Bookish Ramblings: I Have A Problem

Good day, book people. I’m just a bit embarrassed to say this, but I have a problem. Not only am I addicted to reading, I’m addicted to book clubs. I join online book clubs and lurk with no intent to participate. There are a select few that I routinely participate in, but most of them I simply check to see what they are reading each month, add a few of the books to my TBR list, periodically check in on their social media pages, and call it a day. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I’ve done this to more than a dozen online book groups. I jokingly said to a bookish friend of mine that I need a 12-step program for my book club issues. (NOTE: No slight is intended to any 12-step programs. I applaud them all for the help they provide.)

I’m being quite serious. At one point in time (three years ago actually), I was participating in five local book clubs and at least three online book clubs. I eventually left two of the local book clubs. But I felt as if something was missing from my life so I started a chapter of the Silent Book Club (I know, not quite the same thing but it has book club in the title). And then the pandemic hit. For about three-to-four months last year, none of my local clubs were meeting and then two of the three went virtual. I haven’t quite decided what to do about the local chapter of the Silent Book Club just yet. Sorry, it just seems a bit weird to sit and read silently AND be online at the same time (but maybe that’s just me). I enjoy multitasking, but not that much!

Okay, back to the online book club issue. In early December of 2020 I had decided I was going to leave two of my online book groups because I wasn’t participating even as a lurker, but then circumstances changed for at least one group. I didn’t leave either group. It was at that point that I realized I had a serious problem with blithely joining online book clubs I had no intention of ever participating in. I began to count them and ended up with 16. Yes, folks, that’s right, I belong to sixteen online book clubs. Until I counted them a few days ago, I had completely forgotten about a few of them, so that says a lot right there. Out of the 16 that I belong to, there are only about 6 that I routinely check in on or skulk around on social media. I routinely read the email newsletters, check to see what good books they might mention, add these books to my TBR list, and move on with my life. There are only three online clubs that I’m active with at the moment (not including my local clubs that are meeting virtually).

How did I get here? I have a blog and blog required reading (hey, I can’t write the reviews if I don’t read the books). I participate in blog tours and have blog tour required reading (again, if I’m reviewing the book I should probably read it first, shouldn’t I?!). I’m in local book clubs and have book club reading (not required, but strongly recommended). I routinely check out digital books from three different local library systems (hey don’t judge, book diva here). In my spare time, I’m usually “Driving Miss Daisy” or chauffering my 86-y.o. mother around town for her medical appointments, beauty salon appointments, grocery shopping (she refuses to shop online), etc. Needless to say, I don’t have time for 16 online book clubs. So why do I keep joining online book clubs?! I have NO idea!! This is the reason I feel there should be a 12-step program called Book Clubbers Anonymous, to help those of us that keep randomly joining book clubs when we know we can’t or won’t participate.

Does anyone else have this problem? Anyone?? No. Wonder if there’s a book club out there for that issue? Just kidding.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Bookish Ramblings – Best of 2020…so far!

Bookish Ramblings – Favorite Reads for 2020…so far!

This year has been a difficult year for many people for a variety of reasons. Illness and deaths from COVID-19. Loss of jobs. Loss of businesses. Seemingly endless quarantine. No vacation time. Forced to work from home. Children forced to stay at home and learn virtually even when that isn’t optimal for their learning experiences. Teachers forced to adapt their teaching methods to a virtual environment with little, if any, notification and doing it wonderfully. Murder Hornets. Massive wildfires. Incredible hurricanes and flooding. And we won’t even discuss the racial and political tensions running rampant across the world. I’ve heard from a lot of my bookish friends and acquaintances that they haven’t been able to focus on reading at all this year. Yes, 2020 has been stressful in a variety of ways. Some of us have resorted to comfort eating, watching hours of movies on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other online venues, and reading. I consider myself incredibly fortunate and blessed that I’ve been able to focus on reading despite, or rather in spite of everything going on around me. Reading has always been my escape, but this year has been a year of re-reading along with some great new reads.

