2021 Book 52: THE KINDEST LIE by Nancy Johnson

The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson
ISBN: 9780063005631 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780063005655 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780063005662 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B0872K2Y82 (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B086ZRRYCW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Release Date: February 2, 2021

A promise could betray you.

Its 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to leave behind—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.

Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. As she begins digging into the past, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. Just as Ruth is about to uncover a burning secret her family desperately wants to keep hidden, a traumatic incident strains the town’s already searing racial tensions, sending Ruth and Midnight on a collision course that could upend both their lives.

Powerful and revealing, The Kindest Lie captures the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and offers both an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.

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Read an excerpt here.

 
Ruth Tuttle Shaw is in her late twenties and living her best life in Chicago, Illinois. She has an Ivy-league education, a good job as a chemical engineer, and is married to an amazing, loving, and successful man, Xavier Shaw. They have a wonderful home, a wide circle of friends, and after four years of marriage, her husband is ready to start a family. The only problem is Ruth has never told him about the child she gave up for adoption eleven years earlier. To say that this revelation puts a strain on their marriage is somewhat of an understatement. They quickly go from a major high in celebrating the historic election of the first Black president of the United States to a secret that just might tear their relationship apart. Unsure of how to proceed with Xavier, she decides to head back to Indiana and begin the search for her biological child.

Patrick “Midnight” Boyd, is an eleven-year-old white child living in poverty in Ganton, Indiana. His mother died from preeclampsia when he was seven years old and he currently lives with his maternal grandmother. Midnight has one functional arm due to nerve damage in the other caused by some boys intentionally setting him on fire. His best friend is Corey Cunningham, a Black kid and the primary reason he was set on fire, for defending his friend of a different race. Midnight is unaware of his privilege as a White boy and only sees that Corey has more money and a better home life and family than he does. When he learns that might be sent to live with relatives in Louisiana, his fear of leaving all that he’s known and his jealousy of his friend begin to eat him up. After learning a secret about Corey, that jealousy becomes so overpowering that it just might lead to something neither he nor Corey will be able to come back from in a community that is torn behind poverty and racial animosity.

The Kindest Lie is told in alternating voices of Ruth, a twenty-something Black female and Midnight, a White tween male. The only things they appear to have in common are being raised in near poverty in the same small town. But Ruth’s maternal grandparents and Midnight’s maternal grandparents were actually good friends back in the day. Ruth and her brother were raised by their maternal grandparents and Midnight is being raised by his maternal grandmother. Ruth attempts to befriend Midnight and the two seem to be more different than the same, superficially. However, both are seeking answers to questions about family and love although they are going about in different ways. The Kindest Lie is a story about hope, love, motherhood, family, race relations, secrets, dreams, dreams deferred, as well as the lies we tell ourselves and to others. It’s also a story about what family is willing to do to make some of those dreams come true. For those of you that have read The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett or Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of The Kindest Lie to read. If you’re interested in reading a well-written debut novel that tackles hard questions in a hopeful manner, again, you’ll want to grab a copy of The Kindest Lie to read. This book is one of my #mustread recommendations for 2021.

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 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 143: SIMON THE FIDDLER by Paulette Jiles

Simon The Fiddler by Paulette Jiles
ISBN: 9780062966742 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062966766 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062966773 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B07VCVLNB9   (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07V9HHT9H   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: April 14, 2020


The critically acclaimed, bestselling author of News of the World and Enemy Women returns to Texas in this atmospheric story, set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.

This story is set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.

In March 1865, the long and bitter War between the States is winding down. Till now, twenty-three-year-old Simon Boudlin has evaded military duty but following a barroom brawl in Victoria, Texas, Simon finds himself conscripted into the Confederate Army. Luckily his talent with a fiddle gets him a comparatively easy position in a regimental band.

Weeks later, on the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon and his bandmates are called to play for officers and their families from both sides of the conflict. There the fiddler can’t help but notice Doris Mary Aherne, an indentured girl from Ireland, who is governess to a Union colonel’s daughter.

After the surrender, Simon and Doris go their separate ways. But Simon cannot forget the fair Irish maiden and vows that someday he will find her again.

Incandescent in its beauty, told in Paulette Jiles’s trademark spare yet lilting style, Simon the Fiddler is a captivating, bittersweet tale of the chances a devoted man will take, and the lengths he will go to fulfill his heart’s yearning.






