Jul 21, 2019

Review: The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison (The Collector, Book 1)

The Gardner loves butterflies and collects them to keep in his private garden. The garden is his secret place where he lives out his twisted reality. But his butterflies are young, teenage girls he abducts and holds prisoner, raping them whenever he wants. He gives them all new names and tattoos them with butterfly wings. In his sick mind he thinks he is caring for them and loving them in his own way. The girls who live in the garden don’t have much in the way of hope to escape but the bonds they share give them strength to live another day.

My Thoughts 

I really struggled to get through this book. It had been on my TBR list for a while and I remember all of the hype when it was first published. Having read it now, I can say that I am glad it was only 280 pages but it sure felt like a lot more.

Let me be clear, it wasn’t the dark, disturbing content that bothered me as I do enjoy dark and twisty thrillers. I will also say Hutchison has a unique ability to weave a very intricate, detailed story. However, I just felt it took for ever to tell the story and it didn’t change much through the pages. I was waiting for the twists and turns that some reviewers raved about but were absent in my view. I found the interaction between one of the girls in the FBI agents very tedious and sluggish. The one twist that came at the end left me more baffled than anything and not exactly worth the wait.

Probably the only reason I finished the book is because it was only 280 pages. Any longer and I would have had to question if I should continue. That being said, I doubt very much if I read the second book in the series. Again, I give the author credit for such a intricate, detailed story but the pace and the outcome just wasn’t enough for me.

Published 2016, Thomas & Mercer

Jul 9, 2019

Review: Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

In this story of three teenage sisters in rural Western Canada, the reader is taken on a terrifying, suspenseful journey of survival. On the run from an abusive home life, these young sisters find themselves in yet another dangerous situation. They will do whatever they have to do to get to a safe place where they can start new lives and forget the past. The story spans almost 20 years and confirms that you can run from your past but that it’s always with you.

My thoughts:

This is one of the toughest books I’ve ever rated. I was all over the place trying to decide on my rating. There was a point when I decided I didn’t like it and I probably wouldn’t read another of her books, but as I kept reading, there were times I thought Wow! Maybe I don’t dislike this book as much as I thought. Talk about mixed feelings!

First of all, the violent content of this book, especially in part one, made it very difficult for me to get through. That said, the intensity is what kept me going. Part two wasn’t as riveting but it showed how the girls were able to move on and I didn’t hate it. The part that really frustrated me was part three with two of the characters making bad decision after bad decision. By this time, I was invested and had to see it through. Surprisingly, by the end of the book my attitude had softened a little bit and I even got choked up.

The bottom line is that I’m glad I stuck with it, I liked the way the book ended, but I think it’ll be a while before I read another of Chevy Stevens’ books. This is the third book of hers I’ve read. (Still Missing and That Night) and it occurs to me this is how I feel after each of her books. Very conflicted. I’m torn between having problems with the story but unable to look away due to the suspense. Kind of like a car wreck you see on the side of the road. You don’t really want to look but you want to know what’s going on. That’s the best way I can describe how I feel about this book. For me, I gave extra marks for the intensity and the ending.

Published in 2015, St. Martin’s Press

Jun 19, 2019

2019  Summer Reading

I know it’s not quite summer yet, but I’m sure most of you are well on your way into your summer reading choices, and there are a lot out there to choose from. I’ve been lucky enough to have received some great books this season for review and I’ve shared them on my Southern Girl Reeds Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/Southern-Girl-Reads-295150096094/ ). Here’s a list of some of the books I’ve recently shared:

  • SUNSET BEACH by Mary Kay Andrews
  • MINE by Courtney Cole
  • MAN OF THE YEAR by Caroline Louise Walker
  • THE GOOD SISTER by Gilian McAllister
All of these new books were great reads and I recommend them highly. Caroline Louise Walker is a stand out as a debut writer. 

I’m currently listening to another recently published book by Patti Callahan Henry. THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER was released earlier this month. I’ll be finishing it up this week and posting my review very soon.

I’m also listening to EDUCATED By Tara Westover, the critically acclaimed memoir from last year. That review will be forthcoming as well.

Along with the new books, I’m also sharing some that have been out for a while, though I am just getting around to reading them. These days, most of the books I’m reading are mysteries, Thrillers, with some contemporary fiction thrown in. There is one classic on the list that I am especially excited about and that is MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.

