2021 Book 15: DEEP INTO THE DARK by P. J. Tracy

Deep Into The Dark, Detective Margaret Nolan #1, by P. J. Tracy
ISBN: 9781250754943 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250783578 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250790071 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B088ML1NXZ (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08BKL7N6K (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: January 12, 2021

Sam Easton—a true survivor—is home from Afghanistan, trying to rebuild a life in his hometown of LA. Separated from his wife, bartending and therapy sessions are what occupy his days and nights. When friend and colleague Melody Traeger is beaten by her boyfriend, she turns to Sam for help. When the boyfriend turns up dead the next day, a hard case like Sam is the perfect suspect.

But LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan, whose brother recently died serving overseas, is sympathetic to Sam’s troubles, and can’t quite see him as a killer. She’s more interested in the secrets Melody might be keeping and the developments in another murder case on the other side of town.

Set in an LA where real people live and work—not the superficial LA of Beverly Hills or the gritty underbelly of the city—Deep into the Dark features two really engaging, dynamic main characters and explores the nature of obsession, revenge, and grief.

P. J. Tracy is known for her “fast, fresh, and funny” characters (Harlan Coben) and her “sizzling” plots (People); the Monkeewrench series was her first, set in Minneapolis and co-written with her mother. Now with Deep into the Dark she’s on her own—and it’s a home run.

Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Indiebound | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Audible | AudiobooksNow | BookDepository | Downpour Audiobook | !ndigo | Kobo Audiobook | Kobo eBook

Read an excerpt by clicking here.

Good day, book people. I know some of you struggled with reading during 2020, but it was a banner year for me. Although I’m a bit ahead of my reading schedule for 2021, I’ve been struggling with my reading for the past few days. This is partially due to renewed tech device issues (yes, I killed another tablet and then I had to wait for the new tablet to arrive, set it up, and transfer most of my 9700+ ebooks to said new device; apparently tablets aren’t designed to be used 15+ hours/day. Who knew?!) and a series of severe migraine headaches. As a result, it took me several days to get into Deep Into the Dark. I struggled with the first perhaps 15-20% of the book (it’s difficult to provide page numbers when I’m reading a digital review copy and only see percent read, sorry) and that took the better part of the first two days. Perhaps my inability to read it in one sitting was due to the frustration over tech device issues (I had numerous issues with one reading app and it gave me nightmares after installing the app, attempting to download some of the 4100+ titles owned via this company, then removing/reinstalling it several times before it actually worked and allowed me to download anything, whew!). Then again, it might have been due to the severe pain from the migraine headaches. I can’t say for sure what the cause was but once I made it past the 20% mark, I was hooked on this story. I needed to learn more about Sam Easton and Melody Traeger and their dark places and pasts. I needed to know more about the police investigation into the serial murders and then the murders linked to Sam and Melody. I simply needed to know more.

I’ve read all of the Monkeewrench series by P.J. Tracy and was looking forward to reading the start of this new series. Although Deep Into the Dark got off to a bit of a rocky start for me, I’m hooked. I enjoyed the twists and turns the multiple storylines took. I enjoyed the friendship and similarities between Sam and Melody in terms of their past traumas and shared current experiences. I liked Margaret Nolan and the only drawback, if any, is that I didn’t feel that I got to know her as much as I got to know Sam and Melody. All of the primary characters are realistically flawed and quite human rather than caricatures or stereotypes. The action within the story was believable and the secondary characters were just as relatable and realistic as the primary characters. Deep Into the Dark is a psychological thriller with several mystery storylines happening, and also introduces characters dealing with marital separation, marital infidelity, post-traumatic stress disorder, continued drug recovery, attempts at alcohol recovery, physical abuse, survivor guilt, and murder. Ms. Tracy provides the reader with just enough information about the twin mysteries to keep you guessing until the bitter end. I can’t reveal any more without revealing too much, but if you have read the Monkeewrench series, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Deep Into the Dark. For those of you that enjoy psychological thrillers filled with plenty of dark twists, then I suggest you grab a copy of Deep Into the Dark as well. If you’re not sure about psychological thrillers but just want something a bit out of your comfort zone to read this year, then please add Deep Into the Dark to your TBR list, it won’t disappoint. For now, I’m patiently awaiting the next release in this series and, who knows, perhaps I’ll be re-reading Deep Into the Dark while I wait.

Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer:
I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2021 Book 3: THE FORTUNATE ONES by Ed Tarkington

The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington

ISBN: 9781616206802 (hardcover)

ISBN: 9781643751078 (ebook)

ISBN: 9781649040237 (audiobook)

ISBN: 9781664709461 (audiobook on CD)

ASIN: B08QXZMS9Q (Audible audiobook)

ASIN: B08519FF6Z (Kindle edition)

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Release Date: January 5, 2021

The Fortunate Ones feels like a fresh and remarkably sure-footed take on The Great Gatsby, examining the complex costs of attempting to transcend or exchange your given class for a more gilded one. Tarkington’s understanding of the human heart and mind is deep, wise, and uncommonly empathetic. As a novelist, he is the real deal. I can’t wait to see this story reach a wide audience, and to see what he does next.” —Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

When Charlie Boykin was young, he thought his life with his single mother on the working-class side of Nashville was perfectly fine. But when his mother arranges for him to be admitted as a scholarship student to an elite private school, he is suddenly introduced to what the world can feel like to someone cushioned by money. That world, he discovers, is an almost irresistible place where one can bend—and break—rules and still end up untarnished. As he gets drawn into a friendship with a charismatic upperclassman, Archer Creigh, and an affluent family that treats him like an adopted son, Charlie quickly adapts to life in the upper echelons of Nashville society. Under their charming and alcohol-soaked spell, how can he not relax and enjoy it all—the lack of anxiety over money, the easy summers spent poolside at perfectly appointed mansions, the lavish parties, the freedom to make mistakes knowing that everything can be glossed over or fixed?

But over time, Charlie is increasingly pulled into covering for Archer’s constant deceits and his casual bigotry. At what point will the attraction of wealth and prestige wear off enough for Charlie to take a stand—and will he?

The Fortunate Ones is an immersive, elegantly written story that conveys both the seductiveness of this world and the corruption of the people who see their ascent to the top as their birthright.

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The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington has been called a contemporary The Great Gatsby, and I can definitely see the similarities. Charlie Boykin is definitely from the “have nots” and the wrong-side of town according to those in the know in Nashville society. His life changes, possibly for the better and then again maybe not, when he is provided a scholarship to an elite all-boys school and is befriended by Archer Creigh. Over the course of Charlie’s high school career, he eventually moves away from the wrong-side of town when his mother is offered a job as a personal assistant to a wealthy society matron. That move changes Charlie’s life forever. It isn’t just the disparity between the haves and the have-nots that shakes Charlie up, it’s the “affluenza” and, for lack of a better phrase, “white privilege” that he bears witness to that finally pushes him away from his family and friends permanently.

I’m going to go out a limb here and say that I didn’t really like The Great Gatsby, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Fortunate Ones. I liked the way Mr. Tarkington told the story, in almost a flashback mode, by taking us from Charlie’s present life to his past and then brought us back to the present. Although Charlie is the focal point of the story, the reader gets to know all of the secondary characters through Charlie’s eyes. I enjoyed reading about his friendships in high school, his return to Nashville in his late 20s, and his final departure from the life he knew but grew to despise. There’s a lot to take in with this story, including: class, racism, closeted homosexuality, mental illness, suicide, marital infidelity, affluenza/white privilege, love, the psychological toll of trying to be something and someone you’re not, loyalty, and more. Mr. Tarkington has crafted a coming-of-age story that pulled this reader in from the first chapter until the very end. For those of you that actually enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby and are interested in a modern retelling, then I highly recommend The Fortunate Ones. For those that are like me and didn’t exactly care for The Great Gatsby or didn’t read it, I still encourage you to grab a copy of The Fortunate Ones to read. This is my first #mustread recommendation for the year, folks. Now, go grab yourself a copy!

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2021 Book 2: THE WIFE UPSTAIRS by Rachel Hawkins

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
ISBN: 9781250245496 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250245519 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250752451 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781250752468 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08DRR2K6X (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B08BKLVZRJ (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 5, 2021

A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, Rachel Hawkins’s The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates—a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie—not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past—or his—catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

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I debated internally over whether I would post this review on my blog or not, but then decided to go for it. I had been looking forward to reading The Wife Upstairs ever since I heard it was a modern, Southern gothic take on Jane Eyre. If you follow me on social media, then you probably know that Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite classic novels. I've read several retellings of this book and enjoyed them all, well up until now. I really wanted to like this book, especially after reading some of the advance reviews and praise. Sadly, this one just didn't work for me. I can't point to any one thing about this book that I didn't like other than I'm very upset over the fact that Jane isn't very likeable, is a thief, and isn't even a Jane (you'll need to read the book to understand that part). 
I found this to be somewhat of a slow read and actually had to set it aside several times before I could actually start it and read through to the end. The first third of the book seemed to go very slow and I didn't care about any of the characters. Normally having unlikeable characters isn't an issue, but perhaps because this is an adaptation of my favorite book it became a problem for me. The one interesting thing was that the book was told from multiple viewpoints, that of Jane and of Bea (aka Bertha Mason Rochester). I didn't really become invested into the action within this story until the last few chapters of the book. This just might be one of those books that readers even love or hate. I don't "hate" it, but it just didn't grab me the way I had hoped. Well-written? Yes! Interesting premise? Again, yes, but there was just something that didn't quite come together to make this an intriguing or gripping read for this reader. Hopefully I'll be able to pick this one up in a few months and tell you differently. If you grab a copy of The Wife Upstairs then I hope that you're in the "love it" reader camp.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2020 Book 438: CONFESSIONS IN B-FLAT by Donna Hill