Most of you know that I have incredibly eclectic reading tastes, but gravitate towards mysteries, thrillers, romantic suspense, romance, and science-fiction with the odd YA, and nonfiction read thrown into the mix. However, this year I’ve resorted to tons of re-reading (and yes, I do a lot of re-reading annually, but not to the extent that I’ve done this year). My re-reads this year have primarily been romance and romantic suspense mixed with some nonfiction. I know, who’d think that I’d resort to nonfiction reads for comfort reads, but there you go. However, if I listed my favorite re-reads for the year, we’d be here for quite some time so I’ll just be listing a few of my favorite newly published reads from 2020. Some of these books I’ve reviewed, others I’ve just read (and re-read). I’ve recommended them in my reviews and on social media even when I didn’t review them. All of these were my fiction reads, one was a graphic novel, one was a YA read, one was romance, one was romantic suspense, others ran the gamut from suspense thrillers to literary fiction.  


Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

ISBN: 9780525541905

Purchase Links (#Commission Earned): IndieBound  |   Barnes and Noble

In the midst of a family crisis one late evening, white blogger Alix Chamberlain calls her African American babysitter, Emira, asking her to take toddler Briar to the local market for distraction. There, the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, and Alix’s efforts to right the situation turn out to be good intentions selfishly mismanaged.



The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

ISBN: 9780062933225 

Purchase Links (#Commission Earned) IndieBound  |  Barnes and Noble

The Olander family embodies the modern American Dream in a globalized world. Jaya, the cultured daughter of an Indian diplomat, and Keith, an ambitious banker from middle-class Philadelphia, meet in a London pub in 1988 and make a life together in suburban California. Their strong marriage is built on shared beliefs and love for their two children: headstrong teenager Karina and young son Prem, the light of their home.

But love and prosperity cannot protect them from sudden, unspeakable tragedy, and the family’s foundation cracks as each member struggles to seek a way forward. Jaya finds solace in spirituality. Keith wagers on his high-powered career. Karina focuses relentlessly on her future and independence. And Prem watches helplessly as his once close-knit family drifts apart.

When Karina heads off to college for a fresh start, her search for identity and belonging leads her down a dark path, forcing her and her family to reckon with the past, the secrets they’ve held and the weight of their choices.

The Shape of Family is an intimate portrayal of four individuals as they grapple with what it means to be a family and how to move from a painful past into a hopeful future. It is a profoundly moving exploration of the ways we all seek belonging—in our families, our communities and ultimately, within ourselves.



That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy

ISBN: 9781524856229

Purchase Links (#Commission Earned):  IndieBound  |  Barnes and Noble

Chaperones, suitors, and arranged marriages aren’t only reserved for the heroines of a Jane Austen novel. They’re just another walk in the park for this leading lady, who is on a mission to find her leading lad. From the brilliant comics Yes, I’m Hot in This, Huda Fahmy tells the hilarious story of how she met and married her husband. Navigating mismatched suitors, gossiping aunties, and societal expectations for Muslim women, That Can Be Arranged deftly and hilariously reveals to readers what it can be like to find a husband as an observant Muslim woman in the twenty-first century.

So relevant in today’s evolving cultural climate, Fahmy’s story offers a perceptive and personal glimpse into the sometimes sticky but ultimately rewarding balance of independent choice and tradition. 



Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed

ISBN: 9781641291996

Purchase Links (#Commission Earned) IndieBound  |  Barnes and Noble

It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her professor parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light.

Two hundred years before Khayyam’s summer of discontent, Leila is struggling to survive and keep her true love hidden from the Pasha who has “gifted” her with favored status in his harem. In the present day—and with the company of a descendant of Alexandre Dumas—Khayyam begins to connect allusions to an enigmatic 19th-century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Delacroix, and Lord Byron.

Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed. 



The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

ISBN: 9780525536291

Purchase Links (#Commission Earned):  IndieBound  |  Barnes and Noble

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate, and wise.



Party of Two (The Wedding Date #5) by Jasmine Guillory

ISBN: 9780593100820

Purchase Links (#Commission Earned):  IndieBound  |  Barnes and Noble

Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe’s mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can’t resist–it is chocolate cake, after all.

