Review: Grey Matters by Kristen Costello

Struggle is universal. But talking about it? Well, that’s not always encouraged – especially when those struggles involve mental illness.

Grey Matters is a poetry collection that urges us to have conversations about the things we’re told to suppress – to bring our darkness to light. It provides refreshingly honest and relatable depictions of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders while also offering sparks of hope to readers – healing may not be a linear process, but over time, it is possible. Things aren’t always black and white: Sometimes, the very thing you’re fighting (your own mind) can also be what saves you.

A beautiful collections of poems that are honest and raw about mental health. Kristen Costello has quickly become one of my favorite poets to put out a collection based on mental health. She is so real and holds nothing back. Her poems are full of beautiful sound – the alliteration in many of her poems creates almost lyrics as you read.

Just in the first poem, “Swallowing Shadows,” I got goosebumps at the line: “This is how we choke – / by swallowing words / we want to spit”.

The book is separated into four sections: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, healing. It weaves a great pathway through the mind and all of the intrusive thoughts we experience along the way.

I’ve already purchased a copy for myself and have recommended it to everyone I know.

Purchase your copy here and let me know what you think!

Review: The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent by Ann Jacobus

Eighteen-year-old Del is in a healthier place than she was a year and a half ago: She’s sober, getting treatment for her depression and anxiety, and volunteering at a suicide-prevention hotline. Her own suicide attempt is in the past, and living in San Francisco with her beloved aunt has helped her see a future for herself.

But when Aunt Fran is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Del’s equilibrium is shattered. She’s dedicated herself to saving every life she can, but she can’t save Fran. All she can do is help care for her aunt and try to prepare herself for the inevitable—while also dealing with a crush, her looming first semester at college, and her shifts at the crisis line.

After Aunt Fran asks for her help with a mind-boggling final request, Del must confront her own demons and rethink everything she thought she knew about life and death.

This book kept me up reading until 3am because I was so pulled into the emotion and drama.

“The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent” is an emotional teen novel that doesn’t hold back. Suffering from depression and anxiety and not far removed from an attempt on her own life, Del is finding herself again and looking forward to college. Things are well until she learns her Aunt Fran has cancer again and has an unthinkable request. Not to mention, her distant crush is in town adding another layer of stress and frustration. The relationship between the Del and everyone around her creates a very strong emotional pull that makes you soak in every word.

A five star book about grief, mental health, and family to get you in your feelings.

Purchase it here!

Thank you to Netgalley and Lerner Publishing Group for an advanced copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

*Trigger Warning: This book involves discussions of suicidal ideation and references to suicide. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, have any questions about suicide, are worried about a loved one and seeking guidance, or simply need a listening ear, you can call or text 988 or call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). Both of these numbers connect to the confidential, anonymous Lifeline network of crisis lines in all fifty US states.

Review: Desperate Paths by E.C. Diskin

Synopsis: In Eden, the truth can have deadly consequences.

Brooklyn Anderson knows it looks bad. She was found wiping down a gun. Her father now dead. His blood on her hands. The incomprehensible nightmare has started.


Seven days earlier, Brooklyn had returned to Eden to care for her beloved father, who lay helpless in a hospital bed. Her estranged sister, Ginny, said he fell. But as Brooklyn soon realizes, Ginny is prone to lying.

Former Eden resident Darius Woods was in the hospital too. The famous actor had written a screenplay that would lay bare all the secrets of the town, but within hours of his return, someone shot him.

As the Woods investigation proceeds, and Brooklyn starts to question everything she believes about her family, her neighbors, and her home, secrets and lies begin to unravel. But nothing can prepare her for where those lies will finally lead.

And sharing the truth of what happened the night her father died might just make things worse. 

Review// E.C. Diskin reached out to me to review her newest book, Desperate Paths, because I thoroughly enjoyed one of her previous novels Broken Grace (click here for the review). Upon reading even just the first few pages of this new one, I knew I was in for a fun ride once again.

