Monday, October 31, 2022

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeannette McCurdy






Rating: 4 of 5 stars 
Pages: 320 pages
Published: August 2022

I’m not gonna lie. When I first read the title of former child star Jennette McCurdy’s book, I’m Glad My Mom Died, I thought it was a little harsh. Who really thinks that? Who actually says that? Who writes that down for all the world to see? Well, apparently, Jennette McCurdy does. And after reading her memoir, I’m less judgey about her title. Honestly, I’m kinda glad her mom died too. 

McCurdy grew up in a dysfunctional household with a manipulative narcissist for a mother who coerced her into child acting well before the age of 10. Many parents and their children grew to love her as she played the character of Samantha Puckett on Nickelodeon’s iCarly and spin-off Sam & Cat sitcoms. I do not have children, and I was too old to watch these shows at the time they aired, but what seems like a fun thing turned out to be a grueling career - especially for someone so young. 

I think McCurdy did an excellent job with the writing in this book. She presents her autobiographical information in such a way that the tone and thought processes align with her age at the time being described and not her synthesis of it as a young adult. I think this made the book very engaging and also allowed the reader to feel the emotions she was feeling. There were so many times when I just wanted to give 6-year old Jennette a big ole hug. The first third of the book is dark, the second third is very dark and the last portion of the book offers some hope and much-needed light. The reason for my less than five-star review is that I felt that some of the stories jumped around a bit and often made it difficult to follow the timeline. Having said that, if you don’t get caught up in those details and just focus on the emotion and challenges, I don’t think it takes too much away from the story. 

I took away so many things from McCurdy’s story, but one of the main things that is still troubling me after completing the book is the use of child actors for such graphic shows and films. For example, do we really need to be employing and featuring child rape victims on Law & Order? Yes, I get that those situations and storylines are a reality, but do we need to subject real children for fictional stories to satisfy our need for entertainment. Additionally, I think every child actor should have a third-party advocate that stands to gain no financial benefit from his or her career but rather be put in place to guard against children basically being forced into a career with grueling schedules like McCurdy faced. Overall, we must work to protect the physical and mental well-being of children. 

Recommendation: This was a difficult but necessary read. I pray blessings and continued growth for McCurdy. I wouldn’t recommend reading this book at a dark time in your life as it is very depressing in certain parts, but I would encourage everyone to read it - especially mothers. And take it in bite-sized chunks. This is easily accomplished with the short 91 chapters in 320 pages. 

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, October 17, 2022

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle





Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 320 pages
Published: July 2020

All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle is about Hubert Bird, a Jamaican expat living in England. During the latter portion of his life, he finds himself a widow miles apart from his daughter who lives in Australia and just as far apart emotionally from his estranged son. However, Hubert has been lying by putting on false pretenses about his life - painting a picture of an active, senior lifestyle. However, when, by happenstance, he meets his neighbor, a young single mom named Ashleigh, Hubert’s lonely life is turned upside down and he gets a much more exciting life than he ever could have imagined. 

The thing I liked the most about this book is that it so relatable. I can’t think of a single person who hasn’t experienced a sense on loneliness at one point or another in his or her life, so the imagery that Gayle is able to develop through his prose is easily imagined. 


“It was a kiss that didn’t say goodby so much as hello.” 

“Extraordinary things can happen to ordinary people like you and me, but only if we open ourselves up enough to let them.” 
My only critiques about this book are the dialect in which Hubert spoke. I understand the need for the colloquial nature of Hubert’s conversation to make his Jamaican ethnicity seem more authentic. However, it seemed overdone and far-fetched that he would continually speak using “me” rather than “I” after having lived a successful life in England. Additionally, the author shows us that he knows the proper English way to speak, he just doesn’t, which seems lazy and contradictory to someone who worked so hard not only in his professional life but his romantic one with Joyce. Additionally, the reveal about Rose seems to come out of nowhere. I suppose this is a very real possibility, but it really didn’t flow in the book. It seemed like a last-minute Hail Mary to assist the book in closing. And finally, if I had my druthers, I’d rather the story had ended at chapter 49. I don’t really think the “Eighteen Months Later” epilogue was needed to complete the story.

