Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Killer Deadline by Lauren Carr


Category: Adult fiction (18+) / Mystery / Cozy
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pages: 232 pages
Published: April 2020 


Folks in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, claim that where Nikki Bryant goes, trouble is not far behind. Her refusal to back down from a challenge has made Nikki Bryant a top investigative journalist.

When an online friend nudges her to join him in a pact to reconnect with their first loves, Nikki and her boxer dog Elmo leave the bright lights of Las Vegas for the charming town of Pine Grove. There, she must face the biggest challenges in her career and life—the first love she had left behind and her father’s unsolved murder.

But before she has time to unpack her car, Nikki stumbles upon the dead body of local news anchor, Ashleigh Addison, her childhood rival. Could Ashleigh’s death be connected to an explosive news story that she had teased about airing live? Did that explosive story have anything to do with the murder of Nikki’s father?

With the clues in her father’s cold case hot again, Nikki intends to chase down the story of her life until she catches his killer—no matter what it takes.

Killer Deadline by Lauren Carr is a fictional cozy mystery novel that centers around Nikki Bryant and her return to her small hometown of Pine Grove to take over management of the family's TV news station. When Nikki was a child, her father was murdered in his office at the news station. This event played a part in her career as an investigative journalist. When she returns home to take over the business from her mother, one of her employees is mysteriously killed. In trying to follow the clues of the present-day murder mystery, Nikki begins to uncover what might have happened to her father all those years ago. 

The book includes a cast of some eccentric characters living in the charming town of Pine Grove. Carr creates a vivid community that brings all the characters to life, not just the primary ones. While it may seem difficult to keep up with who's who, the author provides a nice list and description at the start of the novel. I'd have to say my favorite character was Nikki's sidekick, her Boxer dog, Elmo. 

At just over 200 pages, this book an engaging and quick read. Carr's writing style definitely keeps the reader turning the pages to learn the ultimate conclusion of the mystery. This book can easily be read over a long weekend or perhaps a quick road trip. It has just the right balance of elements: humor, romance, suspense and a tidy resolution. 

Recommendation If you are a fan of cozies, enjoy good, clean reading, and a strong female lead, this is just the book for you. Pick up a copy and escape reality for a few hours. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.









Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Killer Deadline marks Lauren's first venture into mystery's purely cozy sub-genre with a female protagonist.


Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

​A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with Lauren: 


Prizes: $50 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Lauren Carr, author of Candidate for Murder
(ends Oct. 16, 2020)





Sep 21 Locks, Hooks and Books 
Sep 22 Books, Tea, Healthy Me 
Sep 23 – seasons of opportunities 
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Monday, August 31, 2020

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff






Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pages: 387 pages
Published: February 2016

The Fort Worth Library's Stay At Home Book Club prompted me to dig into the fantasy/horror of Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff this summer. Coupled with the recently released series of the same name on HBO, I couldn't pass up this opportunity to read the book even though neither fantasy nor horror is my favorite type of book or movie. 

So, basically this book is told is eight vignettes all set in 1954 on the backdrop of Jim Crow racism in the United States. The inciting story is about a young man, Atticus, who returns from military service in search of his missing father. He partners up with his uncle who is the publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide (which is based on the real Negro Motorist Green Book that Black people had to use to find safe shelter and resources while traveling not so freely though these United States of America) and, reluctantly, with his childhood friend (possibly crush) Letitia. On their quest to find Atticus' father they are faced with some dangerous encounters with racists and horrific ones led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb, who are attempting to secure salvation for their secret tribe, the Order of the Ancient Dawn, that only Atticus can provide. 

I found the first chapter of the book to be attention-getting and engrossing. Being a historical fiction buff, the Jim Crow thematic elements are what kept my interest. At times I wasn't sure what was more nerve-racking, the overt racism or the fantasy and horror elements of each short story. All of the stories are intertwined, and you would need to read the book in order to get a full understanding. My favorite chapter was the one that focused on a secondary character, Ruby who is Letitia's sister.  