Olivia is surprised to find that Max is sweet, funny, and noble–not just some privileged white politician she assumed him to be. Because of Max’s high-profile job, they start seeing each other secretly, which leads to clandestine dates and silly disguises. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny means people are now digging up her rocky past and criticizing her job, even her suitability as a trophy girlfriend. Olivia knows what she has with Max is something special, but is it strong enough to survive the heat of the spotlight?



Blind Faith (Jigsaw Files #3) by Sharon Sala

ISBN: 9780778310228

Purchase Links (#Commission Earned):  IndieBound  |  Barnes and Noble

He has nothing and everything to lose…

When a seventeen-year-old boy goes missing while camping with his buddies in the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend, the case is right up PI Charlie Dodge’s alley. Charlie’s reputation for finding missing people—especially missing kids—is unparalleled. Unfortunately, trouble seems to be equally good at finding him.

Charlie’s still in the thick of it when bad news arrives regarding his wife, Annie, whose early-onset Alzheimer’s is causing her to slip further and further away. The timing couldn’t be worse. Thankfully, Charlie’s ride-or-die assistant, Wyrick, has his back. But when Universal Theorem, the shadowy and elusive organization from Wyrick’s past, escalates its deadly threats against her, it pushes both partners past their breaking points. Finding people is one thing; now Charlie will have to fight to hold on to everyone he holds dear.



Strong from the Heart (Caitlin Strong #11) by Jon Land

ISBN: 9780765384706

Purchase Links (#Commission Earned):  IndieBound  |  Barnes and Noble

In what Brad Meltzer calls a “savory Tex-Mex tale, seasoned with all the ingredients of a great thriller,” Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong digs for the truth behind the Opioid Crisis in the next installment of Jon Land’s critically acclaimed series

Mexico, 1898: Texas Ranger William Ray Strong arrives in the border town of Camino Pass to transport a young Pancho Villa to stand trial, but his plans are waylaid when he learns all of the town’s children have been kidnapped.

The Present: The drug crisis hits home for fifth-generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong when the son of her outlaw lover, Cort Wesley Masters, nearly dies from an opioid overdose.

Determined to make those responsible pay, Caitlin sets out to track down the dealer and pusher, while trying to solve the inexplicable tragedy of a small Texas town where all the residents died in a single night. When she realizes these two pursuits are connected, she finds herself following a trail to the truth of the crisis nestled hard in the center of America’s power base.

That power base, comprised of politicians, Big Pharma, along with corrupt doctors and drug distributors, has successfully beaten back all threats in the past. But they have no idea what’s in store when the guns of Texas come calling. 



When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

ISBN: 9780062982650

Purchase Links (#Commission Earned):  IndieBound  |  Barnes and Noble

The gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?



And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall

ISBN: 9781250753175

Purchase Links (#Commission Earned):  IndieBound  |  Barnes and Noble

Isabel Lincoln is gone.

But is she missing?

It’s up to Grayson Sykes to find her. Although she is reluctant to track down a woman who may not want to be found, Gray’s search for Isabel Lincoln becomes more complicated and dangerous with every new revelation about the woman’s secrets and the truth she’s hidden from her friends and family.

Featuring two complicated women in a dangerous cat and mouse game, And Now She’s Gone explores the nature of secrets — and how violence and fear can lead you to abandon everything in order to survive.



If you haven’t read any of these books or simply haven’t been able to focus on reading, I hope that one or more of these titles may pique your reading interest. I don’t know what the remaining months of 2020 may have in store for any of us, but I’m hopeful that there will be plenty of good books coming out, providing hours of reading escape, no matter what may be ahead. 

Happy Reading, y’all!


NOTE: #SponsoredPost – In accordance with FTC guidelines, please be advised that a commission may be earned and/or a flat-fee payment given on links provided. All opinions provided are my own and have been previously disclosed in online reviews and social media posts.

Bookish Ramblings: Banned Books Week & Literary Book Gifts


Hello, my bookish peeps. I hope you’re all having a great week and getting some wonderful reading time in, and perhaps one of your reads this week or month will be a banned or challenged book. 