Recommendation: I don’t think this book is about the story so much as it’s about the message it represents. It was published in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time where I suspect many people were experiencing some type of loneliness. However, the message is evergreen and can be appreciated at any time. 

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, September 24, 2022

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen






Rating: 5+ of 5 stars 
Pages: 304 pages
Published: August 2022

Listen. I have read some good books this year. It’s absolutely impossible to pick a favorite book, but Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen is very near the top! This is a story about a young lady, Zoey, whose mother died when she was very young and she was raised by a reluctant father and evil stepmother. The moment she finishes school, she leaves for college near Mallow Island, South Carolina, a town where her mother willed a condo to her. The condo is situated in a small, intimate community called Dellawisp named for the beautiful yet busy birds. The other residents, a bohemian, young transient woman, a professional chef, and two odd sisters who happen to also be at odds with one another. The community is managed by an older man named Frasier. Shortly upon Zoey’s arrival, one of the residents dies and that leads to a chain reaction of connections within the Dellawisp community. 

The story is short and sweet and even a little predictable, but the true gem is the beautiful writing with a touch of magical realism. This is my first read by Allen, but her writing is so moving that I am sure I will seek out another work of hers - of which there are several. Other Birds is one of those novels that found me a just the right time and touched all the right places in my mind and heart. 

Recommendation: I highly recommend this book. It will make you think, laugh, and tear up a little. It’s the perfect book to cozy up to on a fall evening. 

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, September 7, 2022

Fighting Words: 100 Days of Speaking Truth into the Darkness by Ellie Holcomb







Rating: 5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 248 pages
Published: October 2021

Fighting Words: 100 Days of Speaking Truth into Darkness by Ellie Holcomb is the latest study book I completed with Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies group. This book provided 100 days of effective verses from the Bible with commentary from Ellie Holcomb that served as a bite-sized, daily devotional. 

While the content each day was a quick read, it did require some reflection on how the greater message could be applied to one’s life. In addition to being an author, Holcomb is also a songwriter, and she included some of the lyrics to her songs in the book. I though this added value for people who enjoy music and are auditory learners. Holcomb did note early on in her book that she would be including the information about her songs but didn’t want to come across as trying to push album sales. I certainly did not get that feeling by reading her book as the tactic was not overdone. 

As with most books I read via the free P31 OBS program, I gained so much more by having a community of women who were learning alongside me. Being part of the Facebook group added another layer of depth for this study. 

Recommendation: As always, Proverbs 31 picks powerful, life-changing books, and Fighting Words did not disappoint. Whether you read this book in 100 consecutive days or pick it up as time allows, you will be changed. Go snag your copy of this Bible-based today! 

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, September 4, 2022

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Crosby






Rating: 5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 336 pages
Published: July 2021

In July 2021, S.A. Crosby’s Razorblade Tears was published. Sometime near its publication, the book must have been added to Book of the Month’s monthly selection. However, something else must have caught my eye that month because I did not choose this book. Then, in July of 2022, President Obama listed the book on his annual reading list, and I still did not snag a copy from any of my favorite places. Then, at the end of the month Amazon offered a $5 discount on digital books, and I guess that five bucks was the push that motivated me to grab a copy. But still, I didn’t start reading the novel until the end of August. Upon completing it, I am wondering: Why did I wait so long?! 

So, let me tell you about it. Razorblade Tears is a fictional story about a very real emotion - revenge. A black father’s, Ike, son and a white father’s, Buddy Lee, son fall in love and marry each other and then are mysteriously and gruesomely murdered. These two tough-enough fathers who also happen to be ex-convicts team up to solve the crime that the police are moving too slow on. Their love for their sons, regret for judging their sexual identity and experience on the other side of the law fuel their passion to seek, find and create justice for their loved ones. 



Tears ran from his eyes and stung his cheeks. Tears for his son. Tears for his wife. Tears for the little girl they had to raise. Tears for who they were and what they all had lost. Each drop felt like it was slicing his face open like a razorblade.