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Simon Boudlin knows how to play the fiddle and he knows horses. He was raised by his maternal great-uncle, David Anderson, in Paducah, Kentucky, and was set to inherit a well-known horse business until the onset of the Civil War. Sadly, another one of his uncles decided to burn the horse business down rather than sell to the Union Army. With no business to fall back on and not wanting to be conscripted into the army, Simon heads South and West thinking to move far enough away from the fighting. He made it through early 1865 without being caught by either side but is then conscripted into the Confederate Army to play for a military band. Thankfully, his “military duty” isn’t long and he is fortunate enough to meet up with several other musicians. He even meets the woman of his dreams, Doris Dillon. Simon’s brief military duty sets him off on a journey that will take him and his musician friends traveling across Texas. He will search for a place to build his perfect home. And despite all obstacles placed not only in his path but also in Doris’s path, he will do everything possible to court her via mail initially and then in person. As the country struggles to right itself and rebuilt after a war that turned neighbor-against-neighbor and sometimes brother-against-brother, Simon must find a way to restructure and rebuild his life into that matching his dreams.

For those of you that have been following me for some time now, you may remember that I read and reviewed News of the World back in 2017. I was so enamored with that book that I talked every local book group I was involved with into reading that book. So when I heard that Paulette Jiles was coming out with a new book, I jumped at the opportunity to read it before I even knew what it was about and I’m incredibly pleased I did. Although there are similarities between Simon the Fiddler and News of the World, namely both take place after the Civil War and are set in Texas, the primary characters and action are completely different. I can say that Captain Jefferson Kidd from News of the World does make a minor reappearance in Simon the Fiddler and it is as he is beginning his journey as a newsreader. I found Simon the Fiddler to be a riveting read about Simon’s coming-of-age ordeals, from his Kentucky memories to his fist fights and attempts to keep his band of music makers going. Ms. Jiles provided considerable drama with the Yellow fever epidemics, to the sexual harassment of Doris, and more. There’s enough in this historical saga to keep any reader fully engrossed and turning pages. I enjoyed the multiple storylines, the action, the settings, and the characters even the bad guys (and yes, there are bad guys!). For those of you that read News of the World, I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. For those of you that enjoy historical fiction, I also encourage you to grab yourself a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. For those of you that have neither read News of the World nor are into historical fiction, I beg of you to rethink your position and start with Simon the Fiddler and then go grab a copy of News of the World to read. You can thank me later. For now, I’ll be ordering a copy of Simon the Fiddler to be shipped to my mother since we’re still in quarantine and I can’t take her my copy (bonus, I get to keep my copy). Seriously, go grab a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. This one is going on my #mustreadfiction list for 2020! 

Happy Reading, y’all! 
Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ as well as a print copy via TLC Book Tours. 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.”


Meet the Author

Photo by Jill Gann
Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World, which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award.  She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.



Find out more about Paulette at her website.




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Tuesday, April 14th: Into the Hall of Books
Wednesday, April 15th: Lit and Life
Thursday, April 16th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Friday, April 17th: A Bookish Affair
Saturday, April 18th: BookNAround
Wednesday, April 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, April 23rd: Broken Teepee
Thursday, April 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, April 24th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Friday, April 24th: View from the Birdhouse
Tuesday, April 28th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, April 29th: Books and Bindings
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Friday, May 1st: Staircase Wit
Monday, May 4th: Book by Book
Tuesday, May 5th: Laura’s Reviews
Thursday, May 7th: Jathan & Heather
Friday, May 8th: Kahakai Kitchen




This review and tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

2020 Book 106: THE SHAPE OF FAMILY by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
ISBN: 9780062933225 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062933249 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062933256 (digital audiobook)
ISBN: 9781094027500 (audiobook on CD)
ASIN: B07XF4RLX9   (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07N7F1V5V   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow|HarperCollins
Publication Date: March 17, 2020


From the international bestselling author of Secret Daughter and The Golden Son comes a poignant, unforgettable novel about a family’s growing apart and coming back together in the wake of tragedy.