What is a banned or challenged book? A banned or challenged book is any book that has been restricted or removed from schools or libraries due to “objectionable content.” The problem is that what is “objectionable” to one person is perfectly “acceptable” to another. Most people presume that if you don’t like the content of a book then you simply won’t read it, whereas others feel that that the book should be restricted or completely removed so no one will be able to read it. I know, kind of silly, but there you have it. Nationwide, libraries, schools, bookstores, publishers, authors, etc. are acknowledging the “freadom to read” with #BannedBooksWeek.



Normally, I just post something about #BannedBooksWeek on social media and leave it at that. This year, I’m doing something a little different. I’m pleased to announce that in conjunction with Literary Book Gifts, all The Book Diva’s Reads blog visitors can receive a 20% discount at Literary Book Gifts by using the following coupon code: THEBOOKDIVASREADS20 (no expiration date). Use this coupon to purchase yourself (or a loved one) something to honor #BannedBooksWeek or for a birthday, anniversary, holiday, or any gift-giving occasion. Need some additional #BannedBooksWeek gift-giving ideas? Check out a few of the amazing items available at Literary Book Gifts.






























For more information about #BannedBooksWeek, please visit the American Library Association or contact your local library system. Enjoy your “freadom” to read and happy shopping at Literary Book Gifts!


Bookish Ramblings – Fall 2015

      I consider myself very fortunate to have good friends and family to support me throughout the year with my host of medical problems (chronic migraine headaches, fast-developing cataracts, and more). I treasure these people and thank them for all manner of things, especially for facilitating my continued attendance at various book festivals. Before having cataract surgery, it was close to impossible for me to drive great distances due to obvious vision issues. Add to that the fact that I have a migraine headache each and every day (yes, I do mean every day!), it becomes problematic to drive great distances simply because I have no way of knowing if the migraine headache will ratchet up from moderate to severe and thus interfere with my ability to safely travel home. As a result, I’m usually in need of a travel companion whenever I’m attempting to go more than an hour away from home.



Festival #1: 
      This year, one of my friends from a local book group, Shelley, was gracious enough to travel with me to a regional book festival in August, the Lewisburg Literary Festival. (Also met up with another book group friend, Veronica, and her husband.) I’m the type of person that’s willing to drive up to four hours just to meet one of my favorite authors, so the day-trip to Lewisburg was nothing more than a scenic drive to me. Of course, getting to hear both Wiley Cash and Kathryn Stockett, as well as getting books signed by both authors was the highpoint of the day. Spending the day with two of my bookish friends, Shelley and Veronica were additional bonuses. An extra bonus was not having that day’s migraine interfere with driving to and from Lewisburg or being able to enjoy the presentations by Mr. Cash and Ms. Stockett. BTW, if you ever get the opportunity to hear either of these authors speak, go!

Festival #2:

     I’ve spent the past few years raving about the BookMarks festival in Winston-Salem, NC to friends and family. I’ve had the pleasure of taking my nieces to this festival and they’ve enjoyed it as well. This year, one of my bookish friends from North Carolina (a fantastic romance author and former local librarian) decided to attend the festival and we talked another local librarian into attending. My youngest brother, twin diva 8-year-old nieces, and I drove down to spend the weekend in Winston-Salem and attend this year’s festival. The author lineup was amazing: Garth Stein, R.L. Stine, Sandra Brown, Diane Ackerman, Pat Conroy, Cassandra King, Ron Rash, Candace Bushnell, Damon Tweedy, Elizabeth Berg, Patricia Park, Kwame Alexander, Aisha Saeed, and many more. For me, the hardest decisions were which presentation to attend (I wanted to hear everyone) and which books to buy (I wanted them all). My nieces were excited to get books and have them signed by the authors. One of the twins deliberated for close to 10 minutes over what should be signed in her book (told you they were divas). This one-day festival is well worth the trip in my not-so-humble-opinion. Of course, since I didn’t have to drive, I spent the trip down and back reading.