“Get that what’s normal ain’t up to me. That it don’t f*cking matter who he wanted to wake up next to as long as he was waking up,” Buddy Lee said.”

“No, hate. Folks like to talk about revenge like it’s a righteous thing but it’s just hate in a nicer suit,” Ike said.

A good father, a good man, loves the people that love his children.

This time they didn’t feel so much like razor blades. They felt like the long-awaited answer to a mournful prayer for rain. 


I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy this book because I felt I couldn’t really relate to the plot. However, I was completely wrong. This book evoked a myriad of emotions for me as we all have at least one person in our life we love like this. Additionally, Crosby wrote the story in such a way that the plot moved quickly and the descriptions came to life. I truly felt like I was reading an action movie. There really is no need for this to go to the big screen because the author did such a good job writing it, but I wouldn’t be mad if it was turned into a movie and Denzel Washington played Ike. I’m just sayin!  

Recommendation: This book is dark, but it is good. It is vivid. It is engaging. If you enjoyed The Equalizer movies, you might enjoy this book. It’s a quick read too. Don’t be like me. Don’t delay. Grab a copy for your favorite bookseller or library today! 

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 14, 2022

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez






Rating: 5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 359 pages
Published: April 2022

In all seriousness, I needed someone to take my hand, give me a hug, and tell me everything was going to be OK after reading Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. This book was an emotionally-wrenching read for me. Inspired by actual events pre-Roe v. Wade, fictional character Civil Townsend is fresh out of nursing school with a job at a family clinic to help women with birth control and family planning. She is assigned to help two young girls (11 and 13), and Civil soon learns that the federally-funded clinic and the head nurse who leads it don’t have the community’s hearts interests at heart. 

This novel is intriguing, engaging, and riveting. It includes all of the relevant literary devices, but the most painful part of the book is that it is based in fact of events that happened to real people. And sadly, with the current state of women’s health and reproductive rights, we are doomed to repeat a variation of this embarrassing part of U.S. history. 

Recommendation: I strongly recommend this novel. It’s one of the best works of historical fiction I’ve read in a long time. Read this story and then research the actual facts after you’ve done so. 

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, August 9, 2022

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire (audiobook)






Rating: 2 of 5 stars 
Duration: 10:30:53
Published: January 2014

I listened to Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire as part of a group read with a small group of coworkers. Let me just say, this is not a book I would have read on my own. It is not something I would have enjoyed in my late teens/early 20s. And it is not something I care to listen to nor read again. The over-written teen romance novel surrounds Abby Abernathy, her best friend, America, and her college mate, Travis Maddox. 

The book is too long. It’s basically something you might watch on the CW television station where teens are in angst about their love interest of the moment. There is no real depth to the story, there is an absence of diversity, and much of the plot is far-fetched and unrealistic. Additionally, I found the main male character, Travis, to be emotionally abusive to Abby, and I don’t think the book addressed this properly and glorified his outrageous behavior. I didn’t find a ton of value in this book. I don’t think I really learned anything other than I definitely do not enjoy this genre. The best part of this read/listen was discussing it with coworkers over happy hour. 

Recommendation: This probably would have been a DNF (did not finish) for me had I not been reading with others. I do not recommend this book at all, especially for someone in my demographic. 

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, July 17, 2022

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin






Rating: 5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 401 pages
Published: July 2022

The last and only book I’ve read by Gabrielle Zevin, before Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, was The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. That book was before A Page Before Bedtime, but I do recall it being lovely and giving me all the feels. So, I had high hopes when I snagged this copy as part of my Book of the Month Club subscription. Little did I know it would be one of the most popular books of the summer. After reading it, I can definitely say it is worth the hype. 

The complex story is about the complicated relationship between two childhood friends (Sam and Sadie) and a third, secondary character, whom they met in college during an entrepreneurial venture in the video gaming industry. Over the course of the many years the books covers, we learn more about the layers of the personal and professional relationships as well as the backstory of each major character that contributed to their current personality make-up in present day. In this story, Zevin tackles some heavy subjects (trigger warnings: grooming, abuse of power, death, etc.) 

