Book Review: Shackled


Title: Shackled
Author: Angela Carling
Release Date: June 2012
Length: 204 pages
Series?: no
Genre: thriller
Format: e-book
Source: author

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After shy, quiet Lucy and her family move from their small hometown in Minnesota to Seattle, Washington, she is surprised when Ryan, the most popular boy at school, asks her out. Soon, she is swept up in a whirlwind romance and her naive and trusting nature allows her to fall head over heels in love with her too-good-to-be-true suitor. Suddenly, Lucy finds herself enraptured by the excitement of her new relationship, leaving her blinded to the warning signs of danger ahead. Can her fairy tale romance last, or will she find that her prince charming is more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing?


If you know a young lady, please buy this book and give it to her – no matter if she’s 14 or 34. This is a story she needs to hear…maybe a story she’s finding herself living in, or suspect’s a friend is living in.

Carling writes a crystal clear picture of a controlling, abusive relationship when young Lucy and her family move to Washington. Ryan is a pretty, rich boy who takes an instant liking to Lucy, but things soon start becoming too much. Ryan cuts Lucy off from his friends, isolates her and performs damage control when he’s on the verge. When her parents announce they are going to Mexico for spring break, Lucy’s wolf in sheep’s clothing starts shedding his wool, and she realizes she’s living in a private hell.

This novel is very well-written, told in first-person by Lucy. There are alternating chapters between Lucy, Ryan and Mason (for the most part). Lucy’s character development is very real – scarily real. This topic hit close to home for Carling, with a loved one experiencing this kind of relationship for years. Carling admits in a note following the last chapter that she felt she had to write Lucy’s story, and at times she was so sickened she had to walk away from her writing. Carling has superbly written a story about abusive, controlling relationships that rings with a sad truth: women, beautiful, successful women of all ages all over are living through their own personal hells – maybe sometimes through self-creation – and they are too fearful and intimidated to follow the steps that will lead to their freedom.


I cannot express enough how much Carling’s story of Lucy and Ryan resonated with me, and how much I want to share this novel. Maybe it’s because I was Lucy a few years ago. I had a friend who was Lucy at the same time. It was scary to see my thoughts from a short time ago reflected back at me in these pages, the thoughts I had as a friend of Lucy about my friend’s suddenly possessive and obsessive relationship.

I have shared a few of Lucy’s thoughts below. If any of the bolded terms strike you about a friend, please reach out to them, proper groups that can provided help and support, or local law enforcement. There is a way out, a light at the end of the tunnel.

No one is coming for me. He made sure of that. The worst part is that I let him. I even defended him when my friends warned me and then eventually left me, growing tired of my excuses.

I first let myself be caught up in the deep pool of his addictive pale blue eyes. They captured me, holding me suspended in what could be, and then reflected back my vulnerabilities with stunning accuracy.

For me, so much had changed. Being miles from him had helped me really see the flaws in our relationship for the first time. The fairy tale was tainted, yet I still wasn’t willing to walk away. I could not deny that I loved him and that love was a powerful motivator that kept bringing me back to him, far more powerful than anything he gave me to wear.

Maybe I was scared of the direction my relationship with Ryan was heading. Either way, I found myself longing to dive into the cool blue water.

Fear was trying to claw its way to the top, but I subdued it, telling myself that it would be alright, that Ryan loved me.

Romanticism won out, and I chose to believe that his physical aggression was an anomaly, a onetime mishap that he was driven to by my own stupidity.

Bound to him through love or guilt, and he knew from being raised by his father that those were two of the most powerful emotions on the earth.

For some reason, I knew this was a critical moment that I had to rise to the challenge. If I didn’t, if I let him shove me down one more time, especially without a fight, I was afraid that I would disintegrate into nothingness, becoming permanently small and insignificant. Then he would own me and I would disappear altogether.

TitlePic2About the Author

I was born and raised in Palm Springs, California and after living in several different states ended up back in yet another desert in Arizona, where I reside with my husband, three kids and five cats.  We’ve now lived here for ten years and haven’t melted yet, although we have fried eggs on the sidewalk. We love to escape to our cabin in the mountains or to my favorite place, the beach. I have several obsessions, including my passion for all kinds of music and my inability to stop buying cheap jewelry. I am often caught singing in public bathrooms, just for the acoustics, or rollerblading through my neighborhood while singing loudly to whatever is playing on my iPod. I love to have lots of flowers in my garden and shiny things in my house.  My favorite holiday of all (going along with the shiny things theme) is Christmas. All in all, I consider myself the luckiest, most blessed person alive and am so happy to have this opportunity to write and also to share my writing with other people!