Confessions in B-Flat by Donna Hill 
ISBN: 9781640638990 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781640638297 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781640638303 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781662051647 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781662052507 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B08JHCB9MC  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B0879HJ7S6   (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 24, 2020 
Publisher: Sideways Books

Essence bestselling author Donna Hill brings us an emotional love story set against the powerful backdrop of the civil rights movement that gripped a nation—a story as timely as it is timeless…


The year is 1963. In Harlem, the epicenter of Black culture, the fight for equality has never been stronger. The time is now. Enough is enough. Yet even within its ranks, a different kind of battle rages. Love thy neighbor? Or rise up against your oppressors?


Jason Tanner has just arrived in New York to help spread the message of his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of passive resistance, while beat poet Anita Hopkins believes the teachings of Malcolm X with all her heart: that the way to true freedom is “by any means necessary.” When Jason sees Anita perform her poetry at the iconic B-Flat lounge, he’s transfixed. And Anita has never met anyone who can match her wit for wit like this…


One movement, two warring ideologies—can love be enough to unite them?

Confessions in B-Flat is a celebration of the hard-won victories of those who came before us, and a stark reminder of just how far we still have to go.


Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  BookDepository  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook


Anita Hopkins is a New York girl that fervently believes in the message of Minister Malcolm X Shabazz, “by any means necessary.” She volunteers for the movement, works as a waitress, is a poet with a growing local following, and a music lover. She doesn’t believe in compromise until she meets Jason Tanner. Jason is from Atlanta, an avid churchgoer, and is devoted to the message of nonviolence taught by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He’s moved from Georgia to New York with the hopes of bringing the message of nonviolent protest to the North. To say that Anita and Jason stand on opposite sides of the Civil Rights movement is a major understatement, but their attraction to one another just might help them bridge the divide. Gradually, they begin to accept that their views will continue to differ but they’re willing to “agree to disagree” to keep the peace as their relationship grows. Eventually, Anita introduces Jason to her parents in Brooklyn and Jason introduces Anita to his family in Atlanta. Jason wants more permanence to their relationship, namely marriage, but Anita thinks that they can simply live together for now. Just when it seems as if their relationship can’t handle another stumbling block, they come together once again until Jason makes a decision that Anita can’t understand or accept. This separation just might be the death knell for them when the Tanner family and Anita receive startling news. Anita might have stopped going to church after high school, but she needs faith and prayer now more than ever before. 


I’ve read a lot of romance novels over the years, beginning with my first Harlequin when I was about 13-years-old. I can’t believe that I’ve never read anything by Donna Hill before now. Confessions in B-Flat is more than a story about opposites-attract romance, it’s also about the two sides of the Civil Rights movement: the philosophies surrounding those movements and the reasons for those philosophies. The story touches on justice, protest movements, and even the early days of Vietnam. There’s a lot going on in this story and I enjoyed it all. I enjoyed the brief scenes with Dr. King, John Lewis, Andrew Young, the glimpses of 1960s Apollo theater music reviews, the inclusion of bits of speeches by Malcolm X, thoughts by James Baldwin, and others. Anita and Jason have a tempestuous relationship, but it was fascinating to read about the development of their romance. I enjoyed the scenes with Anita’s parents, as well as those with Jason’s family. Confessions in B-Flat has tons of angst and drama along with the romance and Civil Rights action. (Although this novel is set in the early 1960s, it is just as topical today with the Black Lives Matter campaigns, protests against police violence, etc.) This might not be a typical romance novel, but it was definitely one I enjoyed and feel can be enjoyed by anyone that enjoys reading romance stories featuring recent history. If you’re not a romance reader, then you can enjoy reading Confessions in B-Flat for just the history alone (not to mention the poetry). I look forward to reading more by Donna Hill in the future and have already amassed a list of her previous books that I want to read. I’ll be getting a print copy of Confessions in B-Flat for my 86-y.o. mother to read because I think she’ll enjoy this one as much as I did.


Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the >Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2020 Book 427: THE AWAKENING by Nora Roberts

The Awakening, The Dragon Heart Legacy #1, by Nora Roberts 
ISBN: 9781250272614 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250272607 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250770301 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781250770295 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B083LMBNFL  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B082RS9D42  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 24, 2020 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

In the realm of Talamh, a teenage warrior named Keegan emerges from a lake holding a sword—representing both power and the terrifying responsibility to protect the Fey. In another realm known as Philadelphia, a young woman has just discovered she possesses a treasure of her own…


When Breen Kelly was a girl, her father would tell her stories of magical places. Now she’s an anxious twentysomething mired in student debt and working a job she hates. But one day she stumbles upon a shocking discovery: her mother has been hiding an investment account in her name. It has been funded by her long-lost father—and it’s worth nearly four million dollars.