I listened to a couple of podcasts where Zevin was interviewed about this book, and I believe her when she tells the reader that this is a story about love, a story about relationships, but not necessarily one about romance. I agree that you truly can have a loving relationship with people who you are in a platonic relationship. 

Recommendation: It’s so hard to sum up this book. It’s about so many things. I am not a gamer, but I don’t think this is necessarily a book about gaming. It’s a book about people and interpersonal relationships and gaming is the vehicle that helps propel the story forward. The plot evokes many emotions and points to ponder long after the last page is read. I highly recommend this book when you have time to truly appreciate the excellent work of contemporary literature it is. 

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, July 3, 2022

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham






Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 357 pages
Published: January 2022

A spellbinding mystery thriller good enough to make Book of the Month’s monthly pick - sign me up! A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham is an intriguing and engaging novel that once it’s picked up it’s hard to put down. 

The story centers Chloe Davis whose father was arrested and convicted as a serial killer of young girls when she was an adolescent. In present day, Chloe is a psychologist in Baton Rouge, and when one of her clients - a young girl - goes missing along with other girls with whom Chloe seems to have a connection, she wonders if history is repeating itself. Invested in the crimes, she inserts herself in the investigation and her past comes to haunt her. 

This is Willingham’s debut novel, and it is a well-written, mesmerizing story that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. In the ending, she provides a well thought-out conclusion that provides satisfaction but also sticks with you days after finishing. I would definitely read another novel written by this author. I do believe she has a promising literary career ahead of her. 

Recommendation: This is a fun, creepy book with twists and turns. It could be picked up and read at any time during the year but might be fun to read during the Halloween season. 

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, June 27, 2022

Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley





Rating: 5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 342 pages
Published: May 2022

I don’t even recall where I first heard of Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley, but like many books this one found me at just the right time. The story is centered around, you guessed it, Iona Iverson who commutes to work on the train from Hampton Court to Waterloo Station everyday. She’s made up nicknames for the repeat commuters based on their physical traits. Then, one day, a man she’s deemed the “Smart-But-Sexist-Manspreader” chokes on a grape, and this man, Iona, and several other people connect and create an eclectic group of relationships with one another. 

There is nothing surprising about this book. Honestly, a lot of it is predictable, but I think that’s the beauty of this novel. From the moment you pick it up, you know where it’s going, the message is conveying, and the vehicle it’s using to get there, but much like a train ride, it’s a fun, predictable journey nonetheless less. I’m a sucker for a train ride, and I very much enjoyed meeting Iona and the people around her in this heartfelt story that left me with a smile on my face. 

Recommendation: If you’re feeling down and just need some good and kindness in your life, this book is an excellent choice. Thank you to the Fort Worth Digital Library for this 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.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory







Rating: 4 of 5 stars 
Pages: 325 pages
Published: May 2022

A part of the multi-author “Meant to Be Series,” By the Book by Jasmine Guillory is the lane in which she swims best. In a meet-cute fictional tale with hints of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the man character, Isabelle (emphasis on Belle) is working in the publishing industry when she makes an opportunity for herself with an author who is late on his manuscript delivery. Unfortunately, the author, Beau is a incorrigible beast who lives in a mansion (with an expansive library). The bulk of the book focuses on their character development and the conflict of their interaction with one another. 

This was a light, cute, and quick read. I loved the references to the characters from the Disney movie. While the overall book was light and enjoyable with a satisfying ending, I did appreciate Guillory’s efforts to include some deeper conflict and topics making this fairy tale one with substance. 