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

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

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

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






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




When we initially meet the Olander family, Keith is a hardworking and up-and-coming investment banker, Jaya is the mother from a privileged background, their tween daughter Karina is finding it difficult to straddle not quite being Indian and and not quite being American enough for either side in looks or temperament, and young Prem is the golden son who doesn’t have quite the same difficulties as Karina in terms of fitting in, simply adores his big sister, and wants everyone to be happy. In just a few years, Jaya is back to be working full-time, Karina is in middle-school and bears the responsibility of taking care of her brother for two hours after school every day. Then the unimaginable happens and the Olander family slowly shatters. In just a few more years, Keith and Jaya have divorced, and Karina has been self-harming just to carry on through her pain. Karina hopes that college will be a new beginning for her and initially it is and she finds friends and companionship with her roommate. She even finds a boyfriend. When that relationship falls apart, Karina turns to a part-time job, befriends a charmer from her job,  ends up her dropping out of school and living  with the “charmer” and others on a commune, helping to grow “medical marijuana.” Meanwhile, her mother has turned Prem’s childhood bedroom into a home temple and is following a guru around California and even visiting India for a month at a time to revitalize herself spiritually. Keith has left his big investment bank and is at a smaller firm but even he seems to floundering with his young girlfriends, ever-increasing drinking, and questionable trades. It seems as if Prem was the literal and figurative glue that held that Olander family together and without his presence, they are all falling apart in their grief and search for happiness. Can these three people find their way back to a life filled with purpose, togetherness, and happiness before it’s too late?

I wish I could say that I read The Shape of Family in one sitting, but I had to take a few breaks over the course of the day because this story packs quite an emotional punch. Keith, Jaya, Karina, and Prem had my emotions all over the place and I used up my last box of tissues (and the closest drugstore is empty due to COVID-19; we won’t even discuss the situation at the grocery store). This story is told in alternating perspectives and the reader even hears from Prem after his death and that’s what had me bawling like a baby and having to stop (my eldest brother died 25 years ago and I’d really like to think he’s still here with me like Prem but that’s a whole other story). Although I was deeply moved by Jaya and Keith’s stories  I can’t imagine the pain and loss a parent deals with the loss of a child  I often wanted to shake them because I felt they were ignoring Karina and only there superficially. Karina’s story is the one that touched me the most. This child felt guilty over the loss of her brother, suffered a sexual assault as an underclassman on campus, had to deal with a charmer that seemed to be a little “too good to be true” in the end, and comeback from a breakdown. There’s a lot happening in this story and this isn’t a story for those of you with emotional triggers (the sexual assault isn’t graphically described just hinted at but that may be enough for some people) and there are people dealing with a host of issues from physical abuse to recovery from drug abuse. Ms. Gowda has taken a story about one family, inserted a tragedy, and made it into a timely tale of getting lost in grief over the loss of a family member, anger and guilt at not being able to do anything to change the facts of that loss, despair over being left behind, loneliness from being left behind, not quite fitting in, quests for success, and more. To say that this book moves beyond family drama is a major understatement. The Shape of Family is a powerful and emotionally moving story and one that I’m incredibly glad I read. I won’t tell you if this family ultimately finds peace, you’ll just have to discover that for yourself. Although this may not be suitable for everyone given the emotional triggers, it is going on my recommended read list for this year. I hope you’ll add this to your TBR list and that you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. If you’ve never read anything by Ms. Gowda, I encourage you to grab a copy of Secret Daughter and The Golden Son along with The Shape of Family to read. You can thank me later. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Gowda in the future and will probably be re-reading The Shape of Family when I have a surplus supply of tissues handy.

Happy Reading, y’all!



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ as well as a print copy from the publisher via TLC Book Tours. 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.”




Meet The Author

Photo by Stacy Bostrom

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Her previous novels, Secret Daughter and The Golden Son became international bestsellers, selling over one million copies worldwide. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead-Cain scholar. She lives in California with her husband and children.




Find out more about Shilpi at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.