This newfound fortune would be life-changing for anyone. But little does Breen know that when she uses some of the money to journey to Ireland, it will unlock mysteries she couldn’t have imagined. Here, she will begin to understand why she kept seeing that silver-haired, elusive man, why she imagined his voice in her head saying Come home, Breen Siobhan. It’s time you came home. Why she dreamed of dragons. And where her true destiny lies—through a portal in Galway that takes her to a land of faeries and mermaids, to a man named Keegan, and to the courage in her own heart that will guide her through a powerful, dangerous destiny…


Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook on CD  |  B&N Nook Book  |  BookDepository  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook


Watch the book trailer 





Book Review

Breen Kelly is young, healthy, and employed, but she is not happy. She’s not happy with her full-time teaching job. She’s not happy with the amount of student loan debt she has. She’s not happy that she has had to work several part-time jobs just to help pay off her debts. In addition, she has a horrible relationship with her mother, Jennifer Wilcox. The only part of her life that she is happy with is her friendships with her roommate — Marco Olsen, one of Marco’s bosses and Breen’s surrogate mother, Salvador “Sally” Travino — drag queen extraordinaire and bar owner, as well as Derrick Lacross — Sally’s lover. So when Breen learns that her father hadn’t simply abandoned her, had been sending money all these years he’s been gone, and the account held close to four million dollars AND that her mother had never said a word to her about it, Breen blew up. She quickly took control of the account, quit her teaching job at the end of the current school year, and made arrangements to travel first class with Marco to Ireland. That would have been enough if it weren’t for the unusual dreams involving dragons, horses, a gorgeous man with a sword and staff, as well as an impending sense of evil and doom. Although Breen’s mother did everything she could to keep Breen “average and ordinary” she was something much, much more, born of the Fey, a demigod, and of the modern world. Breen has finally awakened to her gifts and the possibilities of being more. As she awakened to her Fey talents, she also discovered her talents for writing. With the push from Marco and others, she began to write a travel blog and then fiction She ultimately finds that she can make a living at something other than teaching when she not only finds a literary agent but sells not one but three books to a publisher. While in Ireland, Breen also discovers the reason why her father never returned for any visits, meets her paternal grandmother, and uncovers much more than she could ever imagine when she falls (literally) into the multiverse land of Talamh. Will Breen embrace the true legacy left by her father and his people and fight against evil in Talamh or turn her back on them and try to live her life quietly in the modern world?


If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed via my GoodReads feed that I’ve read and re-read quite a number of Nora Roberts books over the years. Okay, I’ve re-read quite a few in just the past few months. What can I say other than I enjoy reading Nora Roberts’ books! The Awakening is somewhat reminiscent of several of her previous fantasy trilogies, namely “The Cousins O’Dwyer” and “Chronicles of The One” series where someone is “awakened” and discovers their magical talents, and then must accept their duty that comes with their awakening, namely to fight against evil. The difference with The Awakening is that Breen must accept that if she doesn’t fight against evil, namely her paternal grandfather Odran, the land of Talamh, as well as her modern world might be lost. All her life, Breen has tried to be unobtrusive and fit in, and now she has to not only stand out and stand up but be exceptional and fight to protect all that she loves. I enjoyed the self-discovery portion of this story, as well as the friendship/found-family relationships between Breen, Marco, and Sally. I loved reading about Talamh and all of the Fey as well. Hey dragons, elves, witches, and trolls, what’s not to love?! I enjoyed the way Ms. Roberts melded the two halves of Breen’s life as Breen became more comfortable with the two worlds that she straddles. Of course, there are bad guys in the story, namely Breen’s paternal grandfather Odran and his followers, but there are also good guys and a romance interest guy, namely Keegan Byrne — the current taoiseach or leader of Talamh and the Fey. There are also old friendships renewed, new powers discovered as well as new talents uncovered. There’s a lot happening in The Awakening, but Ms. Roberts, as always, does an excellent job of creating the world of Talamh, introducing us to the evil that threatens that world and ours, as well as crafting the beginning of a fine romance. I can’t wait to see what happens next. If you enjoy reading about fantasy, magic, dragons, the fey, or a romance with a little something different, then I suggest you grab a copy of The Awakening to read. For now, I’ll be patiently waiting for the next installment in this series by re-reading a few more stories by Ms. Roberts.


Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2020 Book 389: SNAPPED by Alexa Martin

SNAPPED by Alexa Martin

Snapped, The Playbook #4, by Alexa Martin 
ISBN: 9780593102503 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780593102510 (eBook)
ISBN: 9780593291375 (Audiobook)
ASIN: B088HHBFR5  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B084786PTF   (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 20, 2020 
Publisher: Berkley Books


With the stakes this high, it’s no longer just a game for the quarterback in this romance by the author of Blitzed.


Elliot Reed is living her best life—or pretending to. She owes it to her dad’s memory to be happy and make the most of her new job as Strategic Communications Manager for the Denver Mustangs. Things are going well until star quarterback Quinton Howard Jr. decides to use the field as his stage and becomes the first player to take a knee during the national anthem.



As the son of a former professional athlete, Quinton knows the good, the bad, and the ugly about football. He’s worked his entire life to gain recognition in the sport, and now that he has it, he’s not about to waste his chance to change the league for better. Not even the brilliant but infuriating Elliot, who the Mustangs assign to manage him, will get Quinton back in line.


A rocky initial meeting only leads to more tension between Quinton and Elliot. But as her new job forces them to spend time together, she realizes they may have more in common than she could’ve ever imagined. With her job and his integrity on the line, this is one coin toss that nobody can win. 


Purchase Links #CommissionEarned:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Audiobooks  |  AudiobooksNow  |  BookDepository  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook


Okay, the first thing you should know is that I am not a sports person by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed The Playbook series by Alexa Martin. I just binge re-read the entire series over the past few days (yes, I re-re-read Intercepted, Fumbled, and re-read Blitzed) in preparation for reading the latest addition to this series, Snapped. I’m so glad I did. It was nice refamiliarizing myself with the Lady Mustangs (the wives and girlfriends of the Denver Mustang players) and their drama and romances. Each book in this series touches upon some serious issues while also providing a great steamy romance read. Snapped is a bit more serious in that it takes to heart the issues of long-term adverse effects of head injuries or CTE and lack of player parity within the football league, as well as professional athlete protests on-the-field and racial representation within the industry. I knew little about any of these subjects before reading this book (trust me, you’ll want to do some research if you watch any professional football). 

Elliot “Elle” Reed is just as lacking in confidence as some of the other women we’ve seen in previous books in this series. If I were dealing with professional athletes pulling in millions of dollars each year and having hundreds, if not thousands, of groupies throwing themselves at these players, I’d probably be somewhat lacking in confidence as well. But Elle is also dealing with childhood issues from being biracial and not quite knowing how to fit into society as she was raised by her white father without any strong black role models or guidance. She’s had to quietly straddle the fence of both races without being fully embraced into either one and trying to live her life colorblind, the way she was raised. I can tell you that it isn’t going well. Quinton Howard Jr. is the new star quarterback for the Denver Mustangs and has become something of a problem issue by blacking out the league logo on his jersey at the start of each game and his taking a knee during the national anthem. He’s quiet and respectful to all, but he’s also using his voice and money to try and right some wrongs. Elle’s job is to make the Mustangs and the league look good, so she has to once again straddle the fence by keeping the team’s owner happy whilst also working with Quinton to assure his personal goals are met. Needless to say, there’s a bit of friction and attraction between the two. Will they be able to make things work or will things frizzle out? Hey, this is a romance, and what is a romance without a HEA. Yes, there is trouble. Not only for Quinton and Elle but also for “Vonnie” Lamar and her husband Justin Lamar. Most of the trouble gets resolved (not all, but most). This book deals with quite a number of issues, including racial identity, racism, systemic racism within certain professional sports leagues, lack of parity in the treatment of retired professional athletes (NFL vs. NBA for example), and more. Yes, these are heavy topics to be dealt with in a romance, but Ms. Martin deals with these issues without lightly glossing over them or being too heavy-handed, or at least she does so in this reader’s opinion. There are plenty of light-hearted moments (it is a romance, people) and some moments that just make you want to say “aww.” If you’ve read any of the previous books in this series, then you’ll definitely want to add Snapped to your immediate TBR list. If you haven’t read any of the books in this series and you enjoy romance, then you’ll definitely want to grab all three of the previous books as well as a copy of Snapped when it releases. Something tells me that I’ll be re-re-re-re-reading this series at some point soon (yes, I’m enjoying it just that much!). I’m hopeful that this isn’t the end of this series, simply because I want to read more about these amazing women along with their struggles, their careers, their friendships, their families, and yes, their romances. 

Happy Reading, y’all!

 

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the “Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

2020 Book 356: AND NOW SHE’S GONE by Rachel Howzell Hall

And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall 
ISBN: 9781250753175 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250753168 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250772671 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B08C7YBLRY    (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B082RSNH44   (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 22, 2020 
Publisher: Forge Books


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. 





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Read an excerpt here.