Recommendation: This was a cute and fun buddy read. If you’re looking for something light and airy to pull you out of a reading slump, the book will definitely fit the bill. I thank the Fort Worth Library for the digital 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.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez






Rating: 5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 400 pages
Published: April 2022

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez is a romcom with substance! This book offers a lot to its readers: romance, comedy, drama all wrapped up in a heartfelt blanket. The main character, Alexis Montgomery meets total opposite Daniel Grant by happenstance, and there’s immediate chemistry between them. However, Abby is not interested in getting into any type of relationship while in the midst of trying to get out of a very toxic one. Struggling with ending a relationship and a domineering and intimidating family creates a lot of stress for Alexis and we as the reader are along for the emotional roller coaster. 

I wouldn’t consider myself a big romance fan, but I found this story to be very intriguing. The characters were complex, some even reminding me of characters from Grey’s Anatomy. The thing I enjoyed most about this book was while the romance storyline was predictable, there were also some important themes including domestic abuse, emotional intimidation and sexism that were addressed carefully without making the overall book too dark. Additionally, Jimenez has a talent for humor. It can be difficult to convey via the written word, but she pulled it off well! 

Recommendation: I really enjoyed this book and would definitely read another book by this author. I would absolutely love a second book that follows the story of the main characters as well as some of the secondary characters that I didn’t get to learn as much. If you’re looking for something not-too-light and not-too-heavy, this may be just the book for you! 

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, May 17, 2022

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James







Rating: 4 of 5 stars 
Pages: 352 pages
Published: March 2022

The Sun Down Motel was my first book from Book of the Month and the first book I read authored by Simone St. James. So, I was a little more than excited to hear about her new book, The Book of Cold Cases. Because I am a fan of true crime and enjoy a good mystery, I felt like this book was the perfect recipe for my reading pleasure. 

Beth Greer, an older and troubled woman was tried and acquitted of two murders in the 1970s. In present day, 2017, a young Shea Collins who is a true crime junkie, like myself, meets Beth by chance and asks to interview her for her true crime website blog. Beth agrees, and Shea finds herself in the middle of a renewed look at the case all the while strange things occurring each time she meets with Beth. Shea finds herself searching for the truth and wonder if Beth got off scot-free decades ago. 

The pace of the book is good. Neither main character is truly likable but intriguing enough to keep the reader interested and reading forward. St. James definitely has a gift for creating paranormal suspense that is just real enough to have you questioning if there’s such a thing as ghosts among us. 

Recommendation: This book is creepy good and would be really fun to spook out to during the fall Halloween season. 

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, April 16, 2022

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah






Rating: 5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 464 pages
Published: February 2021

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah won Book of the Month’s book of the year for 2021, and I totally understand why. Unlike, The Love of my Life, this cover did not draw me in. Additionally, the synopsis did not seem like something I would enjoy reading, even though I do enjoy historical fiction. However, as I have learned first impressions can be deceiving. This book is currently one of my top 3 reads of 2022, and I’m so glad I selected it as my free book as part of Book of the Month’s BFF program. 

The story is set in the 1930s during the Great Depression in Texas and centers around Elsa, who at a young age got herself “into some trouble, in the family way.” Ultimately, she finds herself in a loveless marriage with two children and in-laws that have become her only family after her blood relatives disowned her. After suffering through the Dust Bowl, Elsa’s husband abandons his family. Elsa tries to maintain for a time but realizes she must attempt to travel west to the land of milk and honey to make a better life for her family. The remaining two-thirds of the book are about her survival as a single woman on the road to attain the American Dream by traveling west. 

This is the first book I’ve read by Hannah. Her writing is wonderful. She definitely has a gift for describes scenes in such a way that you feel as though you’re right there in that time period and in that emotion. If you read to escape your current reality, Hannah offers you that escape. The story is exceptional, and the characters are well developed and stayed with me long after I read the final page. 

Recommendation: The Four Winds is a must read for anyone, but especially for lovers of historical fiction. I highly recommend it!

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, April 2, 2022

The Love of my Life by Rosie Walsh






Rating: 3 of 5 stars 
Pages: 384 pages
Published: March 2022

Full transparency … I chose The Love of my Life by Rosie Walsh because I liked the cover art and the title. Being in a very romantic stage of my life with a wonderful person made the title resonate with me. So, yes, I shallowly chose a book because of its cover. Judge me. I don’t care. 