BLOG TOUR

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Tuesday, March 17th: Instagram: @wordswithrach

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Tuesday, March 17th: Lit and Life

Wednesday, March 18th: Book by Book

Thursday, March 19th: Helen’s Book Blog

Friday, March 20th: Instagram: @thebookclubmom

Monday, March 23rd: BookNAround

Tuesday, March 24th: Really Into This

Wednesday, March 25th: Orange County Readers

Thursday, March 26th: Girl Who Reads

Friday, March 27th: Kahakai Kitchen

Monday, March 30th: The Book Diva’s Reads

Tuesday, March 31st: Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader

Wednesday, April 1st: Into the Hall of Books

Thursday, April 2nd: Welcome to Nurse Bookie

Friday, April 3rd: Iwriteinbooks’s blog

Monday, April 6th: What Is That Book About

Tuesday, April 7th: Instagram: @crystals_library

Wednesday, April 8th: Openly Bookish

Thursday, April 9th: Girls Just Reading

Friday, April 10th: Tabi Thoughts



This review and blog tour brought to you via TLC Book Tours

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.






Purchase Links: #CommissionEarned  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible Audiobook  |  Barnes & Noble  |  B&N Nook Book  |  B&N Audiobook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Books-A-Million Audiobook  |  Books-A-Million eBook  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks.com  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo Audiobook  |  Kobo eBook



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.”

Book Spotlight: LOST CHILD by Torey Hayden


About Lost Child


• Paperback: 352 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 24, 2019)

The first new book from the beloved therapist and writer Torey Hayden in almost fifteen years—an inspiring, uplifting tale of a troubled child and the remarkable woman who made a difference.

In a forgotten corner of Wales, a young girl languishes in a home for troubled children. Abandoned by her parents because of her violent streak, Jessie—at the age of ten—is at risk of becoming just another lost soul in the foster system.

Precocious and bold, Jessie is convinced she is possessed by the devil and utterly unprepared for the arrival of therapist Torey Hayden. Armed with patience, compassion, and unconditional love, Hayden begins working with Jessie once a week. But when Jessie makes a stunning accusation against one of Hayden’s colleagues – a man Hayden implicitly trusts – Hayden’s work doubles: now she must not only get to the root of Jessie’s troubles but also find out if what the girl alleges is true.

A moving, compelling, and inspiring account, Lost Child is a powerful testament once again of Torey Hayden’s extraordinary ability to reach children who many have given up on—and a reminder of how patience and love can ultimately prevail.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Torey Hayden

Born in Montana, USA, Torey Hayden has spent most of her adult life working with children in distress. Now living in Great Britain, she divides her time between writing and volunteer work with several British charities. Torey is the author of numerous internationally best-selling books about her experiences as a special education teacher and therapist. She has also written two novels and two children’s books.


Find her at www.torey-hayden.com and connect with her on Facebook.




This book spotlight brought to you by TLC Book Tours


2019 Book 225: NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson 
ISBN: 9780062855312 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062855336 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062855336 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07DTC3MTW (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 30, 2019 
Publisher: William Morrow


In this game, even winning can be deadly…


Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love-filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.




Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Audiobook  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  Kobo eBook  |  Kobo Audiobook


Amy Whey is a happily married woman with a teenage stepdaughter and infant son. She loves her family and her life. It has taken Amy a long time to get to a point in her life where she feels happy with who and where she is in life. Amy was involved in a car accident as a teenager that took the life of a neighbor that she babysat for and destroyed a family. Her mother never forgave her for being the reason their family had to uproot their Florida roots and relocate to Massachusetts during her beloved older brother’s senior year of high school. Amy never forgave herself for not standing up for her best friend, Tig, immediately after the accident. It took years for Amy to forgive herself and get her life on an even keel and now she’s back in Florida and quite happy until Angelica Roux shows up and seems intent on destroying the calm and sisterhood in the neighborhood as well as Amy’s liberty. Blackmail isn’t pretty, but can Amy pay Roux the money she’s demanding and be assured that will be the end of it? The bigger question seems to be just who has more to lose and can you ever be free from your past? Who has more to protect and gain? How far is too far when it comes to protecting your freedom, your family, and your friends?