This summer is sure to be a great reading experience for me, as I am on a reading binge lately and can’t seem to get enough! I hope you’ll check back periodically, either here, or the FB page and check out my thoughts on these books.

Happy summer reading!

Feb 14, 2019

Blog Update

Hello everyone! I wanted to post this update to let everyone know what’s going on lately with Southern Girl Reads. As you can see, if you scroll down, there haven’t been many postings since early last year. Though I kept reading, it became harder and harder for me to maintain the blog the way I wanted. As some of you may be aware, my vision has deteriorated significantly over the last year and it has become impossible for me to see my computer screen any longer. Luckily, with the help of accessibility features on my Kindle and audiobooks I’ve been able to keep reading. I took a break from writing reviews for a while. It was a trying time coming to terms with losing the ability to create my blog the way I wanted to.  In fact, I still have my PC stored in my closet! I don’t really know why but just having it there makes me feel better in a way. I guess you could say I haven’t totally let go. With the help of my iPhone and the Blogger app, which I’m using now, I can still post to the blog but  i’m still a little clumsy with it. I haven’t fully figured out how to utilize all the tools and manage the layout the way I used to. That’s why a lot of the images and updates have not been done. It drives me crazy!

A short time ago I started writing reviews again and posted them on the Facebook page instead because it was much simpler for my eyes. You can easily find Southern Girl Reeds on Facebook via the search box. I invite you to come and like my page to keep up with the books I’m reading and reviewing.

I’ll be checking in periodically here on the blog but for now my reviews will be on the Facebook page. I hope you’ll check back from time to time and keep in touch. Feel free to leave a comment, either here, or on the Facebook page. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this post.

Happy reading!


Feb 23, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey

For the past few years I’ve been making the same New Year’s resolution: to live a more positive life and to avoid negative influences. It’s a great resolution and I had good intentions but each time after several weeks or months I would find myself falling back into old habits, letting negativity back into my life. In the last few years I’ve had a lot of changes in my life, some really good but some very upsetting. As a result it’s become even more imperative that I find a way to bring permanent positivity into my daily life. In the past i’ve dabbled in meditation with little luck mainly because I was not well-versed and just didn’t know what I was doing and eventually stopped the practice. I didn’t feel I was doing it right since I had trouble turning off my brain long enough to meditate. 

I’d been familiar with Oprah’s show, Super Soul Sunday and had enjoyed watching it a few times. When I discovered Oprah had compiled a few of the interviews from the show and incorporated them into a book I was instantly intrigued, especially with regard to the audio version.

My Thoughts on the Book

I’ll admit that this book came into my life at the exact time I was looking for what it offers and what it offers, among other things, is clarity and knowledge on a subject that can be very daunting. 

Oprah’s introduction to this book only made me more anxious to get started listening. It was filled with the promise of helping sort out questions I had regarding finding peace in my life. Before listening to this book I was unfamiliar with any of the guests in the interviews.

Michael A.  Singer, author of the best-selling book The Untethered Soul, is the first person interviewed. I’m not exaggerating when I say that  I was totally sucked in. The message in this and the other interviews is not a complicated one on the surface but you need to dig deeper to achieve the peace of mind and calm you are looking for and this book, with advice from these experts in the field show you how to do it. I would say this book is more like an overview, giving you the trolls and references needed for further study.

This is a book that I will go back to and listen to again and again for I believe I will hear something new each time. I plan to read several of the books from the guests in these interviews. If you are like me and you are in a place where you are sincerely ready to make a change for mindfulness and a higher level of spirituality, you should definitely consider reading this book. I found it to be a terrific first step towards a more peaceful existence.

My Thoughts on the Audio:

I absolutely loved the audio version of this book. Oprah narrates the introduction and the beginning of each chapter setting up what will be discussed. Actual audio clips are then inserted so you are listening to actual excerpts from the Super Soul Sunday programs. It’s almost like you’re eavesdropping on a private conversation Oprah is having with each guest. I found it to be intriguing, insightful, and I could’ve listened for many more hours. At only about six hours long, it’s easy to finish in one sitting.

The Bottom Line:

You may not agree with everything in this book but if you’re looking for a deeper level of calm and hoping to attain a higher level of spirituality I suggest trying this book. It has inspired me to continue learning how I can Live a more positive life just by changing the way I think. If that’s what you’re looking for I encourage you to listen to this book.

Jan 7, 2018

Happy New Year!