Grayson Sykes is a female private detective on her first case with Rader Consulting in Los Angeles. The case is to locate a missing person, Isabel Lincoln, on behalf of her boyfriend, a local cardiologist. Initially, it appears that Isabel may have left her boyfriend because of an abusive relationship. But Grayson knows firsthand what an abusive relationship is like and she’s convinced that all is not what it appears. Although she doesn’t like the arrogant Dr. Ian O’Donnell, she begins to realize that he may be guilty of many things, but the charge of physical abuse isn’t one of them. She talks Dr. O’Donnell into allowing her to stay on the case to track down Isabel and is quickly led down a proverbial rabbit hole as she uncovers secret after secret in Isabel’s life.

Now, I could go on and reveal the secrets of this book, and there are quite a few. What I will tell you is that And Now She’s Gone is a smart, well-written, psychological mystery with layer after layer of twists and turns that kept this reader engaged until the very last page. There are bad guys — come on people it’s a mystery so of course there are bad guys  and horrible guys. The entire story is told as two stories, one as a flashback and the other as a more contemporary storyline. The flashback reveals the story of Natalie K. Grayson Dixon. She’s married to a Vegas big shot and is slowly isolated from her friends and family as well as constantly abused. She was raised in foster care until the age of 15 when she was adopted by Faye and Victor Grayson, both now deceased. Faye was a school teacher and Victor was an FBI agent who worked with Dominick Rader, former FBI agent and currently the CEO of Rader Consulting. For those of you that are sensitive to stories that include physical, mental, and emotional abuse themes, you may want to give this book a pass. However, for those of you that enjoy reading a taut and twisted psychological thriller with truly warped characters, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall to read. Personally, I’ll be adding quite a few of Ms. Hall’s previous titles to my TBR list and possibly re-reading And Now She’s Gone over the next few weeks or months. I know, there are other books I should be reading, but I so enjoyed this one. There are many bad things I could say about 2020, but it has been great as the year of procrastireading (reading instead of doing anything else). One of the many great things about 2020 is that I’ve had the opportunity to read some wonderful books including And Now She’s Gone. I look forward to reading more by Rachel Howzell Hall in the future.

Happy Reading y’all! 


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2020 Book 316: WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING by Alyssa Cole

When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole
ISBN: 9780062982650 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062982667 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780063036048 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781799941491 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B083WMCX8R  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B082T33HC3    (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: September 1, 2020


Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which 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? 





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Take two unreliable narrators, add in a mess of racism, a touch of white privilege and white fragility along with a history of displacement caused by gentrification and you’ll get some idea of what’s taking place in When No one is Watching. A Brooklyn neighborhood is rapidly losing its sense of racial identity or at least the racial identity it had when Sydney Green grew up in the neighborhood. And many of her long-term neighbors are being displaced, some willingly and others not-so-willingly if rumors are to be believed. Adding insult to injury, the “community” bulletin board seems to have a hidden chat function indicating that not all is what it seems to be in the rapidly changing neighborhood. This story is presented in the alternating voices of both Sydney and Theo, so the reader gets to see things from both sides of the table (so to speak). Sydney is a divorced woman that has returned home from the West Coast after dealing with some intense issues, now has to deal with her mother’s declining health (actually, her mother may or may not be deceased…unreliable narrator folks!), a best friend/roommate that may or may not be “working” for the “enemy”, and above all preserving her childhood home. Theo thought his new girlfriend might be the “one” and was delighted to buy a home with her. The only problem is he is now relegated to living in basically the attic and his “girlfriend” doesn’t really want anything to do with him. Fortunately, Theo is enamored with the current history of his new neighborhood and is willing to work with Sydney to uncover what might be going on behind closed doors. Can Sydney rely upon Theo and his insights even if he seems to be one of the enemies? Just because Sydney, and even Theo, are paranoid does it mean that there aren’t people out to get them…or are there?

To say that When No One is Watching is a change of pace for Alyssa Cole is a major understatement. Not only does she change genres, but she does so in a huge way. I’ve been trying to figure out an apt way to describe this book and even after ruminating for a few weeks, I can’t come up with anything succinct. When I first began this book, I thought it was going to be an “us against them” read, and it is and it isn’t. This book does touch on a host of issues, including racial pride, identity, racism, white privilege, the effects of gentrification, the opioid epidemic, and more. Ms. Cole isn’t just looking at things as a Black vs. White world, but also the myriad shades of gray in between and how so many people get lost or forgotten when “others” are only interested in the bottom line. When No One is Watching deals with the battle of big business and its impact on communities, large and small, in the quest for more money and power. In many ways, Sydney and Theo are battling as David against Goliath in their attempts to help the old neighborhood and their older neighbors. There’s a lot going on in this story and I can’t really do justice to this book by attempting to describe it all. What I can do is say if you enjoy reading stories about realistic battles of good vs. evil, the little guy fighting against the big guy, then you’ll definitely want to read When No One is Watching. This story has a perfect blend of paranoia and dysfunction to be realistic without going overboard. There are plenty of twists as well as bad people and worse people. I’ve enjoyed reading everything that Ms. Cole has written in the past, but this book had me on the edge of my seat until the final page. Seriously, if you enjoy psychological thriller reads, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of When No One is Watching. For those of you that have enjoyed reading Ms. Cole’s romance books, step outside of your comfort zone and grab a copy of this book. Although I received a digital review copy of this book, I’ve already purchased an ebook version for my digital library. I’ll be buying a print copy of When No One is Watching to give to my 85-y.o. mother as she has enjoyed reading Ms. Cole’s historical fiction. (Okay, I’ll probably buy two print copies so I can have one as well.) I can’t want to see what Ms. Cole will write next!

Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ and NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2020 Book 231: PARTY OF TWO by Jasmine Guillory

Party of Two, Wedding Date Series #5, by Jasmine Guillory 
ISBN: 9780593100813 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780593100820 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780593100837 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780593214534 (audiobook)
ASIN: B0842XN95M (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B081Y3TT9C (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 23, 2020 
Publisher: Berkley Books



A chance meeting with a handsome stranger turns into a whirlwind affair that gets everyone talking.

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?





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Jasmine Guillory has returned with book five in the “Wedding Date Series” with Party of Two. If you read The Wedding Date, then you’ll probably remember the brief appearance of Olivia Monroe, sister to Alexa. Then Olivia was working in New York, but she’s now returned to California and is the process of setting up her own law firm with her good friend, Ellie Spencer. Olivia isn’t exactly averse to starting a relationship, but her intention is to focus on building her new law firm. Her plans change when she meets the smart and attractive Max, who turns out to be Senator Maxwell Stewart Powell III. Not only is Max one of the youngest senators in Congress he’s also one of the “hottest” bachelors. Olivia isn’t exactly poor, but she is somewhat conservative and has a tendency to think, okay over-think most decisions, especially those that may impact her professional career. She’s learned to curb her impulses and not always say the first thing that comes to mind and that’s exactly what Max seems to do, even if it sometimes gets him into some trouble he always finds a way to come through untarnished. Olivia and Max are true opposites and initially take their relationship very slow, but then once they realize they’re “in love” the decision is made to “go public.” Olivia is somewhat hesitant about what this may mean for a White man dating a Black woman but she’s willing to give their relationship a chance. Until Max puts Olivia in a bad position by bringing up something from her past at a public event without her foreknowledge or permission. For Olivia, this is one blow too many from their relationship and she’s simply not sure if she can handle Max’s impulsive nature. Can opposites attract and if so, can they stay together for the long haul? Will true love reign supreme or is it truly over for Olivia and Max?

It seems a bit strange, but for those of you that are unaware, June is Migraine Awareness Month and this month I’ve had more than my usual number of severe migraine days. Yes, I get a migraine headache every day, but I can usually push through them, but this month I’ve spent at least half of the month in bed with the lights off, phone ringer off, and no reading. You know it’s bad when I’m not reading folks. So I was a bit late to the party in reading my review copy of Party of Two (yes, I know that’s an incredibly bad pun and yes it was intended). If you’ve been following my blog for any time now (and I hope you have), then you’ll know that I’ve read and loved all of the previous books written by Ms. Guillory. Each time, I think there’s no way they can get any better, but amazingly they do. Each book pulls me and I read them in one day, often in one sitting and it was no different with Party of Two. I read it yesterday evening without any food/beverage breaks or other interruptions. I enjoyed the developing relationship between Olivia and Max in addition to the conflicts that arose. I enjoyed Olivia’s friendships in her new hometown, as well as getting reacquainted with Alexa and Drew. And FYI, there is a HEA but you’ll need to read the book to find how the problems are resolved and how they arrive at their happy-ever-after. Seriously, if you’ve read any of the previous books in this series The Wedding Date, The Proposal, The Wedding Party, and Royal Holiday, then you’ll want to grab a copy of Party of Two as soon as possible. If you haven’t read The Wedding Date, The Proposal, The Wedding Party, or Royal Holiday and you’re a romance reader you are seriously missing out on a fantastic series. Take a long weekend or your staycation and read all five books, you can thank me later. For this reader, migraine headaches permitting, I plan to spend the next weekend re-reading the entire series. 

Happy Reading y’all! 💕


(NOTE: To give you an idea about how serious I am about this series and author, last summer I drove over 210 miles one-way from WV to OH to see the author and get my copies of her books signed. And I took my then 84-y.o. mother along with me. My mom decided she had to read the books after the discussion in the bookstore and she’s now hooked on this series as well. So don’t just take my word on it that this series is great, take the word of an almost 86-y.o. woman that’s a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother!)