I think I’ve probably read everything that Joshilyn Jackson has written and I definitely have my favorites (The Almost Sisters ranks at the top at the moment although I may have a new favorite). Never Have I Ever is a bit different from most of the books written by Ms. Jackson as this is her first suspense thriller and let me tell you she’s not playing around with this one. This story has plenty of twists and turns in it that kept me guessing until the very end, especially when it came to Roux (no, I’m not going to reveal the secrets — read the book to find out for yourself!). Every time I thought I knew where the story was going, you guessed it, plot twist. I loved the fact that I couldn’t quite figure out where the story was going on. I knew Roux was a bad girl, but there were a few times when I felt sympathy for her (that didn’t last long). I really liked Amy, her husband Davis, her stepdaughter Madison aka Maddy or Mads, Amy’s friend Charlotte or Char, and Tighler “Tig” Simms, and baby Oliver. I loved the introduction of Amy’s backstory in bits and pieces because it felt as if I was putting together a puzzle along with the contemporary storylines. I enjoyed the friendship between Amy and Char, as well as the interactions between Amy and her family. There’s a lot going on in this story, but it all works and works quite well. There are surprises throughout the story as well as a surprise ending (again, no I’m not telling you what the surprise is, read the book!) and I don’t think it could have ended any other way. I’m hardpressed to find anything about this story that I didn’t like especially the themes of family, friendship, expiation for past mistakes, forgiveness, and guilt. If you’ve ever read anything by Ms. Jackson in the past, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of Never Have I Ever to read. If you’re into suspense-thrillers and haven’t read anything by this author, then I strongly encourage you to get a copy of Never Have I Ever to read. I’ll be putting my copy of Never Have I Ever on the shelf for a few weeks before I re-read it (yes, it was just that good!). Happy Reading, y’all!


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+ and a free print review copy from the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers’ Program. 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.”

2019 Book 68: BEFORE SHE KNEW HIM by Peter Swanson

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
ISBN: 9780062838155 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062838179 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062838186 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07BK1HP2L (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow 
Publication Date: March 5, 2019


Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

 

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder. . .

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .






Henrietta “Hen” Mazur is an artist. She’s also bipolar and has a history of obsessions going back to college. In college, she just “knew” her dorm mate had attempted to kill her roommate by giving her the flu. She then “knew” the dorm mate was out to kill her simply because she knew the truth. That whole situation ended with Hen being hospitalized and diagnosed as bipolar, a restraining order being placed against her, her withdrawal from that college and transferring to a different college. After her marriage to Lloyd and whilst living in Cambridge, MA, Hen became obsessed with the death of an area resident. Now that they have moved to a suburb outside of Boston, Hen is convinced her next door neighbor is the murderer. She attempts to convince the Cambridge detectives of what she knows, but that doesn’t go very well. She then decides to keep an eye on her neighbor, witnesses him stalking then murdering a local man, and subsequently identifies her neighbor as the killer to the police. Hen is suspicious of Matthew, who in turn is suspicious of her suspicions. Will anyone ever take her reports seriously given her past behaviors or will her neighbor literally be able to get away with murder?

I’ve read several books by Peter Swanson in the past and found them all to be well-written, twisted, and filled with surprises throughout and Before She Knew Him is an excellent example of his work. There are a lot of nuances to this book including the fact that a person with a known mental health problem isn’t often taken seriously by law enforcement despite the fact that they may be able to provide crucial evidence. Hen’s situation is an excellent example of this predicament and seems to exemplify the old adage that just because a person is paranoid doesn’t mean there isn’t someone after them. Hen knows what she knows and no one believes her or so she thinks initially. She quickly comes to realize that Matthew definitely knows what is going on and is willing to use her past against her. When Matthew and Mira get a restraining order against Hen, it seems as if the story might have nowhere to go but then several twists and surprises arise. No, I’m not going to reveal what they are…read the book! Mr. Swanson fills Before She Knew Him with psychological suspense and enough plot twists and turns to give the reader motion sickness (trust me, this is a good thing). It was impossible to determine what was going to happen next and I love that in a story. I empathized with Hen and even Mira and felt Matthew deserved whatever might happen to him. I wish I could say more about Lloyd, Hen’s husband, but let’s just say that even he isn’t as nice a guy as he initially appears. I’m wholeheartedly recommending Before She Knew Him to all of you lovers of the mystery-suspense genre as well as those of you looking for something a little different to read. Come on, read outside of your comfort zone this year by grabbing a copy of Before She Knew Him to read. You may be surprised by just how much you like it. 



Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. 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.”



Read a sample of Before She Knew Him here.



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2019 Book 66: CEMETERY ROAD by Greg Iles

Cemetery Road by Greg Iles
ISBN: 9780062824615 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062824639 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062824646 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07B7L4QMF (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow 
Publication Date: March 5, 2019


Sometimes the price of justice is a good man’s soul.

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Natchez Burning trilogy returns with an electrifying tale of friendship, betrayal, and shattering secrets that threaten to destroy a small Mississippi town.