This is my first post of 2018 and marks my 10th year of blogging here on Southern Girl Reads. I honestly never expected to be Writing and sharing my love of books for this long but I am thrilled just the same. Although I have to admit, this will more than likely be my last year. As many of you may know I suffer from a Progressive retinal disease that is slowly taking more and more of my vision. I have been able to hang on much longer than I thought. As you will see there will be many changes in the way I post. My reviews will not have as many links or images as normal. These days it is extremely difficult for me to use my regular computer so thanks to modern technology I am using my iPhone to publish my posts. It’s a bit awkward, especially in the beginning, but I’m hoping it will become easier as time goes on. I use the dictate feature on my phone now so I must apologize in advance for any grammatical errors that may occur. I will try my hardest to catch them before posting but I’m sure some will sneak by me. I only ask that you bear with me and excuse my errors. I appreciate so much the loyalty of my readers and of my fellow bloggers who over these last 10 years have become friends for life. Some of you I’ve gone on to become friends on Facebook and other social media and those relationships mean a lot to me. Now that I have all of that over with, let’s get back to the books!

For this post I simply wanted to lay out what my goals are for this coming year. It has dawned on me that I have so many books on my Kindle that have been unread and I want to correct that. Though I will be reviewing new releases, I plan to spend a lot of time reading books from my TBR pile that I have had for some time. They may not all be current releases but I promise they will be interesting and, who knows, you may see some books you’ve never heard of before. 

Though I haven’t posted in a few months I have been reading quite a lot. Now that I have this app to help me post from my phone I will be going back and posting reviews of books I recently read. They consist of fiction, nonfiction and even some audio book reviews

I hope you will join me in this, my last year of blogging. I still have a lot of books I want to share with you. I’m very excited about the first audio book I’m reading this year. It’s by Oprah Winfree called The Wisdom of Sundays. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a book about positivity and goodness knows we need all of the positivity we can get in this crazy world. I plan to start listening to it this week but in the meantime I have some other audio reviews to share.

Thanks for stopping by on this Sunday and I look forward to posting again soon. I wish you all a happy new year full of wonderful books!

Sep 14, 2017

Audio Review: I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart

When I choose an audio of an autobiography or memoir I always hope it's narrated by the author. Especially in the case of Kevin Hart's book, I CAN'T MAKE THIS UP: Life Lessons.  My wish came true and knew I had to make time for this audiobook. The book is longer than some autobiographies but that didn't matter to me because the content was so engaging. Having Kevin narrate his own story gave it such a conversational feel. Like he was speaking directly to me. No one knows Kevin Hart better than Kevin Hart and he did a fabulous job of reading his book.

Like the title says, Kevin shares life lessons he has learned that helped make him the successful person he is today. He does it in a way that doesn't come across as preachy. He tells the stories of his life growing up with a very strict and religious mother and while he may not have appreciated her efforts at the time, he is smart enough to look back now and realize how valuable those lessons were and shares them with readers.

Hart is very candid about his relationship with his father, who was not always there for him and his mom and older brother. It became apparent to me that he has a huge capacity for forgiveness when it comes to his father. Though he can't relate to the drug use that controlled his dad, he accepted that that was who he was at that time and learned not to expect too much from him. He could've easily followed that path but with his sheer will and the guiding, sometimes overwhelming rules his mother set for him, he stayed on the straight and narrow path and never did drugs.

What surprised me about the book was how poignant and deep it was espeicially when discussing his parents and later, his kids. You think of Kevin "the funny man" but the vulnerability he showed was so very genuine. I'm not a super fan and I've only seen a few of his movies, but after listening to this audiobook, I am more of a fan than before. I respect his morals and how he doesn't let people influence or compromise what he believes.

Though this book is for all fans/readers, I feel like his target audience is for young, black men who haven't quite figured out their own path yet. He is sincere when interpreting the lessons he's learned and hopes to pass on. This book is a gem for that demographic but again, you don't have to be young and black to enjoy it. He doesn't come across as all-knowing or condescending. He's just Kevin.

If you enjoy autobiographies, you should add this one to your list, especially in the audiobook format. It's easily on my list of favorites.

I CAN'T MAKE THIS UP: Life Lessons
Author: Kevin Hart
Narrator: Kevin Hart
Publisher: Audible Studios
Published: June 2017
Length: 11 Hrs 14 Mins