie has taken it upon herself to delve into the political jungles of Nicaragua to help people with their agriculture, despite the danger to herself.

“All morning I’d felt the strange disjuncture that comes from reconnecting with your past. There’s such a gulf between yourself and who you were then, but people speak to that other person and it answers; it’s like having a stranger as a house guest in your skin.” (pg. 40)

Codi is faced with some hard truths about her past and her father’s mythology about who her family is and was, but she also must face the harsh truth that she’s been running away from home since she was 15. She must learn to re-see the beauty in the Arizona dessert, mesas, farmland, and its people, who have a rich Native American history and connection to the land that is dying all around them. She’s a deeply flawed character who pursued a medical degree because she wanted to please her father, only to shy away from becoming a certified doctor by failing to complete her residency. She’s gun shy about relationships and she walks away at a moments notice, but it shouldn’t surprise those around her because she never really settles in — there are no pictures on the wall.

“Pay attention to your dreams: when you go on a trip, in your dreams you will still be home. Then after you’ve come home you’ll dream of where you were. It’s a kind of jet lag of the consciousness.” (pg. 9)

Readers should not expect the issue of the dying land or the environmental issues raised in the book to be resolved, and even the relationships Codi has with her father and her past boyfriend Loyd are a bit murky, though expected given the landscape and how little people speak to one another about their feelings. The weaving of Native American and Hispanic culture is well done, and it is through her time with Loyd that she begins to realize that she is not an outsider and that she never was. Home is where you belong, even if there is pain and heartache attached to it.

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver is meditative, disjointed, and almost dreamlike in places, but at its core, it is a journey through the heart of family and finding a place in it.

Rating: Quatrain (4 stars)

About the Author:

Barbara Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist, and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in Africa in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in Biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels. Her most famous works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a non-fiction account of her family’s attempts to eat locally. Her work often focuses on topics such as social justice, biodiversity, and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments. Each of her books published since 1993 have been on The New York Times Best Seller list.


US of Books~Black Hills by Dan Simmons~South Dakota


125US of Books



The week takes us to South Dakota with Black Hills by Dan Simmons (audio book narrated by Erik Davies and Michael McConnohie)

Entertainment Weekly says – Black Hills breathes life into the tale of a Sioux warrior believed General Custer’s ghost entered him at Little Big Horn.

3.5 Stars

buffalo-running Black Hills was a very interesting listen. It follows Paha Sapa a 10 year-old Sioux boy as he rides through the aftermath of the battle of Little Big Horn, to his time working on the construction of Mt. Rushmore, to his last days. Now interesting doesn’t necessarily mean good or bad, it was different. The first thing to note is the time line of the story. It begins when he is 10 then the next chapter he is in his late 60’s, then he is a man in his 20’s. It took a few chapters to figure out the time line and honestly it would have made an easier time of it if the tale had not jumped back and forth as it did. The second thing to note is that Paha Sapa believes that the ghost of General Custer enters him at the battle and he spends his life listening to the voice in his head. Okay…. that happened. It actually detracted from the main story and the letters from Custer to his wife were pretty graphic and not in a good way. I’m not sure if they were included to add some spice to the tale, but I don’t need to hear about Custer’s sex life and manhood *shudder*. Item three, was the immense length. The audio book was well over 20 hours and at times I grew frustrated with the needless antidotes and facts ( the Chicago’s World Fair had lots of stuff and you will hear about it all). Now on to the good things, the world building was superb and the images the story created were vivid. Paha Sapa is a character that felt deeply and I loved the emotion in him.

Black Hills is a book to read if you have a lot of time and are okay with being bogged down by details. The lush scenery it evoked was superb and I truly felt a part of Paha Sapa’s life. At the end I really did enjoy it, but a good 1/3 of the book was unnecessary to get the heart of the story across.

Favorite lines – Then the young men, streaming blood on their painted chests and backs, would stand and begin their dancing and chanting, leaning back from or toward the sacred tree so that their bodies were often suspended totally by the rawhide and horn under their muscles. And always they stared at the sun as they danced and chanted.





See all of the United States of Books here.


United States of Books-House Made of Dawn-New Mexico




House Made of Dawn

by N. Scott Momaday

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of a proud stranger in his native land.

He was a young American Indian named Abel, and he lived in two worlds. One was that of his father, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons, the harsh beauty of the land, the ecstasy of the drug called peyote. The other was the world of the twentieth century, goading him into a compulsive cycle of sexual exploits, dissipation, and disgust. Home from a foreign war, he was a man being torn apart, a man descending into hell.


