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…


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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. 


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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.”

2020 Book 81: THAT CAN BE ARRANGED by Huda Fahmy

That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy
ISBN: 9781524856229 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781524861964 (ebook)
ASIN: B084DL8K2R  (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication Date: March 10, 2020


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.





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Imagine you’re a twenty-something-year-old female in a conservative Muslim American family. You’re not allowed to date and you’re not really interested in dating, but you are interested in getting married. (Certain Muslim cultures just don’t allow for dating y’all, get over it.) All of your friends are getting married. Your sisters are getting married. You, on the other hand, are not. This was Huda Fahmy’s life. Huda wasn’t seeking an “arranged marriage” per se, but she was looking for something akin to the marriages found in Jane Austen novels. As a matter of fact, she actually refers to Jane Austen novels in her search for the perfect husband. Muslims (and other cultures) prepare a dossier or “biodata” that is used to “match” compatible couples when all else fails, and at this point in Huda’s life, all else had pretty much failed (or had it). What is in this “biodata” you ask? Ms. Fahmy provides the perfect definition in her book:


“biodata (noun): personal information about one’s life, work, family, personality, goals, financial status, values, beliefs, health history, favorite Pokémon, and other preferences about things both religious and secular. Think super-detailed Tinder profile, except instead of dating, they’d get married.”


That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story is a quick read but one that had me laughing out loud, choking on my chai, and bookmarking pages to return and read later. Any author/artist that can reference Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, and Pokémon in one book is beyond amazing in my opinion. Huda’s quest and it was a quest, for a husband was rife with hilarity. Although I know her story ended well (I follow her on social media), I was beginning to believe she might actually become a single cat lady at one point. (Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being single or owning cats). She pokes fun at the meddling aunties (trust me, read the book and you’ll understand this reference) and the variety of suitors she encounters throughout her quest. I cheered when she met Gehad and achieved her happily ever after, this is a love story, it says so in the title! FYI, this isn’t every Muslims’ story but it is one specific Muslimah’s story of growing up in this country and her quest to find love and get married within the bounds of her religious beliefs. Ms. Fahmy tells her story with style, grace, respect for the religion, and quite a bit of humor. Although this graphic novel/memoir discusses bits of Muslim culture and the Islamic faith, this is a book that can be read and appreciated by any reader. If you’re into graphic novels, memoirs, humor, or just want a quick read, I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy to read. If you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story and will be re-reading again in the near future. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Fahmy in the future.

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.”

2020 Book 57: ON THE CORNER OF HOPE AND MAIN by Beverly Jenkins

On The Corner of Hope and Main A Blessings Novel by Beverly Jenkins
ISBN: 9780062952202 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062699282 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780062699299 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062960887 (audiobook – digital)
ISBN: 9781094115788 (audiobook – CD)
ASIN: B07TLY72N8  (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07T66G3T4  (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Publication Date: March 3, 2020


NAACP nominee and USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins celebrates her beloved Blessings series with a heartwarming novel set in Henry Adams, Kansas.

“If you haven’t yet gotten your hands on [this] author’s work, you should do so immediately.”—Shondaland

Citizens of Henry Adams, Kansas, know there’s never a dull moment in their small town…

Trent July has been the mayor of this historic town for the past four years, but now he’s ready to let someone else take up the mantle. Barrett Payne, a former Marine, decides he wants the job. But when a surprise candidate also enters the ring, the town has opinions on who would be the best candidate.

And of course that’s not the only drama, as Malachi “Mal” July continues to make reparations for the damage he’s caused and to the people he’s betrayed, especially his lady love Bernadine. Is she finally ready to forgive him and let the past go?

As the residents of Henry Adams have learned, life will throw obstacles their way, but it’s how they come together and rise above these challenges that keep the bonds of their close-knit community strong.






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Welcome back to Henry Adams, Kansas. It’s time for an election now that Trent July, the current mayor, has decided to pass the reins on to someone else, anyone else as long as it’s not former mayor Riley Curry. This small-town may not have much to offer in many people’s eyes since it doesn’t have any big-box stores or franchise restaurants, but it does offer a strong sense of history, family, and community. To that end, Barrett Payne, current VP of Security for the town has decided to run for mayor. Initially his only competition is found with former disgraced mayor Riley Curry and Thaddeus July, brother to town matriarch Tamar July and a native son and known trickster until his wife, Sheila decides she also wants to run for mayor. The Payne family drama coupled with Riley Curry running for office would be drama enough for one small town, but add in the reappearance of Bernadine’s ex-husband, Leo Brown and his behind-the-scenes scheming, this is going to be one election that the people of Henry Adams may be talking about for years to come. 