I don't really know much about Lovecraft or his type of horror writing; however, I think if I did I would have had a greater appreciation for how this author put his spin on it. I enjoyed the book for what it was, but I do think fans of horror would enjoy it more. 

Recommendation: If fantasy and horror float your boat, you might enjoy this book as it has a little more depth by adding the racial element. However, if you're looking for something about racism or the Jim Crow era, choose another book. 

Thanks to the Fort Worth Library for this ebook loan! 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.



Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin






Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Pages: 352 pages
Published: August 2020

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin was one of my Book of the Month selections for August. The plot centers around Rachel Krall, a former investigative journalist who now headlines a widely popular true crime podcast. In the opening of the book, the reader learns that the protagonist is on her way to a fiction town in North Carolina to cover the rape trial of the town's celebrity athlete who is accused of assaulting a younger teen girl. If this sounds familiar, it's because that part of the plot is very similar to real-life Brock Turner case. On her way to town, a letter is left on the windshield of her car regarding another case that happened 25 years earlier. As the story goes on, we find the two cases intertwined and Rachel in some pretty dangerous situations as her investigative spirit gets the best of her in searching for the truth in both.  

As a fan of mystery thrillers and true crime podcasts, I found this book to be completely captivating. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. When I was forced to, I would open it back up as soon as I had free time to read again. Goldin has done a good job with a very sensitive subject. At times I wondered if she is a survivor of sexual assault in the persuasive stance she took on the topic and how she described the logistical aftermath of a rape and its resulting emotional trauma. Goldin is able to paint a vivid picture with her writing, putting the reader right in the middle of the story. And that cover art is pretty alluring as well, wouldn't you agree?

Recommendation: I would definitely recommend this book, if you're looking for a quick mystery thriller, but beware of emotional triggers. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.






Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Shadows by Alex North






Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pages: 336 pages
Published: July 2020

The Shadows by Alex North was my second indulgence from my July Book of the Month subscription service. The synopsis is what prompted me to purchase this mystery thriller. Paul Adams, the protagonist, has returned to his hometown to take care of his ailing mother. Twenty-five years prior Paul's classmate, Charlie Crabtree disappeared after an unsolved murder. Everyone believes that Charlie must be the killer because he disappeared without a trace after the crime. Upon high school graduation, Paul left town and never looked back until he was forced to return and when he does he finds himself drawn right back into the mysterious case again. 

This is the first book I've read by this author. I think he does a good job creating suspense and giving the reader a reason to continue the journey with the narrator. I found the pace of the book to be just right; not too fast, not too slow, and the conclusion a satisfying one. My only critique would be about the issue with Paul and his high school love interest. I don't think the author did a good job of fully developing that twist in the plot. I won't write anymore so as not to spoil this relatively new release. 

I think North is a good writer, and this was a compelling story. It prompted me to purchase The Whisper Man for my August subscription. Review soon to come! 

Recommendation: If you're looking for a mystery with dark tones and intrigue, I'd highly recommend this as your next read. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.






Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson






Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Pages: 322 pages
Published: May 2019

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson was a selection by the Fort Worth Library's Stay at Home Book Club. With its inception on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has grown to several hundred members who read a book about every two weeks. Because of the controversy between this book and The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, I had this one on my TBR list for some time. I was very thankful to read it with such a interactive reading group. 

The historical fiction story follows Cussy who is a packhorse librarian and also one of the last of the Kentucky blue people. While the book is fiction, the genetic trait that causes a disease known as methemoglobinemia is real, as are the descendants of the Fugate family who were afflicted with it. 

Because of her condition, Cussy and her father live a relatively reclusive lifestyle in the Kentucky hill country. Cussy secures the packhorse librarian position, which was funded by the government, because she was a single woman with no husband. She is very proud of her job, but her father, who is beginning to age due to his rigorous work in the coal mine, wants to get Cussy married off so he knows she will be taken care of upon his death. Cussy, wanting her independence, vehemently disagrees. The main conflict in the story is between Cussy and her father but more so between Cussy and the ignorant people of the community who either shun her completely because of her physical condition or attempt to "fix her" at all costs. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found Cussy as a "blue person" to suffer many of the challenges that Black people (or colored people, as they were then called) also endured. Additionally, the part of the book about marrying one's daughter off (when all she really wanted was to read and learn) reminded me of The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare that I read earlier this year. It's amazing how we as a society can look so different on the outside but share some of the very same internal and emotional experiences. I wish the author would have connected more of that theme in the book, hence the slight deduction in rating. 