“[A] compulsively readable thriller… Iles once again delivers a sweeping tale of family dysfunction, sexually charged secrets, and the power of wealth, with an overlay of violence and Southern sensibility.”   — Publishers Weekly (starred review)


When Marshall McEwan left his Mississippi hometown at eighteen, he vowed never to return. The trauma that drove him away spurred him to become one of the most successful journalists in Washington, DC. But as the ascendancy of a chaotic administration lifts him from print fame to television stardom, Marshall discovers that his father is terminally ill, and he must return home to face the unfinished business of his past.

On arrival, he finds Bienville, Mississippi very much changed. His family’s 150-year-old newspaper is failing; and Jet Turner, the love of his youth, has married into the family of Max Matheson, one of a dozen powerful patriarchs who rule the town through the exclusive Bienville Poker Club. To Marshall’s surprise, the Poker Club has taken a town on the brink of extinction and offered it salvation, in the form of a billion-dollar Chinese paper mill. But on the verge of the deal being consummated, two murders rock Bienville to its core, threatening far more than the city’s economic future.

An experienced journalist, Marshall has seen firsthand how the corrosive power of money and politics can sabotage investigations. Joining forces with his former lover—who through her husband has access to the secrets of the Poker Club—Marshall begins digging for the truth behind those murders. But he and Jet soon discover that the soil of Mississippi is a minefield where explosive secrets can destroy far more than injustice. The South is a land where everyone hides truths: of blood and children, of love and shame, of hate and murder—of damnation and redemption. The Poker Club’s secret reaches all the way to Washington, D.C., and could shake the foundations of the U.S. Senate. But by the time Marshall grasps the long-buried truth about his own history, he would give almost anything not to have to face it.






Marshall McEwan doesn’t see himself as a liberal, moderate, or conservative. He’s a journalist and his job is to reveal the truth and tell the whole story. Or at least that’s what he thought before he won the Pulitzer and he realized that it’s possible to become a success by omitting part of the story, even if that omission was done to protect a friend that was protecting your own life. After living the life of a renowned journalist in Washington D.C., Marshall has to return to Mississippi because of his father’s failing health. It is Bienville, MS that Marshall’s life begins to unravel all while seeking out the truth surrounding his surrogate father’s death or rather murder. Bienville stands to rise from the ashes with the building of a new paper mill, highway, and other businesses. The people and the region will prosper for not one or two years but possibly decades because of this deal, but is the deal worth the life of one man? As Marshall delves into the circumstances surrounding his friend’s murder, his own secret social life is about to be revealed as he’s having an affair with his high school girlfriend, his married high school girlfriend. Adding insult to injury, she’s married to the man that saved his life when he was embedded with the military. Marshall’s father is dying and other than occasional visits, he doesn’t really talk to him because he feels that his father still blames him for this older brother’s tragic death over 30 years ago. For the first time in a long time, Marshall is forced to face his feelings and memories from his past. He’s also forced to confront his current actions and their consequences. Can he face the past and deal with the present without destroying any hopes for a joyous future? Can he uncover the truth about his friend’s murder without completely derailing the future of his town? Will the “powers-that-be” allow him to walk away from his search for the truth or will there be dire consequences to his attempts to reveal their secrets whilst keeping his own hidden?

If you’ve read any of my past blog reviews, you probably know that I adore Greg Iles and love reading his books. I was so excited when he revealed the news about Cemetery Road and doubly excited when I received my review copy to read (thank you again William Morrow Books). If it weren’t for migraine interference, I would have read Cemetery Road in one day. (Yes, it was just that engrossing.) Sadly, weather-induced migraine headaches forced me to slow down quite a bit and it took several days to complete this book. Now, I’m rather pleased that I was forced to slow my read and savor the multiple complex storylines, complicated relationships, and deeply flawed yet realistic characters. It was intriguing to read about a Southern town about to be reborn because of a new industry. I live in Appalachia and there are plenty of towns dying or dead due to loss of an industry that would similarly welcome a new business, no matter what. Although I could empathize with the needs of the town and region for new growth and industry, I could also empathize with Marshall’s need to uncover the truth about a murder and then do whatever he could to try to protect his family and friends. Cemetery Road isn’t just a story about a man returning home, or a quashed murder investigation, or an extramarital affair, or the “good ole boys” network at work in the deep South. Yes, the story contains all of those elements and much more. I’ve tried for the past few days to neatly summarize this story and all I’ve come up with is it’s a damned good read. So, if you enjoy reading Southern Fiction then grab a copy. If you enjoy reading thrillers, grab a copy. If you enjoy reading about complex relationships and returning home, grab a copy. If you enjoy reading about good trying to conquer evil (and there are plenty of shades of evil), grab a copy. If you’re just looking for a good read, grab a copy. Mr. Iles has this amazing ability to take what initially appears to be a simple tale and deftly weave a complex towering story that captures the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Cemetery Road and highly recommend it. Now go and put this on your TBR list and get yourself a copy ASAP!


Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. 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.”






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2019 Book 41: THE LAST ROMANTICS by Tara Conklin

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin
ISBN: 9780062358202 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062358226 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062898166 (audiobook)
ASIN: B072F14LGX (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 5, 2019 
Publisher: William Morrow 


“The greatest works of poetry, what makes each of us a poet, are the stories we tell about ourselves. We create them out of family and blood and friends and love and hate and what we’ve read and watched and witnessed. Longing and regret, illness, broken bones, broken hearts, achievements, money won and lost, palm readings and visions. We tell these stories until we believe them.”

When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.

It begins in a big yellow house with a funeral, an iron poker, and a brief variation forever known as the Pause: a free and feral summer in a middle-class Connecticut town. Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, sensitive Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—emerge from the Pause staunchly loyal and deeply connected.  Two decades later, the siblings find themselves once again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they’ve made and ask what, exactly, they will do for love. 

A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue—the ones we love. A novel that pierces the heart and lingers in the mind, it is also a beautiful meditation on the power of stories—how they navigate us through difficult times, help us understand the past, and point the way toward our future.



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The Skinners were once a typical suburban family, a working father, a stay-at-home mother, and four well-behaved children. All of that changed when their father died and the Pause occurred, or the years their mother gave into grief and the children were left on their own. Renee, the eldest, became the surrogate mother, feeding and caring for all of her siblings. Caroline, the next oldest, was the most timid of them all and afraid of everything. Joe, the only boy, ran wild, and the youngest, Fiona, became his shadow. Things changed as they grew older and their mother shook off the Pause. Renee became a doctor, a renowned transplant surgeon, and eventually married a renowned wood artist. Caroline married her childhood sweetheart and had three children. Joe became a baseball phenom in high school, played ball in college until disaster struck, worked for a college buddy, got engaged, moved to Miami, and disaster struck again. Fiona is a struggling wordsmith most of her life and in her early twenties became a blogger of some renown for her writings about sexual exploits. She works for an environmental group, eventually becoming the head of that group but also becomes a well-known poet. The story begins with Fiona at a question and answer period after a reading and she’s asked if there was a real Luna for the basis of the Luna in her poem. The person asking is a young woman named Luna in honor of the poem. Can Fiona reveal the hidden history of her family to this audience? Is it necessary for an author to tell the truth about everything when it comes to their art?

First, let me say that I had previously read The House Girl by Tara Conklin and when I heard she had a new book coming out I was super excited. I found The Last Romantics to be an engaging and fast-paced read about love and family and all the befores and afters we encounter with our families and in life. The Skinner family has a slew of before and afters in their lives, before and after their father died, before and after the Pause, before and after Joe (read the book to understand that statement), before and after each siblings’ marriages/relationships. The three sisters are all close in their own way but they are all satellites, if you will, around their brother Joe and make every attempt to protect his shenanigans from ever reaching their mother’s ears. Needless to say, this has an impact by itself on their individual lives, before and after Joe (again, read the book to understand this better). I loved the way Ms. Conklin wove the future storyline into the more contemporary storyline and presumed that the reason for the power outages and alarms was due to society not heading the warnings of global warming (ahem…this will make more sense if you read the book). I enjoyed all of the characters and the action in this story, okay, I enjoyed pretty much everything about this story. We learn what family means to the Skinners and just how far they’re willing to go for one another. Ms. Conklin has a way of pulling this reader into the story and I become invested in the lives of each character and want to know what’s next. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Romantics and strongly encourage you to grab a copy to read as soon as possible. 



Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ for review purposes. 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.”


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