This was a new kind of read for me. It was different. I’m still sort of reeling from the book. This book felt very political for me. Which I wasn’t expecting with in turn left a bitter taste in my mouth because then it felt that the author had an agenda that he wasn’t willing to divulge to his readers.

I wanted to enjoy the book, but it seemed mundane and wordy to me. I hope to read this again soon, and hopefully get a better feel, a deeper sense of what the author was trying to convey.

I did find it well written (minus the wordy-ness) and poetic, and even though this can be read in one sitting, I would recommend reading this more than once to better understand the contents, the quotes, the characters, and their relationships.

I do recommend this book.

I borrowed this book from my local library.



Sass by Laramie Briscoe

So, I’m finally getting back into the joy of reading again and I’m excited that today I have a new book review for y’all!!!


Synopsis from Amazon 

I, Cassandra Straight, have loved Reed Shamrock to distraction since I was a teenager. I even watched him fall in love with someone else and almost get married.

A year ago, when he walked into his house and found his fiance’s face in his best friend’s crotch, his life changed forever and it hasn’t been the same since.

On his first night out since the horrible incident, we run into the ex-skank. Seeing the devastation in his eyes, I made a promise that I would help him get over her. I told him that a pretend relationship between us would work. It would help him move on.

I didn’t count on my heart or his getting in the way. And I sure as hell didn’t count on not being able to tell when pretend turned to reality. When it all implodes, the only thing left is the truth.

Sometimes though, the truth? It hides and we have to dig deep to find it. To make it come to the surface, we have to give it a little talking to. We have to give it a little Sass.


You get a lot of the story from the synopsis above. This books is about Cassandra “Sass” and her brother’s best friend, Reed Shamrock. Each chapter goes back and forth between Reed’s perspective and Sass’s perspective. Basically, Reed has had his heart shattered when he comes home early from work and finds his fiancee, Lacey, in a rather compromising position with his other best friend, Taylor. Moral of the story: You never know what you are going to find at home when you come home unexpectedly.


The book then fast forwards to one  year later and Reed, Sass, and her brother, Justin, are at the bar and they run into “good riddance” aka Lacey and Taylor, who are know a couple. Sass comes up with a plan to pretend that she and Reed are now a couple to make Lacey jealous. Reed, slowly getting over the humiliation of his heartbreak, goes along with it.


Sass’s brother, Justin, knows this isn’t going to end well for his sister and isn’t very supportive of this game that Sass and Reed are playing, but let the games begin between Reed and Sass. Reed and Sass start “dating” but things start to change when Reed realizes that Sass isn’t his best friend’s little sister anymore and the sparks starts to fly between Sass and Reed, but is it real?


When you start a relationship on a lie, you question everything. Is Reed really falling for Sass?  Does Sass figure out Reed really isn’t the man of her dreams? Will good riddance ruin any chance for Sass and Reed? You will have to read the book.

I give this book three out of four “parking lots”. (See rating system here). I will say that I did read the book in one night.

Sass can be purchased at Amazon here.

Our Last Time by Cristy Marie Poplin #BookReview


Our Last Time: A Novel

Cristy Marie Poplin



New Adult/Coming of Age


This book involves the relationship of Willow and Kennedy. The books goes back and forth between the present time and current time to tell their engaging love story. Willow and Kennedy have been best friends since elementary school, but Kennedy previously had a brain tumor when he was younger that was easily treated. Now at 18, Kennedy has terminal brain cancer and only has a few months to live.

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Willow is leaving for college in Chicago as Kennedy does not want to watch him die. Their last night together, the two give themselves to each other, and Willow leaves for Chicago and Kennedy passes away.

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After their passionate one night, Kennedy leaves something behind for Willow.

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A daughter, Annette. For some reason, Willow has chosen not to reveal to her family and others that Kennedy is her daughter’s father.

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As time passes on, Willow has become a nurse and raising her daughter when she meets school teacher, Wyatt. Wyatt is a patient at the hospital she works for after having his second heart attack as a result of a defective heart. Willow is able to start to open her heart to Wyatt.

Will Willow finally reveal to her family and to Kennedy’s family  the truth that Kennedy is her daughter’s father? Will Willow be able to fully give her heart to Wyatt or will Wyatt’s heart condition be to much? You will have to read the book.

This book was truly a bittersweet read. The story is so acquiescently written and full of heart. Every page either left me with a smile or left me in tears. It truly was a bittersweet read. I give it four out of four “BLUE ROSES”. See rating system HERE!

Thank you for the author for providing with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.








Cristy Marie Poplin is a South Carolinian who currently lives in the state of Connecticut. She’s a young, independent author who aims to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in English within the next 4-5 years. She is also a freelance journalist and selective cover designer. The Pact of Strength is her debut novel which she self-published on May 1st, 2015.

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