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Book Review: Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark by Addie Zierman

Synopsis: How do you know God is real?
In the emotionally-charged, fire-filled faith in which Addie Zierman grew up, the answer to this question was simple: Because you’ve FELT him.

Now, at age 30, she feels nothing. Just the darkness pressing in. Just the winter cold. Just a buzzing silence where God’s voice used to be.

So she loads her two small children into the minivan one February afternoon and heads south in one last-ditch effort to find the Light.

In her second memoir, Night Driving, Addie Zierman powerfully explores the gap between our sunny, faith fictions and a God who often seems hidden and silent.

Against the backdrop of rushing Interstates, strangers’ hospitality, gas station coffee, and screaming children, Addie stumbles toward a faith that makes room for doubt, disappointment, and darkness…and learns that sometimes you have to run away to find your way home.

Review // It took me longer than I’d like to admit to finish this book. I’ll admit that this is one of the first nonfiction/memoir-type novels that I’ve read in quite awhile. My typical choice of book is a thriller of sorts.

Night Driving is not a thriller, but rather it’s a book that pulls you from page to page with its raw emotion. Continue reading

Review: DEFIER: The Girl Who Stood by Mandy Fender 

SynopsisIn a world at war, one girl’s faith makes her a soldier… Seventeen-year-old Lennox Winters is no stranger to loss. She’s lost her parents, her home, and is in constant danger of losing herself. As she struggles with what to believe she encounters Christ in a way that she cannot ignore. Kept alive by her newfound faith and accompanied by her loyal best friend, Lennox bravely emerges into a world at war on a quest for the truth. Only after Lennox has journeyed through perilous territory, eluded biologically altered predators, and overcomes the most intense of challenges does the real work begin.


I found a sponsored ad for this book on Facebook one day, and the plot summary had me intrigued from the start. It’s super easy for Christian fiction to get missed by most readers, and that is a shame.

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Review: When Life Hands You a Lemon by Mike Hansen

SynopsisDan Lemon is a man of routine who has unknowingly lost his imageway. One fateful afternoon at work, he is introduced to three criminals who take him hostage and shake up his schedule.
Dan now only has one choice, to confront his life’s fears, failings and wants. Is one day enough to change your life?

Review // This book had some of the most interesting characters I have read in a long time. I read a lot of the same genre of novels (I really should branch out, but eh), and a lot of characters get lost in the story. By that I mean, making sure that the story is thrilling and has no plotholes, and ensuring that the story is keeping the reader reading, but in turn, letting characterization fall to the wayside. (Does that make sense?)

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Review: Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán

Synopsis: Libby Miller has always been an unwavering optimist—but  when her husband drops a bomb on their marriage the same day a doctor delivers devastating news, she realizes her rose-colored glasses have actually beenLife and Other Near-Death Experiences blinding her.

With nothing left to lose, she abandons her life in Chicago for the clear waters and bright beaches of the Caribbean for what might be her last hurrah. Despite her new sunny locale, her plans go awry when she finds that she can’t quite outrun the past or bring herself to face an unknowable future. Every day of tropical bliss may be an invitation to disaster, but with her twin brother on her trail and a new relationship on the horizon, Libby is determined to forget about fate. Will she risk it all to live—and love—a little longer?

Review //

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Review: Broken Grace by E.C. Diskin

Synopsis: On an icy winter’s day in southwest Michigan, Grace Abbot wakes up as the survivor of a car crash. But she’s left with a traumatic brain injury and a terrifying reality: she can’t remember anything.

Left in the care of her sister, Grace returns to the family’s secluded old farmhouBroken Gracese to recover—but within an hour of her return, the police arrive. Grace’s boyfriend has been murdered. Without any memory, Grace has no alibi.

With suspicion weighing heavily on her and flashes of memory returning, Grace searches for clues to her past. But with every glimpse, her anxiety grows. There is something about the house, her family, her childhood…perhaps the accident isn’t the only reason she can’t remember. Are the dark recesses of her mind hiding something even more sinister and terrifying than she could ever imagine?

And someone is watching. Someone willing to kill again to protect a secret.

My review //

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