Recommendation: Overall, I found this book engaging, entertaining, and informational. I think I devoured it in about one week's time. I highly recommend it as an anytime read! Support your local library!

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.






Monday, July 20, 2020

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper





Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Pages: 304 pages
Published: July 2020

The Beauty in Breaking by Dr. Michele Harper is a beautifully written memoir in which the emergency room doctor shares tales of her life growing up in an abusive home, being educated at Harvard, and her subsequent career in the medical field. I chose this book as one of my July Book of the Month selections. 

Each chapter in this book focuses on a patient or patients that Harper encountered in her career. While protecting confidentiality, she shares the ailment that brought them into the hospital and her treatment plan. That probably doesn't sound any different than what you could watch on a medical drama on TV; however, Harper also digs deeper beyond the diagnosing the patient's illness but learning more about their brokenness. In some cases, she is able to help them beyond a prescription or referral. And then, she shares how sometimes she never knows what happens to a patient once they leave her facility, or in more dire cases, the patient dies. Each story is unique, and Harper approaches each vignette with care and respect. If she heals the way she writes, she is probably an excellent doctor. 

Her overarching message is that we are all broken in some way - physically, emotionally, spiritually, economically. But like a broken piece of pottery, the cracks are what allow the light to shine through. Harper did an exceptional job sharing her life's work and story. The memoir is wonderfully written, and I am simply in awe that someone with such a demanding career was able to make time to also write such a succinct piece of non-fiction. 

Recommendation: While the topics are heavy, the prose is written in such a way that allows the reader to draw from it easily. I highly recommend The Beauty in Breaking

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.






Thursday, July 9, 2020

Beach Read by Emily Henry




Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pages: 361 pages
Published: May 2020

A solid 4 stars for Beach Read by Emily Henry. I learned about this book from Book of the Month but snagged a paperback copy during Target's "Buy 2; Get 1" sale this summer.

The story is about two writers, January, who writes romance novels that are happily ever afters and Augustus, who is committed to dark literary fiction. The two genres and writers are as different as their seasonal names suggest (i.e., summer/winter). They have a history with one another dating back to their college days and consider each other literary rivals. Both writers are also at difficult points in their personal lives, suffering from writer's block in their professional ones, and just happen to be living in adjacent beach houses. Their professional troubles lead them to make a bet of sorts, January will write a literary fiction as her next novel and Augustus will write a romantic one for his. This agreement takes them on several adventures togethers, and as you might suspect, a friendship develops.

By the cover, you might think this book is chick lit or a rom-com, and that would be true, there are some steamy scenes. However, the plot much deeper than romance. The personal issues the protagonists are struggling with are very real and somewhat dark. I picked up this book thinking I would get a light read, but I got more than I bargained for and I think it made for a successful story. A reader might be looking for a light, thoughtless read to push through the hot summer days, and there are plenty available. Beach Read is a little heavier, and as a more mature reader I appreciated the mix of light and dark.

The reason for the lacking star is the slow start. It takes awhile for the author to build the story and early on the construction of her sentences made some parts difficult to understand causing me to have to re-read several sentences. I feel like about a third of the way into the book she found her rhythm and the pace picked up for me.

Recommendation: It was a slow start but well worth the finish. A great beach read for my summer quarantine sans the beach.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.






Tuesday, June 23, 2020

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown





Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Pages: 208 pages
Published: May 2018

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness was recommended to me by the Likewise app that takes personal preferences and serves up books, movies and more that might fit one's tastes. When I read Austin Channing Brown's excerpt on the app about how she got her name, it totally resonated with me. My dad's name is Melvin, and as the first born, my mom wanted my name to mirror his, but Melvina was totally off the table. At the time, my aunt - my mom's sister, was working at a daycare and she off-handedly said to my pregnant mom, "If the baby is a girl, you should name her Melissa. All the Melissa's at my daycare are white." I guess I get my creative side from my mom because she decided the name would be more special with a Y instead of an I. So, that's how I got MELyssa, "Mel" for Melvin and "yssa" to help position me for a bit of an easier life.