Festival #3:

     The West Virginia Book Festival returns this year, YAY! Due to budget cuts and funding issues, this festival has been on hiatus for the past two years. However, the WV Book Festival returns this weekend with a bang. Friday evening features Neil Gaiman. Yes, Neil Gaiman will be at the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston, WV on Friday, October 23rd at 7:00 PM at the Charleston Civic Center. Saturday, October 24th will feature Homer Hickam, Jacqueline Woodson, Jeff Shaara, and Jodi Picoult. To say that I’m excited about this festival is a major understatement. This year’s book festival is part of FestivALL Fall, so there are plenty of events happening around town for everyone. I’ll be with the books and book people!


Do you attend any local or regional book festivals? 

Bookish Ramblings and a Book Giveaway


I had the pleasure of attending a reception at the West Virginia Culture Center yesterday for participants of the West Virginia Reads 150 program. I had a wonderful time with friends from several of my local book clubs. I also got to meet some wonderful WV-based authors and make some new bookish friends. For those of you that are unaware, the WV Reads 150 program took place from January 1 through December 31, 2013 in honor of West Virginia’s Sesquicentennial. The goal was to read at least 150 books throughout the calendar year as a team or individual. I participated on several teams last year, and fortunately we all succeeded our goal to read 150 books. The program was such a success that it is being continued this year as WV Reads 150+.


I reconnected with my bookish friend, co-leader of one of my local book groups, a librarian extraordinaire, and an esteemed author, Sarah Title (pardon my sunglasses, but I was dealing with another migraine). Sarah’s first book was published in 2013 by Kensington, Kentucky Home. What?! You haven’t read Kentucky Home? Well, what are you waiting for? Grab a copy today and read it! Sarah’s other titles include: Kentucky Christmas, and, “Full Moon Pie” in Delicious with Lori Foster & Lucy Monroe. Her book, Home Sweet Home, is scheduled for release on April 3, 2014 (review coming soon). Connect with Sarah at her website: http://www.sarahtitle.com

Kentucky Home (A Southern Comfort Novel):

In this warm and witty new series, author Sarah Title introduces readers to the down home Kentucky hospitality of the Carson family and their Wild Rose Farm and Stables. It’s a place where love is always possible–and sweeter than ever the second time around . . . 

Mallory Thompson and Keith Carson are far from impressed with each other when she arrives at his family’s horse farm, fleeing an abusive marriage. Mallory sees nothing but a gruff man who’s as patronizing as her soon-to-be ex-husband, and Keith has no time for a city girl who’s afraid of dogs. But the struggling Wild Rose is too small to allow anyone to keep their distance . . . 

As one by one, Mallory wins the hearts of his family, from his cranky father to his headstrong younger sister and three-legged dog, Keith finds himself more than a little attracted to her stubborn charm. And the longer Mallory stays, the more she realizes Keith is nothing like the overbearing bully she married–and the more she fantasizes about being in his strong, loving arms. Maybe some folks get a second chance to make a first impression after all . . . 


Home Sweet Home (Southern Comfort #2):

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a ramshackle house must be in want of a handyman.”

Just because English professor Grace Williams is a woman whose “new” house is crumbling around her doesn’t mean she needs an arrogant, condescending man’s help, even if he does look gorgeous in faded jeans and a tool belt. What she needs is a working bathroom, not a ridiculous crush.

Jake Burdette has no use for the university types who stumble around Willow Springs, with their noses in the air whenever they’re not in a book. He may not be a scholar, but he’s proud of the hard, honest work he does—even if he would appreciate a little more of it. He doesn’t need Grace’s pity, even if he does wish she wasn’t so adorably sexy.

They’re all wrong for each other. But Grace’s troublesome house seems to feel differently…


I’ll be giving away a copy of Delicious, signed by Sarah Title, to one lucky blog follower (see the rafflecopter form below to enter).

Delicious

With a full moon hanging over the apple orchards of Delicious, Ohio, romance is in the air, and three couples are about to experience the magic of falling in love. 

Down on Jonathan Avenue, the shy proprietor of the quaint bookstore can’t seem to keep her fantasies about a famous writer to herself.