This Book of the Month selection is about a woman with a heavy past that catches up to her in present day. The main character, Leo is living a happy, “normal” life with his wife of 10 years, Emma, and young daughter, Ruby. Emma is a well-known marine biologist. Leo is an obituary writer. When Emma suffers an illness, Leo tasks himself with crafting her advance obituary, which requires him to begin to dig into Emma’s past. As he researches more, he learns his wife is not who he thought she was. Her name is not even Emma. Emma doesn’t exist on paper at all. The suspense-filled mystery leads Leo to the truth and Emma to face the dark truth about her past. 

Book of the Month categorizes this novel as psychological and romance; however, after completion, I would call it a mystery. I found the the title is a little misleading, but the story is intriguing. It kept me reading to the complete conclusion. As a reader, you experience some of the feelings that Leo is experiencing as he learns the truth about his beloved wife. The alternating perspectives add to the suspense and speed up the pace to an otherwise slow novel.  

Recommendation: This was not the best book I read so far this year, but it certainly isn’t the worst either. I never thought I would put it down. I always intended to finish reading the story. So, the burning question: Should you judge a book by its cover? I don’t know. It wasn’t as good as the cover and title led me to believe, but it sure does look nice on my book shelf. 

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, March 19, 2022

The Neighbor's Secret by Alison L. Heller






Rating: 3 of 5 stars 
Pages: 336 pages
Published: October 2021

The Neighbor’s Secret by L. Alison Heller was another Book of the Month Club selection for me. I enjoy a book filled with mystery and suspense, and the synopsis indicated that I would get this. The plot of the book is a group of neighborhood mothers who get together for book club each month … suspense + book club … Sign. Me. Up! Someone ends up dead, and the bulk of the book provides information leading the reader to the victim and murderer. While the center of the book is primarily about the murder, the book itself features a cast of characters, none of whom I would say are primary, but they all work together to create suspicion around local vandalism that is occurring in the neighborhood, an old mystery about what happened to an older neighbor’s husband and estranged daughter and a new resident mom and her son that seems a bit socially awkward in addition to the murder case at hand. All of these red herrings take the reader on several twists and turns before reaching the conclusion of the mystery at the end of the novel. 

I enjoyed this book. It was a fast read, and although some of the themes in the book were heavy, they were handled in such a way that didn’t emotionally burden the reader. Many reviews compare this book to Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, and I can certainly see where they get that. It’s a mystery that is lightened through quirky characters and periodic comedic relief. Heller did a great job weaving all the characters and subplots together to create a well-rounded mystery that keeps the reader on the hook without being too far-fetched to solve. 

Recommendation: I found this book to be entertaining and engaging. I think it would be a fun read over spring break or maybe even a summer vacation. Everything is tied up nicely in the end, leaving the reader feeling satisfied. 

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, February 24, 2022

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson






Rating: 5+ of 5 stars 
Pages: 385 pages
Published: February 2022

I love Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson so much! This book is my favorite read of 2022 ... so far ... there are still a lot of reading days left; however, it will take something pretty substantial to replace it. 

This generational story begins with siblings, Bryon and Benny, coming together after Eleanor's their mother, death to discuss their inheritance with the family attorney. Much to their surprise, they learn the attorney has a voice recording their mother left behind that instructs them to partake of a family recipe - a traditional Caribbean black cake with someone from Eleanor's past. Through this final piece of communication, their mother reveals some long-buried secrets about herself, their father and the family they thought they knew.

Through flash backs and flash forwards to present day, we, as the reader, are able to put together the pieces of the puzzle of life Eleanor, which culminates in a beautiful love story of friendship, family and the perseverance to overcome the most challenging struggles. I really enjoyed the Wilkerson's writing style and ability to tell a story in such a way that is complex but also engaging and arresting. 

Recommendation: This book gave me all the feels. We never know where one choice may take us, but the choices we make can create an intricately-woven life for us and those we love. I highly recommend this read when you have time to really enjoy it. It is not long, but it is deep and should be consumed with care. 