I found On the Corner of Hope and Main to be a fast-paced and enjoyable read and devoured it in one afternoon. I welcomed the return to the setting of Henry Adams and almost feel as if the families there were friends that I was revisiting. I love the small-town setting and the drama. And yes, there’s always some small-town drama happening and this story offers quite a bit including: seed and oil company conglomerations trying to cheat and steal from area farmers under the guise of helping them out, Riley’s continual delusions of grandeur and payback, Leo’s delusions of returning to the top of the food chain in his industry after being fired, new business developments within the town, gambling addictions, helicopter parenting, misogyny unveiled, dysfunctional families revisited, forgiveness, trust, hope for a better tomorrow, and yes, some romance. On the Corner of Hope and Main offers a little bit of something for everyone and Ms. Jenkins pulls it together in one neat package. And for those of you that have read the previous books in this series, look out for the return of your favorite hog, Cletus! (No, I’m not going to explain that last sentence, read the books and you’ll understand!) I’ve recommended books by Ms. Jenkins to you before, some historical romance and others from the Blessings series. If you haven’t taken my advice in the past, I encourage, no, I urge you to add this series to your TBR list immediately. For those of you that have read the previous books in this series, make sure you get yourself a copy of On the Corner of Hope and Main. In all seriousness, On the Corner of Hope and Main is an excellent addition to the long list of outstanding reads by the one and only, “Slayer of Words,” Beverly Jenkins. (Just in case you couldn’t tell, I enjoyed this book!)

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 28: THE LOOK-ALIKE by Erica Spindler

The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler 
ISBN: 9781250083678 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250083685 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781250259783 (audiobook – digital)
ASIN: B07T93QNDX  (Audible edition)
ASIN: B07SBQDLS4  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 28, 2020 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press



From the New York Times bestselling author of The Other Girl and Justice for Sara comes a thrilling psychological drama about a woman who believes she escaped a brutal murder years ago—but does anyone else believe her?



Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she’s returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.

In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head —that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?





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Sienna Scott has spent her entire life dealing with her mother’s mental illness. She doesn’t blame her mother Vivienne for her illness, but she does blame her for not taking her medication on a regular basis or continuing with therapy. After Sienna came upon a murdered body on her college campus ten years ago, her mother’s paranoia became untenable. The solution was to send Sienna overseas to London where her maternal grandmother lived. Sienna lived in Europe peacefully for ten years eventually becoming a Cordon Bleu trained chef. Sienna has faced many fears over the past decade but her final fear is that of returning home and dealing with her mother. She expected to be welcomed home by her half-brother and touchstone, Bradley. He’s happy to see her but not pleased at her permanent return, which raises some questions in Sienna’s mind. Sienna’s mother, Vivienne, is sure that “they” are still out to get Sienna and becomes even more unhinged than she was after the murder a decade earlier. Two good things come out Sienna’s return, her renewed friendship with Randy Clark, a former campus police officer and now town detective, and a burgeoning friendship and romance with her neighbor, Jonathan Hart. However, it quickly becomes apparent that perhaps Vivienne’s paranoia may not be unfounded or is it? Will Sienna be able to discern the truth of what happened 10 years ago before something else or someone else dies?

I usually spend my weekdays visiting with my 85-y.o. mother. It’s up for question as to whether I’m keeping an eye on her or she’s keeping an eye on me, but the one thing we both have gotten used to is spending our afternoons reading. The Look-Alike pulled me in to the point where I didn’t hear the phone ringing or my mother talking to me until after she had called my name several times. (Yes, the story was that engrossing, I didn’t want to set it aside.) I enjoy reading suspense and this well-crafted psychological suspense kept me on tenterhooks. I enjoyed the unexpected twists-and-turns the story took and Ms. Spindler kept me guessing until the bitter end. The characters are realistic and they all seemed to be hiding parts of themselves from each other, and yes that keeps the reader guessing about what’s coming next as well as the action. Although there is violence in the story, hey it starts with a murder, the violence becomes almost secondary to everything else that takes place, such as the theme of dealing with mental illness, the possible hereditary nature of mental illness and the dangling threat of inheriting a mental illness, the destruction wrought by dealing with having a murdered family member, sibling rivalry, friendship, romance, and more. Ms. Spindler packs a lot into this story and although there are only a handful of primary characters, it is a story that seems all-too realistic especially if you’ve had to deal with the fall-out caused by having someone with a chronic mental illness in your family. I’m always eager to read a new story by Ms. Spindler and I feel incredibly fortunate that I was given the opportunity to read a review copy of The Look-Alike. For those of you that enjoy mystery or suspense reads, make sure you grab a copy of The Look-Alike. For those of you looking for an intriguing suspense read with romance elements, get a copy of The Look-Alike to read. And finally, for those of you looking for something a little bit different to read, grab a copy of The Look-Alike, you won’t be disappointed. I enjoyed reading The Look-Alike and will be purchasing a print copy of this book to add to my home library. Who knows, perhaps I’ll even lend it to my 85-y.o. mother to read during one of our afternoon reading sessions.