While at The Old Orchard Inn the tempting smell of spiced hot cider lures an out-of-town investor to investigate the magnetic attraction of his sultry but strangely old-fashioned manager.

And over at Apple of My Pie a play-by-the-rules accountant wants much more than tasty treats from the pop up food truck’s capricious baker.

Satisfaction is just a bite away. 




I got to meet local author Eric Douglas. Mr. Douglas has quite a number of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books published. Here are just a few of his titles: River Town, Wreck of the Huron, Guardian’s Keep, Flooding Hollywood, and Cayman Cowboys. To learn more about Mr. Douglas and his wonderful books, please visit his website: www.booksbyeric.com




I got the opportunity to reconnect with Marilyn Sue Shank, Christy-award winning author of Child of the Mountains. This book was simply amazing and so captivating that I read it in one sitting. To learn more about Ms. Shank and her book, please visit her website: http://www.marilynsueshank.com

Child of the Mountains

It’s about keeping the faith.

Growing up poor in 1953 in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia doesn’t bother Lydia Hawkins. She treasures her tight-knit family. There’s her loving mama, now widowed; her whip-smart younger brother, BJ, who has cystic fibrosis; and wise old Gran. But everything falls apart after Gran and BJ die and mama is jailed unjustly. Suddenly Lydia has lost all those dearest to her. 

Moving to a coal camp to live with her uncle William and aunt Ethel Mae only makes Lydia feel more alone. She is ridiculed at her new school for her outgrown homemade clothes and the way she talks, and for what the kids believe her mama did. And to make matters worse, she discovers that her uncle has been keeping a family secret—about her.

If only Lydia, with her resilient spirit and determination, could find a way to clear her mother’s name . . . 



I had the pleasure of meeting Marie Manilla, author of Shrapnel, Still Life with Plums, and the upcoming The Patron Saint of Ugly. One of my friends read and recommended Still Life with Plums, so I’ll be reading that over the weekend. I’m hoping to get an advanced reader copy of The Patron Saint of Ugly to review before its release on June 17, 2014 (if not, I’ll review it after the publication date). To learn more about Ms. Manilla and all of her writings, please visit: www.mariemanilla.com

The Patron Saint of Ugly (coming soon)

Born in Sweetwater, West Virginia, with a mop of flaming red hair and a map of the world rendered in port-wine stains on every surface of her body, Garnet Ferrari is used to being an outcast. With her sharp tongue, she has always known how to defend herself against bullies and aggressors, but she finds she is less adept at fending off the pilgrims who have set up a veritable tent city outside her hilltop home, convinced that she is Saint Garnet, healer of skin ailments and maker of miracles.

Her grandmother, the indelible Nonna Diamante, believes that Garnet’s mystical gift can be traced back to the family’s origins in the Nebrodi Mountains of Sicily, and now the Vatican has sent an emissary to Sweetwater to investigate. Garnet, wanting nothing more than to debunk this “gift” and send these desperate souls packing, reaches back into her family’s tangled past and unspools for the Church a tale of love triangles on the shores of the Messina Strait; a sad, beautiful maiden’s gilded-cage childhood in blueblood Virginia; and the angelic, doomed boy Garnet could not protect.

Saint or not, Garnet learns that the line between reality and myth is always blurred, and that the aspects of ourselves we are most ashamed of can prove to be the source of our greatest strength, and even our salvation.




I don’t have space to mention all of the wonderful WV authors that were at this reception, but I just want to give them a quick “thank you” for giving up a beautiful Saturday afternoon to spend some time with fellow book lovers. A big “Thank You” and congratulations are offered to the West Virginia Library Commission and the Kanawha County Public Library for hosting a wonderful reception. I can’t wait to read books written by many of these new-to-me authors. Who knew little old WV had so many amazing authors within its borders?