Similarly, Channing got her name because her parents knew people would see her name in print and incorrectly assume she was a white male. I'm not sure if this is part of the code switching we, as people of color, do to put ourselves in a more favorable position. But I can certainly see the necessity for it and why my family and Austin's parents went that route. This is just one nugget the author shares about her life growing up Black in a largely white and male dominated world. Her book was published a couple of years ago, it is very relevant right now. In it she shares several tales of growing up in a society where she was muted and had to conform to meet societal expectations to get ahead.

Channing's vignettes are not particularly new. They are different variations of the same song that many Black people face. So, why do we need more books like this? Because everyone has a right to tell their story, and we need to keep learning so we can all do better. This book is not that long, easily digestible, and offers a powerful perspective.


"To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious, is to be in a rage almost all the time."
- James Baldwin

"Perfection is demanded of Blackness before mercy or grace or justice can even be considered."
- Austin Channing Brown

"For only by being truthful about how we got here can we begin to imagine another way."
- Austin Channing Brown

"We demand because our ancestors did. We demand because we believe in our own dignity."
- Austin Channing Brown

Recommendation: If you're seeking to understand the Black experience from a woman's perspective, this is a good selection to add to your TBR list. It is not THE only resource, but as a Black Christian woman working in corporate America, I round it very relatable and her experiences very much similar to my own. As Channing so eloquently said in her book, "Black is not a monolithic. Black is expansive." We do not all think and act alike, but just like any group, some generalizations can be drawn from this little green book.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.






Saturday, June 20, 2020

The Last Flight by Julie Clark




Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pages: 288 pages
Published: June 2020

The Last Flight by Julie Clark was my June selection from Book of the Month. Book of the Month is a wonderful little subscription service if you enjoy reading physical copies of books, what's more is you often get access to books before they're officially released to the public at large. This was the case with The Last Flight. I am really glad I snagged a copy of this psychological thriller about two women looking to escape their dangerous lives and swap plane tickets at the airport. The premise might seem far-fetched, but after reading the book, people could certainly do this and get away with it. So, you have Claire who is married to a super aggressive and abusive aspiring political giant, and Eva, who is in a seemingly inescapable situation of her own. Their chance meeting at an airport restaurant results in their mutual decision to take on each other's identity for the purpose of a flight. This life-altering event is the nexus of a series of events.

I found this book to be entertaining, insightful, fast-paced and ... simply thrilling. I had to stop myself from wanting to read faster and faster to find out what happens in the lives of these women but also not wanting it to end because I enjoyed the character development and got invested in both of them as well as the overall plot. The story, like a lot of thrillers, is told in alternating perspectives and timelines. I suspect most mystery and thriller authors choose this tactic to create more suspense, and it worked well in this instance. I enjoyed this book so much when I shared what I was reading with my mother she asked if she could borrow my copy when I was finished.

Recommendation: This is a quick, short book that can be read over a nice summer weekend. I promise it will keep you guessing till the very end. The official release date was June 23rd so you should be able to find a copy at your local library now, or purchase your own wherever books are sold.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.






Sunday, May 31, 2020

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo




Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Pages: 432 pages
Published: May 2020

Clap When You Land is my second read by Elizabeth Acevedo. It is written in prose. I read that Acevedo's first book, The Poet X, is also written this way. Her second book, and my first read, With the Fire on High was written in a more traditional way. While the stories are different, the writing is captivating; however, I did enjoy the format of With the Fire on High more.

Acevedo's books are categorized as young adult fiction, but I find that she takes on some heavy topics told through the eyes of teens that any reader can appreciate. Clap When You Land is about two half sisters: Camino who lives in the Dominican Republic and Yahaira who lives in United States. Neither sister knows about the other until a tragic plane crash kills the father they both share and love so dearly. The story is about them learning who they are through their shared connection. Because of the topic, there is grief and sadness, but it's realistic and handled appropriately for the age group of the book's target audience. The book also touches on colorism, sex t trafficking, forgiveness and healing.