Happy Reading!


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 23: SECOND SIGHT by Sharon Sala

Second Sight, The Jigsaw Files #2,  by Sharon Sala 
ISBN: 9780778360933 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780778309376 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781488055379 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781488208034 (audiobook – digital)
ASIN: B07XLTPMS4  (Audible edition)
ASIN: B07R5Y6SV9  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 28, 2020 
Publisher: MIRA Books



The clock is ticking…

When Charlie Dodge gets a phone call from a frantic woman stating her daughter has been kidnapped by her ex-husband and taken into a cult called Fourth Dimension, he takes the case without hesitation. The cult’s rumored purpose is to gather men with psychic abilities with the goal of breeding a race of people who have supernatural powers. Once accepted into the cult, men are given a young girl to marry in exchange for one of their own daughters.

The FBI has been monitoring the cult’s activities, but Charlie and his assistant, Wyrick, aren’t bound by the same rules as the feds. They head to the mountains of Kentucky to infiltrate the cult’s compound. The lives of children are at stake, and Charlie and Wyrick will risk everything to destroy the cult and its leader—no matter the cost—because this case is personal.





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Charlie Dodge is a private investigator from Dallas, Texas. He’s also former military and dealing with the fact that his wife of twenty years is lost to him due to early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Charlie’s business associate/partner is Jade Wyrick, a tall, bald fashionista that has had a double mastectomy and now proudly sports an intriguing tattoo that covers her chest and part of her back. Without makeup, Wyrick (she doesn’t answer to Jade), might resemble a trans-woman and she’s quite used to the prejudice and bigotry associated with her looks. Oops, almost forgot to mention that Wyrick is also Mensa-certified genius, a computer programmer extraordinaire, a multi-millionaire business owner (she writes and sells computer games), a pilot, a psychic (remember that because it’s important), and a good friend to have around. She’s saved Charlie more times than he can count.

Dodge Security and Investigations has become quite well-known after their last case which involved finding and saving the life of a millionaire business owner from Denver. Wyrick has set up their new offices (their last office blew up…if you want to know more, read The Missing Piece), she also prioritizes possible new cases and front-and-center is a case of the missing child of a local attorney. When the woman comes into the office and provides Charlie and Wyrick with some more details and they begin their investigation, they quickly realize this is not an ordinary parental abduction case. Twelve-year-old Jordan Bien was taken by her father, Judson Bien just so he could exchange her and receive his own “bride” in a psychic cult known as the Fourth Dimension. This cult’s goal is to marry psychics with psychic-offspring to breed more psychics. The only problem is that these psychic men are “marrying” children aged 12-14 against their will. The question now is even with this information and Wyrick’s psychic abilities, will they be able to locate Jordan and this cult’s camp and free not just Jordan but all of the kidnapped girls before something horrible happens?

For those of you that have been following me for a while now, you know that I enjoy reading romantic-suspense. I have quite a number of favorite authors and yes, Sharon Sala is one of them. Second Sight is the second book in the Jigsaw Files series and it is just as much about Charlie Dodge as it is about Jade Wyrick and their growing relationship and attraction. (The first book in this series is The Missing Piece and I strongly encourage you to read that one before you grab a copy of Second Sight to read.) Charlie and Wyrick have tracked down the cult and are working with the FBI, but things don’t work out quite as well as hoped with their partnership (read the story to learn more). Jordan is dealing with her kidnappers in a unique way especially considering she’s a young girl and far from home. Both Jordan and Wyrick are intelligent and strong females that don’t take any guff from anyone especially males. Basically, they don’t conform to the notion of the weak female and this causes a lot of problems for both of these ladies in expected and unexpected ways. There’s a lot of action in Second Sight and some of it is by behind-the-scenes players. There are obviously bad guys, the psychics kidnapping and marrying “child brides,” but there are also really bad guys. Jordan, Wyrick, and Charlie are the good guys and they’re all definitely ready to fight. Yes, there’s a lot more going on in this story and no, I’m not going to tell you about everything, read the book! I found Second Sight to be a riveting read and even though I was dealing with a migraine and some vision issues that slowed down my reading, I read this book in one day. I highly recommend this book and series to all readers of romance and romantic-suspense and am looking forward to finding out what’s next for Wyrick and Charlie. (If you can’t tell, I really like and admire Wyrick. She’s part Lizbeth Salander, part Wonder Woman, part Captain Marvel, and part Marie Curie with a lot more facets all rolled into one. Okay, I also like Charlie as well as the dynamic between the two.) Now, go grab a copy of The Missing Piece if you haven’t already read it and add Second Sight to your TBR list.

Happy Reading!

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.”