My apologies to all of my loyal followers as I wasn’t able to truly celebrate my 3rd blogiversary with you. This has been a rough year starting with my father’s emergency admission on New Year’s Eve, followed by two surgical procedures; then there was the local water crisis, which seems to be never-ending; and, last by no means least, my own medical issues. I simply did not have the wherewithal to celebrate anything earlier this money and my finances really didn’t allow for much more than a token cupcake. This giveaway may not make up for the missed blogiversary, but I hope the winner will enjoy reading some wonderful stories written by Lori Foster, Lucy Monroe, and the wonderful Sarah Title. This giveaway is for one paperback copy of Delicious featuring stories written by these three wonderful authors, and it has been signed by Sarah Title. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada, and will end at midnight ET on Saturday, March 29th, 2014. The winner will be announced on Sunday, March 30th by 10:00 AM ET.

Let’s Celebrate with Books…

Today is the fourth annual Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. The purpose of this day is to instill a love of books AND promote bookstores in our children. Don’t have any children to take to a bookstore today? Take your nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, or neighbor’s child with you to a bookstore day. I’ve already specially ordered a book for my 12 y.o. grand-niece (regrettably she isn’t local so I’ll be mailing this to her) and will be escorting my twin 6 y.o. nieces to our favorite local indie bookstore, Taylor Books.

Over 500 bookstores across the United States, Canada, England, Australia and Germany will be participating this year. If your favorite local bookstore isn’t participating this year, please inform them about this event and perhaps they’ll be added next year.

Want to learn more about this event? Please visit Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day to learn more. If you participate in today’s event, please come back and let us how your day went.




Bookish ramblings…

There are quite a number of reviews that will be posting soon, including reviews for The Last Clinic by Gary Gusick and The Price of Innocence by Lisa Black. I’ll be reading and reviewing a number of other books this month, including: This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash, Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley, Bliss by Hilary Fields, Wake to Darkness by Maggie Shayne, and many more…

I’m seriously considering posting my favorite books of 2013. This will be the first time I post a list of my favorite books and I’m trying to keep the list relatively small. The problem is I’ve read over 375 books this year and enjoyed quite a few, but I’ll restrain myself and keep the list to 25 books or less. This list will not post until December 31st just in case I read a book at the end of the year that needs to be added to my favorite books of the year. 

I hope you all stay safe and warm during this chilly weekend. Go out today to celebrate Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day then curl up with a few good books and enjoy the rest of the weekend. 

Happy reading my friends!

Bookish Ramblings: An Update

I know it’s been awhile since I posted a review. Let’s chalk this up to ongoing problems due to chronic, severe migraine headaches AND writer’s block (or should that be reviewer’s block?). Strange as it may seem, I’ve been able to keep up with my reading as long as I read in electronic format. I can handle low-light and ebooks but low-light and print books just doesn’t seem to work. I have no idea why.

So what have I been up to other than reading and more reading? Well I was fortunate enough to attend the BookMarks Book Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina last month. I was accompanied on this day trip by my youngest brother and his lovely six-year-old twin daughters, as well as my sixteen-year-old niece. The twins were excited about the idea of receiving a free book after participating in the childrens’ activities. My older niece accompanied me as I attended lectures by Deborah Harkness (A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night), Jason Mott (The Returned – review coming soon with a giveaway offer), Ann B. Ross (author of the Miss Julia series), and Jill McCorkle (Life After Life). The best thing about this trip was spending the day with family and listening to some wonderful authors discuss their work. The second best thing about this day-trip was I didn’t have to drive so I got to read going and coming, yay! BTW, Ms. Harkness revealed the title for the third book in her All Souls Trilogy, The Tree of Life.

Here’s a picture of Ms. Harkness at the festival:


And here’s one of Mr. Mott:



I also attended a lecture at a local university by author Wil Haygood (The Butler, A Witness to History). Mr. Haygood actually worked for a local Charleston WV newspaper quite a few years ago before heading to Washington DC and the Washington Post. Mr. Haygood spent quite some time here in Charleston and met with local college students as well as Upward Bound students. If you ever get the opportunity to hear him speak, go! To read more about his visit to Charleston, please click here

It was fascinating to hear about Mr. Haygood’s discovery of Eugene Allen that was followed by a newspaper article. That article in turn inspired the blockbuster movie “The Butler” and ultimately led to the writing of the book, The Butler A Witness to History. Mr. Haygood shared anecdotes of his time spent with Mr. and Mrs. Allen, as well as his time on the movie set. 