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2020 Book 165: OF LITERATURE AND LATTES by Katherine Reay


Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine ReayISBN: 9780785222040 (trade paperback) ISBN: 9780785222057 (ebook) ISBN: 9780785222064 (digital audiobook) ISBN: 9781799732648 (audiobook on CD) ASIN: B07TSQFJSX (Audible audiobook) ASIN: B07TG7T3CV (Kindle edition) Publisher: Thomas NelsonPublication Date: May 12, 2020

Return to the cozy and delightful town of Winsome, where two people discover the grace of letting go and the joy found in unexpected change.

After fleeing her hometown three years earlier, Alyssa Harrison never planned to return. Then the Silicon Valley start-up she worked for collapsed and turned her world upside down. She is broke, under FBI investigation, and without a place to go. Having exhausted every option, she comes home to Winsome, Illinois, to regroup and move on as quickly as possible. Yet, as friends and family welcome her back, Alyssa begins to see a place for herself in this small Midwestern community.

Jeremy Mitchell moved from Seattle to Winsome to be near his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s been dreaming of for years. Problem is, the business is bleeding money—and he’s not quite sure why. When he meets Alyssa, he senses an immediate connection, but what he needs most is someone to help him save his floundering business. After asking for her help, he wonders if something might grow between them—but forces beyond their control soon complicate their already complex lives, and the future they both hoped for is not at all what they anticipated.

With the help of Winsome’s small-town charm and quirky residents, Alyssa and Jeremy discover the beauty and romance of second chances.




Welcome back to the town of Winsome, Illinois. We were introduced to this small town, a bedroom community located less than one hour away from Chicago in The Printed Letter Bookshop. We met the new owner of the bookshop, Madeline Cullen, and the store’s two employees, Janet—a divorcee who is estranged from her adult children due to marital infidelity issues, and Claire—a married and working mom who appears to have lost touch with her teenage children. All three women work hard to make the bookshop a viable retail store as well as make amends for past actions and oversight. Fast forward a few months and Janet’s daughter, Alyssa, is returning to Winsome after her tech company was closed due to fraud on the part of the company’s owner. Alyssa is desperate for a new job but is fearful of her return “home” especially if that means a return to her mother’s house. Alyssa doesn’t want to renew her relationship with her mother, but she has nowhere else to go. Fortunately for Alyssa, she has mad tech skills and her childhood BFF hires Alyssa to help with her family-owned restaurant. She then refers Alyssa to several other local business owners and although this isn’t the career she dreamed of, Alyssa is finally working in her field.
Just as Alyssa struggles to find her place in the world and in her family, Jeremy Mitchell, the owner of the local coffee shop, is struggling to make his business a success and find his place in Winsome. Jeremy relocated to Winsome to be closer to his daughter, but his move may have been for naught because his ex-wife is seriously considering moving to Tennessee for her job. Jeremy’s business is floundering and he isn’t sure what he can do to stop his ex-wife from leaving with their daughter.

I read and thoroughly enjoyed The Printed Letter Bookshop and was thrilled when I found out Ms. Reay was writing another book set in this small town. To say I was pleased when approved to read an early reader copy of Of Literature and Lattes is a massive understatement. Of course I had to re-read The Printed Letter Bookshop before reading Of Literature and Lattes just to refamiliarize myself with the characters and the town. I read Of Literature and Lattes in one sitting over a few hours. I didn’t even get up to fix more tea, the story was so engrossing. Initially, Alyssa comes across as somewhat temperamental, but when you factor in losing her job, being investigated by the FBI, and then being robbed of all of her possessions on her drive from California to Illinois, her moodiness is understandable and even forgivable to a certain extent. One of the many things I enjoyed about this story was the multiple and intersecting storylines. In many ways, Alyssa’s story felt like a coming-of-age story primarily because of her insecurity and family drama issues. Jeremy’s story was a bit different, but he also seemed to experience a self-awakening and acceptance that he needed help from his friend and co-worker. Jeremy was also dealing with some major family drama issues. Of Literature and Lattes came across as a highly realistic story with believable characters and action. Major themes include self-realization, self-awareness, family and community drama, friendship and trust issues, as well as romance. I could rhapsodize about this story, but I’ll simply say that if you’re interested in realistic fiction you should definitely read Of Literature and Lattes. If you’ve read The Printed Letter Bookshop, I encourage you to grab a copy of Of Literature and Lattes. If you enjoy reading books about books and community, then you’ll want to get yourself a copy of Of Literature and Lattes. I also encourage you to read The Printed Letter Bookshop just in case you haven’t read it. I’ve read and adored everything that Katherine Reay has written and I’ll probably be re-reading Of Literature and Lattes while I await her next book.

Happy Reading y’all!



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”