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Book Review: The Recipe Box

The Recipe Box
The Recipe Box

Title: The Recipe Box

Author: Sandra Lee
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: July 2013
Length: 225 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Chick Lit, Cooking
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased @ Scholastic book fair
Challenge: n/a

First off, this book is written by a woman who hosts several different DIY type TV shows, and throughout the book she has included recipes that correspond with the foods mentioned in the book. There are 16 recipes listed in an index at the back of the book. I fully intend to try out some of the recipes.

This book delves into the complexities of a woman’s mind, and the relationships with her mother and daughter.

Family secrets. Pride. Fear. Self-realization. And it all starts with a small, wooden recipe box that’s traveled the Atlantic from Sweden to the American midwest…and a birth certificate found tucked in the back of it.

This small, family heirloom creates doubt, havoc and leads to nearly a lifetime of running: running from everything. Until a best friend’s sad end leads to some unique wishes, statements and sentiments sent in a variety of ways.

Grace Holm-D’Angelo is fighting her past, running from it, and making some of the same mistakes with her own daughter. With the death of her best friend, she’s not splitting time between LA and her hometown, but most definitely not making any heartfelt visits to her mother. Grace carries a lot of baggage that she’s refusing to acknowledge to anyone, and as high school friend and co-worker Ken point out, she has always had a hidden agenda.

Until all that she’s trying to hide erupts like a raging volcano. When she picks her daughter up from an LA police station, she can’t keep up the ruse. Teenage Emma is sent to live with Grace’s mother, and complete her school year in little New London, which his home to a great group of folks who are all willing to help. Indeed, Grace’s high school nemesis is now doing anything she can to help out. It’s a wake up call for Grace, as is the letter she receives from her high school bestie, Leeza, after her death.

Returning to New London, Grace keeps running into hometown handyman and fireman and high school English teacher Mike, who is helping Emma in completing her schoolwork. Where there’s one, there’s three. Grace’s ex-husband, Brian, now successful with his business, comes barging back into the picture, as well as rich chocolatier Von, Leeza’s Swiss cousin, whom Grace had a brief fling with years before. Von is a flitty guy, like a butterfly: here one second, gone the next. He does things on his terms and his time. He befriends Emma in aims of getting into Grace’s good graces, but Grace quickly shuts that down due to her past, and some fears and doubts she is not yet ready to voice.

This novel comes full circle, with not only Grace’s own self-realization and growth, but also that of many of the other characters. It really made me reflect on my relationship with my mother, and hers with her mother, and the changes over the last 15 years in those relationships, the difficulties we experienced, and perhaps set ourselves up for, and the solid ground we are on today.

It is a heartwarming read, especially for mothers, sisters, daughters and best friends.

Perhaps my favorite line from the entire novel comes at the end, by none other than Von:

Our mistakes should not go without apologies. 

About the Author

Sandra Lee

Sandra Lee, a multi-Emmy® and Gracie award-winner, is an internationally-acclaimed expert in all things kitchen and home. Sandra Lee has predicted and changed the trajectory of American lifestyle with her signature “smart and simple” philosophy. She empowers people of all walks of life to create memorable meals, hospitable homes, and creative crafts and shows them how to entertain for every occasion―with ease.

Sandra is the editor in chief of Sandra Lee Magazine and the host of four highly-rated culinary programs on Food Network and Cooking Channel: Restaurant Remakes, Sandra’s Money Saving Meals, Semi-Homemade Cooking and Taverns, Lounges & Clubs. Additionally, Sandra is the host of HGTV’s Sandra Lee Celebrates, a series of prime time entertaining specials.

Widely-respected for anticipating the needs of the modern homemaker and consumers, Sandra has launched several lines of home, garden, seasonal and craft products and produced a successful DIY home improvement series. Her newest kitchens, tabletops, housewares, seasonal decors and domestics collections are available exclusively in Kmart/Sears, entitled Sandra by Sandra Lee.

The Recipe Box is her first fiction book.

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