"The kindness of a stranger, simply because she sees in us something worthy of this small gift."

I truly enjoyed this book. It was a summer read that lifted my heart. When I landed at the last page, I too wanted to clap.

Recommendation: This is a great book for teens or older adults. There are serious topics that are handled very well by this highly skilled and talented writer.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.






Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight




Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Pages: 400 pages
Published: May 2020

What constitutes a good marriage? If you're looking for the answer, you're not going to find it in this book. However, the novel, A Good Marriage, is a legal mystery full of twists and revelations that keep you turning the page until you learn who the killer is. This Book of the Month Club selection features Lizzie, a former federal prosector who is now working as an attorney in the private sector. She gets a late-night call from her former college mate, Zach, who has been arrested and is the main suspect in his wife's murder. Lizzie reluctantly takes his case and becomes an amateur sleuth in trying to find out what happened to his wife, Amanda. On top of that, Lizzie is having some pretty serious marital problems of her own.

The book is told through the alternating perspectives of Lizzie and Amanda and also includes grand jury testimony and other correspondence to give the reader clues for solving the mystery. Having said that, I was unable to discern the killer until the very end. The author, Kimberly McCreight, included several red herrings in the story that threw me off.

I enjoyed reading this book. I found it to be very engaging, and I think McCreight is a masterful storyteller. There were a couple of elements she introduced that added more suspense to the plot, but I don't think she closed the loop on. These are very minor and don't affect the story greatly. There was also foul language that I don't think added value to the story, and at times, seemed forced. Overall, this was an entertaining read, especially during this time of quarantine.

Recommendation: I give this novel 5 stars. I highly recommend it. Fans of Law & Order might enjoy this book.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.






Thursday, May 7, 2020

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano




Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Pages: 352 pages
Published: January 2020

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano is about a family of four who board a fully booked plan in Newark, New Jersey headed for Los Angeles, California. Midway across the United States, the plane crashes leaving a sole survivor, Edward, a 12-year old boy and the youngest son of that family. Edward's story makes him a national celebrity as he navigates how to heal, physically and emotionally, and live life without his parents and his older brother. 

This is really a coming of age novel, and it is sad because a plane crash that kills nearly 200 people is sad, but it is also hopeful. It's about healing and learning who you are in spite of the most challenging circumstances. I fell in love with Edward and the secondary cast of characters who rallied around him to make sure he was OK after such a horrible tragedy. This book was very touching and very real to me. I know there has been a lot of criticism about the technical accuracy of the airplane and its crash, and I cannot attest to that. However, if you read the book for the beautiful piece of literature it is, I think you can overlook any technical errors that might be in place. 

Recommendation: No one is really traveling very much right now, so it's a good time to read a book like this. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.






Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Guest List by Lucy Foley




Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pages: 320 pages
Published: June 2020 (expected)

The Guest List by Lucy Foley was my April Book of the Month Club section. The book is a mystery thriller set on a remote island off the coast of Ireland. Mystery. Thriller. Ireland. Sign me up! The book is about the wedding of a high profile couple and features an ensemble cast. It is told in alternating perspectives of The Bride, The Best Man, The Plus One, The Wedding Planner and The Bridesmaid. It is reminiscent of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express in that someone gets murdered while on the island for the weekend wedding and everyone is a suspect. 

The book was a little slow to start, but overall it was a fun read. I quickly guessed the murder victim, but it took till nearly the end of the book for me to figure out who did the deed. I like reading books told from multiple perspectives. I think it works really well for mysteries. What I did not care for was the back in forth in the timeline. It made the storyline more confusing and added little value. There were some minor plot holes but nothing major that took away from the central story.  

Recommendation: I enjoy reading books set in Ireland, and I hope to make it there one day. Dublin is definitely on my bucket list. Until then, I'll continue to rely on books to take me places I can't go because of COVID-19. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.