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, January 29, 2022

Verity by Colleen Hoover






Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 336 pages
Published: October 2021

The cult following and book club chatter that has resulted from the publication of Colleen Hoover's Verity is absolutely unreal but totally warranted. The book gets a lot of hype, and I do believe it's worth it. It is well written, intriguing and suspenseful. 

The book begins when the main character, author and financially-and-emotionally-broken Lowen, is invited by Jeremy to the home he and his wife, successful and financially-sound author, Verity, to finish writing a book series that, after a traumatic injury, Verity can no longer write. While conducting her research, Lowen stumbles upon this manuscript seemingly written by Verity filled with horrifying admissions. What's more is Lowen starts develop feelings for Jeremy, yes, Verity's husband. 

I think I devoured this book in about two days. There's so much going on in the story, but the author writes in such a way that makes it easily to follow and the reader quickly invested. So much so that groups have been created on social media to discuss the verity of Verity - the character not the book - and the manuscript she allegedly left behind. As for me, I am not going to read too much into it. It was a roller coaster of a read. I enjoyed it very much, and that's the end of it for me. 

Recommendation: This would be a fast summer read for adults. Please note people who are sensitive to pregnancy and abortion may find parts of this novel triggering. 

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.

Friday, January 21, 2022

As the Wicked Watch by Tamron Hall






Rating: 3 of 5 stars 
Pages: 384 pages
Published: October 2021

As the Wicked Watch is the first in a series about an investigative journalist with detective instincts and a debut mystery by TV host and journalist Tamron Hall. This book was all abuzz in my reading circles, so I grabbed a copy and read it over a nice beach vacay in Belize this January. The story centers around journalist Jordan Manning who, in covering the news story of a recent murder of a 15-year old girl, gets really close to the case often putting herself in harm's way of not only getting the story but also helping solve the crime. 

Overall, the crime and subsequent mystery flows like similar detective/journalist books or even Lifetime movies. Hall provides a lot of detail and character development. Although, I might argue at times, it seems like a little too much, which slowed the pace. I do think this book could have been about 75 pages shorter, but it was still pretty easy to follow. There was enough intrigue to keep me invested plus I intended to participate in book club discussion. 

I think this is a decent debut for Hall, and I think with time her writing will sharpen. I can't say if I could commit to reading all of the books in this series, but it wasn't a bad read - especially with an ocean view as a backdrop! 



Recommendation: Fans of Tamron Hall will want to read this book. I do not think they will be disappointment. There's still room for growth, and I'm rooting her on for book two. 

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, January 8, 2022

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw






Rating: 4 of 5 stars 
Pages: 354 pages
Published: December  2021
What a wild ride! A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw is mainly mystery, part horror with a touch of the supernatural. The novel begins with Travis Wren, a detective of sorts, who finds missing people. He is hired by the parents of Maggie St. James to locate their adult daughter who has been missing for several years. During his investigation, Travis crashes his truck, and sometime later a member - Theo - of this strange and reclusive community called Pastoral finds the abandoned vehicle with no signs of life around it. Theo and the people who live there exhibit cult-like behaviors and have unrealistic fears about the world around them. The abandoned truck sparks curiosity in Theo to think outside of the Pastoral box, which leads to long-buried secrets being revealed. 

I really can't say much more about this book without giving away too much and detracting from its suspense. It was a very enjoyable read. The author did a good job of creating imagery and making the reader feel as though they are actually in the story. As I read this book, I felt like I traveled to Pastoral myself and at the end I came out of the darkness and into the light. 

Some reviewers have shared that this book is similar to the plot of the movie The Village. I have not seen that movie, but having read about it after I read this book, I can see how similarities are drawn. I think this type of story is best in book form because it's easier to create a sense of confusion with words lending itself to greater suspense. 

Recommendation: I really enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to any mystery and suspense fan. This is my first read by Ernshaw, but I don't think it will be my last. Book of the Month offered up another good suggestion for me, and I extend that suggestion to you! 

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.