What’s next? Well, I’m going to do my best to write all the reviews that should have been written and posted over the past few weeks (okay months, don’t nitpick). I hope it won’t be too confusing but I’ll be posting reviews of recently read books mixed with previously read books. Please bear with me as I attempt to catch up. Thanks and Happy Reading!

Bookish Ramblings: Operation Paperback – A Worthy Cause

If you are anything like me, you probably have mounds of books around your house (okay, I have mounds of books, boxes filled with books, and bookshelves overflowing with books). One of my local book groups tries to have a book swap every 6-8 weeks so we can bring new-to-us books into our homes. There were numerous books left over after our last swap and I chose to bring the remaining books home with me. Some of these books have been donated to a local dialysis center, others went to a local homeless shelter, but the vast majority were sent to military personnel via Operation Paperback.


What is Operation Paperback? Operation Paperback is a non-profit organization that collects “gently-used” books and ships them to US military personnel, as well as to veterans and military families. This organization and its’ volunteers have shipped over 1.9 million books worldwide since it was established in 1999. I recently signed up as a volunteer shipper and received my first addresses (Yay!). I shipped a total of 16 books to 3 different addresses. Each recipient provides their genre preferences so volunteers can easily select the right books for the right recipient. As a volunteer shipper I packaged the books, counted the number of books packed into each box, shipped the boxes, and then reported my shipments at the Operation Paperback website. The only out-of-pocket expense I had was paying for the shipments (a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things, in my not so humble opinion).

To learn more about Operation Paperback, please visit the website: www.OperationPaperback.org.  If you want to sign up as a volunteer and ship your gently used books, sign up here. Don’t have any books you want to part with but still want to help? Operation Paperback also accepts monetary donations, more information is available here.

Connect with Operation Paperback:  Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter

Do you recycle/donate your books after reading? If so please share where you donate your books.

Happy reading!

Chocolate-inspired Bookish Ramblings

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”   Charles M. Schulz



It’s beginning to look and feel like Spring which means it’s time for the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival. This delightful (and delicious) festival has been celebrating all things chocolate for seven years with tastings, children’s events, movies, music, a chocolate themed dinner, chef demonstrations and more.  I’ll be spending the day with a few friends and my 16 y.o. niece celebrating the joys of white, dark, milk and flavoured chocolate. I know this event isn’t exactly book-related, but here are a few books featuring chocolate to pique your reading interest and tease your taste buds.




Up first is the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. This book has been a favorite of children and adults ever since it was first published in 1964. You’ve probably seen the movie, but (trust me) you need to read the book! (Psst . . . the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie will be shown at this year’s festival.)


Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last!

But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!




Next up is an ALA Best Book for Young Adults award winning book, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. This book was first published in 1974 and has also been made into a movie (read the book!). Who knew that refusing to sell chocolate for a school fundraiser would result in such a wonderful read?


Jerry Renault ponders the question on the poster in his locker: Do I dare disturb the universe? Refusing to sell chocolates in the annual Trinity school fund-raiser may not seem like a radical thing to do. But when Jerry challenges a secret school society called The Vigils, his defiant act turns into an all-out war. Now the only question is: Who will survive? First published in 1974, Robert Cormier’s groundbreaking novel, an unflinching portrait of corruption and cruelty, has become a modern classic.





First published in 1984, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel has delighted readers around the world. Ms. Esquivel provides a story that incorporates magical realism with history, romance and passion for a read that is sure to delight.


A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.




Needless to say there are countless other reads in a variety of genres that feature chocolate in their titles or storylines. I was rather astonished when a Goodreads search returned with over 2800 books. Most of these had chocolate in the title, some titles were repeat listings due to variations in print (hardcover, paperback, trade paperback, foreign language versions, etc.), and others presumably featured chocolate in the storyline. There were a few returns that had me scratching my head, such as the ESV Study Bible.

I won’t be doing much reading this Saturday, well at least not during the day. I hope that everyone has a delightful weekend. I’m off to enjoy some chocolate (okay a lot of chocolate).


Happy reading!